Sunday, June 24, 2012


The owl and the pussy cat went to sea,
in a beautiful pea-green boat.

My first harvest of peas for winter. These were grown from a dwarf bush variety of seedling purchased at our local hardware store. This is almost all of what I will likely be able to harvest from the plants. To be honest I was a tad disappointed by the small amount of peas the crop yielded. I had hoped for more from the sixteen plants.

Such a small harvest.

Perhaps it was due to the location of the plot.
Perhaps they did not get enough sunlight.
Perhaps it was caused by all the wet weather we have had of late.

The modest pile of used pea pods were fed to some very grateful chickens, and thus the cycle of production in my garden continues.

Sam xox

Pallet potting table.

Here is my new potting table!

I know this is not a sewn, knitted or spun item, but it is handmade so that's ok, right? Jamie and I spent the weekend building a potting table for our garden. My parent in laws were visiting and gave us a lot of help also with this endeavour. To be fair, Jamie is the total brains and brawn behind this creation, my role was more as the 'artistic director'. 

I have dreamt of having my own potting table ever since we moved to Newcastle and rented a house with a yard. Potting tables can be as unique as your garden is. Most often they are crafted from re-purposed materials that the gardener has managed to salvage from a local source. Random bits are nailed, glued and screwed together to create something for the garden that is functional, and in my case, pleasing to the eye.

This potting table is completely made from pallet timber I was able to obtain forfree from a retired gentleman who lives near the town where I work. He builds chicken coops and bird breeding boxes in his spare time and was only too happy for me to take what timber I needed. I did offer to pay him for the timber, but he replied with a smile "I would be offended if you paid me, please take as much as you need". He spent almost 45 minutes with me discussing my design plans and selecting the perfect pieces for the project from his substantial timber pile.

Pallet timber is ideal for this kind of project. It is cheap, or possibly free, and is a standard size. Pallets are made from outdoor wood so this table will survive being exposed to the weather. What I also prefer is the timbers 'rustic' look. Every piece is weathers differently. Knots. Stains. Splinters. All slats are unique.

I am considering adding some nails or hooks to the upper part of the timber frame, to use as a place to hang my gardening hand tools whilst I am working.Rhonda also uses a potting box to prevent wasting some of her soil while she is potting. I am hoping I can whip one of these up with all the off cuts I have left.

Below is the photo I found on pinterest months ago that I used for the inspiration for this potting table. The table was made by Bruce at The image has been sitting in my Gardens folder for some time, waiting for me to get my hands on some pallets.

Jamie was really pleased with how similar his creation was to the inspiration photo...

We finished the potting table as the sun was setting, so I am yet to actually use it to pot any seeds. Winter is a difficult time to garden as night falls before I am home from work, leaving me unable to garden most evenings. Sometimes I do a spot of weeding before work, but that depends on the chill in the air and me not hitting the 'snooze' button. I am sure this table will get much use though next weekend!

Sam xox

The girls.

Let me introduce to you our girls...

I arrived home Friday afternoon to find that my chicken coop had been delivered and Jamie had spent three hours putting it together (thanks honey!). It is fantastic. The perfect size for the space I had picked out for it in the yard. There is plenty of room inside the coop to provide shelter and comfort for the girls during the night, and with the addition of the chicken run I added to the end, there is plenty of roaming room for all.

I piled up my car with large cardboard boxes and drove over an hour yesterday to a very small country town where a man named Garry was selling chicken. I had found Garry on the internet, and after a few text messages back and forth (while I googled the breads of chickens he had, just so I knew they looked nice) we had struck up a deal.

~ The Ancona breed is close to the Leghorn breed, identified by the floppy red comb on its head. Sometimes the comb flops over and covers half her face. It's a wonder she can see where she's walking. So cute! ~

I brought them home and introduced them to their new quarters as the rain poured down. They didn't seem to be bothered by the miserable weather, and quickly made themselves at home; scratching at the mulch and feeding on seed and lettuce leaves.

~ This here is Lady Sussex. She is a 'show quality' hen, but according to the seller "She won't win you a show"... mysterious ~
(Breed: Light Sussex. 2 years old)

~ This here is Betty. She is our smallest girl and loves strawberries ~
(Breed: Rhode Island Red. 16 weeks old)

~ On the left we have Maggie, on the right Audrey ~
(Breed: Ancona. 1 year old. Breed: Australorp. 16 weeks old)

I was warned by my father-in-law that the hens may not lay for a few days after arriving as they will likely be stressed. But in less than 24 hours at our home, look what I found in the nesting box...

Success! It must have been the strawberries that made them feel relaxed.

Sam xox

Skye Gingell's herb garden.

After reading Skye Gingell's cook book A Year in my Kitchen I was inspired to create a herb garden based on her notion of base-note and top-note herbs. I utilised my raised brick garden beds that were already divided into two. I cultivated the beds with organic compost and manure from my chickens. I let the beds sit for two weeks, then planted my herbs and mulched using newspaper and sugar cane to help keep weeds to a minimum.

Skye writes "Base-note herbs are the ones that help lay the foundation of any dish. They endure the burden of long, slow cooking, continuing to add their flavour as long as they are cooking".   

~ My base-note bed: sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary.

Skye writes "Top-note herbs are like the icing on the cake - they complete the dish. These herbs don't tend to hold their flavour through vigorous cooking but must be added very close to the end of the recipe, even if only as a garnish, to maintain their clarity and vibrancy".

~ My top-note bed: parsley, dill, basil and chives ~ 

You can do something like this even if you don't have a backyard. Simply plant herbs in pots on your balcony, or in pots on your kitchen windowsill. Nothing beats the taste of fresh herbs in your cooking.

Sam xox