Lorne Street Garden

Self sufficiency and sustainability in Fawkner, Melbourne, Australia, and beyond!

Excellent two days planting

Hi all,  as a result of being very busy,  perhaps lazy person and of course lets blame the weather, I’ve been unable get the garden ready for Summer.  However after a serious burst of activity over the past two days everything is in and ready for Melbourne cup.   Everything planted has started off really strong,  so I’m looking forward to a good season.  All up ~60 tomato plants were raised from seeds and I’m very pleased with the results from the two green houses.  Very excitingly,  we have flowers on the Avocado too,  if I get one fruit I will be thrilled!    A whole load of pictures below

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Warm Autumn

This warm Autumn has been really frustrating.   My brassica crop has been nearly wiped out by cabbage whites and the marigolds are still thriving (nice for the bees though).  So we’ve decided to try and adapt to this and plant out something different for winter in the form of lots and lots of beans and peas.   Gardenate seems to think that now is still a fine time for beans and peas,  and this would help replenish the soil after the years of tomatoes and broccoli.   All the trees still have their leaves,  which is going to make pruning a challenge..

Also,  rather than totally give up totally on the front garden,  we are rethinking.   Someone said to me, “don’t plant under a pine tree”,  and we have a massive one.   I’m not sure how true this is,  some sites seem to suggest this too,  but the front garden never seems to do well apart from in isolated beds.   My understanding is pine trees can raise the soil acidity.  Not to be beaten,  I’ve removed all the pine needles and have gone crazy with beans,  which can grow well in slightly acidic soil (hopefully not too slightly acidic).   Rach has decided to build a terraced veg garden with old bricks and bamboo (away from the tree).    Planted within is greenfeast peas (upper) and multi coloured silverbeet (lower).   Being next to the front path is should looks quite attractive if it started to grow.

Also,  surely we can make a veg bed out of an old drum?

And we had our first Olive “harvest”!  Great for a pizza,  in a few months after the brine!

And the nature strip boxes are going fantastically!

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A very “tomatoey” update

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted.   There is no excuse other than slackness on my part.   I think in general I’ve concluded that there is not a lot to post over the Summer months until the end.   Of course,  Summer is supposed to be over now in Melbourne,  but it certainly does not feel that way right now with our warm and humid weather.

I would say warm and humid has been a good summary for this summer in general.   It’s not been very pleasant here in Melbourne, just my opinion,  but the garden seemed to love it.

After what seemed to be a very disappointing start to Summer we’ve actually ended up doing very well in terms of crops.   We were expected to not perform very well at all with Tomatoes,  but we’ve ended up with a fantastic yield.  I really should have weighed each harvest.  We’ve jarred an amazing amount and frozen lots too.  There is still another large crop to harvest!  This will be revealed in the pictures.  This is all while eating an almost continual supply.  My Lycopene levels will be very high.

The Zucchinis have been as always brilliant,  and for once,  we have beans in the freezer stored.   Also we did exceptionally well with Cucumbers for one.  We’ve not had to buy a single one all summer.

Perhaps most excitingly though has been the capsicums.   All the plants have performed fantastically.  Again,  no need for shopping,  it’s amazing what you can grow at home.

We also found an awesome purchase at the local Bunnings.  Collapsible greenhouses,  2$ reduced from 20$….  We have 10.  These are going to be fantastic for keeping the capsicums alive and boosting the seedlings.    They also fit perfectly over the smaller wooden raised beds.


We started to harvest honey using the honey flow.  I’m not sure if we had as much success as we would have hoped, probably due to my nervousness. We harvested several flow frames,  but did not get as much honey as we would have hoped.   I then investigated internally and discovered that only the front cells opened.   After reading up on this via the honey flow forum,  it seems this is a common issue and I need to have another go.   Still,  I think the product still has merit.  It has not stopped me inspecting the brood etc and all seems well.

I thought I would include a few pictures of the main veg bed and how things have transitioned over the past few months.  Certainly it’s evident that I should have done a lot more weeding,  but that’s OK, once the tomatoes are finally gone I can dig it all in.

I hope this slideshow works…

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Some random pictures




And when I get organised I will upload a video of the honey flow in action


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Happy Birthday me and hello to Benji

Happy Birthday to me!   Sadly I need a root canal and have a cold….

It’s been a while since I last posted,  a very long while.   In the last post it was mentioned that Barney passed away.   This was a tremendously sad day for us,  and I’ve not felt like posting much.

We do now have a new doggy family member!  Introducing Benji!  He has cheered us up no end!

