Quick but joyous post before I have to dash off

Hi All,

Did you miss me? I am not vain enough to think that most of you did. One less blog to read, one less thing to do in our busy days. I never really ‘got’ how busy days could be till we started our new course and were suddenly hijacked from our delicious lazy days spent beavering away at the PC in our sweats. Now we have to looks somewhat presentable (although ‘presentable’ in our class of youngsters is an entirely different thing to what it was back last century when I was 17…) and what was once a leisurely 4 hours spent wiling away the hours from 3am to 7am when Stevie-boy would slowly open his eyes and would languidly brush away the dogs from his countenance and casually gather together some form of clothing, wander out to the kitchen and sip his first mug of coffee with slow but deliberate joy, is now a manic race to the finish line…

I am still getting up at 3am but I get a very strict 1 ½ hours to do ALL of the things…that’s 1 ½ hours for all of my RSS Feed Reader, answering comments, reading Facebook and anything else that used to be a slow progression and is now a crazy connection of synapses with “what is the MOST important?!” often uppermost in my mind. At 4.30am it is off out into the darkness to water Sanctuary via torchlight. It’s romantic aside from the moths that attempt self-immolation from the moment the torch goes on till when it gets hurried out to wake Stevie-boy to get trotting on our still dark, early morning dog trot. Back in, scoff some breakfast whilst watching the clock, check we have everything for our day and out the door not looking back because we would see this…

Sad and pathetic dog number 1

Sad and pathetic dog number 1

Even sadder and more pathetic dog number 2

Even sadder and more pathetic dog number 2

Life is SO very different to what it was last year but it is also incredibly rewarding now. We are both loving our new class and although the routine and rigmarole it takes to deliver our bums onto our seats in the morning might be a little more crazy than we would like it, once they are on the seat we are most wonderfully engaged. I didn’t think I would enjoy this course. I didn’t think I would be able to learn the software or handle being back in a classroom situation. I was wrong. I love this course and everything that we are learning and the promise of a nice new self-hosted, entirely crafted by “Narf7 and Stevie-boy1” at the end of our year is both exciting and delicious. Watch this space folks, we will be off on a new adventure soon!

I got a most intriguing parcel in the mail yesterday. When I saw the post code I knew who it was from and got highly excited. Ms Alys from Gardeningnirvana blogging fame had sent me some bunting! From the moment I got home I was savouring this parcel. Ms Alys takes mail and makes it UBER special. Every single component of this delightful parcel was stamped with her ubiquitous style and flair. Gorgeous green, everything complementing everything else, perfectly hand made or salvaged and just plain and simply delightful. Alys, you are a shining star of a human being. Taking the time to print out, not only those gorgeous printed cloth panels on that perfect burlap bunting, but to also take images from our blog and use them in an explanatory notelet was perfection to the max. I think you should do this for a living. You are so incredibly good at it. You made me feel incredibly special and most wonderfully wrapped up with your care and attention. That is a most special gift. Never lose it Ms Alys, the world needs more people like you :). And here, for your viewing pleasure, are the contents of my most wonderful and delightful parcel…

This is what I saw when I opened up the parcel bag

This is what I saw when I opened up the parcel bag

Scrumptious, perfectly colour coordinated, eclectic and plain outright delicious!

Scrumptious, perfectly colour coordinated, eclectic and plain outright delicious!

Check out the detail that Ms Alys went to...

Check out the detail that Ms Alys went to…

On both sides...

On both sides…

Just look at these jewelesque bottle caps from California!

Just look at these jewelesque bottle caps from California!

That glorious gold "Ted's" root beer cap is my equivalent of a 10oz figgy fizz...I need to have a lay down...

That glorious gold “Ted’s” root beer cap is my equivalent of a 10oz figgy fizz…I need to have a lay down…

If you aren’t from last century, didn’t watch Sesame Street before it went to the dark side or just can’t remember, check out this clip to see what I am talking about with the ’10oz figgy fizz’ quote…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ls2vNfQxyc

Gorgeous printed bunting

Gorgeous printed bunting

Check out the amazing detail on the printed cloth

Check out the amazing detail on the printed cloth

Each image carefully selected from past blog posts on The road to Serendipity and most perfectly paired together to give the very best representation of what we are all about and our ethos :)

Each image carefully selected from past blog posts on The road to Serendipity and most perfectly paired together to give the very best representation of what we are all about and our ethos :)

I am positively gobsmacked at how lovely this all looks in the very last of our errant summer light.  LOVE YOU Ms Alys :)

I am positively gobsmacked at how lovely this all looks in the very last of our errant summer light. LOVE YOU Ms Alys :)

Lastly, this wasn't in the package. I made this for a classmates new baby sister. No-one likes "normal" baby hats right? Ella's mum is going to tie her dummy to that long tail. Dual purpose hattage, my favourite kind ;)

Lastly, this wasn’t in the package. I made this for a classmates new baby sister. No-one likes “normal” baby hats right? Ella’s mum is going to tie her dummy to that long tail. Dual purpose hattage, my favourite kind ;)

Catch you all later, I have to race up to Sanctuary and get watering before Stevie-boy gets back with Earl. Bezial and I are having a rest of walking today. Have a fantastic time till we meet again :)

 

Evolving…

Hi All,

What’s this? Didn’t narf just say “I won’t be regularly blogging for a while, and here she is blogging?” well yes, indeed, I am. You see I just had a little epiphany. I have been reading and digesting your comments about my rather hastily conceived blogging hiatus that I dumped on you last Wednesday. Life last week was past hectic and into crazyville and I was pruning away like mad to find a little bit of something normal to hang onto. We spent the weekend planning and prepping. We have lots of meals in the freezer, we have organised ourselves well, we are on top of it all and this morning I read a blog post by the always chic, ever interesting and often thought provoking Ms Cityhippfarmgirl who was the instigator of my blogging epiphany. She has been blogging for 5 years now (not much more than I have) and threw a word into the arena that gave me great pause for thought…

