Friday, 18 August 2017

A Shed of One's Own

"A woman must have money and a room of one's own if she is to write fiction." Virginia Wolf


And if a woman is going to garden then she needs a shed of her own. I do have a shed of my own. I thought I would share some photos.






The steel bench in the background has been moved outside
and is now my potting bench.





I am very grateful to have my own garden storage space. It helps keep me organised. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Procrastination




“Procrastination is like a credit card: It’s a lot of 
fun until you get the bill.”  

~Christopher Parker



Monday, 14 August 2017

Modern Living




"Modern life has bought much that is complex, but a well-organised home with right ideals will be run so as to plan the spending of the family income to best advantage of all and to consider the spiritual as well as the material needs of the family." 

Do you too, believe that modern life has bought  much that is complex?  Would it surprise you to know that this quote is from a book published in 1913?  Shelter and Clothing: A textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna Maria Cooley, was written for high school girls. The authors of the book went on to write that simplicity of living adds to the freedom and independence of a family. This freedom and independence is due in part to avoiding the trap of keeping up with the Joneses. 


In our modern times we have even more 'things' that can rob us of our freedom and independence. Some are inexpensive but add up over time, for example a daily take away coffee. It has been said that we can nickel and dime our way to poverty. That is because small unnecessary expenditures can have a big impact on our annual budgets. Other things such as overseas holidays and new cars can be very expensive  - too expensive if they are things we cannot afford. 

Take away coffees, unnecessary new clothes, overseas holidays and new cars are not bad things in themselves. If however they are not affordable then they can add much to the complexity of our lives. 


My aim is to simplify my life.  To live within my means. Simple, healthy food. Simple, old fashioned entertainment and pastimes. Simple hospitality. 





Sunday, 13 August 2017

A House Built By Wisdom


A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. Prov 24:3-4 NLT



I have gained much knowledge  in the subject of building up my home over the last few years. Much of this has been thanks to other bloggers. I would just like to say how grateful I am for your help. Thank-you. It has been great being able to spend time with a community of like-minded individuals. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

In The Dark




But even in the darkest situations the human spirit flutters, sings, and sometimes soars. Something in us keeps us focused on a brighter day and a better situation. 
~ Thomas Moore






And thank goodness for the human spirit within each one of us that keeps us going. I have been through dark times when my spirit has still managed to sing for short periods. This has given me hope and encouragement. Usually the uplifting of my spirit has come about by focusing on something other than myself and my worries. The deep blue of the sky. A gentle breeze. The sparkle of the ocean. Even a good movie where someone has managed to overcome adversity in their own lives has uplifted my spirit.


I hope that you too have things in your life that can make your spirit flutter, sing or soar. Why not create a list of these things so that when those dark hours weigh you down you can look to your list and do something that will help lift your feelings?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Finding Happiness



"The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go round, 
if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way." ~ Jean Webster

The quote above is from a 1912 novel  "Daddy Long Legs". This quote reminds me that happiness is there for me if I am willing to open my eyes and see it. To make the effort to turn my attention away from the negative to the positive. 

I have found plenty of happiness during the last week in my garden. We have now entered our official dry season. The soil is parched and I have been spending extra time  watering plants. However last night we received about 15 mm of rain, so now the grass will green up and the plants will not require extra watering for the time being.  

I have been doing some work at my potting bench. Don set up a potting
area for me a couple of months back. 

I bought a punnet of petunias during the week, as I needed to fill in a couple of gaps in two pots. I planted the rest of the petunias into the garden. Unfortunately Moxie got away with one of the seedlings while I was filling my watering can. I think she may have chewed it up because I could not find it anywhere in the garden. 

I did a little pruning during the past week and potted up some of the prunings as cuttings. 

I removed the spent pansy and planted a petunia into this pot
with the pink phlox.

Also, our water tanks are running low and if we don't have good soaking rain soon we will have to order water in. This will be a first for us.  Don has pointed out to me that the water truck may have problems coming down our driveway due to some high branches from trees creating an obstruction. This meant that we needed to buy a petrol pole saw in order to trim these branches. So we went into town during the week and found a pole saw that met Don's requirements. 

