Friday, March 22, 2013

One Year On !!

It's exactly one year since my last blog post here (shame on me!) and a few things have changed......

Rest assured I still have my lovely chooks, minus old Ruby who sadly died last year :-( but still our mountainwildlife home has a plentiful supply of yummy fresh eggs from our 8 hens, watched over and protected by Jet the Australorp Rooster.

I still love my food gardening, I built 3 large raised veg beds last year from colorbond left from friends building projects, and they have been brimming with variousl produce ever since. We have also managed to plant a huge amount of fruit trees and bushes on out little 700sq metre block! Our apple trees and hazelnut trees fruited for the first time this summer, I was so excited!!

I have been reading your blogs every now and then too, trying to keep up with everyone else's changes and big events, although I haven't been commenting, I was still there!

But looking back at my last post it's hard to believe my working life has changed so much! The guesthouse job didn't last very long as my massage business took off very quickly, and I found I was turning clients away because I had work at the guesthouse, so massage took over my working hours and I handed the old job over to someone else.

Having my own Massage Therapy business suits me very well, I love the work and working in school hours so I can still take my children to and from school. I have built up a regular client base of local people which I am thrilled about.

If any of my blog followers are interested I have a business facebook page here - MASSAGE MATTERS

And in my gaps between massage work, I decided to start another business! Yes!    I have always loved handmade soap, and have been buying from various places for about 10 years. Pair that with my love of all things crafty.... and I thought it was about time I made my own. It soon became apparent there was a bit of demand, with friends asking for my soaps too.

So ..... 'The Natural Soap Emporium' was born!   

Some of my range of natural hand made soaps  

I am concentrating on all-natural, skin friendly soaps, without synthetic colours or fragrances (let's face it, there are enough of them out there!) and including only plant based oils, essential oils, milks, honey, oats, herbs and other botanicals.... you get the idea. 

I have an online shop, with a blog and facebook page, and I was thrilled to be approached by a local artisan shop to sell through them, which I agreed to of course! ( I am yet to master building a website, to be honest I have more fun things to do, so facebook and blog it is - comfortable and familiar!)  

I just love the process, somewhere between science and art, of creating a beautiful product from a range of ingredients. It's not so different to cooking, where I can create a different recipe every time, and although I'm never exactly sure how the end product will look, I have never been disappointed yet and they are amazing to use!  

If you are interested, I have started a few pages -  

BLOG for The Natural Soap Emporium ~ HERE  

Etsy SHOP ~ HERE  

or find me on FACEBOOK! ~ HERE  

Of course running 2 businesses as well as a family, animals and garden, means I have had very little time for my old loves, like blogging here :-( But I hope you will understand and come follow me on new adventures over at the soap blog!  

Lisa :-)  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A seemingly insignificant decision....and my new business!

You know sometimes your life-as-you-know-it does an unexpected flip and suddenly you are heading in a totally new direction? It happened to us a year ago when we dropped years of building plans and dreams and made a fresh new start. And now, well, some big changes have happened again already this year. In a good way. Again!

Last month I had (my first...) unexpected job offer, it literally knocked on my door! An old friend of mine picked up some housekeeping work at a holiday home across the road from me, and came to ask if I would like to work as a team with her. I wasn't looking for work, and it wasn't really what I wanted to do.... but it meant I could work a few hours once or twice a week, in school hours. I would be self-employed, so could charge a decent rate. So..... I accepted. Job no.1!

Holiday home views

When I went over to look at the place, the owner was clearly very saddened at the state of the grounds and gardens, and even less happy with his groundskeeper who had abandoned him. Weeds aplenty and lots of tidying up to do. Well I am not going to miss an opportunity like that am I??!! Both myself and my friend are keen gardeners, (and I have some training in native gardening) so we immediately offered our services as groundskeepers too. The owner jumped at our offer! (There's my job no. 2!)

Views whilst weeding ....!

A few days later I turned up for my first day at work, and whilst the owner was pleased to see me, he was shocked I hadn't told him I was a qualified massage therapist. OK -no points for guessing what comes next!! He asked if I would be interested in working as the in-house massage therapist for his guests. WOULD I??!! (of course I said yes-job no.3!)

I qualified as a massage therapist back in 2005, finishing my diploma when I was around 28 weeks pregnant. With twins. I was HUGE! My gorgeous babies were born not long after that (very premmie) and so between then and now the madness of general family life has meant I haven't had the opportunity to work at what I REALLY want to do for a living. I LOVE massage work! I have always had a new business plan in my head, but sadly it has remained in my head, until now.

