Tag Archive: plot


One of the main things I had to learn about renovating was to be extremely flexible. At times I did struggle this, however overall now that we’ve finished – I think I did (reasonably) ok. A fair amount of tantrums occurred though when the garden was invaded. Over the past few years renovations have been mostly inside, however at the very end (back in September) all the weatherboards were replaced outside and the eaves etc were sanded to make the front look… well…stunning. The only problem with this was the garden underneath was trampled in the process. To be fair to my partner Chris, I was warned of this pretty much the day we moved in, so I’ve really only planted annuals and a couple of bulbs. But still – when the time came I guess I’d put it so far in the back of my mind, that it was hard to watch.

new bit 1

I sulked for a good childish amount of time, but then given free rein to start building up the garden again did spark me out of my mood. I thought about it for weeks, trying to work out how to form a “screen” between the two new pillars. I thought about different grasses, small shrubs and even lavender came to mind. However a walk about our local streets revealed the inspiration I needed – my favourite native correas! It seemed very me and I loved the idea instantly.

What was left - a new blank canvas to work with

What was left – a new blank canvas to work with

new bit 5

I dug through some compost under both windows and planted my “Alba” correa (had been growing in a pot out the back) between the pillars. I found a couple of cheap mini “Alba” cuttings too which I planted either side – hopefully as they grow larger they’ll continue to form a screen. I divided a grass that I already had growing there and added a lot of annuals around the front to hopefully give the areas a burst of summer colour.

Initial planting (in September/October)

Initial planting (in September/October)

Under the bay window I also planted three correas – this time a “Canberra Bells” as well as a couple of my “Relexa” cuttings I’ve been growing. Again annuals were splattered around to hopefully give a burst of life.

Initial planting (September/October)

Initial planting (September/October)

I’ve now also moved a few spring seedlings out there too – including dwarf beans, capsicums and pumpkin seedlings (a bit hopeful I think, but worth a try!). Now that it’s been a couple of months, everything has grown and the area is looking a lot better (see photos below)

Even though the garden went through a very negative patch, and a lot of my spring bulbs were nowhere to be seen this year – things are now back to positive and on the way up. Thankfully rennos are now finished, and I can go back to protecting plants just from snails – at least they’re smaller.

What the garden now looks like - photos taken this week

What the garden now looks like – photos taken this week

The garden now (photo taken this week)

The garden now (photo taken this week)

new bit 18 new bit 21 new bit 22

When first planted compared to now

When first planted compared to now

From humble beginnings, to overgrown madness – over the past month the backyard veggie patch has grown amazingly fast! The patch faces north, and with loads of morning sun it’s turning into a very productive little patch. So far I’ve harvested beans, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchinis and 1 pumpkin (with more on the way!) from the small patch. Tomatoes have also formed and I’m just waiting for them to ripen. I probably have overcrowded things a tad – but all the plants seem to be happy and making the most of it. For example two of the cucumber plants are growing up around the tomatoes for support. I’ve even seen some ladybugs hunting around in there, helping keep pests down so the madness can continue. The plants have also managed to keep themselves contained in the little patch, which is slightly disappointing… although the pumpkins have started to make small moves…

 byard 5byard 7

Pumpkins making their way out of the patch...

Pumpkins making their way out of the patch…

I’ve also included a photo of the cut open Golden Nugget pumpkin from Christmas – it was delicious!

pumpkin cut open

All of my gardening so far (apart from a couple of pots here and there) has been in our front yard. Our backyard has been, and will continue to be, part of the working space for our renovations. We have talked lightly about what we’d like to put out the back, but haven’t formed anything as of yet (probably because if it was left to me I’d turn the whole thing into one big veggie patch, and we haven’t finished the structural things like carports and paths yet). But when my partner suggested a veggie patch along the side next to the fence – that was all I needed!

Ok, in fairness he did suggest a raised veggie patch, but with the chaos that’s occurring in the rest of the house, it was being left to the backburner as a “non-essential” part of the renovations. Sacrilege! But I am probably one of the few people who would put a veggie patch above half a house (literally, we’re living in half our house at the moment). I decided while waiting that I would make the veggie patch myself, at least without the borders, until we decided what we were going to do (or my negotiation skills got better!).

Yes, we live here….