The other day I was feverishly crocheting a cover for a tablet that we purchased to support our latest study load. Stevie-boys twitchy fingertips had been all over it and if the FBI had have wanted a sample of his DNA they could have easily swiped it and had more than their fill. I was considering how to protect it from the bumps and knocks that seem to follow our chaotic life around at the same time as find an instant way to slither away those finger marks (no Stevie-boy DNA for YOU FBI! ;) ) and came up with the idea for a  crocheted cover (mainly because I can’t sew for toffeenuts…) Once it was finished I had to work out how to close it. I have NO idea how to put zips into things and even if I did, I didn’t have a zip, so that was out of the question. I ended up thinking “buttons” but all I had were some teeny tiny ones that would have required a shrew like sequence of them and nimble fingers to keep the cover closed and knowing how impatient Stevie-boy is I could see them being left undone and the tablet slipping out in transit or worse still, when the cover was held aloft like excalibar. What was a girl to do? “Hmmm…”

In the midst of my feverish musing I suddenly remembered a Pinterest pin that I had shuffled into my ‘Crafty Bollocks’ board and I went hunting. I finally found it and gleefully started hooking. The pattern was for lovely eccentric crocheted buttons. As the wool that I had used to make the tablet cover was so very thick and chunky (double insulation for life’s bumps and knocks) the buttons ended up HUGE but who cares, they served a purpose and put a narfish seal of approval on the final result. I would love to share a photo of the cover with you all but it is 3.50am and Stevie-boy has sequestered both tablet and cover away somewhere and I don’t want to wake up the dogs and pique their early morning interest so you are just going to have to believe me that it is a. eccentric and b. serves the purpose. When I was making the buttons I immediately knew that I wanted to share the pattern. I wanted to tell everyone how to make them and how much fun it was to customise your own buttons and then suddenly I remembered “I am having a rest”…but you see I didn’t WANT to have a rest, I just wanted a bit of freedom to blog about what delighted me and what would be fun to share and THAT was my epiphany…

So I won’t be stopping blogging my dear constant readers. My knee-jerk reaction to almost drowning in C.H.A.N.G.E. which has always been my bugbear (what a magnificent word) and sticking point was to throw caution and all of my sheets to the wind and run around howling just before I sequestered myself under the bed with Earl at arms reach. I took all of your wonderful and most caring suggestions on board and my posts will be shorter and more to the point. When I have something that makes me “SQUEE!” with delight, I will share it. I can’t share my nectarines with you as they went in my mouth and I ate them but everything else you can consider fair game.

I want to thank Ms Cityhippyfarmgirl for giving me the most splendid and thoughtful epiphany. My word for this year is “Evolve”. And evolve, I shall! See you soon when I will most probably have something to get excited about and at least one photo to brighten it up a bit.

If you would like to have a go at making your own Squeealicious crochet covered buttons here is a very easy tutorial. There are many more out there but lazy old me just went with numero uno as it was a doddle.

http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/10.html

 

UPDATE –

Stevie-boy is up now so I took a photo of the cover with the button sewn on it. I am imagining that your buttons will be a whole lot better than mine. I left the benchmark pretty low. I like people to feel good about themselves ;)

"Ta-DAH!" :)

“Ta-DAH!” :)

 

Here’s to simple pleasures

 

Hi All,

 

The older I get the more I become enamoured of simple pleasures. I got to skip my 5am walk with Earl this morning because we are going to take the dogs for a long walk later on today. I got to walk into my dark kitchen and put a gas flame on under my simple kettle. I got to pluck 2 tea bags (I like my tea strong) from my simple ceramic tea canister and place them in my big mug. I got the time to wait for the kettle to boil as I was loading up my RSS Feed Reader and going through the process of working out exactly where my mind was going to go this morning. I got the distinct pleasure of the scent of the promise of simple happiness as I poured the boiling water and my first mug of tea started to infuse. I decadently carried it over to my work station at 3am and settled down to start awakening my mind with possibilities, aided and abetted by the intensely heady but at the same time fundamentally basic simple pleasure of “tea”. At 5am I made myself another cup. My day can’t get much more luxurious and Bohemian than this.

Isn't this bunting AMAZING! Marlene sent it to me. She sent me 3 strings of bunting and a lovely card and I am completely and utterly in love with it! Along with the gorgeous bunting that Mommermum and Ms Pauline sent me and Sanctuary is going to look like a wonderful hippy bazaar :)

Isn’t this bunting AMAZING! Marlene sent it to me. She sent me 3 strings of bunting and a lovely card and I am completely and utterly in love with it! Along with the gorgeous bunting that Mommermum and Ms Pauline sent me and Sanctuary is going to look like a wonderful hippy bazaar :)

Isn't this little crocheted dragon magnificent? It was sent to me by Ms Snail. I have more than enough bunting to cover the front of Sanctuary and this little dragon makes me smile. Stevie-boy was born in the Chinese year of the dragon which makes this little fellow doubly special :)

Isn’t this little crocheted dragon magnificent? It was sent to me by Ms Snail. I have more than enough bunting to cover the front of Sanctuary and this little dragon makes me smile. Stevie-boy was born in the Chinese year of the dragon which makes this little fellow doubly special :)

Ms Snail also sent a wonderfully penned story about the birth of "Sanctuary" the dragon that gave us his full pedigree ;). I can't begin to thank all of my wonderful dear constant readers (and Mr Snail ;) ) who have contributed bunting, dragoons and pedigree to Serendipity Farm. You are all wonderful and we love the bones off you :)

Ms Snail also sent a wonderfully penned story about the birth of “Sanctuary” the dragon that gave us his full pedigree ;). I can’t begin to thank all of my wonderful dear constant readers (and Mr Snail ;) ) who have contributed bunting, dragoons and pedigree to Serendipity Farm. You are all wonderful and we love the bones off you :)

Isn't this picture of Max and Sam, Mr and Ms Snails babies gorgeous?

