The colours of Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

I was going to be very clever and give you a bit of a different style of post today. I have a delightful constant reader called Katie who has an amazing blog. She does everything that I admire! She takes awesome photos, she has the most scrumptious artistic ability to match colour and texture and flavour all together with good humour AND the girl can garden, make her own cosmetics and can keep her posts concise and beautiful! Head on over to check Katie out and marvel at her icecream palettes and her glorious ability to make me want to eat her photographs.

I thought that I might give you all a palette for spring on Serendipity Farm. I headed out with my trusty camera and the will to succeed. “If Katie can do it…I can do it!”…I came back a broken woman. It turns out the colours of Serendipity Farm in the spring run to chook poo green, mud brown and angst ridden overwhelmed dull red. The kind of red that is muted at the moment but that might just flare up into full blown pillar box waving a rag at a bull red in a moment! I decided to forget colours and head over to textures…they turned out to be equally as “delightful” with the texture of oozing wet mud predominate with hints of the aforementioned chook poo dotted about and plenty of unhindered slug and snail trails assisting in the overall look. Never one to give up easily I headed for the last bastion of the photographer and went hunting for flavour…I gave up as I dejectedly did a panorama of Serendipity Farm drenched in torrential rain, bathed in fog and flattened by saturated new growth and a herd of rampaging chickens hell bent on destruction. Serendipity Farm in the spring is not to be held in artistic esteem folks…it is to be regarded with terror! That’s why Steve and I are bums up, heads down effecting change as fast as we can and it’s why I have a new respect for people like Katie who can take what nature throws us and make it look delightful, wholesome and downright tasty! You get massive kudos from this amateur photographer whose muses only run to words and can’t comprehend the reason for me wanting to share our vision for Serendipity Farm. If you are a “Normal Girl” Katie, goodness only knows what I am! 😉

See these nice healthy azalea bushes that are just about to flower? Last year, when we cleared out this garden under the deck, we hacked the living daylights out of the old gnarled up overgrown half dead azaleas and were so tired at the end of our efforts in the hot sun that we had no energy left to remove the stumps. We left them there and promptly forgot about them. Nature didn’t forget about them!

And they are all growing back! 😉

This is an unusual grevillea. I haven’t seen this before, it has greeny/blue flowers and very large leaves. If anyone knows what this grevillea is please let me know!

I am on a mission. I have been researching water wise, self-seeding perpetual plants that will take to living in Serendipity Farms less than stellar soil right here, right now. I am not going to be stupid and pretend that the soil is going to suddenly become AMAZING overnight. It is going to be a hard fought battle but we WILL win! It’s just that we will win slowly and I want ground cover now! I discovered, from personal observation that salvias seem to have a wonderful range of xeriscape plants that tolerate a myriad of terrifying conditions. Overall, we are lucky on Serendipity Farm. We get a long dry summer but it isn’t usually that hot, and despite it being pretty cold in winter, we rarely get a frost in the morning and even then it’s minor. Salvias offer us a solution to quite a few of our problems. Most of them are adventitious growers with fast growth rates and most of them are perennial and like to hang about for a bit and grow back year after year. I know that they will do well here because there were some clinging tenaciously to life sans care and attention for the last 20 years so bring on the salvias!

This poor old Philodendron had languished in a pot that was dissolving around it on the deck for 20 years with very sporadic watering. It had send out enormous feeder roots in search of water and we decided to liberate it into the soil of Serendipity Farm. It’s already looking happier 🙂

