Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News at Hand - 2015

Change is afoot! 
And I find, Im needing more than a hand to do so :)
Hello from Woolston.
We have a new home!  In a city where exorbitant rents are rife, and fixed homes happen slowly, our house in Avonside is finally getting fixed. We wont be going back, the repairs are going to take months to complete, and after that the landlord has decided he has had enough and will sell it. How sad it was to say Goodbye to twelve years of memories. And my Garden. Oh dear :(
So here we are.
It took me almost four months to find this place, affordable - only just. And it has no garden to speak of. It has however, carpet without holes or mould, and a gorgeous new bathroom and kitchen. A beautiful kitchen, that means I have space to bake and cook and preserve and ... well its just really blissful!
We have no garage at present, which means we have boxes in the lounge. I went to pick up the keys and asked about the garage plans. Oh no, they said. No immediate plans to build the garage within the next eighteen months, but we will let you know.
The following Saturday, a rather large man knocks at the door. Im Andrew, the builder... About that garage... We start on Monday...

So, we have foundations in place for a huge double block garage. And a carport. And here I was, just hoping for the washing line to be erected... It was another casualty of the EQs :)

No photos as yet. I can find the camera, but have no idea where i put the box with my batteries...
We have had to downsize, sadly, our cat family. Sam and Zander , the old boys. remain and we have at present two kitten and their mother. She came to us as a foster cat who was pregnant. Shes a delight and will make someone a really gorgeous pet. I have the tabby kitten, Trudie, sitting in front of my computer at present. She makes it very hard to type, but shes undeniably cute and gets away with all kinds of things.

So Im just taking stock of what I have by way of seeds, space and enthusiasm. Im a little sad at all the plants I left in my garden, but I reckon theres a reason for change, and maybe the next person who goes into that home will need those plants even more than we did/do.

One observation I have made, is that although we only moved a mile as the crow flies, away from our previous home, the soil here is quite different. Not a lot of nutrients in it, it is very sandy with no *guts*. Plenty of mulch and some compost is needed. Give me time, and it will get what is required, I have started the list already. I also need a new compost bin or two.

We have 2 peach trees here, a golden peach and a (yum!) black boy. The black boys have fallen due to the bad winds we have had in the past two weeks. Ive been boiling them up for breakfast on cereal.
The back section has been subdivided and sold on, so we have what amounts to a very small courtyard garden. I have my pots that have lemon trees and tomatoes and strawberries growing in them. Ive planted pots of dinosaur kale and coloured lettuces to get us through the winter. The yard is sheltered and mainly concrete, so I have to remember to water regularly because things wilt quickly. I also planted two rhubarb crowns so we wont lose that valuable nutrient-filled treat!

Next to go into the garden, is the chilean guava - nz cranberry plant. I love these, if grown efficiently in a hedge form, they smell heavenly - like candy floss in fact! They taste like heaven too if the berries are left til theyre large and juicy!
The kids can be found sitting around the bush when they are ripe :) I hope to let this one grow a bit, then take cuttings. The school could do with some to plant in their edible garden.

Wanting to utilize all my space, I have some wall planters here that I want to plant out with something that will attract bees. I also have my favourite chilli - Rainbow Thai, growing inside on the windowsill. It gets full light and some warmth there too. I hope it will grow well throughout the season, as they are handy to have, but also, they sell well.

So there we go, an update on whats happening. Time to make changes, and to plan for more positive things ahead!
Hoping all is well in your world,
Happy Gardening!!

Earth Butterfly 

Friday, October 4, 2013

School Holidays and Evenings pulling weeds

Amazing pink sunset last night,  I was still out there pulling weeds and yakking to the neighbours and the kids who were all playing Hide and Seek... Ive proved my worth, I still get asked to *hide* people. The amount of noise that goes on, the giggling and growling, its a wonder anyone is ever *hidden*!!

Weve moved some things around, pulled out a power of weeds, and still I have a long way to go... Im always behind the game at this time of year with getting seeds started and such. I dont think I will ever be one of the first to put tomatoes in the ground because Im always worried about those last frosts catching me out.

