Monday, 23 July 2012

"Quiet Weekend"

I started writing last night and decided that I shouldn’t blog about a whole weekend on Sunday night/ Monday morning. Because what may have been a “quiet weekend”, means that we spent much of the weekend getting stuff done around the place and I have now realised there is quite a bit to say.

Friday was my RDO (Rostered Day Off), I love this concept- work and extra 45 minutes a day and get every other Friday off… would probably struggle to go back to working 5 days every week. We usually get so much done on these long weekends. This week I had no errands or appointments there was plenty to be getting on with. Especially when the last of the fruit trees I had ordered (Ebay: Rockies Nursery) arrived in the post.
It was like Christmas, I had hoped they would arrive, as the other had come earlier in the week and as they were “dry root” had been soaking in water since Thursday evening. These were delivered in perfect condition, in individually sealed bags- rootsm, soil the works. So Friday involved the finally planting plan and preparation and digging. In total I planted around 40 trees

The previous owners had planted a few palms at the front, a few unsuccessful evergreens at the back and a few citrus trees (2 dwarf orange, a lemon and a lime). In addition we had planted a lemon tree (for Griff) last year and a dwarf mango, which was a house warming gift, but had always planned to expand this. With the intentions to move the tanks and our visit from the local land care we decided more screening on the roadside would be nice. Particularly along the pig pen, as this could provide more shade. As well as expanding the “mini orchid” surrounding the Enviro tank- a soak away from recycled water. But we decided that if we planted there had to be a purpose, a benefit- shade, wind break, scent, FRUIT! Think this is what they call edible landscaping.

 So to add to the native varieties sourced from the Landcare- unfortunately some of these (35 originally) had not weathered too well in their tubes on the patio. This may or may not have had something to do with Madog’s insistence on marking them! I had ordered 5 Lychees, 3 Carob (yes the dog chocolate stuff), 2 Cumquat (which turned out to be 3- thanks Rockies Nursery), 2 Brazilian cherries, 2 Passion fruit, a Pomegranate, a Mulberry, a Macadamia nut, a Cardamom and a Ginger (well its not exactly a tree).
So I decided the Passion fruit and Coastal jasmines were to be potted temporarily (until they can be transferred to the fencing around the new chook pens)- these I am hoping to train as screening and eventually shade; whilst hopefully providing scent and fruit. I also potted temporarily was the ginger- to be planted in the herb garden (once its cleared) and the cardamom is to live permanently on the patio (as it requires shade).
The Cumquats, Cherries and Pomegranate were to add to the orchid, whilst the Mulberry and Macadamia were planted at the corner between the house garden and the pig pen- supplying shade and food. This I extended by planting the lychees and carob (being evergreen and quite large) were to go along the fence line near the pigs and carrying this on upon the inside of the fence. Then interplanting native Mangosteen (which are apparently edible), Wattle, Laurel, Frangipani’s and a smaller shrub that’s fruit is supposedly edible- and I can’t remember what it was called.
So plans made, to allow them to establish I got Matt to mow the relevant areas. So I have time to make tree protectors (since most are only 4- 45cm) and shouldn’t have to worry about them being mowed over or slashed on accident… The mower made it half way and stopped! We bought this ride on shortly after buying the house, and in its first 6 months it spent 3 in the shop! I rang the store, as its still under warranty, as the previous problem had been with the rear drive mechanism breaking in 2… this time the front has done exactly the same thing, only it had ripped out power plugs etc to boot. Now don’t get me wrong, when it running it’s a great machine, but for a 12 month old mower we’ve had nothing but problems with it. So its booked in for Friday- fingers crossed they can get the parts easily this time.

So the outside trees were planted in the slightly thick (but not yet untidy) grass… I found most of them yesterday when I was watering- better not leave it too long with the protectors. By the way, as we are moving the water tanks as they were on the neighbours, we found out the fence is not our boundary either; we own up to 2.5 meters outside- so guess where ½ the fence line trees are going?
The others being inside, so I tried to space them evenly only to find a bald or obvious circle in the grass every few meters (where I was planning to plant). It was in keeping with the alignment of existing palms along the front of the house, whilst allowing the mower to run between it and the fence (when it is working). So I begun to dig, was clearly a previous planting spot… one or two still had pots in them! No wonder the few remaining trees at the far end of the garden didn’t survive. The previous owners had planted trees all the way along, just they hadn’t grown as they had left rubbish and plastic in the holes, so the roots didn’t stand a chance!
I know it is going to take a few years before we see the benefits of these trees, but the sooner we plant them the better.

