Tag Archives: Garden

Lunch at Cat’s House

29 Aug

Last Saturday James and I headed to Cat’s place for lunch with lunch with Cat and Scott. We got to see their furnished place and updated backyard. The garden isn’t finished yet – there is still some planting to be done, but you can see that the chicken coop has moved and some raised vegetable beds have been added.

The chickens were free-ranging in the backyard, and would constantly follow Cat around as she dug in the soil. Apparently they get very excited at the possibility of worms.

Scott fed them some kitchen scraps, which they were also very excited by. Don’t get in between a chicken and her scraps – look at those crazy beady eyes. She will cut you like a bitch.

For lunch, Cat made an awesome pie with a seemingly never-ending egg inside (from the chooks naturally). The yolks were super yellow, and the pie was surprisingly dense and filling!

This was some of our lunch spread. We ate it all on Cat’s back deck, soaking in the sun and admiring the chickens as they roamed around the garden, digging themselves holes to sit in.

After lunch James went home to help Kieren move a washing machine up a flight of stairs, and we headed to the Ceres nursery. I wanted some raspberries but unfortunately they were sold out, but Cat picked up a strawberry guava plant. The nursery was really beautifully laid out, and with lots of uncommon fruit plants like pomegranates and loganberries.

Also a whole bunch of herb and vegetable seedlings with rustic icy pole stick markers.

And this little guy roaming around the nursery. Look at his fluffy pantaloons! Also his head looks like a dried prune.

We had a wander around the grounds (which are enormous!) to have a look at the community gardens and stuff, but unfortunately a lot of it was closed. I was hoping to find the bee hives but it was not to be(e).

The day totally rekindled my backyard lust, but I will settle for occasionally dropping in on Cat’s garden. I’m trying to convince her to build her own pizza oven, but she is less than keen. She’s hosting lunch for our cousins next Saturday, so maybe I will try and convince her again!

Balcony Garden

29 Apr

Around the time we got our new dishwasher I decided to tidy up the balcony a bit. Things were looking a bit neglected because I wasn’t really in a gardening mood after my disastrous tomato crop last summer (a grand total of 2 tomatoes! 1 of which I forgot about so it just rotted on the vine). Plus I was inspired by Cat’s talk of all the plants she’s getting for her new garden.

So James and I headed to Poyntons in Essendon and picked up a Meyer lemon tree and also a Tahitian lime tree. Poyntons is the most drop-dead gorgeous nursery I have ever seen. It’s like plant heaven – everything is leafy and green, with paths winding around everywhere. I bow to nobody in my love of Bunnings, but seriously there is no comparison.

We were originally going to get dwarf trees, but the Poyntons guy said that as long as we prune these and have them in large pots they’ll be fine. They were cheaper than the dwarf trees, and this gives us the flexibility to plant them in the ground and get full grown trees if we ever want to.

The tree on the left in the wooden pot is the lemon and the one in the black is the lime. I pruned them back fairly aggressively and gave them some liquid fertilizer. The guy said to fertilize them once every couple of weeks so I set my google calendar to remind me. I’m determined not to fuck this one up! I was also told to pinch off any flowers or fruit in the first year, then pinch off any fruit the second year, and let them fruit the third year. It’s a bit of a long-term thing!

The Newcomers

A couple of days later James and I needed to go to Bunnings to pick up some stuff, so I bought some herbs to replace the ones that had bolted (or died). In this container I have some thyme and some parsley (which I only ever need a tablespoon at a time, so it seems like a waste to buy it at the market).

The thyme is looking a bit sparse because I harvested some a few nights ago when I made roast chicken.

The Old Timers

The birds eye chillis and rosemary have been in my garden for a year now and seem to be doing really well. They’ve survived my benign neglect at least.

The Dark Horses

A couple of years ago I bought a strawberry plant which did really well. It kept sending out shoots so I kept planting those, and the shoots kept turning into other strawberry plants. Last summer most of them died except this one (maybe because the pot is deeper and it had more nutrients to draw on?).

I planted the spinach ages ago and forgot about it – actually I think I may have planted some lettuce in the meantime. I uprooted the lettuce (which had bolted) and just left the soil there while I decided what to plant in that space. Imagine my surprise when the spinach started growing.

This is what the garden used to look like. But I got rid of a lot of my old pots because I think it’s easier (and looks better) when there are a few large pots to take care of. You can see all the little strawberries hanging everywhere. =) Also my weird mint in the foreground (why are you only growing around the edges of the pot??), chives, jalapeno chillies in the top right, thyme next to it, and lettuce in the wooden container top left.

It was such a hassle getting rid of the old crappy dirt and broken pots – I think I threw out 7 or 8 garbage bags of it all. But it was worth it because everything looks so much better now. The only thing left is to sow some coriander seeds on Monday when it’s time to fertilize.

