Category Archives: From The Garden

Off Kilter

It’s been a funny old week. I’m feeling a bit off-kilter. I’m not 100% certain what a kilter is, nor do I know whether I’d like to be on one, but for the moment, I’m definitely off.


I did fully intend to write up a review of my lovely Sling bag made at Sewjourn, for Nikki’s Review Round-Up Competition. Somehow that deadline slid out the window while I was distracted by kilters, but get yourself over there and vote for a winner anyway, won’t you?

In lieu of that, and of anything else of substance for the blog this week – please accept an offering from last week:



Sandpit is Go!:

My Dad built, and then he and Dermot installed, this long-anticipated addition to the backyard.
The weather even came to the party with a couple of brilliant days earlier this week (I love this Winter-with-a-promise-of-Spring time of year so much). So the kids got to hang out and build sandcastles as much as they liked.

Well. Two of them liked. Mr Fifteen-and-a-half-months-and-I can-climb-out-of-my-cot-now seems to have some kind of bizarre sand-phobia! We’re working on it.

Hello Scaly

This is our resident blue-tongue lizard. Isn’t she a stunner? (We think it’s a female – the female’s tale is narrower than the male’s, apparently). She’s been hanging out in the gap between our driveway and the neighbours’ property, but we’ve seen her popping up from time to time, hopefully to eat some of the less welcome garden residents. Blue-tongues eat slugs, snails and the like. Useful really, so I hope she stays around for a while.

I’ve been doing a bit of blue-tongue ‘research’ (aka Googling), and this site says breeding season is between September and November. We could have babies in a few months! We’ll have to keep an eye on her. (And hope next door’s cat doesn’t!)


Blogtoberfest Day 4

Not Quite, but Almost…



I seem to have been AWOL again. Oh well. You know. Same old stuff. Actually, these past couple of weeks, I’ve been pretty busy. And somewhat social. How unusual! It must be the Springing of the weather, I think. I love the changes as Winter gives way to Spring. Each year, I get all aquiver at the first sight of a blooming Magnolia! The warmer weather over the last couple of weeks has seen us out in the garden – tidying up a little, making plans, moving fruit trees to make room for a new shed… even a little harvesting – check out our first (ever) broccoli:

We are so proud!

Someone else has been discovering a love for the great outdoors:


The littlest one quite likes going adventuring (seen here amongst our lovely broad beans). She frequently starts the day off by requesting ‘shoes-on-and-off-we-go’ (okay, not in words, exactly, but you get the idea). I’m not a terribly good morning person, so our walks usually have to wait until a bit later, but we’ve been having a good time exploring the world, and she does like to ‘help’ in the garden. By help, I mean ‘eat worms’. (So far not successfully, but not for want of trying!)

We did another bit of adventuring, too, and discovered a wonderful playground a few suburbs over, where I spent some time trying to take photographs of kids who refused to look at me:


Or sit still for more than two seconds:

(That’s my lovely sister-in-law and her little boy in the midground there.)

What else? Well, Marita came to visit us last week, and we spent a lovely hour or so playing show-and-tell over coffee. That brings the total number of online stitchy friends I have met to four, and so far not an axe-wielding maniac among them! Actually, bizarrely enough, Marita and I had already met, briefly. We’re both part of the Melbourne Freecycle group, and a month or two back, she came over to pick up some miscellaneous needlework magazines I was getting rid of. It was funny to realise the prior connection, and it’s nice to know someone local, not halfway across the universe like those other Melbourne stitchers I know!

Speaking of stitching, I have been doing verrrry little. I started ‘A Simple Life’, by Elizabeth’s Designs. I also signed up for another exchange. I know, I know, I promised myself I wasn’t going to. But somehow it ‘just happened’! I’m going to be making some kind of ‘small’ for somebody, as part of an exchange on the Rotation Stitchers’ BB. Not sure what yet, but ideas are forming. Must get a move on that.

Also, I’ve discovered that knitting is not as completely beyond me as I always thought it was. I have been doing a little bit of here-and-there practice and learning, and I think I’m kind of getting there. Enough to be ready to start my first bona-fide non-scarf garment, anyway. I’ll let you know how it goes… say in about a year or two!

Rain, Glorious Rain

Moods around here are very much improved following two days of steady rain. The drought (and it still is, despite the rain) has been very depressing on so many levels, and watching our garden wilt and die has not been fun. The ground is actually wet now, and I’m beginning to feel the mild stirrings of inspiration to plant for winter crops. We’ve never yet managed to have a winter vegetable garden – I think it’s because planting needs to be done while the weather is still sweltering, then tending/harvesting needs doing in the misery of late autumn/winter. Blah. But we’ll see. It would be nice to have soup vegetables at the very least.

