Tuesday 18 November 2014

I doubt anyone stops by here any more, but if you do - thanks very much! I'm sorry I've stopped blogging here. I now have a regularly updated Instagram account called thechookhousegarden so please follow me on there if you'd like! I also help blog and write gardening tips on the University of Melbourne Community Garden's website, which you can view here. Thanks for your support and I hope to 'see' you elsewhere in the blogging world. Jess :)

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Harvest Monday

This week I have been harvesting salad greens, broccoli, capsicums, pumpkin, kale, chillies and the first of the bok choy - yum!

Everything is homegrown except for the carrot and onion. On the right is coriander and Vietnamese mint. This all went into a tasty stir fry!

This is pumpkin soup I made with one of my Jarrah pumpkins. It was pretty tasty and very smooth! And yes, I eat a lot of butter.

Monday 19 May 2014

Harvest Monday

We have had an unseasonably warm May here in Melbourne, and the garden is loving it! I found two more ripe tomatoes - SURELY these must be the very last. The capsicums are turning red which I'm thrilled about. I have plenty more that I will eat green, but it's even nicer when they ripen and sweeten up! It feels strange to be harvesting broccoli at the same time as tomatoes and capsicums, but that's what I'm doing. I'm also harvesting rocket, ruby streaks mustard, various types of lettuce, tokyo bekana, Thai chillies, silverbeet, red russian kale, various herbs and the odd carrot! I'm still getting an egg most days and my lovely girls seem happy and healthy.

 Hope you have had an enjoyable and fruitful week in your garden. You can see what other people are harvesting at Daphne's Dandelions


Friday 16 May 2014

Garden Update

Hello! This is just a quick update on the garden for anyone who is interested. I realised that I usually show harvest photos and not much else, so I thought it would be nice to show you how the garden is looking overall. 

I have several broccoli heads that are almost ready to pick.

 This is kale planted under an old clothing basket for my chickens to eat. The idea is that they will only be able to eat what they can reach through the wire, so they won't be able to dig up the plants! I try to feed them as many alternatives to grain as possible as I believe it is a more 'natural' diet for them to follow. I have recently discovered that they absolutely LOVE rocket so I will probably do a similar thing with that, using a lower basket.

Broad beans, broccoli, carrots, various brassicas, potatoes and nasturtiums. Yeah...I don't exactly plant in neat rows!

 In the foreground here you can see one of the seemingly least exciting but one of my favourite parts of my little garden - the spinach patch. I pick baby spinach from this regularly to use in salads. It grows quickly and is very versatile! 

 Capsicums, nasturtiums, amaranth, peas, spinach, bok choy, coriander, Thai chillies and a few little brassicas hiding in there somewhere...

 I love this beautiful calendula bush. It is so prolific! The (very makeshift) trellis has purple podded peas growing on it. 

 Potatoes, brussels sprouts and other brassicas, eggplant, amaranth, beetroot, rocket, lettuce, kale, 'Fatalli' chillies, ruby streaks mustard, perpetual spinach, carrots and...I think that's it! Yep, I definitely have very little order to my garden, but that's just how I like it! I do make an effort to consider companion planting principles but I'm pretty relaxed about it. 

Here you can see coffee grounds around the base of some of the plants. Coffee grounds help to repel slugs and snails, and also add nitrogen to the soil. Plus, they make your garden smell like coffee! 

 This is a baby rhubarb plant that I got from Melbourne University's community garden (which you can check out here if you like). I didn't realise that rhubarb sends out new plants, but it certainly does! We had too many to fit in the garden, so I got to take this little one home. It endured a brutal separation from its mother and a stint in a plastic bag in the bottom of my hand bag, but I've heard they're tough little things so I think it's got a fighting chance at survival! I planted it near some of my brassicas, as rhubarb is a good companion plant for them. 

Broccoli plants are doing well, though I planted them too close together. You may be ale to make out the tiny one on the left that seems to have come last in the competition for nutrients and space! I should re-plant it.

I think this is purple cauliflower, but it could also be purple cabbage. Yeah, I don't really do labels either. It's always a bit of a mystery as to what I'll get! 

