Sunday, 22 December 2013

A peach of a day

Ok so I should have written this on Tuesday but I couldn't find all the camera accessories so it is late as always.

Don't you love it when everything you do in a day just becomes magic? As Mr R would say 'it's a peach of a day'.

Flat peaches so so tasty
I have some Tuesdays off and this co-insides with Mr R (he has been working nights lately (4pm-2am) so we don't really see much of each other except on some Tuesdays (date day). So while Mr R slept I thought I could squeeze in a yoga class (and I am soooo glad I did).

Then I decided we should go on a picnic to Bobbin Head (a beautiful national park not to far from me). So what better thing but to take a home grown salad? I walked out and picked zucchini

There was also olives

While small now I hope for big things one day

Please ignore the weeds but there are Soybean seedlings and red onion also used in the salad

Add a few nuts, capsicum (i must plant some seedlings) and goats cheese a bit of dressing and oh my goodness....

Just add the venue and Mr R

The lovely apple tree Bay
So as Mr R works so late I expected that he might fall asleep (yes he did) so I grabbed a current addition of Australian House and Garden and who should I see on page 81??? Highfield... Gosh Louise you are famous!

But wait the day did not end here.... Nope I caught up with some of my most gorgeous and amazing school friends. This day could not get any better!

Sorry ladies should have waited till you stopped talking xxx. But how good do the cupcakes look???

Love.... Mobile phone camera needs updating

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Fancy a walk?

Thought I would take you for a quick jaunt in the front garden. This was where we had the large liquidambar but is now the sun trap of the garden.

I have thought how it would be best to get a photo of the whole front and haven't really come up with an answer yet. So instead you have individual shots instead.

The butter yellow zucchini are really producing well this year

And I think it is because of the bees. I planted a line of blue salvia as I heard bees are attracted to blue

Louise from garden glut grows amazing rust coloured sunflowers have a look here. So this year I thought I would try.... Mine came out yellow not that I'm complaining but they didn't strike terribly well which is surprising.

I am hopeful this year the rats don't find the corn as the harvest looks good

I used these

And these in a curry this week. Yay! Although I may have over planted with 7 plants I can feed the neighbourhood with eggplants

In a few years I might just be able to make my own olive oil. Sorry the photo is out of focus
Butter beans
There are still some problems where the stump of the tree was. As you can see the butter bean (but not the climbing beans right next door) are dying off. In fact one of my jobs this weekend is to pull the last 3 out. I am not sure if it is the soil as it has only affected these beans. I planted some of the same seeds at a client's place and while hers are not thriving (from lack of water I think) they have not died. So I am not sure if I should try again or use something else. It will have to be a legume as I wanted to get some more nitrogen in the soil.

Anyhow looks like I have some work to get on with so best get out there. Hope your weekend is filled with gardening fun.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Farewell Broadbeans

This year I decided to grow both the white and pink flowering broad beans both at home and at my weekly client. My client hadn't seen the pink broad beans and was a little sceptical. But they not only grew better but I think tasted better. I am not sure my client agrees but she was happy to have the beans.

Last week I figured the broad beans had reached the peak and had nothing else to give so with some sadness I harvested them and cleared them out of there frame. While I have put in two more tomatoes I always feel a little sad at how empty the frame (or now empty spot) looks after having something so full growing. But the new plants will hopefully grow to fill the space soon enough. Perhaps I should give them some more compost?

Dried seeds for next year and a bowl harvested
Peeled and ready for future feasts in the freezer
Here are some of them in a meal this week. Once quickly blanched they were peeled. Then with a little lemon zest, juice, olive oil, feta, mint and a little pepper they made a great side with wedges and mushroom/ricotta tart

Tell me do ever get so used to something growing in a spot that it seems like a loss once it is removed?
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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Birdy pests?

This morning I have some time to relax (love days off). So I decided to chop a pile of fruit for breakfast and though how good blueberries would go. They have quite a good crop which is great considering they were moved into the ground from pots. I was quite concerned about the sandy soils but I am feeding them with 'Kahoona' by the same people who do 'sudden impact for roses'. They seem to supply the correct nutrients for my acid loving blueberries.

Anyway I have managed a couple of bowls of tasty blueberries. And my cousins brought their children over on the weekend and they had quite full bellies after they were shown which berries to pick. SO there has been much love for my beautiful blueberry bushes.

The blueberries loved the rain
a gathered bowl of berries
Anyway back to bowl of fruit for breakfast....

Armed with a big container and the excitement that comes with picking your own produce (you all get that don't you?). I found lots of lovely blueberries like this

As you can see mangled blueberries. I strong suspect birds. But why couldn't they eat the whole berry rather than going from one berry to the next squishing them? You will notice they haven't touched the non-ripe ones (thankfully). Why did they have to do this to every single ripe berry???

Below I suspect are the culprits

Cute but destructive! Last time I feed them birds!

Must away I have to construct a net cage to save the rest of my berries

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A hot summer

I confess I haven't been on the blog for a while. I blame spring madness. The gardens are growing like mad things. I expect it would be even worse if we actually did have some rain. And for those poor people in the blue mountains (and many other places around NSW) in the past few weeks would have done anything for more wet stuff. I am so concerned myself as we are in a bushfire zone as Lane Cove National park is about a kilometre from my patch so this summer brings on a lot of fear.

These were the skies last week at the height of the fire storms
Anyway I do my best at working other peoples gardens and trying desperately to get water in where it counts as I am sure you are all doing as well. I have madly been sugar caning the garden beds and having to add ...

Yes evidence of Nitrogen draw down because of the tree removal out the front has shown up in my beans, shallots and even eggplant. Some are thriving while others struggle, I feel like such a bad mother who is underfeeding some while others thrive.

