Friday, 3 February 2017

Herbs - Garden Share Collective January 2017

Where does the time go?  It's already nearly the end of January and so it's the first Garden Share Collective for the year.  I've been missing in action for a while as I have not been doing anything much in my garden but I'm getting back into the swing of things.

The Garden Share Collective is a place where anyone who grows edible plants - from a few pots of herbs on a window sill to acres of vegetables on a farm - can share their progress and take a peek at what other people are growing in different areas of the world.  The link up is hosted by A Fresh Legacy and Rosehips and Rhubarb.

This months theme is Herbs.  So it is something I can actually blog about easily - even when the garden was overgrown (more than it is now!) and nothing much was doing, I always have some herbs that keep growing strongly.

I have a never ending supply of oregano (any suggestions what to do with this?)

Photograph of oregano

My apple mint sprung up again where it had managed to escape its pot and self propagate.

Photograph of a shoot of apple mint

Rosemary is always great for cooking

Do bay leaves count as herbs?  My bay tree looks a little sad, don't think it likes the heat very much.

Basil is always a favourite, although it seems to go to seed quickly.

I think this one is a thai basil

Photograph of basil with purple flowers
Even the basil is going to flower.

I don't have many other herbs in at the moment, it's too hot here in Sydney to have coriander growing, but that will go in in a few beds.

So this month I have done a great job of finally weeding, and am trying to keep on top of that!
Will be looking towards the cooler weather crops and will get the beds ready for those.
Might try again for some snow peas and/or sugar snap peas.

Happy gardening to all! 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The things you find when you weed....

So not only have I been quite slack on writing blog posts for a few months, I have to admit I have also been guilty of letting my garden get away from me.  I planted a few seedlings about a month ago, and I did attempt to repair some issues with my irrigation system, but it seems that all that happened was that I provided water for the weeds.  

Finally today I decided that it had gone too long.  I could almost do my own ads about "Who is going into the jungle" (can't say that I really watch "I'm a Celebrity", but I do like speculating about just which "celebrities" will be on)  just when someone went out in to our front yard.

So some hard yakka was in order.  I am going to be in serious pain tomorrow.  That couch grass is nasty (and was everywhere!).

I didn't actually take any before photos (it was really too embarrassing) but lets just say that after a few hours I have filled up my 240L green bin and I haven't totally finished. It looks so much better though.  And I found some hidden surprises while I was there.

Turns out the chilli plants I put in have half survived - and I even have one decent size fruit!

Picture of a single raspberry on the cane

Picture of raspberry cane beginning to fruit

My raspberry canes have flourished (even after I pulled some out to give to my niece in an attempt for some propagation - haven't heard how they went yet) and I managed to find some new fruit peeking around and almost ripe.

Picture of tomato plant with others in garden
Still some couch grass there - but in between the raspberry canes that is a single tomato plant.

A runaway tomato plant has self seeded from somewhere or other and looks healthy.

The oregano is going well, and the apple mint and spring onions seem to have also spread and grown well under significant weed cover.

I also saw two lady bugs, which were cute, and three types of spiders - not so cute.  Especially when I thought one might have been a funnel web (thank goodness for leather gardening gloves - and then when I looked up this spider chart on I realised it was probably just a Common Black House Spider.

This spider chart comes from the website

So now I just need to keep the weeds under control - hopefully the thick layer of sugar cane mulch I spread around helps.  And eat those raspberries!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Looking towards 2017

Well it's been a long time!  I got a little side tracked on the blog mid year and so despite having a few draft posts almost ready to go I have been rather quiet.  Work at the Crooked Cottage has slowed down too, but I have lots of plans for projects for the new year, both in the garden and in the house.  

I'm looking forward to a great year with more home grown produce than this year, and hopefully it will be the year I actually finish painting inside (probably just in time to start again!).

So wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May the year bring you health, happiness and prosperity, and lots of fun in your gardens and homes!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Beginner's guide to painting weatherboards

I haven't blogged for a while - too busy actually doing things to the Crooked Cottage!  As I posted about last time, we had our new balcony installed - and it looked fantastic.  I paid someone to paint it, as I didn't fancy (or even know how) to climb up and paint the sides and the fencing around the balcony itself.  