Benji is supposedly an Australian Terrier Mix (not really sure what).  He’s 3 years old but acts with the mischievous will of a puppy – perhaps he’s younger.  He was rescued after being abused by previous owners and left outside in a courtyard.   He had 4 owners in a week and was near to being put down despite being perfectly healthy.  He’s a wonderful little fella,  he just needed love and a bit of training.  He came from Paws2Luv – Pat Sullivan does wonderful work!


In garden terms,  quite a lot has been happening albeit slowly.   Our flimsy greenhouse was destroyed…  AGAIN.  I’ve given up on ebay greenhouses/polytunnels now.  All the toughtape in the world won’t fix rusted frames.   Luckily all the seedlings were recovered and are happy outside now or in the front garden wooden greenhouse.  It’s likely we will have some seedlings for sale this year if we can get organised.   I need the money towards a proper poly carbonate greenhouse that I will bolt to concrete next year!

Aside from there,  we are getting bees!   We’ve been talking to Robert from BeeSustainable on Lygon street.  We’ve attended his course,  we’ve built our hive (nearly),  I’m collecting our suit soon, and the nucleus hive is on order.   I won’t pretend,  I’m a bit worried about all this.

Here I am scaring Benji !

Keep back strange creature!

Our pea/snow pea planting for winter was successful,  aside from not buying any, I’ve managed to preserve 6 bags of peas.  Also we have far too many carrots.  I’m a bit sick of carrots to be honest.

The main veg bed is dug out and the 3 sisters,  corn, bean, squash have been put in multiple places.   This worked really well last year, so we are trying in the nature strip crates which I hope will make quite a statement once it’s a bit bigger.

We’ve globe artichokes a plenty,  I’ve managed to convert Rachel to enjoying them.   I do keep finding spiders and bugs in them, but that shows they’re organic – right?

UPDATE on artichokes,   we just had 2 lovely Italian ladies come to our door and offer to buy some from us,  in exchange they are bringing some homemade tomato sauce!

Enough for now, I’ve got a few days off so I can get some seedlings planted in the ground!


After the storm – a return to blogging

Hi all,

It’s been a noted while since we last posted anything.  To be honest,  as I suggested in the last post it’s been rather disheartening here at Lorne Street.

Following the simply put, ridiculous longer summer/warm autumn we have been left with nearly no winter crops.  All the bugs that should have been long dead were still lurking around eating our efforts.   Long summers are not always a good thing,  we need cold weather and rain.  We had better get used to it though El Nino looming…

To make things worse,  after winter hit with a vengeance – 23 to 24/6/2014 -= dates which will forever been known as “greenhouse death day”.

Our cheap greenhouse is no more…  Utterly shredded!   I know it only cost 100$ on ebay and was held together with tough tape – clearly not enough but it’s been good to us.

But we now have a sturdier front garden wooden greenhouse,  it’s prettier as well!    It survived the storm!  The backgarden replacement is yet to be decided.

And a big order is on the way from diggers.

San Marzano Tomatoes

Christmas grape Tomatoes

Hungarian Heart Tomatues

Quadrato D’asti Giallo capsicums – apparently massive ones!

Basil Fino Verde


Atomic red carrots

Purple dragon carrots

Paris Market carrots

St Valery carrots

Bull’s blood beetroot

Burpee’s golden beetroot – cool name

Chioggia beetroot

Cherry red rhubarb

Long Florence Zucchini

Costata Zucchini


King Richard Leeks.


So it’s not all doom and gloom!  Onwards and upwards,  we still have heaps and heaps of silverbeet and rainbow chard etc, so we won’t starve – but we might be bored!

We shall not be defeated!





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Updated – Fawkner on fire!

Updated -17:52 – fire out (apart from a few spots) and some aftermath pictures.

Currently we have a fire burning on both sides of the Merri Creek at the end of Lorne Street.  It’s only about 10 doors down from us!

It’s on both sides of the creek by the looks of things,  and near to industrial buildings.

And a video

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Tomato Jarring

What a fun and busy weekend we’ve just had.   As seen in a previous post,  we have had rather a glut of tomatoes and more to come.

There are only so many tomato, chorizo, and cherry tomato salads that we can manage, so preservation is the way to go before they all go off.

A quick trip to the wonderful people at Costante Imports later and we return with jars and lids aplenty (as well as a fantastic new pizza peel) and some advice we got to work.