Notice how lovely the shallots in front are compared to those behind
I think the urea is helping but I might have to add a generous amount each week until the carbon from the tree finally breaks down (soon please).

Here is how the garden is looking after a bit of a mulch up

Anyway I hope you get the weather conditions you are after where you live. In the meantime I think I might go off and do a little rain dance.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Spring madness

I have been away too long I know. But it has been so super busy in the gardening world I haven't had a chance to talk about the changes in my garden. They of course have not been fast changes as I have been tied up with the garden that pay the bills...

Anyway I left you with ground zero I believe. Here is the tree I decided on to replace the liquidambar
She is in flower can I hope for olives this year?
Yes it had to be something that would fruit and enjoy all the sun the front garden is going to throw at it. I grabbed 2 manzanillo and a picual which are both Spanish in origin and pollinate better together. They are quite different in shape so I have the mananillo in one bed and picual in the other. I tried to get a photo to demonstrate this but as they are still quite smallish I just couldn't get one to do it justice. Another time once they have grown a little more.

My biggest concern is of course with the removal of the liquidambar is the nitrogen drawdown in the soil so I have decided to plant vegetables only for a little while rather than putting something new in and it suffering while the old tree breaks down. I expect despite all the blood and bone, cow manure I added to the soil the carbon from the ground down liquidambar stump is not going to be enough. So I will have to use a high nitrogen liquid on the plants.

I did a walk about and look what else is growing in the garden

Two tall tomato towers

Finally the akeba has something to climb on

First time I have grown squash and they seem to pollinate easier than zucchini

loving the broad beans after such a long break

 Hope your gardens are flourishing

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The tree is gone

So our liquidambar came out from the front of the house. It was just under 3m from the house walls so we didn't have to ask permission from the council (win). After the tree had dropped it branch two weeks ago I was considered that once in leaf it would really have a sail and land on the neighbours house.

We acted quickly as the tree was still bear so would be a lot easier to remove than it would with leaves on. The tree company we used were outstanding. Six chaps, a crane, a mulcher, a trunk for the trunk, a stump grinder and 3 hrs made very short work of this massive tree.

The large canopy shaded both our house and the neighbours
Thankfully I worked hard on the weekend to remove most of the plants from the garden so the crane could fit
We had a tree protester

The climber had no fear

Canopy gone. Totem pole left 

I came out at this point and realised how sad I would be with it missing

The base should a fair amount of damage 
I have to say I really don't like it gone. The house looks so naked...

But I guess that is the thing with gardens they change so I need to adapt as well. There is a lot of chip that needs removing and soil that needs improving. But I do now have a lot more sun so suddenly I have quite a big space for vegetables and possibly a space for fruit trees. Maybe I could try and compete with Beks 59 apple trees? It might not be so bad after all???

Well I guess I best get my gardening clothes on as there is a whole pile of work that needs doing before I can dream of planting.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A day of sadness

I was going to write about the tree today but that will have to wait. For today we had to put our beautiful 7 year old ridge back Diba to sleep. He has be ill for the past week with severe pancreatitis. Today and ultrasound showed up peritonitis, a clot in his spleen and a tumour in his liver. Diagnosis was grim at best so our choice was limited.

He was the best furry friend I ever had.

He was always happy to supervise my work in the garden, dig additional holes in places I did and didn't want. Super keen to take away any excess bone and bone or dynamic lifter from the plants and shrubs about the house.

In winter he was only too happy to do a slow perimeter check around the house: on the sunny spot on the bed, in that patch of light in the spare room or right by the front door soaking up the sun on his sofa.

When someone came to the front they never had to knock as Diba would always announce their arrival.

It was one of the worse choices I had to make.

I am miss him greatly.

While his eyes look shut he was totally in charge of his supervising role


Monday, 2 September 2013


So last time I wrote (which has been a while I have been told) I talked of the big wind that ripped a monstrous branch away from the liquidambar at the front of our house. The trouble really began back in 1991 when a freak storm hit our area of the North Shore. It was I believe it was a mini cyclone where trees were torn to shreds, roof tile (not hit by trees or debris) were ripped off roofs and the streets were impassable.  I suspect it was this storm that may very well have taken the central leader from the liquidambar. Fast forward 22 years, and the weaker of the now multi-stemmed tree just couldn't quite cope with the pressure from the wind.

Looking up at the now badly shaped tree it is clear that no amount of pruning will help. Should another huge wind come while the tree is in leaf I fear the damage will be great.

Now only half the same size (it is the one on the right)

last autumn
I told my neighbour it was coming out and figured she would be quite happy about it now she won't have the leaves to deal with. Of course she is also happy to not have the balls to twist here ankles on.

I am really going miss the tree even though it is only 3 meters from the house it gave the best shade over summer and lots of lovely light in winter and stacks of brilliant leaf mulch. The birds will also miss it. Not to mention the possum. Mr R climbed up the other day to remove the possum box thinking he was going to have one quite pissed of poss but he is gone! I am not sure what happened to him, hopefully nothing too awful, perhaps he found himself a new wife and they have set up digs some place else?

So I have been madly creating new shade loving garden beds out the back before spring really hits and to save the tree guys from tip toeing around sensitive plants. I would have liked a lot more compost and manure in the ground but the plants needed moving quickly so lets cross fingers and toes they transplant well. Today I have to move the daphne, gulp. They can't stand root disturbance so it may be the first casualty, wish me luck.

I can only hope the neighbours don't think about removing their trees or my shade lovers might really suffer
 More tomorrow when the tree comes out. Till then I am off to say my last goodbyes