Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Week of Bushfires

I don't know at your place if you are experiencing bushfires in your area but here we have had smoked filled days just about every day. All these places are 1 to 2 hours away by car.

Bees Nest: This is near Dorrigo and an evacuation centre has been set up for residents in danger.  The fire has covered more than 66,500 hectares and is out of control.
Drake: A watch and act warning is in place for the Long Gully Road fire, burning south of Drake, Tabulam and the Bruxner Highway. It has burnt more than 40,000 hectares.

 Shark Creek (Yamba): An advice-level alert is in place for an out-of-control bushfire in the Yuraygir National Park and Shark Creek area, south of Yamba. The fire has burnt more than 9,000 hectares.

Combine all this with the couple of  hot days and very windy conditions, you have to appreciate the way fire fighters (what would we do without them) and general public all come together to help.
Down in the valley from our place, Eerie light with this smoke
Looking Dorrigo Way.

The weather has really been crazy, either really cold winds, very hot, very smokey or very windy making it difficult to work in the garden. I did manage to get some clearing of the snow peas in one of the beds, and cleared all the weeds, and as I am not supposed to still lift heavy stuff, got John to load some bags of cheap potting mix to the top and dug it in.

The 2nd. bed I am setting up as a square foot garden and half started it, but it has had a topping of soil also and the new watering system for that now in place and working.

A slow start this year as by now most of the tomatoes, carrots and such would have all been planted. The gallbladder operation has certainly put me behind, and my energy levels are low.  Although is saying that I am picking from the current carrot bed,as well as  lettuce, picked 2 cabbages this week,  sweet potato, and bok choy. The last of the tomato bushes I have pulled out so also set some seeds for everything and hope they will start growing very quickly.

In the meantime this week, changed all my fence pots over with the left over petunias I did on the bushhouse wall. Tidied up what was thriving, and now it looks new and fresh.

Flowers are also starting to appear on the roses.

Blue Moon

Brindabella Pink Bouquet
Azaela in full bloom

The Olive tree which was supposed to be cut in half is now full of blossom and bees. It is actually humming when you go near it.

This Red Robin Bottle Brush is gorgeous.
The most interesting thing though is the spike that the Grass Tree (Black Boy) has produced is now flowering and attracting the birds especially the rosellas.

The spike  is very long, and really unusual to see.

This is as we see it.

That's it for this week, hoping that the fires are not affecting you. Stay Safe.

Till Next Time.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ipswich Weekend.

My niece has a new home near Ipswich and my sister and I travelled up for a 3 day weekend to help her with  her new garden. It is a lovely old home with an impressive backyard. Miss B wants to become self sufficient, and do all the things I love. Nice to have at least one of the children follow in the footsteps, with not only growing but preserving as well.

It is roughly a 5 hour trip so we stopped at Woodburn on the way for morning tea. What a lot of work has gone on here with a new toilet block, play area and BBQ plus  seating with tables. All with great views of the river.

Mosaic in front of the new toilet block.

Part of the new seating .
While we waited for Miss B to come home from work, Jan knew of a great material shop that sold quilting fabrics, as well as other dress fabrics and really cheap prices. So of course bought some there, followed by a trip through Ikea,

We finally arrived about 4 and toured the garden which is going to be great. All the many trees mostly self sown, were cut down and great clumps of palms cleared out.

Fire wood from a few trees they cut down.

New garden beds being put in, and first one is filled and ready to go.

3 spoilt chickens.

Saturday  we visited Rocklea  Markets, which is huge and has been extended recently. Lots and lots of fresh vegetables, plus the usual clothing stalls. The fruit and veg were also very cheap in comparison what the supermarkets sell it at. Fresh Stanthorpe apples were a highlight, unwaxed and fresh off the trees.

Miss B bought me a Pink Geranium, so will have to propagate it for her plus the many others I have.

We also visited a wholesale fruit nursery miles out of town, and she got 10 fruit/ berry trees, of which were all planted after we left.

