vegetable garden

Time for change…

I arrived back home from extended travel in January, that was 6 months ago, now I’m sleeping in the same bed every night. My days and weeks have become structured. I have enjoyed watching the garden change through the seasons.  See the garden in its summer glory hereIt is now mid-winter, but in Queensland that means slightly cooler days and nights and no humidity, ideal for working in the garden.

Back in January I planted vegetables and tomatoes in pots.

The tomatoes have done very well and kept us in a steady supply.

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But, annoyingly,  the birds also found them. A bird net over them solved that problem.

I keep the salad greens and herbs in pots so I can move them around to follow the sun. They are now down the far end of the garden in a sheltered area, protected from the winter winds, and they get all day sun.

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The raised bed for herbs, in the front garden keeps on keeping on.

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So that is my vegetable supply and my entry into Jude’s (earth laughs in flowers) weekly/monthly garden photography challenge and for July the theme is “the edible garden”

But while you are here I will take you for a garden walk to see what is happening in July in my garden.

Today winter has arrived it is a rather grey and dismal sort of day, showers are forecast and the temperature is only about 18c degrees, but until this week we have had some warm sunny days and this flowering shrub is bursting into flower. I inherited this shrub when I moved in and don’t know its name but it has a most beautiful soft scent and flowers twice during the year.

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I wonder if you remember the bat plant, the most unusual plant in my garden (see it here) It is a true tropical plant and look at it now.

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It certainly does not like the cooler temperatures. (this is for you Sue)

The compost bin is full and quietly decomposing. It has been a busy time of pruning and mulching as this year there has been plenty of rain and the growth has been phenomenal.

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After that wander around the garden I would like to invite you inside ( joining Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Indoors), through my front door. (Joining Norm’s “Thursday Doors” challenge)

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Come into my very untidy “studio”. That is possibly a rather pretentious term for where I now like to indulge in my new passion.

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So for a while I am going to be loving and leaving you all.

I took my first tentative steps into  the virtual world of the blogosphere in 2009. Since then it has become a major part of my life, journaling my daily and weekly happenings, joining in challenges, searching through thousands of photos in my archives to find the perfect submission for the themes. Taking photos with the ever-present thought of “will that be suitable for a post”, and, of course, making many dear friends from all over the world in this wonderful virtual world of Word Press. Enjoying the connection of “chatting” and commenting with other bloggers and the community spirit of friendship.

Now I want to take a break, spend more time practising art, trying and learning new techniques. Immersing myself in the flow of creativity, reading more books and of course spending time in the garden.

I’m sure I am going to have withdrawal symptoms, 7 years of regular posts is a major commitment, so I will occasionally pop by to say “G’day” and keep in touch with my blogging buddies.

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The hammock hangs forlorn and unused waiting for summer.

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Maybe I will find time to do some house-work, but I will not disturb this spider I think they do a good job of catching mosquitoes.

So that’s it for now. I hope you all have a really great weekend. Bye for now…

 

Categories: Australia, garden, Garden photography challenge, indoors, photos, Thursday Doors, tomatoes, travel, travel theme, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

Caterpillar update…

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Remember this caterpillar that was in yesterday’s post? Well Desleyjane (DJ) from “musings of a frequent flying scientist” has identified it for me. In fact she did a post about the trials and tribulations of her lime tree and this strange fellow a year ago. Do go over and check it out

It is the larvae of the Orchid Swallowtail Butterfly, commonly called the Large Citrus Butterfly. Such a pretty thing and I have seen the butterfly fluttering around the garden, but never been able to get its photograph. I’m pleased I didn’t squash it.

Orchard Butterfly - melbourne zoo.jpg

Taken by fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Sigma 150mm f/2.8 – Own work

This is an image I found on the Wikipedia site with more details.

Thanks DJ for the information…

Categories: caterpillar, garden, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Mini backyard veggie plot…

When we finally settled back home after 6 years of roaming around I made two decisions

  1. I would not have a vegetable garden…
  2. I would not grow things in pots…

I would keep the garden easy care…

But 3 months later just look…

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If you have seen previous posts about my garden (here and here) you may remember the front garden is a tropical style with lots of trees and palms shading a large area. Ferns, bromeliads and other exotic species cluster in the shade. It is riddled with tree roots and tends to get very dry. Not the best conditions for growing vegetables.

