Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recycle this-garden chair

It used to be a garden chair, but ended up in pieces on the side of the road during our last council bulk rubbish collection.

The seat is a round, saucer like cane object, which now has a new life in my garden as a rather stylish shade structure for a little citrus plant which struggles in the hot weather. With our new water restrictions we wanted to help the tree along, and so this is what my clever DH made for me. All we used were 4 star pickets hammered into the ground, 4 pieces of heavy gauge wire to wire the cane top to the star pickets (which have handy holes drilled into them -ideal for this purpose) , a piece of 50% shade cloth and about 6 cable ties (they hold the shade cloth on the structure).

We liked it so much we built another over the quince -to help it along for its first summer. This one hasn't got it's shade cloth yet. It is a bit easier to see how it all goes together.

We are going to need all the shade we can get -summer is one whole month away and we are already getting +30 degree Celsius temperatures.

If you want to try this at home, please be careful. Something I did during my Saturday gardening has really hurt my back. Went to my lovely physiotherapist today, however and things are on the mend.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happiness is Home Made!

If I try to think of a theme for this weekend, I can't go past the idea I sewed into this stitchery some long years ago: happiness is home made.

My DH and I love to be at home on the weekend. We do all the kinds of things that help us live more independently and simply -we garden, we cook, we do simple repairs. These things give us a great amount of pleasure and a sense of achievement. They are a lovely break from our usual kind of paid work -for one thing you get a pretty immediate result! They save us money too.

Over the years we have had to learn all sorts of skills -and had our share of failures too. One of the things my DH has learned is that a good job does depend on having the right tools. This afternoon he is putting an edging strip on the edge of the tiled surface he made on the front step -and is very happy with a clever product which he has found which is making the task a lot easier than he thought it would be.
I have just finished the quilt top I have been making using a Jelly Roll pattern. It has been quite a learning experience. Some bits I had to unpick -and I hate unpicking!

We have just enjoyed a fine Sunday lunch. I used the first of our home grown garlic -harvested and put into a home made foccacia, topped with home grown herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme and sage. We ate it with some home made chicken and vegetable soup.

After the bread was cooked, I popped a chicken into the oven to have with salad for dinner. I now have some potatoes cooking, ready for home made potato salad and greens from the garden.

Just simple things -nothing special really, except for the quiet enjoyment we share in living like this.

If you scroll down to the end of my blog you will see a quotation about making things -how important it is to be fearless -to work through the mistakes and the things which do not live up to our hopes. To keep on going -I do hope you do the same.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This is not an obsession

This is a kookaburra, resplendent in our new door which has been finally installed.

No this is not an obsession either -it is another kookaburra! This one lives near the front door.

These aren't obsessions -they are just flying kookaburras in my lounge room!

No... you guessed it...still no obsessions here, just kookaburras in the patio.

And this one might just prove it.... but no, just another kookaburra!

The internet succumbed to some dreadful line disease over a week ago -which it took a week to recover from.

Did you miss me? Even a little bit?


Friday, October 8, 2010

Rest for the Soul

This is the view which greeted me from my window at the lovely Nathaniel's Retreat in Mundaring, where we spent last weekend. We had a blessed time. We talked, we walked, we ate yummy food, we read, we slept, we celebrated.

We have absolutely enjoyed and benefited from our program of retreats this year. The chance to get away for the weekend is always good, and to go somewhere with lovely scenery and such is lovely too.

A retreat may be all this but it is so much more. It is a time to consider what makes for real happiness -what makes for real contentment -what goes wrong with our dreams and plans, and how we might make it different next time. What resources we fail to acknowledge, what help is there always waiting for us to ask and receive.

It acts like a massage for the body -but works on the inside.

A good retreat leaves a lingering effect. I have certainly felt it this week as I went through my week. In times of stress I thought of what I learned about myself on retreat. In times of repose I remembered the good times on retreat.

And both DH and I have planned to take this retreat pattern, as much as we can, into our routine every weekend. We want to plan for at least one day each week in which we do the kind of things that are joyful and restorative. For us this means we must do something that takes us out of doors -walking in beautiful places for example. (We decided that this could include gardening, because we both have a lift in spirits whenever we do this).

It does mean sharing time with family and friends -and being open to them and their needs. Love is always restorative!

We decided that we wanted to break our routines -a cooked breakfast on the patio for example. This morning DH made poached eggs florentine with freshly squeezed orange juice.

What goes to make up the rest of such a day is still something we are considering. I hope this can become a good habit and that we can learn what makes for 'rest for the soul' and seek it out together.

What would you include in a day like this?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gardening in a drying climate

Western Australia has had the driest winter in decades, and this is not unusual, but part of a consistent drying trend that has been going on for the last 40 odd years. In global climate terms, WA is the canary in the mine -we are the first to show symptoms of what is a consistent change to the weather patterns.

As a result our state government has told us in the metropolitan area of Perth that we can use irrigation for our gardens for only one day per week. Now, we are used to irrigating two days per week -and irrigation is necessary in a mediterranean climate with a long summer drought. But from 1 October all the way to the end of November we can only water once per week, and who knows if this will change in summer. We have long, hot dry summers, so most gardeners are worried. Very worried.

On the political level I feel this is a bit of a cop-out. Our state government has not done very much to create incentives for industry to become more water efficient, and has reduced incentives for private households to put in the kind of water recycling and water retention systems that will make us work harder at not wasting a drop of water.

In our garden we have already installed some shade sails and 50% shadecloth over our vegetable beds, which are built on the wicking system which reduces evaporation rates. (Search the Aussies Living Simply site for more ideas on wicking beds).

I have ordered a bale of lupin mulch -we will need to mulch heavily to reduce water loss this summer.

The good thing is that we already have drip line irrigation which delivers every drop of water to the plants not into the air where it evaporates. Most of the front garden is hardy Mediterranean type plants like lavender, rosemary and pelargoniums which will survive pretty well.

We also have NO LAWN. Nope, not a bit. Lawn is very water hungry. This will help.

I imagine that before the end of summer we will be taking quite extreme measures to keep our fruit trees alive. We may need to build shade structures like the ones in the picture above to help them cope.

In the long terms we will need to install a grey water system to re-use our water to help the trees out. I haven't done this yet, but it will become a priority soon I think.

I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for gardening this summer or in a drying climate? What would you do?