Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaf that mulch alone

All those lovely plane tree, silver birch, liquid amber, maple and oak leaves gathering around the footpaths and gutters of Geelong are calling.

Calling me before heading off to work to put a plastic rake and a bundle of garbage bags in the back of the Bombora and head down the streets populated by large, faceless corporations who have no appreciation for the wonderful mulching materials lying there, just waiting to add value to any garden or compost.

I don't rake the leaves outside houses - they belong to the residents.

But leaves piled up outside government office or brick eddifice of no beauty - hah!

There's nothing like a pile of wonderful leaves to scatter over the vegetable beds or hunker into the compost bins and shortly, hey presto! Mulch you would die for.

Those gorgeous scarlet, orange, yellow, gold, amber and sienna leaves are a gift to the eye, wonderful to scrunch through and a great benefit to the garden.

Plus they are darn fun to wade through and toss around.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tasmania - a good egg

TASMANIA'S decision to ban new battery hen operations is a win for anyone with a heart for our hens and with respect for the animals who produce our eggs, the Weekly Times reported today.

Looking down at my girls I think of the chooks I have purchased over the years form various battery operations - hens who had been living in vile and cramped conditions for a year while they pumped out hundreds of eggs were suddenly deemed to to be worthless and sold for $2.50 each - less than the price of a cup of coffee.

Each year or so I would peddle or drive up to the local battery farm with a cardboard box and buy three or four girls.

The look in their eyes when they were gently deposited into their new pen with a lemon tree, ladder for perching, fresh straw, water and food and a fox-proof hutch was wonderful.

Within a day or so these formerly limp, thin little birds were acquiring a glossy sheen to their feathers, running about in delight as they pecked unwary insects and running towards me when I brought out their breakfast. Their eggs were and are, always delicious.

Of course, down south on the apple isle, while the move has delighted animal welfare activists, it has egg producers worried.

Caged in: Hens stacked up in a battery laying operation.The State Government announced $2.5 million in funding in Thursday's Budget to implement the ban and work to boost the number of non-cage operations.
Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White lauded the move.
"For years animal groups and the community have been calling on Australian governments to act on this obvious cruelty," she said.

Read more here...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winter moult

Some friends are complaining their gals are losing their looks - a few feathers here, a few there and before you know it your once gloriously glamorous hens resemble chooks who have taken up cage fighting - and not on the winning team.
Don't despair.

The onset of cold weather often sends chooks into a moult and sometimes off the lay.
I try to spoil the little darlings - although they often resemble darleks when thye misbehave in the broccolli patch but that's another andafr darker story.

So try some crushd garlic corms in their water bowls and some extra comfrey in their pen to give them some pep.

I also make them up some porridge with rolled oats to get their tummies warm on colder days.

So far the five gals are producing four eggs a day which is more than enough so I canshare with friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Free range farmer scoops award

FREE-range egg farmer Anne Westwood has won the Australian National Energy Globe Award for sustainable farming practices.
Anne and her husband, Phil, from West Gippsland, have about 1000 chooks on their Grantville property, as well as cattle and sheep for grazing.

Clucky: Anne Westwood on her free-range egg farm at Grantville.

Read all about Anne and Phil and their free range chook farm...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winter planting and planning


Now we need to have hot water bottle or the electric blanket switched onto the bliss setting before retiring for the night, pulling on the extra-snug gloves before going for a peddle, donning a beanie rather than a straw hat before weeding and start splitting firewood with earnest, it's time to think about winter veggie planting.

Just thinking about all those delicous greens going into a soup warms me up.

Here's some good advice from the ever-delightful Tino of Gardening Australia.

It's also a good time to give the secateurs, spades and garden forks a jolly good clean, sharpen and oil.

In fact it's a cracker job to do by the fire with a cup of lemon and ginger tea on a rainy day...
Sunday morning I awoke to a glorious sound - rain teaming down on the old corrugated iron roof.

If there's a better noise - other than listening to Leonard Cohen's Darkness, Edwards Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros Home or an empty 5ft wave sweeping through Wategos as you paddle out, I've yet to hear it.

However, the girls are not happy.

Breaking into a running start as i open their hutch door that would impress Pharlap, they scurry about eating their breakfast of pancakes (I regularly have friends over for a Sunday brekkie so the gals get the leftovers) and pellets during a break in the rain, they then duck under the hen house when it pelts down.

The sight of their cross little faces never fails to amuse.

However, as soon as the sun comes out, they dash about gobbling down unwary worms and insects.

And as it's Sunday, at 1pm they will be listening to their favourite radio show, Dirty Deeds.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Danawa Garden Update


Danawa Garden's chairman, Perry with Leanne, Claire and John
at the vibrant community garden.


Weather permitting, the plan this Saturday is to drag the branches out where Council can mulch them up.
All welcome – pitch in and reap the harvest for your dinner!

Come along and meet other keen veggie gardeners in the Torquay area.

The garden is between the Surf Coast Hwy and the Torquay footy ground and tennis courts. See you there.

More info, contact Perry Mills on 0428 848 646 or via



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rhubarb, rhurbarb, rhubarb...


Popular: Sydney crimson rhubarb can produce sticks all year, even through our coldest winters.

It's time to plant the rhubarb.


Just thinking about baked apple and rhubarb with a bit of nutmeg enjoyed in front of the fire on a cool autumn night makes me happy.

Read all abut Sir Peter of Cundall's tips about growing this delicious vegetable... 

Of course, to their chagrin the chooks will have to be freeranging under strict supervision until the plants are established.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Compost week next week!

Compost week is coming up! Monday 7 – Saturday 12 May 2012

Better, soil, better life, better future.

Sure, you and i know about how composting our waste helps make a great garden, fabulous soil and grow amazing food.

But did you know Composting Awareness Week was established in Canada in 1995?
In 2006, the Centre for Organic & Resource Enterprises (CORE), initiated the event here in Australia. CORE is an industry group in the sustainability sector and conducts a wide range of awareness programs.

So get involved!

Check out the details...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Those of us with backyard chickens know our hens are happy foraging abut the garden.

Hilda at the Jan Juc Surf Farm hen house

Sure, many like my my girls are in a fully enclosed run, but they have a lemon tree, clean straw, dirt for having a bath in and fresh air and sunshine on tap (weather permitting).

The eggs these happy hens produce are delicious and our friends and families love the taste and he fact they are from animals treated with kindness and respect.

Now the consumer advocate group CHOICE has called on the Egg Corporation to reconsider its planned 13-fold increase in hen stocking densities for eggs it certifies as free range and instead work with government, animal welfare and consumer groups on a national standard that would meet consumer expectations.