One Sunday

Hi All,

It’s a magic summers day in Sidmouth Tasmania and the temperature is approximately 21C so it’s cool indoors and the sun is performing its magic out of doors. I have been attempting to walk Earl a bit further than I usually do in order to have him knackered out when we head back to TAFE in two weeks time. If Earl is tired he is a sweet dog that sleeps. If he is under-exercised, he is a menace to society, specifically Bezial, who has to weather a rambunctious twitching kennel mate till we return home. Best I keep him tired and get a bit fitter in the process methinks.

Another magic day on Serendipity Farm
Another magic day on Serendipity Farm
Narnia from the outside.
Narnia from the outside.
Narnia from the inside.
Narnia from the inside.

We drove past a private house with a little plant stall parked out the front with a large sign saying “Potted Colour $2” yesterday. I got Steve to stop and turn around so that we could take a look. The plants were a mix of annuals like marigolds and zinnias and perennials like dahlias and salvias and were in excellent health and covered in flowers. I have always wanted a garden with flowers in it and now that Sanctuary has been converted into an espalier fruit and nut tree garden I can indulge my desire to have a few flowers in the mix. I picked out a dahlia, a salvia and a HUGE marigold and brought them home and planted them out immediately. Steve asked me if I would like some more today and I said “yes please!”

Ten dollars worth of potted colour.
This is what ten dollars looks like when you convert it to potted colour. I bought a marigold, a zinnia (I think it’s a zinnia!) and three dianthus in full flower. They are all planted out in Sanctuary enjoying their new home.

This morning Earl and I walked 6km to Rowella and back and on the walk I get plenty of time to think about what I am going to do with the rest of my day. We are still on holidays in between TAFE courses and so we have been pottering around enjoying this lovely mild summer. We have been getting regular rain which is a complete anomaly for Northern Tasmania. The paddocks are usually dry by now but at the moment they are lovely and green. I have only had to water the garden a handful of times since the beginning of summer and since we installed drip irrigation and fridge wicking beds, watering has been a doddle.

Earl in the sags
I am sure that you have all heard of Moses in the bulrushes. This is Earl in the sags. Make of it what you will.

On the walk I was thinking about something that a Facebook friend shared with me about Ruth Stout’s method of lasagna gardening. I have read quite a bit about Ruth Stout and her lazy gardening (sic) technique and heartily approve of anything that allows nature to do the work for you. The mulch I had put on the garden beds inside Sanctuary was a bit patchy in places which meant that the soil dried out faster than in other areas so I decided to use up some of my stockpile of saved (hoarded) grass clippings in bags to make a nice thick layer that would reduce evaporation. I didn’t want to deplete my stocks as I have to mulch my fruit trees yet as we haven’t gotten around to drip irrigating them yet and I suddenly remembered the last time that Earl and I were walking around the Batman bridge park and seeing large piles of mown grass and I knew what I was going to do after I walked.

Collecting mown grass at the Batman Bridge park.
Collecting mown grass at the Batman Bridge park. I collected the grass and Steve hauled the full bags back to the car.
The view from our car in the Batman Park.
The view from our car in the Batman Bridge Park.

Steve came along for moral support but as he is hacking and wheezing I collected most of the mulch and he carted the bags over to the car and loaded them up. We keep the sacks that our chook wheat comes in and use them for this purpose. I now have 20 bags of delicious dry grass clippings interspersed with rabbit and wild hen manure under a tarpaulin outside Narnia waiting for me to apply it wherever I see fit. I know that some people might think that I should just pay $7 a bale and pick up hay as it would be a lot easier but I got some good exercise collecting the grass clippings, I got to spend some time in a lovely, and very underutilised park with a wonderful view over the river and I got the satisfaction of “gleaning from the commons” in the process.

Twenty bags of dry grass clippings in reserve.
Twenty bags of dry grass clippings in reserve.
Happy salvia
This is one of yesterday’s potted plants that I bought. This lovely blue salvia should grow well in among the fruit trees.
Huge marigold flower.
This marigold flowers is HUGE. It is planted underneath some of my hazelnut trees and looks particularly happy in this spot.

We dropped the eleven bags of grass clippings back home and picked up the (sulking as they were left home) dogs and headed off to the dog park where they had a prance around and then we picked up five more potted plants to add to my stockpile and returned home. I planted them out among the trees and shrubs and hopefully the annuals will spread their seed and the perennials will grow happily. I would imagine that they will because I planted out Steve’s potted dahlia and it has exploded into growth. I also planted out several mystery plants that I guddled Β from a pile of garden refuse that someone had dumped on one of our walks. I don’t know what they are but they have a very pretty pink flower and appear to be quite hardy. The perfect thing for Sanctuary. Everything that I am planting out seems happy now and the days of crossing my fingers and hoping that my transplants survive are long gone.

Green Ballerina apples
Our wonderful friend Jenny gave us this green ballerina apple tree a few years ago. This year we added drip irrigation to Sanctuary and it has been most happy ever since. The rats are being scoffed by the remaining feral cats and so we may just get to taste one of these apples this year.
Wicking boat ballerina apple transplanted.
This is the small red ballerina apple that Steve grafted onto a Malling 106 Semi-Dwarf/Standard Rootstock back in 2009 when we were studying horticulture. It has kept growing slowly ever since but we planted it out this year and it has had a big growth spurt. It was growing in our wicking boat but now it has been planted next to the green ballerina apple and hopefully the bees will pollinate them both and this small grafted tree will produce a few apples next year.

