Gathering the straws of life together

Tag: Gardening

The Garden

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 […]

Seed to Feed

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 […]

The Naked Retiree, Depression and the Mediterranean Garden

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

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 […]

Body Maintenance, More or Less

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 […]

Chicken Coop Maintenance

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

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 […]

The Veggie 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 […]

One Potato, Two Potato!

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!


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