Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Starting from scratch.

This week we celebrated the first anniversary of living in our home. 365 days spent fiercely learning the skills we need to build a life for ourselves on our rural house block. An entire year sounds like a decent amount of time to up-skill ones self, but I fear we have barely scratched the surface of the learning curve we are on. Looking back over photos of the year past, we marveled at how aspects of our land had improved, along with how long the list of things "to do" had grown. As I ran my eyes over the photos, I felt sad to think that I had not documented our progress on my blog. In our previous rental I had so enjoyed journaling my work in that garden and connecting with others who shared similar passions to mine. That was is what I love about this blog, and that is what I now realise I miss.

So here I am, starting from scratch with this next chapter of my green thumbs and dirty nails journey from our 'new' home...

Sam xox

Monday, January 6, 2014

Give me land, lots of land under starry skies above.

Jamie and I now have land under our feet to call our own. We have moved to a rural location and now live on about 2 and a half acres of land, in a 70's style weatherboard house. For the past few months we have been busy unpacking boxes, setting up the house, doing huge amounts of yard work and getting used to our new routines as a one car family with absolutely no public transport nearby.

I won't tire you with all the boring details… you want to know about my new garden, right?

Where we had been living previously, we were renting and had a relatively small backyard. We had been fortunate to have a very good landlord who was okay with us growing vegetables and keeping chickens and ducks. He didn't mind when we built our chicken coop, nor did he mind when we started breeding ducklings (at one point we had over 30 birds in our backyard). As great as he was, and as beautiful a place as it was to live in, it was never really ours. I was pretty limited with what I could achieve as I was always conscious I didn't want to build anything too permanent, or put too much money into the garden, knowing that we would have to move on one day.

Now that we have a home of our own I have been able to establish a permanent garden. The plot where I decided to set up my vegetable patch was already sort of being used to grow pumpkins and tomato plants...

A 'before' shot of the vegetable patch.

Establishing a vegetable garden on our new land was a bit challenging at the beginning. The soil conditions were a very similar poor quality to our previous rental property. Due to our costal location our soil is incredibly sandy, meaning that it is pretty low in organic material and also struggles to hold moisture. My first port of call was organising a couple of cubic meters of compost to be brought in and spread out over the vegetable plot. I then applied some soil conditioner that helps to hold the water. Another challenge we discovered soon after living in our new home for a few days was that we had a wild rabbit family also sharing our land. They came out at dawn and dusk, and munched on anything they could. This meant that any vegetable garden we established needed to be rabbit proofed to protect our crops. 

I found a number of half sleepers around the property that I was able to use as posts for the vegetable garden fence. I dug deep holes and cemented them in place (the holes needed to be quite deep due to the sandy soil). I used rapid set cement. Once they were secure I screwed in place lattice panels that I bought from our local hardware store. These gave a nice look on a budget (about $8 per panel). Along the bottom of the panels I ran chicken wire, and secured this to the panels then onto the ground with a brick (see photo for better detail).

This vegetable garden is quite huge. It is big enough to have a variety of crops growing at one time, with enough space left over to grow green manure crops and do a little bit of progressive planting. I decided to split the patch into two, and run a path down the centre. This has turned out to be a really good decision, as I am able to run a wheel burrow up and down the path with ease.

The other bonus of our new place is that it came with its very own potting shed! A shed to call my own.

It feels great to be back journaling my gardening activities. I can't wait to share with you more of my vegetable garden progress.

Sam xox

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A visit to Purple Pear Farm.

This week I was lucky enough to visit Purple Pear Farm! I have been following Kate's blog for a number of years now, and had always been interested in her methods of farming. I am a beginner gardener trying to use permaculture methods in my modest veggie patch. To visit Kate and Marks large permaculture and biodynamic farm was simply inspiring. I went on a tour of the farm whilst Kate described how their methods of farming worked in all the different sections of their garden. To see how an organic garden such as this thrives makes me more determined to learn more about permaculture and push myself to apply these principles even more in my own patch.