Sanctuary is a converted space this year and a completely different proposition to last year when I hand watered the garden for three hours a day. This year the drip irrigation combined with a thick layer of mulch that we sourced from local parks that had been mown and the grass left behind, has seen a marked improvement in the soil. Where last year the soil was consistently leaching out moisture to the atmosphere and through the soil profile, this year I am watering half as much with much better results.

Oca planted in the rows.
The lady who has the stall at the top of our road occasionally puts pots of edible plants out on her small stall for $2. I planted out an English gooseberry plant that she had placed on her stall yesterday and Β I picked up this oca (New Zealand Yam) and have been using oca to act as green mulch under the fruit and nut trees in Sanctuary. They appear to love the growing conditions so hopefully they will keep growing and sheltering the tree roots for many years to come.
Kefir lime fruit.
KaffirΒ lime fruit.
Fat Hen weed.
We have a luxurious crop of weeds all over Serendipity Farm thanks to the regular water that they have been receiving from the sky. Many of them are edible including dandelion, cleavers (sticky weed) and chick weed (that tastes like corn and is great in salads) but my favourite weed is Fat hen aka Chenopodium album. The young leaves taste like avocado to me and make a delicious addition to salads. I have a lot of Fat Hen going nuts in Sanctuary and am most happy that they are growing as well as they are.
Compost grown avocado tree.
One of the avocado trees that grew in a compost pile.
Compost guild.
I call this my compost guild. A loquat tree and two avocado trees grew from the compost pile that I tipped out here and have been growing happily together ever since.

Steve stopped drinking alcohol and became vegan last month. In the six weeks since then he has lost 10kg. It’s amazing how effortlessly men can drop excess weight with a few positive changes. He does, however, have a bad cold and we haven’t done a lot in a couple of weeks since he succumbed to the dreaded lurgy. I am sure that any woman who has spent any time with a man with a cold will know that a man with a cold is a truly pathetic creature. Steve has been quaffing cough sweets and moping around with puppy dog eyes for almost two weeks now and I have been feeding him lots of healthy food and keeping him hydrated with juice and water with lemon slices in it. Colds are no fun at the best of times but summer colds are truly the pits.

Steve with a cold
OH the humanity!

I pottered around and took a few photos for today’s blog post as I wanted to document how delicious today was. In a couple of weeks we will be back on the TAFE treadmill but in a completely different course that will rely more on our ability to be creative than our analytical abilities. We are studying Screen and Media and are required to create a documentary and a drama for our final assessment. Steve loves watching films but I don’t watch a lot of television or go to the movies so this is going to be a real challenge for me. Unlike last year where I had to learn the fundamentals of web design, this year is more about taking our thoughts and turning them into something that someone else would be interested in watching. If anyone has any ideas for a good plot for a drama I would be most grateful if you shared them. I have had a few but I keep shelving them due to technical difficulties in producing the end result.

Old Christmas tree now garden art.
This is our old Christmas tree from three years ago. We decided to turn it into garden art in Sanctuary and it is nestled here among feral potato plants.
Currants and potatoes
This mass of vegetation consists of red and black currant plants that I grew from cuttings, potatoes that have been growing in this area for years and at the rear of the image are our grape vines growing insanely with the warm weather and regular irrigation.
Unknow plant seeds millions.
Remember that tall plant with purple flowers that smells lovely that I can never remember the name of that I planted out inside Sanctuary? Well it has had babies. Thousands of them by the look of it!
Nature at work.
This pumpkin plant grew in one of the espalier beds this year and is growing happily with everything else that spontaneously popped up (specifically tomato plants). I am going to leave them to grow as they all seem to be happy to grow together and there is extra edible potential. We have Jerusalem artichokes growing all over the place and Sanctuary is starting to come into it’s own.

I have all sorts of ideas but when it comes down to turning the ideas into reality, I need to step back and realise that I am not producing a Quentin Tarantino movie and that my short (5 – 10 minutes) creation needs to deliver the goods without needing all kinds of effects and a big budget. Our movies will be shot using cameras and will be learning how to write scripts for movies, how to add audio and how to (hopefully) make something that will pique the interest of a viewing public. When Steve and I decided that we would throw ourselves into study, rather than working for the dole, we realised that it was going to be a lot harder to wrap our brains around formal study but we have found that it has taught us an enormous amount and has been an entirely brilliant way to expand our horizons.

Steve's transplanted dahlia.
This dahlia came from a bag of tubers that we noticed on the lady up the roads plant stall a few years ago. It said “Free, take as many as you want” so we took a few and this dahlia managed to survive utter neglect to be planted out in Sanctuary this year and it is enjoying the good growing conditions to the max. Dahlia roots are apparently edible so that makes dahlia’s well worth inclusion in any mixed garden beds.
Babaco tree.
This is my babaco tree that I got from a friend living in Devonport with a truly spectacular garden. They told me the other day that they have a strawberry guava seedling that I can have to add to my collection. I love sharing the garden love πŸ™‚
Pink English gooseberry seedlings.
These pink English gooseberry seedlings were the only seeds that grew from my experiment of planting out pawpaw seeds, and some tropical fruit seeds. I was given the gooseberries by a local health food shop and was very surprised to see them growing. They are in the glasshouse at the moment but I need to repot them into their own individual pots to grow on before planting them out in Sanctuary in the currant bed.

I have a rough idea for a documentary that involves contacting a friend at TAFE who works with various social groups to create garden spaces. I want to meld the social benefits of gardening and show that growing your own food, sharing what you grow, sharing seeds, plants etc. is an excellent way of forging community and that gardening bridges all kinds of gaps between societies various age, gender and racial groups. We are all one when we are gardening and nature certainly teaches us that lesson implicitly. I am not sure how I am going to go about linking my ideas together but I will have a chat to my friend and see if we can’t come up with a good idea to showcase a variety of people, community gardens etc. in my short documentary. Again, any ideas will be most gratefully listened to.

