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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for Garden


A friend mentioned recently that she and her children were going to the regular Monday preschoolers’ session at Environment House, were we interested in joining them…

This morning was the time, and it was delightful! It was a really relaxed session, just a few families (and it turned out no big problem that we were a little late, they’d started, but we were able to just join in, because it was so informal).

We started by making seedballs out of clay. There were a selection of seeds to include. Some of the little ones had difficulty in rolling the balls, but they got to play with clay, so they were happy:-) Then some garlic chives were pulled up to be potted on. First of all though, the kids were shown how to get the seeds out of their dried flowers. They then potted them up. So we came away with garlic chives in a pot, and a collection of seed balls of a variety of types (and sizes:-) ) Puggle also got to play in the worm farm, and pull out the manure to spread on the garden (“Mama, do youknow what manure means?”)

We followed the session with a wander through the garden and a browse through their shelves (there’s a shop inside the house). There are about 5 well established fruit trees already on the site, and they’re adding a number more, espaliered at one end of the garden. There’s a massive compost heap down the back, and 4 or 5 keyhole garden beds. The guy was really great with the kids, encouraging them to smell, then taste the leaves of the various (edible) plants to identify them. They also got to eat some peas—and then I couldn’t resist getting some pea seeds:-) They got to eat lots of mandarins, and got shown how to choose a ripe pomegranate from the tree (most timely:-) Although, it will be quite a while before Puggle’s birthday tree is that big!)

It was a wonderful morning, and most inspiring:-) They obviously have a range of activities, as they were encouraging us to come back every week:-) That hour of the morning, that far from home is probably not do-able each week, but we’ll definitely go back again! And I’d love to check out some of their weekend sessions as well:-)


Today I needed to use this site.

We had a week recently, with no eggs. The last couple of days we’ve only had one. With two chooks, we had rather expected a few more eggs.

Well… we found them!

Bilby went outside and came to tell me that Henny was looking for Blackie, and she (Bilby) couldn’t find Blackie. I went looking. Eventually I spotted her within a lavender bush. Puggle joined Bilby, and the two of them called me back to watch the ladybirds on the lavender, and the bees:-)

After some time, they returned inside and told me Blackie had left. I asked if there were any eggs, to which I was told that she hadn’t cackled (she’s generally a fairly enthusiastic announcer of her laying:-) ). I pointed out that there might be a couple of older eggs there. Puggle went down to check and raced back to tell me there were thousands! He couldn’t carry them all!

In all, there were fourteen! I was a little worried that some of them might have been there for some time, so we tested them as per the instructions. I was thinking it would be a cool experiment—except that it appears they were all laid within the last week, so none of them behaved differently from the rest:-(

But fourteen:-) Just in time for making birthday and Father’s Day cakes and treats:-) Good timing indeed!

(ETA the photo!)


While we were away last weekend, my folks were keeping an eye on the chooks. We got a phone call on Saturday night to say that there was an egg! (Henny had stopped laying 2 days after we got them, so this was news.)

By the time we got home ourselves, there were another two! We’re thinking that Blackie (the Australorpe) has finally started laying, and we’ve had not quite an egg a day ever since:-) Puggle is still counting the numbers:-)


Meet Blackie and Henny, they’ve come to stay for a year while friends go around Australia.
Puggle and Bilby are so excited about their stay! (Although, I had to have a couple of attempts at putting a Very Sad boy to bed tonight, after saying goodbye to his very good friend:-( )
They brought their own tractor with them, so their environment is not too different, but they seem to have settled in ok.

Garden Photos!

Here is the first of a series of photos from the Garden Day. You can click through the photos after that for the rest of the day’s efforts… Check out the earlier photos to see what was there!

Thanks again to everyone who came and helped!

Youse Guys are Grouse! (Grubby Nails)

Today was fantastic!

We had 11 adults and 7 kids (plus Cygnet, who pretty much slept for most of it) turn up over the course of the day. So much got done! Far more than I had really anticipated:-)

I put up a list of jobs to do, vaguely sorted in order of preference. This was a good idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gave us a real sense of what had been accomplished. Secondly, it meant that people could look at what jobs were going and choose what suited them:-) It also meant that I didn’t have to ‘direct traffic’ all the time:-)

