Thursday, September 26, 2013


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!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fruit tree prune

PRUNING fruit trees can be a tricky business.

Different types of fruit trees need to be pruned at different times of the year.

While some gardeners like to go for the 'ground zero' approach, usually spring pruning ia lighter - more like getting a trim at the hairdresser than a buzz-cut.

As usual, The Weekly Times Peter Cundall is on top of it.

Remember to clean your secateurs to prevent spreading any infections.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Honey of a hobby

GEELONG is seeing a lot of interest in home bee-keeping, as more and more people become interested in harvesting their own honey and increasing their garden pollination rates.
Plus, bees are a lovely insect to see floating around the trees and plants.

The GWNH reporting good attendance at their classes.

The Geelong Beekeepers Club are a good resource for anyone looking to learn more - I'm planning on attending the next meeting as I have a wild hive in my yard.

If you have some buzzing around you garden, you'll be thrilled at the increase in pollination of your fruit and vegetables not to mention flowers. Here's a good resource to identifying the species in your area.

The ABC has reported that in Tasmania, beekeepers say they will refuse to pollinate certain vegetables if the moratorium on genetically modified crops is lifted in Tasmania, which would lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Tasmania is currently GM-free, but the state government is conducting a review of the ban.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Good eggs

EGGS an honey are the features behind this charming farm business.

In this latest Weekly Times, there's a cracker story of Little Forest Produce, Glen and Mardie Gray's farm at Barham.
World of colour: Five of the nine caravans used by the chooks at Little Forest Produce, Glen and Mardie Gray's farm at Barham. Pictures: Zoe Phillips
World of colour: Five of the nine caravans used by the chooks at Little Forest Produce, Glen and Mardie Gray's farm at Barham. Pictures: Zoe Phillips

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vine awakening

WITH blossom on the fruit trees, pansy, jumping jack and lobelia flowering like mad in the hanging baskets outside the kitchen windows and various bulbs showing their faces all over the garden, it's good to see spring has also woken up the grape vine.

The vine is growing up the north-west facing side the deck divide and until a few days ago looked like dead wood. But now it's putting out leaves at a rate of knots to shame to the two passion fruit vines at the other end of the garden.
I have no idea what type of grapes this plant will bear or if they are ornamental or edible as the previous owner left no tags on or near any of their plants when they moved out. This is a shame as I always leave tags on my trees.
So I hope the new owners of my old home will look at the fruit trees and be excited about the four varieties of apples and realise the enormous New Dawn rose climbing up the deck will soon explode in a mass a scented blooms.
What I thought looked like hyacinth bulbs have turned out to be bluebells, which is a nice surprise.
But for now, I'm happy to wait and watch and see what the vine produces - gardening is always such an adventure. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

SOILS ain't soils

IT seems crazy with all the rain we having down south to think about the long, hot summer ahead.

But it's coming, according to those lovable weather boffins at the BOM and Sir Peter Cundall.

So now is the time to turn over the compost that's been festering and bubbling away all winter and get ready to enrich and mulch your soil.

This weekend I'll compartment off my new veggie beds and keep the chooks in a section to have them fertilise and turn the soil over.

Last week I had two dangerously rotted gum trees removed and the workman kindly left behind the sawdust - but it's so saturated with eucalyptus oil which is a plant suppressant I'll have to dilute it through the compost bins before using in the garden.

While I'll probably have to wear gumboots and a rain-coat to do the weeding, I know come December I'll be glad I persevered.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


BLACK dogs bark the loudest of all.

We all know someone - a friend, work colleague or family member - who suffers or has experienced some form of depression.

As someone who has had the black dog on her shoulder, I can tell you it can be a real challenge to see the joy through the darkness.

People suffering from depression often seem as though nothing's wrong. They don't want to show their vulnerability or have their boss think they aren't up to the job.

So today being RUOK Day?, I challenge you to ask the question of your family, friends, workmates and peers. Just a gentle "How are you going?" in a quiet moment by the coffee machine, at the post box or in the supermarket could be the start of someone putting the sunshine back into their life.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Upcycling the kitchen

RECYCLE, reuse, regenerate – these are the bywords for my home as well as my garden.

After several weeks of painting the bright blue, orange, lime and grey feature walls a more sedate cream, I’m feeling more at home.