There might not be much of this azalea but what there IS is very pretty

Another pretty azalea in the side garden

Nat, of Polytechnic fame and if I have my way, garden design fame, has a love of salvias that spread to me when we were attending Polytechnic in our earlier years. Nat is a natural garden designer. What she isn’t naturally happy with AutoCAD. That makes you a normal human being by the way Nat. NO-ONE who understands and is comfortable with using AutoCAD is normal! I couldn’t have completed my Diploma of Horticulture without Steve coaching me constantly and soothing my desire to throw the entire desktop computer, monitor AND desk over the deck on a regular basis. I made it, but just…I am NOT a natural garden designer. This doesn’t come easy to me and I have to ponder over books, think about it fiercely and give it my utmost attention and when you know me, you know that I am easily distracted, especially when something bores me. If you interest me, I will give you my all…I will research you into the night and I will peer myopically at the computer screen in oblivious rapture for days…for weeks…for as long as it takes to gather all of the information that I need to get going with the project. But if you can’t interest me I am a petulant child. I am borderline with garden design. Nat has a magnificent garden. The kind of garden that makes me drool. I wander about in her small but perfectly proportionate garden and want to hug her shrubs that all look so vibrant and healthy that she must have Peter Cundall AND Costa living under them ready to offer advice whenever she sets foot out into the garden. Stop blushing Nat, you KNOW I am telling it like it is, you are just one of life’s modest people. I am not. Your garden is gorgeous, sensual AND I envy it. There…I said it! Our friend in the witness protection (a long-time friend of Nat) AND I envy it! (Misery loves company ;)). We have an image of Nat’s gorgeous garden in our minds and it would seem that nothing we do gets us any closer to that beautiful vista. In our defence, the native wildlife seems hell bent on removing more vegetation than we can plant and our soil is ancient and old and twice as wrinkly and denuded as Nat’s fertile plot. Nat has a lot less area to work with and more drive than I could harness to a truck. Nat, I salute you! You are indeed one of those “natural gardeners” that I read about all of the time. Envy and kudos is enough for now…I am going to slither off and stand on my deck and look out to the river and imagine that one day someone might turn up and see more than devastated and mangled gardens that look like a re-enactment of the Vietnam War recently occurred here complete with Agent Orange.

Flowers aren’t all that is growing on Serendipity Farm. In the next few days Effel Dookark will be a mum again

A picture of Fatty doing his morning callisthenics

My road find, a silicone bowl scraper. No idea why one of these would be laying on the ground miles away from nowhere but its mine now! 🙂

Talking about our friend in the witness protection, she has now purchased a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo to assist her with creating a reign of terror to marauding wildlife on her 50 acre bush property. I salute you my comrade in arms! She gave up any vestiges of instant garden gratification after the first few waves of “creatures” scarfed her carefully planted purchases and now battles with everything that comes within arm’s length including this flamingo that she bought from K-Mart (if any of you feel the need to race out and purchase a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo, knock yourselves out!). You have to admire her tenacity and her spirit…she is a true Valkyrie gardening warrior! I can’t bring myself to decorate Serendipity Farm with hanging soft toys in various stages of decomposition. I live right next to the Auld Kirk Church graveyard and there is something seriously disturbing about someone dangling effigies of ex cuddly and fluffy toys adjacent to hallowed ground. I also have a natural aversion to anything garish in the garden. I hope that doesn’t make me a garden snob. I am not desperate enough to resort to fluffy toys. Should the possums ever get that bad I will purchase a 30 metre long thick piece of metal chain and will tether Earl to the grafted maple garden and teach those possums a lesson that they will NEVER forget! Steve is walking Earl today to give Bezial (a.k.a. fatty Lumpkin’s) a bit of a rest.  That means that Bezial and I can trundle at our leisure through the garden and I can get my pedal to the metal up to my armpits in flying forget-me-nots while Bezial wanders around the grounds with impunity threatening no-one and exploring to his heart’s content.

Still getting heaps of mushrooms from our free mushroom compost and more to come!

And here are is the days egg haul. Looks like Steve is having a delicious mushroom omelette for tea

Here’s our heavily fortified little self pollinating almond tree ready to do battle with the possum marauders. It has 15 tiny little baby almonds on it so far

Forget-me-nots begone! Well “lay low and forget about any virulent activity for the foreseeable future if you know what’s good for you!” Steve has whipper snipped the teatree garden area and rendered it forget-me-not flat. I pulled out forget-me-nots from around the stinky purple lilies, the enormous arums and the persistent agapanthus that I have come to hold a grudging like for now that reality gardening is on the cards permanently on Serendipity Farm. I planted out some of the smaller plants in the side garden. It still looks like Armageddon in the morning BUT it is Armageddon with possibilities (and the odd twig starting to branch up). I planted out all of my lavender’s, my pentstemons and a few other scruffy looking things that have survived against the odds and have thus qualified for rehousing out in the soil. I should put a sign up at the gate with something like “Serendipity Farm…a home for waifs and strays” because that’s what we have here and most of them have attitude and are slightly skewed much like the present owners. I found a really good sign on Facebook the other day that said “Ring the bell…if no-one answers pull some weeds”…that’s my kind of sign and I feel a wood burning event coming on in the near future! For now, I have to head back out into the garden with Steve to plant out some of his trees. Our new creed is “not in our lifetime” so good luck Stewart and Kelsey, some day you are going to inherit giant redwoods, enormous Bunya nut trees with 5kg fruit dropping in season and all sorts of weird and wonderful grottos and groves that eventuated because your parental units got tired of thinking about where to put things and just “bunged them into the ground”…I dare say we just got drummed out of the landscape designers confraternity and it’s all going to come back and haunt us some day but for now we don’t care…get them into the ground!

Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” that will one day be magnificent stretched out along the front of the deck

The Cedrus that we just planted and our other little conifers that are going nuts in the soil out of their pots.

$8 well spent methinks!

It’s not often that I have 87 photos to choose from when I am just about to post. That should give you a bit of an idea how busy we have been on Serendipity farm over the last 3 days. On Friday we stopped working in the garden to get gussied up and head into town to our illustrious leaders Landscaping Expo. We left 2 sulking dogs, one of them hell bent on destruction (once the sulking wore off) and after battening down the house (or those pieces of it that said dog was likely to destruct…) we headed out into the cold cold snow. Well…I may be overemphasising the snow bit but it WAS cold…and raining…when we got to town we discovered that we had been forgotten on the list of people to tell (those who mattered…are you feeling guilty enough yet Nat? ;)) that the expo had been cancelled! Bollocks! Oh well, no use crying over spilt landscaping expo’s so we made the most of it, bought pizza, sweet potatoes and purple carrots, a bottle of Guinness (a man’s gotta have SOMETHING when he has just driven all the way to town and back for bugger all) and a $1 all you can stuff bag of toys for the dogs to mass destruct from the thrift shop behind the Polytechnic that we attend on the odd occasion that someone remembers that we are coming… and we picked up a couple of plates as well. I LOVE thrift shops. They make me smile. I love fossicking about in bargain bins and hunting out stellar bargains that someone else foolishly discarded. When we got the boys bag of toys out to hurl into the maniacally happy crowd (good stress release to diffuse separation anxiety and stop us from being pounced into next Tuesday by heifer dogs who are VERY excited to see us home) I noticed a little smiley plush weighted flower…now I don’t know about you, but I was seriously addicted to the game “Plants and Zombies” and this little fellow looked just like one of the flowers from the game! That plus it was weighed…bright colours…cost the better part of about 5c and would make a HECK of a mess if I gave it to the boys to destruct so I decided to keep him. His name is Herman. He reminds me to smile and he is a constant reminder to Earl that the ones with the opposable thumbs who can place things out of dogs reach rule the world!

What my desk looks like at the moment. A mass conglomeration of seeds, books, C.D.’s and “misc”. Still don’t need glasses! 😉

The almond trees label, the rock melons and mini watermelon seeds and my ever present notepad and pen for “ideas” and Steve’s coffee and Earls back scratcher.

Herman smiling for the camera 🙂

We walked the boys up an enormous hill today just because we could. A year ago…indeed 6 months ago, I couldn’t have walked up this hill inside an hour because I would have been constantly having to stop on the threat of a mild heart attack coming on, but today I just walked up the hill without stopping and without breaking a sweat. On the way back down the hill after a brief detour to look at a MASSIVE edifice that someone is erecting to the thickness of their wallet overlooking the water I noticed something on the floor and after picking it up discovered that it was a silicone bowl scraper! I have wanted one for a while and haven’t justified its specialised worth to myself but now I have one, sterilised in boiling water and stuck on my magnetic knife rack because some wise monkey decided to put a bit of metal inside it so it would stay where you bend it. Bring on the wet dough’s! Bring on hand action to rival Masterchef U.K.! I can now say that my desire to make pastry has moved one step closer to regular. We also had a look at the lady at the top of the road’s little plant stand. She sells plants all of the time for $2 and I noticed a few little babies that I would like to add to my in ground population. When we arrived home we drove back and bought 2 lilies’ of the valley (1 about to flower), a miniature pink Japanese anemone and a blue corydalis and after we planted out our little almond tree in the middle garden and Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” we planted them out as well.

I think Steve is working on his busking routine…cute…but NO-ONE is going to pinch either his guitar or his hat full of money! 😉

Earl loves sitting in Steve’s guitar room with him when he is playing. Especially when he is playing LOUD! Bezial slinks off outside to save his ears but Earl is right there in the thick of it.

I think Earl has settled down for the afternoon…pity Steve wants to put his guitar back in its case 😉