I’m not sure what happens regarding lemon juice,  I’ve been told different things and preserving the Italian way does not seem to consider it essential or mention it in my addition.  So I went with a mix of both.

Some pictures

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The three sisters and a friendly neighbour!

We were shocked the other day to come home to find that a kind neighbour had left us 2 tomatoes to and an Xmas card to replace the ones that were stolen.  the new additions have been planted!

To whoever it was,  many thanks!   It’s great that community spirit exists and feel free to say hello!


We’ve started to look into companion planting more,   we are trying to work more with nature and use less liquid fertiliser (albeit organic) over summer.     We stumbled upon this website regarding Zucchini (squash), corn, and beans.  According to Iroquois legend, the 3 crops were considered precious gifts from the great spirit,  and watched over by 3 sister spirits.  The theory being that the corn acts as a structure for the beans to climb,  the beans add nitrogen to the soil and support for the corn,  and the Zucchini act as a mulch for the soil.    It’s all much more articulately written here,  many thanks to the author!

At the moment,  it all seems to be working as well.   We have plenty of zucchini,  which is great as last year was a disaster.   The corn is growing well and the beans are wrapping around them well.

2 of the 3 sisters can be seen in the picture below,  beans around corn (sorry, not best picture).

2 sisters - beans and corn

In other news,  with summer now upon us (ignoring the cool change),  everything is starting to grow really well.  It seems that tomatoes out the front love the cacao shells,  but the others out the back,  who can’t have cacao because of Barney are doing pretty well too.  We do seem to have planted far too onions and leeks earlier on in the year,  so some are going a bit hard at the core (but the outsides are still good).

We are keeping our fingers all crossed that our remaining eggplants and capsicums don’t die horribly.    We’ve had very limited success with seedlings.

Oh,  and we’ve pulled out heaps of garlic,  about 300 heads so far and more to come.   We are trading nicely with local food friends!

Lots of pictures!

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Awesome Apple crates!

After the Moreland city council kindly approved our apple crate plan,  this past weekend we  keenly set to work on installing them!

With the crates being 120x120x60cm,  it was a reasonable assumption that 2m3 of soil would fill them – and sure enough it did.  The soil was delivered at 10am on Saturday,  and amazingly I managed to fill the crates by 12:30.    I was a feeling very sore afterwards,  but very satisfied!

The crates have been mulched, and to start with we have planted some blue moon/royal blue potatoes and some mystery heirloom tomatoes!

I’m suspecting the tomatoes are too densely planted,  but let see how it all goes!

Next step,  secure netting to keep the local birds away.

Here are some fuzzy photos!

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The first of spring – Happy Father’s Day!

It’s been far too long since we last posted,  but it’s the end of winter and the start of spring!   So here is a longer than normal post.

Greenhouse update

The $90 ebay green house/poly tent is still standing despite Melbourne and her weatherly attempts otherwise.

We’ve concluded that if the green house manages to survive through to next winter we will be happy gardeners.    It’s true,  you really do get what you pay for and in this case,  $90 gets you poorly stitched seams and ill fitting plastic.

Within 2 days, the Melbourne wind had caused the seams to start splitting.  Bunnings as always had the answer in the form of Scotchguard “Tough” tape at $20 – again you get what you pay for.   The green house has been reinforced and the covering attached to the frame.   As the pictures will show,  it’s very much a Heath Robinson affair,  but the growing results have been impressive.

A new addition – apple crates!

We have managed to acquire 2 fantastic 1.2m x 1.2m x 60cm ex-apple creates!  Many thanks to Nicole from Luscombe Street community garden for arranging this!   The plan once the council approves is to place them on the nature strip and grow potatoes!


As the pictures show,  the green house is fulfilling it’s purpose,  we’ve planted the following,  all from seed and now seedlings.

Tomatoes,  San Marzano, Granny’s throwing, valentine, Xmas grape and mystery heirloom.  About 100 in total – perhaps a little too many…

Cucumber,  star and stripe, Armenian, and mini muncher.

Many types of bean

Painted mountain corn

Zucchini – two types


Chilli fatale

And finally capsicums

Everything is racing to grow,   I’m going to be very busy in the next few weeks especially as Rachel will be out of action due to upcoming surgery.

Also the Jerusalem Artichokes have been given their own dedicated home.

Solar power

A few days ago,  we received our end of winter bill – we have been using the reverse cycle for heating and not holding back on the tumble dryer – I was dumb struck to see when opening the envelope that we are $800 in credit….   Solar makes sense.

Any finally…

Barney has a snazzy spring cut.

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