Ignore things for a little… & they explode!

Two of our 5 tomatoes plants are busy making fruit & flowers despite the wettest November in forever. It’s been getting extremely muggy in the past couple of days so I think they’ll be loving that. Though it is also windy, so I worry.

This blog has really become an accidental gardening diary which was not at all what I intended when I started out. Alas, I will see where this thing goes.

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We also now have some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars on the property! December 2018.

We have butterflies on the way, beans zooming up. I planted out the first of our pumpkins and am just waiting a little longer for the celery seedlings to strengthen. Our zucchini’s are taking off, the carrots are up. Lettuces are growing, rescued coriander is trying to bolt, radishes are nearly ready to start being eaten.

Though this all sounds very healthy, I think we have lost some seeds to overheating…. or maybe (but doubtful after all this time) I have sown them too deep! I need to re-sow but one of the biggest hazards in our garden is our dear Cat. He has dug in our onion patch where we’ve lost some plants. Everything is surrounded by rocks to keep him out but with only moderate success…

Here are a few of our garden beds as well as a little progress on the staining of the fence. We need to sort out the bottom grass area, hence not going down to the bottom but I thought I might as well get started on the upper portion. We’ve had storms and rain so the progress is rather slow at this stage. This is just the first coat. Fingers crossed for a fine weekend this week.

And finally on the garden front, here are some radish seedlings and the first staking of a broad bean. So much wind has already broken some leaves off the other plant. 😦

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This week also saw a first trial run of our gluten free, vegan wedding cake. The actual cake will not be pink – that’s from the blueberry juice I put in the icing – and some things were learned and I will keep trying. Seems our choice of timing was not good for caterers who do both gluten free and vegan cakes! The one that I eyed up since I first started looking at wedding cakes can be done, just not in the first week of January! Alas, I am enjoying these processes….

I just had a wee look at my post from last week before I round this off, it feels like it’s been much of the same news but with updated pictures! Gloomy weather…

My job is going well and My Love is closer to starting his new role. We managed to make a large dent in our Christmas shopping & we’ve got a few more things sorted for our wedding. It’s hard to believe it’s only a month away. ❤

My car also died on the motorway the other day…. it was kinda harrowing at the time but we got safely out of the way as it was going in small starts… I’ve had money aside for it’s maintenance and repair for a while now, so that’s not really a problem but I probably should have got it fixed sooner by the looks of things. Good thing I have a mechanic or two in the family!!

And life takes over again

Hi! I’ve not written for almost two weeks now & I feel like a lot has been going on!

Germination

Broad bean baby in mini greenhouse made from a milk bottle. November 2018

We’ve had a lot of progress in our garden. The above photo feels like old news now. I’ve been working on a very nerdy but useful spread sheet that lists when seeds are sown, germinate and are ready to harvest, among other details, including notes! I love it.

This photo is from about 2 weeks ago now. The broad bean is much larger now and when I looked at it (and its neighbour) I think they are almost ready to be staked. We’ve had such crazy weather with so much rain, gloom clouds and very little sunshine but the garden seems to be coping regardless.

We’ve got 4 active raised garden beds now. 1 has zucchini, one has lettuces, spring onions and onions, one is a 3 sisters planting and the first and final bed has carrots, beetroot, spinach and silverbeet. We’ve had to do a lot to protect our beds from our cat with moderate success…. The plants just need a little longer to really establish. My radish sowing is doing amazingly with expected harvest of round one next week. I have already done a successive sowing too!

The above photos illustrate the kind of weather we’ve had lately. This is CRAZY for November in New Zealand…. you know…. Summer!

I started staining our fence but didn’t get very far before I realised that the weather was far too dodgy and I’d have to call it quits. This is STILL the case. I want to do more after work each day but I can’t until the weather clears. It’s frustrating as the bit I’ve done looks great and I want to do more!!

I’ve had some garden sadness too. It looks like the 3rd broad bean plant rotted and some kind of critter (slug probably) ate one of my radish plants. This is part of being a gardener, you have loss as well as success. I think I might have lost some onions to the cat’s digging too. I’m thinking I might have to strategise better and let seedlings get much larger, growing more from seed, before planting them out. We have celery on the way but they are still very tiny though abundant. I need to look into other cat deterrents too as I’ve had a couple of suggestions to follow up.