Isn’t this picture of Max and Sam, Mr and Ms Snails babies gorgeous?

I find that simple things are starting to make me smile more often. I love heading out into Sanctuary and noticing some new leaves or a slight blush on a tomato (ripening?!) or seeing that first tentative tendril of purest green emerging from a dormant seed. I love the possibilities that come from each new day. The first thing I do when I wake up is to say “Thank you God for another day”… the very next thing is “I hope I do something worthwhile with this one!” ;). Every day is a gift, a new chance to start again, to fix what you don’t like and to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Every day is another chance to explore and to evaluate and to measure and to infuse your senses in. The older I get the more aware I am becoming. What happened to that urgency where everything had to be done “STAT!” Since when did I start to pay attention to little details and take such pleasure in the small moments?

Earl taking in the view on a hot February day.

Earl taking in the view on a hot February day.

Stevie-boy took this photo of a gnarly old log. He thinks that it looks like "Rumplestiltskin" I think he has been into the cooking sherry! ;)

Stevie-boy took this photo of a gnarly old log. He thinks that it looks like “Rumplestiltskin” I think he has been into the cooking sherry! ;)

This little fellow was in a bag of dog toys that we bought this week to placate the boys and I couldn't bear to let Earl dismantle him. He is made of hand dyed fabric and will join the other rescued toys in Stevie-boys music room

This little fellow was in a bag of dog toys that we bought this week to placate the boys and I couldn’t bear to let Earl dismantle him. He is made of hand dyed fabric and will join the other rescued toys in Stevie-boys music room

I am just pouring my milk into that second luxurious cup of tea. Perfectly brewed this morning because I don’t have to rush or watch the clock…I can stretch my toes out under my lap blanket and I can take a few nice deep breaths. I can inhale that perfect aroma of fresh tea and know that all is right with my little corner of the world. If I had just one precious thing to give you all today it would be this perfect nugget of wisdom…find your pleasures in the simple things, that is where life is truly beautiful :)

Our girls out on "the range" free ranging

Our girls out on “the range” free ranging

3 Rocoto tree chilli (Capsicum pubescens) babies. I have more sprouting in the glasshouse but wanted to see if they would grow outside. They grow in temperate climates, they are perennial and they produce chillies that start out green and mild and progress through black and hot to red and very hot. You pick the colour and choose the heat. My kind of chilli!

3 Rocoto tree chilli (Capsicum pubescens) babies. I have more sprouting in the glasshouse but wanted to see if they would grow outside. They grow in temperate climates, they are perennial and they produce chillies that start out green and mild and progress through black and hot to red and very hot. You pick the colour and choose the heat. My kind of chilli!

What a lovely last paragraph? Today I am rushed off my feet! I got up later than I should have, I have roughly 40 minutes to race through my RSS Feed reader and stumble half asleep out into Sanctuary at 5am where I get to water in the dark with Stevie-boys torch wedged in a most determined manner between my teeth like I am pretending to be an overweight, middle aged female pirate with aspirations of slicing my possum foes in ‘twain’ with bright L.E.D. light. I am attempting to lose a bit of excess adipose tissue. I don’t know about you but where does this stuff come from?! It seems to creep up on me from all directions. I discovered, by complete accident, a lovely and most highly flavoured, low calorie ‘sauce’ for vegetables last night by racing around like a chook with my head cut off doing ‘ALL OF THE THINGS!’ while I was simultaneously attempting to make the next day’s lunches, cook Stevie-boy calzones from scratch AND play an online game of anarchistic jigsaw puzzles. Something had to give and it ended up (almost) being my steamed veg. I caught the pot just before the inch of water in the base pot boiled dry and when I peeked inside the lower pot and saw that condensed vegetable water that was as thick as gravy, I tasted it and it was delicious! All of this time when chefs have been ‘boiling down sauces’ I thought it was just a waste of time. Apparently not. You can turn humble veggie water into something thick, sensuous and very VERY tasty. It’s my new ‘Go-to’ sauce and hopefully will play a predominate part in shrinking my hind quarters appropriately whilst I bask in my new found saucy joys

Look how tall our baby grape vines have gotten! We can start training them onto wires next year but this one has decided that it might train itself by the look of it!

Look how tall our baby grape vines have gotten! We can start training them onto wires next year but this one has decided that it might train itself by the look of it!

Earl and Bezial in Sanctuary eating grass.

Earl and Bezial in Sanctuary eating grass.

The pumpkins are getting bigger

The pumpkins are getting bigger

It is Wednesday morning and I just juggled a mass collective of “things to do” and you ended up winning the “what can narf do at 4am” lottery. Life has suddenly changed on Serendipity Farm. It has gone from ordered languid chaos whereby we move around the place “doing things” as and when we saw fit to “Holy crap we are L.A.T.E!” Having to adapt to a completely new schedule coupled with integrating ourselves into a whole new lifestyle has been exciting and incredibly tiring. Stevie-boy and I are now physically attending ‘school’ rather than lolling about in our pyjamas studying from home. I have had to seriously adjust my schedules accordingly. No more lovely “up at 3am and spending the next 4 hours basking in online joy” for me! I have gone from that first delicious and life giving sip of tea that woke me slowly to “please cool down fast, I don’t have much time!”

My first attempt at succession planting. I planted beetroots and lolo rosso lettuce. I consider this attempt a success :)

My first attempt at succession planting. I planted beetroots and lolo rosso lettuce. I consider this attempt a success :)

Some of the scarlet runner beans that we have been harvesting from Sanctuary

Some of the scarlet runner beans that we have been harvesting from Sanctuary

Finally...PEPINO'S! :)

Finally…PEPINO’S! :)

3am – 4am is my time to do “all of the things” now. At 4am I have to work out what has to be done specifically for “that day” (today being Wednesday is “that day Wednesday” whereby we study 3D animation and I am supposed to post a blog post). At 5am I stumble out the back door in the dark to head up to Sanctuary and water. This part of my day is not negotiable. As manic and exciting as my day is going to be, Sanctuary is my “happy place” and shall always remain so. A parched and dying happy place is an oxymoron and only a moron would allow it to evolve so its narf and a cantankerous Bolshevik hose and a lot of muttering and under-my-breath swearing and the odd wide-eyed and bewildered dog at my feet beseeching me to go back to the house and stop putting the ‘things-into-play’ that will take us away from them and leave them pack-less.

