The Garden

I really like the garden at this time of the year – Winter. We live 691 metres above sea level and with this comes cooler weather in the winter. Also, we are able to enjoy the changing of the seasons – the deciduous trees lose their leaves creating a carpet of colour. There is also the opportunity to walk through Queen’s Park or Queen’s Park Botanic Garden and shuffle through the pile of leaves covering the pathways. Yes, I really like the garden at this time of the year.

We have this beautiful tree in our front garden. It is a Maidenhair Tree – Ginkgo Biloba. It comes from China. The foliage is very distinctive, yellow in autumn/winter and lime in spring. There are a number of great specimens of Ginkgo Biloba in Australia. There is a 100 year old tree in Kingston Terrace and another in Medole Court at the University of Adelaide.  I don’t know of any notable specimens in Queensland. Though in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, probably due to the colder weather have street and park Ginkgo specimens. In Weston Park, Canberra there is a beautiful male Ginkgo in the grounds of Hobday’s Cottage (Yarralumla Gallery and The Oaks Brasserie) where you can sit under it and enjoy lunch. We can also do this at our place. Maybe we should!

The Ginkgo Biloba is our front garden

Even though our climate is colder than places closer to the coast we can still grow tomatoes all year around. Our enclosed veggie garden is proving very successful. All the wild life, including birds, possums, brush turkeys, cats and bandicoots are no longer able to venture into our veggie patch. Recently through one of our windows I saw a cat get a surprise when it wandered up to our privacy screen (inside our boundary) to find a barrier. It wandered around for a while and then put its nose up to the timber boards and peered through. That was as much as it could do and then take a new path back to where it came from.

The Veggie garden is thriving now that the wildlife are prohibited from entering

My “One & Only” (O&O) tending the plants. Once we had the veggie garden enclosed he got very enthusiastic. We have heaps of tomatoes growing, capsicum, chilli, peas, beans, garlic, carrots and lettuce. Even in a small space we can grow some of our own food. We moved most of the herbs to an open area of our garden. The wildlife are not as interested in herbs. This created more space for the veggie’s.

It is very satisfying growing your own veggies and herbs. It does not take too much effort. If you mulch it cuts down on having to deal with the weeds. Then there is the watering. My O&O installed a watering system above the garden. See this black tube in both photos. After that all we have to do is watch out for the random bug, that manages to get in and munch on our veggies, before we do! Happy gardening everyone.

Seed to Feed

Last weekend my “One & Only” (O&O) and I went to a “Seed to Feed” Workshop. The workshop is part of the Toowoomba Regional Council Healthy Living, Change Project. The aim, through a series of free and low-cost activities, is to get people active and healthy. The “Seed to Feed” workshops have been very popular. We were on a waiting list and only attended due to a cancellation. We have been gardening for decades. My O&O is a great gardener. He has the happy knack of getting things to grow. Therefore, why would we go to a workshop that was mostly about plant propagation for the home garden. We went because there is always something new we can learn. And learn we did. The workshop presenter was Brian Sams, a horticulturist. Brian was full of knowledge and entertained the crowd of around 30 people.

The workshop was not just about soaking up information, it was also hands on. Time to get our hands dirty by making our own propagation potting mix. One woman in our group was enthusiastic and quickly got into making up the potting mix, looking around for the elusive gloves! That was when I pulled out a pair of disposable gloves for her, the second pair was for me! Others were asking me where I got the gloves? I was the only one who thought of this! I like to garden but I don’t like to get my hands dirty – no dirt under fingernails for me!

Once we got our potting mix ready we were preparing our soft cuttings for potting. Then out came the seeds. Everyone got involved in potting soft and semi-hardwood cuttings to take home. We ended up with daisy, lavender, mint, rosemary, salvias cuttings, as well as Zucchini Lebanese seeds. We are carefully keeping an eye on the cuttings and seeds to make sure they don’t dry out. I hope we are successful with our cuttings as we have not tried growing these varieties from cuttings in the past.

Some of our soft cuttings. I am looking forward to propagating the daisy. We don’t have any of these in our garden.