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Our photogenic digger cat. November 2018

There is a lot more going on – basil seedlings doing well, a butterfly garden planted, swan plants too, much landscaping. I need good weather and I need good pictures!

I love being productive and working in our garden. I go to work wishing I could stay home and work there despite actually enjoying my job a lot. It’s bit of a crazy world. My Love has just secured a new role too which is really great in the scheme of our life together & our planning for our wedding have been part of the reason I’ve not written much lately – as well as nephew’s birthday and wedding dress fittings. ❤

Life feels busy but productive when you put it all together like this. I’m probably not writing coherently at this point but I am enjoying the reflective process.

Goodnight world.

After rain comes action!

So, there was a very soggy, sorry scene at our home on Friday night after a solid lot of rain. We had started lifting pavers to let the raised herb garden drain downhill and this inspired some big changes as well as soaking us right through! We were always going to lift these pavers and use them elsewhere, but our process has been expedited. We will lift all of the pavers but the photo on the right is where we have got to so far. The pavers are heavy but the thing that takes the most work is shovelling out the base course and sand (which we are also reusing to fill in raised beds and dips in our lawn) and laying down the bricks in a fashion that is reasonably even (not perfect! it needs character – you get that with recycled bricks.)

You can kind of see that part of our old concrete path got the smash too which is exciting as we start thinking out how to make our back door space look much better.

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New gate! 

My Love and his Father also put this gate together this weekend. Where you can still see a gap will be trellised with a climber growing through it. At least that is the current plan!

Ideas move and change quickly around here. One job we have now committed to is staining the fence. A giant bucket of stain has been acquired in a “Smokey Charcoal” shade. It’s not too dark but should tie in with some of the accents on our house quite nicely indeed. I am actually looking forward to that project a lot as I like painting.

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Cat-Proofed Three Sisters Sowing… With an Oak leaf scarecrow.

I finally got to sowing some seeds in our raised beds. Above is the Three Sisters bed, which is kind of 4 Sisters as I have also put a few sunflowers in there. We are trying out some heirloom corn that looks to be yellow, blue and red from the seeds. We will also grow beans and a variety of squash in here too but the corn and sunflowers need to establish first. Hopefully all those sticks and rocks provide enough deterrent to Mr Cat.

The other garden bed has two rows each of carrots and beetroot,  and 1 of silverbeet and spinach. I’ve got a makeshift greenhouse going over that one to protect from The Cat and to keep the seed bed warm. So long as it doesn’t rain like it did last week, I think it will perform well! My love also planted some celery and zucchini in egg cartons and toilet rolls and I planted a new batch of basil for the kitchen windowsill as the current plant has started to flower and looks pretty after serving us very well since we came home from Italy.

I need to remember at the end of these long days to take more pictures I have more to share but I might hold that off until I have the visuals. I also got a seed sprouting kit that I might profile once I’ve had a round of using it. Hope your weekends were as productive and happy as mine. Growing seeds and caring for plants gives you such a good feeling and I am so happy to be back into it, and to be able to teach My Love more about it too.

Unplanned Pond = New Plans!

It’s Friday night and I came home to this rather disturbing scene! My herb garden is completely waterlogged as we’ve had a LOT of rain over the past couple of days. I don’t think this really captures the extent of it but you will see this further down this post.

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I was ruminating out loud how to cope with this scenario & My Love suggested we pull up some pavers, which we have in our plans anyway and then to create a channel. He was also making a yummy pasta dinner and we were both just embarking on a glass of wine but we put a halt to that and both got rather soggy in the rain pulling some pavers up. I am so glad that we did because it immediately lessened the problem and just went to show how badly we need to get to work on this part of our section.

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So the water drained away from the garden and filled up the space the pavers were in, almost instantly. I was tempted to keep pulling up pavers but was quite soaked by this point (yeah I wasn’t wearing a jacket….) so decided to let nature take its course from here. We’ve have a chat and shared our dismay and have a few ideas to discuss and think about now. I think that the pavers will move to their new home under our new washing line sooner than anticipated. I am very hopeful that our old line will go this weekend after a false start (even though we gave it away for free!).

Tomorrow’s forecast is finer and I cannot wait to get out there and start really figuring out what we are going to do.