I have high hopes for this garden since the lemon and lime are the only plants that need specialized attention. I’ve been dipping my finger into the soil to make sure it’s not getting too dry, but I don’t want to overwater since supposedly that’s the most common cause of death for container citrus. If everything goes well I want to add lemongrass, kaffir lime and oregano to the line-up later this year.

My Dream Garden

17 Feb

One day, after mum and dad have retired and moved into the Reservoir house I’d like to renovate the garden and install a rainwater tank. It’s such a big garden and it’s gone criminally un-used. They could do some basic garden tending, and I would drop by once a week to help them with the harder stuff. I’ve been researching it so much, and it sounds so exciting that I’ve almost convinced myself that I want to move to the suburbs and have an orchard, vegie patch, and chickens.

The Reservoir garden would be nice with a chicken coop. The neighbors already have chickens – I know this because I saw them running through the garden when I was inspecting it with the real estate agent.

If I had chickens they could live in this Nogg chicken coop:

image from Nogg

Cat has promised me that when she moves into her (yet to be bought) investment property she will have chickens and I can choose and name one of them. I originally wanted to get a Silkie (those fluffy white ones with the ridiculous pantaloons) but found out that they’re not actually good egg-layers – they’re brooders, which means they like to sit on other chickens’ eggs.

James: to get good use out of their pantaloons no doubt

But then I read about chickens some more, and someone was talking about how chickens hate it when you remove their eggs. She said that you shouldn’t reach in from behind or else the chicken might deliberately shit on you. And sometimes even if you go from the front the chicken will turn around and deliberately shit on you. And sometimes the chicken will clamp down and deliberately break her eggs so you can’t get to them, and she’ll sit there smugly in her own eggy shitty filth.

Even so, I was pestering James via email about chickens yesterday. He wasn’t at his computer, but I was injured and filled with newfound knowledge.

4:04pm Kaye: oh [embarrassing pet name deleted]! I want chickens!
4:17pm Kaye: The real estate agent just called and said that someone has said they may make an offer around the 850k mark. But we definitely don’t want the property at anywhere near that price. Chickens chickens chickens!!
5:28pm Kaye: Cat is going to have chickens one day and she said she would let me name one of them =)
5:46pm Kaye: You finished work yet? Maybe I can convince your parents to buy chickens!
5:49pm James: Why is my inbox suddenly being spammed with chicken-want?

But anyway, once mum and dad have moved into the house I’d like to hire these guys to do a re-design of the backyard. From their website:

A permaculture inspired design can save you time, money, energy and water.  We can design your property to suit your combination of skill level, time and budget. We work with the soil types, solar aspect, wind directions, plants and existing structures to produce attractive designs which won’t just feed you with minimal effort, they’ll cool your house in summer, let light through in winter, while minimising the water and nutrition requirements of your garden!

For $330 (min) they’ll design the garden for you, but you can pay more for a more detailed design. They can also do the project management from crappy lawn to finished garden, which is handy because I’m fairly useless at this sort of stuff.

There are these really cool designs on their website, where they’ve planted guava, olive, apricot, hazelnut, plum, peach, cherry, lemon, orange, mandarin, macadamia, avocado and almond trees. Awesome.

That is my one regret at living in an inner city apartment – that we can’t make our place really sustainable and green, and I can’t have my own garden and chickens. I’ve seen places where it could be possible, but obviously a nice chunk of land in North Melbourne isn’t going to be cheap. But if we have a nice garden in Reservoir I would be able to pot around in it and mum and dad would have lots of food and a beautiful garden to look at. =) It’s probably not tax-deductible because it would be an improvement rather than a repair, but it would help get better rent in the future. =) And who knows, maybe one day when James doesn’t need to be close to the CBD anymore we could retire there and the cats could be free range. If that were the plan though, I would probably also install solar panels when mum and dad moved in.

In the meantime I will live vicariously through Cat’s (future) garden and chickens.

Checking In On The Investment Property

17 Jan

On Sunday had to go to the investment property in Reservoir to move some furniture into the garage. The garage is kind of a catch-all for:

  1. furniture from our old house that my parents don’t want to chuck because it was too expensive
  2. crap from our old house that my parents don’t want to chuck because they’re too cheap
  3. the neighbours’ furniture that they don’t want to chuck (see point 2)
  4. furniture that the previous tenants left when they moved out, and my parents inexplicably decided to keep

From what my parents had told me, I thought everything was mainly in the first category, but when I saw it in person I was like “WTF, this is all junk”. Like seriously, some of this stuff is fridges with half a star energy efficiency, ugly little bedside tables, broken chairs, old mattresses (I don’t think my parents even know who those mattresses belong to – who keeps anonymous used mattresses???)

It’s a pretty big garage too – you could probably fit 4 cars in that space. Or, you know, a bunch of crap, whatever floats your boat.

Poor Scott and James had to do all the heavy lifting – some fridges, tables, the oven, that giant cupboard on the table … the washing machines were definitely the worst, because they were filled with water, and one of them tipped over onto James.

Luckily even mum realised that the grossest of the gross stuff shouldn’t be kept, so we also had a pile to throw out.

