Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Spring Flower Power

I've been busy planting Summer veggies, and I am now half way there.

However, it's that time of year here where the beautiful flowers end up stealing the show:

The crabapples are putting on a spectacular show

The orange trees are in full bloom with next year's crop

The raspberry canes are now flowering. Yum, we look forward to our first big harvest of berries this year.

The strawberry plants have come to life and are already developing their fruit.

The apricot tree is providing us with our first crop this year, fingers crossed!

And Lavender( back) and Toffee (front) are enjoying the Spring sunshine. They are our two very spoilt bunnies. Lavender is our female, and Toffee is our male. They have both been de-sexed so that no little bunnies appear unwanted. Female rabbits also have a high incidence of developing ovarian cancer as well, so this is why both have been done. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

lime green everywhere

It's spring in Melbourne, Australia and everything is turning lime tree with the new growth.

I have planted my first Roma tomato. I know it is early, but I always plant them early and I do protect them.  I'll probably plant a few more in two week's time. Five plants seem to give me enough fruit to bottle as sauce.

And for the final picture; completely off the track as far as gardening goes. I love to decorate my home, and for quite some time now I have wanted a tree sculpture in my house to hang decorations from, clip cards to , etc,. They are quite expensive for what they are, so I thought I would make my own. I am very pleased with the finished job. It needs one more coat of paint though.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung, and just in time for my sanity.

Some photos of my veggies and what is currently happening in the garden. Plenty of Spring / Summer planting to be done in the coming weeks though.......
This is the January King Cabbage. Its colours are absolutely striking.

Awhile ago I blogged about my new veggie area. This is how it's looking. I have been picking the rocket from the front, the cauliflowers and broccoli are doing well and look healthy, and the snowpeas at the back are beginning to climb.

The asparagus is continuing to pop through, and enough now for the two adults in the house once a week to feast on. The kids don't seem to have the taste for it yet.

This is the first of the new leaves on one of my newly planted pear trees...very exciting!

The raspberry canes are well and truely starting to shoot new leaves now, and the new season canes are quickly coming through.

Lots of English spinach to add to meals.

The dark patch at the front of this bed has just had more Rocket sown.
These are three cauliflowers that were left over, so I just planted them here. The one on the right is twice as big as the other two. Interesting to see how big the Cauli gets.

Leeks are a little slow, but will eventually get there.
Little capsicum seedlings were planted today.

Down in the back beds there are plenty of savoy and red cabbages on the grow, as well as more carrots, spring onions, and the celery which I grow for the tops to give to the bunnies and is already being picked.

Yah Spring!!!! Soon for the tomato planting!!!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Clean cleaning

I started growing my own food approximately 5 years ago. In the last six months I have re-evaluated what I wanted to achieve through doing this. My baby sister gave me a book to read called 'No more dirty looks', a book about cosmetics and skin care and what really is in them. I read it and I was shocked. It opened my eyes to a world of organics. Having daughters myself I wanted to give them a better, healthier future. So I have changed my ways a little here, the skin and body care is under control now with the use of only 'clean' products, but I still have a long way to go as far as replacing all my make-up. It's hard to say good-bye to that favorite lippy.

I then started to read a lot more about this topic and went green with my cleaning products as well. This is something I'm really happy that I did. I have just cleaned my house completely through and I know that I haven't exposed myself to anything nasty. Once you buy the products needed it's easy. A few storage bottles are needed as well, but it's worth the effort. Below I have listed my homemade product that I use weekly, and the ingredients needed to make them.

I would love to know any other tips or recipes that people have.

2 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon tea tree oil
1/4 teaspoon lavender oil

Combine all ingredients and store in a spray bottle. Shake before use.

Mirror and glass cleaner:
I use either my enjo glass cleaning cloth, or sometimes I use vinegar and paper towel.

Floor cleaner:
I use only hot water on my polished floor boards. Sometimes I add a dash of vinegar. On my tiles I add a few drop of either tea tree oil or lavender oil.