Zucchini Lebanese seeds growing under the vermiculite.

Our Mediterranean Garden is coming along. My O&O has transplanted our herbs and moved these closer to a side door, not far from the kitchen. We have a great choice of tomatoes growing, chilli, capsicum, peas and more! We don’t get frosts where we are, so the peas should do well. In our small way, we are making an effort to shorten the distance from the paddock to the plate. Soon we will have so many tomatoes we will be able to share these with our neighbours.

I notice that these days horticulturists have a new name for “potting mix” – they call it “propagation media”! A good mix, according to Brian, is 3 x part perlite; 2 x part peat moss; 1 x part coarse sand. Media’s can be organic such as peat or bark or inorganic such as sand, perlite and vermiculite. I discovered that the perlite in the propagation mix (media) traps moisture and aerates the soil. I spread vermiculite all over the top of my Zucchini seeds to help their growth and trap the moisture. How long will it be before I start to see life peeking out from the vermiculite?

There are a few reasons why a seed may not germinate including the seed not viable, drying out, media is too wet, the temperature is incorrect, pre-germination treatment not used, root rot disease. There is a lot that can go wrong with gardening. But when it goes right, it is very rewarding. The pre-germination treatment we used for our soft cuttings was a green gel called Clonex. I came away from the workshop encouraged to work more in our small Mediterranean garden; not to be afraid of failure; to keep on learning new gardening tricks as I get older and make light of weeding by mulching. And, by the way I saw a worm farm in action on the day and I now know where I can get my worms for free! Before I go down that track though I will have to look more into the subject area. More about that another day. Let me know if you are growing your vegetable and herbs from seeds and cuttings or have a viable worm farm.

Lavender has a lovely aromatic flower. Is it possible that one day I will have healthy lavender just like this? I took this photo at a Lavender Farm in Tasmania. Lavender is a great companion plant in or near the vegetable garden. It attracts the right type of insects.

 

The Naked Retiree, Depression and the Mediterranean Garden

The Naked Retiree, getting older, tired and depressed should now be creating a Mediterranean Garden. There is more than one reason that the naked retiree must get out in the garden. Already, many retirees have felt the heavy hand of the Federal Government changes to the age pension. That is, those that have less in their pocket. A few naked retirees have a little more, but not much more! Around 170,000, to be more precise, will receive $30 more in their fortnightly pension payment. Though for many of those, this small “leg up” will not make much difference when many are already living on “struggle street”. There are hundreds of thousands of older Australians who have a new title – the “losers”. That is the title that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conferred on older Australians. The ones that are helping the government manage an unsustainable budget with debt and deficits none of us can begin to imagine.

Now there is talk about the family home being included in the assets test for the age pension. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is the latest body to call for the change. It may happen or it may not happen but with all this media publicity it creates a sense of foreboding in retirees. All of which has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms of depression or cause those who are depression free to feel miserable about what the future holds. If you are feeling depressed beyondblue has a support service that will help you. To counter the symptoms of depression it becomes even more essential for the naked retiree to get out into the garden, a Mediterranean Garden!

It may look small but when we do the garden makeover it will be big enough!

Many of us have heard about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet or eating regime. This includes, improving cardiovascular health, less chance of developing diabetes and increased longevity. An Australian study at Deakin University has discovered further benefits. The findings were encouraging after only 12 weeks of eating a Mediterranean-style diet. In that time, one-third of the participants showed a significant improvement in their mood and depressive symptoms. There was never a better time for naked retirees to start a Mediterranean Garden.

Very soon our herb and vegetable garden will be increased in size and fully enclosed.

The benefits are many if you grow some of your own food. Firstly, you will save money at the supermarket check-out. Then, if you follow the Mediterranean eating regime you have less chance of developing diabetes. Now the naked retiree is feeling a whole lot better about themselves and life in general. This is of course, if they do not worry too much about their “long life” and how they will manage financially as they age. So, what is in this Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean way is to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; olive oil and canola oil; using herbs and spices to flavour food; limiting red meat; eating chicken and fish at least twice a week and red wine in moderation. To get the lifestyle really working combine the food with exercise. This is the Mediterranean Way and it is now “our way”. We have this type of diet and it will be even better when our food is fresh, straight from the garden, as soon as we make a few changes to our garden.