The list
Move pile of rocks from ‘Front’ yard to outside fence. Done!
Spread newspaper and mulch in ‘Front’ yard, from footpath towards road. Mostly done (we ran out of mulch—I was expecting newspaper to be the limiting factor)!
Spread newspaper and mulch from footpath to lemon and grapefruit. This didn’t get done, because there was no mulch left…
(If there is excess mulch, it will be going around the mulberry and apple). Or this.
(If there is still excess mulch, it will be going in the raised beds—once they’ve been whippersnippered.) Or this… although some of the area around the beds did get whippersnippered:-)
Put up a trellis for the grapevine in ‘Front’ yard. Done!
Remove Lantana from near porch. Done!
Prune Broom from near porch. Done!
Plant Red Seedless Grape near porch. Done!
Mount tool racks on the wall next to french doors (driveway side). Marked, but not done owing to a somewhat less than straight drill bit. We’ve borrowed another bit from my dad, but ran out of time. This is top of my list for tomorrow:-)
Plant Jasmine near street end upright of carport. Done!
Prune Roses. Largely done, well, not really pruned, but reduced somewhat so it will be possible to get in and prune them in a couple of months!
Whipper Snipper ‘croquet lawn’ (around roses). Partially done! I need to work out how to re-thread the whipper snipper so I can keep going with this.
Prune/remove Dollica. Done!
Plant dragonfruit (in place of dollica?) Not done, but we’ll do this tomorrow.
Plant peas and beans around teepee. Done!
Plant herbs in pots. Not done. People seemed strangely reticent to plant! The things that did get planted were pretty much the result of me specifically directing someone to do so. Also a job for tomorrow—I anticipate Puggle may be far more interested when there are fewer kids to distract him (although, they were distracting him towards work for a good part of it:-) )
Spread tea and coffee around peas and beans. Done!
(Investigate gate hanging… Not really serious, but if we get this far, it seems reasonable:-) ) Done! I wasn’t really expecting that this would get done, but I thought I’d put it on the list so that if we got through everything (being really optimistic!) we could all stand around the gate and ponder and posit… I didn’t count on a particularly enthusiatic helper:-)

Not on the List!
Fixing up paving at the end of the driveway.
Trellising the neighbour’s grape that comes over our way.
Pruning the bougainvillea and honeysuckle (and possibly other things?) in the patio.

So, lots done!
The only problem is that I don’t feel as though I did much gardening myself. I did do a lot of feeding of people. The Gulaschsuppe was popular:-) We went through near enough to 2 litres of that—and the same of the Pumpkin soup:-) We ate all the Chocolate Simplicity Cake, there are a small number of Gingernuts left, and about half the fruit cake. Other than that, most of my time was sorting out tools for people or finding things or answering questions. (There was a little bit of rounding up children in there, but not much… they worked well, because their friends were working. Or the oldest child [13] organised games or something!) Or standing around chatting… I feel as though I did far more of that than really seems fair!


Just a reminder that this Sunday (the 19th) is Craft Sunday. I’ll probably be working on some wedding and birthday presents… Come by any time after 1.30.

Also, the following Sunday is the Grubby Nails gathering. Come by any time from 10, bring gloves if you have them, and newspapers would be good (we’re pretty short, and still have a lot of ground to cover!) I’m going to make a couple of soups for lunch, but if you felt like bringing some bread or sandwiches to go with it, that would be great.

Hope to see some of you there!

Bedding Down for Winter (Grubby Nails)

I’m hosting a Grubby Nails gathering! It will be on either Saturday 25th or Sunday 26th April from about 10am (let me know which suits you best and we’ll work out which a little closer to the day).

We have a number of jobs to do in and around the garden.

There’s 2 cubic metres of mulch to spread over newspaper—which also needs to be laid (well, that volume minus whatever we are able to spread in the meantime) in our ‘front’ yard. (If there is excess mulch, it will be going around the mulberry and apple, and in the raised beds—once they’ve been weeded.).
I need to put up a trellis of some sort for the grapevine I planted.
I have some Lantana to remove and Broom to remove/trim.
I plan to plant another grapevine, so a hole needs to be dug for that (once the lantana and broom are sorted). (Although, this may not be the right time to do this… feel free to tell me if it isn’t!)
I have a number of fruit trees that are not doing as well as they could be… I’d love some input as to what we should be doing (now in preparation for winter, as well as what we should plan to do in the lead up to spring) to help them _achieve_ something.
There’s a couple of tool racks to mount.
Rocks to clear.
Jasmine/wisteria to plant.
Apple to plant.
Prune Roses.
(This is a growing list:-) )

Discussion (I like the idea of the Permablitzes which have real ‘learning’ push to them. I don’t have the background to prepare a seminar/workshop on the topic, but I thought it would be a good conversation to have at lunchtime.)
What needs to be done now to prepare gardens for winter?
What can be done now to prepare gardens for Spring?

