The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre

The best way to bring a sustainable change in the world around me is by bringing the change in myself

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Design for vegetable garden.

The area set aside for veggies is shaded by a few huge gum trees, which is not a bad thing in this case, because they are not very dense trees giving just enough filtered shade. We have all raised beds built out of sleepers. Some narrow and long, some 3x3 mtre boxes and some triangle boxes, really just what fits into the space. Some more suitable for single plants such as tomatoes or rosemary bushes. Other for sweetpotatoes, corn or pumpkins ........

One of the first crop I planted was potatoes, with great succees. Broadbeans was another, mulched down in the bed after harvesting the beans. Sowed some green manure and worked that in as well.The Onion bed got some added garden lime to sweeten the soil, but dew to a lack of water the onions never got any bigger than pickled onions, still used them only needed more at a time. But the best crop so far is definately the sweet potatoes.

At the moment we are having so much rain that now it's a worry if it's not to much again. 254 mls just for the month of June, where our average rainfall is 600 - 1000 a year. Wish I could send some of this lovely rain south to Victoria and South Australia.

Not being on the property, leaves the garden very much to natures mercy, with a few wild bunnies and wallabies helping themselves, more bunnyproof fencing I know. We have some post and rail fencing atm around pumpkin patch veggie garden. Down the one side we have planted a few fruit trees, mostly stone fruit, peach, plum, quince and apricot. There are 4 brown fig trees grouped in a corner to make covering them up with bird nettings easier.

(across) I planted a passionfruit vine next to the fence and boy has it taken over. Need to figure out what I am going to do with all the passion fruit. And in front of the vine I planted some banana trees, not sure what variety they are ....... you can never have enough bananas in our house. Recently I purchaced a few dwaft varieties, cavandish and drakka, that I plan to plant as soon as it warms up a bit.

Coming up the other side a leveled area for where the chook house is going one day. It has been leveled out but 500mm high retaining walls need to be built. Atm our chookies and their lovely barn styled house is in Sydney. All that will need to happen when we move, is to unbolt a few sections, load it on a car trailer, drive +- 6 hrs and re erect it again, sounds easy ..... I am hoping. A single open compost bay made out old wingsplits and posts. The first of a few water tanks, 4500 lt tank especially for the garden is connected to a covered pergola area only 3x4 1/2 mtr big. This is where we escape to for a morning coffee and biccies, and best advantage point to survey our hard work. Next to that I planted a pineapple guava tree, and then a heap of Galangha. Galangha is a rhizone and is used in Thai cooking. Coming across again I have 2 Rosemary bushes growing.

The bone of the design is on the diagram. You might want to give it a once over, all trail and error.
The citrus orcard is on the west side of the property allowing it to get heaps of sun just about all day. More trees will need to be planted if we going to have a steading surply of fresh juice.

The soil has been improved with heaps of compost and mulched sugarcane and chook manure. The property has a gentle slope requiring every raised box to be filled up with the good stuff, a bit like terracing and steps laid. This is were the little trailer comes in handy, used to push the wheelbarrow but no more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wow great little book on pest control.

I love visiting OP shops just to browse through the books, always end up with lots of reading matter. One of my favorite Author is Maeve Binchy, just found another of her books Heart and Soul and can't wait to start reading it. But first I need to finish The woman in the picture by Viki Wright. Some books end up in my secret statch box for when I can sit down one day in the next few years on my veranda, on the farm with nothing to do but read.

Op shop have wonderful books, one I found recently was how to control, trap and rid pests from your home and garden. No not with the old spray can of Mortien or Doom, but environmentally healthy. Tiny Game Hunting By Hilary Dole Klein & Adrian M Wenner has been adaptedfor Australia by John Dengate, he used to feature regularly on Burke's Backyard and on ABC Radio. Not sure if it's still in print but it a very clever book.

I would like to share some of the recipes from this book with you.

Garlic Chilli Spray

1 x garlic bulb (not clove)
1 x tablespoon chili powder
1 ltr water

Take garlic bulb and chop well. Add chili powder and water. Let steep overnight. Strain and spray. Good for aphids and spider mites.

