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Suburban Jungle

Reuben and Veggie Beds

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Poppy

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Daisy

Planting

We spent a lot of the weekend in the garden, building two more veggie beds, planting a couple of citrus trees, pruning and pottering. Though our garden isn’t producing much now, it feels good to be building something for the future. From little things big things grow.

I must admit, when Reubs and I moved into this house I was a bit worried about going overboard in the garden. Our block is very small and awkwardly shaped and I seriously doubted that we’d ever be able to make it particularly productive. Reubs was keen to make the most of our limited space and cram it full of edibles. He immediately wanted to rip out all the lawn and replace it with a giant veggie patch, and was adamant that we had enough space for a number of fruit trees, but I was reluctant. It seems crazy to me now but I didn’t like the idea of not having any lawn and I was scared that if we planted too much our yard would look messy and unattractive. (What would the neighbours think?!) So we started small with two little veggie beds, a couple of fruit trees and two chickens, and bit by bit we’ve added more and more. We now have four large veggie beds, ten fruit trees, two passionfruit vines, a couple of berry plants, two elderflower bushes (for making cordial) and hopps (for making beer) which we plan to plant next to the car port so it can climb. We are also hoping to turn a whole corner of our yard into a large chicken coop, so we can keep a bigger flock of chooks. Slowly, I’ve come to realise just how much can be done with a small space (we still have room for so much more!) and I now have a completely different kind of vision for our garden. Not a tidy lawn, tidy veggie beds, tidy trees and small tidy chicken coop, but a rambling patch overflowing with homegrown fruit, veggies, flowers and chickens.

I recently bought Backyard Self Sufficiency by Jackie French (which I highly recommend) and today I was having a read when I stumbled across a quote that so perfectly summed up what I’ve been thinking and feeling, that I had to share it with you. Jackie says:

“I have two images of suburban life today.

The first is of a neat house set in a mown lawn with trimmed shrubs and a sandpit; a clean kitchen with yesterday’s takeaway containers in the sink; and the latest DVDs to fill your life after dinner.

The second is of a suburban jungle: a maze of tangled apple trees and grapevines, carpets of strawberries, and kids with mulberry-stained faces who don’t come inside till dark. You trip over a box of apples in the laundry and the kitchen smells of summer tomatoes and of the basil on the windowsill.

The kitchen shelves are full, so are the lives of the inhabitants.

The richness of our lives depends on our surroundings and what we fill them with.”

I know which one I’d prefer. Bring on the jungle.

Katie xx

PS Just in case you are wondering what our “chicken tractor” is doing in our new veg beds – we were using the girls’ scratching skills to get a headstart on digging up the grass.
PPS My cute apron and trowel are from lovely Brenda‘s wonderful new shop.

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Little Things

No Knead Bread

Passionfruit Vine

Around Here

Reuben and Clover in Garden

Tea

Chooks in Chicken Tractor

Apple and Almond Cake

Joining in the weekly stills over at The Beetle Shack.

1. I finally made this famous no knead bread over the weekend and it was amazing. We devoured half the loaf within minutes of it leaving the oven! I haven’t had a huge amount of success with bread making in the past, but this little triumph has got me inspired to keep working on it. I’m determined to make bread making a more regular fixture in our weekly routine.
2. One of our passionfruit vines is growing nicely. The other isn’t doing quite so well.
3. A handful of goodness, fresh off our little raspberry bush.
4. Clover helping Reuben in the garden.
5. Cold wintery days mean tea. Lots and lots of tea.
6. We bought a lightweight run that we can use as a “chicken tractor” and drag around our yard, to give our girls a holiday from their coop on sunny days. They’ve been having a lovely time scratching in the grass.
7. Yesterday we had friends over for dinner so I made cake for dessert. I had the thought of an apple and almond cake stuck in my head so I googled it and ended up making this one this one with a couple of tweaks (which was good!) but I’ve since realised the seed of the idea was probably planted by this yummy skillet cake on Hugo and Elsa. I think I’ll try that one next time.

Wishing you all a most wonderful week!

