Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Summer Garden

A wonderful day to create a new garden bed! After getting about three raspberries on my first cane which is now in it's second year, it was a little disappointing. We then went down to the community gardens and saw their wonderful raspberry crop and so we have decided grow many more canes for next season along the side lane fence. Which means getting rid of the succulents along there (that weren't working anyway) and creating a NEW garden bed! - I had been thinking about sitting in our little nook that looks out on to the deck and studio and have decided the studio needs to a bit of 'sprucing' up. If we are going to look out on it through those french doors we may as well have something lovely to look at. So that's where the succulent garden was planted today. We are also planning on getting rid of the cupboards and garden stuff directly along the wall and plant a type of fernery. See below for some pics.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our second Spring

We are well underway into our second spring in the garden. The difference between this year's harvest and last years is so encouraging I can only wonder what next spring will be. (click here to see last year's attempts!) A year of soaking up the knowledge from my mum and A, and pouring all that (and the 4 tonnes of mushroom compost) into this years vege patch have totally paid off. I read it a million times, but proof is in the pudding - "garden bed preparation is essential!" The potatoes are going mad and the new front vege garden, is now producing yummy produce, which we are hoping will last into the new year. - if we keep picking from it. The first crop has been salad greens, lettuce, rocket, spinach, with the celery slowly growing in the background. Our next crop growing are Tomatoes and Beans. I have also just planted some Cucumber for a summer harvest. The back vege garden is producing some peas, but the carrots and beetroot just aren't working. So I am having to rethink that area.
I also have an ongoing struggle with snails and slugs - particularly with the new shoots and the amount of rain we are getting. I have tried Beer, I have tried going out there in the rain, at nighttime with my touch and manually collecting them. I am currently trying an organic (safe for wildlife etc) bait. It's awful to see the bean shoots doing well one day , for the next to have all of them chewed to bits! I will continue to trial new things - still to come, garlic spray, molasses spray, but I wont resort to salt. It's just too, too, well, yuk.

The other suprise has been the revelation of the the Valerian plant - and it's come back this year! Valerian is used as medicinal herb, taken for insomnia and stress. (not related to Valium!). It's one of two plants I am trialling for a medicinal section of our garden - the other is Echinacea. The Valerian had totally died back over winter- ie you couldn't see it! - But in the space of about 8 weeks - it's grown to a triffid sized 4 feet - and still growing. Eventually we will use the roots of this plant to make the medicine. (if i get around to it - if only there was a herb for procrastination - but then no one would ever grow it!)

See slide show for a few pics.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Red gravel and new limelight plants

Mum had ordered about 30 'Limelight' (Helichrysum petiolare) plants from her regular nursery for us to develop into a small hedge along the front path. I collected them from her on Wednesday and by Friday we had them planted. Over the weekend we ordered some red 'terracotta' gravel and got carried away with our own backyard blitz on the front yard. A and I are very very excited with the result. And it all started with these little green plants - now I just hope they don't die!. The weekend work included long overdue weeding in the front garden beds and A spent quite a bit of time 'edging' the beds to tidy them up. I have also placed red gravel along the new side vege patch. It's looking great. We ordered one ton of this stuff and every last bit of it was shoveled by moi! into wheel barrow loads and moved into place. Probably all up about 20 - 30 loads.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Big weekend in the garden

This weekend had stunning weather. Our winter was warm and short and a lot less freezing than our first one last year. This first weekend of Spring experienced gorgeous weather - we ended up in T-shirts at one point with a temperature around 15 degrees. I have finished the vege gardens in the front yard and finished the first plantings of Rocket, Spinach and Lettuce and added some Beetroot to the back garden beds with Carrots. My peas and Potatoes which I planted about 3 weeks ago have started to appear and so far they are looking heatlhy!. The front vege patch can now be accessed by a new set of stairs and gate from our deck which A spent all weekend building. So we have a fully functional home in all four corners now. Very exciting.


We have a climber outside my studio which was fairly woody and not very high when we moved in over a year ago. With Mum's help we have brought her back to life, pruning and generally looking after. She has now flowered. Hopefully we will identify it soon.