The seemingly insignificant offer of work- which started out as a few hours housekeeping - has kick-started me into launching my own business as a Massage Therapist. Who would have thought? I am sure I would have done it anyway, but I have been 'thinking it over' for the past few years. I will work from home as we have plenty of space here, and a room I can use next to the front door as a clinic room. It will keep down my overheads and expenses which means I can charge very reasonable rates.

I the past few weeks I have completed mountains of paperwork, registering with professional associations, upgrading my first aid, obtaining professional liability insurance, ordering business cards/flyers/stickers etc etc, and officially registering my business name. I've started networking and revisited my old business plans. I've shopped for appropriate furniture and other essential items for work, and have almost finished decorating my clinic room.
I am nearly ready to put my business 'out there', just a few things to finish the room and I am waiting on a provider number from the Health Funds so clients can claim their rebates.

It reminds me of the 'big change' we made a year ago, when suddenly everything fell into place and went full speed ahead, and it did so easily because it was the right path for us.

I can hardly believe how much I have done in only a month, I feel like this plan has been waiting eagerly for the right moment (or a little nudge!) and now its unstoppable! I am very excited about my new venture and my family are all very supportive and excited too. I will keep my other 3-in-1 job for as long as I can, the hours are few and I feel so grateful to both my friend and my employer that they started the ball rolling for me (albeit incidentally!)

I will post a little more about my business soon, and hopefully also an update for the chooky-fans out there (I haven't forgot you!) as we have finally settled on our permanent flock after reducing the numbers somewhat.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's that crazy chook lady again.....!

About time for a chooky update I think, it has been a loooong time!

So .... the cute little balls of fluff all grew up, made it outside to reside in the chook pen with our existing 5 girls, and after a little bit of chasing and pecking, everyone knows their place and is happy! We currently still have all of them with us. I did have 2 friends lined up to buy some around Christmas time,  but both fell through for different (and genuine) reasons. Really I didn't mind either, as I wanted to watch them all grow, and it took us quite a while to judge the girls from the boys.

Finding a comfy seat - age 9 weeks

Of the 13 chicks, 7 are Australorps and 6 are Rhode Island Reds.

Australorp pullet (hen) 15 weeks

RIR pullet - 15 weeks

Of the 7 Australorps - we have 3 hens and 4 roosters (average odds)
Of the 6 RIR's - we have 4 hens and just 2 roosters (better odds!)

It doesn't take a maths genius then to work out that we have a cockadoodle-doodly total of SIX ROOSTERS with us at present ..... OMG! Luckily they all seem to get along fine, with no macho fighting displays as yet.

And since we are talking crazy numbers, the grand total now in the pen- old and new, guys and dolls- is a whopping 18 chooks!!! I think I am a very strong candidate for crazy-chook-lady of the mountains :-)

....and quite a few out of shot.....!

The young ones are 15 weeks old today. Which means the cockerals will start probably start crowing in the next few weeks and officially become roosters. Obviously we can't keep 6 roosters, but I am glad we have kept them this long. We are planning on keeping one, and have a firm favourite of the Australorps. He is a very handsome young chook, the biggest of the bunch with stunning feathers and a lovely temperament. He will sit quite happily on our laps or in arms for a pat as long as we want, as the others will too. 

'No. 1' rooster guarding one of his ladies from the camera!

"and look, I can do comical feather stuff too!"

But the RIR boys are lovely too! They are very happy to be picked up and handled and I don't really want to say goodbye to them. I would like to keep one but 2 roosters is probably too many for the 12 hens we will have. It would mean that we could breed both Australorps and RIR's in future years though......

One of the 2 (identical) RIR roosters, getting his lovely feathers in

Clearly I am not good at culling (!) and we are still deciding exactly who to sell. The roosters will probably have to go soon, especially if they start crowing. I might sell 2 to3 of the hens, or perhaps a hen and rooster as a breeding pair. They are good stock lines so it may be an option.

Speaking of options, we are considering if we can't sell the roosters that we may 'dispatch and process' them ourselves. Not a option we like of course, and we haven't done this before, but if no-one wants to buy them for breeding and they are going to end up in a pot, it may as well be our pot! Hens will always find a home of course, seems a little unfair doesn't it?

POT??? Is that why we're lining up??!!

No 2 black roo - how could anyone not want this handsome creature?!!

You may have realised from the photo captions that we have NOT named this hatch lot yet. It has been a long time but it has worked to lessen our attachment to individual chooks, so when selling/culling time comes it should be less emotional.
In theory.