Our garden makeover includes an enclosed herb and vegetable garden. We must go down this track to keep out the possums, brush turkeys, birds and bandicoots.  Our lovely plump “Grosse Lisse” and cherry tomatoes are under attack by predators.  Tomatoes are a basic of the Mediterranean Diet and that suits me perfectly as I love tomatoes. This week I made a “Garden Herbs and Tomato” Sauce. We have a small supply ready for any pasta dishes or pizza’s over the next month or so.

This is our tomato crop that the birds and brush turkeys have been enjoying!

It does not take too much effort to make your own pasta and pizza sauce. This batch of “Garden Herbs & Tomato” Sauce has tomatoes, organic garlic, onions and herbs. Only the herbs came from our garden. The combination works well for a great taste!

We have planted citrus fruit trees that already are bearing small fruit to be harvested in the winter months. Once we have our enclosed herb and vegetable garden we will be able to dig and plant with more vigour and confidence knowing that we are protecting our small crop. Getting out in the garden, digging and weeding is also good for our health. It takes time, space and effort and not all naked retirees have the agility or health to create a garden. If you are older and you can’t manage a garden, then find out about a local farmer’s market and get your produce from there. You will find it fresher and cheaper than in the supermarket.

Naked retirees, the cohort also known as “losers,” are the older Australians, many of whom went through the Great Depression of the 1930’s. After living through the “Great Depression” they and other retirees are now living through the “Great Oppression” of the Turnbull Government. When will this cease! And where are the most brilliant minds in Australia, the ones that can get us all out of the “budget blackhole”? At the very least, without penalising older Australians. There must be another way. In the weeks and months ahead I will look at more statistics about how other countries are beating the “budget blues” without beating up on their older citizens.

The Rosemary Bush has flourished with regular watering. Growing your own herbs is so much cheaper than buying them at the supermarket.

While I am writing this, I am listening to Plácido Domingo Encanto del Mar, a collection of Mediterranean Songs, which is a coincidence. I really enjoy the Mediterranean music and listen to it often and very soon we will have our very own Mediterranean Garden. The way things are going politically and the decisions that are being made we “need” our Mediterranean Garden.

Our house has Mediterranean influences. We have arched windows and the brick entrance is arched. We also have a water fountain out the front. Once I get the solar worked out, instead of running this with electricity we will hear the gentle sounds of running water. Maybe then I could start a tradition with neighbours, friends and family. Every time we have a visitor they must turn their back and throw a coin in the fountain! Just like at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. These coins can pay for our new seedlings for the Mediterranean Garden! Will that mean we will have “less” visitors? A funny statement I read recently was from an older woman who said to a visitor “please visit me again when you have less time”. The naked retiree must maintain a sense of humour as life can be difficult in difficult times!

It is difficult to “fly with the eagles, when we are stuck on the ground with a bunch of political turkeys”. Despite this, we are a resilient bunch, us older Australians. If you don’t feel as resilient as you would like, go out and find a group to support you through tough times. You could also join me and join National Seniors Australia. It is an independent voice to ensure the views of older Australians are heard by governments at all levels.

It’s a lemon

It’s a lemon is a common saying when something you buy is defective, particularly when buying a second-hand car.

However, what I am writing about is not a lemon in that context but how magnificent the lemon tree is, the one that produces lemons. In our previous garden we had an amazing lemon tree. It was a Meyer Lemon and it was a prolific producer of lemon. It did not get too much attention or fertilising but season after season it produced great fruit. Lemon trees like the sunshine and not too much wind but our Meyer Lemon we planted in Maleny managed wind and rain with no trouble at all. We kept it pruned low and it was around 15 years old when we left, still in a very happy state.