From Garden early September & new beds

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spring is almost here

It's my birthday today and Spring is almost here. For my birthday A gave me 4 tonne of topsoil mix with mushroom compost. So I am getting my spring planting plans ready and getting ready for my second year of fruit and vege planting. Hopefully it will yield more produce than last year! Below is a slide show of little buds of spring taking off.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yummy food

It's been a while since i posted - the onset of Winter. It seems to a bit.

Well I just wanted to share this wonderful site I found through Design*Sponge. It's a website by a couple of guys who like to cook. Some yummy recipes to be found here. I promise you this is worth it - check it out here: Lottie and Doof.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mrs Fatso has died

It seems my skin is getting thicker the longer I live up here in the mountains. The current count of animals is currently 5 chooks, 3 dogs, a mouse, 3 gold fish.
So far fatalaties are 1 chook (stolen or eaten), 3 chooks slaughtered by fox, 2 gold fish (killed by me as far as I can tell - bad pond habits...getting better) we also recently buried one of the kids guinea pigs (but the guinea pig resided elsewhere, we just took it in on it's last very sick day). The Guinea pig is buried under rock by the fish pond at the 9 yr olds request.

But the most recent, awful death was that of the old time chook Mrs Fatso. She of "I have survived 3 fox attacks". She of "I am the boss - get out of my way". She of "You will not put flee dust on my bottom or I will have a heart attack and die!" protest. And she did. She was old. She didn't move much. And we suspect she was not well, as, like and old dog she would wander across the yard..have a sit down...wander more...have another sit down.... So A decided to dust all the chooks, and while the others fluttered and put up with it...Mrs Fatso fluttered...then fluttered less...then quite gradually her neck started flopping. The kids and I were watching...then kind of worried. Then A looked at me - and oh dear...Mrs Fatso was having a heart attack! She died pretty much there and then. But the wonderful way the children dealt with it was to come up with the appropriate burial theme (rocks, wooden sticks for cross and a few flowers - all totally creeped me out!) So she was duely buried in a very sombre ceremony - and I barely cried. Thus my skin is getting thicker. I'm not sure how I have lived over 40 years and never had a burial in the backyard. Then in the space of 1 year have have had two! Interesting times ahead. I love every mintue of it.

I trust as the years are moved through, I will plant better crops, raise lots of animals and just become part of the fabric of living in regional Australia. A say's it's not exactly country, but it is. My country anyway.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New growth and my special carrot

Well I have had my very first carrot harvest. There were two and they were about the size of a marble. (granted they were the button carrots - not long ones). But still. Another grand failure in this wonderful first year attempting gardening. I am hoping of course that the massive carrot plot that I have planted will yield greater produce - however I can give you a tip about that plot - of the 30 or 40 I planted along each row - then thinned out - there about 4 or 5 left. I am not sure what happened to them all - but I suspect the same thing may have happened to them as the fantastic 17 bean stalks (now just one) - birds. There is a slide show below - including the carrot, as well as the echinacea plant (3 flowers!) the every growing herb garden and my passionfruit. I have also included a shot of our chooks in free range mode. We have tested with complete success letting them wander around the back yard with the dogs. The dogs, including the mad kelpie just look and occassionally threaten to round them up in good farm dog fashion. But they are all friends for the most part. The chooks just completely ignore them.

If you want to view the slide show in full screen mode click on the big play arrow in the middle of the screen - then click on the icon on the bottom right corner of the slide show, then when you want to come back just hit the "escape" button".

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
The wonderful thing about starting from scratch is we are almost randomly learning what works in this cool mountain climate and what doesn't. So gradually over many springtimes we will enjoy here, our garden will hopefully, slowly, start having lots of vibrant living life in it, rather than some fairly poorly looking sad droops. One which has absolutely thrived without much help was a small tube stock plant - Echinacea. I have a small dream of having various medicinal plants around the place to slowly work through their various benefits and the echnicea plant was a good obvious one to start with. Well! It took off and quickly. It's now well over a foot tall with the wonderful purple flower at the top. A & I have decided somewhere to make a little feature row or garden of these lovely herbs.


Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View

Monday, February 9, 2009

Vege Patch # 5 - AFTER (aka "The Great Carrot Plot")

And here is the latest vege patch. It's in the north side of the house in our side garden. A & the kids eat carrots morning, noon and night - so I have decided to grow an entire bed of carrots. - This shows the vege patch right after planting. I have also placed some more purple king beans in the back as they are doing well in my other vege patch.

I ordered the seeds from Select Organic company (from the Eden Seeds company) and they boast their seeds as "Old Traditional Open Pollinated Seeds,
No hybrids & No GMOs, No chemical treatment,
World's Finest Certified Organic Seeds"

From left to right the six rows are:

1. Dragon
2. Nantes
3. Amsterdam
4. Top Weights
5 & 6 Chantenay Red Cored

It took me ages to work out how to even get carrots started - they seem to have different rules than a lot of other veges. Like
1. Don't use compost.
2. Watch out for rocky earth or the carrots will 'fork'

One rule I have broken already is dug up a new garden fresh from grass. - There will be many weeds and grass coming back up. I did however place some really good top soil in raised mound rows to help with that and then placed sugercane mulch all over.

The other thing I haven't done is left room for staggered planting. However It's really the end of the planting season for carrots being later summer so I will give this a go and then think about better solution next spring. One thing that may help with the "harvesting all at once" is that A's 7yr old girl will apparently just raid them as soon as they are ready to start digging up. I have been warned. I will keep the blog updated with "The Great Carrot Plot"

PS: The trunk in the middle is surrounded by the start of a new succulent garden. I'm not sure how quickly the roots go down and if they will be deep enough to avoid the carrots. I can but try.

Vege Patch #5 - Before

The new spot for the vege patch on the north facing side lawn.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

DIY Mosaic Tray

Last weekend I took a leaf out of design*sponges blog and decided to try my hand at making a mosaic tray. We have found on the beautiful summer days when we want to sit outside on our deck it's always awkward to carry out drinks, nibblies etc. A tray was required. So I remembered this wonderful diy project (click here to read it), and put my own hand to it. Here's my version.
1. I purchased a cheap wooden tray from a local hardware for about $10
2. Using some left over white sample paint, gave it a couple of coats.
3. Bought some glass mosaic tiles from same hardware - it only needed a couple of packs, I think they were about $6, and using liquid nails stuck them on. I left that to dry for 24 hours.
4. Then I mixed up some white grout and followed the instructions. It was very very easy.

We have a slightly green theme through our fifties kitchen - so the colour was chosen to match that - when not in use :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chocolate Mint Truffle Torte

I have found a recipe for my chocolate mint. I am very excited about this new herb I have and am planning wonderful things for it. The first recipe below:


Makes 1 cake, 12 servings.

This torte uses yet one more technique for infusing fresh herbs. This time you steep mint leaves in warm butter, strain them out, and use the scented butter in the cake. Flourless chocolate cakes are familiar to most serious chocolate lovers because they are the most intensely chocolate cakes imaginable. They are, in fact, cooled dense chocolate souffl├ęs and very simple to make. The fresh peppermint flavor in this version gives it a refreshing taste.

About 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, for the pan
6 ounces (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (gently packed) fresh chocolate mint or peppermint leaves
12 ounces premium bittersweet chocolate chopped
6 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
Garnish with powdered sugar

Preparing the pan: Generously butter a 9 inch springform pan and lightly dust the interior with the flour. Turn the pan upside down and bang out the excess flour. Wrap a large square of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan and partially up the sides. Turn the pan right side up and set it in a shallow baking pan or on a half-sheet pan.

Infusing the butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the mint leaves and let the butter sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes to absorb the flavor of the leaves.

Butter and chocolate mixture: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Create a double boiler by selecting a medium (10-12") stainless-steel mixing bowl that will rest on top of large (6-quart) pot. The top of the bowl can extend beyond the rim of the pot, but the bottom of the bowl must not touch the water. Put about 2" water in the pot and bring it to a simmer. If the butter has cooled, heat it again to thin it. Pour the butter through a fine sieve into the mixing bowl and press the leaves with the back of a spoon to extract all the butter. Add the chocolate to the bowl and place it over the simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then remove the bowl from the water.

