Posts Tagged ‘Permacultur’

Pixie Versus The Old Boiler

I was away for a few days during the week while I was at the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney. I left my mum home to look after things around the place while I was gone – namely make sure that Chickie and the chooks were watered, fed and locked up safe at night.

Well, things didn’t quite go to plan! You see we have a new addition: Meet Pixie Pantaloons.

Pixie Pantaloons

Pixie used to live at a neighbours house and just wasn’t well received by the other resident chooks. Sadly, they had bullied her so much that they had literally pecked a hole in the back of her head. So, we decided to take her in. Her wound has now healed and she is very happy to call this place home. She’s a delight! Compared to my other girls, she is wildly social. More on that later.

So, I was just about to sit down to a rather fancy dinner… I won’t mention ‘how’ or ‘why’ but, I received a nervous call from home that went a little like this:

“luuuuuv. We’ve lost one of your chooks!”.


“Weeeeeeeeell… we went  out to close them in and well luv, Pixie… she wasn’t there”.

As you can imagine, the conversation went on  =)

Well the long and the short of the story is that she was found at about 12:30 in the morning after she had been chased out of her hiding spot by the neighbours cat.

So, you would think that it was a happy ending and that it probably ended there.  Nope!   Why?   Oh I guess it was a little thing called Karma!

Yes indeed. The next day, in an attempt to make it up to us, mum decided to clean out the chook house (which was just cleaned but, we won’t tell her that!). This was the result:

That’s mum – stuck inside the girls house for 45min while she waited for my brother to come rescue her. He is wonderful my brother! Of course, before he let her out he had to call my cousin so that they could have a little giggle at the situation and take a photo so that everyone else could enjoy the moment too! (You’re smiling aren’t you?)

All I can say is that she is very lucky that she had her phone on her at the time because we weren’t due home until late that night.


Summer Herbs II

This post is for Alexa who wrote to me asking for more information regarding summer herbs. I thought that many of you might find this topic interesting so I have posted my response here for everyone’s benefit.

That reminds me that it is time to give my Thyme a haircut!

Alexa – hi Im in high school and I need to do this hospitality project, part of it is that I have to name 5 summer herbs but Im struggling to find any! I was wondering if you could list a few for me it would really help me, thanx 🙂

Hi Alexa,

Thanks for your question. I can see how this could be quite confusing as there is a lot of talk about herbs on the Internet but, mostly the information is non-specific in terms of their seasonal classification. It can also be tricky in some parts of the world, like here in Australia, where we don’t necessarily have clearly defined seasons. In cold climates for example it would be much easier to tell that you have “summer herbs” because they would be the ones that either can’t survive in winter or go dormant during that time. However, in my garden that is not quite so evident – because many of the perennial herbs that would, in a cold climate garden, go completely dormant, don’t. Sure, they start to look a little tired and die back a bit but, after a good prune they reshoot and continue to grow into the autumn and winter. Mint, sage and oregano are just a few of those continual growing “summer herbs” that I have in my garden.

So, I would say that “summer herbs” are those that like the warmer weather and do most of their growing during the spring and summer months. They are herbs that we plant in the spring to enjoy harvesting during the summer. They will often be the type of herbs that die down at the end of summer (but, not always!) or in the case of perennials, ones that need to be cut back hard before the frost arrives.

One place that might give you a good clue as to which are “summer herbs” and which are “winter herbs” is to look at a few recipe books. For example mint is one of those herbs that is used a lot in summer dishes and drinks. Pineapple sage and lemongrass are beautiful in fruity, summer iced teas and are also a nice accompaniment to bottled fruits like peaches. Basil is another important summer herb – very often teamed with fresh tomato dishes because they share the same growing and harvesting seasons and also because of their naturally superb flavour combination.

The following are some of the summer herbs that I have growing here in my garden. I have listed their Common names and their Botanical names for easy reference. I hope this helps.


Every Day In The Garden’s Summer Herb List:

  • Basil Ocimum basilicum
  • Chamomile Matricaria recutita
  • Chives Allium schoenoprasum
  • Comfrey Symphytum officinale
  • Echinacea Echinacea angustifolia
  • Horseradish (or Seeradish) Armoracia rusticana
  • Mint Mentha spicata
  • Oregano Oreganum spp.
  • Lavendar lavandular angustifolia
  • Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis
  • Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus
  • Lovage Levisticum officinale
  • Parsley Petroselinum crispum
  • Pineapple Sage Salvia elegens
  • Summer Savory Satureja hortensis

Rainy Day Activity #3

Ok, its raining outside and you’re looking for any excuse to stay indoors. Well, I have a great activity for you to do while you’re sitting down watching Ellen /when you’re not dancing that is!

Tomato Ties!

Yes indeed. You can make your own tomato/any-plant ties while you’re sitting in front of the TV and you don’t need to buy any fancy materials to do it!

