Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Summer 2011 another season

The rain started again this afternoon, after a good week of sunshine though! It was so nice to have the soil dry out a little, so we could continue working in the garden. The true sub-tropical weather we experience in the Lockyer region, forces everything out of the ground in summer. It's one of my favourite times of year. Although I don't always look forward to the increased work load, managing the weeds, it's another year we get to see the garden grow too.

We got stuck into the garden this morning, or should I say, "Dave" did - pulling weeds and adding compost to the veggie patch. He was on a mission to prepare the ground for autumn plantings. I was on my own mission, braving the weed forest with my trusty camera, to snap a few of the wonderful things happening in the garden. First things, first though...the veggie patch.

Main veggie growing area

I'm not sure if I've ever really explained that our veggie patch is on top of a retaining wall. Or at least one bed is. This year we got a few good crops of corn (more on the go) and the sunflowers and canna lilies were there for bee food. The canna lilies must've sprouted from the compost with root cuttings - we didn't plant them on purpose.

On top of the wall - two long beds
rhubarb (left) on the other bed

We have one bed directly on the wall, and another bed on the other side - with a grass walkway down the centre. We love having grass there. I wouldn't trade it for gravel or bark, because it ensures any nutrients which could be leached into the soil, gets taken up by the grass. We cut the grass and it feeds the soil again. It's not a running grass variety though, so it doesn't creep into the beds. Saves us a lot of sanity that way!

What we can harvest from the veggie patch at the moment, is rhubarb, lettuce and purple king beans. We're growing them over re bar, so they can sprawl down the retaining wall.

Rogue sunflower & purple king beans

These are a wonderful bean, I really love the full, fresh taste and especially how they look.


It has such a pretty purple flower and the leaves have a purple sheen to them as well.


The beans themselves are prolific and not scrawny like a lot of other beans. The dwarf green bean I had in there, were prolific too, but scrawny and caught every disease possible. I will be sticking with the purple king bean as a mainstay in our garden, just because it's a consistent producer and surprisingly hardy.

The second place I stopped off at, was Middle Ridge chicken coop. Here live the bantam Araucanas we bred and raised from eggs, plus the Araucana cross Barnevelders we raised in the same batch. Here is one of the crosses, that received the Barnevelder genes for the lovely lacing.

Pretty girl - the one with the best lacing

The hairdo of the Araucana is still there though! She's bantam sized, like her other cross sister.

Broody Ginger - daughters favourite!

This is a look alike for Gumnut, and only a few months older than Jacqui's hen. Gumnut was an egg (out of half a dozen) I posted to Jacqui, for her wonderful hen Buffy to hatch when she went broody. Both Gumnut and our hen (living so many hundreds of kilometers apart) received the genes for blue in their feathers. Crossing breeds can be fun as you never know what's going to come out!

Big Bertha - definitely NOT broody

Like their big sister, who didn't get the bantam genes - nor the brooding tendency! Her mother was a standard sized Barnevelder hen, which passed onto her, the only standard sized hen in the batch. She still has the funny Araucana neck and beard though. Oh, so funny. This girl (although bigger than them all) is the most timid of the lot!

Just to think it all started here back in Autumn last year (2010).

Our Araucana & Barnevelder cross Araucana chicks

I love raising chicks! They are so fluffy and cheeky and then you get to see them grow-up and graduate to the laying coop. Each chick develops their own personality and they keep it for life! Just call me the chicken mama. ;)

Enough jaunts down memory lane though. Back to the garden! My next stop with the camera, was to check some of the trees we had planted this year. On the way though, I couldn't pass this enchanting sight.

Kumquat holding station

Our daughter loves stuffed dogs and this one was tied to the kumquat tree, so it wouldn't get away as she played in the garden. Two other puppies were given a play pen instead. This was stationed just near Middle-Ridge chicken coop.

Puppies get into all sorts of trouble if they aren't kept safe

Notice the barricades (concrete seats) as fencing? This is to make sure the puppies don't escape while she's playing in the garden too. There's a story behind all this though. We have our dog living with my mum, and we've always said we couldn't have our dog here because we don't have fencing yet. So our daughter is very aware of the need to have dogs safely secured. It was so cute to see how she made sure, her stuffed dogs were equally safe.

Back to the trees however. I braved a weed forest for a lot of these photos. First stop, was running past a sunflower, the native bees and European varieties were feasting upon.

Bees and sunflowers say summer!

