On the manic front the garlic is getting to that stage where it needs to be dug, I did some on the solstice and deduced it wasn't quite ready but must keep an eye on it now so it doesn't get mildew. The ones I dug need peeling, drying and plaiting. The red currants have been picked and stored in the freezer, but I noticed the blackbirds are feasting on the black ones. Poppy seeds are being collected in paper bags and plums picked to either be made into sauce or fruit leather. We're still harvesting heaps of cucumbers but only one tomato a day yet. Basil is rampant! Have fingers crossed for melons, can't believe we've had the longest day already. Weather's been HOT so the kids are swimming at the school pool heaps, the 6 week summer school holiday bliss has already worn off and I havn't even had a decent sleep in yet.
Quiet moments are being spent knitting and checking to see if the chickens have hatched. Also I'm desperately trying to figure out if I am meant to give up crafting and mothering full time and get a real job or WHAT!! Does Christmas and New Year do that to anyone else?
Our kids have had an early Christmas because their Dad has to work tomorrow. Santa will visit them tonight though. We will all go to Church tomorrow and then spend the rest of the day with family. I hope everyone who reads here has a lovely day whatever they are doing. Thanks so much for all the connection you've provided this past year while I've parented on my own, it's almost like having someone to talk to in the evenings.Thanks Christy for the Christmas card it made my day and if that picture is of one of your quilts I am in awe! Happy New Year to you all if I don't find the time to post before then.
I find aphids often attack young or stressed plants. My tomatoes were a bit stressed for water in my glasshouse recently and were getting attacked. My first line of defence is to support the leaves with my hand and squirt the aphids off with a hose. Then I give the plant a good feed of worm wee or comfrey tea and a good soak with water and that often sorts them out. Squashing aphids is also quite satisfying. If that isn't doing the trick you can brew up a soapy water, garlic or rhubarb leaf spray for them. Exact recipes could be found in any good organic book, I'd just chuck half a dozen garlic cloves in boiling water, chop up a rhubarb leaf, cool and then add a dash of soap, sieve, dilute and spray. Probably diluting by 1:10 but to be honest I usually trust my sense of smell and stop adding water when it doesn't smell too toxic. Or use natural pyrethrum spray which you can make or buy, beware though it can kill the good bugs too. I have to confess I haven't bothered with these methods for a couple of years as the water and feed method usually works for me. Also establishing a good balance of other insects in the garden will help keep aphids in balance. Lady bugs and praying mantis LOVE aphids to eat. I catch them off my poor neglected roses and place them on the precious vege plants. I grow cleome, mustard and flowering herbs to attract the good guys into the garden. Also they love things like parsley, rocket, carrot and parsnip left to go to seed. Good luck hope you can find something here that works, perhaps others can add comments if they have any other suggestions.
There's miles of housework to do, beds to strip and wash. Catch the skatey boy twice as he tries to slip off for the day. You try and stay calm when the teen challenges with "why do we have to clean up, why do we have to do dishes, why can't I go on the computer?'
You have to french plait the girl's hair for a performance at the old folks home.
A phone call from work, some one's complaining cos the water at the bach is not going. You feel like turning the phone off and not talking to anyone else today.
You overflow the washing machine because the teens sock blocked the tub! You rant and rave about socks to anyone still listening. Skatey boy's gone, girl's at the show. Fold a weeks worth of washing.
Investigate the beeping sound coming from the wash house. Washing machine is officially dead! Text husband with swear words. When no answer text mother with swear words. Go to the garden before doing something regrettable.
Why is teenager yelling and 3yr old crying? Pooh everywhere of course! Try a bit of lecturing, put one to bath and bed. Other one off quick smart sees mother's in a real mood.
Husband answers, not helpful.
Nothing inspiring for tea.
No one to talk to.
Count blessing again.
Chill a bit, wait for full moon to rise.
Thank goodness life's not perfect.
