Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winter Wednesday #6

Today's Winter Wednesday started with the usual chicken feeding and inspection of the garden. I love this time in the morning! I noticed the sun coming up reflecting its warm golden light on the ridge line behind us:

We also had an arborist come and visit to quote for the removal of the big White Poplar shown behind the house. After many different quotes, we finally found one in our price range! WOHOO! White Poplars are terrible weeds and send up suckers hundreds of meters from the parent plant. This one sends up suckers in the toilet (indoor!!!) and the outdoor laundry. I shudder to imagine what its doing under the rest of the house...Time to go my friend!
The drive to work was misty and pretty through the hills.

It got darker when I got down into the valley.

And then I was greeted by this happy face when I walked through to the office! These little Huskies make me feel warm when I burrow my hands into their fur! That's Sasha in the front and Lashka in the back. They are very cheeky girls and Sasha is a bit of an escape artist. I think you can tell from her cheeky smile!

That's my Winter Wednesday morning this morning.
Head over to HAZEL's for more WW.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Winter Wednesday #5

I love waking up to winter mornings when the sun just starts to break through the morning mist and melts the frost.
Mist in my neighbour's orchard.
Even Melly loves stretching her legs in the cold mornings when it looks as pretty as this (that is, after I have turfed her out of her nest, with plenty of protest on her part)! Can you see the dirty looks she is sending me!?

Linking up to the wonderful Hazel, and her Wonderful Winter Wednesday linkers. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Plant Files: Snowy River Wattle and the Happy Wanderer

Have a look at this!

If this plant combination doesn't warm your winter heart, I don't know what will!! The beautiful yellow is the Snowy River Wattle or Acacia boormanii a small wattle that even a small garden could grow happily. The purple climber growing amongst it is the indigenous form of the Happy Wanderer (also known as the native sarsparella), or Hardenbergia violacea. These two work so perfectly together that nothing else flowering (that comes to mind right now) could compare at this time of the year in south eastern Australia.

What I love about the Snowy River Wattle, is that its TOUGH, grows in solid clay and if really happy can multiply by itself. It grows to about 2 metres tall (in my experience, but can grow to 4), with dark thin multiple stems topped with a soft feathery canopy of grey needle like leaves and in mid winter, explodes into this mass of bright yellow.

 It is thicket forming in its natural growing range in north eastern Victoria and southern tablelands of NSW, but has been successfully planted along freeways and in car parks, which is a testament to its toughness. It can also be chopped right to the ground (this practice is called coppicing) where new shoots will emerge thicker and will encourage the plant to form thickets.

If anyone is interested, I will try and save seed this year so if you would like to have a go at growing this winter beauty, let me know!

The Happy Wanderer is a reasonably common native Australian climber that now comes in a range of flower colours and growth habits, from white, to pink and mauve to iridescent purple. It can be very vigorous and choke its host plants (although it is not a parasite) and should be maintained if grown up a small tree like this. It can be grown on fences to screen, however it is a 'hump' forming climber and likes to sit at the top of the fence in a clump, instead of screening from the ground to the top. It is however very pretty all year round and the fact that it is indigenous to much of Victoria and the eastern sea board, makes it an even better addition to the native garden!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Winter Wednesday #4

I love driving to work on a mid winter morning and seeing clouds of gold poking through the grey and green!

The bush in my area is really beautiful. The dominant Eucalypt is Eucalyptus polyanthemos 'Red Box' which has almost circular grey silver leaves. It adds a beautiful contrast to the yellow blossom of the wattles. At the moment, only the Cootamundra Wattle Acacia baileyana is in flower at the moment (which is in fact a weed where we are, but I can overlook this fact when it brightens a cold morning.) Soon more acacias will be flowering, and the valley will be filled with gold!

Oh, and winter mornings these days mean left over porridge for the girls!

Melly is still broody, so no porridge for her! Even if I take her off her empty nest, she just gets right back on!

Linking up with HAZEL for Winter Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Winter Wednesday #3

One thing I love in particular about winter (other than tasty Moroccan tagines with buttery couscous) is the appearance of Freesias and Ranunculus in the garden. They are often seen as the sorts of flowers that granny would grow and are overlooked at the nursery when bulbs start appearing for sale. But with their pretty flowers, hardiness, and in the case of freesias - fragrance, they deserve more attention!

I love to buy them at the local market for $6 or so for a bunch, and nothing makes me happier on a cold grey day to see their romantic and sweet smelling blooms smiling at me from the kitchen dresser by the window.

I have double reds and black Ranunculus in the garden this year that I planted in early Autumn. The tops were eaten by the rabbits not long after they poked their heads up from the ground and have been slow this year to come up, but hopefully soon I will be able to cut my own flowers. The only problem with them is the the Earwigs LOVE them, so eco pest oil is a must!

Check out Hazel's blog to see more Winter Wednesday posts!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicken Help Needed - Giant Poo!

For those eating breakfast WARNING: Read this later. A photo of a GIANT chicken poo is involved.

Somthing is going on with Melly, my beautiful young Australorp. Lately she has been taking a REALLY long time to lay her eggs (of which she lays a nice medium sized egg every day). At first she started out with a quick lay, around half an hour and then that 30 mins turned into an hour, and then two and then longer every day. When I visit her in the nesting box, she gets angry at me and I have noticed that her wattle and combs are pale, not the usual red colour. This I assume is because she is pushing or straining? Does anyone know?