There are three popular lemon trees in Australia: the Eureka, the Meyer and the Lisbon.  The Eureka and Lisbon both need frost protection. We have had a Lisbon lemon but I found it not juicy enough and the tree grew too tall. The Lisbon is the best variety for jam making. The Eureka is a juicy lemon with high acid content. The Meyer Lemon is from China and apparently a cross between a lemon and mandarin or orange. The fruit of the Meyer does have a slightly different shape to the Lisbon or Eureka, it is more rounded. Meyer Lemon is my lemon of choice as I have had such a great experience with the Meyer. I am missing picking lemons from the tree out of the garden. Lately we have bought lemons for $1.50 – $1.70 each!

This is a photo of our Meyer Lemon Tree in our previous property. It was a prolific producer of juicy, sweet lemons.

This is a photo of our Meyer Lemon Tree from our previous property. It was a prolific producer of juicy, sweet lemons.

There are so many uses for lemons it should almost be standard in everyone’s garden. We will make sure we plant a lemon tree in our new garden. If I lived in a unit I would have one in a pot so you don’t necessarily have to have a garden but just make sure it is positioned to get a good dose of sunshine.

Lemons are anti-ageing and good for our skin. Now that I am older I need to drink more water with lemon juice! Lemon juice has antibacterial properties and is good to gargle if you have a sore throat or just drink a cup of tea with lemon juice added. Kitchen cutting boards can also be sanitised by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing over the board. When I see lemons at a good price I will buy extra and freeze.  All I need to do is place in a freezer bag whole and take one out at a time, as needed. Easy peasey! The many ways we can use lemons goes on and on and in my mind they are a celebrated citrus.

Lemon trees are so famous they have had a song written about them but more so the people who sang the song, Peter, Paul and Mary. The song was recorded in the 1960’s and I remember it well as a teenager. The lyrics describe a father’s warning to a young boy who advised him not to put his faith in love. The verse in the song states “lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat”. The tale told in the song is that when older the boy fell in love and everything was wonderful until his beloved left suddenly and went with another. The warning of his father rang out that putting your faith in love is like the lemon tree, the flower is sweet but the fruit impossible to eat and love can falter. If you are around my age and would like a little nostalgia you can click below and listen to the song. If you have not heard of the song then this is your moment of discovery about an iconic American folk trio.

Think about planting a lemon tree if you don’t have one in your garden or on your balcony. The Meyer Lemon is sweeter so the lyrics must not refer to the Meyer Lemon. It is also a very easy variety of lemon to grow. I have updated the lyrics for the Meyer Lemon Tree – “lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet and the fruit of the Meyer is so wonderful to eat”! When next you hear someone say “it’s a lemon” they just might be getting excited about the fruit from the lemon tree!

Body Maintenance, More or Less

Now that I am older and retired I have more time to think about and give priority to Body Maintenance. That is, having a good diet, exercise and implementing a preventative health regime. I also need to care for my emotional and mental health but for now my focus is on maintaining my physical body and keeping it healthy.

To keep up with Body Maintenance there are two key words that keep coming up in my life. These are MORE and LESS. We need MORE of some things and LESS of others. As I began to mull over the MORE/LESS principle I realised there are a range of areas I need to consider in maintaining a healthy body. What follows is what I have come up with. Perhaps you have would like to add to my list and if so I would like to hear from you.

I have been working on reducing my cholesterol and this is why I need to put into practice the MORE/LESS principle. If my cholesterol goes any higher my doctor will more than likely prescribe a Statin. Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. There are side affects to Statins and I would prefer to keep my cholesterol under control naturally rather than rely on pharmaceutical medicine.

Therefore, I need MORE of the ‘good’ cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and LESS of the ‘bad’ cholesterol low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The ‘experts’ tell me that I need MORE fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain; MORE reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and dairy products; MORE lean meat and LESS fatty meat and MORE fish; MORE nuts, legumes and seeds and LESS cheese and ice cream.  When I go to the supermarket it is best to buy LESS packaged items. For example, it is better if I make my own hollandaise sauce instead of buying it in a packet. All I have to do is to make it MORE often rather than rely on the easy peasey take it down from the shelf approach. While I can eat eggs ‘moderately’ to reduce my cholesterol it is difficult to cut back on eggs when we have our Princess Chickens laying their ‘royal eggs’ at our door every morning.