The soil out the back is actually pretty good as we’ve added a lot of topsoil already to the whole yard. I added a fair amount of my own compost to the section as well to help build it up. So far I’ve planted a couple of tomatoes, a couple of cucumber seedlings and a few flower seedlings to help attract bees (snapdragons, alyssum and linaria). I also planted a zucchini seedling and a couple of pumpkin seedlings which I realise are probably going to grow out of the patch and possibly take over the lawn… but give me an inch and I’ll take a mile! Although the pumpkins are supposed to be a compact variety that you can grow in pots, so I’ll see how it goes… if it gets too much I’ll take them out. Some climbing beans in a pot and a few strawberries have made the patch complete. For now…

The pets have already moved in

The garden at the start of spring ready for an overhaul…

I have to admit… it took me a bit to find the motivation to get out this spring to do my usual half-yearly overhaul. I should be excited and raring to go – spring is here! But I found myself putting it off for a few weeks and procrastinating with bread, blogging and coffee… Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of hard work – but when all the winter veggies still look so lush and green (although no longer fruiting or ready for final harvests), it seems a pity to pull them out. However once I got going my usual optimism about what the next season of gardening would create returned, and my motivation quickly followed.

I started by pulling out all the spent winter vegetables. There seemed to be an awful lot this year – I filled an entire compost bin! Then I continued by turning over all the soil and adding compost back in. As always I tend to mix up vegetables to add an element of interest (or craziness depending who you’re talking to…I prefer interest). This also helps to confuse pests and prevent spread of diseases. So far this has worked pretty well – except for the snails, they’re not fussy and eat everything…

So far I’ve planted some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings that I grew from seed. I’m sorry to say that I did buy a couple of tomato seedlings to put in as well,  but I still have high hopes for my seedling experiment and hope to add more of my own a little later when they are large enough and the weather is warmer.

By the time I finished all this off (a little later) with some straw – the spring flowers were out in full swing and suddenly my garden had been filled with splashes of bright colour, which helps remind me of the changing seasons and that it won’t be long before my garden is full of plants and the promise of harvests again.

While it may be bleak and cold outside, the garden is still looking healthy and vibrant. Even on the coldest or wettest of days, passing the garden in the morning can’t help but make me smile – feels like at least there is a point to winter! It desperately needs to be weeded, but that may have to wait till I get a day off that isn’t raining or bitterly cold. Otherwise it seems to be maintaining itself rather well at the moment with little input from myself. Everything is large enough now that I can even back off on my snail hunts (the small time of the year when we all live in peace).  

To add to the vibrance in the garden, my first tulip has started to flower! Hopefully my others won’t be far behind.

It’s been a bit over a month since I started my experiment to see if leggy seedlings could be saved by planting them deeper than normal into soil – and I have good news! Don’t throw out your leggy seedling, because so far a lot have survived….

The verdict for the veggie seedlings:

 

Kale – huge success! All three types of kale (Red, Tuscan and Blue) that I’ve been growing have continued to grow and do well. Even so large now I transplanted a couple into the garden. While doing this I found than new roots had formed in the section I had planted up.

Red and Tuscan kale leggy seedlings out in the garden!

Broccoli/Cauliflower – mixed success… some have done quite well, others growing slowly. They haven’t died, but when checked hadn’t formed new roots either… will have to keep watching these ones

Purple Sicily Cauliflower

Silver beet/Ruby Chard and Kohl Rabi – all died. Don’t bother trying to save these ones.

Cabbage – will have to let you know for next time, because unfortunately these were all eaten by snails in the first week…

And in the flower department:

Honesty & Stock: Mixed success – still alive but growth extremely slow

Cornflower & Calendula – huge success! Growing well and looking good!

 

So there you have it. Turns out you can plant up leggy seedlings – some will form new roots and others will benefit from a bit of extra support. Overall leggy seedlings are certainly not a waste!

Autumn overhaul

The tidy up...

Although a bit later than hoped, I finally found the time to head out into the garden and give it a massive overhaul to prepare for the winter crops. I started by removing all the weeds and dead growth (mostly the remaining summer veggies). During this process I also found a group of parsnips that I’d completely forgotten I’d planted! Hidden harvests – always good….