Speaking of harvesting, we have managed to keep a few things going… on Saturday I picked beetroot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and leeks. Then last night we had pesto on spaghetti, courtesy of our own basil and garlic. Yum. (We also opened wine, it was terribly civilised around here after the small people were finally in bed :giggle: )

Other delicious produce from the weekend:
Niamh was very accommodating with her naps, and I got quite a bit done, replenishing a few colours of my sale floss and dyeing some fabric for myself and others. There is one monstrously ugly piece of fabric hiding in that pile though… not sure what I’ll do with it yet. If you think you could use a fat quarter of Belfast that kind of looks like army-camo, drop me a line :giggle: (OtherHalf was more generous and said it looked ‘kind of foresty’. Yes. Like camo!).

Other people were busy on the weekend too… we found out this morning that my mother and stepfather snuck out and got married yesterday… finally legal after nineteen years together! Congratulations you two :drink: !

More Strawberry Trials

Lone Strawberry
Looks lonely, doesn’t it? Following ‘the bird incident‘, we netted our strawberries… only to then come face to ugly face with an infestation of slaters. Who apparently lurve strawberries almost as much as Finn. Grrrr. I’m beginning to feel the same way about organic gardening as I do about natural birth. It’s all good in theory, but when it comes down to the crunch, gimme the drugs! It’s a struggle, and I’m not sure I have the energy to keep it up this year. Birds are eating or destroying seeds and seedlings almost as fast as we can get them in, and when the birds can’t get them, you can be sure something else can.

Very occasionally, we get to profit from our efforts. If I’m quick, I get to eat some fresh peas before Finn gobbles the lot. Or a strawberry (I had to place this one safely out of reach to get a photograph for you 🙂 ).

This time tomorrow (or slightly earlier, in fact), I hope to be kicking back in a spa bath with a glass of champagne (just the one, mind you… still breastfeeding)! We’re going away for the weekend to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. It’s not quite as romantic as it sounds though, since we’re taking the kids, and we’re just going to my mum’s ‘spare house’ (it’s kind of their holiday house, but it’s only 15 minutes away from their actual home!) Regardless, it should be fun, and most importantly, there’s no internet access, no land-line, and not even any mobile coverage (for our particular carrier anyway). Bliss!

So I’ll see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a wonderful one 🙂

A Whole Lot of Cranky

It’s 7am. I am half dressed, have already been spit-upon twice… no, three times this morning, Niamh woke up several times again last night, and I made the mistake of weighing myself this morning. Yesterday was the day I didn’t get out of my pyjamas until 5pm. (I knew there’d eventually be one of those – one could wonder why I bothered changing at all once it got that late – I certainly do!) This ‘4-month sleep regression’, if that is what it is, is kicking my butt. Tell me, how is it fair to regress from something you were never actually any good at? I was just starting to think maybe I was doing okay, even though Niamh was mostly still getting up twice a night. I was starting to handle it. Now? Not so much.

All of that, though, is not the main cause of this morning’s irritation. This is the big one…


Buggeration, that just really ticks me off. Now I have to go and find nets or something to put over the plants. What’s really annoying is the darn bird didn’t even bother to finish the fruit – it left a manky chewed up half-a-berry still hanging off the plant. I had planned on letting Finn pick that strawberry today. Lucky I didn’t tell him about it, hey?


Though somewhat unintentional, my harvest post yesterday came at a most appropriate time, as did the comment on my making bread. I realised later in the day that today is Lammas – or Lughnasadh – in the Southern Hemisphere. Lammas (or ‘loaf-mass’) is the first of three pagan harvest festivals, and celebrates the harvest of the grain.

So I made bread tonight. Well… actually… at the risk of tarnishing the Earth Mother image, I must confess I used the breadmaker. And at the risk of exposing how completely lacking in domestic skills I am… even my breadmaker stuffed it up! The bread turned out half-raw 😮 I really don’t know how that happened. I think perhaps our breadmaker may be on it’s last legs. So we didn’t break bread… but we did harvest more corn to have instead. And that’s a grain, right?!

My Green Man also escaped a ritual burning. I think I’ll leave him happy where he is, keeping watch over the garden 🙂

Tis The Season

Harvest season, that is!

