Sunday, August 30, 2009

1 day until Spring!

We managed to get most of the work done this weekend with the exception of planting the squashes and preparing the buckets for tomatoes. While I was busy with my to-do list the children and Superman did some other tasks.

Superman's side kick, Robyn, repaired the chicken coop...

And together they built a little retaining wall for some more herbs outside my kitchen.

The two supergirls planted up 12 window boxes of flowers, radishes and herbs which go along the fence of the first veggie garden.

The Incredible Hulk prepared his area for sunflowers. Last year he grew 5 and they did so well that this year he has a whole section to grow sunflowers in. We will save some seed and feed the rest to the chickens. This was a big job for a little kid.

The winter veggie garden has been weeded and is now ready with A-frames for squashes and the last hanging baskets were hung for a few more strawberry plants.

We also took all the ready compost that has been brewing for the last few months and it was delicious stuff full of earthworms. We dug this into empty beds ready to accept our corn seeds.

All in all a good productive weekend, I think we will all sleep well tonight!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Job completion check in

Shjoe, I am tired....but there is not lots to show for it. However I did manage to get half of the seeds we want planted. Alot of them have to be sown direct.

I used old milk bottles cut up and a permanent marker to label them and we used old seedling trays from nurseries to plant in.

This is what I planted - all of them are open pollinated heirloom seeds which I got from The Gravel Garden and from

Purple Calabash Tomato - 18
Purple Beauty Pepper - 17
Rosa Bianca Eggplant - 18
Ping Tung Egplant (18" long ones!) - 18
Golden Monarch Tomato - 18
Yellow Pear Tomato - 20
Ashley Cucumber - 24
Carbon Tomato - 20
Black Cherry Tomato - 20
Asparagus - 18
Bright Light Spinach (hybrid) - 24
White and pink beet - 36
Kale - 18
Loofahs - 9

So the hotbox is half full. We will monitor the germination to see if it actually does help.

Weekend plans

I have this long list of things to do in the garden swimming around in my head and I need to write it down this is the place...

1. Plant up the bed underneath bathroom window - Done

2. Prepare buckets for tomato plants - buckets bought. (this is for our upside down tomatoes we are trying this year.)

3. Mount bird nesting log

4. Weed winter veggie patch

5. Plant up seedlings for hotbox - this is the big job so the seedling mix is prepared and the seeds are ready...but we have space for 74 trays inside here...oh boy!

With Spring Day on Tuesday I am feeling like we need to get moving with seedlings.

6. My seed potatoes arrived last week too and we need to prepare them (chitting)

We have also decided to get another two chickens so I must go and fetch them sometime this weekend, then the pecking order needs to be established in the coop, which I am not looking forward to!

So the question is why am I sitting writing this blogpost instead of getting on with the job...I am out of here!

Friday, August 28, 2009


My mom bought us a Can-O-Worms about 18 months ago. It has done well over this time. We can empty 2 litres of worm juice every 2 - 3 weeks.

There is not much work involved with it and they do take care of some organic waste as well as producing lovely compost for us.

During winter we moved it out near the coop but there was too much sun there so we have now moved it back to a shady area outside my kitchen. This also makes sense to have it here as it's closer for daily peelings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The great unveiling

Before you see the picture of what follows I want to share a little story. When I first tried to grow vegetables about 13.5 years ago Superman was not interested. This was in the first house we lived in after we had been married for 5 years. It was hard going then as I had a six month old babe who needed my time and a huge oak tree which cast shade. We call this the year of feeding snails!

Thereafter we moved to a smaller home but the back garden had a huge established granadila creeper, a massive guava tree and a lovely lemon tree. The soil here was oily sand and this was a time when our family leapt from 1 babe to 3! We will call this the desert years.

Then we headed to JHB for 2 years and bought a large property but it had an established garden that we didn't want to pull up as we were uncertain as to how long we would remain there. However outside the bedroom windows was a large concrete area where we built 4 large raised beds. We grew easy veggies here - herbs aswell. Just as we started to get a yield (small, but still something) we moved back to CT. We will call these years the seeding years. Superman was great and suported me in the endeavour, but didn't get his hands dirty.

