Friday, December 20, 2013

SCRAMBLED

EVERYONE who has chooks in the back yard reckons their girls produce the best cackleberries with which to make scrambled eggs.

As do I.

And I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and give you the recipe:

2 freshly laid eggs
1/2 cup of milk
mushrooms
tomatoes
fresh baby spinach
fresh basil leaves - chopped roughly
olive oil
Salt and pepper
Sourdough bread

Beak eggs add milk and combine until fluffy
Place a splash of olive oil in the pan
Add chopped mushrooms, tomatoes and half  the basil and gently toss until cooked
Place bread in toaster or even better, under the grill
Carefully pour in egg mixture over the mushrooms and tomatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste then using a spatula, push the mixture back on itself as it cooks
When cooked place spinach on toast then lift scrambled eggs on toast
Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

FREE RANGE ID WIN

CHOICE, the consumer's lobby today announced their key wins for consumers in 2013, including the NSW Department of Fair Trading announced in December that it would champion a national crackdown on dodgy free-range egg labelling after CHOICE made a complaint earlier in the year.

This is an important step towards an enforceable free-range egg standard in Australia.

If you can, consider having a couple of chooks in your backyard.

Here's the label for the egg-cess bounty from my feather riot...

Gidget’s Cluckingham Palace
Fresh laid free range eggs from the happy hens: 
Gidget, Layne. Ledger, Laura and Hilda.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PAVLOVAS

MAKING meringues is always a hoot.

It's easier than working out what to do with all the left-over egg yolks if you are not planning on whipping up mayonnaise afterwards.

Last night I had fun baking mini-pavlovas for the fire brigade barbecue tonight.

Listening to 3RRR, drinking a diet ginger-beer and keeping an eye on the chooks to make sure they did not invade the bean patch, it's a pleasant way to spend a sunny summer evening.


As I'd already made the chocolate spice and vanilla butter cakes, the oven was well heated so I could easily lower the temperature.

To check they are cooked, gently tap the meringue - it will sound hollow if it is done.

While a large pavlova looks spectacular, for a buffet I prefer to make single serves so people can help themselves.

ALISON'S NO-FAIL MERINGUES

4 egg whites
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 TBL spoons sifted pure icing sugar

Beat egg whites, Salt and sugar until thick, glossy and firm - about 10 minutes
Gently fold in icing sugar until fully combined
Line flat trays with baking paper 
Pipe into small swirls
Bake in a low oven - around 100 degrees for about an hour (every oven is different so keep an eye on them to ensure they don't brown.)
Fill with cream and scatter with blueberries or grated chocolate
Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

BAMBOO BASHERS

ERADICATING bamboo can be a thankless task.
 
So thank goodness for the feather riot.
 
Before the combines attack of mattock and chook
 
  
After the hens and the mattock
 
Looking at the bare earth down the pathway behind my studio and chook run, it's a testament to those cheeky chooks.
 
The before photo which was taken from the other end of the path shows the triffid-like jungle the bamboo had grown into
 
These hens have been working hard.
As have I - swinging a mattock is a great core and upper-body workout but it took ages to cut down the bamboo and then dig out the roots.
 
The bamboo poles were then left to dry out and cure and as you can see from the photo above, are perfect for staking tomatoes and beans.
 
There's still the occasional bamboo shoot, but by the time the hens have a nobble and scratch it's all over red rover.
 
 

Friday, December 13, 2013

PANCAKES

PANCAKES are one of those you can 'feel them doing you good' breakfasts.
 
Particularly when made from fresh eggs collected a few minutes earlier.
 
 
No-fail pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup wholemeal SR Flour - sifted
1/2 cup SR flour - sifted
 
Beat eggs and milk until frothy
Gently add flours
Combine until creamy
Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes
Heat non-stick pan and grease
Use a table spoon to drop small amounts of batter in pan
Serve with lemon and sugar or berries
 
Note - the chooks will love the scraps!
 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

BISCUITS

IS there anything more fun to do in the kitchen than baking biscuits?
 
They are simple to create, use eggs from my hens and emit such a lovely fragrance as you pull them from the oven!

This morning I had the old sunbeam mix-master working overtime as I made cakes, Anzac and butter biscuits before work for an afternoon tea for a friend.

Easy to bake but they make an impact as everyone love loves gifts from the heart.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HAPPY HENS

KEEPING your backyard chooks happy is the key to getting great eggs.
 
