Well it has been an interesting week on Serendipity Farm that has seen my RSS Feed read of posts swell to 467 and I am not even breaking out in a cold sweat over it…looks like my need to control is if not broken, at least severely bent. It’s 4.17am and so far this morning I have answered a few emails, commented on last week’s post and spent some time pinning “green” things…I need to regularly head over to Pinterest in order to know what holidays are on the go at any given time and apparently it is almost St. Patricks Day? Not that I celebrate it in any way, shape or form but it’s a good excuse to pin Avocado recipes 😉
All that’s left of a large bag of nashi pears from an orchard around the corner from Serendipity Farm (lucky I have another one in the fridge…)
A photo that Steve took with his new camera phone. Not bad but when you start out with 40 megapixels the odds are you are going to get a nice clear image 😉
One of Earl’s guilty little pleasures…walnut munching. First he cracks the shell and then he chews out the meat and eats it.
So what’s narf been up to then? Well it’s more of the 3 steps forwards and 2 steps back when it comes to our running battle with the natives. The quoll appears to have been somewhat sedated by our concerted efforts to make our presence felt in its chosen area of slaughter. After last week’s mass slaughter of mums (a total of 4 😦 ) we set out to ensure that the quoll knew that there were bigger, more aggressive carnivores than it could have possibly imagined. Watching an episode of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s magnificent “River Cottage” where in order to dissuade foxes from eating his hens he urinated on all of his fence posts, we figured it was worth a shot and took Earl and Bezial down to the second garden area where we haven’t been in a while (thus the quoll felt safe in her activities) and let them go hog wild on every plant that was silly enough to be tall enough to be noticed…Steve even joined in on the action (with more enthusiasm than was called for to be honest) and has been “decorating” strategic poles and posts all around the garden. I would like to think he was being environmentally aware in his endeavours to use less water flushing the loo but I just think he is revelling in his feral alter ego and is enjoying urinating on everything and allowing his inner child some serious freedom…
In the spirit of complete transparency (and a complete lack of any “nice” images to share with you) I show you what Serendipity Farm has descended into…I call this image “jungle with roosters”
This is looking up at the bamboo and one of the large palms that flourish down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm where I had to venture today to see what the (stupid) escapee roosters were having a fit about. Never did find out but I decided to take some photos for you while I was incarcerated amongst the blackberries. Note the lovely enormous wild rose
This is the “down” view of that last image facing to the left. You can still see that enormous wild rose but you can also see a large dracaena and 2 very dead tree fern stumps
A bit more walking and you get to this lovely (dry and arid) vista. Dotted amongst the native trees are lots of camellias and other European exotic shrubs but if it is surviving down here, it is tough!
After doing a bit of research even I am in on the game. I have been collecting my own urine and watering it down and using it on the veggie garden. Why on EARTH are we flushing it down the loo?! A huge waste of water and all of that precious nitrogen being flushed out into our waterways to pollute our rivers and cause algal blooms when we should be treating it like the precious material that it is. The only problem is “collecting it”… it has been a most interesting week learning the best way to collect it and when to head out to the garden with it. I take 2 trips a day…one about midday up to the veggie garden with my precious cargo and the other at the end of the day after my final trip for the evening that benefits the side garden (too dark for that trip up to the veggies 😉 ). I realise that to some people reading this it might make them a bit squeamish to be thinking about peeing in a bucket and spreading it around the garden but you would be amazed how much living in the country and wrangling with nature on a regular basis can change you. I thought that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall was a bit extreme peeing on his fence posts but if it works DO IT! Using diluted urine in your garden is a win-win situation. We use worm wee…why not human? Hopefully I won’t be reporting back in a few weeks to tell you that I killed off my entire garden en mass. I am very enthusiastic about this venture 😉
An example of how some things do extremely well in our climate and some…not so well. The tall sapling at the front of this photo is a Brachychiton discolor that Steve and I grew from a seed that we bought on EBay from the Australian mainland. Every single one of these Brachychitons that we planted out earlier in the season has survived and flourished despite a complete and utter lack of care or water of any kind. The Japanese maple in the background (the one with the crispy beige leaves) didn’t fare so well. It is still alive and will probably go on to live long and prosper but it got hit quite badly with a complete lack of watering all summer long.
