Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Hard Rubbish, White Stones and Celery magic!

The garden is always changing. Each day there is something new to look at, be it a fleeing rabbit who has just familiarised itself with our broccoli plants, a child’s toy sat firmly on a spring onion or the new potato plants popping up everywhere!
Then there are the changes we make, things moved or dug up, items bought, found or foraged. Now Ash will vouch for me here…I am a magpie. Not in a footballing sense, rather in the collecting of things. It is said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I am the latter man.
Thankfully it is something which I have identified (with some help from the better half) and now have some control over. Gone are the days of road signs, huge Paddlepop advertising hoardings, damp record players and ‘quirky’ ornamentals.
Now when I chance upon a suburb in the grip of a hard rubbish collection, in this case Coburg, I think ‘what can and will we realistically use?’ My mind turned straight to the garden. Of course this meant that I left behind an amazing train set including mountains, tunnels and all sorts of miniatures, boxing gloves (?!) and an ornamental mirror.
Here’s my loot!
Now the 3 tyres are to gradually build up around potato plants, while the chicken wire will be used to construct a leaf bin. The yellow fiberglass container will be used either as a roosting box for our incoming chickens or as a herb/strawberry garden box.
The hose reel is self-explanatory, while the wooden shelving now sits by the back door and houses our dirty garden shoes which had become a source of messy frustration! (We just steamed cleaned our carpet and have turned into carpet protection police!) Lastly, the blackboard was just in great condition and will give the kids some joy.
All free, all in good nick, all other peoples rubbish. Oh, and I also scored these!

Turning attention to the front of the house, we have started digging up a patch of annoying grass which is hard to maintain for some more garden space. It also means our slightly, how do you say, concerned neighbours will no longer have to poison the fence line so as to keep their white stones all clean.

Whilst digging, I bone-jarringly struck upon a well-covered drain pipe (below)! You can also make out our white-stoned neighbours garden. They’ve got quite a crop coming up this year! So while all this digging was great it was quite hard work, so we have decided to save our backs and go with a no-dig garden out the front, so stay tuned for that!

We’ve been out the back, out the front, and now inside to the kitchen. We’d heard a rumour that you can regrow celery from the base which is often cast away. Apparently all you need to do is place it in a bowl of warm water and leave it for a week or so. By this time the shoots of a new celery should be on their way up. Well it’s been a couple of days and I think we may already have some movement in the centre of our celery stub. I’m sure ‘stub’ is not the official term, but I’m going to go with it.  
So that’s where we’re at with the garden. The girls little gardens are coming along nicely and we’ve got some happy little seeds in various states of germination. Thanks for stopping by

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Our winter garden

As the weather cools down and the trees are ablaze in delicious crimson, orange and sunny yellow hues the time has come to plant our winter garden! Winter is my favourite time for gardening as there is usually plenty of rain and as the green shoots sprout from the earth I get a reminder of living things as a contrast against the bare sleeping branches of the fruit trees. Just a few short weeks ago I was feeling a little despondent about the garden as the straggly leftovers from last season were yet to be removed, the soil needed some love (in the form of chook poo and compost) and it was not yet time to plant our winter veg. Gardening is another of life's lessons in patience. 

John and the girls spent a very productive weekend a fortnight ago planting our hopefully delicious winter veg. Here's hoping we get a bumper crop! 

Now, time to take a little look-see at what we have in our little mini urban farm aka the garden! 
John's old sneaker is lucky enough to get a second life as a marigold planter. 
 Top: Onions and oregano
Bottom: Vietnamese mint and flat leaf parsley
Top: Mint and red cabbage
Bottom: Flowering rosemary and garlic
 Top: Sweet basil and spring onion
Bottom: Broccoli and snow peas
Top: Chillies and Sage
Bottom: Broad beans and a revival of our (assumed dead) choc-mint
Here is our corner patch. We also have another long garden bed and the girls have a patch each in another area of our garden. There are lettuces on the left of this patch but were planted from seeds so wont be visible yet. We are working on the bottle borders a drink at a time so if you are local and have any bottles or jars you care to part with we would welcome them! 

Here's to a productive season!


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Welcome to A Footscray Garden

I don't suppose anybody is reading at this point (parents aside... Hi Mum!) but it seems only proper to introduce ourselves. We are John and Ash, a couple of Melbourne city slickers who love good coffee, making lovely things, spending time with our friends and family and attempting to raise 3 well adjusted kids (although, apparently a little bit of childhood disfunction makes for interesting and funny adults.. it's a balancing act!)

So this blog is a place for us to document our experiences as we create our own mini farm in our urban backyard. This is by no means an instructional blog as we are currently feeling our way as complete novices. Only time will tell whether our plants and future livestock will survive. So far so good with the kids so here's hoping! Over the last couple of years we have been blessed to meet some folks who are much further along in their urban-farming journey and it has been a huge inspiration to us. We have also watched episode after episode of River Cottage. An English show hosted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a chef-turned-farmer, who lives pretty much self sufficiently by growing fruit and veg, raising livestock, foraging and depending on his community to fill in the gaps. We feel a growing desire to reduce our impact on the environment and make responsible choices for our family, and having a hand in food production is, to us, something that is achievable and very sustainable.

Along for the journey, whether they like it or not, are Miss Ten, Miss Five and Master One. While the little man is somewhat useless in the gardening department at this point (cute as a button however), the girls have been busy raising their own seedlings and starting their own veggie patches with organic  seedlings from CERES Permaculture Nursery.

Over the next few weeks we will be picking up a few new family members of the egg-laying variety and watching this season's garden produce (hopefully) flourish, harvesting a bountiful crop, and cooking up some delicious family friendly meals.

We hope your enjoy our ramblings and follow along as our garden adventure unfolds!

Ash & John