Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking Good

Unlike other parts of the state and country, we have had a mild summer with enough precipitation. It doesn't happen often but when it does, it is lovely and makes things seem so much brighter.

It's a really nice place to work at the moment. Believe me it feels like a totally different workplace when the paddocks are brown , dry underfoot and you are having to feed cattle and sheep because there isn't enough grass to satisfy them. It will be drought-dry again but for now I'm relishing the greenness and hoping that it lasts into winter and beyond.

 I have had to catch up on jobs that were overlooked during the school holidays. I'm not caught up yet but that's what tomorrow is for.

It's not all work. I've got the Month of Letters coming up in February. Posting something everyday the post runs in February. Like last year, I'll post something everyday... well at least 28 mail items anyway as some days I can't get to the post box or I don't have anyone to post on my behalf.

Posting all of those letters and cards and parcels will hopefully bring lots of lovely happy mail into my letterbox and a smile or two to the recipients faces. That's one of the reasons I love sending mail so much, it makes people happy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home again... hooray!

My Grace has had one of the best weeks of her seventeen years. The zoology department at UNE hosted her for a weeks work. It was part of a scholarship program designed to encourage high school students to consider studying the sciences at university. Grace really needed no encouragement and I think it is a done deal for her, zoology it is.

Her area of special interest is herpetology. Reptiles and amphibians and she spent a whole day with lizards and snakes which is most definitely not my idea of fun but it is hers. I believe the day with the reptiles made up for the hours she spent with the dung beetles.
While Grace was a scientist for the week, we played tourist. All day everyday. 
Dangar's Gorge

Gorges, country drives, geocaching and then window shopping far too much and perhaps too many café visits as well. But we are home again now and I'm glad to be so.

I'm not sure why but when I go away for a week or even a day or two, I feel like I have been away for much longer. I expect much to have changed when I look around but it hasn't, thankfully. And the farm and garden haven't missed me a jot, it's all one-sided.

I'm not sure how I will ever manage to take the big tour to the UK that I think about. Perhaps it is the thinking about it that I enjoy the most anyway rather than taking the actual trip.

While I was away I visited all of the garden centres I could. My favourite was the native tree nursery and I did buy a few or more tube stock plants. Some natives to extend my native shrub garden which I'm not sure that I have ever shared here. Some herbs and an hydrangea and buddleja especially for the bees and for me too.

It's so good to be home. Visitors yesterday, six loads of washing, mowing, baking, getting ready for back to school on Tuesday and now some sewing time. Hopefully I'll have time then to catch up on some reading. Hooray!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pests- scale and beetles

I've noticed some pests about lately (and I'm not talking about the migraine that my brain wants to have). For the most part the plants are healthy enough to handle a few pests but my pink grapefruit which is only small has scale. I walk past it most days on my way to the letterbox but didn't take too much notice until it was looking denuded of more leaves than I would like.

Scale on citrus

So headache or no I did something about it. 

My preferred method of scale eradication is to give the leaves, stems and branches a good old going over with soapy water. Rinsed with clean water after. It is usually sufficient, removing enough of the offending bugs to allow the tree to fight back itself. I'm sure there are probably all manner of insecticides which can be used but I never spray them. The bees most likely wouldn't be best pleased and my tendencies, regardless of having bees, are green. If the wash and wait method doesn't feel like you are doing enough then a spray with some sort of emulsified white oil/ vegetable oil could satisfy as suggested here.

The other bug giving me some grief are these three striped potato beetles. They leave the potatoes alone, choosing the tomatillo as their fare. I had never seen these in our garden until after I purchased some seed potatoes online. I can't say that they some how came in with the potatoes but I do know my own garden and I do have my suspicions. I haven't let it stop me from buying from the supplier though because I don't know for sure and they really are one of the best.

Beetles doing what they do best- multiplying

My preferred method for eradicating beetles is the tried and true squishing method. It's gruesome and they are tough to squash. I might try this method when I get tired of squashing them. 