She usually goes into the box around 12 or 1 pm every day and yesterday when I came home from work (at 6pm) she was STILL in the nesting box and pale looking. She cant be broody because once she lays her eggs she leaves the box, but this morning when I woke to let them out, she was STILL there! I assumed she was egg bound and prepared a warm bath and a heat pad for her in a box to help her, but when I lifted her out of the nest, she flapped out and left a nice perfect medium egg!?!?! She then proceeded to drop this massive egg sized poo!
Is she broody and just didn't poo the whole time she was on the nest (which is why the poo is so big) or is she still egg bound - even though she laid yesterdays egg after all? I felt her 'tummy' (all the soft bits that I could gently squish) and there was no hard lump or mass inside. Well I think there wasn't because I've never done it before...

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I put her in a warm bath anyway and dried her in a box with the heat pad, and applied some olive oil to her vent to cover all my bases, but I'm just not sure. Joel just updated me to say she is fine and is with the other girls in the backyard...

Perhaps I am just worried about nothing?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Berry Exciting!!!

This Saturday, I helped Mum out at her place tidying up her berry patch.
Many years ago I worked at the local garden center and come winter time I would always buy myself some berry canes bare rooted and plant them in mum's garden. I never really looked after them but the plants would still reward me with the odd berry when I watered them in the cool of the summer mornings. Over the years, most of the raspberries died and mum was left with plenty of Boysenberry suckers that were taking over. Once I moved out and mum rebuilt the veggie garden she relocated the Berry canes to a specifically designed raised planter complete with root barriers to stop those wondering canes.

Over summer they rewarded her with a plethora of berries for her morning muesli and was keen to maximise their productivity for next summers fruiting season (they obviously liked their new home and all the poo she put in the soil!).

So, to the berry bed we went with protective gear and secateurs at the ready! We started with this rambling mess:

A slightly overwhelming mass of thorns, thorns and more thorns!

Our plan of attack was to follow a segment we saw on Gardening Australia a couple of weeks ago where the Tasmanian Veggie Guru Tino Carnevale pruned and shaped this years canes for next year. For the very thorny berries ( I think it was a loganberry) he trained all of this years canes in one direction leaving clear the other side of the support for next years.

This sketch is a modification of what he showed on telly:

This method makes it easier to keep the canes in check as well as when it comes to harvesting the fruit.

But first we had to tame the unruly canes! Bit by bit we weeded out the bunches, tying them into groups for ease of tying to the frame later.

As we went, each bundle was tied out of the way to make sorting through the other bunches easier. We cut out the previous years canes (2009-2010) as these will not bear fruit this summer. Note the dark canes coming out of the green caned Boysenberry bunch - these are the old canes to be removed. The bunch on the left is a raspberry whose canes are always brown ( makes pruning the old ones out harder).

After an hour or so of swearing from the thorns piercing our gloves (and somehow I manged to sit on a cane! Ouch!) we ended up with a nice bunch of canes ready for the frame!

At this stage, we fertilised with peletised manure, some wood ash from the fire and gave them a good soak. They like slightly acid soil too, so pine needles are useful here. Keep in mind that chicken manure is alkaline so needs to be balanced with garden soil acidifiers (iron sulfate and elemental sulfur can be purchased from most garden centres - be sure to test soil with a pH test to be sure).

The frame is yet to be built but Dad will weld it up this week as the old timber one wasn't going to cut it any more. I will be sure to post a picture to show you how it works.

When we were organising the canes, many of them had flopped over the old timber a tie support and had self rooted into the surrounding soil. I dug them out and potted them up ready for my future berry patch (yet to be built!!). I couldn't believe the roots of some of them though! Shows how vigorous they are!

I ended up with so many plants! Look at them all!

All potted up and nowhere to go!

It was a very productive Saturday afternoon and mum was very pleased. Lets hope next summer will be as bountiful as Sue's!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Aww Shucks!

The other day I logged on to Blogger to find this waiting for me:

My fabulous blogging friend Hazel has kindly named me as a versatile blogger with this award. I was touched to receive it as recognition that there is indeed someone who likes to read my ramblings!

Wow, Thanks Hazel!!!

I have to say that my garden blogging network really has taught me so much about gardening, plants, cooking and general tips and tricks and has kept me inspired even through the dreary winter months! I love my blogging friends and don't know where my garden would be without them!!! You guys bring a smile to my face every time I log on and I think of you when I'm killing those slugs and planting those veggies!

I'd love to pass this on to 5 great bloggers who I love reading.

Hazel - I love your blog. Your fun approach to writing and positive attitude always gets me thinking about what to do next in the garden, how to care for my favorite three feathered girls, takes me on tours through my home town and nearly bought my house.

Mrs Bok - This lovely lady has a great backyard filled with fruit trees, those really cool apple crate veggie planters and the most beautiful Bok Flock ever! She's a stylish lady who takes pleasure in good design and quality as well as the simple pleasures in life. (and who is also traveling through and regularly reporting from France right this very minute).

Mud Pie- Ali is a great writer. Her joy and enthusiasm for gardening and growing the best produce she can is exciting and contagious! Oh, and I'm seriously jealous that she has bananas growing in her yard. 

A little Piece of Green - Daffodil is a really interesting blogger. I have really enjoyed reading about her rearing of pigs for the table and her dedication to animal welfare. I have also really loved reading about her hay bale house and her dedication to the awesomeness that is EBay. 

Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls - All I can say is OMG. Diana has ten green thumbs. Everything she grows in her garden is AMAZING and I love reading about how she cooks with her produce. She is always trying something new and maximising the space she has to work with. A truly inspirational blogger!

Thanks again Hazel for naming me as one of your 5!

Happy gardening everyone!
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