I guess the benefit of being in an economic downturn gives me the chance to really get it right in the garden to help with the budget. I'm waiting patiently for things to ripen:
and redcurrants nearly ready, they need bird netting to get a great harvest. I have about 8 plants of each as well as blackcurrants which ripen later. I'm even more determined with the berries this summer having read that eating black currants may help protect you from sunburn. That doesn't mean I'll be throwing away the hats and sunblock but we have alot of melanoma in our family so anything extra is worth a try. Currants are a great choice in the garden, they're easy care don't take up much room and seem to have quite a high yield for the amount of space they take up. I always freeze quite a few pounds of them for winter use. Can't say the same for the peas though. They were fabulous but none made it into the freezer. I've got one more plot to ripen and planted some more today, maybe I'll get a few in the freezer. Fresh is best anyway so it's time to think about what I want to be eating in autumn and winter it would be lovely to be self sufficient right through. Will hopefully make time this week for some seed sowing and more mulching in the garden. The seaweed's been working a treat.
The fabulous Aunts are getting a snazzy miniature stockings filled with goodies (red baby booties). PJ and the red head are getting ukulele's cos we all love music and I believe it opens lots of mathematical pathways in the brain. L and I have already bought ourselves a dinky little BBQ for the beach and a food processor for pesto so our joy will be through our kids. I have plans of an oilskin man bag for him too though. Do you think I can squeeze in a few extra hours before Christmas? If I have dark rings under my eyes you'll know why, I've been sewing till midnight, working at Dad's farm, getting up for the market, trying to be supermum and a good friend to boot. Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.
I have a fairly functional worm farm but am still learning too. I'd leave it till they come to the food before you add more food. See mine in the photo below they've eaten most of their food and are all working on what food is left there. Don't let them dry out and keep something over the top of it all cos they don't seem to like the light, it helps keep them moist too. I use a hessian sack or wet paper/cardboard. I get quite alot of little fruit flys in mine, I think it's because I over feed it a bit but have also read that it might need a very small sprinkling of lime, but haven't got round to it. They prefer mushy food but I give them all sorts. I never give them onion or citrus though as they don't like it. Mine seem to be enjoying a recent layer of shredded paper.
Hope that was some help.
Made it out to the garden when I got home though. Mowed the lawns and used the clippings to suppress the weeds. We had a good deal of rain and wind yesterday so it was a perfect time to put mulch on. I'd been putting off tying things up and I found almost everything tall in the garden had fallen down. Bit of a bummer, the poppies and sunflowers had been looking great. Fixed them up as best I could and took the laterals off my cucumbers . It's the first time I've done that. They just looked like they'd do better if I thinned them out a bit. Hopefully it will ward off the powdery mildew for awhile. I have arranged a trade with a friend of mine she gives me fresh cows milk once a week and I'm giving her fresh veges. It's a great incentive to keep up with all the work in the garden.
We're eating these lovely stripey beetroot in salads. Fresh peas, spring onions, cabbage, broccoli, a few potatoes, zucchinis and waiting patiently for raspberries , cucumbers and tomatoes. Still watering the garlic when necessary and looking forward to digging it up round Christmas. Sowed a few more carrot seeds, planting basil and melons and corn. Lady bugs are dealing to the aphids and I'm feeding everything with "worm wee" whenever I think of it. Should be sowing brassica seed but as we run out of water they get too stressed and then bugs attack so will leave it until January.
Blessings though, it started softly, I had hot coffee, talked with happy people and after I packed every damp thing back into the car the stall holder next to me who had packed up too, gave me this delightful bunch of peonies. Aren't they divine?