Ready for planting

Area Fruit Trees are going in.

 The weather of course turned very hot in the 35C mark and extremely windy, only to be 11 overnight and early morning. I wasn't allowed to do to much digging but the girls were very tired each day.

One of the largest bins I have ever seen.

Front yard area was cleaned of anything ferny, yuccas, palm, including the two on the LHS as we travelled home. Lavenders, frangipanni, some herbs and a few low growing aussie natives going in here.

 Miss B also cooked a wonderful Vegetable Lasagna as I am still a bit wary of meat, and feeling very well, now that it is nearly 3 weeks after operation.

Super delicious using roasted veg, and very filling.

 The pasta dough was made with spinach as well.

Our trip home, was smoked filled after all the fires and the wind making it worse over the weekend. We stopped at Ulmarra for lunch, and looked in all the little shops there.

Miss B made delicious mini quiches and cake.

Bats hanging out in a nearby tree

Another great river view.

All in all it was a great girls weekend, and we will go back to do some more help. I really appreciated getting away from here, and having time to think and plan. Family is so much fun.

Hope your weekend was just as great.

Till next time.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Spring is here on Fathers Day

In Australia it is Fathers Day, the father of this household is out doing his thing at the Community Garden, while I am recovering from the Gallbladder Operation but also getting ready for my next talk this month on preserving etc.,so today started with dehydrating some bananas. I hope to hand these out for a taste test also. The dryer is 7 drawers and I fill them all.

There are also some apple and pears to work with. The pears are still a bit green, and will do them some time this week. I thought I would bottle these and do half bottles and half dried for the apples.

I have also got this whopper of a sweet potato to deal with as well.

Yesterday I planted 4 cucumbers, and some flowers along the edge. I am not supposed to dig, so John helped and turned it over and we added some new compost to it as well. I planted 5 cucumbers which is a lot but will let them intermingle all over and maybe train to climb the fence. Have no idea what type they are but  pinched rescued them from a Community Garden bed which had a ridiculous 32 planted in the same space I have lol.

Cucumber bed and flower edge.

 It is also potato time and this week I am expecting some Kipflers, which are a thin long one and great for potato salad, but also planting at the moment some Otway Reds, a new one for me. All of these go in huge pots.

The Pink Lady sweet peas have been going great guns, both in the front and back and starting to set seed on the flowers I missed picking. When they are finished the climbing beans will go in.

An Archway of flowers

Working in the back garden at the moment.

Been picking some beautiful tomatoes from this plant, will save seed of this one.

 The snow peas are on their way out also, we have picked so many this year been great coolish weather for them.

Snow Peas

More Snow peas and dying dill on the other side.

Generally the front I am just picking from, carrots, snow peas, lettuce, parsley, and will dig every bed over and plant lots of salad veg, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, spinach, climbing beans also, zucchini, and of course some new driveway pumpkins. This means starting a whole lot of new seeds off. Due to the operation I feel a bit behind, but as the weather is now warming up won't take long.

Friday we also did the stall at Centro, and made $186.00, so pleased with that.

 Well that was my week. Happy Fathers Day.

Till next time.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Small Garden Lecture

Yesterday (Sunday) at 10.30am. I gave my 2nd talk on Small Garden Growing, and  this followed the Beginner one a couple of months ago. Thirty people turned up, which was a great compliment. I found it exhausting though as only 5 days out of hospital, not quite up to speed.

It is a hard thing to teach really, not knowing what sort of small gardens I was referring to. Still quite a few thanked me and remarked they enjoyed it.

As a door prize I made up a hanging basket full of succulents, and Eco products sent me some pots of seaweed powder, so used one, a seedling starter kit I had and Jan made a bag, which was joined by several hessian bags handed in that day. 7 lucky prizes in all, which is not bad.

I thought it would take a bit longer as it is advertised through the council as 2hrs. but I had finished after 1hr. The ladies bought out all the food and everyone enjoyed a lovely lunch, and by the time that was over 2 hrs had gone. I remarked on this to my sister as we left pretty early as I needed to lie down, and it was 12.30pm by the clock. So I suppose in actual fact the whole session was 2 hrs.
Two members on the sales tables.

