Category Archives: gardening

One less baby bird

I’m sad to say that I found a very tiny bird dead in the garden this morning. We had a severe storm last night that might have been the cause, but I don’t know how it got to where it was, as I found it about ten metres away from both of the nests I mentioned yesterday.

Nectarine blossom on bare branches, with a blue sky behind it.

There was a tense wait to be sure that the baby blackbirds were okay, because a rain storm hit just before we left this morning and we couldn’t check them out until we got home from school and work. I was so pleased to see that they were both there, and both looking really healthy.

I’ve got a soft spot for the blackbird family because they built their nest so trustingly low; I’ve loved watching the mother incubate the eggs over the last couple of weeks, and now get a real thrill from both parents swooping around the garden looking for food and calling to each other and the babies. I’ve even taken to leaving the lid off one of the compost bins for a couple of hours during the day, to allow them to forage…

So, it wasn’t a blackbird – or at least, not one of my blackbirds – and didn’t look like a dove (the occupants of the second nest), although the baby was so small, it was impossible to be sure what breed it was. Perhaps there is a third nest I don’t know about…

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In my garden

Here we are, November has come around again and the countdown to Christmas has begun.

Apologies for my extended absence. A couple of days away from the blog to work on assignments and book keeping tasks ended up taking five weeks!  Everything is finished for the year now, though, so I’m back in the saddle, and will do my best to post regularly.

bottlebrush-2-web

While I was away, Spring came into full force, and the garden is looking magnificent. We have two nests in the trees in the back yard, one of which is at eye-height. I’ll hopefully be able to get a photo of mother and babies over the next couple of days to share with you.  Right now, they are so tiny that they don’t even make any sounds (they only hatched on Tuesday).

seedlings

The vegie patch got planted, too, with three types of peas; golden nugget pumpkins (which already have fruit on them); butternut pumpkins (squash); capsicums; chillies; eggplants,  watermelon,  and, of course, tomatoes – lots of tomatoes.  Unfortunately, the silverbeet has gone to seed, so I”ll have to work out how best to replace it.

silverbeet-web

The rhubarb re-shot…

rhubarb-web

And the fruit trees are laden with so much fruit that it promises to be a bumper harvest. The plum tree, below, is in its third year of fruiting, and looks to have matured fully now. It has so many plums that it will look like a Christmas tree when they ripen. It looks like there might even be enough to make blood plum paste this year! Yay!

plums-web

I’m so excited that the garden is doing so well, despite the on-going drought, and despite the fact that the only water it gets is from the washing machine or shower (or the rain, but we can’t really count on that, even though it is raining as I type). The fact that we have birds nesting in it, and other visitors like geckos, means that it is healthy, and that is good for everyone. The fact that it is still so productive despite the drought, is a miracle!

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Filed under Christmas, gardening

Blogiversary and other stuff.

Birthday cupcake with one candle 

Well, here we are at last! Blogday is one year old, and the original project that I set myself has come to an end.

Thank you to every one who let me know that they enjoy reading my posts and looking at my photos (I had emails, texts and comments on my class blog, as well as some comments here). I was really thrilled to get such support.

So Blogday is going to continue, but I’m going to break away from taking photos just with my phone (handy as it is) and post pictures from whichever camera I use. I’m going to concentrate on sharing more recipes, seeing as that gives me a chance to combine two of the things I love, and gives me an excuse for making lots of my favourite recipes, just so I can photograph them!

 

Right now, though, I need to tell you how excited I am about the arrival of Spring … the garden is full of blossom and bees, and there is the promise of a bumper harvest of nectarines, plums and apricots. Even my little fig tree, bought as a cutting two years ago, has set four figs. I’ll be nursing it along until they ripen to be sure that no one but me gets them (no birds or bugs, that is – I’ll share with the family!)

I’m off now to work in the garden, as there is a vegie patch that needs to be weeded so that I can get my tomato plants in next weekend, and then tonight we are off to see Bill Bailey!

I can’t wait – we’ve had the tickets for months and we’ve spent the last couple of weeks watching lots of his stuff on Youtube and re-watching Black Books a million times, getting ourselves in the mood. I won’t make the same mistake I did with Michael Buble – tonight I am taking a camera that should be able to cope with the lighting conditions a little better (Meg’s), so hopefully I’ll have some photos to share in the next couple of days. I did toy with the idea of taking my DSLR, but I don’t want to take pictures to the exclusion of watching the show, so I think I should probably leave it home.

Here is a little treat to finish the post – Bill Bailey as Manny in the Black Books episode called The Entertainer. If you’ve never seen it, have a look – if you have, watch it again; either way, you’ll be dazzled by his talent.

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A cold start to the day

 This morning, when I went to drive Meg to the station so she could go to school, this is the sight that greeted us:

 Now, I imagine if you live in an area where snow is common, this would seem tame, but in Melbourne (8km from the CBD) this has become unusual over the past couple of years. The drought has meant that there hasn’t been much water around, and it simply hasn’t been getting cold enough to completely ice the car more than once or twice a year.