I made a foolish mistake when we moved into our house. It had been vacant for two years so the gardens were a weedy disaster, there was evidence though that the house had been occupied by a keen gardener. Wild pumpkin plants amongst the long grass where my garden is now, little paper bags of seeds in the shed and bulbs which were still trying bravely in long neglected gardens. I vowed to myself to not disturb the garden too much to see what came up. I hadn't yet learnt patience (still learning) so it wasn't long ( a couple of days) before I started clearing the small garden outside my kitchen window. I found what I thought were the roots of helebore's which I'm not fond of underneath the thick grass and ruthlessly hauled them out. It wasn't till I saw a poor lone leaf of a peony pop up the next year that I realised I'd slaughtered peonies not hellebore's. #1 lesson -patience. Learned the hard way.
I'm also learning a silverleaf lesson at the moment, I might have mentioned (moaned) that I got a greengage plum from the nursery which had silverleaf, anyway I didn't recognise it straight away. The tree got mournfully cut out of my garden but not before it had spread the dreaded silverleaf spores around. I thought I must have spread it on my pruners but I found that it spreads by airbourne spores getting into winter pruning cuts. Trees are especially vulnerable if the weather gets damp while the cuts are fresh. ARRRRAH so now I must decide if I should cut the infected cherry tree out. Ouch. Then what do I do if anything thing else shows up with it. Decisions, decisions. So that's hard gardening lesson # 2 -get rid of silver leaf quick. Oh and #3 might be don't be lazy sterilize the pruners between trees just to be certain.
Flower still life again cos I made a mistake uploading.
I spun the mermaid coloured wool, it's not plied yet I'm trying to decide weather I should ply it onto itself or spin some white or gray to ply it with. I have plied up some adorable forresty green I wish I had enough for a jersey for skatey boy but I think there will only be enough for the red head. It's waiting to be washed and wound up. So can you tell what I did all weekend?
Tuesday morning was very disappointing I went to put my little plant stall out by the road and found someone had stolen the beautiful money box L had made me. It had been attached very securely to the cart so they must have been pretty determined. I'm not so worried about the few dollars they got out of it I'm just disappointed at the thought that it might have been someone in our small community. Later in the day a parcel from Christy at Lil Bit Brit arrived in the mail and cheered me up a little. Thanks Christy, perfect timing. I'm not sure weather to put my stall out again I have quite alot of plants still but might find room in the garden for them. I will miss the pocket money though.
I've done about an hour sewing and gardening this week, it feels very odd. Worse still I can't actually think what I have achieved. Perhaps the children have had quality time with me I don't recall any yelling or stressing this week.
The sewing machine is making a funny noise, tomorrow it will get a check up. I strongly suspect that the red head has stuck a pin somewhere he shouldn't have.
Add a comment if you fancy a new bag, (see previous post) I'll draw it after the weekend.
I'd love to show off the bags I made for the festival but no. 1 teenage son has been lending me his camera batteries for awhile now and decided last week to withdraw the favour so I shall have to buy some new ones. I will show when I make some more bags. Also the garden is worthy of some pics it's changing every day at the moment.
Any locals who are reading come and visit our school fair on Saturday at Brooklyn School there'll be food and entertainment,books, plants and crafts and stuff for kids too of course. If that's not tempting enough how about fresh whitebait sammies? We're fundraising for a new community pool.
I've updated my side bars to reflect what's happening in the garden. I reckon if L and I were retired we might be able to live out of our garden. I'd long for meat and fresh milk though. I grew up on 2000 acres so we ate lamb nearly all year round with fresh pork,beef crayfish and paua for a bit of variety, we didn't know how lucky we were. My Dad even kept beehives and we fished for eel and trout in the river. At my Mums side I learned how to spin wool and knit, dye using plants and sew my own clothes. They gave us an unforgettable childhood to which I'm truly grateful and wish I could provide to my own kids. They have everything but the space and security that I was raised with.