Bath, sink and tile cleaner:
1 2/3 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid soap ( I use dr. Bronners magic soap, made with organic oils, and available at the Vic market)
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup water
Few drops of tea tree oil

Mix altogether and store in a large sauce/ squirt top bottle. Shake well before use.

Toilet bowl cleaner:
Liquid soap

Spray soap around bowl, then sprinkle borax on top. Then simply scrub with a toilet brush.

I have other recipes too, but I find these are the only ones I really need,and I'm a clean freak!

Sill haven't tried the oven cleaner one I have, but if anyone has a recipe that works I would love to know it.

Happy cleaning......

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Seven signs of the coming of Spring

Spring is definitely in the air here in sunny Melbourne, Australia. I could smell the blossom in the air today as we went for a Sunday walk.......So here's my 7 signs this week why Spring is definitely in the air.....
1.The strawberries are beginning to flower
2.The apricot tree is covered in blossom

3.The raspberry canes are sending out new shoots, and the new canes are appearing in the ground (sorry photo is blurry and my camera has run out of battery power)

 4. Our weather is on the inprove, with days expected in the low 20s this week!!!!!
5. The flowers are in full bloom
6. The chard has really taken off now and is looking great
7. The hydrangers and roses are starting to shoot

10 days to Spring!!!!!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Brilliant Broccoli

Not a lot is going on in my garden at present. Winter is slowly coming to a close, and there are many bare patches in the veggie garden now, waiting to be planted out for spring.

The broccoli is still producing good little off shoots though. They will keep producing until I remove them to make way for the spring crops.

Hurry up Springtime!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

garden snaps

These are some pictures of my youngest daughter's garden. I think she has a green thumb.

A couple of months ago I made a new veggie garden area. It only receives limited sunlight during winter though. So I filled it with leafy greens such as broccoli, cauliflowers, rocket, Bok choy, as well as peas. They are so far doing great, and the Bok choy is doing brilliantly.

These are what my 'normal' carrots look like after harvest.

Also, I love a funny veggie shot. See what do think of this one ( sorry if you find it offensive).

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Early harvest - asparagus

The weather has been amazing today in Melbourne. We are still in the middle of winter, however it has been a beautiful sunny day with a top of 19 degrees celcius. Other than today it has been quite cold here, but oddly enough I harvested the first of my asparagus today. Very early indeed, but very welcome.
This picture was actually take last week, so the asparagus heads are well and truely up now. Perhaps an early Spring is on its way?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The promise of good things to come...

Yes it's winter here, but come spring, in five weeks time, things will start to really come alive in the garden. I simply can't wait. This is the time of year I start to get very impatient. I have pulled out some photos from last spring in my garden to keep my spirits alive and smiling:

The backyard Crabapple tree. There is also a beautiful white one in the front yard.

Foxgloves are a big favourite in our garden and they readily self-seed.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The cauliflowers are so WHITE!

At the beginning of the winter season ( around late May), my first lot of cauliflowers were ready to be harvested. It was still a little warm then and they looked like they had a bit of a fungal issue. When I went to the VIC market organic section, theirs also looked a little off. Perhaps it was all that rain we were having. So I planted a second crop and they are beautiful and white....

Sometimes, if you are experiencing alot of winter sun, they can go a little yellow. Just tie the leaves together to protect the vegetable and they will be a perfect white....

Don't you just love cauliflower with a white cheese sauce. YUM!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Time to sow tomatoes

Last year my youngest daughter loved picking the ripe tomatoes and bringing them indoors for me to cook with. We bottled numerous amounts of tomato sauce made from these, and are still slowly going through our supply over winter.
At the end of the season, she collected the seeds from our favorite Roma tomatoe plants ( great for sauce) and dried and stored them for me.
July is the perfect time to sow these indoors, and we have done just that in the last week. They will remain in our warm laundry until they have produced their second set of leaves. Then we will transfer them down to our green house, which is a little warmer, for a couple of weeks. Then we will harden them off in a protected outdoor area before planting them out in spring.
We checked them today, and to our surprise they had already popped up after only six days.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Winter garden blues

Lack of motivation to be in the garden is definitely a problem this time of year. I have however managed to get outside and prune the roses and top dress the asparagus and berry patch with manure, ready for spring, this week.

