Wednesday, 7 September 2016

THE BEACH FILES - CARLTON

One thing Tasmania has in abundance is gorgeous beaches. It's true that the water temperature is less than ideal for most of the year if you're a cold water coward such as I, but for meandering, dog walking and salt air sniffing there's definitely a generous selection to choose from.

I've yet to explore much of the Eastern Shore region but as work took me to Steeles Island over the weekend, I thought I'd get in a sneaky dog walk at the same time. Carlton Beach is about 40km east of Hobart, featuring some picturesque dunes, gentle surf breaks and numerous walking trails. It's around 3km long and while sections of the beach are restricted to dogs at certain times of the year (due to shorebird nesting season) the majority is accessible to dogs year-round. Worth a visit if you're passing through the Dodges Ferry area with your furry friend!



Friday, 19 August 2016

DOUCEUR

Bracing myself for the usual sharp drop in temperature as I stepped out the back door this morning, it was a welcome change to be greeted by a calm and relatively warm morning. All signs are pointing to an early Spring and as several of my fruit trees are already donning their floral finery, I can only cross my fingers that the weather doesn't take a turn for the worse over the next few weeks. New faces are popping up in different corners of the garden as the days warm and the daylight lengthens, but to be honest about half of my discoveries are still along the lines of 'why in the hell did the previous owners do that?!'

Despite the onrushing spring, however, there's only so much one person can do at a time, especially when an office job calls for several days in a week. It's a mixed blessing as on the one hand I want to feel like I'm making serious progress, but on the other being forced to take it slow has allowed me to plan layouts more carefully, although I'm still a long way off a cohesive vision for the whole site. Some highlights from August so far...
These delicate lilac coloured flowers have been cropping up everywhere, I think it's a type of iris called blue-eyed grass
One of my own additions and an Australian native, I love everlasting flowers and these paper daisies also have a beautiful perfume.
A rough outline of what will be a herbal tea garden. Have started with some sage, pineapple sage, lemon verbena and chamomile.
Canadian Goldrich apricot in nearly full flower
A dwarf almond also getting into the Spring of things
A mystery fruit tree and a new bed dug in and planted last weekend for an early pea crop
Green-stalk rhubarb taken from a 10 year old plant from another gardener in the valley
One of my favourite cottage garden flowers, I'm happy to have found a few of them around
Fat, messy camelias putting on a show
Another mystery contender - possibly a gladioli?
Foxgloves have run rampant throughout this garden. They are another one of my favourites so will be transplanting a lot of the runaway seedlings but I will need to keep a close watch on seed heads in the future to stop them spreading.



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A GARDEN AND A LIBRARY

Cicero, one of those thinky people in the seemingly endless legion of thinky people that were floating around Rome in ancient times, once said something akin to 'if you have a garden and a library you have all you need' (though I might hasten to add dogs, wine and chocolate to that short list). Having myself suddenly been plonked onto half an acre of semi cultivated garden then I might update that to 'if you have a garden and a library (and a house and a dog) then you probably won't have time for anything else'. Or, even more succinctly, 'if you want to get rid of drama from your life, get garden' (is that a quote yet? Because if it's not, it should be).

All this is a very roundabout way of saying that my new green patch has quite rapidly taken over my life and thoughts. I've suddenly found an urgent need for all those slightly ratty clothes that I kept aside for 'outside work' (but that were quite honestly just collecting in small piles in the back of my wardrobe) and my work boots have become my go-to shoes. It's all still pretty dormant out there in garden-land but I'm looking forward to reaping the rewards of the crops already in place (berries, I'm looking at you) and discovering some surprise pop-up additions to my already impressive range of cottage plants.

There's a standard piece of advice in permaculture circles along the lines of waiting for a year before getting stuck into anything too serious but there are certainly a lot of smaller jobs and planning to do that will keep me busy enough for the next 12 months. But with spring only a few weeks away, there's a lot of planning to be getting on with.
Sun maps and seeds
Some transplanted cabbages which may not come to anything
I've never grown hellebores before but I've become an immediate convert - which is lucky as there's a lot of them!
Fat camelias
The record rainfalls of the past few weeks haven't helped what was already a questionable planting site choice
Moving soil around, it's what I do now. As well as finding temporary solutions to deal with bad plant parenting decisions from the former owners.
An apricot tree in preparation for some understorey companion planting in Spring.
The sheltered north-east corner, and future Mediterranean garden!
And as for books...
Waiting for summer...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

DRIPPY DAZE

It's been a wet few days, and most of today's live coverage weather coverage came from the vantage point of my home office (aka the dining table) where I watched the rain fall steadily through the last of the autumn leaves - in between my own steady tappings on the keyboard. My new soon to be home doesn't have trees right next to the windows (yet) so I guess I won't be watching little feathered visitors from the comfort of my loungeroom after I move on, at least not for a while.