We found a few packets of annual flower seeds that we had collected and decided that we would scatter them around in the middle garden. While we were at it, we headed out and had a look in the shed to see if we had any other seeds and found a large bag of all kinds of seeds that were mostly out of code and that we had collected en mass when we were attending our horticulture courses at Polytechnic. We figured that the worst that can happen is that the chooks eat the seed so we scattered all sorts of things all over the place. If half of them grow we are in trouble! I have a few plans for making “things” out of plastic bags. I am not too sure what kind of “things” but all I know is I am tired of feeling guilty for throwing the bags out into landfill. A friend gave me some dishcloths that a friend of hers had crocheted using cut up supermarket bags and that gave me an idea. I have seen hats, shoes and bags made out of plastic bags and I found a pattern for making “Plarn” on Instructables the other day. Plarn is plastic yarn that is perfect for making all sorts of crafts with and for repurposing plastic bags. I noticed pumpkins growing in the compost heap the other day and am going to transplant them (along with some of their precious compost) into specially formed mounds situated in the outside chook run. We also found some mini watermelon seeds and some rockmelon seeds that we had bought previously and are going to give them a go as well. There is something manic about spring that just carries you along with it. I have been getting up at 5am for a few days now and am just about used to it. I feel tired at 8pm but the trade-off is that I get 2 hours to myself at the beginning of the day. The ultimate trade-off is that next Sunday morning I WON’T be tired! I just noticed that I am back up to my usual post size! I tried people…I tried hard. I stifled my posts natural angle of repose and ended up losing the battle. That’s my way of saying I am finishing up here for the week folks. Have an interesting rest of the week and don’t sweat the small stuff because deodorant is getting expensive!

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jodi
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 21:27:26

    What kind of mushrooms are those? We recently started going on foraging walks and are sooo reluctant to pick mushrooms!


    • narf77
      Sep 29, 2012 @ 22:26:33

      We were given 6 bags of spent mushroom compost for picking a friend up 20 bags in our trailer. We left them sitting and they have grown us 7kg of mushrooms so far and are not showing any signs soon of stopping. Mushroom compost is the medium that commercial mushroom growers use to grow their mushrooms on. They harvest the compost once and after that they consider it not worth waiting for repeat harvests of lesser quanitites and so sell off the mushroom compost for use in gardens. We got mushrooms AND compost for free! We have decided that we will buy mushroom compost for our garden from now on and we won’t have to pay for mushrooms again :). They are common field mushrooms sold as button mushrooms in the grocery store but if you let them keep growing they can get enormous! The taste delicious and are the same mushrooms that you buy in the shop 🙂


  2. foodnstuff
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 12:26:32

    I think your photos are pretty darn good! I loved Fatty doing his morning calisthenics and hope that Effel’s babies aren’t going to be his morning tea. Earl in the guitar case is looking pretty contented and oh, those mushrooms. I’m green with envy!


    • narf77
      Sep 30, 2012 @ 15:21:37

      We had so many mushrooms that we dehydrated a whole heap of them. Now I have mushroom futures ;). We have been furiously planting things and starting to sort out what we do and don’t want to keep out of our massive nursery of plants that we amassed. The thing about 2 of you being passionate about the same thing is that there is no-one to stop you indulging…we were like 2 alcoholics on a bender for a couple of years…we woke up sober and covered in plants! Now we have to sort out what we are going to do with them all whilst making sure that our edibles are our first priority. It’s all so complicated! Effel is wandering around at the moment protesting at the advances of Big Yin so I don’t even know if her 2 eggs (we checked when she was off) are going to hatch but she managed to hatch out 14 last time with her “interesting” motherly habits. I dare say Fatty will scarf most of the babies that arrive on Serendipity Farm and whose mums try to raise them outside the coop but that’s life. I would say “live and learn” but we BOTH know that chooks are scatterbrains and “FOOD”…”HELP!” and “FOOD” (again) are their creed. Cheers for the comment Bev, I love getting feedback about the blog and I love giving other people feedback as well. That’s what occupies my 2 hours in the mornings when I am up on my own 🙂


  3. Kym
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 23:53:31

    Well you guys have been busy bees! I love Earl in the case 🙂 I laughed when you mentioned the bamboo in the last post, I was thinking be careful what you wish for, remember those forget me nots lol


    • narf77
      Oct 01, 2012 @ 05:17:50

      Yeh but bamboo has benefits…forget-me-nots have none! We have bamboo down in the garden that doesn’t do much aside from sit there looking majestic. Bamboo doesn’t go as crazy where its temperate and we get cold over winter. I have one bamboo (blue) that hates not being wet. I am going to have to renovate that slimy pond that Earl emerged from when he was a pup looking like the blog and stinking like something from the crypt so that the bamboo can have somewhere to call home 🙂


  4. christiok
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 02:15:24

    The color of that azalea means spring to me! We used to live in a house that was owned by an active member of the Rhododendron Society here in the USA, and there were hundreds (it was a 2-1/2 acre property) of rhodies and they were gorgeous. Not good for goats, though, so we don’t have any here, but they grow here very well. I’m also envious of your mushrooms, Fran. I dry them, too, and put them in soup all year. I love the pictures of Steve and Earl. Steve is a doll, by the way. And the family portraits that you took and posted on FB were the first real full shots of you that I’ve seen, Fran, and you are truly beautiful. Your eyes are the bluest I’ve ever seen, and I can see why you can hike the Cliffs of Insanity now, you are a lean, mean machine.:) We’re getting 5 minutes darker each day now, and have put a light on a timer in the chook coop for a couple of hours in the evening with hopes we’ll continue to get eggs. Our eggs, brown and green, look just like yours. Now if we can just get mushroom compost…:) Hugs from Olalla!