And the rest is history. After 5 years of living in this home we pulled up the flower beds and grass and started growing veggies in all sincerity. With this Superman has been my champion, my hero and my inventor.

He has been looking at my hot box which I use to force germination for is just a cardboard box with a light and lined with aliminium foil...but it works:

The negatives are that it can only take 6 seedling trays and the bottom is all soggy from watering.

Superman has been pondering this dilema and look what he has made for me over the last couple of days....

So this is like trading in the rusted old Fiat for a Mercedes...This seedling starter will hold up to 70 trays. They will drip from the top to the bottom and then out as the bottom is slatted. There is a permanent light source!

Isn't he wonderful?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What are they up too?

This is the scene in my kitchen tonight...7.36 according to my computer clock.....

I am not privvy to what Superman and Robyn are doing...but I am told it is for me and my garden.....oh boy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Small practicalities

There are so many things that can stop me getting into my garden like not being able to find the weeding tool, or a tangled hosepipe...YKWIM? And one of the things about having worked in the garden is dirty hands.

I don't like to wear gloves - I may regret this later in life - but I prefer to feel the soil with my hands! But then I have these really grubby hands when done and it's always been an issue for me having to wash them inside...I don't want to block our drain with the soil on my hands.

Jane (from Jane's Delicious Garden) comes up with a novel idea....

Soap on a rope! Remember those father's day gifts we alll bought long suffering dad...along with ties and socks? Well here is soap-on-a-rope-with-a-difference....

Simply put a bar of soap iinto an old veggie bag and tie to your outside tap...voila!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Many hands make light work.

Halfway through the morning my husband had a phone call with my mom. She is a great self taught horticulturist. As far back as I can remember I see her in my memory busy in her garden.

Just after the phonecall ended my husband kidnapped me and we went shopping.

Our pool area is a brickpaved space where I have got 4 1/2 wine barrels filled with an olive tree, a lemon tree and an orange tree. I had planted strawberries around the base last season, which is where we got all this years strawberries from for the hanging baskets (not the wall baskets).

We often think how this is such wasted space as it gets full sun all year and he had come up with a plan on how to put this area to work.

He had hung up the last baskets with my son yesterday while I was out, and today he was going to fill matter what.

My mom gave him some suggestions for flowers and herbs and off we went.

He mixed up potting soil with bone meal, water reataining granules and bounce back. Then son no 1 carried it to the spot. Girls and I planted them up and youngest son added one nasturtium seed to the front of each planter or basket. It was a job line and it worked. Bt 2.30 we had planted up the entire back yard and it was instantaneously transformed into a colorful cottage garden.

Now we just have to keep up watering a feeding them all...but as Superman says: "That's one of the reasons we have 4 children!" Mmmmh now thats a perspective on "Many Hands Make Light Work!"

I suppose this can seem quite indulgent as we are meant to be growing food, but it is also part of a bigger plan to offer bees and butterflies more flowers. But...that's not all folks! We have more plans in this vein! But enough for today!

Superman does it again!

This morning before the sun was in its zenith (well actually at about 9.30) Superman and his side kick Robyn carried on with our vertical plans.

We were very keen to make tripods like Jane described in her book, but they don't suit our space.

So we have adapted her idea to make A-frames which will lean against the wall and the creeping veggies will climb there.

While they were busy with those, Catwoman planted the strawberry baskets inside the veggie patch

Lava-girl and Incedible Hulk got stuck into the weeds...for such little ones, they did a fabulous job!

And me, well, eeish - have run out of "super" names (and quite frankly I am just MOM) planted the hanging baskets.

I put three strawberry plants into each basket with one marigold. The Marigolds are meant to prevent nematodes. It all looks so beautiful!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My weekend plans....

Thanks to Superman, I have my work cut out for me this weekend...he has promised to help though.

Today we had lots of potting soil and the strawberry punnets delivered.

When I have some more money (Ka-ching Ka-ching) I will buy some flowers and herbs.

