Thursday, March 28, 2013

Garden Gobbles - Salad Dressing & Weight Watching

So I have managed to gain on an additional 10kgs over the past year. I do love my food. I realised a couple of weeks ago that it was time to get serious about getting it back off. I did manage to lose a lot of weight on weight watchers a few years ago. And I kept it off for about 3 years which I will pat myself on the back for. But I am sick of feeling cranky with myself lately for overeating. So I'm back to tracking my points and throwing my money at the massive money making machine that is weight watchers.

I resent some things about weight watchers. They change their system every few years even when it worked perfectly well before. And it's obvious to me that they do that because they make oodles of money when they change things around because people purchase all their new cookbooks and products which have the new points system in them. And although I know those meetings work I really have to block my ears and take deep breaths when the leader tries to flog the latest weight watchers chocolate bar or whatever. Those products may not put much weight on but they are full of crappy chemicals and non nutritious stuff. I hate listening to advertisements which is why I mostly watch ABC TV. Anyway, that said. I know that weight watchers does work and that basically they do promote eating nutritious food in moderation and exercising more.

So my garden gobbles this week is a simple salad dressing. A bit of zing in a salad makes everything good. And a salad is even better with some protein like a little bit of crumbled feta or some lentils. I've been eating a lot of salads lately and I do love this dressing which if you happen to be at all interested in weight watchers is only 2 points on their new pro points system.

Salad Dressing for One:
1/2 red chilli from the garden (or more if your tongue likes more zing)
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice & some zest
1 tbs chopped herbs from the garden (I used parsley this time).
a pinch of salt

Mix up your salad dressing, drizzle it over the salad in a big bowl and then use your hands to mix it all through.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Snapshots from the Melbourne Garden & Flower Show

Last week I went to the Melbourne International Garden & Flower Show.  Here are a few snaps of things that inspired me.

Now that is a hanging basket. I never think to fill a hanging basket with loads of different flowers. Mine start off good and then develop to a few half dead sticks. 
One day, maybe when I'm a nana, I will learn to grow orchids.

This is something I am aspiring to - loads of flowers. I especially love the cone flowers.
I wouldn't actually like this in my garden but it is kinda cool.

I really like this upcycling garden idea.

And this one. We have an old loo that I've been thinking of doing a bit of mosaic on and using as a feature in the garden.
This was a whole bunch of plastic drink bottles that had been filled with a little coloured water. If it had been a sunny day it would have been making a bunch of lovely reflected colours everywhere. And I suppose it'd be quite warm as well as colourful in this sitting spot. But I couldn't stand to look at those horrid plastic bottles in a garden.
I'd love a pergola at our place. And I love the garden shelves here with plants on them. And the lights. Of course we'll never manage anything nearly as fancy at our place but it's nice to dream.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pigeon Poop & Wise Words from Jackie French

Jackie French - Soil Food
I've been re-reading this book by Jackie French that I received last year (as a gift when I ordered a bunch of seeds from Green Harvest). I must say I was a bit under-whelmed when I opened my seed parcel and saw the free gift. Couldn't someone have prettied up that cover? So brown and ... dirty. And soil. That doesn't really sound like a good read.

But anyway I was so completely wrong.  This is one of the greatest gardening books I've clapped eyes on. Loads of inspiring soil improving ideas. Probably I'll divulge a few words of wisdom from Jackie in the future, but today I thought I'd share just one.

Make friends with the birds in the garden and encourage them in. They poo - and if you've ever owned a budgie you'll know that even little birds poo quite a lot. Provide water and perches and shelter in your garden for the wild birds.  'Cos the more wild birds, the more free fertiliser.

After reading this book I am never looking at a bird in the garden the same way. My Monkey Man gets very annoyed by the little miner birds that mess up his front garden and toss twigs all over the path. Goodness knows why because we have the messiest, most jungle-like front garden in the entire suburb. You can't walk down our front path without tripping over a loose brick or getting poked in the eye by a wayward branch. And if you do manage to get to the front door there's a whole bunch of boxes still waiting to fit into the recycling bin and an umbrella that someone was supposed to collect a month ago and some political posters that need to be returned to political offices... and a whole big bloody mess. But Monkey Man only seems to notice the twigs and leaves the miner birds toss on his path.

Anyway,  I must admit it doesn't make my heart sing to see birds feasting on my fig tree. Or sneaking into the chook shed to steal their food. But I've changed my way of thinking after reading Jackie's book. And since doing so I've started making more watering spots for them.
Like this little old fry pan in a hanging basket where I very often see a pretty bird with a yellow breast come and have a drink. And probably a poop.