A couple of snaps from throughout the day


Sunday, 29 May 2016

MAY HIGHLIGHTS

The entire month of May has been pretty much dedicated to one specific highlight, which is jumping though the necessary hoops of buying a house. A house! A house in the Huon Valley! This is a brave new world for this little chicken and I think I've been doing a great job pretending like I understand a single thing that I'm signing my life away to and poker-facedly assuring my bank manager that yes, I will absolutely not be spending more than $100 a month on wine for like, ever *cough*.

However, I'm slightly reassured by the quietly stated 'it's a really nice house' from everyone who's had anything to do with this process so far and have been diligently assigning all of my latent associated anxieties to my 2am dream state. Plus the building inspector didn't condemn it on sight so all going well I expect to be joining the mortgage club within the next few days and will hopefully be moved in just in time for the Huon Valley mid-winter fest.

Without further ado, here's a short photo tour of my soon to be very own half acre of rural Tassie;

Strawberry patch included
Medlars! Alongside apricot, almond, hazlenut, olive, peach, apple, cherry and pear trees
Some rustic finds in the chook shed


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

9 STITCHES

There's that old saying about a stitch in time saving nine - which of course means if you tackle a problem early you'll save yourself a much larger problem later on. This is also a saying from an era when mending and darning were not only commonplace but essential. These days a split stitch, broken heel or missing button is less often attended to early, if at all. Cheap, convenient and fast-changing fashions often mean we end up with more clothes than we really need and that we also generally neglect them (not helped much by the inferior quality products on the market that give up after a couple of runs in a washing machine). From both an environmental and social perspective, this brings a heavy cost. From the cotton or oil needed to produce a garment, plus the water, energy and chemicals used in its manufacture, to the substandard conditions so often found in the garment industry - the era of cheap fashion is costing the earth.

I generally try and fix my clothes when they show signs of wear, although I'm not very good at getting onto it early. So, over time, I've ended up with a slightly overwhelming pile of clothes that need a little attention. So when I saw the 'Mend it May' social media campaign on a blog I follow, I decided to sign on for the challenge and get stitching! It's not exclusively aimed at clothing - and of course I have another pile of fix it projects sitting in another room, but it's a start. There's also a facebook group where people are sharing tips, questions, ideas and competed projects.

Check out the campaign and get inspired to tackle a to-do project this month!



Sunday, 1 May 2016

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - APRIL 2016

April has been a beguiling mix of warm, clear (and frustratingly rain-free) days with the occasional sudden dip in temperatures to remind us that winter is just around the corner, and the occasional spike to remind us that summer still wants to play.

IN THE GARDEN:
Last 3 strawberries of the season...
The kale and brocolli are growing like mad (adding composted cow manure seems to have made all the difference here) but cabbages and leeks seem to be flagging. The sun has shifted and the raised brick planter bed I made isn't getting nearly as much sun as it was 4 weeks ago.

According to Gardening Australia, April is Allium month. For a die-hard garlic-lover it's definitely the opportunity to try out a small crop - this is my first try at growing garlic so I'm starting small!

I've switched back over to stocking up on different fruit plants. I sniffed out (literally) some Chilean guavas acting as a sneaky decorative hedging at the local garden centre. I took a few cuttings and crossed my naive fingers, about 2/3 seem to have taken root. Also got myself some feijoa plants and some now-dormant red currants.

IN THE KITCHEN:
It's been a vegetable explosion in my kitchen this month (see below) so I've had to work on a few new recipes to get through the boxload of veg I'm now getting every fortnight. This month's favourite is corn fritters, made from freshly boiled corn and bulked up with some carrot pulp that's left over from my occasional juice fest.

LIVING LOCAL:
I've joined a food co-op! Something I've been wanting to get into for ages and am so happy that I've finally got involved. One of the great things about living in Tassie is how easy it is to get a huge variety of locally grown produce - everything from olives to apples, wine to whiskey and cheese to cherries. The Channel Living co-op sells local produce from around the south-east of Tasmania, and for $100 a month I'm getting fortnightly veg boxes of delicious and super-fresh seasonal produce all grown within a 50km radius of where I live.
TREASURE HUNTING:
Nothing more than the cost of lugging it up a hill off a beach on Bruny Island ( I was out there for a marine debris clean up), this handsome bit of driftwood now sits perfectly in a space where I've been wanting a decorative garden feature for weeks - topped off with an old marble ball that I've had for years.

MVPs:
I rescued a bunch of bedraggled cosmos from the reject table at my local garden centre last month. As they were only a dollar I decided to plant them straight into the ground around the rockery, within a couple of weeks they'd perked up with some showy flowers. A definite pick-me-up for my flower-lacking garden.

WATCHING:
Reuse, because you can't recycle the planet. This was bookmarked in my 'to watch' list last year, but between the move and the delayed internet setup, I'd forgotten about it. A really sweet optimistic and inspiring fun documentary about creative reuse across communities in the USA - would definitely recommend the 10 dollar download.