Anyone wanna help?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Artisan Bread

A few weeks ago I decided to give artisan bread a try. The basic idea is that using their specific recipe you can have no knead bread dough available on tap in your fridge. A new batch is mixed every 14 days.

I have been making mine for 2 weeks now and we are enjoying the yeasty taste and crisp crust.

The basic recipe is free online but their book has so many delightful recipes that its worth the buy.

After mixing the dough you allow it to stand out for 5 hours and it just keeps on rising. It needs to spend the night in the fridge before you bake your first loaf.

When you need bread, you lob off a hunk and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Then bake it as normal.

In the book they talk about a custard really does have a creamy feel and taste. Delicious!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We got hail!

Normally this would mean a rush to get bowls out to collect the hailstones, but this time it was a rush to get out asparagus seedlings (that were sunning themselves) inside.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

On Friday I took the 4 children to Hermanus to see their grandparents and the beautiful Southern Right Whales that come to calve every season. It was a lovely time away and the whales put on a show for us, breeching and doing their whale things.

When I got home Superman would not let me into the garden. I was blindfolded and led to the veggie garden. He said he has a surprise for me.

And what a surprise it was....I have known Superman for 22 years and I know he doesn't do things in half measures. So when he watched my mom and I hang up 12 hanging baskets for strawberries, he was not satisfied.

So while I was away he contacted the wholesalers and bought a whole lot more...I shudder to mention how many more, but you can see for yourself! This is the sight that greeted me:

He added another basket to each we hung.

He hung more along a wall on the left of the garden...

He filled the wall with half moons.

He still has lots more to hang outside near our pool. His plans for these are for strawberries, herbs, tomatoes and flowers.

So the question is: Should I stay home more often to make sure he doesn't spend more money? Or should I go away more often to come home to these fabulous surprises?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Carboard box redemption...and seedlings!

I know that my planting ticker on the right column tells the countdown to planting season, but I like to force early germination in my son's homemade hotbox.

A few weeks back I started some asparagus seeds and they needed to be repotted. I mixed some worm compost and soil and repotted them. Then those cardboard boxes from the takeouts on Saturday found a job. I move the seedlings in and out with the weather and sun, so the pots can all nestle inside the boxes for easy moving.

I also received my heirloom seeds this week from and planted my peppers (blonde, malawi, jalapeno, black) and my Carbon (black) tomatoes.

These also found a home in a big box from my last veggie delivery so that they can be moved in and out.

Hopefully they will germinate and grow big enough for planting in 49...48...47 days!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Attracting wildlife

Last summer we had a problem with our squashes not developing. When we starting hand pollinating them we started to get a better yield instead of the undeveloped squashes going brown and falling off.

We have lots of shrubs in our garden, some that have flowers in summer, but mostly just green. We also have the added problem of "Big White Dog" who kills any small plant as he thunders through our garden.

When my mom and I were working in the garden last weekend, she started potting up any and everything with flowering plants.

We are also going to hang more baskets along our walls with flowers for bees.

We already have sunbirds and white eyes coming into our garden for the feeders we have out and they enjoy sitting on the Strelitzias. We used to have a Leopard Toad that came to our bird bath in summer, but we haven't seen him for a while.

This is the sum total of my gardening for today, taking photos, besides for harvesting some worm compost - thick and gooey - which I plan to use for my heirloom seeds that I need to get germinated.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yuck -yuck -yuck

Well hardly and inspiring title for this post, especially as it is the first post for August!

However I need to shout out my feelings into cyberspace in the hope that I will find some redemption!

I have been woman down for the last 7 days due to bronchitis. It really set in on Thursday when I had to take to bed...very unusual for me. Plus the fact that I had to get antibiotics after 7 years of neither doctor or medicine.

My family have been fabulous at looking after me and the home and putting together meals that they can manage for all of us. But tonight they begged off and we gave in and bought TAKEAWAYS.

We have not eaten take outs for more than 8 months and after the first few MSG and salt laden mouthfuls our stomachs started objecting. Needless to say half the cartoons are left behind and we all feel yucky! And we are not even mentioning the amount of waste that this produced!

Oiy Vey!