But, the back garden’s smaller and gets the sun most of the day, especially near Jack’s fish ponds. I’ve suggested we take out the ponds and turn that area into raised beds. But Jack loves his fish and water lilies.

So the solution : veggies in pots standing around the fish pond…

Above is my tomatoe forest, planted 6 weeks ago with parsley and rocket to keep them company.

This is the second crop of lettuce. Autumn and winter are the best time to grow vegetables. Summer is just too hot and humid and all the pests and diseases proliferate and consume or kill the produce before we can.

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Tish over at “Tish Farrell” did an inspirational post about growing her radishes in pots, accompanied with mouth-watering photos (take a look). So here they are Tish only 6 days old. The garden in pots is expanding in all directions.

Another cluster of seedlings sun themselves under another tomatoe. Waiting to be potted on into larger permanent pots. Silver beet, land cress, more parsley, the radish sharing the container with coriander and at the front pansies being hardened off before going into a garden bed in the front garden. My nod to spring in the tropics.

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But just a minute what can I see…

Let’s look closer…

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Oh no!!! Some thing has been nibbling.

I look around and next to this tomatoe is my lemon tree in a pot and the lemons are starting to colour up.

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But then I see it. I have never seen anything like this before. I imagine it will be a beautiful butterfly. So I am happy to share some of the tomatoes with him.

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I’ve also put a mild chilly plant in a pot.

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Spinach does not like the warm tropical climate. To grow well it needs a colder winter. But I have found a species called Ceylon Spinach ( Basella alba is an edible perennial vine in the family Basellaceae) It is not a true spinach but tastes similar and is used in the same way. But most importantly it thrives in the tropics. It is a vine and I have put it beside a post it can climb up.

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So I guess I have tied myself to the garden for a while. Winter is traditionally the dry season in this area, so I will need to be here to keep pots watered.

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I have included some close ups to join in with Jude’s “garden photography challenge”. This is the last week for her close up theme.

Categories: Australia, garden, Garden photography challenge, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , | 58 Comments

Back Home in the Garden…

I said “no more veggie garden”…

BUT…

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The tiny veggie/herb garden is looking quite sad and empty, (do you remember when we built it?) It is very small compared to the veggie patch on the farm. So I couldn’t resist buying some lettuce, rocket and Greek basil from Bunnings.

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This is the “Bali” corner and also my small nursery area. Lurking under the tarpaulin is a mulcher which will soon be getting a lot of work. It has been a good season for rain and everything has doubled in size.

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Here they are, my new babies. I’ve just transplanted them from the cells they came in and will coddle them in here till this present very hot spell (30+ temperatures) passes.

Did you notice the pink behind the shade cloth?

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It is the Crepe Myrtle in full flower.

A sure sign of summer in the tropics is the Frangipani now coming into flower.

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Under the Frangipani is an unusual Bromeliad.

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It flowers for months.

In the week I have been home the temperatures have soared into  30+ and with a hot wind as well the garden can dry out quickly.

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So the hose is in use every night. Notice the handy bench to sit and have a rest on?

The ponds are looking good.

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Over on the door the masks that Jack made are keeping an eye on things.

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Here is a gallery of some other things flowering at the moment.

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Look at the lemons, this tree is only a year old.

So life goes on in the garden. Hope you enjoyed the look around.

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I’ll join Jo’s Monday walk today, come over to visit her. Actually it is more a saunter, and if it gets too hot you can sit and rest on one of the benches.

Categories: flowers, garden, Jo's Monday walks, photos, travel, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

Travel Theme : Farm Routine

My recent stay on a farm sit was all routine. So when Ailsa challenged us this week with the word “routine” those 4 weeks on the farm sprang instantly back into my mind.

So come back to the farm with me as I do my daily routine…

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Of course getting out of bed every morning is routine for everyone. The time may be different but we all start our day the same way. But this particular morning when I opened my eyes and saw this blood red sunrise I had to grab my camera and, still in my nighty, rush out into the veggie garden to capture its golden glow.  I also took some photos of the veggies.