    • narf77
      Oct 01, 2012 @ 05:34:33

      Thanks for your lovely reply Christi, you always make me smile 🙂 The cliffs of insanity were no problemo to go up but we were both worried that we would be skiing to the bottom because of the recent rains and the boys enthusiasm! I am not a great flower person but I do appreciate the efforts that the rhododendrons and azaleas put in to brighten the place up. I guess the same reason that makes them bad for goats has allowed them to survive here… no possum or wallaby or rabbit attacks! The mushrooms were a trial. I had a lady tell me to buy a mushroom farm and I thought “why not see if anything grows from these free bags of mushroom compost?”. I could see lots of white thread like mycellium in the bags and as we hadn’t paid for the bags and didn’t really have a plan for them yet, I figured that we could let them rest and see what happened. 7kg of mushrooms later and they are still producing! What I really like about the process is that we can eat them small (like you get them in the shops) or, like we do, you can let them get larger and have them almost plate sized and they are richer with a much more pronounced mushroom flavour (and there is more of them!). They grow really fast as well and its funny to check them one day and the next they have doubled in size.
      Steve’s head is already too big Christi, don’t make the poor man have to deflate it whenever he has to go through doors! 😉 We wanted to take real pictures so even though I cringed at the wrinkles I figured “Bollocks! I certainly earned them!” so Steve’s grey beard and my wrinkles are right there for everyone to see. I have an honesty policy where if you don’t like what you see…bugger off! ;). It might be spring but most of our girls have gone clucky and we are getting about the same amount of eggs that we got through winter! Check around for a commercial mushroom grower in the phone book. They can only use their compost once and have to get rid of it. Unless they are selling it to a market gardener en mass, you should be able to buy bags or even better, trailer loads of it (cheaper that way… we can get a heaped trailer load for $20). If you spread it as mulch around your plants you have the added bonus that the mycellium keeps going and you often end up with plants AND shrooms…without even having to go hunting in the paddocks :). Hugs right back atcha from Sidmouth Chrisi :). And give The Bearded One a cuddle as well…can’t have him missing out on the love. Steve is in bed being cuddled by the dogs so he won’t mind our threesome lol 😉


  5. Katie Glenn
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 05:01:25

    Oh my goodness! I am SO flattered!! 🙂 Thank you for the lovely compliments, you are too sweet and I’m sure your photos came out better than you give yourself credit for!

    The philodendron looks happy and the azaleas are beautiful. They are one of my favorite flowers and I just love how they suddenly burst into bloom! I just did a post for pasta that has mushrooms in it, might be another way for you to go through some of your bounty. 🙂

    P.S. Earl looks adorable in the guitar case!


    • narf77
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 05:46:44

      You have a beautiful blog and I was just sharing the love :). Cheers for the mushroom post! It’s really pertinent to our glut. I have been dehydrating them and storing them for future use and last night I made a delicious miso style soup with lots of fresh mushrooms and cloud ear mushrooms that was fantastic! Our poor azaleas suffered from our overenthusiastic hacking when we were trying to dig them out! We thought that they wouldn’t recover from their severe haircuts and decided to eliminate them. We were too tired (it was a very hot day when we “pruned” them lol) to try to dig them out and we ended up just leaving the stems thinking that they were dead and we could just haul them out with the 4 x 4 when they died off…they weren’t dead and they are all coming back with a vengeance! I don’t eat pasta BUT I do eat rice and beanthread noodles and I am sure that I could apply your mushroom recipe to other pasta. Earl has the ability to look incredibly cute. He is a real sweetie who lays upside down with his gangly legs all over the place giving us “Awwww” moments apleanty BUT he has a bit of a naughty streak and yesterday he almost dispatched a broody hen that was sitting on eggs right next to the glasshouse! She survived (in a very feisty way!) and we discovered that she has chicks! It never stops on Serendipity Farm! 😉


  6. bakermom
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 07:23:43

    My comment dissapeared and I wasn’t even finished! Well, loved your post as usual. Loved the bits of color you found lurking about. And the mighty mushrooms. Too tired to repeat lost comments. Take care…


    • narf77
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 12:36:31

      I hope you are feeling less tired today. I HATE it when my comments disappear and especially when I have done a long one and have to remember what pithy sentiments I just pondered over! At least it’s not just me that these blogs hate ;). We have more mushrooms coming on and are still harvesting. Sorry you had to live through 100F heat. I think I would have still been glued to the tiles panting right next to the dogs fighting for the cool bit near the shower 😉


  7. Sincerely, Emily
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 12:20:15

    I Love the colours of Serendipity Farm. Especially the colours of mushrooms. I am hoping to pick up some mushroom compost for the garden in hopes of a few mushroom volunteers. I might even bring some inside to see what happens. Love your bowl scraper find too. NICE!