BTW - do you remember I had to splint one of our chicks legs? I am happy to report the band-aid splint worked perfectly and just a week afterwards I had lost track of which chick it was! So it is now one of our healthy happy chooks with no leg problems :-)

Anyway, I will leave you with a couple more photos from today.

Miss A feeding the hungry beaks

3 girls having a rest :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bargain Yarn find ! Now, what do I do with it??

Oh dear, it seems I have become a little bit of a yarn-collector!

I already have quite a big wicker basket full of assorted yarns and oddments such as random granny squares and knitted sqaures from when I practiced new stitches. It didn't feel excessive though, until yesterday ......

We were enjoying a day out up the road in Bathurst yesterday, and stumbled across a small market in the town park - always a pleasant surprise! I had been hoping to pop into Spotlight to check out any cheap yarn they had, but instead I found a charity table at the market stall, selling a whole load of new mixed yarns- talk about serendipity! Well I couldn't resist now, could I??

The stall holders had no prices, they just asked for a donation for any items. I took 2 of the 3 yarn boxes and 1 pair of 8mm needles (I have thinner ones already) and asked if $20 was ok - they were thrilled with that and I was thrilled with my new stash. Win-win :-)

Since getting home and checking out my new goodies properly I think I have a real bargain -- 75 balls of yarn altogether!

One box contained 44 balls of 50g cotton (38 denim blue blend, 6 cream blend) They all have 'sale' stickers from spotlight, reduced to $2 each, so there is $88 (even at sale price) worth right there!

The other box contained 31 mixed balls, (although most have decent amounts of each) and apart from a few 'novelty' type acrylics, most are wool blends, lots of mohair and even alpaca wool!! Some expensive looking yarns there.

All of the yarns are either Patons or Cleckheaton.

So now dear friends, I just need some ideas of what to do with it all !! I much prefer crochet to knitting, although I can knit at a basic level I still feel quite awkward with knitting needles. I find crochet is much more comfortable, quicker and easier to follow patterns.

I've been making scarves and granny squares lately, and checking out amigurumi (Japanese crochet toys) which looks like a lot of fun and great for using up leftovers. But now I have a bigger stash......

....Any ideas you crafty lot??!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Clueless Broody and the Emergency Rescue

We had been planning on adding to our existing flock this year and Spring is the perfect time to do it. The weather is warming up (well, maybe not so consistently where we are!) and it's the time that more chicks hatch naturally as mother hens go broody.
That's another reason for our timing - we had a broody hen, Blondie, for weeks now. She has hogged the nest and made herself appear scarily huge while she guards her non-existent chicks. So it seemed the right thing to do at the perfect time.
We wanted pure breed chickens again, I have talked before about our reasons for this and against short-lived crossbreeds, bred for intensive egg laying. Australorps and Rhode Island Reds are good layers and well suited to our climate, as well as making good pets, and generally lovely looking chookies :-)

We travelled down to Barters Hatchery who were extremely helpful and not only gave us the eggs we wanted, and gave us 15 for the price of 12, but also gave us ones that were in the process of hatching so we didn't have to wait the usual 21 days! The owner said he was worried that our broody would finish her stint before the 3 weeks was up as she had been sitting for so long already. So home we rushed with our Australorps and Rhode Island Red chicks, with 4 hatching out on the way home (!!!!) wrapped up in their boxes and towels for warmth, carefully guarded between our 2 kids in the back.
We got home and quickly prepared the area and calmly popped the eggs and new chicks under Blondie. She seemed happy so we left her to do her thing in peace and privacy.

It seems no-one had explained to Blondie what she was meant to do. Now most hens will naturally know how to hatch and raise chicks, they've been doing it on their own for thousands of years after all. But when we went back to check about half-hour later, she was off the nest, making a huge fuss and racket, and there were the eggs and chicks ...... left alone and very cold. In fact she had buried the 4 chicks under the wood shavings in the nest.

Hubby quickly gathered up the eggs and I got the 4 chicks (3 of which were very cold and lifeless) got them inside in my jumper and then between my cupped hands to try to warm them, breathing on them and rubbing gently. We got the incubator out and set it up in record time (about 1 minute!) luckily we kept it from our last hatching although I didn't think we would need it with having a broody hen.... grrrr...
anyway, all we could do is pop them all in to warm up and cross our fingers.

