Monday, September 9, 2013

Preserved lemons a success

preserved lemons by margoc
preserved lemons a photo by margoc on Flickr.
We tried our preserved lemons last week on a couscous salad - delicious! Salty, tart, sour and very lemony! :o)

Fake it: cabbage moth or not?

Spring gardening by margoc
Spring gardening a photo by margoc on Flickr.
I'm a tad averse to growing Brassicas, as they get destroyed by the very efficient and hard-to-spot green larvae of the Cabbage Moth.

However, I got some leftover seedlings of Red Chard and Red Cabbage from my mother-in-law and they seem to have taken off well.

So, I thought I'd try an experiment as seen on Gardening Australia recently: I've made some fake white cabbage moths out of white plastic for the cabbage patch and over the tomatoes too (we'll see what happens between each of them), as they seem to be territorial - err, the moths that is, not the vegies. :o)

Spring gardening

So far, we have seen but one green caterpillar on the cabbages - it's looking promising! Will remain vigilant though as these green monsters are very determined creatures!

If you're not sure about pests in your garden, check out the GA website for lots of great tips, starting with this list from Sophie.

And speaking of pests, how's this for a haul of Slaters? Good work Clancy! :o)

Spring gardening

Happy gardening!

Spring gardening for 2013

Spring gardening by margoc
Spring gardening a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Well, I can't recall a springy-er Spring than this one for some time - Perth is actually having a proper Spring! Lots of rain, warm days and nights, with the odd cold snap in between (well, by Perth standards at least). It's been simply lovely in fact!

So, apart from our renovations and the ongoing mess that it creates, we have still managed something of a vegie patch.

Today, Alfie wanted to plant some Beans, so we used 5 big pots (which recently housed our snow peas) to plant some Dwarf Beans and we scattered some in amongst the tomatoes and flowers (i.e. the top side of the photo here). He was quite chuffed I think.

I picked up some cheap Cosmos and Cornflower seedlings last weekend at the local nursery for some colour and insect attracting goodness. The Cosmos is already about to burst into flower.

At the same time, I found some Chocolate Capsicums, a Diggers Club variety which are small and sweet. Can't wait to try them! (Neither can Clancy who is the chocoholic in the family!).

The potted garden is looking fresh after much rain and the recent sunshine too. I've dosed up some of the larger pots like the olives, citrus and ficus with extra compost and some old sheep and cow manure. They also get a dose of worm juice too, as our worms are doing really well after being devastated following the hot Summer at at the start of the year.

And finally, Clancy's lettuce seeds have taken as well - she has a planter full of them (a mix batch) which will serve her well for her salad making adventures.

What a perfect Spring!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Preserving lemons

My sister has just moved to a new house and although it only has a small courtyard (a triplex) it has two wonderful citrus trees that are doing very well. One is a lemon (I'm guessing it's a Meyer) and the other is a kaffir lime. She reckons they get about a dozen or more dropping on the ground each day. So, ever resourceful, the kids and I grabbed a bagful!

What to do with a bagful of lemons? Preserve them of course! I've always wanted to try lemon preserving but never really had a bulk of them to try.

So, today was the day! I used Stephanie Alexander's recipe which also includes bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon (I had none so used cardamom pods).

Thirty lemons and a three litre jar full later... All looks good!

Can't wait to watch the transformation in the coming weeks and months!

- Posted by Marg on the move!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Construction, production with chooks and compost

A constructive day in the garden today. . .

Simon built a compost heap using reclaimed pallets. Good timing too as the mulberry tree is now dropping its copious amount of leaves for autumn. So we now have our chooks, worms and compost going well. A side note, my Mum is providing us with a top-up of worms, as hers are going great guns and need dividing. Good for us, as our worms took a hit over the summer months.

Compost bins using pallets
Simon's compost bin from reclaimed pallets.

In terms of compost production, I'm hoping we can bulk up a bit more by getting leftovers from the nearby markets. This can also help to feed the chooks, as our kitchen scraps are pretty meagre really.

I also put together a lightweight chook tractor. I used polypipe and the pipe fittings to make up the frame, plus some some bird netting from our grapevine, as there's plenty to spare. It's a bit on the flexible side (and we did have an escapee for a short while), but at least we can move it about easily and wedge it into some of the confined spaces in our backyard as needed. The girls didn't know what was going on at first, but then they didn't seem to mind as they got stuck into the long grass! They are so cute. :o)

Chook tractor
Chook tractor made with polypipe and bird netting.

We are hoping the chook tractor idea can help us to keep the grass down a bit (it's patchy at best and we don't have enough to warrant a lawnmower), plus keep the pest population down a bit. Our seeds were systematically chomped by slugs and snails as they pushed through the soil! Come on girls, get eating! Hoping they'll keep the slaters down too, plus leave their valuable manure around.