In better news, our first vegies started germinating this week! Radishes always sprout fast and give you garden hope and excitement! IMG_4142

A bit of uneven distribution for some reason but we’ll see how this goes. I am one who believes in eating the leaves of radishes, beetroot and the like so looking forward to continued fast growth…. provided nothing drowns!

This photo is from my excitement yesterday but I have checked on these and the little raised bed I made for them has quite literally weathered the weather. I love being a plant mother and coming home and tending to them – seeing their progress. I have really missed this as I’ve not really had a garden on the go for a couple of years whilst I camped  out, saving money to buy this home of ours. I love it so much. An emotional rollercoaster of highs (radish babies) and dips (water, everywhere!). To tomorrow!

Growing food goals closer

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Raised Bed #1

This weekend has been divided by the weather. Plenty of garden soaking rain on Saturday and plenty of sun but also wind on Sunday. My Love & I packed a lot into Sunday as a consequence & now I feel like our gardening dreams are starting to take shape. The above photo is of our first raised bed which I am just going to let settle for a week to see whether we need to add another layer of compost. This one will then be planted with carrots, beetroot and silverbeet.

We are continuing on with our policy of reusing things. Our lawn is not level so as we dig bits out, we fill the raised beds. This is quite labour intensive as we try to reduce the recurrence and persistence of weeds. This bed here has a layer of dirt garnered from moving lawn around as mentioned, then there is a layer of very soggy cardboard (thanks bed packaging and thanks rain!) then a layer of lawn clippings and finally two bags of store bought compost – our homemade stuff is still maturing!

This past week saw the completion of the first 3 months since we bought our first home. It also saw the repair of the pipe we damaged in constructing our fence which in turn saw the completion of another section of fence.

Fence backside

This is the back of our fence, with the raised bed from above. We will have several garden beds along the length.

Having this fence is a game changer for us. We have a bit more privacy but it also childproof’s our property and makes the boundaries in our title much clearer. These are all important things to us. I really like working in the backyard now, knowing that I am hidden away.

Another example of reusing things was this little planter box made from fencepost offcuts.

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Fencepost mini planter box with plastic “green house’ whilst the seeds germinate.

So in here we have radish seeds and a seed for a broad bean bush planted. The plastic covering protects from our Cat and birds alike and keeps the area warm and moist during the germination process. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. You can see it here but it is at the end of what will be a path and I think the bean plant there will look quite good. I’ve also planted broad bean seeds either side of our two compost bins. Can’t wait for them to start growing to be honest. I think it will also look quite good.

I also re-potted another Roma tomato plant which i planted with some eggshell powder than I made on our rainy Saturday. I save all our eggshells for the garden. I eat at least 1 egg a day so we have quite a lot! Usually I crush the shells and put them around plants to protect them from slugs and snails who don’t like to walk on the sharp shells but I had read that ground shells in the pot equal amazing tomatoes! This is my prototype. I look forward to seeing how this goes.

Seeds

Dill seeds in improvised greenhouse. The weeds are determined in my herb garden. I need to mulch it asap.

And finally I planted a good sized pot of dill seeds and cut some plastic from our bed packaging to make a greenhouse. I recently realised how much dill costs to buy as a dried herb so I am excited to grow my own. I’ve not grown it before but I have it with my breakfast most days so looking forward to greater self sufficiency with this.

Considering we went to Italy for a large chunk of September, some of the stuff we have managed to do in 3 months has been quite great. It doesn’t feel like we’ve only been here 3 months in some ways but when I think about it all, we have done quite a lot. I really love being a homeowner for the simple reason that it allows me to live in line with some more of my values, in a much more simplified way. I feel very lucky.

 

 

Privacy is Blooming

Our home got a lot of attention this weekend (as it does most weekends!) and therefore our fence is almost complete!

My Love’s father was back, bright and early, to help more with this project and share his experience. We were worried as rain was predicted but much of the work was completed before that got too bad. That said, we did hammer a lot of nails in the rain! We were just lucky that it was not cold…

Here is the view of the fence from the back. We still have that plumbing issue but should receive the quote today (plumbers are very busy here) so we can’t complete one section of the fence yet. We also need to decide how to do the gate! The bulk of the fence is up though and it really does feel like we have a lot more privacy but that is balanced with not sacrificing too much sunlight that comes into our yard later in the day. For that reason our fence is not really tall and is multiple heights.

