Thursday, 27 September 2012

It's CCCCold!

We've had some stormy, windy weather over the past week.  In fact I am writing this whilst snuggled under a quilt with a hot wheat pack on my feet as it's only 6 degrees outside and 8 degrees in the shed!  It's been raining and hailing all night and morning which is great for our water tanks.  They are both 80% full which means we have over 100000 litres stored so far.  The hail is spoiling the look of our pretty sugar snap peas, they still taste good though.
On Saturday there was an almighty wind storm and although we are very pleased our buildings had no damage, we were sad to see our favourite jarrah come crashing down.  It's in front of the house on the other side of the driveway, and was the tree to provide a wee bit of late afternoon shade for the front of the house. Oh well.  This is what it looked like in back in March, I've always loved the twisted, gnarly trunk.
And this is what happened to it.

The next day we got to work on the clean up.  Chain saw and mulching machine at the ready!
All finished.  A nice pile of firewood, a big pile of mulched up leaves for pathways and a pile of manky bits and pieces for the next bonfire.
This is the tree now.  The main trunk is pretty much dead but behind that are two smaller trees, we're not sure if they are separate trees entirely or are joined to that big trunk underground.  Regardless, they look healthy so hopefully they will grow strong and beautiful.
Prior to the stormy weather, we had about 10 days of  lovely warm days.  It was amazing how fast seeds sprouted and seedlings grew.  The vegies are producing well too.  How's this for a colourful lunch.  I am right into making beetroot dip, it is yummy!  Cooked beetroot, natural greek yoghurt, lemon juice and salt all blitzed up together.  This batch was a bit runny actually, I was a bit heavy handed with the yogurt.
 The cliveas exploded into bloom.  Aren't they gorgeous, such a cheerful flower.
 I experimented with popping a few pumpkin seeds into the pig poo compost pile, and am very happy to see that two have sprouted.  I've never grown pumpkins before so crossing fingers for success!
With the advent of warm weather the other observation was lots of tiger snakes!  Apparently they have just awoken from their winter hibernation and are hungry, hence we are seeing a lot of them.  In the last two years we have only seen two snakes so it was a bit of a shock to have six sightings in two days!  We have taken the opportunity to slash areas of long grass and bracken nearest the shed to give us more of a buffer zone between us and them as they tend to hang around just inside the bush outskirts.  They are fairly timid and disappear if you make a lot of noise, so I have taken to stomping if I walk near the outskirts of bush areas.  Since the weather has cooled down again we haven't seen any.  They are rather beautiful though, don't you think.  This one I photographed was sunning itself near a pile of old wood at the bottom of the hill, well away from our buildings.
Well, as I round up this blog post it is still raining and hailing outside and it is still freezing!  We warmed our insides this morning with yummy porridge.
We dashed out in our wet weather gear for a quick look at the creek which is flowing nicely again, it had slowed to a trickle a week ago,
On our walk we saw poor bedraggled kangaroos hiding in the bush, and this wet, fluffed up kookaburra.
 I think I might stay in bed for the whole day! :-)  Yep, good idea, the thunder is starting up now too.  Seeya!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Spring In The Garden

When we left our house in Perth, I wanted to bring some of my garden with me.  I took cuttings of my favourite native plants and I dug up one variety of plant to bring to Torbay, my cliveas.  I adore cliveas, they have green strappy leaves, grow in the shade but are tough as old boots, and the best thing is that they flower in late winter when not much else is in flower.  And the flowers are beautiful, vibrant orange with yellow centres.  When I dug them up I bunged them into old buckets filled with potting mix and holes drilled in the bottoms for drainage.  8 months later they are still in their buckets as I'm waiting to plant them in the house garden, and they are going strong.  6 of the them have burst into flower and we are so loving seeing the explosion of bright orange.  And the roos haven't eaten them which is a real bonus! :-)
 It's amazing what a couple of weeks of warmer weather and lovely sunshine does for the growth of plants.  Check out the flowers on the sugar snap peas! 
 Steve has planted the new tomato bed.  He's planted Black Russian, Roma, Sweet Bite and TommyToe so that is something to look forward to.
 He's also planted lebanese cucumber, leek and capsicum in this bed.  What with Steve's plantings plus what I put in last week, I hope we have scads of fresh vegies to eat over summer.
This is the "outside the vegie patch" potato bed.  This is an experiment to see if anything eats the potatoes without the protection of the vegie patch fence.  Nothing is bothering the plants so far apart from a few holes in the leaves which have the suspicious silvery trail of slugs.  It will be good if this works as the potatoes take up a lot of room and it will free up more space inside the fenced area for other things.  The nearest row of potatoes are Nadines, the next row are Norlands and the smaller back row are Nicola.  We are just starting to eat King Edwards which were already growing inside the fenced area, they are very nice. 
This is one of our crazy strawberry plants.  We have five, they are teeny tiny things that we planted in June.  All they've done is flower like mad since then.  I read you should pull the flowers off new plants so have dutifully done that all through winter, but I've given up now as these tough little plants are determined to flower and fruit.  Isn't it too early?  I thought strawberries fruited in summer.  Each plant now has about 8 strawberries on it, with the first one showing signs of a red blush.  I wonder if we will get to it before the birds spot them? 
A brief interlude from gardening meant making pumpkin scones, yummo.  This batch worked really well, the last batch was too sloppy and sort of collapsed into pieces.  These ones didn't last very long.  :-)
Today's mission was to pull off the outer casing of my compost bin and reposition it, turn the fresher stuff back into the empty compost bin so it's at the bottom, then gain access to the rich, black, fantastic compost at the bottom. 
One of my personal challenges is to make great compost and I've been experimenting with different methods.  This batch has so many worms in it I can hardly believe it.  This is the kitchen scraps compost bin, but I add lawn clippings, bracken and some prunings to it.  I'm planning on using this compost to try a recipe for home made potting mix that I found on the Internet.  1 part shredded sphagnum moss, 2 parts clean river sand and 4 parts compost with some blood and bone added.  We have a patch of lush sphagnum moss growing in the lower area near the creek, so I harvested some of that today.  I figured creek sand would do for river sand and I've mixed the concoction together with the compost in the wheel barrow and will have a go at planting some seedlings in it soon. 
I will leave you with a couple of videos of my favourite feathered friends. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bad Backs Suck