Have found lots of seedlings again this year sprouting - borage, calendula, marigold, scarlet runner beans, silver beet, swiss chard (ruby and gold) and poppies everywhere. The bees will feel quite at home when they awaken and get moving... I hope they're on their way soon! Am very mindful that every year we seem to have less interaction here in the city with bees, so I plant accordingly and hope that they find something theyre attracted to I have heard of people with their own urban hive, that seems like such a lot of work, I wonder how rewarding it is?... Ahh - I will go and google or trot off to the library and do some research.

Had some small table squash last year, and have just put some seeds in to see if I can raise more. I like the acorn squash as theyre a really nice size for cooking, and taste so good! Also, trying some spaghetti squash this year. I like the idea of getting the goodies into the kids, either my own, or taking things across to school to see if they want to grow them. Had a gentleman come and buy some seeds from me today, it was so nice to have someone who was so into gardening give me some hints and tips. He is coming back later with some pots for me, and I have given him a couple of herb plants by way of payment. I enjoy meeting gardening folk, theyre usually good grounded souls!

Miss Seven has decided we are growing some Mexican Hats this year (Ratibida Columnifera) I like her choice very much, they will look great in the front garden if we can get the seeds growing. She is nursing a tiny daffodil bulb in a pot  we got at the Garden show earlier in the year, and cant wait to catch up with her lillies she got last year for her birthday. Theyre growing nicely, soon will need repotting.

Have some ulluco that have really grown well over Winter. A lot easier to grow than we were first led to believe, and in a sunny, windless spot, theyve got the size of small yams. They taste a little more earthy than yams, but I gather from my research, they have fantastic Vitamin content, so when mashed with yam or potato, they add an interesting taste (screws up face)

Still have to download my photos from the camera, but will work on that. I have a fellow gardener coming tomorrow to help weed a little bit, the plan is to scratch the dirt a little, exchange comments about the weather then we will retire and have wine and hilarity while I try to bbq a steak or two.

Im really impatient at this time of the year to have fresh tomatoes. I do miss them during the Winter, and dehydrated ones really are not a patch on fresh... neither is frozen. This year Im doing a few more than usual, and giving some new varieties a try out too... but I cant wait to make salsa and pasta sauce.

Long days and now we are half way thru the school holidays already. I got woken this morning by a sharp 3.3 jolt (Earthquake) I think it must have been the Port Hills fault, it was quite violent. However, all is good, I got up muttering something about extra supplies - toilet paper and candles!!
The kids have taken the dog for a walk and its very quiet out there... time to go and thin some lettuces.

Weve found this website, its a lot of fun, and the kids are getting to learn where places are in the World, by playing

Thats us for now,
Love to All

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

~Back to the Spring Planting~

I have been thinking about my garden a lot lately. What to plant, where to plant it... and Im into flowers, lots of them! Coreopsis, Marigold, Hollyhock, Alyssum, Honesty, Heartsease, Violet... the list goes on!
Its amazing how far apart my life is now, from what it was when I began this blog... Lots of changes, and Im so glad that things have been moving along. We have worked hard to get the life we are creating, and although it isnt perfect, its perfect for us. Me, the children and our network of supportive friends!

Work is busy, Im enjoying being a resourceful person, and although it has taken us all along a different path than ever before, being organized sits well with us all.
Loving the school hols, and doing things the kids enjoy, the fishing... walking, shopping, going to the movies - Epic was great !!
I wont put much more than that about the children, they have worked hard this year to try to understand a parent who is so much less noticeable by his continued absence in their lives...and theyre both old enough to  know that they do not want to have photos put on my blog now...

The garden has been full of wonders,  hard work paid off this season, and Im loving the delicate blossom on the fruit trees. I didnt notice it last year, but this year was an absolute joy. Its so pretty, and the peach, nectarine and apple trees put up a real show. 
Ive had winter lettuces coming through with continual sowings. It was awesome that we didnt have such severe winter weather this year, and Ive got Kale that just grew and kept going... Kale chips are a real revelation, the kids loved them, and we had yams, ulloco and potatoes all of our own! I cant seem to get onions to grow en masse yet, but will keep trying...

The vines havent been a real tangled mess yet, so Im hoping that I can trim and keep the boysenberry in check, whilst the raspberry canes look better than last year. I trimmed them not too harshly. I have blackcurrant bushes that are huge, and I took clippings off them all, which I poked in beside the silverbeet. Theyre growing away nicely into individual bushes, which will be great for my mentor families as I work with a local charity to get some gardens up and started...