Eating MORE fresh fruit and vegetables will make a difference to my body maintenance regime

Eating MORE fresh fruit and vegetables will make a difference to my body maintenance regime

Further to this I need to drink MORE water and LESS wine/alcohol. The National Guidelines in Australian for alcohol consumption is no more than two standard drinks per day for a healthy woman and man and four standard drinks on a single occasion to reduce the risk of alcohol related harm. A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol.  You may have heard about Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) movement which aims to develop a better drinking culture. Read more about it here. Fortunately for me I am an avid water drinker and have been for decades, so all good there. The key here is not to become an avid wine drinker!

It can seem overwhelming when all I want to achieve is a healthy body that will keep me going for the decades ahead. Keeping it simple though helps me achieve my goals. If I stick to the “fresh is best” regime and concentrate on eating the MORE foods and fewer of the LESS foods then I should be okay. I am not a cigarette smoker and just as well as smoking cigarettes is not a MORE or LESS matter. I have seen too much of the detrimental effects of smoking with relatives and others. If you give up is it not only good for your health but also good for your wallet. You will have MORE money in hand at the end of a week.

MORE exercise is also important for a healthy body and LESS sitting around. The goal is to keep moving. Doing activities such as cleaning the house or car are good for me as mundane as the activity is. Walking or cycling gets me in touch with my surroundings and community. It also has additional benefits as reducing heart disease, blood pressure and high cholesterol. Note to self: walk MORE!

As we get older monitoring our heart rate and blood pressure becomes MORE important as it gives us an indication of our overall health. If you don’t have a monitor at home or an app on your mobile, you can check this when visiting your medical practitioner or at your local pharmacy.

MORE and MORE I am understanding the importance of putting the MORE/LESS principle into practice. It will make a positive difference to my health and lifestyle. Coupled with an optimistic outlook and taking care of my emotional and mental health the journey of life is an enjoyable experience. Join me in trying the MORE/LESS principle and let me know if it works for you.

And remember “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live” – Jim Rohn.

Chicken Coop Maintenance

This post is about Chicken Coop Maintenance, following on from my post on “Home Maintenance”. In that post I mentioned I would be cleaning our Princess Chickens food and water feeders to keep their Palace (aka coop) tidy. Chicken coop maintenance for me is as important as keeping our home tidy and well maintained. This includes cleaning out their rest room area, nesting box and keeping the straw and sawdust fresh. Keeping their home maintained in this way makes me feel better, even if the Princess Chickens don’t notice any difference! And yet, I think they may like having a clean home as their “chicken talk” tells me they are happy when the Palace is refreshed with new straw and sawdust.

While I did the cleaning the Princesses were keeping themselves clean by having a dust bath

While I did the cleaning the Princesses were keeping themselves clean by having a dust bath

 

Here are three of the Princesses enjoying a dust bath together

Here are three of the Princesses enjoying a dust bath together

Maintaining a chicken coop is much easier if you think ahead about what type of coop you need and how many chicken will be housed. There are so many varied and attractive chicken coops that people build today. The best way to get ideas is to look at these online. If you inherited a chicken coop when you bought your home you can still make improvements. Don’t just accept the coop as it is, put your own style and personality to it sometime with a small renovation, such as paint or a garden bed. While I call our Princess Chickens home a Palace it does not compare to other coops which are very grand. Perhaps one day I will have a purpose-built chicken coop with all the fancy finishes. But for now, the Princess Chickens seem very happy in their home – their Palace.

The Princesses now have an improved garden view from the Palace. The garden is looking good and creates a welcoming environment when I visit the chickens each day. I or my “one & only” have spent 1-3 hours with our Princess Chickens over the past few days and it is pleasant to look at the garden and concoct other coop improvement ideas. This does not mean that I have nothing to do with my time but has come about due to the second sighting of a fox three days ago. The fox was on our road and in close proximity to the Palace. We were going out in the car and we chased it up the hill until it disappeared into a neighbouring property. We made our second report to the local Council in what have been three sightings now in a few months. While the Princess Chickens are safe in their predator proof coop, their run which they spend up to 4 hours each day is not. Hence, they have a reduced time in the run, under supervision.