An artistic shot of my potato garden from the side

An artistic shot of my potato garden from the side

Earl has done a great job this year. I have had quite a few nectarines from this tree

Earl has done a great job this year. I have had quite a few nectarines from this tree

The faerie village in Sanctuary's mint bed is taking expressions of interest...this is what happens when you add almost a full bag of mushroom compost to top up your mint bed ;)

The faerie village in Sanctuary’s mint bed is taking expressions of interest…this is what happens when you add almost a full bag of mushroom compost to top up your mint bed ;)

This adjustment has been whole household bound and thank goodness both Stevie-boy and I are great at organising things as otherwise we would have most probably gone barmy in the segue between our old home study lives and our new fully integrated with class lives. I must admit, the new study format is awesome. We already feel like part of ‘The Team’ and our lecturers are completely accommodating when it comes to how we work. The class is set up more like a design studio and we are all expected to act like we are working for the class rather than individual participants. We have melded with the class that are learning how to make movies (all 4 of them and all women) on the odd occasion and aside from my natural fear of technology, I am really enjoying this new journey.

Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida) that I grew from a cutting.

Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida) that I grew from a cutting with more of my succession planted beetroots.

Stevie-boy found this little lined crocheted bag for $1 at the thrift shop that is right next to where we attend TAFE. There are some benefits to having to physically attend TAFE ;)

Stevie-boy found this little lined crocheted bag for $1 at the thrift shop that is right next to where we attend TAFE. There are some benefits to having to physically attend TAFE ;)

It comes with the inevitable need to learn all kinds of new habits including giving up a lot of my spare time in order to satisfy the travel and study requirements. I am willing to do that BUT it brings around a lot of conundrums. Where do I spread my time? What is important? What should go by the wayside and what should maybe be slowed, spread out or perhaps stopped. I have to admit here that I have considered giving up blogging. Spreading ourselves thin with digital technology all week doesn’t make me jump for joy when it comes to having to do it all over again to create blog posts. I had a chat to Stevie-boy and both he and I feel that I would miss blogging and all of my dear constant readers. I have decided that I will drop back my posts. I will post when I have something to blog about…when I get excited and can’t hold in what has been happening and when the garden is beckoning and shall not be denied.

How green was my sanctuary ;)

How green was my sanctuary ;)

Swiss brown mushrooms that grew from some of the mushroom compost that I dug into the soil under this kiwiberry.

Swiss brown mushrooms that grew from some of the mushroom compost that I dug into the soil under this kiwiberry.

I hope you all understand my dear constant readers. I have been blogging for almost 5 years now. I started the blog as a means to communicate with my mum and allow her to feel like she was still part of my life even though I was thousands of kilometres away. Social media gives us that beautiful ability to feel up close and personal no matter where we are. It is one of its saving graces. When mum died, I carried on. I sailed on regardless as I had stories to tell and miles to go before I slept. My muses were primed and ready to go and it just felt ‘right’. My last few blog posts have been predominately images with captions and having to come up with a post each week has turned from a joy to a labour. Someone I met only last week struck a chord with me yesterday. I was showing him my blog and saying that I wasn’t enjoying blogging anymore and he said “well that’s your answer… you shouldn’t do something that you don’t enjoy”. Cheers Wendell, you are a shining light :).

 

The 'new gardens' are going well now. These eggplants won't fruit probably but at least there is something green in the garden beds aside from weeds ;)

The ‘new gardens’ are going well now. These eggplants won’t fruit probably but at least there is something green in the garden beds aside from weeds ;)

My cherimoya babies are going from strength to strength and appear very happy in our glasshouse

My cherimoya babies are going from strength to strength and appear very happy in our glasshouse

And so here I am at 4.20am. Knowing that I am going to head out to Sanctuary early as at 5.30am we are going to walk the dogs…I forgot to mention that bit, the dog walking is NOT NEGOTIABLE, even more-so than Sanctuary and her water. All of this crammed into our early mornings and don’t even get me started on what happens when we get home! Life has changed fundamentally and intrinsically and metaphorically and all of the ‘illy’s and ally’s” that I can think of and a lot more. I don’t want to tie a bow around ‘The Road to Serendipity’. It’s like the yellow brick road to me. It’s got a lot of promise and a fair way to go before me meet the Great and MIGHTY OZ and get our hearts desires so I will be slowing the posts down now. Like Ms Christi from Olalla, I will post when the pleasure strikes rather than on the stroke of 5pm on a Wednesday afternoon. I will still be here and there will be exciting things coming out of this space that meld my love of permaculture and sustainable living with technology. There are some very interesting phone apps fermenting inside my noggin and I would love to share them with you and see what you think.