Happy gardening!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Raised garden bed and autumn plantings

Raised garden bed Autumn by margoc
Raised garden bed Autumn a photo by margoc on Flickr.
After celaning up our building remnants, we got to work on our raised no-dig garden bed and have since planted a range of seeds. We've over-planted with the expectation that some will not surface and others will suffer from the slaters and millipedes - natural attrition in other words!

So, we have from top left to right: yellow beans, radish, Swiss chard, climbing beans; Middle L to R: baby carrots, leeks (Musselwhite), peas; Bottom L to R: pansies, beetroot, peas.

The radish and beetroot have both sprouted so far (not quite a week since sowing the seeds), they got a head start with the warm weather and the bit of rain we've had since.

We've scattered a healthy layer of coffee grounds too, to try to deter the slaters and millipedes and are keeping our fingers crossed. I'm going to try to bring in the potted mints to see if that will help deter pests too - worked a treat in our Canberra garden, I recall!

Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year: everything seems to rest, the weather goes calm and if you make it to the beaach, the water is like glass for much of the day. Stunning!

Happy Autumn gardening!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Capers (capparis spinosa)

Picked up some more compost and manure today and found a caper bush.
Love capers but don't know much about them as a plant. I didn't realise there were native Australian varieties as well, but called a wild orange (or pomegranate).

Capparis spinosa
Caper. Wiki Commons
There's an organic producer based in South Australia that is doing some nice capers, plus the caper berries and also the leaves (check out their range) - yum!

Be interesting to see how capers go in the Perth humidity. At least they require little water (once established anyhow) and a bit of compost love every so often. Now to find a nice spot in the backyard for it.

Will keep you posted!

Happy gardening!

Some Autumn Rejuvenation

OK so maybe we don't need a building site in the backyard :-).

We spent the weekend cleaning up the brick and limestone rubble extracted from our bathroom. We separated the good stuff for reuse and have a "throw out pile" as well. Amazing though how small the pile became once we looked at what we could reuse.

I also put in some lemongrass, galangal and wormwood cuttings around the chook shed and fence line to catch some of the water run-off and give the chooks some extra foraging. They will keep the winter grass down around our mulberry tree too, as it crops up after the rains. As long as the cuttings survive their scratching and digging they should be good!

On another note, our worms took a hit over summer. We've moved them back under the mulberry tree too. Hoping they'll replenish their numbers in the coming (cooler) months. Another reason to get some more green crops in is to feed the chooks and worms better as they compete for our meager food scraps right now.

We topped up the pots including the lemon, lime, fig, olives, guavas and more so they too can make the most of the rain when and as it comes.

Next, our no-dig patch gets a work over.

Happy gardening!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Preserving and jams

I made some plum and fig jam recently - both with beautiful fruit - figs supplied by our lovely neighbour and plums from the local markets.

A neighbourly gesture

And, just look at the colour!!

Fig jam - my fav!

Santa Rosa Plum jam

The plums are Santa Rosa and have red-black skin giving the jam a dark, rich colour. Normally I look out for Blood (Satsuma) Plums, but only saw them one weekend and they were quite expensive. The Santa Rosas weren't too bad, about $3/kg.

I'd like to do more preserving once our renos are done and we have some pantry and laundry space!

Happy gardening!

No garden!

Well, forget about a no-dig garden, we simply don't have a garden at the moment! Thus, it's been a loooong while since I've posted to this blog.

We have begun some renovations on our house which has, until recently, turned our productive backyard into a building site! We have built a deck that transitions out to the garden, but there's still some work to do to finish things off and re-connect to our gardening activities.

Thus, we are researching ideas and designs for our backyard, as we have an opportunity to "start from scratch".

I've been reading up on Permaculture Design (Simon gave me Bill Mollison's lovely book recently) and we are turning our thoughts to a sustainable garden that can produce things for us but also for itself to keep it self-sufficient (you know, mulches, composting, seasonal mixes, etc).

So, while we are keen to put in rainwater tanks and a grey water system, we need to also think about the layout and the slope of the property and use the best areas for the best fit to our (outdoor) activities. And of course, we need to look after our little ladies who are keeping us in a fine stock of eggs!

We also want to maintain our worm farm and also a space (or theme) in which the kids can play and explore.

Between now and then (likely about 12 months) I am gathering together plants, propagating things we like the look of, eyeing off secondhand bricks, sleepers and limestone blocks and researching ways to generally make our garden summer-proof here in Perth - and ouch, what a summer we've just had! Hot, dry and simply bears NO fruit/veg wihtout constant water and shade (two things we don't as a constant).

So, wile we will maintain a small garden bed over the coming cooler months, our focus will shift more to our bigger plans in creating a backyard garden to cherish.

Happy gardening!