I had my six monthly appointment with my oncologist last week. I have been in remission for three years so  that means I only need to see my oncologist every 12 months from now on instead of every six months. 

Moxie feigning innocence.


Do you remember how I wrote a couple of weeks ago that we had spaghetti bolognese on our weekly menu? Well we didn't have it that week but I made it over the weekend. So here is what our current week's menu looks like

Saturday: Spaghetti  bolognese
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Creamy chicken casserole - this is to use up the extra bacon I defrosted when I made the spaghetti dish.
Tuesday: Leftover casserole
Wednesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole - this dish is on the menu to use up vegetables I have on hand; specifically celery, capsicum, carrot and zucchini
Thursday: Leftover casserole
Friday: Toasties - we nearly always have toasted sandwiches on Friday nights.

I had planned to make Fruit Crunchies for our morning teas this week. However on checking the fridge I see that I have peanut butter I need to use up so I will be baking Peanut Butter Slice instead.

I found this under the tarp covering my compost pile a couple of weeks back.

This week I am hoping to:

  •  Start work on a new compost pile, I have mentioned this before but I have not started as yet  
  • Do a little work on my new garden patch
  • Make some progress on the scarf I am knitting
  • Visit a recently opened discount supermarket in a nearby regional city. 
I hope you have a peaceful and prosperous week. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Slow Progress

"Frustration with work can take many forms. One complaint I frequently hear is the feeling of getting nowhere. ~ Thomas Moore



There is always mowing to be done. Though the fields are not as
green currently as they were in this shot.

Most of us at times experience the feeling we are not getting anywhere. That our progress is too slow or non-existent. Last week I have made some progress. Not much. Many would see it as very little. However I am content.  I am moving in the right direction. I know that life is not made entirely by big dramatic steps and experiences - though I have lived through my share of those too. Life can be built or changed through a series of small steps. One building upon another.

Last  week I shared my menu plan with you. Did we in our household adhere to that menu plan? For the most part we did, though we had more leftovers than I planned for  and so can carry an extra meal over to this week. This saves us both time and money. Also there was one day when I forgot to defrost any meat. That evening we improvised by making curried eggs and rice for dinner. I also like to have tinned Tuna on hand for those occasions when I forget to defrost meat.

 Not having to make dinner every night from scratch gave me some extra time so I used some of that time to bake a chocolate slice. This is good for us because we have buying more ready-made biscuits and cakes of late.  So I was able to reap a reward in both saving money, creativity and also gain the satisfaction that comes from producing one's own needs.



In the garden I have transplanted some volunteer lettuce. I have sown seeds into my seed raising tray. The seeds sown were cherry tomatoes, tri-colour zucchini, russell lupins, spaghetti squash, flanders poppy (these were old seeds so may not be viable), sugarlump tomatoes, and comfrey. This week I started preparing another new vegetable patch. It is just a small section of garden running between two already laid out round gardens. I cut through the lawn using a garden spade and lifted it out. Then I forked over the area, added some gypsum and then some ashes and charcoal. Later on I will add some garden soil, compost and mulch. But that may not happen til next week.


A good area for a picnic lunch

During the week we had a lovely picnic lunch at the riverside parkland near the boat moorings. Our nearest shop is a few kilometres away and the river parkland is a street back from the shop. So because we had to go to the shop for milk and bait we decided to take advantage of the short trip by packing sandwiches and a flask of coffee. A simple and inexpensive pleasure. It is a quiet and peaceful spot. The only noise came from the birds, the lapping of the water, the on and off barking of a dog and the occasional boat coming in off the river via the nearby boat ramp. While we were there we met a new local who had just moved to the area. He was out walking with his father and their dog. Because we all had the time we chatted for a while. Another simple pleasure. We often meet other locals this way.

Thieves of Joy


"There are two thieves 
that frequently 
rob us
 of today's joy, happiness and peace - 
past hurts and future fears." 
~ Joseph Wolpert







This quote is such a good reminder for me to live in daytight compartments. I don't know if you are anything like me but I have let past hurts and future fears rob me of many hours of happiness.
  
I have written the following before but I think it bears repeating.