The 4 first to hatch, with one Australorp just hatched in the incubator

Incredibly, the 4 chicks that I had tried to save have all lived. They are now happily chirping away as I write. Of the remaining 11 eggs, one was half-hatched and unfortunately dead in the shell when we found it. The rest all hatched later that day or the following day, although a couple had difficulty with the shell membrane drying out as they had very prolonged hatches. I had to assist a couple with drops of water onto the membrane, and also peeling off tiny sections of shell as they had trouble breaking out. Probably because of this and the time they were left cold, we did have one chick born that was unable to walk. It was painful to see it throwing itself around blindly, knocking the other chicks over and generally suffering. We waited until day 3, but when it was clear it wasn't going to improve we had to put it down. It is an awful thing to do, but I suppose also part of responsible ownership.

From this .... this- in under an hour!!

First lot, out of the incubator and into the brooder box

We have also had a couple of chicks with suspect limps, but one improved over the first few days and is now walking perfectly and another I have splinted at the moment and is looking very good now. The splinting procedure for splay legs is explained HERE -- although our chick was not nearly as severe as that one, just standing with one leg too far out to the side rather than under its body.

Chick physio! Section of band-aid used as a spacer

So, all in all we have ended up with 13 chicks from 15 eggs, which, although it is sad we lost 2, is an incredibly good hatch. We have 7 Australorps and 6 Rhode Island Reds. Of course buying them at 'almost-hatch' helped (whilst giving them to a clueless broody did not) As for Blondie, well most annoyingly she went straight back to being broody and is still hogging the nest. It is difficult to be sympathetic now, after we gave her a chance and she blew it. Mind you, we do get to keep this lot inside now ----

Because our hen rejected the chicks they will not be properly cared for outside,  so we will continue to raise them inside for a while, until they are fully feathered and large enough to cope with outdoor weather and our other chooks.

We plan to keep some hens for ourselves, maybe 2 of each breed, perhaps a rooster too. Since we still have our existing 5 girls, I think any more would classify me as the local mad-chook-woman! The rest I am hoping to sell on to good homes once we find out who is who.....

Love my chickies  :-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My first blog award -- awww, thanks!

I was very pleased and flattered to receive my first blog award today, from the wonderful Chris over at Gully Grove. The Liebster Blog award is given to little blogs like mine with less than 300 followers, to promote the lesser known blogs and also to provide links to others we may not have otherwise found.....

The idea is to link back to the persons blog you received the award from (I am sure there is a better way to write that grammatically!) and then nominate 3 blogs of your choice to recieve the award.

So thank you Chris x If you haven't checked out her blog at Gully Grove yet, have a peek. Hers was one of the first blogs I came across when I started, and she has inspired me, made me laugh, and I have even cried at times! She is an amazingly strong and resourceful woman.

The 3 blogs I would like to nominate for the Liebster Award are:-

Eat at Dixiebelles - a wonderful woman and mother with a social conscience who really strives to make a genuine difference in this world of ours. She cooks, she grows, she even permablitzes! Is there anything this woman can't do??!! I think not! And yet she is down to earth and so honest in her blogging.

Loopity Lou - Anne is a fabulous woman who can whip up amazing creations with nothing more than a pair of knitting needles and a piece of yarn! Her creations are so lovely, elegant but earthy at the same time. The kind of clothing you would ooh and ahh over if you saw it in a store (while trying to not stroke it!)  And shes a mountains woman- yay!

Funky Frontyard Farmers is my surprise choice- surprise only because I just found their blog yesterday!! Jo and Joe are also in the mountains here, and have a fantastic blog full of great reading. They are working very hard on their own garden but also spreading the word in the community, and not just talking-the-talk, they are walking-the-walk (!) and have started a local 'Crop and Swap' group which sounds like a mighty fine idea, and on that basis they definitely deserve a Liebster Award!!

So thats my 3 choices, if you were nominated, please pass the Liebster along by linking back here and nominating your own top 3 blogs (with under 300 followers).

I could have picked more if I was allowed! I would certainly have mentioned the chook woman herself - Jacqui at Life in the Dome but Chris had already nominated her, and I wouldn't want her to struggle and juggle 2 awards :-)

Hope you enjoy reading some new blogs  :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Not-So-Quiet Winter

If you believe the gardening books, winter is supposedly a quiet time in the garden. A time for rest and reflection, maybe planning ahead for the following year. Are they kidding??!!! I have been busier than ever this winter working in our garden.

I posted about building our veggie patch a few months ago after we moved here. I am pleased to say that although it was a fairly rushed job, with me desperate to get something (anything!) into the ground before winter hit, it has done extremely well and has fed us many greens over the colder months.