Large fig on cutting grown trees.
This fig grew on one of my nine cutting grown fig trees. Most of the rest of the trees are covered in rapidly growing figs but two of my trees have a large fig each on them. I have NO idea why these figs grew first and then the rest came along a few months later but this fig has my name written all over it. Now I just have to prevent the birds from pinching it before it ripens.
Nectarine.
The strange growing season that we have had this year has resulted in truly confused plants. My pear trees didn’t even flower this year, let alone set fruit and my nectarine tree has only produced this single fruit. My peach tree had no fruit at all. I am guessing the flowers appeared but it was too cold for the bees to be out and about pollinating them so that’s why we have a severe dearth of fruit this year. Not really a problem as these trees aren’t protected and most of the fruit regularly goes down the gullets of wayfaring possums anyway. They will have to content themselves with eating my rose leaves.
Nectarine flower.
This is a nectarine flower. It’s on my nectarine tree along with that nectarine fruit. The trees are obviously thinking that perhaps they started too early and are contemplating flowering again. Strange times indeed folks!

And so another day on Serendipity Farm is slowly coming to an end. The dogs are both snoring after a big dinner, I have a tasty meal to prepare for Steve and I need to get this post off to the presses. I know that there has been a lot of upheaval and turmoil around the world over the last few weeks and I think that the best we can all do is keep fighting the good fight and keep making positive changes as these small changes all add up to healthier and more resilient communities. Whatever you are doing over the next few weeks, we hope that it brings you happiness and contentment. Catch you all next time πŸ™‚

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44 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo says:

    All looking magnificent as usual! Isn’t it exciting seeing the growth that everything is putting on with all the sun and the rain. I love that you are using what you find from your ‘commons’. I must keep a good look out myself while walking the dog..

    I also have one lone nectarine on my nectarine tree. Also, the tip leaves on the branches are dying back from some nefarious cause. And not a single apricot on my apricot tree! Before I moved in last year, the neighbours were picking the enormous apricot crop that broke the branches! I pruned it back quite severely in the winter, and with such a wet spring there was little germination, and then what little
    fruit there was dropped just to annoy me, I am pretty sure.. ah well, at least there are zucchinis galore:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      With fruit trees, they usually have a good year followed by a not so good year. I almost cut my nectarine tree down as it looked like it was dying. I have no idea how old these trees are but they would have been planted prior to my dad moving in which was about 30 years ago. The leaves were spindly and few and far between and I thought it was on it’s last legs. I removed an old cherry tree for the same reason but never got round to removing the nectarine as we were so busy building Narnia and the tree grew new leaves and looks very healthy now. I am starting to think that whatever was wrong with the nectarine may have been what was wrong with the cherry but it was a sour cherry and we don’t preserve and the stump now holds a large bird bath so I don’t feel quite so bad. The grass was a perfect find. It’s free, it’s not sprayed and it’s free exercise and fresh air as well and I managed to completely mulch Sanctuary in a thick layer of free mulch this year which has done an amazing job of keeping the moisture in the soil so “gleaning from the commons” has been most satisfying πŸ™‚

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  2. All I can think of is you should choose one thing about your lifestyle or property and make it into an intro for the feature length film of two penniless aged hippies living the good life. Or just film Steve with a cold and let all us women have a good laugh at his agonies. (Sorry Steve, just joking!) I think your lifestyle and experiments etc would make fascinating viewing. It’s a pity you didn’t film all through the the last year or two really. Your weather sounds lovely πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think the wicking beds would make a good inclusion into my short documentary as I want to make a film about how being proactive and growing some of your own food can unite a community. My lynch pin is my friend at TAFE as she has her finger on SO many buttons that will make this an interesting watch. “First find Meg” should be the name of my documentary πŸ˜‰

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      1. I would find that title intriguing and would want to find out what that’s about πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. brymnsons says:

    Your garden is looking wonderful Fran. Good luck with your studies, they sound very interesting. Once you start the rest will come πŸ˜‰.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Sounds like that movie “The field of Dreams” ;). Good luck with your new year at school too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Fran, I read your tale about lush greenness and regular rain with envy as the vegetation has dried out here and the creeks are reduced to waterholes.
    It is very satisfying to read of the success of your innovations in Sanctuary and the establishment of Narnia. I am sure you are very happy to have time for other things now you don’t spend so much time watering. You and Steve have had a very productive summer break.

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    1. narf7 says:

      You are experiencing what I experience every time I read a blog post about Queensland and all of the amazing edibles that they can grow. We were shoring up Sanctuary and creating water wise garden beds as usually Tasmania is incredibly dry over the summer period for about 4 months. This year, almost to make a joke of what we did, we have had regular rain, not too much heat and it’s been entirely lovely around here. We are making the most of it as this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often (about once every 4 – 5 years) and next year it will be business as usual and I will really notice how glad I am that we drip irrigated Sanctuary and we have the wicking beds. I think wicking beds would look luxurious in the Sahara Desert as the premise of keeping the soil moist underneath the plants really works. The fridges have added insulation which also makes the beds work well and should be good in winter for my very first planting of winter veggies. I am going to fill the beds with spinach, broad beans, and cover crops of legumes or maybe buckwheat to put nutrients back into the soil naturally. We had a forced break due to Steve’s cold but we have been enjoying the break whilst eyeing off other things that we really should be doing. We will get to them eventually :).