Katie xx

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Summer Abundance

Garden Haul

Zucchinis

Semi Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes and Basil

Pumpkin

Over the last few weeks our tiny garden has been going crazy! We’ve been eating cherry tomatoes around the clock and have had enough larger tomatoes to semi dry and make a big batch of pasta sauce (both of which we devoured in record time!) I’ve made lots of pesto and have managed to put a few bottles aside in the freezer for the approaching cold months. We’ve eaten a bunch of zucchinis and there are plenty more to come, including a couple that have grown to gigantic proportions. The rainbow chard is still doing well and we’ve had a few lovely cucumbers. Tonight we made veggie enchiladas using our first homegrown capsicums, and we’ve just picked the first of our little pumpkins. Silly Clover pup actually helped with that. This morning I discovered a small half chewed pumpkin in her bed! It was too cute and funny to be cranky with her about it.

All in all, our first summer season has been quite successful! Especially considering we’ve only had two little beds and we’ve taken a rather lazy approach to the whole thing.

I’ve never been much of a summer girl (I don’t like the heat and I’m very partial to cardigans, fireplaces and bowls of soup) but this season, perhaps for the first time, I have been able to really appreciate the garden goodness the warmer months hold. The 40°C days are awful but the homegrown produce is so wonderful!

Over the last week we’ve felt a gentle shift in the weather. It’s still very warm but the early mornings are crisp and some nights there is a real chill in the air. Soon autumn will be here, and though I will embrace the cold weather with open arms, I really will miss the abundance of summer.

Wishing you all a lovely, lovely week ahead!

Katie x

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A Proud Moment

Homegrown and Homemade

I’m interrupting our new once a week posting schedule, just to share a little something that meant a great deal to Reuben and I. Last night we ate our most home produced meal to date. It consisted of homemade pesto made from homegrown basil, homemade feta and homegrown tomatoes on sourdough toast and homemade lemon cordial, made with lemons from my mum’s lemon tree, followed by homemade chocolate slice for dessert. It wasn’t fancy or elaborate but it made us very proud. And I do believe it was the one of the absolute best meals I have ever eaten! In moments like this I feel so grateful for the path we have chosen and so excited for all that lies ahead of us as we continue on this journey.

Today I am making semi dried tomatoes and feeling very content. Life is good.

Katie x

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Summer in the Garden

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

Garden 1

Garden 5

So far our first growing season in our own home has proven to be a quite a learning experience!

At times it has been very challenging. We’ve lost a blueberry plant to an unknown fate. A mystery bug (I suspect earwigs but haven’t enough proof) has eaten one and a half of our two raspberry plants (not the fruit, the leaves and stems!) All but one each of our watermelon and cucumber plants have mysteriously disappeared. One of our passionfruits’ new growth has been repeatedly gobbled up by something, preventing it from growing. We’ve had hot days then cold days and gale force winds. I can’t even remember the last time it rained…

But! Despite all of that, we’ve also had some wonderful successes in our our little garden. Our raspberry is bouncing back. The tomatoes are out of control. The beans have produced more than I could ever have imagined. The zucchinis are in good health. The elderflower is flourishing. We have at least 6 pumpkins on their way. And most happily for me, one of our two Camellia Sinensis (tea) bushes (that we thought had died) is starting to show some new growth, just as we were about to pull it out and replace it with a big blackberry bush! Over the last couple of weeks we’ve eaten homegrown rainbow chard, strawberries, sugar snap peas, basil, zucchini, perpetual spinach, one cucumber and mountains of beans, and now we’re starting to get tomatoes. Though we started small with just two raised beds, we have managed to grow quite a lot!

Even though it can be frustrating at times, we’re really enjoying having a productive garden. We love being able to eat fruit and veggies that we’ve grown ourselves. Nothing makes me happier than spying Katie at the veggie patch, picking something fresh for our dinner. It’s so nice knowing the things we eat don’t have any chemicals on them and that they are in our bellies within minutes of being picked. A lot of the veggies we grow (including all of our peas) don’t even make it into the kitchen. They are so good we can’t help but eat them straight off the plant!

With the successes and struggles of this season in mind, I’m now starting to make plans for the next growing season. It’s time to expand our veggie patch from the two raised beds and I’ve earmarked half our front lawn for some serious redevelopment. Soon it’ll be time to put things in for winter. I’ve already got some kale seeds that are calling me…

What’s been happening in your garden this season?

Reuben

PS All these pictures are from Katie’s Instagram account. We’ve gotten a bit out of the habit of taking photos over the last few months, but we are both determined to get back behind the camera this year!

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