Monday, September 28, 2020

Two weeks of activity!


We had our 6 year old grandson stay with us last weekend for two nights! As a result we had a great time, with lots of fun things to do, except blogging...which took a back seat for things like a visit to the local aquarium where we saw sharks and stingrays and all sorts of things! We had a busy time -he made an aquarium out of a plastic box and some paper, we made a 'insect hotel' for the garden out of sticks and things Pa left him in his workshop (Pa was away) and we played lots of games. There was a 'out after dark' trip with torches to our local playground- spooky! We cooked honey joys and ate some of them. His aunty is now the favourite as she has Minecraft on her computer! 

We have been having hot days and rainy days -perfect weather for the garden. We did need to test the automatic watering system one day when it was 31C -my veggies were a bit stressed! I am planting seeds for summer. There are lots of spring flowers in the front garden. My neighbour commented on how much she is enjoying it as she drives by each day. Mind you, the neighbour on the other side has much better roses than we do, but I am hopeful the ones I moved to the back will come into their own as summer comes closer and they settle into their new places. Every morning I go out to check, and rejoice in each new leaf and stem. 

Here is a before and after of the garden around my birdbath. On the left is when I installed the new base in May this year. The right is now. I am trying to fill up the garden, with the aim of eventually having no bare soil at all. There are signs like this around my garden -when the kids lived interstate, we used to make up a small patch of garden for one of them and add their name to a sign, as a point of connection for our video calls. Now they are home the little guy (3) thought the garden needed a sign that said "Nanna's garden" so Pa made one! 

My DH did a great job of making a new frame for a tired and broken second hand oval mirror I spotted on an online site. He had to make the structure to hold it up and attach it to the back of his chest of drawers which went from this (left)  to this (now right) . I am very proud of him -it took quite a bit of design to get it right. 

Some Useful Links from my browsing

I had a couple of scam calls today. This one was pretty easy to spot, but it is harder sometimes to see the truth these days, when so many people are working hard to sell delusions. I found this article helpful about what to do if you are worried about your friends and the stuff they share. 

As summer is coming up -read about shading your house and keeping cool here . For anyone in the northern hemisphere, you will need to swap our 'north' for your 'south'. 

The earth will help heal itself.
This is a great story of hope about regenerative agriculture.
I count Charles Massey's book "The call of the reed warbler" one of the great books of the world! 

Thanks for visiting my blog - and leave a comment if you like! 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Keeping things simple

 Since last week's post we have celebrated Father's Day and our Number 2 DGS's third birthday. As a result we had a lot of lovely family time. Not only that, but we also had some warm spring days so I was able to enjoy both the beach and the river. We are so lucky to have these things fairly close to our home, so we can enjoy them regularly. I don't need a lot of entertaining - a walk outdoors will please me, especially if I have company. 

At home I am as always trying to keep things simple. My achievements this week included:

  • Sowing some snake bean seed I saved from a vine growing over a fence nearby -and they have started to come up!
  • I gave away a pallet garden to a neighbour who had more use for it than I did. DH made this a few years ago, and I had tried various places and various uses, but decided it wasn't really working for me.
  • Planted more peas and beans
  • Sprayed the grapevines with a 10% milk solution to manage fungus problems- I am told I need to do this every week for a while until the summer sets in
  • Did some weeding and made a 'weed tea' to use as a fertiliser. This is the thing where you soak the weeds in a bucket of water for a couple of weeks and then use the water as fertiliser. I was told it stinks, and it really does! I am experimenting to see if it is worth doing.
  • Did a bit of a re-organisation of a few cupboards and drawers to make things easier to find under the sink and so on
  • I made a some Russian Black bread and some sourdough bread too
  • I have been working behind the scenes on some admin for the community choir we are involved in
  • I picked up a glass bottle which a neighbour was sure was 'too good' to just throw away - and I repurposed it as a vase for my iceberg roses. 
  • I made a batch of onion jam which my DDIL and DS rather enjoyed. The recipe is here  DH added a cup of chopped fennel tops to it when he made it and that is a lovely variation. 

I am trialing a new-to-me budgetting software progam and I think we will find it more simple to use. I won't name it just now, because it is early days, but if it turns out as it has started it will make it even easier for both DH and I to know what our money is going on and why, in real time. 

Apart from all this, I have had some good books to read, some music to watch on YouTube and some happy chats with friends and family.

This is the life I wanted all those years ago when I took those first tentative steps on the simple living path. I wanted a slower, more creative and happier way of life. It is a good life and gives me opportunities to grow and develop as a person in my resilience and skills. Even though we all know the times are bad, we also know that we can only take one day at a time, one moment at a time, and do the best we can. I try to see the positive where I can, and stay true to my values and ideals. As the permaculture people have it "Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share."