I like the flashes of colour that flowers bring to Sanctuary. These fuchsias go part of the way to make the bees happy in Sanctuary and when the bees are happy, "I" am happy :)

I like the flashes of colour that flowers bring to Sanctuary. These fuchsias go part of the way to make the bees happy in Sanctuary and when the bees are happy, “I” am happy :)

One of the cucamelon's growing bigger slowly but surely

One of the cucamelon’s growing bigger slowly but surely

I feel like Frank Sinatra singing “And so…the end is near…” but it isn’t. This isn’t over; it’s just “resting”. Resting is good, ‘over’ is BAD. Resting means recuperating and recovering and regrouping and ALL of the ‘Re’s’ and that is what I am going to do. I am off to hibernate for a bit and see where life takes us and when it DOES take us, and we get time to turn around and have a look at where we have been and ponder, you will be right there with us on the cusp of a brand new day on Serendipity Farm. Thank you all for being such dear and most wonderful constant readers and see you all when I see you :)

Stevie-boy all scrubbed and ready to go to his first full day of TAFE

Stevie-boy all scrubbed and ready to go to his first full day of TAFE

From narf, to you all…It’s “Nanoo, nanoo from me, and nanoo, nanoo from him” as always, I love a good mixed metaphor ;)

Whiling away Wednesday

Hi All,

Writing blog posts in comments is a great way to share the love without labouring a point in a post. I can caption my brains out and that keeps me on track and pertinent to the post. At the moment, February is shaping up to be a hot month. Most of our summer so far has been overcast and more like autumn but it seems Franderella WILL go to the ripe tomato ball after all. “PHEW”! I was getting a bit worried about all of those green tomato recipes I was going to have to find and make! So on with the photos for this week…

A good friend that I met on the "Fans of Grassroots Magazine Australia" Facebook page that I follow studiously asked me if I would like to have some plums. Why yes PLEASE Ruth, I would love some :). She also gave me some perennial leeks. I have planted most of them out and gifted a few to friends. The good thing about me planting them out is that when Ruth moves, she can get some back from me to populate her new garden.

A good friend that I met on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine Australia” Facebook page that I follow studiously asked me if I would like to have some plums. Why yes PLEASE Ruth, I would love some :). She also gave me some perennial leeks. I have planted most of them out and gifted a few to friends. The good thing about me planting them out is that when Ruth moves, she can get some back from me to populate her new garden.

Plums sliced in halves ready to put on the dehydrator sheets

Plums sliced in halves ready to put on the dehydrator sheets

Dehydrated plums that look like raisins. They are a bit tart but will be great in muffins

Dehydrated plums that look like raisins. They are a bit tart but will be great in muffins

Coconut kaffir lime rice with perfectly ripe foraged peaches sliced on top. An amazing breakfast made even more amazing when eating it in the sunshine on the weekend on the deck :)

Coconut kaffir lime rice with perfectly ripe foraged peaches sliced on top. An amazing breakfast made even more amazing when eating it in the sunshine on the weekend on the deck :)

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffin mix

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffin mix

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffins

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffins

The very first of my new subscription of Grass Roots magazine to arrive in our mail box. No more hunting around in random News Agencies in the vain hope that they might have a copy :)

The very first of my new subscription of Grass Roots magazine to arrive in our mail box. No more hunting around in random News Agencies in the vain hope that they might have a copy :)

The steps down from the deck. Nature appears to be taking back it's property. Might be time to get the secateurs out and tame her a bit...

The steps down from the deck. Nature appears to be taking back it’s property. Might be time to get the secateurs out and tame her a bit…

 

Here is a stand of creeping groundcover raspberries that I will be harvesting for rooted cuttings soon. I want to get a good selection of them growing in pots if anyone else wants some as no-one that I have mentioned them to has ever heard of them or can find another source of them

Here is a stand of creeping groundcover raspberries that I will be harvesting for rooted cuttings soon. I want to get a good selection of them growing in pots if anyone else wants some as no-one that I have mentioned them to has ever heard of them or can find another source of them

 

This is the area under the deck that was very difficult to grow anything in. We chose species that like arid conditions and that would take the full sun  in this area and now there is a reasonable amount of vegetation in this area and it looks a whole lot better now

This is the area under the deck that was very difficult to grow anything in. We chose species that like arid conditions and that would take the full sun in this area and now there is a reasonable amount of vegetation in this area and it looks a whole lot better now

This is a lovely standard grafted "Cascade Falls" that my daughters gave me for Christmas one year. We planted it out  under the deck and although the wallabies took an early fancy to it, it seems to be recovering nicely

This is a lovely standard grafted “Cascade Falls” that my daughters gave me for Christmas one year. We planted it out under the deck and although the wallabies took an early fancy to it, it seems to be recovering nicely

Just to show you how much vegetation is in this previously sparsely planted area. This photo was taken from the side of the garden

Just to show you how much vegetation is in this previously sparsely planted area. This photo was taken from the side of the garden

This indoor plant has been living the hard life underneath a conifer in the side garden. Someone obviously once put the pot out in the garden and forgot about it. Many years on and it is still alive. It is one of the plants that have benefited greatly from us putting in a larger fenced area and clearing out the weeds from under it.

This indoor plant has been living the hard life underneath a conifer in the side garden. Someone obviously once put the pot out in the garden and forgot about it. Many years on and it is still alive. It is one of the plants that have benefited greatly from us putting in a larger fenced area and clearing out the weeds from under it.

The water wicked strawberry bed is going great guns. I only just topped it up with water today so it is working really well and the strawberries all have a new lease on life and are fruiting like crazy. It's really wonderful when an idea actually works :)

The water wicked strawberry bed is going great guns. I only just topped it up with water today so it is working really well and the strawberries all have a new lease on life and are fruiting like crazy. It’s really wonderful when an idea actually works :)

One of the pumpkins that are growing around the peripherals of Sanctuary. I keep having to remind them to stay on the outside of the gardens and some of them are repeat offenders...

One of the pumpkins that are growing around the peripherals of Sanctuary. I keep having to remind them to stay on the outside of the gardens and some of them are repeat offenders…

The top corner experimental garden in Sanctuary is starting to look pretty good. This was previously hard baked soil that nothing much grew on. I put some Jerusalem artichokes here to see if they would break up the soil and used them as the "stalk" part of the 3 sisters equation. The pumpkins seem to be liking it here and there are grapes around the perimeter of Sanctuary being trained up stakes this year that we are going to espalier next year.

The top corner experimental garden in Sanctuary is starting to look pretty good. This was previously hard baked soil that nothing much grew on. I put some Jerusalem artichokes here to see if they would break up the soil and used them as the “stalk” part of the 3 sisters equation. The pumpkins seem to be liking it here and there are grapes around the perimeter of Sanctuary being trained up stakes this year that we are going to espalier next year.

