Lorne Street Garden

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

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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Autumn is here!

We are now a few days into autumn,  which you would not really believe from the weather!

Over the weekend most of the front garden tomatoes have been pulled out,  as well as their nature strip friends.   We’ve done very well out of tomatoes this summer,  and I’m not afraid to say that I am a little sick of them now.  The back garden tomatoes are going strong and I expect they will continue for about another month.  So far we’ve managed to preserve 24 jars of tomato related produce,  eat more than I care to mention, and freeze a stack as well.    Perhaps next year I should consider a road side sale?

In terms of whats coming out of the ground,  so far (aside from tomatoes) we’ve just started to see some early potatoes and cucumbers and the zucchini are still going strong.     The corn was a total failure,  but I’ve got some seeds left over for next year.

The now empty nature strip box will be used to create an attractive display of leafy greens,  rainbow chard, and bloomsdale spinach!

Not many pictures this time,  to be honest everything is looking a little dry and in need of a good rain.

The interesting picture to note is the tough tape (I’m still a fan) around the tomato.  This plant was nearly broken off a few months ago by the thief,  but the tape saved the day!   The plant has been productive until it was pulled up on the weekend!


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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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1.21 Gigawatts!!

Not quite 1.21 Gigawatts a la Doc Emmett Brown, but we certainly were chuffed to tip the 1 megawatt point today!

1.030 megawatts!

We are rather frugal as a household in terms of electricity usage,  we use approximately 6 kWh per day.  According to our bill, the average Australian house with 3 people is apparently using 17 kWh per day.   We are hoping that being a bit sensible with our power use and having solar,  we will not have to pay for electricity in 2013 (or at the most a little tiny bit).

It’s surprisingly easy to only use only 6 kWh,  aside from energy saving light bulbs,  you just need to be smart:

  • Make sure you only perform full loads of washing (cold).  If you can do this during non-peak rates then all the better.
  • You really don’t need lights to be on all the time,  it’s not being tight, but perhaps a personal preference.  Your room do not need to be brilliantly illuminated at all times,  especially during the day.
  •  Be smarter with cooling,   certainly we do have a split system AC,  but it’s not needed on 30c days (outside).   We have shutters,  so just keep them shut.   If you know a hot day is coming,  make sure you cool the house down over night.
  • Fans actually do a pretty admirable job of cooling the house down, think smartly about fan positioning to direct hot air around the home.
  • Turn off standby appliances,  they are still using electricity regardless.
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Happy 2013!

A belated happy new year to all!   It’s been a Xmas/NY of mixed emotions, we were very please to have been here!   However, Barney – our dog was taken ill and spent a week in hospital.  Thankfully a misdiagnosis of cancer was clarified by another vet practice (after a full investigation) as actually being an infection,  and Barney is on the mend (picture included).

Garden happenings are a bit slow ( I should live in the moment more).  Being new to all this I was expecting something more already from summer crops,  however growth has been steady and consistent (mostly).

Back in November I planted our excessive number of tomato seedlings,  which are now starting to look fantastic.  In particular I am proud of our “Granny’s throwing tomato’s“,  pictures included but not nearly ready for eating.

Also, our giant Russian sunflowers are flowering.   Apparently they can grow to 3 metres in height,  but are current at around 1 metre.   It’s probably best they don’t grow to their potential as they might block out the solar cells!

Heaps of potatoes have been harvested and there are another 10 plants to go.   We are hoping to not have to buy any this year, but lets see how that works out!

There has been some disappointment as well,  most of our eggplants seem to have failed,  clearly we were doing something wrong,  better luck next year!

We have started to prepare early for winter with ~50 brocoli and cauliflowers planted!  It’s just as well we love our vegetables

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Strawberries and pots!

A couple of Rach’s acheivements that she is very proud of.

1.  An emerging crop of strawberries.

  • Cambridge rival
  • Alinta

Without sounding cliched,  they really do taste how strawberries used to taste.   We frequently shop at the Melbourne farmers markets,  but the strawberries from there are still not the same as these.   Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of personally chasing away the birds?

2.  Rach has been building a small paved area to fill in the gap in our U shaped bed.   It’s looking pretty smart, and the plants in pots are growing nicely.

Personally I am excited about the Naga Bhut Jolokia chillies that are steady growing (on the paved area).   I’m not 100% sure what I will do with 2 plants worth of the world’s hottest chillies, perhaps a Melbourne rival to this?

Strawberries Rach's paving

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A very busy 9 months already

Since moving in December 2011 from North Fitzroy to Fawkner. After the trauma of getting a mortgage approval, packing, dealing with a flea bag letting agent, and allowing everything to settle. We finally moved!

After unpacking boxes and bags,  the realisation of now having a garden sank in.

And the realisation of having a vegetable patch already kindly built (thanks previous owners).

Unfortunately,  it was left to fallow and a serious bit of work was needed.

9 months in,  home vegetable growth has become an obsession and has started to take over,   resulting in this blog.

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