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  5. Lissa says:

    Looks like it is all coming together for you in the garden this year! The covered wicking bed area (Narnia?) looks incredible. You will have heaps of healthy home grown produce to eat. Great that you are putting your edible weeds to such good use too. You can just mow down the rest before they seed and they will break down releasing their goodies back to the soil. Natures way.

    Your purple Buddleia cover photo is gorgeous. One of my, and bees and butterfly, favourites.

    Your drama could involve the dogs and whatever is going on in their lives. A mystery that Earl is solving?? during his walks. Dumdumdaaaaa.

    Well done all around! What a great start to 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think Earl is most suited to the “Drama” that I have to make. If he ever got out it would be a serious drama indeed! πŸ˜‰ My raspberries are all escaping and have starting growing everywhere so Sanctuary is nowhere near as neat and tidy as I would like. I might have to bite the bullet and head up there with the whipper snipper and a pair of secateurs. I love seeing what you are up to on Facebook as well. Growing veggies wherever you are is lovely πŸ™‚

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  6. Big Man bought me a cookery book which features mainly vegan recipes for my birthday. Whilst I don’t see us totally converting, we’re up for making some healthy changes and if it helps us to lost some kgs like Steve…all the better! Love that you “repurposed ” the grass clippings and the splashes of colour with your new plans are a lovely treat for you all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think the idea is to just cut down on the amount of meat and use more veggies and beans etc. creatively. I have been truly gobsmacked by how easy it is to veganise just about everything. I made vegan butter that tastes very similar to regular butter and the vegan mayo recipe I used at Christmas time was amazingly delicious. Steve is seriously fussy and food has to taste good or he won’t eat it so finding good recipes for vegan shepherds pie, meatloaf, a really excellent gravy etc. have saved my sanity. Let me know how you go with eating more veggies. You guys should have access to some seriously excellent veg in your neck of the woods πŸ™‚

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  7. foodnstuff says:

    Great post and pictures, as usual. We’ve had reasonably good rain here too, so things don’t look as parched as they did this time last year. Yes, I’ve had poor stone fruit set too; I think it was because we had so much rain at flowering time that the poor bees stayed home a lot. Apples have been good though and I’ve just remembered that they flower much later so it much have been during a non-rainy period. Narnia looks lovely and the food it produces will be a good reward for the work you put into it.
    Poor Steve looks a misery! Was he putting it on a bit for the photo or does he really look that bad! Men are usually hopeless when they get sick.
    Re coloured flowers…I was just reading that the native blue-banded bees go for blue flowers so I’m searching the plant lists for same. I see them here only infrequently and I want to encourage them. Do you have them in Tassie?

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    1. narf7 says:

      There are heaps of natives that are blue. What about that kangaroo bush? I don’t think we have the blue banded bees here. Lots of bumble bees (not so many this year though). I think it might be a bit too cold for them in our winters. Delphiniums? Sweet peas, just thinking about “blue” flowers and don’t forget cornflowers. They are very hardy too.

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  8. Jane says:

    I have blue banded bees that seem to like the lavender, rosemary, roses and buddleia. We also have had more rain this year but also a fair bit of heat and humidity. Today was 37c and so humid, the land is drying out faster than it rains, but thanks to your bottle idea my veggie patch is overflowing with zucchinis, cucumber plants and flowers (no cucs yet) melon plants and flowers and oodles of pumpkin. It’s never looked this lush before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Every time you comment about your garden it makes me smile Jane :). I am guessing that you are somewhere up north of where I am in Sidmouth Tasmania and 37C is the sort of temperature that would send most Tasmanians twitching but was standard fare where I come from in Western Australia. I am SO glad that the ola idea worked for you. I can’t lay claim to it but am very glad that you were able to take the idea and make it work for your situation. Now that I have removed the ola from Sanctuaries garden beds (now drip irrigated) the dogs have no desire to play with them. They are in a large pile at the side of Sanctuary and they walk past them without even looking at them. When they were in the ground the dogs would race over to pull one out and chew off the lids. Go figure eh? I love the sound of the blue banded bees and you are certainly doing your bit for them with your beautiful lush garden this year. Now that you have found a way to keep your garden growing well through the year your soil will start getting better and better. Here’s to communal blissful gardening this year for all πŸ™‚

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  9. Jane says:

    Hi Fran,
    I know you got the ola idea from some other blog, and I had seen something similar elsewhere also, but you were the one who convinced me to try it. As far as I’m concerned it was your idea. I live in Victoria and 9 years ago bought the property as it was the only one I could afford. I had dreams of turning it into a garden of Eden. Only after I bought it I found out the area is classed as semi arid. A bit like you with your would be English cottage garden! However I guess with climate change on the way it is good to learn how to grow food under difficult circumstances. My present lushness consists of islands of green in an otherwise brown and dusty landscape. Never any green here through summer and lots of gum trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Have you thought about planting trees that will take the arid conditions but that will add nitrogen to the soil? There are a lot of alternatives for semi arid regions and once they get established (same deal with ola on the side of them) you can start planting underneath them. I think the only reason we have a garden here at all is because of the trees that other people planted on this property before we got here. We inherited this house from my dad when he died and otherwise could never have afforded any property at all. That’s why we work with what we have as there really isn’t any alternative. The soil in Sanctuary is getting better and better as we add more mulch (collected free from the park mowing efforts) to the equation and the more vegetation you get to grow on the soil, the happier it is as it keeps moisture in, the worms and other soil biota can move in to join in and help and suddenly what was bare lifeless dirt starts coming back to life. That is what makes all of this so very exciting. Pretty soon your soil will start to improve heaps and you will be able to plant more out. Start with the trees.