Eggs: Beat the eggs and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for a full 10 minutes. They should quadruple in volume and become light colored, very thick and fluffy. Fold 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then very gently fold in the remaining egg mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Baking: Put the baking pan with the cake on the center oven rack and pour in enough water to come about 1/2" up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until an instant-thermometer inserted in the center of the cake register 155 to 160 F, 25 to 30 minutes. The top of the cake will lose its glossiness and be slightly mounded, but it should not bake so long that it rises and cracks. If you insert a skewer into the center, it should come out gooey. Let the cake cool completely in its pan on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and remove the outer ring. The cake will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream, ice cream or custard sauce.

Recipe from: "The Herbfarm Cookbook" by Jerry Traunfeld.

Santolina cuttings

Here are my santolina cuttings. (click here for plant they came off) They are cut about 2 inches each and literally just put into sand, to encourage the roots to grow. The sand is moist and I will keep it that way by spraying the cuttings every few days. The first 24 hours were touch and go - drooping sadly waiting for a better day. But this morning I visited them and look at them - propped up and almost on their way. I will nurse them for a few more days - but I am quietly confident this could actually work!


Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
This is Santolina I am growing in the herb garden. I intend to create cuttings from this to establish a border in the front of our house on the path up to the front door. It's a beautiful dusty green colour and is very useful as a border - so I'm giving it a go. :)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beautiful paintings

Hi there,
I don't often stray from the topic at hand, namely how my 'tree change' progresses and the wonderful surprises that come with it - however very special occasions and websites deserve it. And I was led to this New York times blog by design*sponge. Please take time to visit - they are beautiful paintings from a popular US blogger and artist who went to 'the' inauguration. Click here to visit the blog.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Corn, Tomatoes and Chocolate Mint!

Today I have planted my first corn. Earlier in the week I planted a whole row of tomatoes in the new front vege patch - where alas - my celery died not long after planting. - However I have replanted the celery under the watchful eye of mum. But the grand exciting announcement is I have planted chocolate mint. Can you believe THAT? AND it smells like chocolate. Not sure where or when this very special herb will be enjoyed by our taste buds - but I look forward to finding the perfect recipe. (note: i think i found it! - please click here for the post)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

my tatos

my tatos
Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
Even though there are few - aren't they beautiful?

Potato crop over

Well - the time came to release the abundant potatos out of their tube. We took the wire down, pulled away the hay, more hay, more hay - nothing. And right down the bottom - where they had apparently stopped growing - we dug up about 10 little ones from each tube. Here is the carnage. We are optimistic about our next lot - more dirt, compost, etc. Less hay.

onion crop

onion crop
Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
I am tempted to say, after 5 months - "enough said". But that would leave you wondering how I could end up with this stunning display of onions. Well - I am not sure - but I would put it down to:
1. Not enough sun,
2. Too many weeds
3. Not enough watering
4. I have no idea.

Back to the drawing board.

I will say I was very excitedly pointing to A at my onion crop before I dug them up - and she very timidly let me know that what I had been looking at for the past month were weeds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our new scarecrow (or scarefox)

Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
Meet our new scarecrow. Made by A's 7yr girl today in order to scare the fox which killed her chickens a couple of weeks ago. Her name is Margaret.


Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
We think we have identified the rampant 'fern' which we are growing around our fishpond.... wormwood! We found just a small plant of it when we moved in and A transplanted it to the fishpond where it took of like crazy. We then split it in to and planted it at the back.

It's a facinating herb. Wormwood is the ingredient in the very dangerous but incredibly fashionable drink in the 1900's - absinthe. - The Green Fairy - Many a daring night was had in the dark alleys of paris with poets such as Rimbaud, Beaudelaire.

For a short but delicious list of "Famous Absinthe Drinkers"


Apart from that specific use - wormwood is one of the most famous for medicinal uses. It also has a strong effect in the garden for keeping annoying insects away and if kept near a chook pen - close enough for them to peck at - it helps keep intestinal worms at bay. So I am going to plant a few off shoots along the chook pen path.

Of course we may one day be proven to be wrong and in fact the plant is something else altogether. But for now we are quite happy with this.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New vege patch #4

This is the ariel view (taken from the deck) of the new vege patch at the front side part of the house. This area we predict will actually be the best place for growing veges - it gets the most sun, most of the day. We will eventually have 4 here in a grid pattern, one to the right of this one, then two more further on.