This is cauliflower that I attempted to grow over Summer (just another 'eh, might as well' experiment in my backyard!). It was unsuccessful BUT now it is going to seed, so I will have plenty of cauliflower seeds for next season! I guess it's not a failure after all. I love watching plants go to seed, and I love having plants self seed in the garden! 

This is my half-hearted attempt at accepting the fact that I'm living in a rental home. At least when I move, it will be easy to take these plants (and this soil!) with me. It's a little concerning how attached I am to my soil, but I'm sure my fellow gardeners will understand! It takes so much time and effort to build up good soil, and mine isn't amazing but I have certainly put a lot of work into it. I may take the top layer with me in chicken food bags when I leave...Anyway, in these pots I have peas, capsicums, Chinese spoon cabbage, strawberries, a blueberry, a kiwiberry, basil, some kind of succulent, New Zealand yams, cumin and Vietnamese mint.

 This (above and below) is just a random little patch next to my shed. There are leeks hiding in there somewhere.
There are a few more sections of my garden that I didn't get pictures of this time, but I will endeavour to introduce you to them soon!

Thanks for reading my rambling mess about my rambling, messy garden. I hope it shows that you don't have to do everything 'by the book' (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and that it's better to just have a go, as I'm doing, than to miss out on the joys of gardening because you're not sure where to begin! I started gardening two years ago with some broccoli and leeks transplanted from my Mum's garden, and look how far I've gotten already. I can't wait to see how much gardening knowledge I'll have in another 30 years!

Jess x

Monday 12 May 2014

Harvest Monday

Welcome to Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions. You can check out her page to see harvests from herself and other people around the world.

I've been picking enough salad greens to have a salad every two to three days. This usually includes various types of lettuce, ruby streaks mustard, tokyo bekana, spinach, rocket, basil, coriander and capsicum from the garden. This particular salad also contained olives, dukkah, pepitas and 'Yumm' original salad dressing. I never really enjoyed salads until recently. I think the joy of picking the greens from my own garden, adding extra yummy things like olives and cheese, and using a delicious salad dressing have all contributed to my change of heart!

I also let my siblings pick these two little carrots from the garden when they visited. They weren't quiet ready, but how could I say no to children wanting to eat something healthy straight from the garden?! The purple carrot, grown from Diggers seeds, was particularly sweet and tasty. I will certainly be letting one of these go to seed so that I have plenty of seeds to plant in future, and so that they can self seed in the garden. 

 I also picked my watermelon. This is the first watermelon I have ever grown and considering that, I am happy with it. It wasn't as tasty or crisp as I would have liked, so it wasn't great for eating fresh,  but I chopped it up and froze it to add to smoothies in future. I will definitely have to give watermelons another go next year! If anyone has any tips on how to improve the taste or texture, I would love to hear them! 

I also decided to make pesto with (almost) the last of the basil and some rocket, which I have a lot of. 

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product unfortunately, but here are all the ingredients ready to be blended together! I ate some of it with pasta, and froze the rest for an easy dinner later down the track. Yum!

Thanks for reading!

Monday 5 May 2014

Harvest Monday

I only had a couple of little harvests this week! I have also been getting an egg from one of my lovely chooks almost every day, which has been wonderful. I picked the first broccoli shoots and the last tomato (I think! Though I seem to keep finding more!), and I am adding plenty of greens to just about every meal. Head over to Daphne's Dandelions to see more harvests!

Monday 28 April 2014

Harvest Monday

One of my chickens started laying this week! It is lovely to have super fresh eggs again. A while ago I posted about my chickens, and how they all have some issue or another. My rooster was very small, had no tail and didn't crow, and I am pleased and a little sad to say that he has moved onto a new home. He grew into a very healthy bird and started crowing, and as I live in the suburbs he had to go! I gave him to a couple who wanted a rooster to protect their small chicken flock, and I hope he will be happy there.

I have also been harvesting spinach, Chinese spoon cabbage, tokyo bekana, basil, rocket, coriander, ruby streaks mustard, carrots, mini capsicums, red russian kale, baby cos lettuce, silverbeet and green beans.

I've become more interested in growing flowers recently, particularly ones that work well as companion plants such as the calendula seen here.

Also, my boyfriend and I are about to start building an aquaponics system! Stay tuned! 

Head over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what other people are harvesting.