Thanks to all those who commented on my quilt last week. I am taking it to my quilt guild tomorrow to 'show and tell'. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

My garden quilt is finished

I have just finished my "garden quilt" and taken a picture of it in the garden, thanks to DD who stood on a set of steps to hold it up. The cute feature panels were given to me by my DDIL and DS, who really know how to bring my two favourite things -quilting and gardening-together. It is now in the washing machine, with three colour catchers! I always wash my quilts when they are finished. I bung them into the clothes dryer on warm afterwards -what I want is that very slight shrinkage (about 4%) of the cotton wadding, which helps to create that soft, crinkled look which I think is so much better than completely flat. 

It is a happy day when I finish a quilt. I always have another in mind -sometimes many more than one in mind, to start almost straight away. I also know that in order to finish the quilt I have had to overcome a number of obstacles -making decisions on colour and shape, recovering when things don't go the way I thought they would, overcoming performance anxiety about some stage or another. This time I was rewarded -finally-with a binding that went on first time- I have had some issues with the past couple of quilts about this -so it is good to have that little problem behind me.

Many people wonder what I am going to do with each quilt that I make. Some are so special I will keep them with me, and display them around my house. Some are just for snuggling under, and draping over the backs of chairs. Some get given away to family and friends. Some I give to the WAQA community quilt group. I don't know what the final destination of this one will be. I will wait and see.

Yesterday was Father's Day here in Australia. We had a lovely day with our son and daughter in law and grandchildren here for lunch. Then we went to a performance of METSO ( the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra) doing some wonderful Beethoven. Our son was playing violin. So lovely to be able to enjoy live music again! The audience is 'socially distanced' to mean that we don't sit in every row, so the concert hall is roughly half full. We can do this because our state of Western Australia has not had any community transmission of COVID 19 for a very long time. 

Apart from all this fun, our lives continue as we like to live them. I spend as much time in the garden as possible. DH makes useful things for us in his 'shed'. We read library books - I have just found the Sulari Gentill series of crime mysteries about her character "Rowland Sinclair" - a good read.I went on a mini 'shop hop' with some quilting friends last week- we are trying to support our LQSs (local quilting shops).

We bought a whistling kettle when our electric kettle died. In Australia we commonly have plug in electric kettles to boil water for beverages, but now I have my induction cook top, I can boil this whole kettle full (2.5litres) in 2 minutes. It takes me back to my childhood! There is something quite comforting about the gentle whistle as the steam announces that the water is boiling. 

Well, that is all for this week. Thanks for staying with this to the end! How was your week? 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

New in my garden this week


We have added two new raised garden beds to the back garden this week. I had them made in non-standard sizes to fit into the spaces available. One is 900mm in diameter and one is 700 mm and both are 400 high.  They are the same colour as my oval ones, but a bit taller. I have learned that I need to be able to walk around the garden to do maintenance and to harvest my crop, but that there is still quite a bit of space available for more crops. 

I filled the new beds with half a bag of rehydrated coir, half a bin of compost and 2 bags of potting mix. I feel that I am getting better results from my compost this year due to the addition of more carbon material and the shredder I got for Mother's Day. I have learned to be more bold with my scrounging for carbon -I forage in the park out the back of my place for fallen branches - I have to be quick after a storm because the council comes and takes them away! I have also made contact with someone with guinea pigs who is willing to save the bedding and droppings for me. 

My nearly 3 year old grandson helped to plant one of the beds with some seedling lettuces. 

In the picture above we have an oval bed with asparagus, snow peas, rainbow chard and beetroots; one oval bed with more beetroot and garlic and lettuce, a new round lettuce bed, a former olive tub with a small fig tree and a former olive tub with oregano -waiting for its summer crop of mild chillis. The other bed will be planted with kale and beans.

There is a bit of a casual edge planting under these raised beds -thyme and marigolds are self seeding along the edge and softening it a bit. I noticed a borage plant has emerged too. 

You can just see the citrus grove -we have tangello, grapefruit, mandarin, meyer lemon, lime and kaffir lime in this part of the garden. In spring they are blanketed with nasturtiums which self seed.

I am continuing to try to document my gardening with a simple journal -and it is already worth the effort because I can look back to see what I did as an intervention, and how long it took to get a result. In the summer, for example, I give the roses a dose of worm wee and the next week I get more flowers!

Speaking of worms, I cleaned out the worm farm this weekend, harvesting the 'garden gold' of worm castings for the new beds and giving the worms new bedding. I saved a small bucket of the worms for my DDIL for her new garden over in Ellenbrook.

If you are a person of faith, or no faith, I wish you all joy in waging peace and caring for the earth. 

Here are some inspirational links for you this week

Learning to love weeds

How to start a garden diary