Ensuring they have a constant supply of cool and clean fresh water, food and a relaxed environment all make those cackleberrries extra-good.
 
Free-range is the go but foxes, even in urban areas, can be a problem.
 
Lat night a galpal on acreage at Bellbrae called to say her flock of hens were being stalked by a fox. So confident was this it predator, it was even turning up while she only 10m away putting out the washing!
 
Now she is going to build a totally enclosed run to keep them safe.
 
 
As my yard backs onto the Bellarine rail trail which can seem to be a fox highway at times, so I don't allow the gals out in the garden unless I'm there.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

OVER THE FENCE

ONE of the loveliest things about walking or cycling to work is looking at what everyone else is growing in their gardens.
 
Roses rambling over fences, lemon trees showing their bounty as you walk past a gate, even tomatoes soaring a good couple of metres up, in this case. even growing above the lattice nailed to the timber fence. 
 
While dashing along Carr St last night, I stopped to admire this tomato which was enjoying the sunshine. It was taller than I am (not hard at 5'3") and covered in flowers which bodes well for a later summer harvest.
 
I can understand why people want privacy in the gardens, but sharing your trees, shrubs and flowers looks and scent is one of the great benefits of gardening all year long.
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

CRY FOWL OVER NEW EGG-SHARING LAWS

ALL states bar Victoria will affected by new regulations to come in next year which may mean the end to the sharing of backyard eggs.

An article in the WEEKLY TIMES said from November, selling, trading or giving away eggs produced in your backyard could be banned.

Well, I for one am appalled.

This is serious as it means that backyard chook keepers like me who give away eggs (and those who also sell), will have our egg trading restricted.

My hens produce 4-5 eggs a day and the majority are given to friends who are unwell or I use them in my baking.

The WT article said all states and territories have signed the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code and each state has had to draft its own legislation.
It added so far Victoria has an exemption from the stamping requirement until November 25 next year and an ongoing exemption for duck and quail eggs.


Friday, December 6, 2013

PANCAKE FRIDAY

IF it's Friday then it's pancake day at my place.
 
Sometimes friends come over before work for breakfast - it's a fun way to catch up without the craziness of juggling different lunchtimes and is a lovely start to the day.
 
Nothing beats dashing out to the chook shack and checking if Gidget and the gals have laid eggs so i can make up a batch of flapjacks.
 

This morning's chilly temperature called for a wholemeal / white flour combo which my breakfast guests enjoyed with lemon and sugar.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SECONDHAND LOVE

AS an avid recycle fan, I love trawling op-shops, garage sales, roadside hard rubbish and online sale sites.

It's a great way to obtain marvellous items at little coats while being sustainable.

Usually I'm on the lookout for gardening items, books or cooking gear - yes, yes, seven Sunbeam mix masters is enough, I know.

But last week i manged to score the holy Grail of bargains - a Technika 900mmm working gas cook top, fan forced oven stove for a song.


A friend opened a new restaurant and decided to sell off through Surf Coast Secondhand their old cooking appliances.

It gets connected tomorrow morning at 7am - cannot wait to get baking!

Friday, November 29, 2013

CAKES

FRIDAY is cake-bake day at my place.

The small rituals of baking are very soothing;  warming the oven, beating the sugar and butter in a small bowl, adding the fresh eggs from Gidget and the girls then transferring the mixture to a larger bowl.


Sifting in the flour and cocoa alternatively with the milk, then using the spatula to ensure every ingredient is evenly combines.

Pouring the mixture int a well greased and baking-paper line tin or individual patty pans.

Then when they come out of the oven the whole kitchen smells like home.

Thank goodness for Fridays!

Most of these will come into work with me for my colleagues to enjoy for morning tea.

Here's the recipe

Alison's chocolate butter cakes

185g butter
3/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup of mil
2 cups sifted SR flour
1/2 cup sifted cocoa

  1. Preheat oven to 180
  2. Prepare greased cake tin or put patty tins in tray
  3. Cream butter and sugar in small bowl
  4. Add eggs
  5. Transfer mixture to large bowl
  6. Add flour and cocoa alternatively with milk - you may need to add a little more milk
  7. Pour into tins / pans
  8. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on your oven
  9. when cakes spring back to you touch they are ready
  10. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

RECYCLE MIXING

SEVEN Mix masters is the limit.