Well, I have arisen from my bed after 3 days of patheticness following what was originally a tiny tweak in my back, which went on to prevent any sort of movement whatsoever without groaning or gritting of teeth.  Far out it hurt!  After drugs and rest it's feeling much better.  During my sojourn I read a terrific book...
The Physician (Cole)

We have managed to sample the first few offerings of the spring vegies, yum.  The sugar snap peas and snow peas are smothered in flowers and I am impatiently awaiting a big pigout of them.  Same with the broad beans with are finally setting pods.  The tomato plant is one that came up by itself in autumn.  We left it in, but figured it would die off over winter.  Surprisingly, it flourished and has grown nice and big, and presented us with its first red tomato.  In Albany's cooler climate, it's unusual to get tomatoes before Christmas so we are justifiably proud.  :-)
 The gyprockers have finished their job in the house and we bid them farewell. 
 The hearth has been built and fitted in readiness for the solid fuel heater.
 But best of all, the kitchen cupboards are in!  This was the first part of the house to go in that was in chosen colours so we nervously awaited seeing if we liked the colours we chose.  I am pleased to say that it looks great, love the colours!
 The doors are plain old cream and the benchtop is a marbly sort of cream, slightly darker than the doors.  The gap on the far wall is where the stove will be installed, and above that will be a rangehood.
 Dishwasher space.  At first we weren't going to worry about a dishwasher, but common sense prevailed as we both despise doing dishes, so that is going to be our housewarming present to ourselves.  :-)
 I love the rounded edges of the benchtops.
 This is the pot drawer cupboard which is next to the stove.  I should think this will be much nicer than grovelling around in the back of a dark cupboard looking for things.
 Our colour schemes throughout the house are going to be very safe and bland, but I did want something a bit more zingy for the kitchen tiles and have gone for this lovely blue rustic tile.  I propped a few up on the cupboard for this photo, I hope they look okay.  I think they will.  I hope they will.  Of course they will.  Yes.  :-)


Monday, 10 September 2012

Spring Has Sprung

We had a great few days in Perth catching up with family and friends, it's always nice to see the people that are dear to us.  :-)
I also got to catch up with my very favourite pussy cat, Michelle's Asta, who I miss very much.  Normally she is relatively indifferent when I visit, but this day she was gorgeously gooey and sooky and allowed much cuddling.  :-)
Since our return home the spring weather has burst forth and with that we have been in a vegetable growing frame of mind.  Steve bought some very fine mesh to wrap around the already fenced vegie patch, but the existing fencing has holes that are too big and small critters (we presume bandicoots or ratties) are getting in and feasting on the tops of cabbages.  Hopefully the new fencing will trick 'em.  Steve also spotted a Southern Boobook (like an owl) sitting on the fence post late one night, watching over the vegie patch, so maybe it has eaten the cabbage nibbler! 

I have madly planted seeds and seedlings over the last couple of days so now to sit back and await masses of sunflowers, onions, sweetcorn, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, capsicum, cabbage, lettuce, lebanese cucumber, celeriac, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, zucchini and peas, we hope!  We've had great returns from our root crops so far, with the carrots and beetroot turning out deeeelicious!  So we are trying to remember to keep planting them at intervals.  And the broccolini has been magnificent.  I've managed to grow a decent crop of spinach too, but it remains stubbornly yellowish.  I presumed it was lacking nitrogen, but after providing heaps of urea on more than one occasion, without much change, I am thinking that maybe we have a trace element deficiency.  More trial and error on that to come.  It still tastes okay though.

Not much to say about the house, the gyprockers are still here, doing all the fiddly stuff like along window ledges, so I haven't taken any photos as it doesn't look any different.  'Simmy' spent today cutting up the pieces of cornice to size though, and they are all laid out neatly, ready to be installed tomorrow.  That's when I will take the next photos, it should look great with the cornices done.  I am champing at the bit waiting for the kitchen cupboards, which are coming on Thursday!

We popped into town today and visited a vintage store that is closing down and had massive discounts.  I have always coveted one of those big pitcher and bowl sets of old, and I love blue and white china, so I was entranced when I spotted this set.  At first I wasn't going to buy it as it wasn't included in the sale, but as luck would have it, while we were in the store the lady loudly announced that for 15 minutes only, any full priced item would be 50% off.  So this little bunny scuttled over and grabbed it!  What do you think?  I am very very pleased with it and can't wait to find a spot in the new house to display it.
On a final note, I have been enjoyed playing with 'tangling', or creative doodling for relaxation.  The new name for it is Zentangle. The repetitive strokes you do as you draw are supposed to create a meditative feeling, and I must say I am amazed at how much time passes by without me realising it.  Enjoyable.