Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rhododendrons and Garden Paths

Freya took this picture of my Rhododendron in bloom. I'm chuffed that it is looking so fine. I had it in the garden, but then when we(I) decided to "renovate" the garden due to the invasion of the Kikuyu lawn, we put the Rhodie in a big pot. Well it hasn't looked back, it has done better than ever. It is probably because it gets regular water and food. It is just so much harder to manage water without reticulation. I think we'll put in some of that hose with the holes in it (soaker hose ?) when we get the garden up here happening again.

Right now the flower garden is just a barren, weed infested wasteland with a few trees still hanging on. I can't wait to start it over, but we still don't have a firm design, nor are we sure how much garden we will have. Much of the decision depends on whether the Department of Land will allow us to shift our boundary to keep some of the neighbouring block before we sell off the rest. If they allow it, it means we'll have a lot more room to work with, so it could alter garden plans.
That is why we have concentrated on the vegetable patch, but also because I'd like it to give us all the veges we need to feed our family. It's a big ask, but I am up for it!The new paths, made with crushed limestone, which we may or may not compact with a "wacka packa", will mean that we can keep weeds away, and spray them if necessary. The resident skink lizards love the paths. I went out one morning to find three large skinks sunning themselves on the limestone path! No wonder we don't have any ripe tomatoes - they eat them before we can get to them! It is frustrating. I just hope we can grow enough for the both of us because I have no idea how to deter lizards. Any suggestions greatly appreciated! I might even google that!

The flowers on the Rhododendron give me such pleasure, I can't wait to have a fully functioning ornamental bed up near the house.I'll put the Roses, daylilies, lavender, catmint, salvias, penstemons and other pretty plants back in. I worry for them while they wait in their pots!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Going Back to Work

Not me, but Mike went back yesterday. When I got up I had a ten second pang of envy, as I usually enjoy the first day back ,without students, a nice chance to catch up with colleagues you haven't seen for 6 weeks. But it was only a momentary flash of envy, as I soon looked at Charlie and felt so glad I wasn't rushing him off to daycare. Instead, I provided care for a little friend, Arlo, whilst his parents both went back to work too.Much nicer than having to find someone to care for my brood.

The girls proved to be excellent entertainers for 5 year old Arlo, keeping him busy with painting, treasure hunts and other activities. I've posted a picture of their fabulous take on finger painting.

Speaking of "Back to School", we also had to go into town to spend more money on stationery, books, shoes etc. I really hate having to do it all at once, one of these years I'll get my act together and do it gradually....actually, no I won't, I'm just not that organised!
We also made trifle. One for our family and one for Arlo's. I went totally against my usually good health rules and all the ingredients I used were processed! Sponge finger biscuits,packet jelly,tinned fruit,bottled custard and choc chips! Yuck, but yum for the kids! It just meant it was fun and easy for the kids to do, and it was a real treat for them to eat. As we were doing it, I thought about making a "grown up" version of trifle: Make the sponge cake, extra creamy thick custard,jelly made from Pedro Ximenez sherry....mmmmm! We had some of this sherry at our friend's place on Tuesday night. It is made from raisins, and is so good! Very syrupy and sweet without being sickly - just gorgeous. One day, I will make this trifle for a dinner party.
Today we have Arlo again, so full of beans, I'll have to think of something else to do. I'll get the girls onto it again. He came dressed in his Ninja outfit, which has a skeleton on the other side. Now he is Half ninja, half skeleton, "It's the scariest thing!" he says! I think it's pretty cute.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Garden

I went out to the vegetable patch this morning to water to find that the chooks (chickens) had dug up my newest seedlings of lettuce, tomato and beans. How frustrating!! I like to let them free range, but not at the expense of my vegies. I have shut them into the yard, but they fly out. We took the netting off their yard because it was filling up with gum leaves. I don't want to clip their wings because I like that they can fly up to roost at night, and stay safe. We'll have to come up with some kind of solution, otherwise what is the point of having a vegetable patch!