 Plenty of kale, spinach, silverbeet, rocket and lettuce through the winter

Following that, in the past 2 months I have :-

  • Planted a row of 6 bare-rooted rose bushes, outside our main front window (as a bit of a privacy screen from passing bushwalkers and locals walking their dogs!)

I have since made this into a long strip of 'rose bed', with mulch to keep out competing grass

  • Planted a hedge- row of  5 hazelnut trees I bought 2 years ago. see here   for the original post. Somehow they have miraculously survived living in large pots (thank you) and hopefully will thrive now they are in the ground.

  • Planted over 500 flowering Spring bulbs throughout the front, back and side gardens, and in pots which can be moved around to suit our window view when they flower. Some of the daffodils are just starting to flower now. I also planted tulips, freesias, jonquils, muscari, anemones, ranunculi, ixias, snowflakes, dutch iris, chincherinchee.... so many more!

  • Established a small garlic patch of both Australian Purple and White bulbs (around 30 plants) and a separate potato patch (around 30 seed potatoes) including Sebago, Nicola, Desiree and Ruby Lou.

  • Planted 2 varieties of blueberry bushes -Northland and Anna- in the back garden. The area I chose to plant them in is a sunny spot but has pine trees hanging over the fence from the property behind- this means the soil here is naturally acidic which blueberries love, and the pine needles that fall create a natural acidic mulch. Ideal conditions for them, less work for me!

  • Planted a variety of dormant berry canes- thornless blackberry, boysenberry, and 13 raspberry canes. All are against fences where they can be tied up when they start to grow (hopefully profusely!)

  • Started transforming the side garden into a mini orchard (we call it the side garden, its the equivalent of a normal front garden but our house is long and sideways on a corner block). In there we have planted 3 apple trees- (Granny Smith, Red Fuji and Gala), 1 nectarine and 1 peach (all dwarf varieties) along with rhubarb and the raspberries. I am thinking of buying a double-grafted pear as well, if I can make a space! The garden was already quite full with deciduous trees and a few other random trees, including a huge cypress which is beautiful but creates a lot of shade Luckily this is a sunny North facing garden so the fruit trees should do well. Our daughter has claimed the Gala as her tree, and our son has always loved Granny Smith apples and wanted his own tree since he was 3, so it was a happy day when he got to plant it :-)

    This corner was not even visible when we moved in- covered in overhanging trees
  • Oh and of course not forgetting our feathered friends! We put up a brushwood fence along the back boundary to hide the tangled mess of ivy and other weeds in the property behind us (after lopping off several huge pine tree limbs that were overhanging our garden). We then built the chook pen similar to the first one we made. Chicken wire and star pickets, old gate, A-frame inside for shelter, sleeping and nest boxes. It is approx 25 m2 so plenty of room to scratch around in.

Our hens were so happy they immediately started laying again! After our egg-less winter, the very next day 3 of our 5 hens had laid! And they haven't stopped since. we are now getting over 20 a week from the 5 chooks which is great.

It is exciting to see my vision coming into reality, although I can be a little impatient at times (!) and the vision is a pretty fluid one, and often morphs into other ideas.
Our ultimate aim is not to be self-sufficient here, but to provide as much as we can for ourselves of fresh, healthy food, whilst enjoying our garden and also living in a practical and beautiful space.


Watch this space.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bread.... and the book that inspired me

I've been making a lot of bread lately, and I've been so pleased with the results. I have been making no-knead bread like this for quite a while now, but still had that niggly little voice in my head pushing me to try making bread the 'real' way again.

So, for a bit of inspiration I bought myself this book -

Its part of the River Cottage series of book and I have to say, it is the best bread book I've seen (and I've borrowed A LOT from the local library!) It goes into a lot of detail initially about the ingredients and the whole process of making bread, as well as the history and why we should all try making our own, before it shares a whole load of recipes. I found it strangely interesting! It even has instructions at the back on how to build a clay oven ... something I would love to do with the ugly old brick bbq we have out the back.

I've been making Roti breads -fabulously quick and simple, great to make with kids. The whole process takes about 10 minutes from getting the ingredients out to flopping the big puffy pillows onto plates (or maybe 5 mins without children helping!) We were all cheering as they puffed up in the pan! Perfect with winter curries and casseroles and they cost next to nothing to make (flour, water, salt).

bread dough using 1kg flour (note my daughters hand for size!)

Then after making a batch of dough that could rival the 'magic pudding' story, we made 2 loaves and 4 large bread rolls with this lot above. I generally use both unbleached white and wholemeal flour, often around 3 parts white and 1 part wholemeal (or whatever I feel like!)