Both of these species are supposed to be tough and water wise. The half dead cornus at the front isn’t very happy but the taxus behind it is going great guns. It just goes to show that you just never know how something is going to behave until you plant it. You can get a good idea though by checking out what is growing well and flourishing in other gardens in your local area
Although this might not look like a very big shrub Steve can stand up underneath it. I took this image from the deck and this large cornus is usually a ground cover. This one has delusions of grandeur. It has housed feral chooks, feral cats, quolls and anything else that wants to hide up close and personal to the house. The tree next to it we call the lollypop tree. We had to crown lift the branches that were all dead and rather than remove the tree we decided to make it a large topiary of sorts
It finally rained! Not much more than to make the soil damp but it IS rain. There is more forecast for next weekend. I don’t believe the weather man anymore because he is a big fibber but I DO believe the claret ash at the end of our road that is turning an amazing shade of purple/scarlet and I do know that all of those green tomatoes on my poor tumbledown tomato bushes can’t POSSIBLY be allowed to ripen so rain/autumn here you come!
A prime example of enormous green tomatoes…one of many…
Carrots used in Steve’s evening meal last night. Apparently they were delish
More honest photos. The state of our side lawn (yup…we STILL haven’t cleared up the branches of that tree…). Isn’t that a magnificent weed? I have NO idea what they are but they have a very tall spike of small yellow flowers on them. I quite like it so it can stay 🙂
I decided to keep this little Cordyline australis that must have grown from a seed in this pot (the spiky thing)
Sorry about how dark this image is but notice that tall palm like thing in the background? That’s it’s mum 😉
I think I finally found where that pumpkin munching swine of a possum is getting in to my (almost) fully enclosed veggie garden. I headed up yesterday to water as I do every second day now and discovered MORE pumpkins chewed down to the stem…he/she selectively targets pumpkins growing on the perimeter of the patch and works their way inwards. Possums don’t really like walking around on the ground unless they are HUGE possums (which we have a few of) that can walk wherever they damned well please with impunity because NOTHING (short of an escaped Earl…) is going to touch them…they would rather leap from tree to tree and climb all over things like my wonderful puzzle of a veggie garden. Not only did I make them a garden full of delicious lush tasty things, but I gave them a fun play park as well! They spend their nights jumping up and down snapping off sunflowers, corn, yacon and chewing/snapping off any pumpkins that were foolish enough to think that they could climb. What they don’t jump on and snap, they urinate on so some days watering my veggie garden is a highly scented event. I was getting somewhat discouraged (to say the least) watering silverbeet stalks (obviously possums LOVE silverbeet…) and watching my promising pumpkin harvest get gnawed and guzzled bit by bit so yesterday, when I noticed that they had started on my squash, I was galvanised into some serious action.
Reasons why I am not keen on possums. This is what used to be a container of grape vines waiting to be planted out…
And this was a bed full of silverbeet…
This was a squash…
This was a pumpkin…
And they don’t confine themselves to a single specimen 😦
Using my possum knowledge (1. They are SWINES and 2. They like to climb and don’t like to be on the ground) I decided that I would head off around the perimeter of the veggie garden and would check for places where they could have forced their way into the enclosure. We have used several live trees in the construction of our veggie garden and these places are a natural weak spot for possum entry so I wandered around the perimeter checking out the trees and just around from the glasshouse area where we don’t tend to go I found, what I believe to be, the possum portal! It was big enough for a large fat hairy behemoth of a possum to fit nicely through…it had obviously been recently squeezed through as you could see possum grease (they are oily little critters) marking the netting and it was obviously well used (by the stretch marks) so Steve and I set about nailing it shut and making sure that if the possums do, indeed, get in again tonight, they are going to have to work hard to do so! “One step forward for narf7…queen to king, checkmate methinks possum!” (But I doubt we have seen the last of Mr oily possum…)
“Take THAT Mr Oily Possum!”
And this for good measure!
This is what he did to my yacon
But I am not so grumpy because the bit you eat is on the other end and that is buried in the ground
My wonderful sister Pinky (the keeper of our history) has been wading through boxes of “stuff” that my mum had kept including most of what my grandmother had collected over her lifetime and came across grans knitting needles. Pinky doesn’t knit and so she decided to package them up and send them to me along with several books on herbs and how to grow them and a couple of books on how to make fruit and “other” unusual wines. I know that mum used one of the little wine books a lot and made all kinds of homemade wines. Some of them will go down in posterity as “interesting” batches (including her potato wine 😉 ) but some were pure heaven like her rose petal wine. I unrolled my gran’s homemade knitting needle holder and as I tucked my own collection in next to her motley crew I felt a distinct connection to the past…a continuance that comes from lessons passed down and time spent learning and watching… gran despaired of my strange crocheting and how I held/hold my knitting needles. I guess it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day so long as you arrive at a point where you get “something” worthwhile (to you) for your efforts and I will use grans knitting needles with all the love and deference that they deserve 🙂 Thankyou Pinky!