I’ll make a couple of soups (at least one will be vegetarian). If you could bring some bread or sandwiches to go with them, that would be great:-)

Everyone’s welcome:-) Feel free to bring friends and family:-) I will have kids participating, so yours are also welcome:-)

What should I bring?
Other than a lunch contribution, gloves would be helpful and maybe a shovel/secateurs. If you have any newspapers, that could be quite a help.

Email me (address is in the ‘About Me’ page) for the address.

(A heads up that I plan to have another gathering in August ‘Look at Chooks, Look at the Book’… focussing on the chooks (and chook tractor I’ll be chook-sitting)—to begin re-building the chook tractor I have, and also on planning for Spring:-) )

Blogging Advent—Saturday 22nd

We made Fruit Mince Tarts. It did take until bedtime, but we got it done:-) (I decided I really did need to attack the garden with a whipper snipper—not finished, but getting there.)

I gave up on making my own fruit mince (should be done early in November, so it has time to meld properly), and I used pre-rolled sheets of shortcrust pastry, so they’re not proper Fruit Mince Tarts… but I’m a step ahead of last year:-)

I’ve found my pudding recipe, so I’m all set for tomorrow:-)


We had a ‘lawnmower man’ or ‘whipper-snipper man’ (depending on Puggle’s interest) visit today. Puggle was terribly excited to watch! I let him sit on the steps in the doorway (because the Christmas tree blocks the view from the window over part of the garden), so he decided he needed to wear his goggles:-) (I think it was really because he was hoping to be allowed out.)

But the first thing he said when he saw the man? ‘He’s not wearing earmuffs!’

I guess all those conversations about safety equipment are making an impression:-)


Twice Bloomed Wisteria posted today about processing sugar cane. I thought there’d be at least one person reading here who’d be interested in the details (I don’t know that it’s necessarily explained sufficiently to allow you to go and do it, but it certainly gives you the gist…)


I was ill on Saturday, so really paid no attention to anything. Sunday I went outside to do all those things i hadn’t done the day before, and noticed…

It’s been about two weeks since we planted them. All tomatoes at this stage. We’re very excited:-)

In The Garden

It was such a lovely day, (actually, a little hot if anything!) I’ve been meaning to get these seeds planted out into seedling trays for at least a month!

preparationHere we have all our equipment assembled. Egg cartons for seedling trays—ideally no need to disturb the roots, seed raising mix, a couple of trowels, gloves, dowel to make holes, sprayer for watering, and seeds.

seedsPuggle and I filled the trays with the seed raising mix.

plantingThen we carefully planted out lots of seeds. Tomato (a number of varieties, a Five Colour Mix, as well as Mortgage Lifter), capsicum (a Seven Colour Mix), eggplant (Listada di Gandia) and Echinacea (because I’m planning on putting in sunflowers as well, and I thought this would look pretty with them:-) ).

plantedSeeds nestled in their trays.

wateredCovered over (tucked in their beds) and watered. (I tried to use the Waldorf storytelling idea to make sure that Puggle didn’t disturb the seeds when watering them… It seems to be working to some degree… but the spray bottle is awfully hard work:-( )

Now of course, I need to work on getting the ground ready for them to go in—as well as the ground for the direct sown seeds… I know where I’m intending for them to go, but at the moment it’s not looking particularly hospitable:-( Much work ahead of us…

More Thoughts on Flower Fairies

Boronia are always brown (although, I guess it sometimes looks red). I do realise that there are other colours… but this is the local variety—and the one my Granny was named after. I’ll make a few alterations to the shape of my pattern.

I’ve also thought that some of the Gum flowers are a likely prospect… unless that is going to feel like a stupid amount of cutting:-)

Geraldton Wax strike me as an excellent proposition:-) And allow for the use of some pretty colours:-)

Actually, I think before I make any more Australian natives, I need to find a more appropriate green felt:-)

(And I’ve just realised that some of the red ‘caps’ we picuked up last year would be ideal for hats for some of the related crafts… where the other side of the world uses acorns! Excellent!)


I highly recommend playing chasey with a three year old:-) We had a lovely time running around the patio, and then the front yard. I had to teach him though—I can’t believe we hadn’t before! He did keep getting confused as to who was ‘it’, he’d be chasing me one minute, then running away from me the next.

(How would you spell ‘balees’?)

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