And I've been looking with new eyes at all this pigeon poop under the railway overpass that we walk along on the way home from school. I've been thinking that maybe I will be a little bit kooky and sneak out to that underpass with a bucket. And a shovel. At some time when nobody's about. And I will scoop up all that free pigeon poop to deposit on my garden.
free fertiliser - pigeon poop under a bridge

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Garden Gobbles - A filling salad

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Garden Gobbles

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Whitefly Success

Image from here
Do you remember in late Spring when I was lamenting my swarms of whitefly? Well I actually had completely forgotten all about the whitefly problem until I was reading with amusement and complete agreement Liz from Suburban Tomato's post on the worst things about Summer.

I had forgotten all about those pesky little flies because I somehow managed to get rid of them and had moved on to whining about other things - the heat and the weeds and the mess and the mice. I forgot that I no longer had a whitefly problem.

In late November I resorted to vacuuming the garden in a crazy attempt to be rid of those pesky little flies. You may think I am a bit kooky but I truly didn't think up this idea myself. I'd read about it. From reputable sources including wikipedia. But I only vacuumed a couple of times because as you no doubt know, I am lazy. And I hardly even get around to vacuuming my house let alone starting up on the garden. So I can't attribute my outdoor housekeeping to the whitefly elimination success.

We have been having a very hot summer in Melbourne. In fact it is the hottest on record so it is possible that my garden is less lush and less attractive to sap sucking whitefly and this has helped to eliminate them.

But my whitefly disappeared in late December before it started to get too stinky hot. Nope, I think the success was due to the three sprayings I carried out. Now I am not a fan of using spray concoctions. I garden organically. I am too lazy to mix up chilli and garlic and soap sprays. I squash snails and chuck green caterpillars to the chooks. But I did go out and buy some eco oil and neem oil. And I sprayed once with eco oil.  A few days later I did the neem oil and a week later I did the eco oil again. And then I think it was just about crazy Christmas time and I went on a little holiday and forgot all about it.

And now I realise that I haven't seen whitefly since then.

So the moral to this story - it's a whole lot easier to find things going wrong and to whine about them and if you keep it up you will forget to look at all the things going right. Aah yeah I'm an expert whinger.

Things going right in the garden...
We are getting a couple of eggs a day from the fuzzy chooks

The herb spiral is still alive and filling out

I have managed to find a good spot for clematis and haven't yet killed it

I have grown my first ever spaghetti squash

Last year's flower has self seeded in the watering can

And I am getting self seeded silverbeet too

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breakfast Garden Gobbles

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bring Back the Pond?

Time for a public shaming. I have let my pond die.
Shame pic 1 - inside the pond. Dead.

Shame pic 2 - view from the window with discarded chook feeder, toppled garden ornament and dead sunflowers up front
Shame pic 3 - view from above
Look at it. It's been in this dreadful state all summer. Every plant dead and not a drop of water left.

We built this pond back in November 2010. Here's a littler Littlest Monkey releasing a couple of Murray Darling Rainbow fish. Oh happy days. Sigh.
The pond in its early heyday
Well I never saw those fish again. Those native fish were teeny and silver and despite peering at the pond til I was cross eyed I never saw them again. I couldn't say how long they survived but they are certainly not swimming about in that dead hole now. And the whole reason I hunted about for those teeny silver native fish was to keep down the mozzies and attract frogs. Well we never got frogs either. What we did get was a slimy pond that needed constant topping up and became strangled with duckweed.

Sigh. I am a pond keeping failure. Not only have I allowed everything to die in the pond, I have also allowed weeds to grow up all around it. And there is some rotten wandering jew that is starting to wander out of control and cause Wokee the puppy to get all scratchy and itchy. But mostly to my annoyance it is a bloody eyesore and a reminder of my failure right out the back window.

Anyway, I'll stop my whining and let you know that I have decided to clean up that area this week. But I'm just not sure about the pond. Should I give it another go? I love the idea of a pond. I think water in the garden is good for the environment and I know it attracts birds and bugs and dragon flies and all that. But I'm not sure I can be trusted to make it work.

Part of the trouble is this pond is located in a bit of a tricky spot. Lots of shade in winter but quite a bit of sun in summer - which is not good 'cos the sun creates algae. It's also in a spot that in my fantasy ideal garden brain I can imagine a pizza oven... but that isn't going to happen in the near future. I could do a better job with some shading plants I suppose. I also worry about all that water that needs to be used to keep topping that little pond up. And I don't want to spend a lot of money to make a pond work. I won't use electricity, but am not averse to getting a little solar powered pump to aerate the water. And should I risk the lives of some harmless fishies again? Ponds without filters probably do need fish to keep the thing working. Ah decisions. Maybe I should just ditch the whole thing and pop in some plants.

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