When first we set the settlement date for our house, we realised that we would need to very rapidly get a vegetable garden started if we wanted home-grown vegetables over summer (this being one of the major reasons we’ve wanted to buy a house for so long :giggle: ). As it happened, it took us a good two weeks to get two no-dig beds started and plants in, which means our produce went in reasonably late, but this is Melbourne, so that isn’t the end of the world. So far it has been a learning experience, with few real disappointments, and some wonders and delights. Here’s the rundown on the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good
Lettuce – I have never had such success with lettuce before. We’ve had Cos, Coral and Mignonette lettuces galore. As a result of this bounty, we couldn’t keep up with eating it all, and we had to pull up some which went rather spectacularly to seed – Cos lettuce in particular is really quite an ornamental plant when it does this.
I planted waaay too much Silverbeet, considering we don’t really eat that much of it. But it’s beautiful even just to look at – strong, dark, glossy leaves which are virtually unkillable (I say ‘virtually’… believe me, I’ve done it before. I have somewhat of a black-thumb). OtherHalf does cook it up very nicely, so I’m kind of getting used to eating my greens, even if I can’t say the same for Finn.
Basil – despite the best efforts of the snails and slugs (we eventually stopped them in their tracks by putting out dishes of v.bad homebrew :giggle: ), we’ve got several very generous basil plants, and shall be putting pesto on our pasta for months… yum!
The two plantings of curly leafed Parsley are like small trees now! I really must start making Tabbouleh and Fattoush salads – two of my very favourite ways of using up piles of parsley, and such brilliant summer meals. Parsley is high in iron, so definitely on the must-eat list for pregnancy. The continental (flat-leaf) parsley went in later, and is a little more temperamental, but it’s coming along OK too.
Spring Onions (aka Scallions (thanks Laura), Shallots or Green Onions, depending on where you come from) – ditto for using up in those two salads. Spring Onions are useful in just about everything, actually. And are another excellent ‘no-fail’ vegetable to grow, like silverbeet.
I’ve never grown Cucumber before this year. We chose a small-variety, and only had three plants (one of which succumbed to mold, and is no longer with us, sadly), but still have been really happy with the outcome. Big, very fleshy, tasty cucumbers which don’t hang around for long, because I have a tendency to eat cucumbers like other people eat apples! Next year, more plants, and maybe we’ll graduate to the big kind.
I’ve also never grown Beetroot before. For best results, these should have been planted from seed, but we put in seedlings, and they turned out fine. Home-grown beetroot is sensational, especially roasted. More of these next time, too.

The So-So
Our Tomatoes are only now just starting to ripen – this time last year we had a bumper crop from just three Roma tomato plants in our teeny backyard, which kept us in tomatoes from the beginning of January until some time in April, I think it was. The ones we’re getting now are good, but there just isn’t the number of fruit I’d like to see on each plant. We have 6 plants, 6 different varieties. The ‘Tigerella’ are really quite attractive, and very yum. Tomatoes are Finn’s favourite produce from the garden. If he was allowed, he would sit by the tomato plants and gorge himself until there were none left for us!
Celery – actually, this should belong in the ‘Good’ category, but Inever quite got around to covering the plants so they would blanch (whiten). As a result, it has a stronger flavour and is a bit tougher than I’d like. Excellent for cooking, but not my favourite in terms of just snacking on. It makes brilliant celery soup though – the last time we tried this (with supermarket celery), we ended up throwing almost the whole pot out, it was so bland and icky.
The Corn is also pretty good, but the soil wasn’t quite rich enough, so the plants didn’t develop really good, strong roots, and some succumbed to the winds we’ve had around here recently. We also probably didn’t plant enough, so there has been uneven pollination, resulting in kernels ‘missing’ from the cobs. Excellent flavour though. There is nothing which beats corn straight from the garden.
The Capsicum (aka ‘Peppers’), Eggplant (aka ‘Aubergine’) and Chilli plants are all struggling along. All from the same family, they’re really not getting enough sun in the bed where we planted them. There’s hope yet that we’ll get some fruit from them, but probably not much.

The Not-Worth-Talking-About
My Broccoli plants were savaged by fat white-moth caterpillars. Since I’m doing my best to make this an organic effort, I didn’t want to powder them, but I was lax in manually removing the eggs and caterpillars, so they were kaput within weeks of planting.
The Tatsoi (a Chinese green, which I was especially proud of, having planted this from seed) was also eaten – by what, I’m not exactly sure, but it was fast – an overnight death. I suspect another influx of slugs and snails, but whatever it was didn’t touch anything else, which was odd.
And Radishes. Who seriously could mess up radishes?! Well, that would be me. Because out rarden is a no-dig style, and not that great for growing from seed, Finn and I planted radish seed out in a polystyrene box. Container plants need vigilant watering, something I’m not all great at… so they kind of… died. Oops! We’ll chalk that up to a life-lesson for Finn, and try again as soon as the harsh edge comes off summer.

Anyway, I felt like the Earth Mother herself the other night when we sat down to dinner of corn-off-the-cob, and celery soup. The bread came courtesy of our most excellent bakery-around-the-corner – for the full effect, next time I should make that too 🙂

Edited this post too… but I swear just for typos this time!