Lorne Street Garden

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

The end of the road

It’s with heavy heart that today marks the decommission process of Lorne Street Garden.  It’s be a great 5 years but I won’t be updating from now on.   The reason for stopping is we are moving to Canberra for Rachel’s fantastic new job opportunity.     In Canberra we will not have a large garden like we do in Fawkner but we are aiming to secure a small allotment at a market garden.  Also we will be learning to make the most of court yard growing a small space and vertically.

 

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Early Spring

Wow,  what a rubbish poster I’ve been again.    No justified excuses aside from being extremely busy with a new interest in the form of guitar making with Chris at Thomas Lloyd guitars.  I’m hoping to turn this into a new home hobby once I have my workshop setup!  Chris is an amazing teacher and a master of his art!

In garden news,  there was a significant change.   No more bees.   Back in May/June I was stung on the face and had a serious reaction,  I ended up being off work nearly a week an unable to see.   It was strange as I’ve been stung many times before without issues,  but my GP tells me that’s how it goes,  you can go from no allergy to total,  so the bees have gone.

Thankfully the bees have been taken back by Robert from Bee Sustainable who kindly came over and collected them and paid me for the honeyflow.   It’s a real shame they had to go,  but I can’t take the risk.

The garden is being torn up in time for Summer,   a few lettuces and peas to clear out and then it’s time to get started.   Our garlic this time is looking fantastic,  I’m just hoping we don’t get a storm come along and smash them all like last year!

And we learnt a lovely use of the Globe Artichoke leaves.  Don’t just cut them off,  strip them,  pressure cook and deep fry in batter!  Ace!

I might even be able to sell some tomato seedlings this year if I get organised!

As always some pictures,   including the wonderful change of an Almond tree in later winter.

Perhaps I need to commit to a weekly update!

 

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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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Bio domes

A very quick post here.  I’ve had a week off work,  so I’ve planted out a massive amount of garlic this year.   Hundreds and hundreds of cloves,  and 5 different varieties.

Shangdong – from diggers – apparently super hot

Italian red – from diggers

Melbourne market  – from diggers

Purple Monaro – from our friends Blakey and Meg at Bellellen organic – staggering amounts of these

Italian white – from Blakey and Meg again

But the evil garden birds seem to be keen on digging them up and dumping them,  so the 2$ green houses have come into play.

 

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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.

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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Wow – ages has passed

Wow,   it’s been ages since I posted anything at all,  and I’m not returning at the moment with anything exiting to say.

In a minor update,  the bees will undergo their annual Australia day honey raid,  there will be no shortage of honey this year,  with plenty to give away.

I’m reconsidering if a blogging life is right for me!

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Useless blogger returns

So I’m back!  It’s been ages since a proper post,  not a lot has happened at Lorne Street Garden over winter,  but now we have an exciting update!

Firstly the annoying update.   It seem the wood framed green house from last year that I was so proud of is a bit rubbish for raising seeds.  Coupled with the dire start to spring in Victoria,  cold, warm, cold,  now really warm,  it’s taken ages (and another poly greenhouse) to get anything going.  So we are a bit behind compared to last year

Looking at the 6th October last year,  the back bed was fully dug out and ready to plant,  but last year,  we had things to plant.  At the moment nothing is ready to go in the ground and based on the changeable nature of this Spring,  we are holding off for a few weeks.  Certainly we have no tomatoes to plant,  but thats OK,  we will wait.

So in more exciting news,  our honey flow arrived!  It’s all assembled,  oiled, and installed.   It was a bit of a debate about what to do.  The options were to expand the brood to two boxes or keep two supers (normal and flow), or chance the hive splitting and just going with the flow and no expanded brood.  We decided to expand the brood and add the flow as the only super on the very top.   The rational being this approach will give the queen more area to lay, so the hive will not feel the urge to swarm.  It seems to be stable enough and we have seen a single pioneering bee in the new flow box so far.

in the actual garden,  the brassicas have all bolted and flowered,  which the bees seem to love (broccoli honey?).    Our garlic is looking fantastic,   thanks Blakey and Meg at Bellellen Organics!  it’s been rhubarb aplenty here and the olive tree is starting to show signs of fruiting!  After a year it’s grown from about half a metre to three metres.

As I mentioned,  we picked up a cheap four level poly greenhouse from Bunnings,   which has helped us recover from a total wiped out seed raising effort.  In the pictures you will see the seedlings in this greenhouse,  these have all come up in one week.   Compared to a month of nothing from the wooden one.

Some pictures as always.  They are a bit big.

Oh,  and the red back did not bite me,  it was lurking on the can and I only noticed after I put it down, so I was pretty lucky.

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I promise to update

I promise to update on what is happening.  Perhaps if I write this,  it will happen by magic?

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Return!

What an utterly crap blogger I’ve been of late!    The last post being on Australia day, that’s pretty poor!

The truth is not a lot has really happened.   The Summer continued,  moved into Autumn,  but I don’t think it really feels like it much.

We’ve been busily preparing for winter,  ripping out old plants,  namely the zucchini and tomatoes that have been taking over the place.   Hundreds of garlics have be put in,  and the brassicas are just about ready.

Something unexpected is that a lot of out of date onion seeds seem to have germinated successfully.  So much for use by dates.  I chucked them in row between the carrots (to avoid carrot fly?).  As they were out of date by a year I was not expecting much,   now I have thousands.   I guess I will just even things out a bit and more them around all over the place.

In terms of home preserving,   we ended up with about 80 jars/freeze tubs of sauce from the tomatoes,  and 17 jars of honey. The quantity was really quite surprising.

And about 15 bottles of plum wine and jam!  This years plum wine (Dave’s ruin 2015) is pretty good,  but needs time to settle.

The bees are very happy from what I can tell (still not speaking),  still harvesting for the winter ahead.  I will probably get them some food as well to keep them going.   Being our first winter with them,  I don’t want them all dying out.

And I apparently promise to blog more…

Some pictures as always,  my favourite is the lettuce thieving dog and the bee on the Jerusalem Artichoke flower.  It took me ages to train her to do that!

And for random news,  it’s hard waste week.  I’m still shocked to see flat screen TVs dumped.  Tells you something about society right?   Also,  my tomato machine which was made in Italy,  imported, and sold for $40 is ace.

Why can’t we manufacture here again?

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Australia Day = Bee Day

Happy Australia Day all,

We’ve decided to officially make Australia Day the day we tackle the job of harvesting honey from the back garden bees.  Despite initial rain and cold weather,  things brightened up nicely and my anxiety dropped.   We managed to harvest all frames from the hive with minimal casualties and stings (none).   I’m steadily becoming happier with the bees.   Initially a month or so ago I was near to having them moved on,  but they can stay now.

We do not have a honey extractor,  so we are going with the crush and strain method,  it’s slow work and a bit painful waiting the slow drop of honey through the double sieve,  but with some patience we will get there.

The honey is pretty good I have say,  no clear flavour,  which I suppose is to be expected with the randomness of backyard urban honey, but very sweet all the same.

A video and pictures.

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