Sufficient to today is the goodness thereof.  I am fully equipped to get through today. More than that if I stop to think I can find many things to be grateful for. I stay in that moment experiencing the gratitude for the bounty I have. I give thanks for it. All is well in my world.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Garden Records



Banjo in the Garden

Your mind is a garden, 
Your thoughts are the seeds, 
You can grow flowers, 
Or you can grow weeds.
~ Anon


Isn't that a great quote shown above? Anon must be one clever person to come up with such good sentiments. 

I would have a better idea of what seeds I am growing in my garden if I kept more detailed information on what I have planted.  For example, I did not write down any information regarding the snow pea seedlings I planted out, and now weeks later I cannot remember a thing about them. I am now in the process of collecting the seed for storage. What was the variety of snow pea I planted? Is it a hybrid? All I really know is that it is a purple snow pea.  

Purple snow pea seed pods

On Sunday I transplanted some volunteer lettuces. I love volunteer plants. I have other volunteer lettuces going to seed. I hope to have a third generation come up in the garden. However once again I don't appear to have recorded the variety of lettuce I originally planted. It would be very useful to have that information now.


Volunteer lettuces re-planted into a garden with more sun. Also in the
garden is a pineapple tomato. 

So moving forward I hope to see improvements in my record keeping. What about you? Do you manage to keep records of what you plant in the garden? When do you record this type of information? 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Personal Growth






"Seeing yourself as you want to be is the key to personal growth" 
~ Anon

Monday, 24 July 2017

Haste Makes Waste

"Haste makes waste no less in life than in housekeeping."  
~ Henry David Thoreau


Do you agree that haste makes waste in housekeeping? Lack of time certainly affects my ability to prevent and manage waste. Is that the case with you? 

This week my menu plan consists of the following:-

Monday ~ Corn, Potato and Chicken Chowder
Tuesday ~ Leftovers
Wednesday ~ Mustard silver-side potato bake
Thursday ~ Leftovers
Friday ~ Toasties
Saturday ~ Spaghetti Bolognese
Sunday ~ Leftovers

As you can see we don't mind leftovers in our household. Eating leftovers frees us from cooking every day. I am also hoping to do a bit of baking during the week as well. 

Other tasks I would like to work on or complete this week include:

  • Make another batch of soup and sauce mix
  • Start another compost heap
  • Transplant some volunteer lettuce seedlings
  • Clean and store some tomato seeds
  • Collect some snow pea seeds
  • Sow more veggie seeds
  • Start knitting a scarf

What are your plans for the week? 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Way of LIfe




  

For you show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Ps 16:11 NLT

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Ideal Life


"Good books, good friends and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life".  

~ Mark Twain


Well I don't know if a sleepy conscience paves the way for an ideal life. However good books and good friends really do enhance life. At the moment I am reading (again) Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking" and re-reading "At Home in Mitford" by Jan Karon. Which goes to prove that good books and good friends can be one and the same. 


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Holey Hibiscus Batman!


"Remember that children, marriages and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." H. Jackson Brown Jr





My holey hibiscus

I went forth into the garden today to do some weeding and sundry other gardening jobs. In one garden I discovered this poor hibiscus had been playing host to lots of caterpillars. Does this sort of thing happen to your hibiscus plants? I have been diligently watching my newly planted hibiscus. I have been hunting up and removing the caterpillars from my Rose of Sharon. However the hibiscus shown in the photo above was not so well tended. 


Banjo and Moxie



I don't know why I should have such trouble working my way through all my gardening tasks. Especially now that I have the very excellent help of the pair shown above. 


I did manage to prune my potted Hydrangea this morning. 





I applied Gypsum to the soil of this recently potted Blue-berry bush. 



I also did some very careful pruning on this mandarin tree. It suffered during the hot, dry, summer and it was difficult keeping the water up to it. Particularly as we were spending more time renovating our home in the city to prepare it for going on the market. 

And, of course I did quite a bit of weeding. 



When lunchtime rolled around Don and I drove down to the river for a picnic lunch. The lunch consisted of egg and lettuce sandwiches (as our picnic lunches often do) followed by carrot cake. However while we were lunching, the weather changed rapidly,   the sky turned grey and a cold wind bore down on us. So it became necessary to eat rather more quickly than we had bargained for. 