At the moment the floor man is finishing off sanding and sealing all the living and bedrooms but the kitchen and laundry have a nice wood-floor look vinyl. 

As I have downsized into a cosy old 1950s renovated clinker-brick former housing commission house, it’s been a fun challenge to work out where to place everything.

In the last couple of years, I decluttered my life which involved several massive clean-outs with around 66 per cent of my stuff going to various op-shops, friends and the tip.

This was a good move as my new home has about half the floor space and a quarter of the kitchen storage space I was used to.
So rather than renovate the perfectly good kitchen, I have given some bookcases another coat of paint and put them to good use to hold jars of dry goods, cookbooks and the mix-masters.

(No doubt I'll eventually put in wider bench-tops and a dishwasher, but so far the rubber gloves and sink are doing the job!)

The chairs came from an op shop at a ridiculous cheap $68 for the six (and I’ve seen similar versions in online retro catalogues for $140 each) and the table I bought seven years ago from an op-shop in Sydney for a song.
Hanging above is an art deco brass lamp from my first apartment in Hawthorn - I love it but as the ceilings here are lower than its previous homes, I placed it over the dining table so none of my guests will get concussion.
Scouring opshops and garage sales and spending less is so much fun and it allows you to create a home which reflects your real life - not something dreamed up by some marketing person for a faceless furniture store.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bulbs bursting out

While removing ivy which was engulfing one of my garden sheds, I discovered a swathe of Hyacinth bulbs about to flower.
Emerging from under a pile of dead ivy leaves, these lovely plants which might also have some daffodils in the mix, look sensational despite having been covered for months by leaf debris.

Which just goes to show that often it’s the gardens which look as though they are empty often have treasures waiting to be found.

Another example is the fruit tree which I think is a plum of some kind. Again the ivy was doing a take-over bid from the roof around the tree and was stopping the blossoms from getting any sunshine.

Now all I have to do is keep the chooks out of the bulb plantings,

Thursday, September 5, 2013


CHOOKS are one of nature's vacuum cleaners for the garden.

After running the hand mower over the back lawn last weekend, the feather riot ran round eating many of the insects and grubs thrown up by the cut grass.

This weekend I'll be finally digging in the new vegetable bed which as an extra door from the chook run opening directly into one of the beds.

This means the gals will be able to spend a few days turning over the soil for me and adding their own extra fertiliser.

Not only do the girls wolf down creepy-crawlies, they also love eating all the fresh scraps which would otherwise go in the compost bins.

They beat the hell out of a Dyson with their gorgeous cackleberries too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Garden memories

EVERY time you work in your garden you are adding to its development and creating another memory of its creation.

Yes, that sounded pretty serious and profound for a Tuesday morning post-coffee blog, but I've just read Peter Cundall's latest column in the Weekly Times and it's a cracker.

He talks about how your garden over the years becomes another part of your family and your history.

Thinking back on the gardens I've created over the years, I fondly remember the roses I planted in Melbourne, my five gorgeous frangipani trees in Avalon, Sydney and the massive fruit and vegetable garden I recently moved from in Jan Juc.

Now I have another blank slate to work on and its an exciting prospect.

The old saying garden as though you have forever is a good one - but I'm thrilled and cannot wait for the weekends so I can get down and dig, weed, clear and plant!

Good times are ahead with this garden.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


LAST weekend was so sensational; warm, sunny and bursting with spring energy I was inspired to get a couple of passionfruit vines for my new garden.
After having a great deal of frustration and failure at my previous garden, the Jan Juc Surf Farm, I'm very hopeful Geelong's friable soil will be kinder and result in more fruit. Not to mention my own wild-bee hive just a few metres away above the garden shed.
However, as the feather riot are often free-ranging, protecting these precious vines is critical if I am able to enjoy Panama Red and Nelly Kelly on my breakfast porridge down the track.

So some of the left-over avian wire form the new Cluckingham palace has been used to create a barrier to keep the hens away.

This time I also skipped the usual bury-the-lamb-heart under the vine strategy and have gone for diluted chook poo instead.

Hopefully this time next year the passionfruit will be falling off the vine buy the bucket-load and the fence will be covered in healthy flowers, fruit and leaves.