Really.


Yesterday a work colleague plonked a box down on my desk.

It contained a great old mix-master he'd found at an op-shop, still bearing the price tag for the princely sum of eight dollars.

Bargain!

This is the second mix-master someone from work has found for me. 

It's also the only one with a plastic bowl - so practical as it will bounce rather than shatter if I drop it.

Tonight I shall use to whip the butter and sugar for a chocolate cake - it's the perfect size for creaming these ingredients.

But cycling home last night with the booty in my backpack I have decided this is it - seven is enough for any keen cook.

Monday, November 25, 2013

COCONUT LIME CAKE

BAKING a new recipe which is vastly different from my usual cake repertoire is always fun.
 
I'm working my way through the wonderful Merle Parrish's new cookbook Merle's Country Show Baking: and Other Favourites and everything I have baked has looked just as the recipes did in the book - amazing!
 
I did substitute full cream coconut milk for low-fat as I bought the wrong can but it still rose and tasted good.
 
 
The cakes were for the opening of the new Bellbrae Fire Station and our
guests seemed to enjoy them at the morning tea which was nice.
 
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

GRUBBY GARDENING

PESTS. Grubs, non-beneficial insects and fungal diseseases all equal trouble.
Call them what you will but these tetchy troublemakers are at large all over the garden at the moment.

Luckily, Peter Cundall has come up with some excellent solutions.

In my garden I love seeing the chooks scratch around and eat those aphids, scurrying caterpillars and grubs.

If only they could climb trees and eat black spot on the roses!

Here the girls are hard at work tearing up grass
where I wanted to put in a new vegetable bed.

So far I have planted an apple tree and a lemon tree as well as inheriting another citrus and a plum which was discovered when i removed kilos of ivy from a shed wall.

As Sir Cundall advises, now is the time to check your fruit trees for insects and any fungal growth. He said it is important to collect coddling moth cases and ensure your clear up and removal of weeds and lawn clippings near fruit trees is carried out to ensure you don't spread diseases or insects.

Any infected growth such as fruit or leaves should be removed and thrown out in the rubbish, not put through the compost.





Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LEMON TREE BLUES

WHAT is it with citrus trees?

One day they are lush and green and bursting with fruit, the next they are sulking, their yellowed leaves dropping and drooping like all get-out.

After enduring one of my inherited with the new garden lemon trees not looking healthy, I moved it on the weekend to a sunnier spot.

It's a little more windy at the rear of the yard but it certainly gets more sunshine and there's more space than it's former position where it was very close to fence.

After giving it a good water and feed, it's now looking a bit more robust, so fingers crossed.

But the other lemon tree in a big tub is not happy - dropping it's mottled leaves all over.

If it does not buck up then it's out.

I've discovered over the years you can spend too much time, money and energy on plants that don't and won't perform.

Growing lemons is a wonderful treat - nothign like picking one the night before you plan to have pancakes for breakfast or to add to your peppermint or black tea.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ROSES ALL THE WAY


TALKING the road less travelled is a great way to discover different plants for your garden.

It’s also a lovely way to make your commute to the office a lot more interesting.

This morning I skipped the main road to work and instead meandered down a blue-stone laneway, attracted by the bright roses growing over a fence.

I don’t know the varieties but they were gorgeous.

 

So I took these images and I’ll go through my rose directory tonight and see if I can identify them.

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DANISH HONEYCAKE

BAKING first thing in the morning is always fun.
 
While the rest of the world is snoozing and dawn is breaking, I love listening to the radio while beating fresh eggs from the chooks, triple-sifting flour and hunting out the vanilla-bean infused castor sugar.
 
This morning I tried out Danish honeycakes from Merle's Country Show Baking and Other Favourites by that CWA stalwart Merle Parish.
 
Now I never saw her on TV but as soon as I read about her cookbook, I was enchanted. True to form, it combines practical good sense baking tips with some really gorgeous recipes.
 
As you can see, the Danish Honeycake looks pretty close to Merles, which has made my day! In fact I baked two cakes - one for morning tea at work today and one for after fire brigade training tonight.
 
Tomorrow I'll be trying the pear and raspberry muffins! I'll keep you posted...

Monday, November 11, 2013

NOVEMBER notes

AFTER a fantastic weekend of sunshine with a little rain, the vegetable patch and flower beds are finally looking a little tidier.


