Thursday, January 14, 2010

More Gardening!

Back in the garden today and very pleased with the progress. I had Charlie and Freya to help, and Freya took today's photographs.I think she's done a great job! I ended up staying out for about 2 hours, but the kids went in earlier due to those damn midges biting again.
I planted out new seedlings of lettuce,basil,rhubarb,sweet potato and beetroot. I planted them in some lovely compost, so I hope they'll be off to a good start.Following planting, I watered them in with seaweed emulsion, and mulched the entire patch with the pea hay. Although it takes only a couple of sentences to write it down, it was a good couple of hours work!
I really hope all my efforts aren't in vain.

You can see from the photograph that the tomato plants are doing really well, just not ripening yet. I noticed a few small orange tigerella tomatoes, but also noticed there were many stinkbugs hanging out with the fruit. I will google and see if they are going to adversely affect the fruit. I really don't want to share our hard earned tomatoes with the insects! I've fought off the birds and lizards, now for the insects!
However, the bees are more than welcome to pollinate everything! I love seeing them in the garden, hard at toil, making it all happen for us!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making Progress

Today was the first real chance I had to get back into the garden. It was a cool 20 degrees Celsius so out I went! The rest of the week has been perfect beach weather, so we have made the most of it, and also spent time with Michael's sisters whilst they were in town.

So, I am pleased to say that I'm making headway. I put the eco-hydrate onto the vegetable patch, you can read about it here:
I'm hoping it will help the soil retain some water.It is so dry.

Then I was driven inside by the midgies.This year has been the worst year for them. They make it impossible to stay outside as they have a nasty bite and love to get into your hair,ears,eyes, everywhere.We try to use a natural insect repellent, but it doesn't keep them away for very long.It is frustrating!

I was able to get back out to the garden in the afternoon while Freya and Charlie played in the paddling pool.The midgies weren't as bad and I think I may have had a couple of hours out there, pulling weeds and dead plants,fertilising and mulching with three bales of pea hay. I have one bale left for the vegetable patch, which I think may be enough because the plants are covering much of the ground.

You can see in the picture that I have a few different seedlings to plant, but didn't get to it today. Tomorrow's forecast is for 22, so I may get to it tomorrow.I have beetroot,basil and two types of lettuce:baby buttercrunch and red lettuce. I also have carrot and leek seeds.

Another task I was able to get to was to collect the seed from broccoli plants and the sweet peas, lovely blue ones and pink and white.They are so pretty in the spring and smell so nice.

We are picking a big bunch of beans everyday and I love it! I hope I'll be doing the same with tomatoes soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Parenting a Toddler.... proving a challenge!

Charlie is funny, beautiful, delightful, but also mischievous,whiny,clingy,naughty and hard work!

I don't remember the others giving me so much trouble! However, it has been a while, and where babies are concerned I think the mind selects the best memories!

I certainly don't recall the others climbing as much as Charlie does. Nor do I remember them hitting, screeching at the top of his lungs, over and over again, pinching my nipples when he breastfeeds, throwing all manner of objects and spitting!

I'm now trying to cut down the breastfeeding as he has started to demand it all day, everyday, and has started to lift my shirt whenever I try to take a break and sit still for a moment. He loves to nurse(feed), so it is proving a challenge.

We are experiencing many great new things too. He loves to sing along, has an infectious laugh and is learning new words all the time.

It's a learning curve for all of us, despite having parented four children before him over a period of 18 years!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Vegetable Patch

I thought I might show off what is happening in the vegetable patch. I'm really excited to be harvesting and eating some of the vegetables I've been trying to grow. I plant out many things and have visions of us eating only home grown produce, but the reality is that more often than not, my hard work doesn't always pay off, particularly when I am fighting against the weather, the wildlife and a lack of time.

However, it's not all bad. We are picking French runner beans daily and I also found some lovely red onions which we had in a tuna bake a couple of nights ago, some beetroot, basil and a couple of Tigerella tomatoes.

These runner beans have been the most successful I have ever grown. The seed were saved by my green thumbed friend, Kerry, from her last year's crop. They have grown so well, no problems at all, and are producing tonnes of lovely yellow-green pods every day.They are tender and succulent. So glad I planted them.

I have netted off one of the patches of tomatoes.This will help keep the birds off, but I am sure the skinks will still get in and help themselves.Hopefully they won't be able to reach the higher fruit!

We didn't manage to get a net onto the plum tree and all the green plums are gone. Honestly, I don't mind too much, the tree is very pretty in spring, and until we start making netting a priority, we can't expect to have our own fruit. We have talked about building a large frame and netting off the (mini) orchard, but, like the watering problem, we've never found the time,energy or money to get it day...

Already, I'm making good on my new year's challenge. Callum collected four bales of pea hay yesterday, so I'll be mulching the garden soon. I would have loved to do it today, but I want to use the soil wetting agent and some manure before putting down the hay. Cal was going to collect some things from the nursery for me but they suggested I come in on Thursday when the new stock arrives. Goody, I can't wait!

I spoke to my mum today, and she is bringing us some fertilized eggs to put under our broody chicken. It'll be good to have some more layers.Three isn't enough to keep this family going!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Taking up the Challenge

I've been trying for a long time to tread more lightly on the earth, and I believe we(as a family) have a long way to go.

Today I read about a challenge at The idea is to make one small change per month, write about it in my blog, and on World Earth Day, April 22nd hip mountain mama will announce winners.

It will be great to follow others trying to reduce their footprint, and I hope I'll learn how I can make changes.

Some of the things I have tried to do, especially since having Charlie ( I realise that our having a large family can impact greatly on the earth), include the following:

  • Using cloth nappies (diapers) as much as possible
  • buying second hand clothing for the children
  • recycling as much as our local council allows
  • composting garden waste
  • feeding food scraps to the chickens
  • growing vegetables
  • buying as much local produce as I can from the farmer's markets(its seasonal, it's within 100km)
  • buying local, organic meat from our farmer friends, the Frosts
  • Drying all our washing on the clothes line
  • changing all our light bulbs to energy efficient ones
  • driving a smaller,diesel car which is the most energy efficient in its class
But I'd like to step it up a bit. I know I need to work harder on the vegetable patch so that we can have more produce to eat from it.I actually need to put more time and effort into it.

We don't use cloth nappies all the time.I try to, but for some reason, if Mike or Lily changes Charlie, they gravitate toward the disposables ( I do buy environmentally friendly ones, but I hate the waste.)

So one change I will make is to be more consistent with those things.

I've been toying with the idea of using my old clothes (the fabric is still in great condition) to make a quilt.Maybe this is the incentive I need.

Bigger changes I'd love to make include buying a water tank to store rain water, putting in an efficient watering system for the garden,and putting solar panels on the house for our own electricity and to to put the excess onto the grid.

In order to do those things we are going to look into a "green loan" It involves having an audit done on the house, which will then make recommendations on how we can improve our home to be "greener". They will give us a $10,000 loan, interest free for 4 years. I think it is a brilliant idea, so will definitely look into it.

So, in January, the plan is to make my vegetable garden more productive. To start with I need to make the soil more receptive to water. This week I'll look into putting an organic soil wetting agent on the garden, and I'll get some mulch to help stop the evaporation. Other things to do include netting the tomatoes so that the birds leave them for us, and planting out more vegetables. So, a trip to the nursery is in order.

It's a beautiful warm day today, forecast 30 degrees Celsius. We went to the beach early and swam, but it was very windy, so we didn't stay long. Charlie has taken to throwing himself into the surf.He has no fear, so we cannot take our eyes off him for a moment. Luckily there's more than one st of eyes to do the job!