To make your tomato ties you will need:

A sharp pair of fabric scissors

An old t-shirt or any other light knitted fabric like jersey. Scrabbies will come in quite handy here. What’s a Scrabby I hear you ask? According to “The Meaning Liff*” – a Scrabby. (noun) is a curious-shaped duster given to you by your mother which upon closer inspection turns out to be half an underpant.

Stretchy fabric. Note that from thumb to thumb is "across the knit".

Now for the fun stuff:

If you are using an old garment, first cut off all of the seams so that you are left with clean pieces of fabric that, you could stitch back together to make a slightly smaller garment than before. No, no, we mustn’t get distracted!

Don’t throw away those seams! You can use them as ties too.

Now quite simply cut your fabric into strips, cutting across the knit so that you are left with stretchy strips that when pulled will curl inwards. I usually cut mine about 2cm wide by about 20cm in length. Suit yourself though as I usually use my eyeometer. You can make them wider or longer just not shorter or they won’t allow you to tie them securely.

When tying my plants I usually use what I believe is called a half bow knot. Particularly when tying tomatoes. Now, this will be interesting explaining how to do a half bow knot without a video handy. Here we go: You need to imagine that you were tying a bow in the usual manner except that when you get to the final loop you push the whole piece through so that you are left with one loop and two tails. You can then pull on the tail of the existing loop to release the knot without the need for scissors. How was that? Give it a few goes on your big toe first. Yes, I was tying it on my big toe while I was writing that description. Haha I told you there would be no fancy materials needed!

It is best to dispose of the ties after each use as they can harbor diseases that you don’t want to spread to other plants in your garden.

So now you can get a years worth of plant ties and recycle your old clothes AND you don’t even have to leave the front door!

Yay for you!

* The Meaning of Liff is a very funny dictionary of words which describe common objects or situations for which no word previously existed. The Meaning of Liff written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd (two men who, I am positive, enjoy their whiskey).

Australia Day!

Like almost every other Australian in the world today we celebrated with a u-beaut Aussie barbie. And as is tradition in my family, lunch was followed by an afternoon of fun and games. Kelly Pool was the game of the day.

Ah Kelly Pool… fun for the whole family!

When we got home it was straight out to the garden for a bit of a clean up and a hunt for some tasty greens for Chickie Boombah and of course for tonight’s dinner: Stir fried ginger greens.

So, there I was thinking “I might leave those carrots another week and see how they’re getting on”. I decided to pinch off a few leaves for Boombah when I saw a hint of orange poking up out of the soil and thought, “ok, I’ll just check on this one”. I think you can tell from my reaction that I was quite surprised at what I saw. Thanks to Paul for being so quick with the camera!

Yep, she’s a big one!

And that’s not all. Check out the size of the sugarbeet. Its well and truly as big as my head.

I have been thinking about making a beetroot cake for ages so… I’m off to the kitchen to experiment.

Happy Australia Day!

Rainy Day Activity #2

We are now half way through spring and the weather is warming with every passing week. So, now is as good a time as any to fertilise and get that mulch topped up.

I know that nobody really wants to be out in the rain but, believe me this is actually the best time to be out there spreading mulch and fertilising your garden.

Fertilisers – pellets, drenches or powders – all need to be well watered in so what better time to spread them out than when it’s about to rain or raining. The same goes with mulch, particularly straw based mulches. They can be very dusty and are always best to be watered in. Even better, I like to break my straw bales into biscuits and soak them in a big tub before putting it on the garden. It will do a much better job of keeping the soil moist and it will start breaking down very quickly.

Soak the straw in a tub first.

I generally use pelletised chook manure or ‘pearls from my girls’ when I fertilise our garden. Everywhere except where the chooks forage. For those areas I use my blood and bone mix. If you have pets and are concerned about using pelletised manure the try this as recipe for a safe alternative. I like to make up a bucket full of mix so that as and when I need it I can plunge my hand in and know that it is ready to go. Now that’s good home economics 😉

Blood and Bone Fertiliser Mix: 9 cups of blood and bone to 1 cup of sulphate of potash. Add to a bucket and mix well. Now, this is just a ratio – 9:1 so, just keep going until your bucket is full. You can spread this anywhere in the garden that needs a feed, lawns too! Spread at a really good handful per square metre. I do this in my orchard so that my chooks don’t eat the pellets.

My personal preference is to fertilise first and then lay mulch on top. I do this for two reasons: First – I don’t like the idea of other animals consuming fertiliser pellets or granules (organic or not!), Second – fertilisers like chook manure and blood and bone are compost activators and I treat mulch in our garden just the same as I treat our compost. These fertilisers kick start the composting process and this is great news for our soil. This is why I am never stingy with the mulch. I lay it as thick as I can and I top up as soon as the mulch starts to look a bit thin.