I might even start growing cabbages again, something I haven't been successful at because of aphids. Normally pull them out way before they developed properly. Just can't be bothered.

Other recipes that look good: Wormwood Spray, turnip & parsnip spray, Tomato Leaf Spray.
Look out for this wonderful little book.

All this is great but it would be better if we did not even need to use these sprays either. Nature should be allowed to do it's own thing, creat an eco system that is so well balanced. It's a jungle out there bugs eating bugs, spiders casting their nets wide for a feed, birds catching a earthworms, with a flick of his tong, frogs can enjoy a tasty morcile. What a food chain.

Tomato Leaf spray
Tomato leaves have insecticial properties, Which can be explained by the fact they are related to the tobacco plant and to deadly nightshade.
2 cups of tomato leaves and stems
1 lt water
Chop plant parts coarsely and process in a blender with 2 cups of water. Let mess stand overnight. Strain and add 2 more cups of water, then spray on your plants.Excellant for aphids.

Onion Juice Spray
3 Onions
4 cups water
Take onions and cut in quaters, cover them with the water in a blender or food processor. Grind as fine as possible, strain, and spray. Good for aphids, mites, flea beetles, slaters and pill bugs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Healthy meals using leftovers and crunchies for the cookiejar

With plenty of time on my hands while visiting my mom in SA, I decided to page through her recipe books. Found a few old favorites and some new ones to try. Keeping the budget in mind and keeping it as easy as possible. Hope you find a few to try amongst them

Individual Pies (pastry makes 2 pies)

First the pastry: 1 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon Bicard powder 4 Tablespoons Margarine

cold water

Using the rub in method ... add marg to sifted dry ingredients

add a little cold water to make a stiff dough.

Roll out the pastry thinly, cover the pie dish, cut of excess pastry. Fill pastry with your favorite left overs. rollout remaining dough and cut tops, cover and press edges together. a quick brush with egg and milk mix. But my version is to pipe some mash potatoes ontop and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven in a hot oven(200) until golden.

Pie fillings: Chicken and veggies

Diced onions, carrots, peas, chunky potato pieces, shredded chicken breast.(cooked) add a thin seasoned gravy. Add curry or chillies just to warm it up a bit if desired.

Mushroom and Beef

Saute Slice mushrooms, garlic and diced onions

Add cubed beef (cooked) and add 1/2 pkt stroganoff mix

(Knorr,Continental or MaCornick) a little sourcream or gravy

Ham and cheese (great for brunch)

Saute diced onoin, add diced bacon or ham steak

Grate some tasty cheese and add a little chopped parsley

Add a egg to the mix to bind ingredients and season well

Fill pie with mix, crake another whole egg on top, add more grated cheese on top

Serve pies with a salad or homemade chips.

Leftover Tart ... Is great as you can vary ingredients as you have available

9 slices of bread cut into cubes 1 diced onion

500 ml cold milk a little parsley

250 gr leftover meat (anything) chopped up 1 ml mustard

200 gr tasty cheese grated 50 gr melted marg.

6 eggs beaten

Preheat oven 180/200 Spray baking dish with non stick spray. Soak bread in milk, add remaining ingredients, mix and pour into baking dish. Bake for 30 mins or until golden. Serve with a salad.


250gr margarine 1 cup coconut
2 cups rolled oats 1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon syrup 1 teaspoon Bicard
1 cup flour

Melt sugar, syrup and butter in a large saucepan on med heat. Add bicard (will froth up) remove from heat, mix dry ingredients into the syrup, mix well. Press mix into a sprayed Baking Tray. Bake in moderate oven until golden. Cut into squares and let cool before removing them. Store in an airtight container.

Crunchies were a regular as my kids were growing up. Next time I have a nice apple roll to post
Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Create a bird sanctuary in your backyard.

Birds have 3 basic needs, water, food and a safe place to breed. By installing a water feature/pond or just a container of water placed in a safe area in your garden. Take care that the water is not to deep, and that the birds don't drown, so place a stone or small bit of a tree branch in the water. If the pond has shallow areas, birds will drink and bath in it, while frogs will move in creating a whole new habitat.

Beautiful waterlillies on our pond.