Digging out the bamboo along the back fence has been an exercise in gritted-teeth determination but after about 10 hours with a mattock,12 wheelbarrow loads of the blasted roots ans stalks have been ceremoniously taken to the tip.
Worth every penny of the $18.80 boot load fee - I think there were four loads.

The canes have been retained and stripped of leaves, are drying nicely to be used to support the beans and peas.

Next there is just a few dozen to dig out behind the chook shed, but out of sight, out of mind.

As a reward for all that work, I trundled off to the local nursery and bought two red passion fruits and three miniature gardenias, the later for the front vestibule which comprises 3m-4m between the security and front doors.
Now when I dash past their beautiful scent makes me smile.

A friend came over with his lawnmower and happily cut the lawns while i went through three pairs of gloves pulling out weeds and sawing off dead wood form various trees.

Check out the excellent Sustainable Gardening Victoria advice for what else to do this month...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New egg labels


Designing new egg labels is one of the fun things about raising your own chooks. Now we have moved from Jan Juc to Geelong, I needed to update the hen's ID.
Gidget’s Cluckingham Palace
Fresh laid free range eggs from the happy hens: 
 Gidget, Layne. Ledger, Laura and Hilda.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ROSES all the way

ROSES are blooming all over my garden and many of the neighbours at the moment.

On my early morning run today I was distracted by the many beautiful gardens chock-a-block with gorgeous blooms.

While many gardens are full of the perennial favourite Iceberg, I'm delighted that lots of other green-thumbs are keen to grow perfumed varieties in a rainbow of hues.

By the chook house I have planted a much-loved bush rose, Sonia Rykeil, which is going - pardon the pun - bananas and will soon offer much-needed shade to the hens over summer while perfuming that part of the garden.

Sonia Rykeil roses in full bloom.
 
I know it's important to plant natives which keep the local birds and bees happy, but a few roses planted about really warm my heart and soul.
 
They also brighten my kitchen - at the moment there's a lovely bouquet of yellow Graeme Thomas roses (bred by veteran rose expert) David Austin and they bring a breath of sunshine inside.
 
Near the compost bins and grapevines, another tea rose, Pierre De Ronsard is making its way up a pillar.
Now I am trying to decide which climbing roses to grow along the back fence - it's a wonderful time in the garden. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SPUD love

IS there anything better than baked kipfler potatoes with olive oil and thyme?

No, I though not.

Read Peter Cundall's excellent advice on growing these delicious spuds.

Grow your own potatoes

Growing spuds is easy, cost-effective and very satisfying.

A couple of years ago I grew around 60kg of potatoes - mostly dutch cream, kipfler, king Edward and nicola.

It's pretty much plant, water, set and forget with just the occasional adding of soil as the tubers grow and expand.

The results were sensational.

Do use certified seeds from a respected supplier such as Diggers.

So if you have a spare sq m or so of lawn, live dangerously and plants some potatoes. I guarantee you'll love the results.

Monday, October 28, 2013

GUYS we need to talk.

THE other day a man I know killed himself.



He's left behind a community that is devastated, shocked, confused and angry.

Devastated, because he was a truly good man, loved by many, well-liked and much respected by more and his sudden death is such a waste.

Read more at the Geelong Advertiser.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

TIP top

THERE comes a time in every gardener's life when they realise they have way too much green waster to manage.

A barrow load of bamboo roots and weeds inspected by the feather riot.

After moving from Jan Juc where the soil was mostly clay and where I needed seven compost bins simmering away in various stages of decomposing to keep my vegetable beds from going to hell in a hand basket, I'm now in Geelong with incredible soil.

So I thought, OK, three bins is more than enough.

Silly me.

After attacking my triffid-like garden abd removing weeds, ivy from smothering the sheds and giving various shrubs a much-needed haircut, my compost bins have been full for ages and the sturdy green bin full to the brim for three months.

So this morning I decided to head for the Geelong tip and get rid of several large tubs of ivy, bamboo roots, assorted weeds and bits of stick left behind when the tree guys took out the rotted gum tree.

As well I tossed in some corrugated iron off a large steel gate which was half-buried next to one of the surviving sheds and an old table for the recycle shop.

A mere $18.80 later, my garden and station wagon are empty and I feel that lovely sense of relief when you have removed rubbish from your life.

Now I just have to do a return trip to get rid of the all the concrete rubble I have dug out of the new vegetable beds.