And then it looked so nice I had to do downstairs as well!

So I will post about the actual construction of the new downstairs facade at a future point.  Suffice to say it's done, it looks awesome and now we come to painting.

Being a tightarse frugal person I decided that I could paint the weatherboards myself.  Apart from a ladder there is no particular equipment needed, and I knew it would save us a significant amount of money.  Also as all the boards are brand new there is minimal prep work required.

Through trial and error (and also copying some of the professional painters tricks) I have some tips for anyone else who is going to give this DIY painting a go.

1. Prepwork sucks but it is important
Although I didn't have to sand the new board or strip any old paint, I did have to patch all the nail holes and then clean all the boards as they were dusty and dirty (I still don't have a verandah roof). The better prep you can do the better the finished product.  

Trying to keep the light protected by wrapping it in a plastic bag

2.  Put your painting trays inside large garbage bags
This one I stole from the professional guys.  If your paint trays are like mine and full of dirt from the shed, or remnants of old paint colours then it is much easier and less cleaning.  But the main saviour is the wash up and the environment - when you are done you can just pull the garbage bag off and put it in the bin, no washing up and risk of paint going into drains.  From experience - if you keep the same garbarge bag you probably need to peel the dried paint off first - I had a bad day with little scraps of dried up paint going on to the weather boards so after that I went to just one use per bag. 

3.  Keep a bucket of water to put your brushes into
If your brushes get dry they seem to not work so well.  They get a bit clogged up.  So if you have a few brushes, rotate them and throw them in the bucket in the mean time.  Also once you are done put all the brushes and roller covers into the bucket - nothing worse than ruining all your brushes (yes, I've done it many times) by not washing them out properly and finding them stiff as a board the next day.  The bucket manages this issue and the water can be discarded somewhere safely (not down the drain outside as that goes straight into our harbour!)

4.  Brush the paint on first then roll it
Well this one worked for me.  Brush into all the gaps, edges, and then across the whole weatherboard.  Then you can get the roller and make the finish more even and nicer by rolling up and down but no cracks are missed.  

So it's a slow job but I'm hoping the end result will be worth it!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Garden Share Collective May 2016 - Leaves

This month's Garden Share Collective comes around again and the theme is Leaves.

Which is a pretty apt theme for my garden - as that is about all I have at the moment.

I had hoped to at least take some nice photos of the garden and of the house but unfortunately due to the crazy storms in Sydney (and everywhere on the east coast) I have been spending all day trying to mop up leaks, and spinning and drying wet towels in front of the heater.  So no nice pictures!  But I do want to get it out in time for the link up, so I apologise for the non aesthetically pleasing post!
The radar for this evening - more rain coming.
I am still doing renovations with new weatherboards put up all around the front of the house.  This has meant most of my pots have been moved to the back yard, where they get limited sun, and being winter anyway not much is growing.  The only things that are going well are some of my bulbs and of course my weeds!

The tree in the back neighbours place is some type of gigantic oak tree and is the bane of my existence, as it is always dropping leaves.  I'm forever sweeping them up at the moment.  And that is all the activity I have been having in my garden.

My renovations are almost finished, and I have been painting on all my weekends when it hasn't been raining.  So there has been no time for gardening.  I also haven't yet been able to visit the Community Garden, although I have been in contact again, as I have to go at a time that I can meet with some members, and haven't yet been able to co-ordinate my times. 

However, I am hoping that next month I might get back into the garden.  Since my renovations are fininshed, I now want to work on the garden beds.  They somehow seem smaller and lower with my new verandah.  So I am thinking of building all the garden beds up, and putting in a new bed on the north side of my yard.   I will also be digging in my sprinkling system so that it is drippers under the beds rather than the current sprays above the ground.  So that will probably end up quite a bit job!

So this month will realistically be no gardening.  But maybe just some digging in of compost, tidying, and planning will be on the cards.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is actually getting done in their gardens this month!