After lunch we drove into town to pick up our mail and some groceries as well as fill up the car and some jerry cans. And so another day ends as evening draws in. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

In My Garden ~ May 2017

In General
 The weather has been beautiful the last few weeks. I have been weeding, establishing new seedlings, creating new beds and making compost.

The mulberry and cumquat (Citrus japonica) trees are the only plants fruiting at the moment.




I applied blood and bone and sulphate of potash as well as compost to my mandarin and lemon trees last month. They are both in need of skirting and opening up in the middle. I have lots of fruit on the mandarin tree though I don't know how good it is going to be considering the long dry period we had prior to cyclone Debbie.

We have a grapefruit tree that is in need of some TLC. However I would like to see the plant removed. Don wants to keep it. We don't eat grapefruit and no one we know wants any grapefruit when harvest time comes. Could it be that people actually like the idea of eating grapefruit rather than the actual practice of eating grapefruit? Everyone tells me to keep the tree, but no one wants the fruit. I can't see the point of wasting time and money looking after the tree if we have no use for it.

Planting
I have a new hibiscus plant, salvia seedlings, dianthus seedlings and a blueberry bush I want to plant out. The blueberry bush is going into a large pot near the outdoor area.

I would also like to plant out some more lettuce seedlings toward the middle of the month.

I would like to prepare a new garden bed ready to plant some tomato seeds or seedlings. Also I would like to plant some comfrey seeds next to my compost bins.

I have two pots containing turmeric. I am on the watch so when the leaves die back I know it is time to harvest the turmeric. I will be replanting healthiest looking roots/tubers after digging plenty of compost through the soil. As a matter of fact I could get busy on preparing the planting spots now.

Turmeric in pots


Pruning
As mentioned I need to prune my lemon and mandarin tree.

Watering
Passion fruit needs less water this month. The Lychee needs to be monitored and watered as needed - it doesn't like to dry out.

Our passionfruit needs less water now.


Fertilising
I want to check the pH of the soil around the mango trees. If the pH is 6.0 or more I will add gypsum if the pH is under 6.0 I will add lime.

Pest and disease management
Lychees - I will check for enrose mite and spray with wettable sulphur if needed
Mango trees - I need to spray with a copper based spray to combat anthracnose. We had almost no mangoes last year but that was due to the weather rather than the health of the trees.

Thanksgiving.
 Australia has thanksgiving day in May. I will pause and give thanks for my burgeoning garden. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Economy





Economy is  a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Monday, 1 May 2017

What Sherri Did in April 2017




In General

This month we began our homestead living in earnest. Our residence in the city has been sold and we have moved to the homestead. For the past number of years we have been managing our homestead in short bursts. Now we hope to see the gradual unfolding of our homesteading plans.


Good-by little house in the city.


First the unpacking.

As you know we also brought home two puppies during the month. Moxie and Banjo are a real delight and will grow to be great company for each other and us. It is really nice to have canine company once again.

Watching the action from inside the dog run


I also updated my CPR this month.

My specialist and GP had sent me for a number of tests over the last couple of months as a follow-up to some of the readings on my scheduled six-month tests. They were monitoring some abnormal readings which could have been a result of the chemo I had back in 2014, however the last lot of tests showed that the abnormal reading had returned to normal.


In the garden
I have planted out my keyhole garden; planted out some snow peas against a trellis; made a new hot compost pile, created a new perennial 'onion' bed planted with Spring Onion, Society Garlic and Chives. I have done lots of weeding - the weeds certainly sprang up following the rains provided by Cyclone Debbie.

I have also planted up some pots for colour. Included in the planting are Lisianthus, Dianthus, Pansy and Freckled Face.

Keyhole garden with compost basket in the middle
What I have been reading

I have spent little time reading as the weather is too good to spend time indoors. However I have been reading from a publication "Tools for Living a God Centred Life" which is giving me some helpful reminders.

I have also been reading from 'Life Magic' by Ruth Ostrow.