    • narf77
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 12:39:17

      My friend in the witness protection buys lots of mushroom compost and tosses it around her plants as mulch. She has been pulling out the mushrooms thinking that they were poisonous! Sigh…to think that we both went through cert 2 and 3 in horticulture together and that she works in the industry! 😉 I love my bowl scraper too. I haven’t attempted any bowl scraping as yet as I am too busy trying to cobble together some costing and timelines for our lecturer in a vain effort to pretend that we did something this school holidays. He is pretty clever and might be onto us! I bet all he did was surf on the coast for all of HIS holidays…mutter…back to the pricing and the mushrooms 🙂


  8. rabidlittlehippy
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 10:43:36

    Oh I am soooo jealous of your almond tree. Mine was atacked by marauding children who picked all bar 5 of the 30 plus almonds growing on it. DEVASTATED I tell you.
    As for ground cover, have you thought of going all native? Hardenbergia, otherwise known as Happy Wanderer is a stunning creeper that will climb fantastically too and being an Aussie native, it will be well used to the poor soils of Australia.


    • narf77
      Oct 26, 2012 @ 05:07:39

      We have a lot of natives on Serendipity Farm… probably an entire tribe of them (most likely Pygmy) living in the bit that we haven’t managed to clear yet but our ethos is to produce as much as we can that is edible for ourselves and the local natives (in a vain attempt to disuade them from scarfing our precious water loving annual veggies 😉 ). I have been relocating the native raspberries into pots and am ready to make a Hugelkultur garden bed to plant them in along with their own trellis to go nuts on. They are much smaller than regular raspberries with teeny little fruits BUT the fruit is amazingly sweet and fragrant and they are great ground covers. I am putting herbs all over the place, especially oregano and thyme because they keep on keeping on which is what we are after. We want to cover as much bare soil as we can for this coming summer season and then our plants will have grown sufficiently to allow them to cover a good percentage of the ground. Once we get our chook pen embiggered (now THERE is a word!) we can minimise our chook population (giving away NOT culling) and keep it down to a core of about 15 including Big Yin our boy. I can then keep mulch on the gardens…what a luxury! Once mulch stays put the garden will be happy. Tassie has a much cooler summer than the rest of Australia but I get the feeling that where you are may be quite cool as well? At the moment we are working flat out in trying to complete our Diploma in Landscape design whilst taking advantage of the short growing season and whacking in veggie gardens for the first time and its a juggling act almost akin to yours with moving and your childrend etc. In fact, the main reason that we recently put in our first series of garden beds was thanks to you! I said to my poor long suffering husband Steve…”babe… if this lady can do it with everything on her plate… WE CAN!”…so we did :). Cheers for the spur on in the right directions 🙂


      • rabidlittlehippy
        Oct 26, 2012 @ 08:36:42

        We all have our own plates so to speak. lol

        Yes, we are cold climate where we are moving to so at the moment I have spuds which I took a risk on (paid off 😀 ) and bean seeds which need mulching. I dreamed all night about planting pumpkins last night so reckon that’s the plan for the weekend, along with fencing and digging out the chook pen location.

        One of the reasons I manage to get it all done is because the children can free range to a degree in the garden. And when they want to be cling ons, they attack my husband. 😉 Jas is also starting to help somewhat which is huge. He helped me plant the bean seeds and held the wires for lashing the fence to the poles. He is fast becoming a very big help that we can’t be without. Not bad for 4 hey.