I then turned over the soil using a fork and spade. For those of you who have clay soil you can sympathise with me for this part (for those who don’t – well it felt like the equivalent of digging up concrete…) I then added gypsum and mixed it in, followed by compost and mixed that in as well. Suddenly my soil had a new lease on life amd was ready for the next round of veggies.

Gypsum followed by compost

Gina helping me dig....

I planted an initial round of advanced winter seedlings including broccoli, red cabbage, wombok and celery (in random order – I don’t like to plant things in straight rows). I’ll be keeping them protected from snails with plastic bottles and copper tape until they’re large enough to fend for themselves. I finished the whole thing off with a thick layer of lucerne mulch and also revamped the dog run which wasn’t looking the best…

The dog run - before and after

Then all that was left was to head inside, bathe the blisters, massage the sore back and feet and collapse from exhaustion! A big weekend of work, but the finished garden is looking pretty great!

Finished!

When I came home from work today I casually picked two zucchinis for dinner on my way to the front door. By the time I got to the kitchen I was beaming! How amazing it felt to simply pick a vegetable on the way inside –  really nothing could be easier. When you think about the effort it takes travelling to and getting something from the supermarket or a market… the comparison of the gardener just picking something on their way inside seems fantastic. Plus fresh vegetables taste so much better! So get gardening people it will brighten your day like it did for me today!

Waiting for autumn finally got the best of me – last week I started preparing my first round of autumn/winter crop seeds. I’ve been using paper pots in the last few months to see if it helps reduce transplantation shock, but I must admit I haven’t noticed a huge difference so far. Some of the seeds I’ve planted are probably a little early, some a little late but I’m hoping for the best (and if you never push the boundaries, you never learn what can work!)

So what’s on my seedling list? I’ve planted:

  • Leek
  • Onion (red & brown) 
  • Silverbeet (standard & ruby chard)
  • Kale (tuscan, red & blue)
  • Parsley
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Broccoli (normal, purple sprouting & romanesco)
  • Cauliflower (normal & purple sicily)
  • Turnip
  • Radish (watermelon & china rose)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Pak Choi
  • Aquilegia (thre types)
  • Freesia
  • English daisy
  • Foxglove
  • Cornflower
  • Larkspur
  • Honesty
  • Nasturtium
  • Stock
  • Pansy
  • Calendula
  • Xeranthemum

 

So with over 90 seed pots on the go I realise I maaaaay have over done it a little… But I really wanted to try some new seeds this year and realistically they’re not all going to thrive.

Like a little kid I race into the “laundry” each morning (it has been a spare room, was then our kitchen and now a make-shift laundry … ahhh, renovations) to check the seedlings which emerge so much faster than first expected! I love checking the progress daily and it’s amazing how quickly they grow. I may have to find a new home for them very quickly though before they become too leggy. Looking forward to more growth & the harvest to come!

 

After reading that Snake Plant/Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) can be propagated incredibly easily (in a book by my hero Alys Fowler) – I kept an eye on all my friends indoor plants hoping to find one I could steal a leaf off. Apparently Sake Plants have gone out of fashion recently as none of my friends have it! Although disappointed I did manage to find one on sale which felt like a bearable compromise. I would now really like a new plant for my desk (particularly if I’m going to be spending a lot more time blogging!) so I decided to try the “create your own indoor plant” experiment.

As it goes, all you have to do is cut up a leaf into sections and place into potting mix. Make sure the pieces are facing up (ie correct growing direction) and keep moist.It apparently takes 6-8 weeks for new signs of growth, so no change so far. Keeping my fingers crossed & look out for updates!

In the past week however I have noticed a change in the original pot that wasn’t there before….. A new shoot has emerged from the original plant, so looks like I will have at least one new plant after all!

Other easy indoor plants are avocados. Everybody needs an avocado plant – ask my brother, he has 10 of them!

Creating indoor plants from avocado seeds is incredibly easy!

"Ava" - current avocado plant, with constant new growth looks healthy

"Avie" - last year's avocado plant

All you need is a seed from an avocado which suspended over water (memories of primary school science coming back to me…) will germinate after a few weeks. A new indoor plant is created as easy as that! Seeds from overripe avocados work best and keep them in water until a few leaves have formed. I had one last year that died (& still not sure why) but one I germinated this year is looking significantly more healthy & is a great addition to the kitchen!