I have been re-reading Peter Cundall's Organic Gardening. Which is a magazine from the Gardening Australia Collector Series.  (Actually it is number one from the series.) I also read this month that Peter Cundall turned 90 on April 1. Happy Birthday Peter, you have been huge inspiration to me and countless other gardeners.

I hope April was a good month for you too. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Turning the Compost

"Turn your spoil into soil" ~ Unknown



Ideally I would like to turn my compost every three to four days to keep it hot. At the moment I have a couple of little distractions that are taking my attention away from compost making.



So I turned the compost for the first time on Monday.

In this photo I have lifted the wire cage off the compost and set it to the side. The compost is turned back into the wire cage. First I have put some manure in contact with the ground.





After shovelling some of the compost in I have added water to aid the decomposition process.  I want to avoid the compost being too dry or too wet. What I want in the heap is to have the wetness of a rung out sponge.

Adding bran to the compost pile during turning

 Towards the middle of the pile I have added a bucket load of bran and watered the pile again. The bran will help the pile to heat up.  

Molasses mixed with water ready to be added to the compost pile

When nearly finished turning the compost I added a cup of molasses to a watering can of water and poured this mix over the pile. This is also supposed to help the heating and fermentation process in the pile. 

The compost pile turned and covered


Don turned the compost pile again yesterday.


Watching all the action from the dog run.



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Helping dreams become reality




When our thoughts, words and actions are in harmony with the person we want to be, our goals, and the life we wish to create, we draw people and opportunities into our lives to help turn our dreams into reality. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Introducing Moxie and Banjo

She is brown and he is black with a dusting of cocoa. They both have some
white areas on their coats.


We have two new additions to the homestead. Meet Moxie and Banjo. 



We drove about an hour down the Coast on Friday to collect them. 



They are two months old. Their mother is a short-haired Border Collie and their father is a white Kelpie. Both parents are farm dogs, working with cattle.



Friday, 21 April 2017

Making Compost While the Sun Shines


"Compost is proof that there is life after death." ~Unknown


This is the starting point for the layered compost. Tumbling compost bin is
in the background.

Making compost is primarily about making good humus. A secondary benefit is that it helps recycle waste. Additionally, making my own compost saves money as buying commercial compost becomes expensive when large quantities are needed.  
  
Ideally a compost heap will be big. At least one square metre by one metre high is needed.  This will help the pile generate enough heat to kill any weed seeds.  

If you haven't made compost before you will be amazed by how much the pile reduces as it breaks down. As a general rule, a one metre square by one metre high pile of compost will break down to about 30 cm high by the time it is ready to use. This will make about one third of a cubic meter to spread on your garden. This amount doesn't really go that far if you are living on acreage or have a big suburban garden.

Shredded paper added to the compost pile


Now, I am not always strict about my composting methods, and I do use several different composting bins to store organic matter. I have tumbling compost bins to store food scraps. I have a black compost bin that sits on the ground which often only contains brown grass clippings . These grass clippings still break down over time. 

Whenever I can though, I get serious about composting. When this happens I make a proper layered compost pile.

So my layers are mostly brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen).  I do also add manure pellets as I don't have any manure to collect on site. I also use some soil or preferably compost as a starter in the pile. Other things I use are bran and molasses as both seem to help the pile break down quicker for me.

This is a photo of the 'ingredients' I used in a previous layered compost pile.
In the photo can be seen grass clippings, shrub trimmings that have been run over
with a mower, lucerne or sugar cane mulch ( I can't remember which),
manure, bran in the yellow bucket and molasses in the bottle.


So what sort of things do I use for the brown content? Leaves, dry grass, newspaper, shredded paper, mulched branch cuttings, lucerne, sugarcane mulch. Things of that sort.

For the green I use freshly cut grass. Sometimes I may add hedge and shrub trimmings that have been put on the ground and run over with the mower.  Some people add kitchen waste to this layer but that is something I choose not to do. Animal manure can also be added to this layer.

Don made our compost bin from recycled fence panels. We had been gifted these old fence panels by a local farmer a couple of years ago.


If my compost heats up to somewhere between 50 and 65 degrees Celsius, most weed seed and pathogens should be destroyed. My aim is to create dark, friable, sweet smelling humus. By sweet smelling I mean fresh and woodsy.