Here is the view from “the driveway”… I call it that because the driveway doesn’t really exist anymore…. but that’s a project for much further down the track. The fence looks a bit funny with its incomplete bits. Also we plan to stain it so it is a uniform colour. I have ideas for planting too!

The area in front of the fence is allocated on our title as two car parks. It looks like we’ve given up a bit of land but it’s actually not ours to give up. We have a strange title but that’s the way it is. The expense to change it is not worth it for us when this is likely a short term home.

The old rotary washing line also came out after much effort by My Love. I’ve been using some of the old path to continue on with the low maintenance area around the back of the house. As I’m doing a cheat but putting down broken concrete and the a top layer of white chip, this is a bit more labour intensive than the first segment. I have to sort through the rubble but it’s worth it as I’m quite passionate about us re-purpose for as much as possible

Work in progress. Cardboard weedmat, concrete, white chip, bricks from around the property and river rocks to fill in the other gap til the concrete is ripped out here.

We live in an area that was once a riverbed so there are many rocks to be found when we’re working around the yard. The concrete path I’m standing on must go as it is old, poorly done and cracked. The rocks are unlikely to stay but make a good weedmat for now.

I also randomly-ish extended my herb garden to start a beneficial insect patch. There is already a forget-me-not coming through the fence that bees love, I’ve planted a sad aloe vera in the hope it might live and two swanplants to attract monarch butterflies. I got a couple of packets of seeds from a gardening website called “Butterfly Garden” and one of those will go there too. Again, rocks to put the cat off digging, fingers crossed!

It’s Monday so I’m back to work. Today I’m involved in some systems testing and reviewing some policy. These are things in the background before I can really get my new team that I’m heading up and running. I want to be back in the garden though!! Have a great week!

Wedding Planning Progress & DIY!

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Swans & Ducks at our Wedding Celebration Venue.

So we did a pretty exciting thing recently which was confirm where we are going to celebrate our wedding with our families. We also decided that we are going to do the paperwork side of things at the Registry Office and be able to keep our “Wedding Day” (hopefully the next day) to the small, family gathering that we want it to be.

We started looking at celebrants and none of them felt right, so this way we are going to run our own ceremony (MUCH TO DISCUSS) and not have anyone there who we don’t know on the day. I don’t know if this is unusual or not. We are possibly having the smallest wedding party in the world…. less than 20 adults including us! But we are older – 37 & 35 – and we have other priorities to focus on. That said, I want our wedding to be about more than us, about a celebration of our commitment but also of family.

And now, back to the wonderful world of DIY!

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The beginnings of our biggest house project thus far, our fence! October 2018

As you can see, our fence is just beginning really. My Love’s Father helped him to put in the posts after a week of My Love digging holes. Already I can feel the privacy expanding and our new vegetable patches coming to life. As you can see, My Love has also be demo-ing the concrete path which has revealed a wealth of rocky/concrete/brick material that we will try to re-purpose before deciding it is just garbage.

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A pile of our ex-path by more important, it’s our teeny tiny Lemon Tree. Oct 2018

We also planted a Lemon Tree which has a lot of flowers on it but I don’t expect us to be lucky enough to get any lemons any time soon! It is still a mere baby plant.

This corner is super sunny most of the day and will have some garden beds added in the near future. All my recent yard photos are afterthoughts at the end of the day so the light is really low, in fact the sun is setting but look! The lemon-child is still in sun. Well planned us…. 🙂

It’s Wednesday night here which means 2 more days until the weekend and the next step of the fence can begin. This step is the rails and then of course the palings. We had someone look at our damaged pipe today but are still impatiently awaiting the quote for the damage. Alas! I want to get that work done so we can truly move on from the harrowing experience! Hah! It actually has more been a “that’s life” situation but yes, would like to focus on more fun things like having a fence and doing some landscaping!

We managed to tick off a couple of really small DIY projects too, like putting up our new and improved coat rack and get a proper closure on our letterbox. Oh! And a new lock for our shed. My Love was particularly busy this past weekend and I am very grateful for all of his work, as well as that of his Father. And I am also to his Parents for taking us to the venue that we’ve now chosen as the site for our Wedding party.

And with that, I am sleepy. I want to write about my new job at some point, the cause of my tiredness! Another early night may be on the cards!