Friday, October 25, 2013

HEN WRANGLING

KEEPING chooks out of the blooming vegetable beds is a never-ending story.

 
In an attempt to keep the little vixens out of harms way while i continue digging out the triffid-like bamboo, I've wired off the yard into several sections to herd them about and preserve plants and my sanity.
 
However, when i do need some lawn ripped up and new beds established, they really hoe in and do a great job.
 
This method also allows me to dig and use a mattock without the risk of a dear little hen getting in the way with disastrous consequences.
 
Here's I've recycled old platic-covered fencing wire held in place by bambook poles gleaned from the first bamboo beheading in August. Now they have dried out they are proving useful for this and growing beans and peas.
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BACKYARD chooks

THERE'S a new book celebrating the rise in popularity of chooks in the backyard.

From the River Cottage crew, Chicken & Eggs features an introduction by Fearnley-Whittingstall, while author Mark Diacono elaborates in 13 chapters on such topics as understanding chickens, what you will need to start, chickens for eggs versus meat, breeding and health issues.


Even though it's a UK publication  and it's always wise to check out an Australian guide, this looks like an interesting read. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken bamboo

CHOOKS love bamboo - digging it up that is.
 
Gidget poses on a barrow load of bamboo roots surveying her kingdom

On the weekend I spent hours with a spade and mattock, attacking the roots of the vile bamboo some short-sighted person planted willy-nilly in the rear of the backyard.

It's as tenacious as all get out.

But if I want to plant climbing roses and fruit trees then I have to eradicate it.

So the chooks were fenced in to help me tear up the lawn and get the wretched stuff out. While they diced with injury a few times getting in the way of the spade, they also enjoyed a bounty of grubs and worms.

After eight or nine hours I'm about a third of the way through. Thank heavens it's now the working week so i have a few days to recover before the next attack session.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eggsellent recipes

SOME great egg recipes on the SBS website...

Mulch away...

SPRING means warm days, cold nights, wet mornings, dry afternoons or any mix of the former.

Let's face it, with global warming and the state of world, who know what's coming?

All i can say is that along with the death, taxes, library fines and badly behaving politicians, the only other certainty is that we need to get mulching.

As usual Peter Cundall's advice is on top of the heap...

Here are the chook-proof tomatoes, bean and kale beds pre-mulch

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bees on TED

Watch this amazing TED talk on bees.

Bees pollinate a third of our food supply -- they don’t just make honey! -- but colonies have been disappearing at alarming rates in many parts of the world due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides and herbicides.

It is fantastic.

Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota professor of entomology and 2010 MacArthur Fellow, tries as much as possible to think like bees in her work to protect them. They’re “highly social and complex” creatures, she says, which fuels her interest and her research.

Spivak has developed a strain of bees, the Minnesota Hygienic line, that can detect when pupae are infected and kick them out of the nest, saving the rest of the hive. Now, Spivak is studying how bees collect propolis, or tree resins, in their hives to keep out dirt and microbes.

She is also analyzing how flowers’ decline due to herbicides, pesticides and crop monoculture affect bees’ numbers and diversity. Spivak has been stung by thousands of bees in the course of her work.

Rotate

CROP rotation is critical to growing healthy food.

In an old basket in my garden shed is a tattered back issue of Gardening Australia magazine permanently open to the an article on rotating garden beds.

Torn, smudged with soil and looking more than a little weathered, this back issue is my mantra when it comes to planting a new garden.

I've made notes about what I have planted and where so I can be sure to not plant the same species there next season.

Six bed are the ideal but now I am in a downsized garden this time round rather than having eight beds spread out over 100sq m, I'm going for smaller beds placed in the best area for sunshine - all wired off to keep the feather riot out.


This is my tomato bed and at the
rear I have planted broad beans
Keeping a garden diary is fascinating and prevents you make mistakes. 
     
         

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eggs ain't eggs

GOLDEN-HUED yolks.

Whites so firm they half meringue without the mixmaster.

A taste so complex yet simple, you have to be there. Sponges so light they practically float off the plate. Creamy, scrambled eggs and cakes with an extra dimension of deliciousness. 

Yep, I'm talking about home-grown eggs. Or should i say home-harvested?

 
Whatever the name, these eggs are sensational.

I know I'm biased but the people whom I pass on some of my extra cackleberries say the same.