I have planted in there some heirloom lettuce from The Lost Seed (see link to the right). As well as some other seeds from The Lost Seed including Butternut pumpkin (from the 1930's). The seedlings you can see at the top of the picture are Celery and the one lone one along side the two steps is a cucumber bush plant. Not sure what it will do - but will wait and see.

The soil in this area is beautiful. None of the rock and sandstone we kept hitting in the back vege patches. And with A's new hoe to do the plot prep it was a lot of fun.

New plantings in Vege patch

With a beautiful Sunday to be outside I bought a whole new batch of vege seedlings to replant my vege patch. I have read about crop rotation - but not fully sure of the theory. I decided anyway to at least plant all the lettuce in the reverse bed to last. (that's all the lettuce in the foreground). I have also planted some red cabbage, more rocket, and also some weird looking "round" carrots and some spring onions. This time as well , i have also planted the first of the asian veges. I hope to eventually have continual asian veges going for stir frys etc. (like bok choi). They suit cooler climates and can be grown in throughout the year.

In the far back of the photo you can see the peas and beans slowing climbing up towards heaven.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Chooks

It seems a little heartless, but really the right thing to do for Mrs Fatso (and me!) - We replaced the dead chooks with news ones within a couple of days. We have acquired a laying araucana (Miracle), a young black chook (Blacky! (again!) ), two young icy browns (Berry & Marmalade (again!) and a young Rhode Island Red called 'ranger. (slang for orangatang, in turn slang for a red headed person - not really politically correct, but kind of funny at the same time) . The naming of them was interesting. I'm not sure if it's a difference between boys and girls, - A's 7yr old girl carefully named her chooks. A's 9 yr old boy, just named them the same again!

None of those are laying yet - and in fact are so skinny from lack of food as wells as maturity, they have slipped right through our wooden gate and into the yard on a couple of occasions. This wouldn't be a problem except for two things - my vege patch is right next to the chook run and our kelpie hasn't been fully tested for his chook hunting abilities. Here is a slide show of some of the new ones.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

3 Chooks have died

Sad news to report today. Three of our four chooks were killed by a fox last night. A' found two beheaded chooks in the pen this morning, (Blacky and Arky the Arakuna) with Marmalade completely gone, abliet a few feathers. A suspects she was taken off. Mrs Fatso - the head of the chooks lived to see another day. We can only assume a fox has gone into their nesting pen during the night and dragged them out one by one and didn't go back for Mrs Fatso. It's a strange feeling. Chook's aren't like dogs, where it would be devestating, but there is a sense of loss, and a sad feeling of the terror that the chooks would have suffered for a short while. I had tears in my eyes, but not a all out blubber. It's almost a feeling of this is what happens in the country and I need to get used to it. Having said that we will now be closing the pen gate (which we hadn't been doing) at night time now. The gate separates their pen to the run they spend the day in. A (and now I) really hate foxes, - they don't just take what they need - they also massacre everything else just for fun. We have been down to the local old guy who sells chooks and such (affectionately known as chookman sheepman to the locals.) He lives in this big old property at the deadend of a street nearby. His living quarters is an old caravan. There are chooks and duck running around everywhere. The story goes that he lived in a beautiful house which was burnt down by a rogue relative - and thus the insurance was void. So he now spends his days in this caravan, occasionally greeting locals who stop by to buy a chook. This morning we brought a replacement arakuna - but will wait to replace the others until later in the week.
I will post photos of the new chooks in the next few days as they arrive. (click here to read blogs about our old chooks)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Native Spear Grass

You can see in this photo our native spear grass that A acquired from a native nursery. These plants are impossible to buy commercially really - as they can't be grown - they are only found in bush and come available when there is replanting etc required. More can be read about this rare plant here

The Wooded Glen

We have expanded the back path also known as "the wooded glen" with liliope? sp? that mum gave us. It's really forming now. It continues beyond this photo to a stroll under a tree and out to the back near the chook pen.

Herb Garden #2

Planted on 28/12/08 featuring:
Santolina Greek
Vietnamese Mint
Greek Basil
Varigated Oregano
Marjoram (dead already from the monster lab - Larry)