        If ever I am down your neck of the woods I am so popping in for a visit and a cuppa (self inviting much 😉 ) as I reckon we have a LOT to chinwag about. I’ll bring some sourdough and we can go from there. 😛

      • narf77
        Oct 27, 2012 @ 05:21:57

        We would love to see you 🙂 I dabbled in sourdough but Herman is currently sitting dehydrated on the pantry shelf thinking about his lack of actions…I tried SO HARD to do the sourdough thing! All I got was vinegar bricks…I could have built your chookhouse for you out of them and NOTHING would eat it (including the chooks…I know…I tried mine 😦 ). Jas is showing you that kids are resilient and that the country life is an amazing life for kids. I spent my formative years living feral on 100 acres in Denmark Western Australia that bordered a large sea inlet. It made me who I am “inside” if you get what I mean and it gave me my questioning mind, my curiosity and thirst for knowledge and a strong urge to find out what life was really about. Your kids are going to love it! :). Well done on the spuds…I have a couple that I must have missed in last years pathetic haul. I planted about 6kg of seed potatoes and got about 1kg of miniscule spuds back. The soil here is volcanic, ancient and chock-a-block FULL of rocks. We have to make raised beds. I do have a magnificent spuddy specimen growing out of the side of my compost heap. My gran always told me that you can grow potatoes from potato skins. Just dig a trench and strew the skins in and you are more than likely to get spuds growing (so long as you took enough spud “meat” with them when you peeled them that is). I thought that my gran was crazy along with my grandad (although grandad DID say that he saw aliens on the inlet…) but now I look back with hindsight that woman was a pioneer! Grandad dug enourmous trenches in the back (almost pure river sand) block and buried vegetable scraps and green waste 6 feet deep. The whole back block must be like Terra preta now! Gran grew herbs way back when that was strange and had all sorts of weird and wonderful plants in her garden for medicinal uses. She once “bought” a wart from me by paying me 50c and rubbing the wart with a piece of steak (lucky wart!) and burying the steak. The wart disappeared completely. I think my gran was magic ;). Anyway, have a fantastic time plotting out your chook run. You have singlehandedly managed to make us active and we have built another (larger) complex of veggie garden beds to plant out today. I don’t know when this is going to stop but cheers for the wonderful motivation…we needed it! 😉

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Oct 27, 2012 @ 08:34:07

        Ok, I’ll bring a loaf of sourdough (or 2 – we eat nearly a whole loaf for breakfast) AND I will bring you enough starter to make a loaf AND for a continued starter. We shall have a bake fest. 😀 My first few loaves were edible… Just. Sort of a cross between a kitchen sponge and a brick but they tasted great. Having a stupid oven that resets itself (including switching itself off) at random and frequent intervals means I am just as likely to turn out something raw in the middle as I am to burn it to the level of a barbecue briquette. It’s just another reason I cannot wait to move – brand new oven!
        I know as kids our compost heap of spuds purely came from the picked off sprouts of spuds left too long in the pantry and from peelings. Our soil at Ballan is heavy clay so I discovered when trying to dig 2x 60cm deep post holes. Ghastly gluey black stuff that I had to scrape off the post hole digger using a spade! It would bake into awesome bricks though. Maybe I should bake adobe bricks for the chook shed instead. A couple of cubic metres of sand and twice as much compost wouldn’t go astray in getting that muck to function like soil should I tell you. Next year it will be raised beds but I had insufficient time and insufficient available muscle power to move the heavy hardwood sleepers I bought 18 months back for making raised beds at our current house. Next year my guns should be big enough to live the 3m lengths by myself though. 😉

      • narf77
        Oct 27, 2012 @ 19:24:37

        Does that clay crack in summer? Does it swell? If so, it’s reactive clay and you can add gypsum to it to help it break down. If it is massive, not reactive clay then gypsum won’t work. There are worse soils to have than clay and think about all of those wonderful pizza ovens and mud bricks you can make! I feel your pain with the work that you have been doing. I can hardly tap the keyboard even feebly (that word looks funny 😉 ) today after a marathon day in the garden planting out more veggies. Tomorrow is MINE! I do nothing…apart from the washing…making more dehydrated steak treats for the dogs…walking the dogs…getting up early to read my rss feed reader… who am I kidding! Tomorrow is just another day on Serendipity Farm! 😉 Have a great sunday 🙂

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Oct 29, 2012 @ 20:20:17

        To my surprise digging on the weekend I found our grapes area CHOCKERS with big fat juicy looking worms so the soil isn’t anywhere near as bad as first thought. The clay was very black and gluggy like but diesn’t seem to be too much on the surface. And it hasn’t seemed to swell, just baked hard in the sun.

      • narf77
        Oct 29, 2012 @ 22:06:45

        See if you can dig in some organic matter before summer sets it into porcelain! I know our soil gets rock hard too and we have yellow reactive clay 200ml down that you could make wonderful dams out of (if council wasn’t being prissy and charging us all for our dams now…mutter…). Can you get hold of any seaweed? Straw is great as well. How about some biochar? Slow burnt wood or garden waste resulting in some carbonised results dug into the soil is magic stuff. It’s just a matter of making sure that your clay doesn’t lock up your soils moisture and remains friable and loose for the worms and other microbugs to do their thang. That’s what we are in the process of doing…it’s a pity that our chooks are following in our footsteps most determined to undo our good/hard work!