After breakfast it is time to feed the animals. I can hear the cows calling.

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Then it was the turn of the sheep.

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Mary had a little lamb, actually Pauline had 3 and I feel like the Pied Piper. Notice the “daggy” hat? I cannot compete for any fashion stakes!!!

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How those lambs have grown and they love the pellets too.

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Water is the life blood of the farm. Being in a “rain shadow area(A rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a “shadow” of dryness behind them. rain is not regular and all the irrigation is reliant on the water from the 2 dams and this pump system to send the water through a complicated irrigation system to all the native flower orchard and the gardens.

I stressed about it failing, so every day I would climb up to peer into the tanks checking the water levels.

Another weekly routine was to “back flush” the pumps to clear out sediment. That was a fun thing the dogs loved too.

Then there was the veggie garden, a regular routine of weeding and harvesting every day.

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But how satisfying it was to gather and then eat these delicious vegetables.

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These are just some of the fruits of my labour. These were picked when Deidre arrived home. The sweet corn all matured together so we had a morning of picking, preparing and processing them for the freezer.

Now I have a secret confession to make…

See behind the  veggies? Well that became my obsession, the dishwasher. I have never used one before and poo-pooed the idea of using one for just 2 people, BUT it became my routine to put the dishes in this marvellous machine after every meal. How circumstances changed my attitude… 

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These strawberries are all in pots and on a raised bench making the daily routine of picking very easy. They also have an automatic sprinkler system and are in a netted enclosure to keep out birds.

The strawberries are nearing the end of their productive season but still found enough to have strawberries every morning with breakfast and strawberries and ice-cream for dessert every evening. Sometimes mixed with rhubarb, a taste sensation made in heaven…

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When Deidre arrived home she came out to help pick the strawberries, notice Seldon, he would get the over ripe ones, he loved them and would dash from one of us to the other in anticipation.

The day is now ending, but one very important task is to feed  the dogs and put them in their pen for the night.

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After a satisfying day on the farm, taking me back in time over 30 years to when I farmed in New Zealand. There is one last thing to do.

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Take time to smell the roses…

Categories: farming, garden, house sitting, photos, routine, travel, travel theme, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 46 Comments

Garden Gazing, or should that be grazing…

House sitting on a farm is quite different to house sitting in suburbia. It is peaceful, no traffic noise, only the sounds of nature. A background hum of insects, calls of the birds, wind rustling through the trees.

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Then there is the garden…

No tiny veggie patch here. It is almost the size of a Market Garden…

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Looking back towards the house. I have pulled out soooo many weeds, but still they keep coming to haunt me…

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Looking in the opposite direction across part of the potatoe patch down to the tomatoes flourishing on their stakes. Notice the plant on the left?

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It is producing an embarrassing number of these marrows. Help, anyone out there have any marrow recipes?

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To the right of the potatoes is the sweet corn plantation. They are not quite ready yet, but when they are there are hundreds of them…

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Did you notice the beans? Well already I have frozen so many and still they keep coming.

We had an “Oops” moment with them last weekend. After a stormy and windy evening,  when I checked the garden next morning, I found the middle structure of beans blown over flat…

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Can you see that gap and the sad mound of leaves?

Fortunately we had our son staying for the weekend and he helped Jack haul it up and re-stake it.

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So they live to produce another day…

Here are more and more…

 

This is a very dry area as it is situated in the rain shadow of the Blue Mountains. There are 2 large dams on the property to supply abundant water every where. Kim has an ingenious watering system covering all the main areas, worked by timers, and all day they turn sprinklers on different areas in rotation.

The veggie garden has 3 sprinklers that I move around to a different part each night and turn on the timer to water the areas for 5-6 hours during the evening.

I have never tasted such crunchy and delicious vegetables. We are living on the fruits of our labour and feeling so healthy.

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I will end this post with the other member of our animal family. Hippy is very ancient in cat years. I think she is in her late teens and spends all her days lazing in shady spots around the garden.

 

Categories: Australia, farming, garden, house sitting, oops, photos, travel, vegetable garden, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Have you ever tried kale?