Some I left plain and others coated in oats. All turned out perfectly! The crumb of these breads is very different from my usual no-knead loaves, which is much more like a sourdough texture. The traditional bread texture is much more even and is much easier to slice and use for lunchbox sandwiches.

I think I much prefer the free-form shape, rather than baking them in a loaf tin. Perhaps its the more home-baked look, with each loaf taking its own shape :-)

I have made quite a few now, each working well, and trying different shape loaves and coatings. I have recently tried using bakers 'strong' flour, but actually found the cheap brand plain white worked better for me. I think I will try half/ half next time.

Last week we made pizza bases for the first time and it was so easy I am kicking myself we haven't been doing this earlier! No photos unfortunately, I forgot this time and the pizzas vanished so quickly, even though from 500g flour we got 8 smallish pizzas (about 15-20cm across)
I put out bowls of various veggies and pineapple, and the kids delighted in making their own combinations- all 8 different to each other. So different to greasy take-away pizza, much more like the traditional style.

I am looking forward to trying more recipes from my book, everything from focaccia to croissants, and poppy and caraway crackers.. mmmm!
I bought my copy from The Book Depository online- only cost me around $16 which was a bargain, (amount changes daily with the exchange rate) I've easily saved that in bread already, not to mention it was the only book that actually got me great results!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What a difference a day makes ....

.... 24 little hours..... since yesterday- this is how my patch looked today!

Snow came from nowhere, extremely exciting for kids, beautiful to look at. But I hope my veggies survive!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My New Winter Veggie Garden

I think its about time I showed my new veggie patch- it is still very young and new but showing lots of promise! I picked this area as it receives sun most of the day and is very sheltered. Our back garden is much warmer than the front (open to wind) or side (shady) which is important in our cold climate. The colorbond fence at the back and the shed to the side make a little microclimate, which I am hoping will equate to more food in less time!
We roped in my in-laws to help while they were staying here (hey, no such thing as a free lunch eh?!!) which made things take shape pretty quickly. We used whatever materials we had for borders- some timber offcuts and old timber posts, short star pickets and even an old sign was cut in half! Hopefully one day they will be replaced with handsome hardwood sleepers, but for now I was happy to just get something to hold the soil in. A few bricks are makeshift 'steppers' so I can get in to the middle without crushing the plants.

My helpers and the newly filled bed.
Only these few herbs were plants, the rest raised from seed.

The main patch is a raised bed as the garden is kikuyu lawn, which truly is like digging into carpet. Much easier for quick results was to put down cardboard and thick newspaper layers (to block the grass growing through), then heap up with around 30cm deep of good soil. We bought our soil in from a local nursery and it is a rich mix of animal manures and mushroom compost, a specific product for vegetable beds.
The main bed pictured here is 6 metres long x 1.2 metres wide, and used about 2/3 of the 2 cubic metres soil we bought, so cost around $70 to fill. I think it was worth doing for the quick results and less back-breaking for us :-)

....and yesterday, starting to look a lot greener

So what did I plant? Well here in the Blue Mountains winter choices are pretty limited for this season. I chose things that we will actually eat, that don't take a lot of room and that work in our climate.

English Spinach
Curly Kale
Tuscan Kale
Italian Lettuce
Broad beans
Sugar Snap peas
Massey (shelling) peas
Snow Peas
Broccoli (Di Cicco)
Broccoli (Romanesco)
and various herbs- parsley, thyme, oregano, lemon thyme, lemon balm, coriander

English Spinach

Trying to coax my peas to find the string!

Each has its own section, but given that I had my kids 'helping' some of the the seeds were broadcast thickly rather than sown in rows, such as the curly kale which germinated fantastically, possibly because a whole packet of teeny tiny seeds was spilt! I'm working on the permaculture principle of having no gaps to block weeds :-)

I have used no fertilisers other than a couple of waterings with diluted worm juice from our worm farm. I think the soil has enough goodness to last quite a while.

Curly Kale- enough to feed the street!

We will certainly not have enough to feed our family, (unless we live on kale!) but even supplementing our shop-bought groceries is a great start. It is a great on-going project for the whole family, our kids have learnt so much and now get really excited when they see the huge fat worms in the patch because the soil is so good!

Leeks in recycled poly-pipes to blanch the stems

I have just started another section as well, up to the shed, to plant my garlic and potatoes into, but I will leave that for another post.

Happy gardening!  :-)