I also trimmed up my Star Jasmine, ready for their big spring growth. I really do need to give them a good trim this time of year, otherwise they will lose their shape when they flower in November due to their huge growth spurt. They look bronze in colour at the moment, but this is normal for the colder month and come spring they will turn their dark green colour again.

I have a few of these on my fence line to fill in the gaps. They look great in late Spring/ Summer, when they are a mass of frangrant flowers.

We also have four pots up on our deck area that have been used in a similar way. They certainly break up the hard surfaces. We are just about to enclose this deck area, but the pots will remain.

After much contemplation and conversation with the garden centre staff, I decided on the two new fruit trees to be planted in our back yard. I have planted two pear trees, one a William and the other a Josephine. Sorry, the photo is shaded from my lemon tree.

Lastly, my newly planted veggie area is doing well, slowly, but healthy looking:

The rocket is up, the peas are getting there, the bok choy is going guns, and the broccoli is slow, but all looking very healthy.

Six more weeks to spring......

Friday, 8 July 2011


Previously I have mentioned in my blog how my watercress keeps reappearing. In Melbourne we are really not meant to treat it as a perenial, but maybe we should.
This is a picture of the handful that I just removed from my garden, as it is taking over the whole area:

You can clearly see the roots of the plants developing in this photo right up the stems:

So I have placed the cuttings in water and will give them to family when they visit tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pear tree purchase

Two weeks ago I pulled out one of our passionfruit vines. We had three in our backyard, and this one didn't perform as well as the others last summer. So out it went, and now I have a beautiful large space alongn my fence line in full sun. My plans are to plant one or maybe even two pear trees. I have done my research and narrowed it down to a few different varieties that will perform well here in Melbourne. The first is the Red Sensation pear, a beautiful fruit to look at, which be forms well here. The second on the short list is William Bon Chretien, or William pear as we know it here. This is probably the best choice so far, as it is a prolific fruiter, and is self polinating. Although it will be even more productive if there are two. My intensions are to espalier them along the fence.

Any ideas??? would love to here from anyone in this region who has a pear tree as to what variety it is.

At this stage I think I will probably be putting in one of each variety. This way their fruiting season will be longer as they fruit at different times.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Veggie round-up

Even though it is winter here in Melbourne alot of veggies are still putting on their best show:
The peas are starting to produce many flowers and the pods are fattening up nicely. This is the first planting of peas for this winter.

This is the second lot of peas I have sown this winter. Just popping their heads up. A good liquid feed every week of worm juice will get them flying along.

The first of the cauliflowers I was disappointed with, but these seem to be doing nicely. Good colour, no signs of bugs and firm little caulis forming in the centre. ( love cauliflower with a white cheese sauce) I will often tie the leaves of the cauliflower around the actual cauli to keep them nice and white, as too much sun yellows them. Not alot of sun here this winter though.
The broccoli heads have been in good supply, being tight and free from bugs.

Bok Choy are growing well. They are quick growers so they will probably be ready to harvest in four weeks. So I probably will need to replant another lot in two weeks time, as these have only been in for two weeks.

The Chard (silverbeet) are a constant, year round winner in our garden. Great for throwing in a stirfry and using in other dishes where spinach is needed.

 We don't eat alot of salads in winter, but it's still nice to have some lettuce in the garden (this is an oak one) for lunches.
Cabbages are doing great and look good in the garden this time of year.

There's always beetroot in the garden and carrots.  We use both the root of the beetroot and the young leaves in salads. Our rabbits love the leaves as well.
Lastly, the Rocket is finally up and will be quick to grow. Love this on a pizza with roasted pumpkin and goats cheese! Also, the spinach seeds are up and growing.

Happy gardening everyone..........