Now I need to work out what to buy Tim for his birthday on Saturday. Perhaps it is the strain on my brain from thinking about that has a migraine brewing. He's a difficult customer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The rose garden- keeping it real

I like to keep things real. Honesty and authenticity in people is something I value very highly so  I am honest and true. That's probably a bit too deep for a post about my rose garden but it's the truth.
On close inspection my rose garden is looking decidedly lovely. Even if I say so myself. I take no credit for the loveliness though so I'm not being vain, just complimenting the natural beauty of flowers.
Fragrant Cloud


Blue Moon


My messy rose garden
To keep it real though, on not such a close inspection, it's actually overgrown with Wandering Jew and Johnsons grass. No matter how I try I really can't find much beauty in that at all and I do take credit for the messy state of affairs. I have a number of excuses ranging from wet weather, busy holiday time and so on. Just excuses. In actuality, I've been putting off the regular weeding in there and they just keep growing like... weeds. There are four beds in the rose garden. I weeded one thoroughly today which I'm pleased about. It was the smallest one because I'm not quite ready to give up my laziness. Maybe tomorrow.

There were a couple of treasures discovered. Potatoes growing from the compost I spread last year. Most likely I would have pulled these out a month ago but now they are flowering and I might be able to gather a few potatoes from them. They don't look too bad either.


Monday, January 12, 2015

FNwF- catch up

Thanks Cheryll for hosting a lovely get together on Friday night. I'm a little late posting about what I made because well... I have two or three (definitely three) monopolisers of the computer. One is at work today, one is doing homework and one is playing so the coast is clear right now.

I made up a simple tote bag for Tom's girlfriend. It's going in with her Christmas present that she will receive when she returns from India. I love making these bags because they are quick and easy and are really handy when shopping. By quick and easy I mean 30 minutes from start to finish. Perfect for getting back into sewing after Christmas.

One of my goals for 2015 is to de-clutter. It seems though that people are working against me. I was given this stack of books (there's a movie there too) recently because well I love to read and they are books. Not really my kind of reading material so I'm still deciding where to off load them where they will be appreciated. If you know anyone who is really keen on any of the titles, let me know.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Garden Share

Quite a bit of December was spent indoors enjoying the rain. Heavy storms some days and lovely drizzle others. All up I think there was only 10 days in December that we didn't register any rainfall. Which was a surprise as the predictions were for a very dry summer. I know that other places even places that aren't too far away didn't fair so well as far as rain goes and I'm really sorry about that because things are dire in parts of our country.
The rain coupled with the heady, whirlwind of activities that's associated with the end of year and summer holiday time means that weeding went on the backburner last month and the garden looks like a jungle.

The pumpkin vines, in particular the self-sown ones, are taking over, relishing the rainfall. They grow measurably everyday as do the pumpkins that are on the vines.

It may be looking overgrown right now but it is in fact the way I prefer to garden anyway. Barely a bare piece of earth to see. The weeds in the raised beds get smothered out by the wanted plants. Except for the rampant kikuyu which could outcompete almost anything.

Not necessarily a part of the garden but very much a big part of its success, the bees have been busy. Two supers worth of honey this week and lots of lovely wax to use.

 Planting this month
Not a long list of things going in the ground in January. Perhaps just pop some carrots and beetroot or beans in when I find a space (that means when I clear a spot of weeds).
Having said that I most likely will plant more than that as usual.

Waiting on pumpkins. They are a long way off yet but the promise of the autumn harvest is so good.
  • tomatoes
  • herbs
  • plums
  • flowers
  • carrots
  • eggplant
  • zucchini
  • chillies
  • beans
  • strawberries
  • cucumbers
To do in January
  • weed
  • water when necessary
  • enjoy the bounty
  • preserve the bounty
  • try to mow the grass (it's too wet)
Happy gardening!
The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month, this gives us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long-term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably.
The Garden Share Collective runs on the first Monday of each Month

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Welcome 2015

2015 is already 4 days old but I'm only now getting a chance to sit down at the computer. The girls 'need' to use it and Tom loves the internet. When I saw the seat vacant, I pounced because who knows when I will have another chance.

This is how I saw out 2014. On roller skates. A new roller skating rink opened up in town recently. I don't know how long it will it last but as a family of keen roller skaters, I hope it's here for the long term. Happily I didn't topple once not even with the handicap of these rather unattractive and ancient hire skates.

What's in store for 2015? Good things I hope. My lovely friend Kimmie has been asking what word is your word for 2015. Mine is 'interesting'. It's how I want each and every one of my days to pan out... interesting. It doesn't always mean that things run smoothly and in fact some of the most interesting days are those that have a drama or two (nothing serious of course).

I do hope that everyone who visits has an interesting year.
I'm off to write a letter. I'm aiming for one a day at least until I catch up.
Best wishes