Food is another basic need and we us gardeners can help by planting the correct plants to attract birds. Banksias, Grevillias and Bottlebrushes are good to consider when selecting plants from the nursery. Ask your nursery person for other species suitable to attract not only birds but also bees to your garden. If you want to attract a wide variety of birds to your garden you need to cater for seed eaters, fruit and meat eaters. A feeding table with diced fruit, a hanging bird seed holder or just by planting a few shrubs will help.

Our native birds love nesting in old hollow trees but if you don't have any, you could attach a few wooden boxes or hollow logs in your trees. That's not to say they will use them this season. We have a lovely old apple box tree where atleast 5 pairs of Australian wood ducks are nesting atm. We also have a pair of tawny frogmouth owls that visit at night and sleep cuddling up to each other. You just need to know where to look for them. Our very tame resident Magpie loves
digging for worm and bugs, following you when you working in the garden.

This is a bearded dragon sitting on an old fence post.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making my own Beef Jerky or Biltong as we call it.

Cowboy food, that what my mate Alby calls it, is best made in winter. All it takes is a old fashioned drying meat safe, the ones with the fly screen, a electric fan,a large plastic container with a lid, spices and a whole rump sliced by the kind butcher or yourself. Other cuts of beef could be used but I prefer rump, sliced a meduim thickness and then sliced into long strips about 5/6cm wide leaving a little of the fat on. You will need some soft gauge wire to cut 10/12 cm strips, bend these into s's. they are for hanging the meat up.

"My Pickle Mix"
a packet of Rock Salt 250gr
Cource ground Black Pepper to taste
Crushed Coliander Seeds, +-100gr pop them in a jiffybag, let the air out and seal, crush them using a bottle as a roller.
BBQ or Steak spice to taste.

Premix these ingredients into a large glass bottle or airtight container and use as needed.

Sprinkle a little mix into a container, start by neatly arranging a layer of meat strips, sprinkle mix lightly over meat, next layer of meat, more mix ...... cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Becareful not to overdo the mix because it could be to salty. Place in a very cool area or in the fridge for 24 hrs. Tip container over, making sure the meat is socked in the excess salty mix liquid, store for 6 hrs. Now I would thread the wire s's at one end and hang the strips up in the meat safe. Place the electric fan infront of the meat and let it blow the meat dry. Ready for slicing in 5/7 days

This is our version of an old fashioned meatsafe we built for this purpose, which houses my Jelly mould collection or old tins when not in use.
Under each shelf there are 3 rods to hang the meat up. Fly screen on 3 sides to keep the bugs out ( remember this is Australia and we have more than our fair share of flies) And then My warning system "Bells on a rope" for the Human wanting to raid it. Old news paper on the shelves to sock up any juices from the meat,( easy to dispose of)

Jerky is best keep in the paperbag or airtight container with some paper towel wrapped around it, in a cool spot. Our's don't make it long enough to worry about storage to much. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shelter from the rain and cold wind

It's nearly lambing season and being my first year keeping sheep, it very exciting preparing for our new babies. This weekend gone by we erected a shelter using treated timber posts, colourbond fencing that I found on the hard rubbish collection (side of the road) and some corrogate roofing given by a lovely demolition man from Newcastle. I saw them pulling down this building and destroying the sheets so I just stopped, walked over and asked if I could get 4 sheets for the lamb shelter. He was kind enough to help out, so while I was waiting for them to remove some sheet carefully, I went to fill up my 4x4 with diesel and got them each a kingsize Timeout chocolate. He did not want payment but I put some money in his pocket for a round of beers at the pub after work. The post we had bought at auction a while ago. The gates came with fencing we bought on Ebay last year.

My boys did a wonderful job with the shelter and after a slap of green paint it looks great. A heap of fresh bedding to keep lambs warm, and we set. Been reading up about lambs last night and Ineed to go past the local produce store for some spray on iodine and karo for the water. This should all start happening in the weeks.

Nelson the Ram. He the cause of all this fuss!

17th June: Yesterday the local shearer stopped by to drench, vaccinate, shave bums and faces and trim hooves. It's 5 star treatment at our place. He had a little feel and yep, we going to be grandmothers. Gave Sue (co-owner) a call and she was delighted about the good news.