Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chapter 34:Tick. Tick. Tick....KA-BLOOOM!!!

Garden Make-over

Recently we had two large trees cut down from our front yard. Whilst it is always sad to see a tree go, it has let in a lot more light, which is always a gardening bonus. It's taken some time to get used to not having the trees there anymore. It has been funny watching our neighbours stroll by then looking around in earnest trying to work out whats different. It's like when a friend has waxed their own eyebrows (somewhat frivolously) can't quite put your finger on it..."have you had a hair cut? you look different...what is about you today?...ohhh...did you do your own eyebrows?...(awkward silence) they look greeeat."

But unlike spent eyebrows, we put both our trees to good use. We chopped one for firewood and the other was chipped and used for mulch in the garden and community orchard.With loads more sunlight on our frontyard, we expanded the veggie patch. Instead of raised beds, this year we are growing straight into the ground. In preparing the new bed we began by laying down a carpet of old newspapers, then barrowed in a layer of woodchips. Bags of $1 horse manure was spread on the woodchips and then we splurged on some topsoil and sugar cane mulch to finish it off...The patch is now 2mtrs wide by 8 mtrs long, and is set for planting as soon as our seedlings have grown.

Our new extended patch

 Slow Seedlings

 Eons ago, in the depressing dead of winter, we ordered some seems from Diggers, in the anticipation of Spring...we were getting in early...a head start, or so we thought.

Our local Thai is ready in 15 mins, hats off, very impressive. You can order a case of wine online and have it delivered within 3 days...if you cared to you could fly to 'Puke' in Albania in under 24hours...or canoe to New Zealand in...I don't know...2 weeks...or 4 weeks with one paddle....or even six weeks with your bare hands. Receiving our seeds from Diggers....wait for it...took 7 flippin weeks, or for you winos out there 16.3 cases of wine later our seeds had FINALLY arrived. You can imagine our dismay when we realised we had forgotten to order the crookneck zucchinis we desperately wanted. Suuurely there was another option... we purchased our crookneck zucchinis from Eden seeds instead and they arrived 3 days later. Diggers have a great variety but they are notoriously slow. Eden seeds in Brisbane also supply a good range of heirloom and non-hybrid seeds and are speedy with their deliveries.

Found this little hot house in a local council throw out. Score!
Toilet roll seedlings - super easy

 With all our seeds finally ready to go we chopped our toilet rolls, packed them with damp seedling mix and planted a range of heirloom tomatoes including Black Russian, Tommy Toe, Tigerella, Black Cherry, Lemon Drop, Green Zebra, Black Crim, Pink Brandy Wine and Orange Jaune Flamme...they will be a hit at the 'Crop and Swap'. We also planted Golden Midget Watermelon, Queensland Blue Pumpkins, Lebanese cucumbers, beetroot, silverbeet, Purple Dragon carrots and Lantern chillies. We have also planted German Chamomile, Peppermint, Giant Sunflowers, Basil, Coriander, Thyme, Rocket, Fat Bastard asparagus, sweet purple asparagus, sweet potato, kipfler potatoes, royal blues, Desiree's, dutch cream and other varieties. But it doesn't end there, we have planted chokos, passionfruit, kiwi-fruit (which has bloomed), a Cab. Sav. and a Merlot grape vine and three strawberry guavas.

fancy meeting you here

G and her magic home grown asparagus wand

Jane and the Gooseberries

Lately we’ve been spreading the word about the ‘Crop & Swap’, our local fruit and veggie swap starting in Nov has generated a load of local interest. We were chuffed to receive our first piece of mail from a lovely neighbour in our street who also grows her own fruit and veg and is embarking upon an aquaponics venture in the next few weeks. Jane’s lovely letter explained that as a local grower and resident of many years, she has been dying to be part of something like the ‘Crop & Swap’ simply, to be more involved with the community and like-minded gardeners. We visited Jane and her husband, they are delightful and have now invited us to visit their garden and make use of whatever they grow including kiwi-fruit, cape gooseberries (which we have since planted ourselves), calendula, oregano, paw paw, beetroot and parsley. We were equally as excited to find people as enthusiastic about growing food as we are and are thrilled about the possibilities of learning from Jane and her husband in the weeks, months and years to come. So what about the gooseberries...well we tricked you, they’re not gooseberries at all, they are best known as Cape Gooseberries, or Chinese Lantern. They are a distant relative of the tomato and belong to the Nightshade family (potatoes and tomatoes). The fruit grows inside a papery, lantern-like pod (much like a Chinese lantern). Other than the berries, all other parts of the plant are poisonous...whilst we are talking about poison, the red berries on asparagus plants are also poisonous fyi. But back to the gooseberries, they fruit in late winter and apparently are fantastic in fruit salads, adding to jams, dried for meat dishes or just popped into the mouth fresh...we are excited.