A lovely slobbery dog fest for you all
Mica and Earl mentally discussing just who is going to take possession of that rubber bone
Earl rumbled with this large zucchini that I am going to give to Jan on Friday
Steve was given a most interesting electrical cable thingo yesterday. It was going to be thrown out but Steve being the clever clogs that he is, decided to kill 2 birds with one stone
1 bird – give Fran a gift that costs nothing but that will make her “SQUEE!” so bonus (cheap) points to Stevie-boy…
2 bird – recognise that this item could possibly be turned into a knitting loom, something that Fran has been hassling Stevie-boy to make her for quite some time now
This electrical cable thingo has a lot of possibilities but using the French knitting technique that knitting looms employ I recon I could make tube socks with this baby! All I need is to get hold of some nails to nail into the top of it and get French knitting…stay tuned…you just never know what I am going to make out of this recycling score…
How excellent is this? That hole in the centre is amazingly about the same size as a narf7 ankle so methinks I might be able to fluke making some tube socks with this baby (or it might end up in my failed crafts cupboard 😉 )
I actually managed to grow celery this year and I have carrots as well! Cheers to Jenny for forcing me to plant them all out in the first place or the garden would have consisted of tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkins that grew from the compost heap 😉 I am going to harvest a bunch of celery and a bunch of carrot thinning’s to make soup tonight. I will also bake some chilli cheese bread for Steve and will use my mashed potato idea to make sure it has a lovely moist crumb. I used some Dutch Cream spuds that The Garden Chook dug up just prior to her being rehoused in the chicken coop and a couple of carrot thinning’s from the garden yesterday in Steve’s evening meal last night. It is incredibly satisfying to actually be able to use something from the garden that you grew. As I mentioned, my silverbeet hasn’t been usable this year (apart from acting as a decoy to stop the possums from venturing further into the garden jungle and finding more pumpkins to scoff…) and I didn’t plant any spinach but over the next few weeks I am going to take a leaf out of Jess from rabidlittlehippy’s book and am going to start planting out garlic. I am going to give red onions a go this year and leeks and am going to attempt to grow kale again along with any other winter crops that take my fancy.
You know that song “One green bottle…”? Well this is “One green pear” (and there won’t be ANYTHING accidental about it falling I can tell you now! Mr Oily Possum is going to be mighty grouchy now that he can’t get into the enclosure any more and I reckon this pear has a very limited lifespan)
My pumpkin vines seem to think that it is absolutely fine to keep producing flowers and fruit. That’s AOK by me
One of about 10 pods that I actually found amongst the garden jungle and got to eat. They were delicious!
Just so you get an idea of how big these pumpkin vines actually are. Here’s a leaf…
And here’s a few more
This corn was grown from seed and did a whole lot better than last years corn seedlings
My yacon experiment has been a success in as much as the plants managed to stay alive. NO idea what is going on under that soil apart from noticing that my initial 2 stalks/plants have now spread to 7 stalks and are showing no signs of stopping there…the thing about experiments is that you just never know how they are going to work out. Jess and I have been ruminating about using straw bales inside glasshouses to insulate them over our colder winters. We don’t get frost here but Jess does in her home town of Ballan and using straw bales in glasshouses/greenhouses is a good way to insulate them thermally. Another great idea is to plant into the straw bales and we found a really good tutorial on planting out sweet potatoes into straw bales on Pinterest. I have a hankering to mess about with some rooty crops this year and want to try peanuts like Sarah the Gardener and yams. I realise that we aren’t tropical here in Tassie but we do have a long dry summer and so long as I can keep water up to the yams I can’t see why they wouldn’t at least give us ground cover to keep the moisture in the soil. Apparently Taro is an amazing plant and every part of the plant can be eaten…might be somewhere to start. Even if it doesn’t work out, it is a most interesting lesson to have a crack at 🙂
A gratuitous garden shot for Linne
One gratuitous garden shot deserves another…
I am starting to wonder if the early slime bombs that formed on my green zucchini vines were actually a result of blossom end rot because being the lazy narf7 that I am, I left the trimmed plants in the ground and they have been producing actual fruit now…don’t ask me why, I am only a novice veggie gardener
Every time I take an image of the garden I have to move further back. I am just about on the back wall of the enclosure to take this one
These flowers are going to provide me with seeds for what ended up being an ENORMOUS lettuce that spanned almost a metre once it went to seed
Turmeric happily ensconced in the glasshouse along with avocados and a banana
Those fig cuttings that I took a little while ago along with a tomato plant
The possum obviously doesn’t like green beans because he didn’t touch these scarlet runner beans that were in the silverbeet bed. His loss!
Another flower…it hasn’t stopped flowering all year!