You may have heard that kale is one of those super foods that will do wonders for you.

I have never tasted it.

As you may know I created a small raised vegetable patch. (check it out here) One of the vegies I put in was kale. But, oh dear, the caterpillars took a real liking to it. (check that disaster here)

Well it has been an ongoing battle and the caterpillars seem to be winning.

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The silver beet behind the kale is doing very well, completely caterpillar free, and we have had a number of meals from it.

So yesterday I decided to admit defeat and buy some kale…

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This is the curly kale, a different type to our smoother leafed variety in the garden.

Well! Have you tasted kale?

For the first meal, after checking through Google and my on line Taste Recipes, I decided to lightly steam it, as I do with the silver beet. Not good, it was rather tough and chewy. Quite an earthy sort of taste.

Next I found a recipe for a kale and herb pesto. Using the food processor to finely pulverize it and adding garlic, herbs and parmesan cheese then mixed with a dribble of oil and lemon juice. It was more of a success used as a topping for a hearty bean, tomatoe and quinoa casserole. (How healthy is all that!!!)

Tonight I tried making kale chips. I have read that they are the latest in food fashion. The verdict? Not bad, but Jack found the crumbly texture stuck in his throat and he had to gulp down some water. I thought I had maybe overdone the dash of soy sauce which made them rather salty.  

So I think I will stay with the silver beet, spinach, cabbage and broccoli for our greens, and not feel too bad about the caterpillars munching on the kale in the garden, at least they are leaving the other vegies alone…

Has any one out there had more success with kale? If so what is your secret?

This is just to add a little sunshine for my friends in the north…

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Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, kale, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , | 69 Comments

CALAMITY, catastrophic caterpillars.

 

Oh dear what a disaster and disappointment. Overnight the kale crop has almost been decimated by dozens of greedy green caterpillars.

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How did they infiltrate through the netting I so carefully put in place?

I’m devastated. Carefully I pick as many off as I can find and feed them to the fish.

Look at the lettuce.

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Despite all my loving attention they are bolting off to seed.

Then I walk round to the back garden and my lovely big Cycad is in tatters. A small blue moth has laid its bugs which are now powering through the fronds.

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With all the rain we have had and the heat and humidity the garden is a breeding ground for all kinds of voracious bugs and beetles.

But there are still some highlights to bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

Look at the sunflowers…

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I can see a little ray of sunshine peeping out of the green foliage. So far so good.

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The bat plant loves this hot humid weather and has rewarded me with this amazing flower. 

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In the shade of the frangipani tree the Hoya winds its tendrils around and today I noticed this delicate beauty. The first of the summer display.

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Another Heliconia has come into flower. This is a dwarf variety, I think it is called Red Christmas. It only grows to approximately three-foot where the other varieties tower up to six-foot and over.

Gardening is always a mine field of ups and downs. Challenges and rewards that make gardening an endlessly absorbing addiction.

Finally I would like to show you this strange-looking flower. Can any one identify it for me?

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In August 2012 we stayed in a camp ground in a small town called Pine Creek in the central out back area. As we walked round the town I noticed a lady watering her garden and we hung over her fence chatting.

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It was a riot of colour and stood out from all the other dry, dusty out back gardens along the street.

I commented on the strange-looking red flower growing profusely around her garden and like all generous natured gardeners around the world she gave me some seeds.

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I carefully carried them back home and eventually the seeds were scattered in a pot, then moved into the garden and true to what that generous lady told me, they grew like weeds and are now spreading all over my garden. I did take a note of their name but that bit of paper disappeared.

Can anyone help me?

Thanks to Toni , one of my blogging buddies, I have found out that this plant is cocks comb. this is what Google says

“Cockscomb flowers are also known as Wool Flowers or Brain Celosia, suggestive of a highly colored brain. The flowers belong to the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Cockscomb blooms with a compacted crested head 2-5 inches across, on leafy stems that are 12-28 inches long. The flower’s name is suggestive of a rooster’s comb. The Cockscomb flower blooms from late summer through late fall. The Celosia plant is an annual dicotyledon.” (For more information click here)

Categories: Australia, garden, Goldcoast, Northern Territory, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 53 Comments

The Garden in Summer.

