Sunday 5 January 2014

Holiday Project: Terrarium

School holidays are here and this little low-cost hands-on project is a great way to fill in some time.

A few years back one of our sons had a fish, and once the 2nd one was replaced... we decided our fish keeping days were over! So this 'helicopter' tank has lied dormant for a while. Perfect container for a terrarium!

Other items required include, small shells or plastic toys, rocks ($3 from BIG W), succulent potting mix, cuttings from existing succulents and a 'poker' chopstick for making the holes to poke your cutting into.

Thinking about how most of our plants/gardens are suffering with the hot dry summer, this little project is a great way to get kids involved/interested in gardening without tender loving care required for plant survival!

A layer of pebbles on the base ensures good drainage, then add a good layer of potting mix. Plants can start to be added, thinking about heights, begin in a central location and work your way out.

Master 8 decided to add 'army men' figurings to his terrarium, plus shells.

Master 5 taking a closer inspection
A final layer of rock is added towards the end, depending on what needs 'weighing' down.

Some items like shells we found are better placed in last.

All in all, I think you will agree the end result looks pretty fab!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Hot weather = perfect Tomato & Capsicum growing weather

Tomatoes and capsicum love the hot weather, plenty of sunshine and water and handful of complete organic fertiliser at planting, jam a stake in as well and bring it on...

So far I've done a punnet of tomato seedlings (Pear) - with a followup planting due in 4 weeks. Plus I direct sowed seeds (Roma). My pre-planting fertiliser was blood and bone, plus a bit around the drip line of the plant once in. In about 3 weeks I will put some pelleted chicken manure fertiliser like Dynamic lifter around as well - or I will try and rake up a good amount out of the chook house!

Make sure you're planting some beetroot, corn, carrot and lettuce to have in your summer time salads as well now hey! Another day delayed, another missed opportunity!

Happy planting :)
Okay so the 'stringline' is a bit of an overkill for lining my stakes up ...

Working with seedlings can be a great opportunity for kids to get involved!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Clucky Chooky

We've just encountered our first 'clucky chook' ... rather a surprise considering this hen is barely 5 months old! She had been on the nest with her feathers puffed out, looking very cosy for a couple of days. Our nest box is a rollaway type, so she isn't even sitting on eggs!

A few growls and shrieks when we went near her was the other indicator she was nesting on her non-existent eggs. So we don't have a rooster (to fertilise the eggs) and rely on them for eggs (they stop laying when clucky), so obviously this situation is not good. 

Before we had a chance to google more info, I happened to see the kids hairdresser, Judy, who had  experience with 'clucky chooks'. Seems their body temp needs cooling (gives another meaning to animals going on 'heat') and the best way to do this is firstly remove them from the nesting area; preferably in a cage; raised off the ground to get the air-flow under their broody body. They also need to be made 'uncomfortable' - no where to lay as such.

One google site also said that with some hens, all they need is a few times of being physically removed from the nest and carried out to the yard where their flockmates are ranging - that seems like the 'softly softly' way.

Opting for the cage approach, fully stocked on food and water we will let her out in a few days and see if the 'broody buster' cage works.

Side view - she is not looking to amused by the whole situation!

Top view, old saucepan for water works well - secure and full

Friday 4 October 2013

Free Mulch

Now this is the best idea I think I’ve ever had… So we had the spud crop etc in one section of the garden now the broccoli is nearly done, and I was a bit slack once the spuds were harvested, I should have planted some rye grass straight away for “green manure crop” but I didn’t now I’ve got soil that looks lifeless, it needs organic matter digging into it.

So I’ve been thinking what’s around here that I can cut up/ cut down for mulch to dig in, don’t really have anything at the moment, and I don’t want to buy any; then while looking at the lawn, I thought PERFECT… I always cut our lawn quite high in parts (nice and soft to walk on) no grass seed present etc. I thought I’ll just get the push mower and take the grass down low and put the clippings in the garden – note the grass is basically dead at the moment cos of no rain in long time so this isn’t like putting extremely green clippings in the soil causing heat.

So I scattered the clippings over the top of soil; left for few days to really dry out; then dug in, beautiful!

Best part is I didn’t go somewhere and fork out cash.. done deal!

Sunday 18 August 2013

In the garden today ...

OK so the garden is firing, weather is a cool 5 - 8°c at day break and up to 28°c during the day.

We are doing daily pickings of the new crop of beans. The follow-up planting - which has not flowered yet - will be ready on que as the current one ends. Succession planting is a vital for everyday vege like beans.

Just started to harvest another carrot crop and the next lot is about an inch high. Jeez the last carrot crop was a cracker! Actually talking about cracker crops.. I have never seen so much great looking broccoli that we have been eating from the garden in the last 6 or so weeks - mind blowing stuff (can you tell this stuff excites me?).

Pea shoots have been a great hit around here too - Jules mixing it up in salads, stirring through stir-frys etc. Peas in the pod too, BUT honestly half of it doesn't even make it to the kitchen cos' what we like to do is forage about the garden - we all just go in there and pick stuff and eat it on the spot. The vege garden for us a like a meeting place, our family end up in there several times a day over the weekend chatting and foraging like a bunch of chooks - its all happy times my friend.

Motivating you to plant some seeds?   ….join the revolution and cast some seed today!

Fresh head of Broccoli

Older head, going to flower - but still great to eat

Monday 12 August 2013

Spud Time

Ok spud time again - check out how we went...

Fantastic little helpers too! It was like unearthing gold to them.

This is the first crop in the new patch, so I had allot riding on this – well my own self-interest anyways.

Yep our yield was better than last year, but I wouldn’t be boasting to the ABC’s Gardening Australia about it put it that way. Maybe we got 6 spuds (good size) under each plant so not super happy with the deal considering the time and space it takes up.

But worth noting is; other than the pre-planting fertilizer, I didn’t add any other fertilizer so next crop I will add some blood and bone and see what happens.

Friday 7 June 2013

Zinnias are Awesome

"They bloom in vivid colors from summer until frost, are a snap to grow from seed, 
and attract birds, bees and butterflies to your yard"

One of our most successful flowers to grow has been the humble Zinnia. I guess you could call it a heritage flower, in the sense it has been around forever - If your grandparents were gardeners - they probably grew these.

The longevity and easy care nature makes it perfect for anyone looking to have a colourful display three seasons of the year.

The on-set of winter has meant however we no longer have them! They are slowly dying down but now we are blessed with dried seed buds! Yay - love seed collecting!

In a couple of months when the last frost has past, we will start re-planting - they are extremely easy to plant from seed.

Roll the seed head between your hands and scatter for a rambling cottage garden or pick out the spear-head shaped seeds, they range in colour from pale brown to black and are a similar size to a sunflower seeds, but flat. They can grow quite tall, so near a fence or other shrubs is ideal. As a rule of thumb, loosely cover the seed to a depth three times it's size. Allow 6 weeks before your garden is awash of Zinnia colour!

Dead heads don't look that attractive in the garden, but mean many more flowers for the future!

Used here in a foam block for a table centrepiece.