85% germination

This weekend, I rifled through my seed packets and found some “Diggers Club” seeds to plant in the winter garden. Some of them are winter recommendations and others, well, they were just what I had in store. We will be going overseas next week so I had to get these babies planted!

The first seeds I sowed were Spinach “Perpetual” Beta vulgaris. The label reads that it is a cross between spinach and silver beet. It can be planted in any season – tick! Harvest in 10 weeks. So, I should be able to harvest it around 20th August. Looking forward to that!

Near these seeds I planted a few leeks “Jaune du Poitou” allium empeloprasurn– a French heirloom variety. The packet read that I should plant them in punnets – it pays to read the label carefully. Also, the seeds are a bit old, so fingers crossed. Harvest in 20 weeks – that’s a long way off, around the very end of October.

winter seed mix

Behind this group of seeds and below a short trellis, I wanted to use up some flower seeds. I chose Sweet Pea “Lord Nelson” lathyrus oderatus, a fragrant heirloom variety from around 1890’s. Can you believe, the label describes these as having “dark and stormy navy blue flowers”. Oh well – we shall wait and see until the end of October as well! Hopefully it will be worth the wait.

In another raised bed, I popped in some peas, “Greenfeast” pisum sativum. Harvest in 15 weeks the packet read – so that will be around the end of September. The label reads “easy and rewarding crop for new and experienced gardeners”.  These are dwarf bushes, so it will be interesting. Let’s wait and see.

In the foreground of peas, in went some calendula flowers “Green Heart Orange – calendula officinalis”. The edible petals are much sought after as a gourmet treat. If they germinate and grow here in our cold area, they should put on a bright display at the end of August.

There’s only one catch living here in the mountain zone micro-climate and that is we are usually three to four weeks behind the city with respect to germination, flowering, and harvesting. There go all my calculations. Add to this dilemma, the packet information reveals an 85% germination rate, so stay tuned and happy gardening. Hope these seeds are as successful as the parsley! Happy gardening!

Christmas recycled

Visiting Daughter Number Two in Sydney this weekend we came across an interesting recycling concept – Reverse Garbage. The idea is you buy household items which have been discarded by others, fill a bag or buy individually. I came across these nifty Christmas decorations.

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On man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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In our world of excess, consumerism and the lure of the new – recycling seems to make sense to me. How did we get to this point of excess? How have come to devalue things so quickly? There were dozens of people dipping into bins and coming up with treasures to take home – another life for discarded goods. More importantly though, what would otherwise be relegated to garbage dumps has a chance to be reused and readmired.

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Not sure about these Aussie thongs though!

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I must admit to a penchant for rummaging in vintage, used and second hand stores, one Daughter Two shares. Maybe we could also make our own Christmas gifts – I think I may have left it a bit late!

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Enjoy the lead up to Christmas, where ever you are.

The House of Rock

Out little blue chook house has finally opened for business. It has take us a little longer than anticipated to lodge the girls (and a couple of boys!) in the new structure. Constantly looking for improvements, Colin decided to put in a ramp to connect the old enclosure to the new blue house.

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Then there was the matter of enticing the chickens up the ramp! A little bit of hands on coaxing was needed. The Plymouth Rock youngsters were the first to find their way in and establish their places. The old Isa browns had to be helped up into the loft but once there were as happy as “chickens in a loft”.
On the other hand, the older Plymouth Rock girls are the most reticent and sceptical of the lot. Colin needed to show them where to perch after finding a nice two metre branch to wedge in place in the house. For the last three nights he had to bring them into the blue house and position them on the perch. On a positive note they are placid and do not peck the little chooks.

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Meanwhile, there was still the problem of how to protect the old wooden floor of the house. We eventually decided to lay a rubberised matting to offer some barrier between the wood and the inevitable droppings. Sarge, our old cat always needs to inspect for quality assurance!

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After some research, I decided to make my own special blend of litter. I mixed equal parts of straw, dried leaf litter and sterilised wood shavings and spread it evenly on the floor. The images speak for themselves.

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Now, after enclosing their run in heavy duty rabbit fencing – we have had a number of fox attacks recently – we can finally breath a sigh of relief that they are all safe, warm and happy. The little blue chicken house has been dubbed the House of Rock – Plymouth Rock, that is.

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Enjoy your chickens, they are wonderfully independent and entertaining pets.

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New Chicken House Update

Chickens all around the world will be green with envy when they spot this blue and yellow chicken house on stumps. Thanks to our fantastic neighbours, family and friends, the roof finally went on with much shoving and pushing. Despite the fact that we had to unexpectedly chainsaw a large overhanging tree, the house went into place quite readily.

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20121119-173516.jpg In fact, it looks like it’s always been there nestled under the trees. It was commented that it looked like a gingerbread house in the woods; someone else said we should decorate it for Christmas – no, let’s keep it simple, please.

20121119-175008.jpg If you are interested in Christmas thoughts and musings may I recommend
http://nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com
and his marvellous writings on the subject along with thoughts of gardens, life, community and simplicity.

We have really lost the simple pleasures of life. Indeed this little house has given us so much delight in its rustic existence; in its basic tin-tacks symbolism of a simpler time. I know that it will house chickens and that in fact it is quite grand for that purpose but it has been salvaged and given a second life – isn’t that what recycling is all about? In fact, just today I bumped into the little house’s previous owner and proclaimed its salvation. She was so pleased that she told me it had actually been their cubby house when they were little kids. They would bring their dolls and tea sets and play for hours on its blue wooden floor. Such simple pleasures remembered and revered and now, hopefully, preserved. I hope kids today still do this – perhaps they do it in a virtual world. I hope they can balance these two worlds; I hope they can sit on earth, on grass, on leaves and feel the textures and look at the sky and imagine themselves as important and have picnics, real or imaginary. That’s what life is really about, I think – simple tasks, simple times.

20121120-204159.jpg Now that the door is on, all it needs is a little coat of paint. My next post will be from the sub- tropics as I visit family and friends – watch out for frangipanis, my own childhood memories and the house in which I grew up. Here is today’s back yard deck view. Ciao.

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