What we're eating fresh:broad beans, eggs, silver beet, lettuce, peas, spring onions, carrots, asparagus, grapefruit, oranges, lemons
What we're eating from stores:berry jams, pumpkins, potatoes, frozen berries, frozen tomatoes
What's still growing: strawberries, carrots, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, cauli, cabbage, onions, peas, giant red mustard, kale, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, celery, capsicum, sunflowers, potatoes, yams, kumara, beetroot, pumpkins
Seeds sown recently: chili, beans, more corn,
Herbs growing: fennel, basil, parsley, Korean mint, mint, sorrel, tansy, mother wort, mug wort, hypericum, Valerian, lemon balm, lemon verbena, dill, caraway, echinacea, elecampane, horseradish, comfrey, bay tree, sage, white sage, tansy and weeds
Fruit trees, vines and bushes: Plums, blackboy, golden queen and white flesh peaches, apricots, cherry, mulberry, elderberry, figs, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, orange, hazelnuts, fejoias, thorn less blackberry, boysenberry, blueberries,red and yellow raspberries, red and black currants, nashi, nectarine, home grafted apple- "golden delicious", " Hetlina" apple, mini kiwifruit, prune plum, red skinned pear.
I got a wee taste of being me before I got whoopsie pregnant with the red head four years ago, it all went back to zero with a new baby. These child fee days seemed such a long way away but it hasn't been long really and I miss my babies, but I went swimming! I did heaps of lengths. When I got out I was weak and pathetic but I'm going to do an hour a week at the pool. Hopefully I can fit in some walking or biking too. I haven't done any exercise since I was at high school and am really looking forward to it. It's getting priority before the garden and craft cos I can't do either if I'm a slob.
Saved seeds- Indian red corn, cannelloni, horticultural bush beans, strawberry popping corn.
Even had time to poke a few late seeds in. I know the moon's for liquid feeding but better late than never. I collected some seaweed from kina beach on the way home . I had to check out my uncle's bach, it's a lovely wee holiday rental , check it out if you want to stay in our beautiful region.
With the garden, I totally peaked at the wrong time so that when the planting moon was good I was exhausted. I got a few more seeds in but became disheartened as a few bad chooks escaped and scratched all the compost away from new plantings of lettuce, sunflowers and garlic. Everything needs weeding badly too.
Also each day I've noticed plants slowly going into decline along my back fence line, making me madder and madder. This morning I wrote a letter to the arrogant orchidist responsible and took photos as proof. As you can see he's been very heavy handed with "round up" possibly spraying it deliberately on my plants. It has damaged the mother wort, mugwort, some raspberries, a rose and grass on my side of the fence. All will recover but that's not the point. I have investigated and it's an offence under the pesticides act for his spray to go onto my property.
The plants are affected by going yellow at their tips. You'd have to lift your spray pretty high to contact the mugwort.
I'm so angry that i don't have words for it!
I'm working on letting it go and have done some sewing to make me smile.
Sew bags for Ngatimoti festival, keep house tidy and de -clutter a bit, make some progress on weeds, stay away from town and spending money, finish painting toilet, turn the compost heaps, help Dad at the farm, restock freezer with soup and muffins, try not to yell at kids, make some moves toward getting fit.
Man I need a month!
I've been much more strict about following the moon calender gardening this year and the seedlings sown at the last two first quarter moons are thriving. It's last quarter at the moment so I have to resist the temptation to do anything except cultivate and prune. I have little tomatoes, sunflowers, capsicums (more than half of them got eaten by slugs tho), cleome, dwarf and cannelloni beans, zucchini and pumpkins all waiting nice and warm in the glasshouse for the weather to warm up outside. In addition I put frost cloth over them at night too. They're getting feed worm juice from the worm farm but I have had to resort to a bit of slug bait as beer traps and pot ash weren't working. It's not ideal but it's still vastly better than bought veges. I can handle eating capsicum for example that I know have been all organic except for one slug pellet when they were babies. What I really need is a couple of hedgehogs but even they have their pitfalls they eat chickens given half a chance. Carrots still elude me, last lot were eaten by either slugs or dug up by cats as they sprouted. No worries peas are flowering and asparagus is doing it's thing. YuM.