The Chicken Palace has its own garden. The Princesses can enjoy this from the moment they awake in the morning

The Chicken Palace has its own garden. The Princesses can enjoy this from the moment they awake in the morning

It is raining at our place today and the Princesses are confined to the Palace where it is dry and comfortable. This means I am relieved of my supervision duty. I was very popular when I visited earlier with a bunch of Kang Kong. It is a Chinese Water Spinach (Ipomoea acquatica). I buy it most weeks from the local fruit & veggie market. The Princesses love it; they enjoy the leaves and every part of the stalk. Only the best will do for the Princesses. We had 5 eggs from 5 chickens yesterday and 4 today; one had a Rostered Day Off (RDO)!

After this rain there will be more maintenance work for me around the Palace. But that is okay, just part of my lady-in-waiting job! It is my responsibility to maintain the Palace to their “Princess Royal Standard” and also to maintain the chicken’s bodies to keep them fit and healthy. In the coming week I plan to write a post on “Body Maintenance” for humans….so stay tuned!

Out in the Garden

At this time of the year it is great to be outside and enjoying the splendour of trees, shrubs and flowers in a Spring garden. Years ago we planted a Magnolia specimen called Susan. We planted this in memory of my sister Susan who passed away 33 years ago when she was only 30 years old. It is a lovely deciduous medium shrub which produces dark silky burgundy buds followed by mildly fragrant pink flower outside and white within. Now that we are in Spring the tree is covered in verdant green leaves, very different to what it looked like in winter.

Magnolia Susan in the Winter

Magnolia Susan in the Winter

Magnolia Susan in the Spring

Magnolia Susan in the Spring

Our tomato plants are coming on (we planted four of these) which should give us plenty of tomatoes in the coming couple of months. This is apart from the cherry tomatoes that come up each year and are rich pickings. These are great in salads.

I mentioned in my post on 23 October about my first potato crop being attacked by bugs. A few days ago we thought it was time to find out what was under the soil. Whilst it was not the great crop I expected we did get some healthy potatoes.

There is nothing like home grown potatoes eaten soon after the soil has been washed off. This is another example of “from the spade to the blade.” From my $1.75 investment (seeded potatoes) from the Maleny Organic Co-op we got over 2 kilos of Desiree Potatoes. For now I am satisfied with the result. I have also extended my knowledge of potato growing for the next crop.

Our Harvest of Desiree Potatoes

Our Harvest of Desiree Potatoes

Today whilst wandering around our garden I have been enjoying the Daylily flowers. Daylily is the common name for a plant of the genus Hemerocallis. Daylilies come in a range of colours but the dominant colour in our garden is yellow.

Two toned Daylily

Two toned Daylily

We got our first daylilies from Scott Alexander’s Mountain View Daylily Nursery (just outside Maleny) around 20 years ago. After flowering is finished there comes proliferations i.e. new shoots that form on the stem (known as scape). These can be cut off and planted. BJ has systematically over the years increased our number of daylilies through this method. He has also shared our daylilies with others from as far away as Sydney. They are a hardy plant and easy to grow. You can also eat daylilies. However always be sure to check it is an edible variety before you take a bite. Perhaps they could also be a suitable treat for chickens. This is something I will have to follow up on. In the meantime I must go and check on the Princess Chickens who are out free ranging. Then time for another wander in the garden.

The Veggie Garden

As can be seen from the photo of our Veggie Garden the area has been enclosed. This is to keep out Mr & Mrs Bandicoot as well as other animals we have roaming around our property at night including Echidna’s. In the early morning we sometimes see a wallaby. On one occasion nibbling on our parsley! My ‘one and only’ did all the handy work by placing the netting wire all around the perimeter. We have three farmer’s gates which gives us four access points to the garden.