a cheeky cockatoo staking out the patch

Community Orchard Part 2:

Speaking of our wonderful local community and neighbours, another 7 trees have been added to our community orchard. Thanks to our wonderful neighbours on Chaseling we planted an apricot, the most exquisite nectarine and a very cool peacharine. We have also planted a Maqui Berry tree, 2 Fig and a Pomegranite tree. The community orchard is now well and truly full. It is great to see neighbours walking through it and checking out the plants. It has become quite the local thoroughfare.

Next post we will tell you more about the adventures of the 'Crop & Swap', hitting the Glenbrook markets, giving away free seeds and heirloom seedlings, planting our seedlings and some of our latest renos.

our nectarine tree in bloom


  1. Oh wow....when you guys go a bit quiet on the can be sure that you are being industrious in the meantime. I cannot believe how much you have achieved lately. My farmer's hat goes off to you Jo and Joe...I have a feeling I should run outside and catch up with my garden!!
    Love that community feel you are creating and the story of meeting the lady with the cape gooseberries.It just goes to show how many people are out there just wanting to meet other likeminded people.

  2. way cool guys. so impressed and so happy to see what you guys are doing .... and the good you sew will come back 10-fold! life has a way of doing that in such a wonderful way!

  3. What a great blog! (I just found you through Anitra's emails, I am in upper mts) Your fruit and veggie growing efforts are mammoth! I will be reading eagerly for tips :-)
    (BTW- if I can recommend an online seed company- I have been using The Lost Seed co in Tassie for a few years now, they are excellent. Huge range, very fast and helpful tips on the packs.)
    Although it doesn't look like you need much help going by the size of that asparagus!

  4. Dear, Kim, Maggie and Mountainwildlife,
    thanks for your very encouraging comments. Kim, we are really looking forward to bringing a few little items with us to the little black cow farmstay when we visit and cape gooseberry seeds are right up there. Maggie, how goes the mammoth task that is your life at present - the move? the good has already come back to us, we met you :)
    Mountainlife, we really appreciate your seeds info., thankyou. We will check out The Lost Seed co for our next purchases, we would love to have you down at the Crop & swap if you should find yourself in Faulconbridge on the 12th of Nov.
    Happy Spring Days to everyone,
    Jo and Joe

  5. Hello again! I'm just popping back in to tell you I have nominated your blog for an award! I have linked you on my blog for the Liebster award, given to inspirational blogs (with less than 300 followers).
    And yes, if I have anything to 'crop and swap' I will try to make it down the hill next month!

  6. Hey Jo and Joe....
    my son JB said to me the other day...Hey mum when are those funky farmers coming to stay on the farm???
    Guess what it is getting closer if you want still want a freebie!!
    bedrooms are done /gardens next (but won't matter if they are not complete when you get here ) /the big thing we are waiting on is insurance. Once insurance gets sorted I will send an email...., there will probably be some weekends leading up to december and then weekends and weekdays in december/jan/feb.
    talk soon , kim

  7. I've given up on Diggers. They're an hour's drive from me and their orders take weeks. Just not good enough.
    I've also been using Green Harvest up in Qld. I ordered some pots, asparagus crowns and other bits and pieces last Saturday and they were delivered on Monday... in Victoria. Can't beat that!

    I'm currently taking over my back yard with veggies, with an eye to my front yard in the future. I've planted some fruit trees out front, so I've made a start!

  8. Cheers Frog Dancer, We will definately check out green harvest - they sound like a go-er!

    Glad to hear the veggies are takling over - front yard today, tomorrow the world!!!!