What I learnt from Kate:
- Chooks and Guinea pigs can be used as labourers in my garden. I can easily build cages for them and move them about the place as I need the ground worked.
- Don't be scared of weeds. These can be pulled and left on the soil to act as mulch.
- Eat seasonally. We should be eating the foods that nature is providing for us at the present time.
- Lentils taste delicious.
- When one stops picking beans/peas of the plants, they stop producing - must keep picking.
- You can train baby ducks not to eat your vegetable plants.
- Seedlings need to be 'hardened off' between the greenhouse and the ground.
- You can create what you need for your garden from bits and pieces lying around - and this can look beautiful.
- We need to create habitats in our gardens to invite birds, lizards and bees.

There is still so much to learn!

Sam xox

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The new man in my life.

I have been missing from this blog for over two months now, but I have a very good excuse...

I bought a horse!!!

His name is Maverick - and he is just delightful! He is a six year old Australian Quarter Horse with a personality that is the sweetest. I have been spending almost all of my spare time with him - riding him, training him, brushing him, cleaning his feet and washing his coat.

This photo below is from the day he arrived. It was absolutely bucketing rain and it was the first time he had ever been in a horse float. However, within ten minutes of arriving he allowed me to halter him and lead him around. An absolutely perfect horse.

We are fast becoming good mates! I have never been a morning person but, now I have him, I jump out of bed and am in the paddock with him as the sun is rising. So wonderful for the soul :-)

He has such a cheeky personality too. He loves to give kisses...

And pull faces at the other horses...

Can't imagine a better day, then being in the paddock with him.

Sam xox

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparing for autumn.

This week marked the arrival of autumn. The day when you wake up and find the air carries with it a crisp chill that hints of the cooler months to come. This kind of weather always stirs a desire in me to head for the mountains. Jamie and I both said so that morning when the first chill came. It was this weekend, 5 years ago, that my husband took me to the Snowy Mountains and proposed. I love this time of year.

I couldn't put it off any longer. My garden needed some work done to it to prepare for the change of season. As I have been caught up in 'real life', I decided that purchasing some seedlings from our farmers market would suffice for this round of planting, as I just haven't got around to planting much from seed.

I ripped out what was left of my summer crops. Dead beans and vines signalling the end of a season and my total lack of attention to my garden recently. These were removed.

And the planting began. I planted beans and radishes from seed...

Beetroot from seed...

Leeks as seedlings...

I cut back heavily my basil and parsley plants, then moved them into the part of my vegetable patch that receives the least sun light during the winter months...

Cos lettuce and kale were planted as seedlings...

Successive planting of radish seeds is yielding a good crop...

Two different varieties of chillies, some perennial capsicums, and rocket seedlings...

Progress so far...

My passion fruit has taken off. I cannot wait until fruits appear!

My hardy herbs are the only thing to thrive under my 'no attention at all' gardening method...

It feels good to have dirty nails again.

Sam xox

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pekin Bantams.

Our two new Pekin Bantams have settled into the coop nicely. I bought them from our local farmers markets a few weekends ago after Jamie had been complaining that we are not getting enough eggs from our two current chooks. I had planned on buying some more Isa Browns, or perhaps a couple of Australorps. But when I saw these two tiny ones in a cage all on their own, well, my heart melted and they came home with me.

When we introduced them into the coop, there was the predictable behaviour from Lady Sussex and Liberty - a couple of pecks to make sure these two new comers understood the pecking order. On the first evening I got a fright, as I couldn't find these two anywhere in the yard. After closer inspection in the nesting box, I discovered two little heads poking out from under the wing of Lady Sussex. These two had wiggled their way under her wings in a search for warmth/comfort, and as she is broody at the moment she was happy to play mum to them!

The ducks are not at all fussed by them, and have carried on as usual.

We haven't named them yet. Jamie has been calling them Houdini 1 and 2, as they have a knack for getting into strange places.

Sam xox