Our Veggie Garden

Our Veggie Garden

We have wooden steps inside the garden to manoeuvre our way around. Hopefully I will not unbalance and fall on the wire destroying the great work! Not to worry, we have more netting wire if there is an emergency like that. We had to so something as the burrowing habits of Bandicoots can be very destructive to your garden.

I was quite surprised when I looked back at the earlier photo of the potato plants to see how small they were (see One Potato, Two Potato post of 30 August 2014). I was looking forward to finding out what is underneath the ground once it is time to harvest our crop of Desiree potatoes. This all changed in the last few days when the potato leaves started to wilt. The photo shows how healthy they were beforehand. To remedy the problem (if it can be remedied) I used an organic trap for slugs see recipe following and went out to inspect (with a torch) two hours after sunset where I found an array of tiny beetles. These were squashed one by one (plastic gloves). You can use beer to trap slugs. I believe chickens love the slugs that have fallen into the beer. However, as we didn’t have any beer I made the yeast substitute. All you need is: 1 cup of water; 1 tsp of sugar; 1 tsp flour; 1/2 tsp dry yeast. Mix all together and place in either a saucer or plastic butter/yoghurt container (about 6cms deep) and place it in the soil level with the ground or just above. I trapped about 6 slugs the first night. Not sure what is happening with the beetles, time will tell whether or not my potato crop will survive.

The Potato Plants continue to thrive

The Potato Plants continue to thrive

I seem to be reading everywhere at the moment about “Getting Back to Basics”. The reference to this is that people are beginning to think more about the food they eat, the food miles/kilometers, how fresh is the produce we buy. How long does it take from the paddock to the plate? In Maleny we have Grower’s Markets, the Organic Food Co-op and items such as passionfruit, avocado’s, rhubarb at roadside stalls. Last week I bought a sugarloaf cabbage (drumhead cabbage did not look to healthy). The drumhead cabbage I previously bought from the ‘fresh food people’ mostly ended up in the compost. I like to make coleslaw which we have most days as part of our salad lunch but with fresh ingredients. It is better than best when you can walk out your back door and bring in your own fresh produce. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction when I can walk out my back door and have fresh produce in my kitchen in minutes. So little by little I will experiment more in the veggie and herb garden to make ‘the spade to the blade’ a reality in KJ’s kitchen.

One Potato, Two Potato!

One Potato, Two Potato!

One Potato, Two Potato!

Checking on my potato plants yesterday I was reminded of the ‘one potato, two potato’ nursery rhyme and game for children. The game teaches children to count, memorise and have fun all at the same time. I have found that if you want to memorise something it is easier to do this with a song. Think about all those songs you have heard over the years? You only have to hear a few words and there you are singing! But this blog is not about singing it is about growing potatoes!

A few months ago I began researching the art of growing potatoes. Gardening can either be an art or it can just ‘free flow’. Most of our gardening over the years has been the ‘free flow’ variety. This means if it grows and remains healthy, it stays as part of the garden. This is the ‘easy peasy’ approach to gardening. However, since retirement I thought it was about time I took a more scientific approach! Hence off to the library. I came across a great article in an Earth Garden Magazine of 2011. The article was about a man by the name of John Graham from the Huon Valley in Tasmania who has been growing potatoes all his life. Back in 2011 he had twenty varieties of potatoes growing.

So all prepared for my potato growing adventure I bought some organic Desiree seeded potatoes (a maincrop variety) and followed John’s tips. Out of a few potatoes I ended up with fourteen plants to sow. Further reading guided me about planting and the routine care. My plants (see photo) have grown to a size where they need “earthing up”. That is, raking more soil around the foliage. This is the first time I have planted/grown potatoes. I hope that when I finally check what is under the soil around November/December I will be pleasantly surprised by a crop of beautiful fresh organic home grown potatoes. There is evidence to show that plants like a little sing song. Next time I am in the garden I will have to sing the ‘One Potato, Two Potato’ song. It may even help the plants grow and I will end up with some great produce!