The seeds have been going well, and Im pleased to say I have many more varieties growing up! The tomatoes are poking through on the windowsill, the corn shouldnt be far away and I have pumpkins galore too. Three new varieties this season, one with edible seeds (good for prostate health! amongst other things)

So, there we be. 
Things be a'changin' - and its all great news...
Will post some photos when I get a chance to unpack the camera cord.

Love to All

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pudding & Cake - Ambrosia Recipe

What gorgeous weather, perfect for the first week back at school.
I have today off to get some things sorted, including a warrant. It should err WILL fly through thanks to some tinkering.

We have a birthday party tonight, our son (the fisherman/hunter) is turning 17, and he is having a few mates around for cake and pudding. Im to make the cake, and Im not sure how it will turn out, but it will be simple and full of sugary goodness for sure! I was thinking of something I could sculpt (???) into a fish-like, salmon shape... yeah right!

He wants Ambrosia for pudding... gulp.
Ive found several different recipes that include all kinds of berries, but I will be using blackberries because their juice *acid* changes the marshmellows into gooeyness that mixes nicely with the cream. Yeah I know, it sounds gross.
However, this recipe is looking promising NZGIRLS AMBROSIA RECIPE

Ahh well, off to the kitchen I go...
If you see lots of blue smoke in the East... it may well be my oven overheating with the strain :)

Back to Gardening next post... its time for planning the Spring plot,  and getting some seeds into the mix, yes?


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stitching Along!

Having a fabulous day, have just been given the bestest-ever present... A new sewing machine!
It has been a while since I did any sewing that wasn't darning or fixing, or hand sewing... This machine is a beauty and my old clanger that got rocked in the earthquake looks prehistoric beside this one that could almost make coffee...! Thank You Honey - it was a lovely birthday present.
What to sew first? Theres a few with requests, Barbie clothes, Dolls House furnishings, fishing rod carriers...  Knew my fabric stash might come in handy one day :)

Haven't been up to a lot of gardening after last week, have not had as much time on my hands to potter and get engrossed in the weeds as last year, but the garden has responded well to the mulch/composting it got just before Winter... There hasn't been the waterlogging I had previously, and the plants seem to have suffered little (so far) from Frosts and wind.

Well thats me for today, I'm off to make ice cream & eat cake with the extended family, thats an extra lap around the block for tomorrow no doubt :)

Take care & Keep Warm :)


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Catching Up!

Our Fur Pal, Pops

Long time, no write.
It seems like the past three months have sped by. Weve been on school trips and had visitors to stay which as been awesome - lots of fun, even if it was a bit squishy (See photo of one of the visitors).  EQC arrived, weve had some tentative repairs done... Still waiting for the Big Tick, but it is much warmer, and the new paint smell is fading. Loving my new outside lights!

The older lads are off doing their own things - One on a school tramp the week of the snow (brr!), and the other, to Rarotonga this week...
School Assessments happen soon, May went and with a hiss and a roar, June came and went, and July is busy tying up ends. I start at my new work in August! Just six months til Christmas ... gulp!

This week Im better able to take a breath and catch up with lots of things - and people... but the Mount Foldmore pile (washing) is waiting and so are the weeds. Yesterday I started on the weeds... a beautiful balmy day, slight breeze but warm ~ I like days like these! I finally planted some garlic... and tucked it down into a warm composty bed.

Today is Cultural Day at school. We are having shared lunch and I can hear the kids already.
They will LOVE getting outside after being cooped up while it is cold. I saw some bare feet before, more than one set!
Danebrog Poppy
Tomorrow we are continuing with the school Survival unit, the children will be weeding and planting... in the hope that when they return after the holidays, *something* will have grown! I sure hope it will :)

Have scattered some new flowers this year to attract more of the usual suspects - bees, butterflies, beneficial insects... Lots of blues - lobelia, forgetmenot, scabiosa, larkspur, delphiniums and cornflowers. I love cornflowers, theyre such a happy flower! Have short and tall sunflowers, also some lovely danebrog poppies and double opium poppies... cant wait to see them flower!

Well, break's over. Time to hit the ground running... Off to harvest some yams for dinner and cast an eye over the washing... sob. Might wait til later...

Have a happy day!
Plant something :)