I did manage some other gardening on Sunday. Since the rain appears to have stopped I took the opportunity some weeding and transplanting done. Best time is before it dries out, as the weeds tend to come out easier and new plants/seedlings don’t seem to get so stressed, as they have nice moist soil.
I focused mostly on my more “organic” patch. Now not as in sold in the shop labeling, more because its contents appeared more naturally…. To be honest this half of what was my waterlogged attempt at a patch last year I have ear marked for vines, potatoes etc. and so far have made little effort with. Everything in it has either germinated itself (mostly coriander and parsley so far) from last year’s crops or there are a few tomatoes and pumpkins I have attempted transplanted (from the recovering section of the pig pen) and I have sown a few watermelon and cucumber seeds (which we aer yet to see any signs from).  But I had noticed a few Eggplants (Aubergines), they just needed weeding around.  These I had great success with last year, but thought they had been lost when the garden was waterlogged. So I began weeding and to my surprise there were over 20 different plants coming. As some were clumped together I have thinned and transplanted them, in the hope that they will survive. This is great since the Eggplant seeds I purchased have yet to be successful!
This weekend I also harvested my first capsicum (pepper) and lettuce for 2012. As well as another kilo of zucchini’s (courgettes) [so more Zucchini recipes to come ;)], spinach, rocket, some silver beat (though most went to the pigs as the bugs had had their share first) and 2 dozen Welsh bunching onions- I just pulled the largest, as they were becoming too big, so I can split and replant some smaller ones.
I was excited to see my first Butterbean and Snow peas growing. Actually the bean vines are doing quite well, although I am yet to pick any. There are also signs of radishes and cabbages and the broccoli and cauliflowers are coming along nicely (though it will be a while before I can pick these).


As for the animals; the chicks and the ducks are doing well. The chicks are developing some of their feathers already, and they’re quite unusual- so we’ll hopefully get to keep some pretty hens (sorry boys)- though I suspect the prettiest are probably all males.
I cleaned the little ones out Saturday (which isn’t something I would normally comment on) other than our area there appears to be a shortage of sawdust in the area at the moment. We have always used sawdust for our birds, although they will nest in other things. So the older birds currently have a combination of hay and some of the ½ bag of sawdust we have left. Whilst for the little ones I’ve used old news papers and shredded paper. These are just as affective and the birds are not as likely to get paper in their water- Which has been a recent problem and the sawdust soaks up the water. I do still like to line the brooder box first (using old livestock bags- woven plastic), as it makes it easier to clean them out and stop so much moisture from seeping into the wooden box… so all round effective recycling! And when I’m done I will still be able to compost it as paper breaks down quicker than sawdust… So just have to make the composter. This is something I’ve been putting off, as I’m wary about the rain and humidity here for composting, but as it’s the dry season (excluding the past months weather) I have no excuse. And another note to add to the to-do list- bring shredded paper home from work.

Other than that we did venture into town for our social bike ride Saturday morning with the intention of hanging around for a look at the local food and wine festival. This allowed for a browse of the electrical stores!
I’ve been chasing a mixer, for my sourdough and I had scoured the internet, so time to have a look locally… We came home (expectedly) unimpressed by the festival but with a Sunbeam Mixmaster compact! So shopping was bit more successful than the festival.


As you can see we have been a little busy this weekend trying it out. Matt made a few cakes and it definitely made this week’s sourdough much easier. You just place all the ingredients in and turn it on. Then tip it out on to a floured surface, mold it into a round, then put it back in and whack on the lid- it even has its own lid. So if you have a mixer with dough hooks there’s really no excuse!!
I also found a few more sourdough recipes on another blog- Simply Self Sufficiency… am looking forward to trying out the pizza dough soon.

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