The first of the new gardens that we planted out with basil, tomatillos and eggplants and I have been planting all sorts of other things to fill in the gaps. I love experimental gardening :)

The first of the new gardens that we planted out with basil, tomatillos and eggplants and I have been planting all sorts of other things to fill in the gaps. I love experimental gardening :)

My 4 pots of turmeric are having a ball out in the ground and have doubled in size since I planted them out and are sending up new shoots all over the place.

My 4 pots of turmeric are having a ball out in the ground and have doubled in size since I planted them out and are sending up new shoots all over the place.

This is one of the poor long suffering cardamom plants that I recently planted out. They are looking a bit raggy at the moment but there are lots of new shoots coming up out of the old leaves. They both seem to be happy in their new situation and one day they will mass with the turmeric and I will be halfway to having my own fresh spice rack in Sanctuary

This is one of the poor long suffering cardamom plants that I recently planted out. They are looking a bit raggy at the moment but there are lots of new shoots coming up out of the old leaves. They both seem to be happy in their new situation and one day they will mass with the turmeric and I will be halfway to having my own fresh spice rack in Sanctuary

Steve took this shot of the sun going down behind a cloud last week.

Steve took this shot of the sun going down behind a cloud last week.

My new kaffir lime has a fruit on it! This is the best photo of the fruit that my camera would let me take. It gets bolshie sometimes and refuses to cooperate.

My new Australian native finger lime has a fruit on it! This is the best photo of the fruit that my camera would let me take. It gets bolshie sometimes and refuses to cooperate.

My kaffir lime is jealous of all of the attention that the native finger lime is getting and has decided to start putting on some new growth and has flower buds!

My kaffir lime is jealous of all of the attention that the native finger lime is getting and has decided to start putting on some new growth and has flower buds!

I planted out a bag of very sprouted potatoes that a friend gave me from her pantry in the last of the new garden beds and they are going crazy in there. I planted out beetroot seed in front of them and lolo russo lettuce as well. The empty looking space is for the sweet potato cuttings to grow into but as it has been quite cool for this time of year they haven't grown very much so far. This next week of hot temperatures (hot for us ;) ) should see them get growing a lot faster.

I planted out a bag of very sprouted potatoes that a friend gave me from her pantry in the last of the new garden beds and they are going crazy in there. I planted out beetroot seed in front of them and lolo russo lettuce as well. The empty looking space is for the sweet potato cuttings to grow into but as it has been quite cool for this time of year they haven’t grown very much so far. This next week of hot temperatures (hot for us ;) ) should see them get growing a lot faster.

I took this photo from the new garden area looking back at the existing first 2 veggie gardens

I took this photo from the new garden area looking back at the existing first 2 veggie gardens. Note the triffids hiding among the nasturtiums ;)

Check out how tall my initial tomatillo plant has gotten.

Check out how tall my initial tomatillo plant has gotten. I have more growing quickly in the new garden beds

One of my 4 pepino shrubs growing like topsy in among the tomato plants. I was most happy to discover that pepino's are actually perennial so that means that my babies should carry on through winter if I interplant them with lots of winter veggies to protect them from the extremely minimal risk of frost damage.

One of my 4 pepino shrubs growing like topsy in among the tomato plants. I was most happy to discover that pepino’s are actually perennial so that means that my babies should carry on through winter if I interplant them with lots of winter veggies to protect them from the extremely minimal risk of frost damage.

Looking from between the first 2 garden beds towards the back of Sanctuary. I am really happy how the gardens have come on and to think, this time a few months ago, there were just weeds up there!

Looking from between the first 2 garden beds towards the back of Sanctuary. I am really happy how the gardens have come on and to think, this time a few months ago, there were just weeds up there!

Lastly this is where I have planted out most of the citrus trees and experimental compost gardens. As you can see, my love of pumpkins has somewhat skewed the contents of the compost buckets and thus I find myself loaded with free pumpkin vines that are all starting to produce large fruit. I am guessing they are the creamy skinned pumpkins that look like Queensland blues but with creamy yellow skin that I was buying not so long ago. I really like them so fingers crossed they stay true to type :)

Lastly this is where I have planted out most of the citrus trees and experimental compost gardens. As you can see, my love of pumpkins has somewhat skewed the contents of the compost buckets and thus I find myself loaded with free pumpkin vines that are all starting to produce large fruit. I am guessing they are the creamy skinned pumpkins that look like Queensland blues but with creamy yellow skin that I was buying not so long ago. I really like them so fingers crossed they stay true to type :)

As Mr Peter Cundall would say “That’s your bloomin’ lot this week folks!” I hope that our gardening endeavours have given you something to think about this week, even if it is just “Oh MY their gardens are messy!” ;).

 

And now we are five…plus 45 more…

Hi All,

It’s official. Stevie-boy turned 50 on Tuesday. He celebrated his day by helping a friend make a patio and had a very rich pie that was 2 days in the making with pastry (pate brisee) that could kill a lesser man (a ratio of almost equal proportions flour to fat) and a deceptively simple looking “cake” that contained 600g of chocolate. I figure he thought if he was going to hit 50, he may as well do it in style. He says he doesn’t feel a day older and he doesn’t look it either so he’s quite happy with achieving his half century mark.