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  10. Jane says:

    Also have been thinking about Steve. When I used to be working with lots of people I got a few coughs and colds. I found going to bed at night with a hot concoction and sipping it slowly in bed soothed the throat an alleviated the annoying tickle. I don’t think quantities matter just what your taste buds can cope with. I used fresh ginger, garlic,chilies, lemon juice all swirled around in hot water and honey. If feeling really rotten I sometimes took a couple of pannadol with it.

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    1. narf7 says:

      That’s an excellent idea Jane. He still has that cough now. I keep adding ginger and garlic and chillies to his food but a hot drink sipped before bed is more likely to hit the spot. πŸ™‚

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  11. Jane says:

    Yes I have looked into the trees and have lots of ideas, but at the moment I do not have spare cash after paying the bills. I have bought and paid for some solar panels which have reduced my electricity bills greatly, also my old car died so I am paying off a brand new car and still paying off a small mortgage. The global crash wiped out my small amount of savings and and I rely solely on the age pension now. I’m not complaining I think I’m doing pretty well, but it does mean I can’t buy much to protect trees from kangaroos etc. I have just bought a small caper bush that sounds as if it will like my climate. I really like caper berries. I’ve got peach and apricot trees growing well from seed but the birds get all the peaches. I also have some quince trees grown from cuttings which were given to me.The birds did not seem to know the apricots existed because of the dense leaf cover. I have been thinking about a maringa tree also for sometime in the future. I would really like to go the forest garden way eventually. I’ve got plenty of space for one. Last year it was so dry the kangaroos badly damaged all the fruit trees starting in the spring. I thought I would lose them but l didn’t lose one. No fruit this year as the trees recover.This year no roo problem so far. I do have an unlimited supply of horse poo which is the main component of my veggie beds and with the bottle olas is creating magic.
    Don’t forget the honey in Steves’ drink. It’s really soothing on the throat.

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    1. narf7 says:

      The only way that we can keep our trees away from the wallabies and kangaroos is to erect some kind of structure to prevent them from eating them. What kind of trees (natives) do you have growing on your property? You mentioned gum trees? Do they have any dead branches that you could cut off and use to make a kind of stacked fence of logs around your trees? We use Melaleuca (ti trees) from our lower block with a bit of netting around them or some old corrugated iron (always at the tip shop). Anything to stop the kangaroos from munching them. The possums are our worst problem here. They climb around our fences munching with impunity. Not much eats quince trees and the same goes for fig trees. Try kiwi fruit as well as nothing bothers with the hairy leaves and once they get growing you can use the shade from their growth to grow other things under.

      Sorry about your car. Our little trusty 4 x 4 died and we bought a cheap second hand Hyundai. People don’t get how isolated country living is and you need a car out in the country. A moringa or three is an excellent idea and you are really going to have to protect them as all of the moringa is edible so you can imagine the kangaroo feast if you planted one.

      Mum created her garden from cuttings and seed and was on the pension for years. She was moved out of her housing estate house that she had built the (truly lovely) garden from scratch to a smaller unit but that didn’t stop her from gardening. She got a small bare patch of dirt out the back of the (new) unit to work with and set about turning it into a collective of container gardens. I got to see it after she died when I went over for her funeral (to W.A.) and I was amazed at what one determined woman could accomplish. I think “determined” is the word. I learned a lot about adversity and overcoming it from my mum.

      Unlimited horse poo is the answer to all of your problems when it comes to soil. Horse poo is what every old Italian gardener whispered to me as their “secret” whenever I would ask over the garden fence. It’s what makes Italian tomatoes truly awesome apparently. I have noticed that it certainly created a perfect soil medium for our wicking beds.

      Steve doesn’t like the taste of honey so I can’t get him to drink it but he seems to be slowly getting better now and there is a lot less coughing. I think going vegan and giving up the booze at the same time made his system go into overload and all it took was running into someone with a cold on a shopping trip to the city to lay him low. I am making sure he is getting lots of ginger and garlic and chilli in his food and plenty of vitamin C so fingers crossed he is better soon.

      I sometimes wish I lived on the mainland as we can’t get many seeds or trees etc. sent to Tasmania and have to source pretty much what we need from gardeners here. I keep scouring Ebay for sellers that will sell to Tasmania but there is always a “Sorry we don’t see to Tasmania or W.A.” as the lazy buggers don’t want to fill out accompanying paperwork. I get a lot of my plants from cuttings and grow as much as I can from seed so we are in solidarity there Jane :). I am really glad to meet someone else doing it tough. Steve and I exist on a student allowance and work hard to minimise our costs. We want to install solar panels on our roof but we have to pay to have a power pole on our property straightened next month so have been saving like mad to pay for that. We are very lucky that we don’t have any mortgage or car payments but like you, we don’t have much of a savings base and living carefully isn’t just an ethical option for us. Let me know if there is ever anything you are after from Tasmania and I will see what I can do for you πŸ™‚