My flock of five girls (Hilda, Layne, Gidget, Ledger and Laura) average four to five eggs a day and they reflect their mostly free-range lifestyle. I let them out ta dawn and shut them back up around 7.30am before i head off to work.

Arriving home around 5.45pm, they are again released to wander across the lawn and encouraged to turn over land which will be another veggie bed come the weekend. 

They are fed lots of food scraps, oodles of fresh greens and have access to clean, cool water on top of their usual pellets. They are loved and have their own fox-proof hutch and fully enclosed run my friends refer to as Cluckingham Palace. And they are so worth it.

Hilda and her posse are a wonderful  mixture of bug-eaters, fertilisers and magic producers. I says magic because their eggs are fantastic. 

Nothing beats your own eggs and my feather riot, rescue chooks all, are up there with the best.

If you have room and you don't need much, consider getting a couple of hens and you'll be amazed at how your cooking and your garden is transformed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eggs

THE hens have been busy, laying some whopper eggs.
 
Many of these have turned out to be double-yolkers, which is always a nice surprise! People have asked me what i feed them to get these bonus-filled eggs.
 
Layne's egg on the left compared to Hilda's whopper on the right.

However, I am attributing these big cackleberries to all the free-ranging the feather riot have been enjoying, particularly the digging up of various unwary plants around the garden.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Dig it

DIGGING in a new vegetable bed or three is so satisfying.
 
On the weekend I finally planted out some vegetables including three varieties of tomato - Tommy Toe, Rouge de Marmalade and Burke's Backyard best - kale, climbing beans, basil and broad beans.
 
 
Preparing the beds took longer than I thought as previous owners have dumped bricks, stones, china, plaster and all manner of rubbish in the yard and sifting and removing the junk form the soil was a job and a half.
 
Luckily I managed to get this all finished just as the rain started.
 
Roll on summer!
 
Here I have put in paths using some of the old pavers I found stacked
under some grass clippings.
 
Rouge de Marmalade planted in front of the beans which will grow and hide the back fence.
To the right are some jacaranda trees and an old fuchsia whose days are numbered as I have to dig out the surrounding running-bamboo.
 
The hens commence digging up the lawn for my new tomato garden.

Friday, October 4, 2013

October planting

WHAT to plant in October?

There is just so much choice the mind boggles.

Apart form tomatoes I'll also be sowing legumes such as climbing beans, bush beans, runner beans, beetroot and carrot.

The only real challenge will be too keep the hens out of the beds.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You say tomato...

IT'S the big debate.

Far bigger than Cats versus Hawthorn, Ford versus Holden or Anzac biscuits with or without coconut.

Well, almost bigger than the Anzac debate.

But I digress - hen do you plant your tomatoes?

Some vow that Caulfield Cup day is the go, while others decree that AFL Grand Final Day is the go.

Peter Cundall has some excellent advice in his latest Weekly Times column and Diggers if you are after heirloom varieties, check out the Diggers website.




A friend at work has planted some heirloom seeds and given me a plant - we don't know what variety it is so it will be exciting to find out when it finally fruits!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Composting

NOW spring is here I'm ready to get my new compost heaps humming.

So far I have simply been layering green waste such as lawn clippings with food left-overs I can't feed the hens and torn newspapers, etc. Two bins are full and quietly simmering away in it's full position, while the third is about 1/6th complete.

The old garden was much bigger and its unrelenting clay soil meant seven bins were constantly on the go, but now I figure three will do for this smaller plot.

There's also a heap of sawdust left-over form the removal of two old, rotted gum trees which were removed before they fell on the hen-house. As eucalyptus oil is a growth inhibitor, I'm going to run the sawdust through the compost bins to leach it and convert it into something useful.


So this weekend I'll commence turning over the mixture and ensuring the balance is correct - hopefully encountering some worms along the way!

As usual, Gardening Australia have some useful tips - you can never know it all with composting!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Useful flowers

IF you want bright flowers which attract bees and add colour to your vegetable garden then you cannot look past the Calendula.

Yesterday while walking around East Geelong looking at gardens and getting ideas for my new place, I cam across a nature strip planted out with a riot of these gorgeous members of the daisy family.

As you would expect, there's some excellent information on the Gardening Australia website too.

I'm going to go back and knock on this gardener's front door and offer to swap some of my heritage seeds for some of their calendua seeds - fingers crossed!