 

Luxury pie

Luxury 50th birthday pie

It's not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

It’s not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz :)

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz :)

I had a request to post the recipes for the vegan brownies and the zucchini and lemon curd recipes from Yelana of the gorgeous food blog Cooking Melangery in a recent comment. Yelena shares food from her home country Russia but lives in the U.S. Her blog is amazing. Incredibly beautiful photography, wonderful recipes and Yelena herself is a wonderful person. I couldn’t resist! So here they are just for you Yelena :)

http://www.theyummylife.com/Zucchini_Brownies

http://www.food.com/recipe/zucchini-cream-130433

Note you really don’t need the butter in the zucchini cream recipe but it does add an authentic “curd” texture and taste to the recipe

I may as well go whole hog and share a recipe from Amy’s amazing blog Fragrant Vanilla Cake that is vegan, contains both zucchini and lemons and is absolutely scrumptious. Everything that Amy makes is amazing. If you like healthy, delicious food, go and have a look at Amy’s amazing site

http://fragrantvanillacake.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/vegan-zucchini-lemon-cake.html

It’s the middle of summer here in Australia and most of us are scratching our heads trying to work out what to do with zucchini’s so I thought that Yelena’s request might just be of benefit to some of you out there who are heartily sick of all things zucchini to find something else interesting to make with it.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them. First you stone and slice them

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

I often have serendipitous moments where something I have learned or researched suddenly pops into my head when I see something else. Today I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and noticed an article about a plant called Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). FINALLY I have a name for the plant that came up in the garden, all by itself and that keeps on keeping on no matter what. It moved into the “lawn” (along with the 2 blackwood saplings) and strutted it’s, not inconsiderable, stuff. It grew to almost 11 ft tall and I had a feeling that it was useful so rather than chop it down (or mow it…that’s what you are supposed to do with lawns isn’t it? ;) ) I let it go and now I dare say we are going to have a lovely mullein explosion on Serendipity Farm. I don’t care. I am in the process of letting my globe artichokes go to seed so that I can save some to share and sprinkle them all over the place. It’s the same thing that keeps me planting out little patches of Jerusalem artichokes in sheltered spots where the grazing wallabies can’t chew them down to the ground. I love food and herb plants that don’t need molly-coddling and that just get on with it in our long dry summers. Here’s an article about how valuable mullein is in our gardens…

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-mullein-verbascum-thapsus.aspx?PageId=1#axzz3Q3gqA8DR

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

It's a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around ;)

It’s a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around ;)

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don't take the plait out for 2 days ;)

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don’t take the plait out for 2 days ;)

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 :)

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 :)

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

Look what now lives at narf's house :)

Look what now lives at narf’s house :) Thank you SO much Stewart and Kelsey for picking it up and bringing it out for me

I am learning to appreciate “weeds” for their tenacity as well as their actual uses. Spear thistles are not just there to spike me mercilessly whenever I attempt to go down to the second garden (obviously I want to have a mental breakdown…), blackberries have many uses that their thorny angst would bely. Most of our common weeds are European edibles that we just see as pests. I think it’s important to know that “weeds” can also tell you about your soil conditions and tend to be the fixer-upperers of the soil web. Nature knows what she is doing, it’s just us that keep wanting to interject with our obviously superior wisdom ;)

 

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

It's a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

It’s a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

Curly kale and red Russian kale  babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven't bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

Curly kale and red Russian kale babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven’t bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live :)

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live :)

My moringa's growing like topsy

My moringa’s growing like topsy

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad's "beer orchid" and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad’s “beer orchid” and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This bit of the garden looks a bit more "normal" as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

This bit of the garden looks a bit more “normal” as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

It’s been a most wonderful week on Serendipity Farm. We had some rain and our temperatures are in the low to mid 20’s (celcius). Life has been very good to us in 2015. The rest of this blog post is going to be in comments. I hope you enjoy the garden and other images and can feel a bit of our lovely sunshiny summer in them. Have a scrumptious week. I am animating some sourdough starter that was sent to me by the amazing Ms Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (isn’t that a lovely name? :) ). Ms Celia’s sourdough is called Priscilla and we, the lucky recipients of little packets of Priscilla, were urged to incorporate something of her name in our new starters names. I decided that I wanted to take back sourdough baking in my kitchen this year. I have dabbled in sourdough before with very mixed results (vinegar brick loaves) so I needed a name for my new starter that was going to waylay my fears and give me a fearless attitude. I came up with Godscilla and hope that my starter lives up to it’s lofty name.

 

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce :)

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce :)

My pepino's have had lots of flowers but haven't set any fruit this year. It can't be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My pepino’s have had lots of flowers but haven’t set any fruit this year. It can’t be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying "thank GOODNESS!" ;)

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying “thank GOODNESS!” ;)

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job :)

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job :)

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year :)

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year :)

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that's a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape ;)

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that’s a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape ;)

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm :)

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm :)

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut ;)

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut ;)

 

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren't they gorgeous?

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren’t they gorgeous?

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren't partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren’t partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes :)

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes :)

Myer lemon futures :)

Myer lemon futures :)

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em'! ;)

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) growing up next to the chook yard beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em’! ;)

Steve's new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Steve’s new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Like this one

Like this one

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can't use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can’t use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking "urban degradation" shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to ;)

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking “urban degradation” shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to ;)

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad's place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can't be sure.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad’s place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can’t be sure.

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn't stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn’t stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the "Fans of Grassroots Magazine" page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! :)

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine” page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! :)

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them :)

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them :)

Part of the jungle we call a "garden" at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm :)

Part of the jungle we call a “garden” at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm :)

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! :)

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! :)

Here's my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! :)

Here’s my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! :)

And so we arrive at the end of another week on Serendipity Farm. So far, 2015 has been a glorious year and we have enjoyed it a lot. I will have hopefully had a go at spinning the alpaca fleece that I have sitting in my spare room by the next time we meet and I can show you what my efforts look like but I am not promising anything! Have a wonderful week whatever you are doing and wherever you are in the world. See you next week on Serendipity Farm :)

Dirt and how to tame it

Hi Folks,

Yeah, I know, I only posted a HUGE post yesterday so why is narf7 posting again…so soon…when we all know that she is completely allergic to posting any more than once a week? Well you see its all about the soil. NOT the bass (that is another, more humiliating post for when I am feeling less fragile about my bum and more proactive ;) ). You see soil is incredibly important. It’s not just the stuff that we tut-tut and keep trying to keep out of our homes, it’s not just something to walk on, it’s actually the medium for our survival and the mode in which all of our food plants are able to assimilate nutrients so that we, in turn, are able to assimilate the heck out of a burger or big salad. Soil IS important. It is vitally important and we all need to start treating it with the respect and attention that it so rightly deserves. Why is it that anything really important tends to get shuffled under the carpet (no pun intended ;) ) if a massive profit can’t be made out of it? There is no time for narf7 to get on her soapbox here, we all need to be thinking about how to give back to our soil to ensure a good future for our children and our grandchildren.