This is my constant reference in spring, helps me plan where to put everything in the garden. Highly recommended.
It's a work in progress, hopefully in a few years the garden will be so well balanced I won't need anything inorganic thus achieving my sustainable goal.
My morning routine in spring includes feeding the chooks, watering and walking round the garden watching blossoms and leaves grow. Sometimes I spend so long outside that I forget the kids need their breakfast and lunches made. For the first time in 15 years I have some consistent child free days as the "red head" is now enrolled two and a half days at Montessori. Blissss!
From left: cool old floral curtain, fab orange sheet, and a bit of "viyella" all found at the op shops today. As well as two super cheap bits from that Spot place. Red head boy needs new long pants and shorts, have you noticed it's so hard to find cool boy fabric second hand? Hopefully the washing machine will live again on Monday.
Enter online craft land. How does it then work in the craft/blog world? Is it a similar friendship/ respect thing? I've noticed bloggers who visit each other often offer similar items for sale in their shops. I've noticed tutorials which ask that you make only for private use and some that don't. What's good craft/blog ettiquette?
I've really been looking inward I guess, trying to decide how best to make myself happy while continuing to support my family. I feel like 15 years of mothering has been so rewarding but I need to also reward myself now and then too.
I've worked as a volunteer and an employee at Playcentre for many years. I've resigned from 1 of my paid days at Playcentre and it feels great! The other one I so love the people I come in contact with that I'm not ready to let it go yet.
I walked into Playcentre at 20 years old, shy and naive, I was greeted with open arms literally! Most of my closest friends I've met through playcentre, we've been there for each other through post natal depression, relationship trouble, financial highs and lows, moving and buying houses, having babies, discussing abortion, immunisation, religion, death, accidents, gardening, sewing, knitting and everything. I have no idea where I'd be now without my Playcentre family, that's why I find it so hard letting go. I know I have to start now cos in only two short years my youngest will be off to school.
This week the daughter I prayed for turned 7. The son who saved me got his drivers licence. I went to the movies with the Playcentre girls; saw "Mama Mia" and I LOVED IT! Wished I'd got up and danced. Was Pierce Bosnian serious?
We had a kid free craft day. For full time Mums it's such a luxury.
We dyed using the vinegar and food colouring method.Wet felted with thrifted fleece.
Tried needle felting with one who'd done it before,
and went away feeling totally inspired.
It's amazing just to get together and try it out. The results speak for themselves and what better way to spend a spring day than with new friends and old with good food and intentions.
PS. Broke my felting needle while waiting for photos to load. Bugger! PJ wanted me to put more hair on the dolls.
Kez asked me about frost cloth.It helps in spring to stop the frost killing plants. It's a loosely woven, white, light cloth which we get in our garden centres. We need to start alot of our more tender plants under it and things like young avocados and citrus spend the whole winter underneath it. In my old garden we used fronds of a native? fern commonly called "pig fern" draped over things to protect from frost. It was more aesthetically pleasing than the frost cloth.
Giant red mustard, just because it looks so good.
Aside from the cold, the wet and the fear that the shed roof was going to blow off, life carried on as usual.
I feel grateful to have:
a shed still half full with dry wood,
celebrated 15 years of motherhood,
some seedlings coming up in the glasshouse,
a night out at a book party and laughing till my sides hurt,
a Mum who works all week then saves my sanity by having the two littlies for the night,
apricot blossoms so close to popping,
and 10 chooks laying 9 eggs a day.
Again I'm wishing I had a goat or cow to milk, maybe I spend too much energy in wishing and not enough time in making things happen!
And one more thing, does anyone eat Jerusalem artichokes? I roasted them the other night, all the kids said "Yuck" and I wouldn't go for them again unless I had no other root veges to choose from. I wondered if anyone out there had a better way of cooking them?
Lance use to prune apple trees for a job, I found his tools today. I Love pruning!