I love Winter, and I’ve missed it – the milder weather is barely cold enough to make your ears pink, let alone make your nose run!

 When I got back from the station, the furniture in the back yard was steaming as the sun rose high enough over the houses to start to warm it.

Speaking of the back yard, we’ve decided to do away with the last of the grass, and put more fruit trees and vegies in, with just a path leading to the clothes line and main vegetable patch. As you can see, this small patch of grass gets quite unruly during the wetter months…

And, when the rest of the garden looks like this:

a ratty, overgrown field waiting to be mown, can be an embarrassment.

So, one new apricot tree; the black fig tree I got as a baby last year, and the lime tree that currently lives in a pot, will go in, and the weeds will be a thing of the past. I’ve started saving newspapers, and next week hope to get a load of mulch that I can use to prepare a permaculture-style garden. Then I’d better get on with some weeding, or we will never be able to plant the vegie patch again.

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Filed under fairfield, gardening

Poppies

giant poppiesOn one of my daily walks with the dogs, earlier in the week, I came across this magnificent poppy growing through a woven-wire fence.

I have never seen such a large poppy (at least, I think that is what it is – the seed capsules and leaves look like it, but it seems more like a shrub, in habit, than I would have expected). I must introduce myself to the home owner one day, and ask!

Whatever it is, the bees love the flowers and swarmed all over them. I’ll admit, I lamented only having my phone camera with me, as macro shots were not possible. I would have loved to capture the bees with their chaps loaded with pollen, but it wasn’t to be. In the end, I was quite happy with the result above, but it did highlight something I’ve been worrying about over the past weeks – the lack of photography I’ve been doing with my ‘big’ camera – my much-loved Canon 10D, since I started this project.

In theory, I should be taking both my phone and my DSLR out with me. This would mean that I would be taking more pictures than usual rather than fewer. The reality is, though, that this has become all-consuming and I have been leaving my other camera at home far more often than I like.

The other thing I have come to realise, is how difficult it is to post daily… I find that, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get here every day, and so have been re-thinking the premise of this project.

So – an early New Year’s Resolution: I must take at least one photo daily with each camera! That way I will have more to contribute here, and won’t feel like I am neglecting my other projects! Will let you know if I am successful…

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It finally rained!

Meg

It has been raining on and off over the last 24 hours, for what seems like the first time in weeks, and last night Meg and I couldn’t resist getting out in it and going for a walk. Here she is with her new umbrella – bought weeks ago but only getting its first use.

The drought has meant that even Winter was very dry, although it started out with promise.  Now at the start of Spring, Melbourne’s water catchments are still only just over 39% full and stage 3a water restrictions have just been confirmed for the remainder of the year.

Bucketing water out from the shower and the washing machine will ensure that everything remains alive, but comes at the cost of ‘bucket back’ and splashed floors.  I’m not complaining – three minute showers have become long enough (any longer seems like a terrible indulgence) – just noting the changes from the way we used to do things. As long as I can keep the garden alive it is worth the extra effort, particularly as the vegie garden really gets going with the summer crops.

While I’ve been preparing the garden for the new season, it has been fun to watch our dogs play.  One of them – Cher – has only been with us for eighteen months, and although she is six and a half, had never been allowed to roam around in a garden before coming to us.  Her first home saw her kept as a trophy – only allowed out of her trolley to eat or go to the toilet – and harrassed by her owner’s son and his dog.  Her second home was back in the breeder’s kennel and although she was well looked-after, she was kept in a pen and not as a pet.

With us, she spends hours exploring the garden and chasing the doves away, and thinks that vegie patches are great places to investigate – especially once blood and bone is added to the mix!  At the end of the day, she even gets to sleep on the bed.  What more could a dog ask for?

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Spring is definitely here…

Plum blossom

I always know when Spring is really here, because I can’t stay out of the garden.  Pruning, weeding, turning out the compost bins – all of these happened on Sunday, and the garden looks so much better for it that it is really satisfying. 

While doing all of this, I was sad to note only one worm in two compost bins!  Usually at this time of the year there would be hundreds of them in each bin.  I don’t know why it is, but I will try to find out before introducing any more to the bins, in case the compost is too acidic for them.

Next on the agenda is getting all of the vegie seeds planted.  I’ve decided to dedicate a lot more space to growing vegetables this year. Not only because they taste so much better than cool-stored ones, or because I can grow them organically, but also because I think we need to go back to eating what is in season and homegrown or available locally.  Living in the city, it is hard to source directly from growers, so if I grow what I can myself, it will mean that there is less for me to have to find.  I’m going to look at bartering with a couple of friends who are doing the same thing, to add variety.

By the look of the fruit trees, and the number of bees visiting them, we should at least have a bumper stone-fruit crop this year, if we don’t get any hail early in the next couple of months, that is.

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