So how do we do this? Well composting is a good start. Not only are we reducing landfill but we are injecting our soil with new nutrients and giving the soil organisms something to tapdance about. Lay down the compost and the worms start to tango…dig in a bit of chook bedding with tasty manure and all kinds of insects move in and start to party. Your soil will be alive with happy microorganisms and that’s just the start. What about finding out if your soil is a bit unbalanced. Everything here on Serendipity Farm is unbalanced to a degree including the soil. Ours is acidic which is great for the blueberries, the azaleas and the rhododendrons but some plants just don’t like it here.

Our soil is sparce, is in between rocks and is tied up in massive yellow clay. In order to garden here and to get the most out of our soil we need to either dig our brains out or think smarter. We prefer the “smarter” option and when we use plants to do our hard work it’s a win-win situation all round. Did you know that comfrey, sweet potatoes and horse radish will dig your garden for you? Did you know that there are many weed species that have very deep root systems (everything has a silver lining) and did you know that many plants make their own nitrogen supplies in the ground and that you don’t have to always add a lot of nitrogen to get quality results in your veggie garden?

Social media has allowed us the dubious joy of being able to hunt for things for free. We don’t have to get out of our pyjamas to hunt down anything that we like but in the wealth of garbage and tweets and meme’s that we find our inboxes and Facebook pages crawling with these days there a little gems. Go hunting for something good for your soil today. You could start by heading over to Robbies gem of a blog and reading up everything that you can about soil as her garden is a splendiferous example of how you can turn “dirt” into life giving soil…

http://palmraeurbanpotager.com/

You can also learn to get your hands into dirt…plant a few veggies in some pots and watch them grow. See first hand how the food you eat needs good quality soil to grow and always try to get the least processed and damaging soil amendments that you can. Think smart folks, use what is free to mulch your soil. look after it. Our future depends on it!

One busy week deserves another

Hi All,

 

Last weeks picture post was apparently greatly appreciated by most people. I think I wrote a blog post in comments which seemed to suit everyone so I think I might just carry on with this kind of post for a while (till something better comes along and inspires me ;) ). Ms Rabid shared a pin with me this week that completely blew me away. We have a little groundcover growing on the desperately dry area between our driveway at the front of the deck and the first garden (lower down). Every year it survives with the odd squirt from the hose and keeps spreading. I just found out from Ms Rabid that it is actually a form of creeping groundcover raspberry called Rubus pentalobus. You learn something every day! Mine flowers but hasn’t ever set fruit and the conditions that the poor plant is living in I am not surprised. Guess who is going to take lots of cuttings and care for it and fertilise it and plant it ALL OVER THE PLACE now that I know that it has value in a permaculture garden other than holding the slope together in the arid conditions that we call “Summer” here. What a valuable little plant! :) Ok, lets get into it then…what has happened since last Wednesday…

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it's what she was talking about and here's the blog post that backed me up... http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it’s what she was talking about and here’s the blog post that backed me up… http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

 

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

We didn't disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise...

We didn’t disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise…

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here's what it looks like now

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here’s what it looks like now

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve's new shed bin.

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve’s new shed bin.

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn't come out when it is filled

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn’t come out when it is filled. Steve found a thick plastic lid and cut a circle out of it

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn't have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs ;) ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that's not why I bought him...

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn’t have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs ;) ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that’s not why I bought him…

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny.

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny. Sometimes it pays to go to the tip shop :)

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me...I am a lightweight ;) ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me…I am a lightweight ;) ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

More zucchini's from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

More zucchini’s from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev :)

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev :)

2 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these...

3 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these…

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary's entrance last week...

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary’s entrance last week…

A few scratches later and we were left with this...

A few scratches later and we were left with this…

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called "Fans of Grassroots Magazine". I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called “Fans of Grassroots Magazine”. I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it's new support structure

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it’s new support structure

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;)

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;). I am reading a Patricia Cornwall novel here. I love a good forensic crime novel.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?!

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?! Stevie-boy is going to dig it up and move it. I doubt it will be so lucky after another 14 tonnes gets dumped on it…

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going...

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going…

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here's a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here’s a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place :)

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place :)

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that's our flag folks! :)

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that’s our flag folks! :)

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches...

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches…

She then had a bit of a swim ;)

She then had a bit of a swim ;)

Steve took this photo on today's walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

Steve took this photo on today’s walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo. The person who lives in this house has several brightly coloured unusual items artistically displayed in their garden and Steve liked this door in particular

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn't intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn’t intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

Here's my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won't send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

Here’s my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won’t send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting. Stevie-boy took this photo from the dry glasshouse while I was out in the rain

 

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won't show you the back of my pants ;)

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won’t show you the back of my pants ;)

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of indigo seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them.

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of Moringa seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them. There are more moringa’s germinating every day so I will just let them grow a bit till I pot them up.

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm :)

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm :)

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk...

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk… I am not holding out much hope for my poor strawberries once I get around to replanting them in here ;)

Isn't this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Isn’t this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat japonica when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests :)

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests :)

 

So that was our week folks. Pretty full on and we did, and accomplished a whole lot in this time. I hope that you all spent your time productively and enjoyably. I am off to cook a bechamel sauce for a lasagna that I am making Stevie-boy for his dinner tonight. He turns 50 on Tuesday, the day after Australia Day, so he will get an extra special dinner on that night and a very scrumptious cake. See you all next week and whatever you are doing, do it well. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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