Lorne Street Garden

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

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.

And….

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!

Benji!

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!

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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!

Also,

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!

Planting

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

Lettuces

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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Bendigo, Greenhouse, and a new spinning wheel!

It’s been a busy weekend for us, starting Friday we headed up to Bendigo for the Wool and Lamb show.   Rachel is an avid wool spinner and knitter/weaver,  so this was her heaven!    We returned from Bendigo on Sunday with a car full of sheep related goodness and a new spinning wheel.

Rachel has had her eye on the Ashford Joy 2 portable spinning wheel for ages and managed to secure a great deal direct from the company.  It’s a pretty impressive piece of craftsmanship and it’s sure to provide her with a lifetime of spinning.   Hopefully she will also start to populate the craft page on the right side of this blog.

Bendigo was a fantastic place to visit,  we certainly will be returning!

When we got back we decided to put together the greenhouse/poly-tent,   it’s fully erected and currently stable.  It’s bigger than we expected it would be,  so we are going to have to plan out how the interior will look.   The first residents have moved in,  2 Bhut Jolikia chili plants which have been struggling through winter.

 

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A bit of a break.

It’s been a while since we last posted, and to be honest,  not a lot has happened.  We’ve be harvesting what seems to be never ending broccoli, and  we are pretty much at the end of our Jerusalem artichoke harvest,   Having been so successful we are planning to give the artichokes their own dedicated raised bed – a considerable real estate upgrade from the potato bags for the past year.

The artichokes have been an enjoyable root to wait for,  and they looked pretty in the garden once in flower as well.

Also,  finally we are starting to pull leeks and parsnips.   I’m not overly convinced it’s worth growing parsnips,   perhaps we are doing something wrong,  but they seem to take up a lot of space and take far too long to grow?

Another addition has been a dedicated strawberry bed,   we were very impressed with our 3 plants last summer,  so we purchased another 22 bare root “Cambridge rival” plants from Diggers for what I considered to be a bargain (~30$).

Oh,  and finally the order is going in for the greenhouse.  Due to financial restrictions,  we are opting for a cheap Ebay temporary plastic tent greenhouse.  We are only expecting it to last a year,  but for 100$ we are not too worried.    A space has been cleared and weed mat laid for around 2 months,  so the dreaded grass should be nicely dead by now.

But whats up with the weather here in Melbourne,  yesterday we hit 17 in the garden,  and a nasty low over night,   and where is the rain?  It’s been pretty much all blue sky for weeks.   I feel odd watering during the winter!

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Friends of Merri Creek – mother’s day planting in Fawkner

Happy mother’s day all mothers.

Lorne Street Garden celebrated today by assisting the Friends of Merri Creek to plant Dianella amoena along the escarpment nearby here in Fawkner.  The intention is to help create a Dianella pollination corridor.

It was an excellent couple of hours and a lot was accomplished.  We met some wonderfully like minded people and will be signing up for more activity.

In gardening news,  we are longing for more rain,  but the garlic and broccoli are starting to look fantastic!    In the absence of rain the water tanks are running low,  so I am resorting to the hose pipe…

Image

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Chicken coop / shed destruction

One of the selling points of the property was it’s amazing chicken coop (perhaps an outside toilet),  sadly,  due to it’s dubious construction we decided it had to go.  So equipped with a hammer, powersaw, and a willing father-in-law,   we decided to viciously destroy the back garden health hazard.   The plan is to replace it with a greenhouse / poly-tunnel but we are currently debating the cost vs use of each option.

Some pictures of the wanton destruction below.

 

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