Sunday, 29 April 2018

Refurbished froggy!

I've been enjoying some creativity over the past few weeks.  As you can see, painting the gnome markers prompted a long overdue froggy makeover.

My large concrete frog was purchased from an op-shop when we lived in Victoria.  It may have cost $5.00.  I don't really remember. 

I had planned to paint it back then but Tea managed to break his foot during one of her romps - and so he languished in the garden till we moved.  I actually thought he had been culled before our move, so was surprised to see him in Queensland!

Nick fixed the broken foot and I started some cosmetic work.  The base coat was a good frog green - straight out of the tube.  It was a bit flat, so I dabbed other shades of green over it - there were two layers of those and then a dusting of gold as well.  I worked with cotton balls initially but they weren't ideal so I scrunched a piece of rag for the later coats. 

The tummy had a base coat of pale creamy yellow and then other similar shades dabbed over with cotton buds.  Lots of overlapping dots. It gives a variegated, mottled effect.  Again, several layers were involved.

At one stage he had a pinkish mouth but I wasn't overly happy with that, so changed to a creamy yellow - along the lines of a white-lipped tree frog! 

His right foot was a problem.  I tried several effects in an attempt to differentiate between it and the rest of his body.  Nothing worked though, so I gave up and made the foot sole a similar varied green.

A black permanent marker was handy for doing the eyes. Several coats of sealer were applied and he sat curing in the sunshine on the back table for a couple of days. He's now happily guarding the back door with his froggy family, which makes me smile as I walk up the stairs!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Seed success!

I've been keeping an eye on my garden.  On Tuesday there were tiny seedlings but given their placement, I wasn't entirely convinced they had sprouted from the seeds I'd planted!

When I checked again yesterday, there were small seedlings next to the original craft stick markers.  Even better, some were in lines, which Erin agreed was evidence of "real" plants (not weeds)!  Hooray!

Given that sprouting success, I worked on finishing my first round of gnomes.  (They needed labels and several coats of sealer).  I placed those guys this morning - and was heartened to see more baby plants emerging.  How good is that?!

At this stage there are cucumber, radishes, silverbeet, spinach, just one capsicum and praps a few tomatoes.

One of the butter beans is also making it's way through the soil, though the green beans aren't doing anything yet.  It's definitely happening!

I updated my gardening spreadsheet.  So far the seeds that sprouted, emerged one or two days earlier than the earliest expected time.

The older zucchini seeds haven't done anything yet though and I'm thinking they may have failed.  I won't give up entirely at this stage cos they still have a few more days (according to the spreadsheet).

Actually, in the few hours since first checking the garden this morning and walking past again just now, three more butter bean plants are breaking through to the surface - pretty neat, eh?!

Monday, 9 April 2018

In the gno(me)?!

On Saturday, I spoke of my plan for more plant markers that were more interesting.

When Vaughan was a much younger fellow, he scored a pocket knife from a geocache. It became one of his prized possessions - to extent that he smuggled it to school for show and tell!  (He's always been good value, that lad)! 

At home he used it to carefully carve long spirals around various small twigs. (I've kept some of his pieces from that time).

Given that history I thought he'd be keen to assist crafting my plant markers. Nup. It's fair to say he was decidedly not interested when I originally floated the idea, even when I showed him examples and pointed out that whittling would be necessary.

I was therefore quite surprised when he woke me from a nap on Saturday afternoon, to show his first effort - and invite me to make more with him.  We sat together on the back verandah, chatting a bit while crafting our gnomes.  It was a pleasant activity.

We made ten over the weekend, using a variety of wood, some collected from the backyard and others while walking. 

Our gnomes are a variation of some spotted on the 'net. Vaughan made most. I did three. My output has now slowed cos the whittling has resulted in a sore forearm. I'm fine to paint though!

Once the gnomes are finished, I'll give them a couple of coats of sealer - and then stick them in the garden(s)!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Beside your marks!

After a trip to our local Bunnings yesterday afternoon, I lightly scattered a small amount of blood and bone on each garden bed.  The larger bed received one 25-litre bag of compost to boost the soil.  I gave the smaller bed about half that amount.

Although I had intended to use only seeds from my collection, a friend suggested new bean seeds might be better, so I bought two packs from The Reject Shop earlier this week. 

One of my current library books is the "1-Minute Gardener", which has lots of easy-to-read information with photos. I'm liking the approach. Based on the authors' advice, I soaked my bean seeds overnight.

I planted both garden beds this morning with the seeds pictured at right. All but the beans, silverbeet and spring onions are past their "sow before" date. Some by only eight months and others ranging up to two and a half years.

There were older seeds but I decided to use the newest, for best results.

I created a simple spreadsheet to track the "sow before" dates and expected germination times.  I've recorded the date of planting and calculated date ranges for when to expect seedlings.

I also planted eight garlic cloves.  According to the one-minute gardeners, I should gain eight garlic bulbs - in about nine months.  I've noted my spreadsheet!  (Given the long wait time, I've planted some garlic chive seedlings in the same area).