      Like

  12. Amazing growth in the garden – and so good that you aren’t having to spend so much time watering after all your hard work (and a bit of help from the rain).
    I hope Steve is feeling a bit better. I have been sneaking more vegetarian and vegan dishes into the dinner menus – so far I have got away with it but The Management does like his meat! (And wine).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Steve was a true wine quaffer and gave it up cold turkey but Steve is an enigma and I am quite sure they broke the mold when he was born ;). Even just adding in more veggies is a great way to increase your health. The thing about telling people that you are vegan/vegetarian is that they seem to go into a tailspin and think it reflects badly on their food choices. We aren’t rabid vegans who are out to convert the world. Steve is doing this for his health and he says he no longer has to feel guilty whenever he walks the dogs past a field of cows but our dogs more than make up for our lack of meat eating and scoff their way through $100 of prime cow every fortnight. It’s all about trying to get as healthy as we can to reduce the risks of illness now that we are getting older. I think men and meat go together but then Steve was never a very big eater so he never ate a lot of meat. His biggest problem was giving up cheese but he has amazed me as we have cheese still (for the birds) but he hasn’t touched it at all. Will of iron! I wish I could say the same thing when it comes to losing weight for me! πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jane says:

    Yes Fran, I have started to put some branches around the base of one tree to see if it works. Trouble was by last summer there was literally nothing else for the Roos to eat and they were quite literally starving to death. It was the worst summer ever since I had been here and came on top of two very dry years previously. I did feel sorry for myself a bit then, but I cannot live miserably for long and the bottle olas gave me something to fight back with. The Roos were so desperate they attacked anyone carrying hay to stock and tried to pull my chook run apart to get at the straw in the run. The chook run survived intact but the wire was pulled off the fruit trees and stakes snapped off old net curtains shredded. I mulched on top of my straw mulch with dry eucalyptus leaves to try and disguise the straw. They ate quince, apricot, peach, rhubarb (leaves and all) blackberries and had one bite only of the zucchinis. They really hit the apple trees which usually get eaten a bit at the end of summer but don’t normally go for the other stuff. They pruned the trees into interesting shapes and some a have a bit of a lean now but it all adds character! This summer has been much better. I think my gum trees are iron bark and I have a couple of small prickly Moses wattle and a couple of other wattle, and this year I had lots of fringe lilies and chocolate orchids. I only usually get the odd one or two. The kangaroo apple bushes got eaten as usual, and I haven’t seen any come back this year.
    I love reading you blog it really keeps me thinking about your solutions and how I can apply them here. Don’t ever give up.
    Hope Steve is well on the road to recovery.

    Like

    1. narf7 says:

      The wattles are nitrogenous so that’s a start! It sounds like you had a really bad year last year. We are usually pretty dry over our summers but this summer has been amazingly wet. We are getting at least one rainy day a week which has meant that I haven’t had to water much this year. Last year I was watering 3 hours every morning or Sanctuary would have dried up and blown away. The wicking beds have given us back a bit of stability but this year we could have gardened on the roof and gotten a reasonable harvest due to the conditions. Keep scouring online for tough hardy plants that survive arid conditions. I have been doing the same. I reckon we will be right back to our old conditions with a vengeance next season and am researching and collecting everything that I can for arid and waterwise gardens. Check out anything that grows well in California and surrounds. Similarly South Africa. A friend sent me some kei apple seeds a while ago. I planted them out and have a small selection of seedlings that are going to get planted out along the rear of the house fence as habitat for birds and eventually fruit. They are tough as nails, don’t need much in the way of water, have small plum like yellow fruit that is high in vitamin C and are covered in thorns so great for native birds to nest in. I realise that many people think that fridge wickers are unattractive but that’s not my chief objective here. Our property is dry and in order to get what we want, we have to do some back work in creating better soil etc. Sanctuary is a point in case. When we started up there it was very dry, compacted, and had a few rangy sheoak trees on it. We cut a few sheoks and tried to avoid the soil that was obviously about an inch of soil covering a sheet of rock (several parts of Sanctuary) and ended up having to go with raised garden beds as there was a fair bit of rock under the soil and the soil was set hard like ceramic. I was up there yesterday after 3 years of doing what we do in this space and was hauling out weeds (sow thistle predominately) and hurling it onto the perimeter of Sanctuary when I suddenly realised that I wasn’t just pulling out pesky weeds that were invading Poland, I was building soil by mulching the dry soil on the outside! I got SO excited! Simple little things like that make me overjoyed. A little victory here, a little victory there and you have a collective of little victories that start cycles and systems moving towards your property becoming alive. I think we share similar conditions on our properties. Mine is dry, incredibly rocky, situated on a steep slope and with hardpan clay about a foot down that raises and lowers the landscape depending on whether it is saturated (winter) or dry (summer). Our house has large cracks in it in winter that disappear in summer and we have given up replacing our bedroom window as every year it cracks (we just slathered silicone over the crack and that seems to work πŸ˜‰ ). You have to learn to work with what you have. Most people don’t get that as they just pay for something else but some of us don’t have a lot of money to throw around (if any at all) and we are forced to use our brains, the internet and other people’s excellent solutions (thank goodness for people who share online!) to give us a bit of hope. I won’t ever give up. Steve is much happier now and is up to his eyeballs in a new game he bought for his birthday so I have plenty of time to research and ponder new ideas for the garden. By the way, you are ahead of us with orchids. We don’t get them on our property. The closest we have are trigger orchids out in the local bushland. How much property have you got? We have 4 acres and we leave the back acre for wildlife as it’s so very dry and the front 2 acres are basically a blackberry and any other European weed you could think of farm πŸ˜‰

      Like

  14. Truth be told, I’ve always overlooked “plain” flowers whenever attempting to plot a garden, in favor of more edible plants. I can’t help but think that I’ve been going about it all wrong now. There’s such value in the beauty of those blossoms! Especially on gloomy, grey days, I could really go for some β€œPotted Colour” in my own backyard. Great find!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I, too, am not a flower person (despite being a middle aged hippy πŸ˜‰ ) and never really thought much about them as part of a solution to our problems but there is an apiarist up the back of our property and his little minions can be harnessed to give us a hand with our pollination so I am all for adding a few flowers and to be honest, a splash of colour here and there adds to the palate of Sanctuary.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jane says:

    I certainly don’t think the fridge wickers are ugly. I think Narnia is quite beautiful and I definitely wouldn’t paint them. The white shows off the colours of veggies really well. Yes last summer was truly the summer from hell. The worst I have experienced here. I used to water twice a day in summer and it was never enough. Now I can get away with once a day and I can water more things now because of the bottles. I water every day in the summer and most of the winter too. Last autumn and winter I didn’t have to water quite so much which was a bit of a novelty. At one point I was worried the garlic might be getting too much rain but I had a bumper crop. I am on 7 3/4 acres with one retired horse and pony in one large paddock with a very large dam. The horses also have to be fed as there is mostly no grass. I don’t pump from the dam, but I sometimes bucket water from it to the fruit trees if the tank is getting low.
    The only weed I have problems with is cape weed, one good thing about it is the bees love it. The few flowers I try to grow are for the bees and butterflies. My friends have given me most of my flowers and if they will grow here they are welcome. I have tried to transplant some wattle seedlings into the fruit trees area but without success so far. With more rain it would be lovely here, but then I couldn’t have afforded it! Th land is not rocky an has a very gentle/slight slope. I get runoff from neighbouring properties which is why I think my dam never dries up. The soil dries as soon as the rain stops especially in the summer as it gets quite hot. We have 40c forecast for Monday.
    I’m glad Steve is feeling better, rest and a bit of TLC works wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      The more mulch you can get on your soil the less watering you will have to do. I know it’s hard to get hold of mulch and I never realised the value of it till I started mulching Sanctuary and this year I set out with determination to farm the mown park and oval in our local vicinity and use the dried clippings to mulch and I am only having to water Sanctuary every couple of days this year. Admittedly the conditions are a lot better this year (the paddocks are actually still green at the end of January!) but I figure I am setting the soil up for keeping it moist year round.
      Californian poppy is a great flower to grow and so are salvias as there isn’t much that will eat them. Check out “poisonous flowers” and you will be surprised what you can grow. Nothing eats daffodils or most of the narcissus family (bulby things) as they are predominately poisonous. I always wondered why we had rhododendrons growing well here (that never get watered aside from rain) and azaleas but they are both poisonous to wallabies and possums so they get left well alone. You are incredibly lucky to have a dam that never dries out on your property. That’s an excellent starting point.
      Cape weed is one of the lesser weeds and is pretty easy to pull up. We have a plant called bone seed here that grows into a small tree and that takes a bit of effort to get rid of. We also have blackberries that go mental and banana passionfruit that grows up into the tree tops. When my mum was alive she send me banana passionfruit seeds to grow as she loved them. I had to laugh as we had just spent weeks pulling banana passionfruit out of the large eucalyptus trees to try to prevent them taking over Poland! Different states (she lived in W.A.) have very different growing conditions.
      Kudos on the garlic crop. We have a stand of garlic that grows under a small mulberry (a really good tree to grow on arid land by the way) tree in the unprotected part of the garden and the wallabies adore it. I had them mow down a box full of chives once before I realised that they loved garlic etc.
      I know the feeling about “with more rain…” it would be the same here. There was an automatic irrigation system hooked up under the house here that spanned most of the lower acre of garden. There are long suffering shrubs down there that were lovingly planted by the very first owner of this house but when my dad’s partner bought this place they decided that they didn’t want to pay for water so they stopped watering the garden and when she died my dad stopped giving a damn at all about the garden and nature took over. We are still trying to fend off the blackberries and cut a pathway down to the lower gate from the house and we have been here 6 years!
      I guess you have to pace yourself ;). Have a lovely weekend Jane. I am very glad that you now have your ola garden that reduces your watering. I know how amazingly good it feels to not have to water so much πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. Fran everything is looking so fresh . And its lovely that you are now finding water a doddle lol.. I am so pleased this new system is working for you.. Narnia is looking great..
    The marigolds look happy.. Love the double varieties.. ]
    Our allotments are full of marigold the old fashioned variety and selfset every year.. I often bring a few to our home garden to add a little colour. But they are supposed to be good growing companions in the veggie plot..

    Love it that your apple tree is surviving the long-tails so far..:-) and I hope you get a tasting too..
    It is amazing how well things grow from compost heaps.. LOL.. We had the best squashes the other year when hubby flattened out a huge compost pile and dug it in the ground and set the squashes..
    They were not so good this year, in the same spot.. We will move their location this year..

    Love you blue salvia too… it has that cooling affect among the greenery..
    I showed hubby how Narnia has come along.. I have been showing him the various stages throughout. He is well impressed with you both.. πŸ™‚ and says how healthy everything is looking..

    I truly enjoyed my walk with you among all of your veggies fruits and flowers Fran..