Another rogue sunflower in the garden, but finally here is the Japanese maple tree I wanted to see. It's still very young but bigger than when we first planted it.

Red Japanese Maple Tree

This is ornamental, rather than an edible tree, but its deciduous tendencies in winter, make it a good source of food for the soil in the garden. We planted it near a water way so that with periodic rainfall, the water can carry the nutrients down hill too.

A Brazilian Cherry and a very fast grower. It has doubled in size since we planted it a few months ago. 

Brazilian Cherry

A Brown Turkey Fig, and it has grown rather quickly too. It started out with two small leaves and now it has many!

Brown Turkey - not the poultry variety!

Our Black Mulberry is doing exceedingly well too, although it's in a rather shaded position here.


When we remove the saplings around it, the growth should be even better. Any prunings from this tree, go straight to the guinea pigs - Nellie & Gloria. They love mulberry leaves.

Our Kensington Pride Mango is the eldest tree in this lot. It's about 2 years old and we pruned it this year, causing it to branch finally.


The red-bronze leaves are it's new growth. This mango is in a shaded position too. The intention was to get them (mulberry too) established under the shade of the sapling natives, then remove them when the fruit trees could do with the room. I think this autumn we'll take out a lot of the saplings shading them at present.

Near the mango however, is a walking track to the backyard. It has gone from this in Spring 2008:

Walking track laced with Pekin chickens

To this tangled jungle, in Summer 2011! Dense and impassible now...minus the chickens!

Anyone else thinking Dr Who (Tom Baker) and...
well the one where the plants take over!

I love seeing the garden change. There's much we have done to influence it, and yet so much just does for itself. This is our rapid growing season and with all the rain this year, it's been even better than ever! So much to do while the sun shines.


  1. I am really impressed with your entire garden but your vegetable garden is especially beautiful to me! Way to go on the trees as well....question: Have you tried growing sunflowers for seeds as well as for the bees? Its one of my favorite flowers to grow personally...I love them all but love getting food from them too (if the wild birds don't get to them first...which is also alright by me).
    I am in sheer ecstasy with these phoots of yours! Outside here...its gray, dull, dry, twiggy.....3 months before I will see a bit of green again. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I've been thinking about your American winters, especially since we've been shut inside with all the rain so much of the time. My daughter always says though, she would love a Christmas where it snowed! It's probably a very romantic notion to kids (snowmen, snowballs and ice-skating) but a little more challenging for adults.

    I was intending to harvest some of the larger sunflower heads for seed, but the galahs got to them first, then once the crested-cockatoos had their turn, well it was all over red rover, LOL.

    I always shake what's left of the mangled heads though, and wait to see what pops up! Sunflowers are my absolutely most favourite flower EVER! It's difficult to look at one in full bloom, and not feel a littl piece of sunshine bursting inside your heart.

    The bees go absolutely nuts over them too. I love to feed the bees and I know we don't spray chemicals, so there will always be bees for next season.

    One day I'm going to brave up and get a hive. :)

  3. I did spend my earlier years in the Midwest before going to California and yes it was magical in my childs eyes. Our school used to turn the concrete playground into an ice skating rink so we would skate all morning, at recess and lunch and after school. We lived in ice skates! It was absolutely fun despite best friends with lots of broken every things and missing teeth and hockey pucks to the tummies or naughty boys hitting us in the face with a snowballs on purpose! I'd not trade that memory for the world! Sarah would love any child would no doubt!

    As an adult...I still want to skate (we now have to pay by the hour) but I also want to see sunflowers all year round...or at least something green! Garry and I were thinking that next winter, we would flood our garden and make our own ice skating pond though. He grew up not far from you and doesn't get the nostalgia I have for winter.
    I still like it...but I'm a gardener now...and I miss that!
    Bees coming in April if all goes well...I'm manning up at long last! LOL!

  4. I have my fingers crossed for your bees. It would be such a treat to keep a hive alive, with a dash of honey on the side for the family.

    April isn't too far away. :)

  5. Thanks for the good thoughts on this. Is a process that requires excellent timing and organization. We are looking at bee hive plans right now and a good friend wants to put a hive there are right...April is right around the corner. do we get you to overcome the fear that you have? LOL! I admit, still afraid here but I get over it by jumping other way for me.

  6. I hope you and your family are safe. It really is terrible what's happened in the last couple of days.
    They keep saying Murphy"s creek is unsafe to search in this afternoon.

  7. Hi Chris, just dropping by to see if you are all ok, hope you are safe and well in these scary times. Em xxx


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