Don’t forget your pots too! They can use about a tablespoon of fertiliser per 30cm in diameter and in most cases there is a suitable mulch for plants that are in pots. Mulching pots will slow down evaporation and help plants survive the hot summer. Just remember this: The more arid the plant the more coarse the mulch should be. For instance, with fruit trees and vegetables use straw, with succulents use gravel or pebbles.

Quick Tip: If you know of anyone who is doing weight training and is buying buckets of that awful powdered supplement bollocks, ask them for their spent buckets. Or try your local café’s. They often have spare buckets with lids. The important thing is to find one with a lid so that you don’t get unwanted critters in your bucket and your contents stay fresh.

You know, the best thing about gardening in the rain is the beautiful hot shower or bath you have when you come inside. Go on, get your rain coats on and get out there!

Summer Herbs

Today was the day to get on top of my summer herbs. I poked and sprinkled seeds anywhere I could find a spare patch of fertile soil. High on my priority list was basil. I just can’t get enough of it. Especially when we have tomatoes in the garden. You know, during summer we virtually live on open sandwiches of fresh ricotta, basil, tomato and pepper. I cannot wait! If you have a cheese maker (or factory outlet) anywhere near your home I beg you to get out there on the day they make their fresh batches of ricotta. It is the most amazing thing to buy fresh from the vat. I’m telling you, where I go, you buy this stuff when it is still warm and there is nothing like it! It’s so light. In texture it’s somewhere between custard and warm poached egg. Ah…

…Ok back to earth now! So, where was I? Oh yes, herbs. Now we are fortunate enough to have parsley popping up all over the place. /don’t tell Paul but, it is due to a little parsley dance I did around the garden after harvesting a particularly good crop of parsley seed. He doesn’t like my style of dancing much =) He banned me from doing the Zorba after I cut my heel open on the couch while watching Vasili on the TV. Too funny!

In terms of parsley, my preference is ‘Giant of Italy’. I’ve been growing it for years and although from time to time I grow the curly leaf varieties, given the size and vigour of the giant it makes little sense to me to grow anything else. I’ll try to give you a photographic comparison of the standard flat leaf and giant varieties.  ‘Giant of Italy’ basically grows in a similar fashion to Lovage.

Speaking of Lovage, I sowed some of that too! There was also some cumin, Echinacea and another round of dill since my current crop is about to bolt.

I popped some coriander seeds into my GreenSmart pots; Delfino at the front door, slow bolting at the back. The ‘Delfino’ is a lovely fine leaf coriander. It has the same flavour as standard varieties but the foliage is somewhere between carrot and dill. I find it a little prone to bolting but, I like to grow both varieties. Chickie Boombah goes mad for coriander so, I put everywhere. The thing is: she really loves coriander and I really love her sweet coriander breath.

When I was down at CERES the other day I picked up some Chervil, Marjoram, Artichokes and Horseradish. They all went in today too.

“Hey Chickie… You got a kiss for mamma babe?”

She’s a smoochy girl!

Last Night I Gave a Bee a Bath!

True story:

Last night while we were packing up our garden things I spotted a Bee on the leaf of a kale that I had just removed to make way for my tomatoes. Now, it was quite late as we were gardening under the spotlights. So, I thought, “Perhaps I should take this little one in for the night. Figuring that it probably needed some sustenance to get it back in action for the next day what did I give it…? You guessed it…Honey! =) Lucky for Bea I always have the good (local) stuff on hand.

So I stuck a fork into my honey pot and transferred three little drops of honey onto the base of the jar that was going to house Bea for the night. This worked out well at first. Paul and I were watching Bea’s little tongue sucking up the much-needed nourishment.

That's Bea recharging her batteries with a bit of local honey.

However, after climbing the walls of the jar for a while little Bea fell wing down right in the drops of honey!

Oh Beehave!

I gently helped the poor dear back onto her feet but alas; her little wings were all stuck together. [note to self: next time, put the honey up on the side of the jar!] I wondered for a while if she would be able to clean herself. I walked away to leave her to it. However, when I came back I found her wing down again stuck to the bottom of the jar. So, out came a new, clean jar and I transferred her across.

I went into the bathroom, grabbed a cotton bud and little pichbowl with warm water. When the cotton bud was soaking wet I placed it gently over her wings and moved ever so slightly back and forth. The cotton bud actually didn’t even touch her as the water droplets were acting like a force field. When I was satisfied that the sticky honey had dissolved I got out a piece of super absorbent paper towel and just touched the water droplets which immediately sucked all of the water off of Bea and into the paper.

I left her in a warm spot for the night. This morning guess who was alive and rearing to get back out there? Buzzy Bea!

I just took my little friend out to the spot where I found her. I said “Madame Bea, I hope you have enjoyed you stay with us. Bee safe and enjoy your day!”. (Ha-ha!)

Off she went, straight to work.

Hard at work on my boysenberries.

Bye-bye Bea.

Please check out Plan Bee Campaign

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