    Love and hugs for a great weekend my friend..
    Love Sue xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I realised that my huge fig was starting to ripen the other day and quickly raced back to see if I had any of my pantyhose from last century left over and I had one pair with no feet in them (obviously I had plundered the feet for another gardening project however I found them in my knickers drawer so I am wondering how I ever thought I was going to wear pantyhose with no feet in them again!) and I rustled up a double bagged jail for my precious first fig. I know how voracious the little birds here are and it would have been a sin to let them scoff my very first (preciouses) fig! Sanctuary is now an experiment for me. I potter around pulling weeds that I don’t want in there and allowing others (dandelion and fat hen) that I can use to grow. I want to get hold of some chicory from near where we buy our pet meat. There are tonnes of plants out that way and I am waiting for the flowers to set seed heads on them. We only go in once a fortnight so I am hoping I don’t miss my window of opportunity and they all blow away in the breeze. They are like HUGE dandelion seed heads. I would love to add some to our mix out here as I would like to use the roots to make a coffee substitute. I discovered a couple of amaranth plants growing up behind where we relocated most of the mound of aged horse manure and oak leaf mould (to fill the wicking beds) and am tickled pink that they are growing. I seeded most of the manure and leaf mound last year with amaranth, chia and quinoa but nothing grew. The amaranth seeds survived us barrowing most of the soil away and being dumped, most unceremoniously, on the bare dry earth. I will try actually “planting” some next year as I love how they look and would love to taste the leaves. I love a good experiment πŸ™‚ I hope you both have a lovely weekend as well and remember, not too long till you get spring. This summer has gone very quickly, most likely because it started late and has been very mild. I, for one, have truly loved it even if my tomatoes haven’t been much to talk about this year πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Big smiles at you collecting seeds.. that is what I often do.. nip a seed head off here and there.. lol..
        And Chicory.. I only drink coffee made with it or the decaff .. lol.. The old fashioned liquid type you put a teaspoon in with hot milk, best type of coffee I love best.. Dandelion Tea comes to mind too.. πŸ™‚ And young fresh leaves in salads.. πŸ™‚ You made me laugh at the panti hoes..And I hope you save your first Fig.. πŸ™‚ lol..
        Yes Spring to look forward too.. I am planting my sweetpea seeds this week.. πŸ™‚ And February in a couple of days time.. Where did Jan go??
        Have a fab week Fran, and great your Yucca is thriving too.. πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Mum used to buy coffee and chicory liquid for our coffee when we were kids. I gave up tea at the beginning of the year. I thought it would be MUCH harder to give up as on and off I have been drinking it since I was 2 years old. I think I was more addicted to having a hot drink in the morning than what the actual drink consisted of. I now drink an Aussie made product called “Natures Cuppa” that contains barley and chicory etc. I have also started drinking roibus tea as it more closely resembles regular tea in consistency. I will be checking out the chicory plants tomorrow when we head into the city to pick up our dogs meat. They grow in profusion around the area out where we pick it up and I should see at least a few seed heads. We walked the dogs yesterday and I saw some Warrigal greens (a native spinach) growing along the dog track. Obviously I decided not to eat them as this WAS a dog track but I pulled up a couple of smaller plants and brought them home and planted them out in Sanctuary. Aside from being a good ground cover/green mulch that keeps the weeds down, it is an excellent inclusion in our edible mix. Here’s a link to a blog post on Milkwood that shows you what it is. https://www.milkwood.net/2014/05/21/foraging-warrigal-greens/ if you haven’t visited Milkwood’s blog before, take a look at some of their posts. They are really excellent. I am seriously going to have to remember to plant out some sweet peas next year. Mum adored them and always planted them and I love their hair oil smell. Must remember to plant out stocks as well as they are one of my favourite smell plants. January raced us by. It’s been a bit slower here as Steve has had a cold for most of it (still coughing!) so we haven’t been doing much except the basics and I have been reading a lot which is wonderful. I am a book worm of old and got out of the habit but I think I am back in the fold. You have an excellent week too Sue and pretty soon I will be in the middle of our cold weather and you will be up to your armpits in raspberries! πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      3. so pleased I came again to look through your post Fran.. I didn’t get this reply through on my notifications.. I bet you thought I was remiss not answering.. I have saved the link and will look later at the Millwood sounds interesting…
        I am rushing this morning as We are picking up our granddaughter and going out for the day and she is sleeping over tonight.. So I will moderate my garden comments tomorrow.. πŸ™‚
        Love Stocks too..
        Our tomato seeds are just poking through today.. πŸ™‚ setting by the Moon really does Work.. πŸ™‚ lol…
        Any way.. have a great week.. Glad its still keeping pretty cool.. and today we have SUN.. yes SUN… it heard my plea for a fine dry day..
        Its bitter cold though.. But we are taking her somewhere she can ride her bike, so she will be working up some heat.. πŸ™‚

        Take care and Big BIG hugs your way.. Lots of Love Sue xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Spy Garden says:

    Everything is looking so great in Narnia. Hope Steve is feeling better. I miss you visiting my blog; I actually wrote something if you will pop over for a visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Consider me there! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Spy Garden says:

        A www thanks for visiting πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Robbie says:

    Did I hear you right????you making a documentary…yep, that is WONDERFUL!!!! Wow, I can hardly wait. As for husbands and colds, well, I get your drift sister-lol.
    Everything looks so beautiful. I am now back on the plan to visit and post again, just a brief break. My son came home for a visit, so I was busy talking and playing catch-up for the past few years…now he is off to his new life in a new place:-)

    Dogs are such great friends, but when they have not TIRED especially pits, well, you are in trouble.Chance is a senior citizen now, but he still runs and plays ball. He has no buddy around here, but some day I will get another one….

    I love your flowers + your garden look like paradise..off to read a few more posts of yours and play catch-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      It looks like we are doing double time on either side of the globe Robbie. I just read your post and commented. I wish I could afford to fly over to the U.S. I would make my documentary about what you are doing. I don’t think my lecturer would allow me to send you my camera and film it for me πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robbie says:

        lol…I am reading your one on the wicking fridges…wow!!!!!I feel you should make one on your place. People would love to see and learn all that you are doing. All you need is some sheds/tiny houses out back of your property-and you can start teaching younger permaculture students:-) I would write one on you!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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