Well it’s December, it’s almost Christmas and the year has flown by SO fast I am still reeling on my feet. Here we are knocking at the door of 2018 and I have only just gotten used to writing 2017. We have had some hot weather here in Tasmania, followed by a 15C temperature drop. One week we had 31C and the next it was snowing on the mountains so I figure the garden is a little confused. I harvested the last of my broad beans (I say “my” because Steve would rather I ate them than force him to do it 😉 ) and feasted on their young for a couple of days, enjoying EVERY minute of it. I am guessing that there are people out there shaking their head in the general direction of what I just typed thinking “she “likes” them?!” You would be wrong there. I LOVE them. I love broad beans and Brussels sprouts and spinach and all of the veggies that kids gag on. I am a happy veggie freak and the only veggie that I am not too fussed on is okra but I would likely eat that joyfully if it was cooked properly for me 🙂
We have finally finished our TAFE course. NO idea if we passed or not because our lecturers have been very quiet about everything. By mid November last year we had our certificates but it would appear our lecturers are a little more reticent to mark our work than our lecturer was last year and perhaps may have left it to the very last minute to do so. That’s only conjecture on my behalf but I don’t think that I am too far from the truth with my mental meanderings. I figure we have handed everything in, we have produced two edited short films each and at the end of the day we have satisfied the requirements of the course so we “should” have passed but who would know? I guess we will find out some day soon (maybe) but in my mind we are finished and thus free of study for a few delicious weeks till we start again next year.
Because of the weather we have been having the berries are going mental and I just headed up and picked a huge bowl of raspberries and strawberries from a lovely friend who can’t keep up with them. Hers are producing like there is no tomorrow. Mine are taking their time and I have my suspicions that our resident duck and limping chook are doing their best to nibble around the lower quadrant but the young berries are going great guns, there are some black currents and jostaberries on the shrubs and my citrus are actually setting fruit this year. Finally Sanctuary has settled down from a barren, rocky, dry bit of bushland to a productive self sustaining garden and I couldn’t be happier because I know that I helped 🙂
Steve borrowed a friends car the other day and headed off to Beaconsfield to pick up a half a cubic metre of topsoil. A good friend gave us another half a cubic metre of aged mushroom compost to add to the mix and we filled up the last of the 24 fridge wicking beds so that we could completely plant them out this year. They were acting as mosquito breeding beds so we have increased our potential at the expense of the mozzies which is a solid SCORE in my opinion. We had to ladle the tadpoles out of one of the fridges and into the pond in Narnia. I scooped a bit of water out of the pond initially and in one scoop I saw a massive tadpole with legs! I poured him back into the pond and we gingerly filled it up to the brim with the remaining water from the fridge wicker where the tadpoles were living. Hopefully they aren’t too put out with their new home (or eaten by that massive big tadpole!)
I know that there are frogs in our wicking beds as I often see them hopping around in the beds or just clinging tenaciously to a long stalk as I am watering. I have had them pop up out of the watering pipes and stare at me as if to say “Excuse me ma’am, that’s my house you are filling up with water you know!” so I am not surprised that they chose to lay their eggs in one of the wicking fridges filled with rainwater. Before we could fill the beds up with soil, two of them needed additional sticks and the best place to kill two birds with one stone and collect sticks is on the roof at this time of year. We need to clear off the roof and we needed sticks so rather than make Steve go up there, I braved the ladder and got up there as well! I threw sticks down and he put them into the fridge wicking beds and then we decided to trial something new. I had some leftover spent hay from the chooks bedding that was still in the pads that it had come off the bales and so I carefully kept the pads together and placed them on top of the sticks in the base of the fridges. I figured that this would keep the soil from filling the base up too much and I was right. It worked brilliantly!
Next we shoveled in a mix of the topsoil and the mushroom compost and finally we covered the beds with a big bale of pea straw that we had picked up earlier. We needed to go to the city yesterday to pick up our fortnightly dog meat rations and on the way back we stopped and bought lots of seedlings. Bunnings (the biggest hardware store chain in Australia) didn’t really have much in the way of seedlings or anything unusual so I just bought some broccoli, some sweet corn, some cucumbers, some basil and a punnet with two eggplants in it. I was actually quite disappointed at the lack of variety and the poor condition of some of the seedlings that they had for sale. On the way home we stopped off at a local nursery and I picked up a much more interesting (albeit more expensive) range of veg including a lovely single purple sweet potato, a punnet of two watermelon plants, a punnet of three rock melon plants, some Welsh bunching onions and a mushroom leaf plant. I surreptitiously tasted one of the leaves as I wasn’t going to believe the hype alone and the leaves tasted just like raw mushrooms! The plant comes from Papua New Guinea and is a perennial and grows well and easily from cuttings.
We were pretty tired when we got home from the city as people are starting to get crazy about shopping and just doing normal shopping was a trial. By the time we had made it to the outskirts of Legana we were well and truly tired of shopping. We were driving back through Exeter and saw large bags of aged sheep manure for sale for $6 a bag and turned around, headed back and picked on up. Poor Earl was already cramped in the back and had to share his tiny bit of remaining space with a delightfully piquant odour but he was most gracious about it and I had just walked him all over the place in the city so he figured it was the least he could do to sniff the bag all the way home.
We got home and after a well deserved and fortifying mug of hot beverage I headed outside to start planting the new beds out with our new seedlings. We had been told that we were going to get a huge down-pouring of rain yesterday but nothing eventuated. I thought that I was being clever in planting my seedlings out as they would be watered in well but I completely forgot about Murphy’s Law and ended up watering Sanctuary this morning. I have held off on watering the wicking beds as the sky is full of clouds and the weather boffins may well have been a day out on their forecast. After planting everything out I heaped aged sheep manure on all of the beds. I remember my mother telling me to use aged sheep manure as mulch. I didn’t go quite that far but I think it will make the plants happy. I also put snail pellets on everything as we have an enormous and most voracious population of huge slugs and snails here that sneak out at night time to wreak havoc on any seedlings that we plant. I learned the hard way at the beginning of the season where three quarters of what I planted was scoffed in a single night.
I have been walking Earl a lot since we finished TAFE and am starting to feel almost normal again. I much prefer studying from home as you can get a good routine going when you study from home. You can also tailor your studies around what you need to do around the house. I miss having that time to do all of the things that we need to do around here. The garden (jungle) has gotten away from us again and with the excellent growing weather that we have been having everything is growing like Topsy and its now our job to hack it back to submission. We are the plant police! I have really been enjoying working in the garden over the last few days and although my fingernails may never recover, its true about mucking around in the dirt, it is very therapeutic. I am not quite to eating it like Robbie posted about in a recent post (apparently it’s a “thing”) but I certainly don’t mind getting filthy in the name of assisting my plant friends on their life journey.
Well I think that might be enough for today. Christmas is rapidly approaching and soon we will be caught up in the mania. We have a lovely simple vegan picnic planned in the park over the Batman bridge. We are going to buy a long chain so that Earl can frolic around and Bezial can wander around freely (he knows which side of his bread is buttered and behaves off lead 😉 ) and we just put up our annual gate decorations today. We were almost finished and a car drove past slowly and the people in the car were smiling and waving to us. It’s good to get positive feedback on your efforts 🙂 I hope everyone is at least feeling a bit Christmassy this year. I know it can be a hard time for some people but I just see it as a chance to celebrate making it for another year and being lucky enough to see in a new one. Catch you all soon 🙂