I am pleased that the beans and potatoes I planted last week are already coming up. I also noticed that there are other seedlings coming up, broccoli I think because I let the Romenesco broccoli grow feral and self sow. It is probably too early in the season, but I'll play it by ear and see what happens. I think the main problem with brassicas in the warmer months is from white moths, but I can control that with Dipel.It is harmless to all other animals and considered organic I think.

As much as I'd like to be a totally organic gardener, I can't say that I am because I don't really know what is in the manure we buy to put on the garden. I know it isn't certified organic, so I think it is safe to say it probably isn't. Which means the manure may have traces of chemicals or antibiotics. I hope it hasn't, but I don't really know.

We have to add a great deal of organic matter and compost, manure etc to our very sandy soil. It is lovely living this close to the beach, but it does make for very useless soil. So we constantly top it up, feed it, water it, and have had some good crops.

Last years potato crop was delightful. We fed the potatoes well with Blood and Bone, and Western Minerals. We love the minerals, thanks Frosty! Home grown, fresh potatoes really do taste wonderful. I think it is true of all home grown vegetables, they just taste so much better than shop bought. What we buy from the farmer's market is pretty good too, but I love being able to wander out to the garden to gather what you need for the evening meal.It doesn't happen often enough, but that is my New Year's resolution - to have a productive garden that we can pick from every day to supplement what we buy. Wouldn't be great if I didn't have to buy vegetables at all?

I have already started planning this winters crops. I will try the crimson flowered broad beans from the Diggers club because they look so pretty. I reckon they'd look great next to purple broccoli!

I will have to take a photo of the patch, Mike made such lovely limestone paths, it looks great and will be very practical, especially for keeping the weeds at bay.BUt that'll have to be another post.

First Blog Take 2

This picture was taken the day Charlie was born: August 23rd 2008. My eldest son, Callum, isn't in the picture.
Getting to that point was quite a journey! I wish I'd started this blog when it all started, as there is a lot of detail! Our baby was a long time coming - mainly because he was a heart's desire that couldn't be realised for some time.
I had been thinking about having a 5th child for about three years, but the obstacles : 1.My husband didn't want more; 2.He'd had a vasectomy in 2000,3. I was getting "old".
After discussing it for three years, my wonderful husband went ahead with a vasectomy reversal, mainly because he could see I wasn't "getting over" my desire for another child. It does seem ludicrous doesn't it? Shouldn't I have been satisfied with 4 children? In my head I knew I should be, but the desire weighed heavily on my heart and I just couldn't let it go. It was a strange experience!
So he went ahead with the surgery, and after 7 months of trying we were lucky enough to get pregnant. I am so happy it was relatively easy. Many reversals don't work, and many women don't get pregnant without help at the age of 41.
I would have to say the last couple of years, with the pregnancy and birth of Charlie have been very joyful. Seeing my children loving their baby brother, watching his reaction to them, is just beautiful!And my husband tells me it isn't quite as hard as he expected, and he loves his little boy very much!
Having said that, I am fairly sure I won't do it again! It is in print on this page now! I am feeling my age with this baby, it is just physically harder, and I really am getting past it now!The later part of the pregnancy wasn't easy, and I am feeling the sleep deprivation, though it isn't too bad.
Babies (and children)really do bring so much joy, I know I am truly blessed.
I am hoping this year I will be able to make our vegetable garden productive, that being at home will provide my family with a stable, harmonious lifestyle, that our children will feel comfortable and settled, that I will be able to provide them with a healthy lifestyle because I will have time. Til July 2008, I had worked as a teacher (which I really did love too), but being a working mum, does seem to make for a stressful life, not just for me and my husband, but also for the kids. I hope that being at home will mean the pace won't have to be quite so frantic. I always worked when my other children were little, which has meant we are able to live in a very beautiful part of the world, but now, I am planning to stay out of the paid workforce for a while.
Baby is awake again, he only catnaps! So that's the end of my 2nd (first really) post!

My first Blog

I can see I have alot to learn!I also have a 5 month old,fussy baby on my lap, so it will be a shrt one. I will try to add more when Charlie settles.