In the semi-recent past we bought a huge number of craft sticks for Vaughan - for stick bomb and chain reaction explosion activities. I raided his substantial collection to make some quick plant markers. Of course, I'm scheming for more interesting markers but these will do for now.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Plotting the planting!

I did a bit more digging yesterday, before a middle of the day chiro appointment - which was good timing! Even though there'd been a lot of rain and the digging was easier I'm still feeling my exertions (in both expected and unexpected places), so quietly pondering is today's plan.

My girls are 25 and almost 23 now but when we were all (quite a lot) younger, a favourite TV show was "the gardening man" aka Pete Cundall from Gardening Australia. 

We dabbled in those days, growing a few herbs and cherry tomatoes in large pots on a deck.  The girls made beaded garlands that hung on a lattice fence behind the pots and we had a lot of fake frogs.  It was a cheerful place and I used to often make frittata using fresh herbs and our home-grown tomatoes, eaten on the same deck. 

A couple of long-held gardening magazines (featuring "the gardening man") survived the Great Cull of 2015 and I flicked through them this morning, while sipping lovely home-grown herbal tea and pondering my next missions.  One of our young blue-faced honeyeaters visited briefly and it was very pleasant sitting in the sunshine.

Back in Victoria, Nick built raised garden beds and we purchased premium soil to fill them.  I'm looking at a more basic approach this time, for several reasons.  Expense is a factor but we are still renting, so aren't keen to dismantle too much in the event of needing to move again.  (We packed the previous garden components into our shipping container and Nick recently used that wood to construct two nifty work benches).

After consulting my magazines and a couple of gardening books from the library, I'll make a quick trip to Bunnings this afternoon for bagged compost and organic fertiliser.  I should be able to get what I want for under $15.00 - significantly cheaper than premium soil mix!  I'm encouraged by the worms discovered when digging and hopeful of some growing success, even with my budget approach. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Cheap plot(s)!

Not long after we arrived at our new home, we bought a cheap bird bath. Watching our frequent visitors is a lot of fun as we sit on the back verandah. We hadn't done much else to the yard though - till very recently when I decided to grow some herbs in pots. 

I started with rosemary cos I like to use it when roasting lamb. Parsley, sage, thyme, more rosemary (it was in a bargain mixed pot), oregano and some basil came next.

Coriander and a punnet of tea herbs were purchased later, along with a single globe zucchini plant.

I've had a couple of casualties.  I wasn't sad when the bonus basil died because the spare is still hanging in.  It's fair to say I was a bit pleased when the chamomile passed away.  (It was included with the tea herbs and isn't my favourite).

I was less impressed that the zucchini keeled over cos I was looking forward to seeing it develop globe fruit.

My Victorian gardening wasn't a huge success.  Lack of outside taps and limited water hindered any progress, as did my lack of knowledge.  The cold/variable climate, escapee cow, inquisitive chookies and resident rabbits also hampered my efforts.

Based on that past experience, I hesitated to expand my "garden" beyond the back verandah.  However, digging a patch in the yard is cheaper than buying more pots and potting mix - so I'm broadening my scope.

I'm not keen to acquire more seedlings though, so hunted in the garage and rediscovered a large box of seeds.  Some have passed their best before date but after last night's internet research I've decided to try them anyway.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained eh?!

The tenants prior to us left behind a small "compost" heap.  Soon after our arrival it sprouted a pumpkin vine and a tomato plant, in spite of various non-organic matter being incorporated in the pile.  I cleared some bones and plastic rubbish from the area yesterday and planted six zucchini seeds (the last of an opened packet).  Hopefully at least a couple germinate.

I dug a garden bed today during a break in the rain. The soil was soft and I discovered a number of healthy worms as I removed grass and mounded the earth. I'm quite pleased with my work - even if it does look like a grave-site!

A lot happened ...

It's been a long while since I last posted. A lot can happen in two and a half years - and a lot did.

We left the property and spent a few nights in our crammed van, before taking on a month-long house-sitting position.

At it's conclusion we moved back into the caravan, which was our base for around 18 months (save for some other house-sitting), while we actively sought an interstate relocation a lot further North.

We weren't really camping - but we didn't have a home(in)stead, so I continued to post on Happy Hamby Campers during that period.  There are quite a few entries on that blog for 2015 and 2016.  Some detail our adaptation to van/tent life, while others document various adventures away from our usual caravan park site(s).

In February 2017 we (finally) relocated from Victoria to Queensland (about 700km North of our original New South Wales location and 1,700km from where we lived in Victoria). We are quite near to Brisbane on a large block, with just one immediate neighbour.  We like the quieter environment and have very recently celebrated our first anniversary as QLDers.

We unpacked the container as soon it arrived at our new home.  All up there were only a couple of breakages, so we were well pleased with our packing of boxes and the container itself.  Most items were fine after storage, though the leather lounge had some light mildew and the fridge required much deeper cleaning.  The container was sold just weeks after we unpacked - for not much less than we'd paid back in August 2015.  Yep, we were pretty chuffed about that too!