Well it’s just on 5am and today I head off with Earl to meet Mica and Jan and walk around Sidmouth. Ever since we have been walking with Mica and Jan, Earl has settled down and has become a much more placid boy. Prior to expending his racing energy on hurtling around Jan’s enormous lawn with Mica in tow, he would have to expend his energy elsewhere like on our shoes and on poor long suffering Bezial, but now we get in and he gives Bezial a lick and lays down for the rest of the day in a sunbeam. After we get back in its breakfast time and after a bowl of fortifying buckwheat, date paste and sesame milk I have to get stuck into studies again. At the moment we are wading through acres of “research questions”. Research questions are the online lecturer’s way to ensure that we have at least been exposed to concepts. Whether we decide to learn anything or not from them is besides the by, we can’t say we didn’t get the opportunity to learn from them 😉
Another honest image. Note the colour of the “lawn” in the background and the lovely in situ dried flower arrangement that used to be a live hydrangea
The brown and crispy shrub in the front of this image didn’t make it over summer but that lovely bright green sapling is a Pistachio chinensis and the grass behind it is looking amazing. Guess who will be planting out lots of grasses next year?
The sheoak that we had to cut down inside the veggie enclosure has been growing a totally rad and gnarly hairdo dudes
The problem with answering research questions is that it takes SO long to find information that is accurate and pertinent. Most of what you find is sales material or outdated or completely biased and you have to try to find something worthwhile and usable in the enormous mountain of “words” that constitutes the internet. Occasionally I will strike a site that is pure gold. It has so much information that it spills into other questions that I need to answer and I do a narf7 happy dance around the kitchen. The biggest problem that Steve and I have with online studies is that it takes us twice as long as the average student to amass what we need because there are 2 of us. We need to turn in individual answers and so we need double the references, double the sources of information and double the searching through the rubble to find the golden nuggets of pure precious information. It also takes us twice as long to post our information, we have to keep logging in and out of blogs, school sites etc. in order to post/log in our information/assessments etc. and as we work from the same computer whenever we are instructed to “title your word document “X”” we have to get creative because we can’t sore 2 x “X” on one computer! I guess most people don’t attempt to complete online or even physical study courses with their spouses and having 2 of us plough our way through a course isn’t an average event.
That spiky plant in this image is an Araucaria bidwillii. We grew it from a seed and he has 2 brothers elsewhere in this cluster of plants. We are going to plant it out on Serendipity Farm in this Autumns planting venture
Another Brachychiton plant that Steve and I grew from a seed. This time it is a Brachychiton rupestris or a Queensland bottle tree. They develop a very large trunk and look amazing. It seems to be quite happy in Tasmania for a tree designed for Queensland conditions
Our remaining potted babies. They actually fared really well this year thanks to us paring them down and being able to keep watering them easily. By next year this selection should be halved (at least) and most of what is here should be out in the ground. Whether it survives or not, at least it will get it’s chance to put its roots down in the soil
This year’s students are an interesting bunch. Most of us are older and most of the class are very artistic. Steve and I stand out like sore thumbs but we are less inclined to freak out this time thanks to knowing that if you persist, you will eventually succeed, even if you are not naturally talented in a particular area. Last year we were completely overwhelmed by everyone at the start of the course. Most of them waffled and waxed lyrical about how proficient they were in “X” and “Y” and left us feeling completely out of place and like we didn’t fit in…by the end of the course most of the lyrical waxers had dropped out of the course leaving Stevie-boy and narf7 the clueless persistent little middle aged stubborn hippies to plod our tortoise like selves over the finish line. We learned a valuable lesson and this year we are NOT panicking about our lack of prowess in Graphic Design…we will pick up what we need as we go along.
Another honest image. This is a hebe. Hebe’s are tough as nails. This one died this year. that should tell you something about how difficult it has been to survive the conditions that we Tasmanian’s have had to put up with this year. Note the green asparagus waving from the top of the hebe
I have met and really like this year’s lecturer. Sarah is very friendly, vibrant and passionate about what she does. When I met her she was taking photos of her desk and surrounds. No doubt as part of some Graphic montage she was creating for our future lessons and she said “take LOTS of photos. Create things, look at things from all kinds of angles” I get the feeling like we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto…
I really didn’t expect this small tree to live and I planted it out early in the season and it hasn’t had any supplemental watering but it seems to like where it was planted (right in front of that large pile of debris 😉 )
I won’t ever have to trust the weather men again when it comes to them telling me that it is about to start cooling down and the rainy season is about to hit…I will just have to head out and take a look at mums little memorial scarlet ash 🙂
Well I have managed to fandangle my way up to a somewhat large post folks. I reckon I will stop ear bashing you now and will let you meander off and do what only you can do best in your neck of the woods. I hope that all of my northern readers are starting to get those sunny days that they so crave to give their pasty white skins a bit of colour and that we southerners keep getting regular sprinkles from our sky bling (clouds) over the coming few weeks. See you next week…let’s just see if we didn’t halt that possum in its tracks…want to lay odds? 😉