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It has rained for over a week now. Good steady rain that soaks right down to the roots. Even our outback farmers have had rain, the first for them in over 2 years. With the rain comes the heat and humidity.

Look at my garden it is like a jungle and all the tropical flowers are flaunting their beauty.

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The fish ponds are covered in lilies and the water hyacinth makes its short but beautiful burst of colour.

Remember I grew some sunflowers from seed? Well they are now settled in to their bed in full sun and they are racing away.

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

They look so healthy and I talk to them every morning!!!!

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I'm so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

Look can you see the flowers starting to form. I’m so looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.

The veggies are scattered around in different areas of the garden and we have eaten lettuce since the beginning of December. I am into the second crop and also rocket, spinach, silver beet and lots of herbs.

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Remember the cradle we built? Well I have put a shade cloth over it as well as the bird netting, the sun has been fierce, 30+ degrees by mid morning. But see how they are lapping up the attention.

The climbing beans at the back are racing up the frame and will soon be ready for Jack to climb them in search of that giant!!!!!

Rosemary in full flower

Rosemary in full flower

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

Spinach Aubergine and lettuce cluster around the rosemary bush

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Oh dear something else is sharing the kale with us. Baby grass hoppers have made an appearance, so it will be a race to see who gets the most, them or us…

Two more sleeps left in 2014 then it is a new year and time to start thinking of new dreams, decisions and destinations.

Best wishes to all my blogging friends, it has been lovely getting to know you through your comments and visiting you in your part of the blogosphere during 2014. I’m looking forward to following your adventures and sharing Word Press journeys with you all.

 

 

Categories: Australia, garden, photos, Queensland, travel, tropical garden, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

The joy of creation in the garden.

I have been inspired by the gardens at the different houses we have been house sitting at.

At Geraldton, Naomi made raised beds from old water tanks and had a flourishing veggie garden on pure sand. (Take another look at it here and be inspired) Malanda had a large organic veggie garden fuelled by copious horse manure and lots of love. (Check it here)

So I came home determined to create an organic veggie patch.

The garden, now, is a crowded tropical paradise, lots of shady areas, so were am I going to find a place for vegetables? Then last week Jack pruned back some of the natives along the road front and suddenly the morning sun flooded along the front of the palms. But palms are voracious thieves stealing all the water and nutrients that veggies need. So I will use Naomi’s solution and make a raised bed.

First a trip to Bunnings, the local hardware store to do the homework. A 2 metre x 1 metre, ready-made corrugated raised bed would cost $99, ouch… I could buy a lot of veggies with that. So to plan B, make our own.

We bought 9 Planks @ 1.8 metres, 3 of them cut in half for the sides, and 4 battens for the corners at a cost of $14.

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Jack assembles the structure then paints the inside with a special paint that will stop any of the chemicals from the tanalising treatment seeping into the soil.

While he does that I clear the area where it will go in front of the palms.

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The blue box is filled with tough rhoeos that will be going to a new neighbour who loves receiving my rejects. Notice that large bromeliad right in the middle of the patch? It will have to come out…

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I will have to find this a new home.

Now to bring the bed around. I am going to create a no-dig garden.

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In the base goes cardboard, old carpet, papers that have been soaked in a bucket of water and other organic rubbish.

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The compost is ready and it goes in next.

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Followed by a liberal sprinkling of chicken manure. Then more compost.

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Lucerne mulch gives an added boost of nutrients, then more cow manure.

In the 28 degree heat the sweat is dripping off me by now, but it is nearly finished.

mixed garden bikes buses pc 038_3264x2448Finally top off with sugarcane mulch, and give it a good watering. Jack has built it with the corner battens raised so I can put netting across to keep off the birds. Crows are a real problem.

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Now I will wait for it all to settle for a week before putting in the seedlings.

Finally I want to share these photos of the Poinciana in full flower. It is about 9 years old and this is the first year it has  flowered so well.

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Categories: Australia, Burleigh, garden, Goldcoast, no dig vegetable garden, photos, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

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