Hmm should this mattress be kept?

Throw it out! Throw it out!

Incidentally am I the only one who is creeped out by mattresses without sheets? When you read a news story about some guy keeping a woman locked up in his basement for 15 years, they always show a shot of the room, and there is always a mattress without sheets.

The shed out the back had that scary mattress and a few bits of furniture inside. We called it the rape shed. The rape shed was filled with spiders.

Edited to add: Today Cat said “I’m still impressed by the door of the rape shed!” My sister is so creepy! I said to her,

you are like the rapeman!
/pats door
mmmm … sturdy ..

But anyway, aside from the busted furniture, water-filled washing machines and the rape shed, the property was actually quite nice. James has never actually seen the house, and he felt like he should since we’re moving it to his name this year. It’s pretty basic – brick, either 3 or 4 bedrooms (I can’t remember), and a nice living area.

It has wooden floors now. Wooden floors make everything look better. There was extensive termite damage to the kitchen floor, so after it was treated mum got the tradies to rip up the kitchen and completely renovate it.

This is the view from the garden to the back of the house. Cat was saying that it would be really nice if you could make a deck coming out of the living area and extending into the garden. I think that actually would be really cool – maybe something to consider in the future.

The garden is definitely big enough so that you wouldn’t miss the room. This is the view from the living room – you can see how a deck would extend out very nicely.

This is the vegetable patch at the end of the garden (currently overgrown). Once mum and dad sell the milk bar they want to move here, so Cat and I think that when they do, we’ll come by and fix up the vegetable garden for them, and maybe plant a lemon tree.

The garden is pretty amazing – there’s this huge fig tree behind the garage, just bursting with (unfortunately unripe) figs. The vegetable enclosure (OK at the moment it’s like … a grass enclosure) is very cool though.

So that is a brief tour of my Reservoir house. James said it was nicer than he imagined it, though he is not a fan of big gardens.

In a couple of days the tradies will finish whatever it is they’re doing, then the real estate agent will come in and take photos, and hopefully it will be smooth sailing from there!


20 Oct

I’m sitting here at my computer feeling quite sorry for myself. My upper back was feeling a bit sore after Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on the weekend, but Saturday classes are more intense than normal – our warm-up was 120 burpees, crunches and push-ups (toes, not knees). So yeah, hard class. I was feeling tired-but-good, and still managed to go to the gym on Sunday and do BJJ training on Monday, but on Monday night I arched my back in my sleep and twang!

So instead of training on Tuesday morning like I’d planned, I headed to the physio where I was told that the joints between my ribs and spine had locked up. He worked the area a bit and I’ve been popping ibuprofen and applying heat packs as necessary. Fortunately this morning I woke up feeling a bit better, and I have another physio session on Thursday, after which I should be close to 100%.

I can’t train for most of this week (or do any heavy housework – I tried to open a pickle jar yesterday and owowowow!) so I’ve mainly been reading and browsing the net. This has given me ample opportunity to trawl online for stuff that I want to buy.

Kitchenaid apple green Artisan mixer: $632 + $11 shipping. I’ve also wanted one of these for awhile, but I’ve never found it particularly difficult to mix by hand or use the electric beater. Plus there is the lack of benchspace in my kitchen. But recently I’ve been coming across a lot of recipes where the Kitchenaid would come in quite handy. So maybe. One day. In the future. We’ll see.

image from Google image search, I can't remember which website - everyone was using this pic!

Herman Miller Aeron chair: $1300. I spend so much time at my computer that I should probably invest in an ergonomic chair. This one has actually been on the list for awhile, but it keeps getting superseded by fun stuff like cameras and barbecues.

image from Herman Miller

Bourke Street Bakery cookbook: $34. I promised James I wouldn’t order this until I’d tried a couple of the Bourke Street Bakery recipes that are floating around online. I’m going to go with the pork and fennel sausage rolls and also the raspberry chocolate muffins.

Momofuku cookbook: $30. Once again, I’m going to give some recipes a test run before purchasing. I’ve had the ginger scallion noodles recipe bookmarked for months. Cat made me the crack pie recipe (is that in the cookbook?) which was delicious, but I’ve seen the recipe and I know how much butter and sugar went into it!

Ilemi leather clutch purse: $450USD + $25USD shipping (from memory) I love the sumptuous, butter-soft bags from Etsy seller Ilemi but this is in the “after the mortgage is paid off” pile.

image from Ilemi

I also want to try balcony gardening again. I have some herbs and vegetables growing from seed (hopefully! At the moment it’s all still dirt), but I read online that unless you want the seed-growing experience, it’s much better to buy seedlings. I have some parsley, mint, chives, rosemary and strawberries that survived my benign neglect over winter, and maybe I’ll hit Bunnings at some point. I also need a new watering can because my old plastic one got weak from the sun, and then its watering bit (spout?) got smashed by hail. I’ve decided the next watering can will be sturdy and made of metal.