The next one is in September, and is already booked out. Plot to Pantry, so I had better start doing a few sample bottling, and dehydrating, in the next 3 weeks, and gathering all my equipment together. I wrote to Fowlers, and got a lovely book for a door prize and lots of pamphlets.

Just a quick one today, feeling exhausted.

Till next time.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Update Community Gardens Aug.2019

It has been a while since I spoke about the gardens and a lot has happened, especially with the Pavillion. Thanks to Johns  daily dedication of building it, but also getting all the money in grants to provide for it all.  He has worked hard, and one member is an electrician and been helping also.

We have 36 active members now but 70 on the books. The committee runs the co-ordination of each garden where as "someone" is in charge of a bed or area. This is sort of working but it is a fine line between MY garden and Community, as when I have gone and weeded I am being told that so and so won't like that.

So here is a walk around of pictures.
The Entrance and Gardens. Native  Bees are flourishing, and hanging on RHS of post.

Right Hand Side

Left Hand Side has lost 2 Grevillias.

 One thing though, is it has done more good me resigning as at least 6 people have replaced me, but there is a short fall of no-one is picking the community vegetables continually, and the general lack of knowledge. I have offered to teach small classes over a time, so we shall see.

Right Side as you walk in

Left Side

 Below is the area behind the Pavilion, looking toward the Native Food Garden in Boomerang shapes.
The High School Special Ed group work around the Arch but haven't turned up this year. New sweet pea frame for selling is now full of Pink Lady Sweet Peas.

New Trees along the fence line, part of the Bee Grant.

 This next area is the Boomerang Native Garden. Follwed by Rosellas in Front, two Dragon Fruit  and Blueberry Row, then several rows of grape vines, both red and white. The arch is  4 Stone fruit Trees.

One of the Boomerangs, Bush Figs and limes  are growing well

 Rosellas in Front

Dragon Fruit

Notice gardens along the bank edge also with arch walkway.

Plums, Nectarine,  and Peach Arch frame for covering against fruit fly when bigger.

  Bank Gardens are fuller now and flourishing.

Flower Garden for selling area, Water Garden in the corner, in early days. Hanging Gardens in Middle now made.

Only just finished last week. Known as the Hanging Gardens of Boambeelong. Paper Daisies behind have been selling well.

More growth in this now, strawberry beds either side.

 Back of Container area, pumpkin patch, Sweet potato on fenceline, and will be corn patch in Spring.
8 IBCs have now been connected for more water.

Pavilion now has two new tanks from this month, one with a filter for drinking water.
Solar now on roof, which boils the kettle for morning tea.

New trees and bulbs along edge of path.

Seen from the Boundary Fence.

Committee still to decide whether to paint doors or not.

Bench is still to go on and sink in on RHS

There is a small fridge fitted in, and our you beaut whizz band Portable Pizza Maker still to use, although John and I had a practice at home. A day will be to teach them how to use it, and you have just about the whole story. It has come along way since May 2017. The members have worked hard. I turn up now and then to check on things, and do a sq. foot garden for demo. My own garden is big enough to work several hours a day in it, so I am certainly not missing the hard work in setting the garden up.

This end thing is for instant hot water, it turned out uglier than we thought.
Not like I have nothing to do now, as in the meantime I have decided to make cards and sell them online at some point. Not a lot done yet but will be aiming for launch in September with some Christmas cards then I will build it up.

It is our turn Friday week to do the Market Stall at Centro and next Sunday I will be holding my 2nd. 2 hr. talk, this time  on Small Gardening Growing, which is containers, and sq. foot method, trellising,wicking beds etc. It has been booked out for weeks as is the one next month of Plot to Pantry. Unfortunately tomorrow I am having my Gallbladder out, so I hope I am upright and standing. My sister is helping with all the demos and handouts thank goodness.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Till Next Time .