  9. rabidlittlehippy
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 08:28:47

    I’m going to focus purely on our garden beds at the moment and fortunately there seems to be some reasonably friable soil on the surface of the black sludge. The rest of the garden will be targetted as we go but I just hope never to need to manually post hole dig down 60cm (or more) again which included 30-40cm into that evil gunk.
    Yes I read recently on the wonders of hardwood fire ash and I am hoping to score/swap/beg/steal 😉 a bucketload from friends who have a wood fired heater and plan on a wood fired stove too. And once we get our own heater installed… 😀


    • narf77
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 11:56:40

      Better than the ash is the charcoal. If you can get your husband to pee on it (you don’t have to watch lol 😉 ) and then put it through some compost it is absolutely AMAZING stuff for the garden. Check out Biochar online and see what I mean. The ash can lead to a few nutritional excesses if used too much. I read that in Hepburn Springs the cool temperate permaculture book by David Holmgren (or however you spell his name lol) and just stopped myself from covering the entire garden with it. I guess too much phosphate? Our soil is naturally acidic down here and rhododendrons and azaleas love it so we don’t want to mess about too much with it. I really am excited for you discovering your own little bit of paradise out in the sticks 🙂 That mud sounds like a kids paradise by the way…mud pies…mud covered/spattered happiness…get them making mud bricks for your adobo chook extension of the future 😉
      they could be drying over the summer 🙂


      • rabidlittlehippy
        Oct 30, 2012 @ 14:03:55

        He he he, I’ve already got my son weeing for me. lol As for the Hepburn Springs book, we’re 30 minutes from Hepburn Springs! We have our own mineral spring in Ballan but it’s a little to bland for my taste. I have a PH testing kit but haven’t yet used it to be honest.
        As for superadobe, it’s different to normal adobe as you use bags packed with dirt that has been strengthened with some cement in it and the bags form the bricks. Our clay will come well in handy for rendering it all though. 🙂
        As for our paradise in the sticks, we’re actually on that teeter totter edge between town and rural. Our block is on the outer edge of town but about 5-10 mins walk to the school and 10-15 to the shops. Best of both worlds and a great step up from a suburban 700sqm.

      • narf77
        Oct 30, 2012 @ 15:08:08

        I guess you are talking about earthbags? (The super Adobe…). I used the principal in a recent Sustainable Landscape Design for our lecturer…don’t know whether he liked it or not yet as he hasn’t gotten back to us about it yet. We live 50km away from Launceston out in the sticks on the river. Our 4 acres starts halfway up a steep hill and the back block is sheoak covered and it wends down to the bottom of the property which is just opposite the Tamar river that is covered in melaleucas so it shows you how steep our block is! We are trying to thrash it into some sort of permaculture shape but it keeps springing back into weedy with a chance of rocks…We live 5 minutes away from Beaconsfield where those miners were trapped if that puts it into any perspective for you and our property was once part of a 10 acre plot that belonged to the Anglican church and our next door neighbour lives in the old church manse. We live right smack bang next to the Auld Kirk Church and should the zombies ever come we are right! “Hallowed ground or bust guys!” ;). By the way…teeter totter isn’t as tasty as tater totter 😉

  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 15:45:17

    Next stop George Town! I’ve been to GT a few times and worked with the artist in residence there, Vince Brophy, from a few years back on the bicentenary CD. I don’t remember much about the surrounding area except that the Tamar valley and surrounds is beautiful (it was back in the days when I found the inside of the pub to be the most interesting sight). Now I know where you are though which is well cool. 🙂

    Steep block hmmm, tiers? Superadobe/earthbags might work for defining the levels… Ah, who am I to suggest. I’ve not studied this stuff and you have. Our block is on a slope too but only a small one. Enough to drain the rain into the creek is about all.


    • narf77
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 16:21:20

      At least you have a creek (I am starting to sound like the 4 yorkshiremen of Monty Python fame…”you were looky!” 😉 ). I don’t know much about adobe or earthbags but I did decide to use the principal on my lecturer. He may not recover and I might have finally tipped him over the edge as he hasn’t commented yet! We are contemplating trying to see if we cant get a small water reservoir dug at the bottom of the property to stop some of the cascading water running off into the Tamar over spring. It would be great to be able to keep some of it over summer when it very rarely rains here. I might have to get stuck in with the shovel myself! 😉


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