Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gardening 101 for December

Another month has passed since I went to my gardening course. this weekend passed, I almost backed out on going, as I had been suffering with an infection with high temperatures. Had I not attended, I knew I would regret it, having missed out on all that information, so that's why I decided to push through. The weather was so hot, which made the hall almost unbearable. People were topping up their water bottles constantly and I made a paper fan to help keep me cool. I took some notes, but bare with me, as I try to fill you in.

All good students in the gardening course
Richard the teacher
 Jobs to be doing now......

  • Mulch your garden, don't make it too thick...up to 75mm thick,  but ideally about 50mm thick. If you use organic matter you may run into problems of too much nitrogen (green plant matter), or too much carbon (dried plant matter). I learn't this lesson with my pumpkin vines. They are looking much much happier now I have removed most of the carbon mulch. Thanks Richard for the advice via my mobile phone.
  • Look for aphids and thrip and treat any plants which are hosting the nasty insects.
  • Keep an eye out for the lovely Hoverfly. You definitely want this insect in your garden, as the Hoverfly larvae will eat about 400 aphids in any one day. 
  • Keep a lookout for those horrible slugs and snails, and when you find one, either give it to the chooks or kill it. (I've been clearing my front garden bed to make way for new plants, but also to clear out all those hiding places for slugs and snails.)
  • Take cuttings of your Natives, Azaleas, Lilly Pilly as well as cuttings from your Sweet Potato. 
When harvesting cuttings from Sweet Potato, choose a nice healthy runner of good length. You will see the small nodules near each leaf; this is where a potato will shoot from. Before planting the runner, you can remove the larger leaves, but it isn't necessary. Cover the runners with 5 cm of soil.

  • Prune your Climbing Roses, and trim your Camellia & Wisteria vines along with your Perennials.

  • Your lawn should be showing lovely rich growth now and be mowing it more regular. Lift the lawn mower blades one or two notches, to give that nice thick spongy growth. Your children's feet will thank you. (I am needing to mow my lawn every 5 days now)

  • Keep up with the Liquid Fertiliser each fortnight, but don't fertilise your root crops. Only fertilise your leaf vegetables.   (I was fertilising everything in the garden, and the tops of my parsnips were almost to my waist. So the nitrogen in the Liquid Fertiliser was producing lovely lush green tops, instead of the energy going to produce lovely long parsnips.So I trimmed the tops off all the parsnip and added them as a layer for my no-dig garden bed).

  • Now is the time to be adding wetting agents to your pots. If you don't, you run a definite risk of your potted plants drying out and dying. Keep to the recommended doses though, as you don't want to rot your plants either.
  • Plant your beans. If you have already, plant another crop for a later harvest. For harvest, it is better to sew a dwarf variety than a climbing runner variety. Picking beans on a bush bean brings on new growth of another crop. This can happen 3 to 4 times.

  • Tomatoes, Eggplant and Capsicums all need to be caged or staked; and pick off side shoots to allow good air flow.

  • Check on your Dak Pots to attract fruitfly. They may need a top-up, being careful they don't dry out and become useless.

  • Purchase some of those old fashioned sticky fly tapes to hang in your fruit trees. If any fruit-fly do go to the tree, they will be attracted to and be stick on the sticky tape. (Unfortunately, they also stick and trap the good insects)

  • Still time to be planting more seed potatoes. When harvesting potatoes, you could also leave the baby ones in there, and they will shoot when the time comes.

  • Parsley and Spinach may be flowering now, which will make it sour to the palate. You have the option of allowing it to go to seed, or pulling the whole plant up before that happens. (I have pulled most of my parsley, as I have plenty of seed from the previous year. On harvesting my parsley I have kept back the good leaves to dry in the dehydrator.) Don't keep any leaf from a plant that is going to seed or flowering.
In your garden at the moment, you should be harvesting baby squash, shallots, beetroot, beans from an early crop. Maybe you have some cherry tomatoes becoming red and ripe too. (As soon as there is the slightest colour on my tomatoes, I will be bringing them inside to ripen so not to feed them to the dreaded fruitfly).

Caroline and Jo making their own hanging basket.
It's probably your last chance to make some Hanging Herb Baskets as gifts for Christmas.....
You will need a hanging basket, preferably lined with plastic. 

  1. Cut a hole in the base of the plastic liner for drainage.
  2. Line with newspaper using roughly ten pages thick.
  3. Add some Sphagnum Moss to the base of the pot. This holds moisture very well and will help keep the soil damp. You can buy it at your local nursery.
  4. Choose your herbs, and place taller plants to the side, so you can train them over the side.
Here is the hanging basket which I made in the garden course. I chose a chillie, fennel, thyme, marjoram and mizuna salad leaf. I think it will be fantastic once it gets going. I've been wanting to try fennel too but I'm sceptical at the aniseed flavour of food.


Think about adding edible flowers to your menu. You may already have plenty of petals that you didn't think of adding. I add lots of flower petals to my salads..but here is a list of flower petals you may not have thought of.  I encourage you to have a go at adding some edible colour to your next salad.
Please note that where I mention a flower, I only recommend the petals, no stamin, no other parts of the flower.
  • Onion flowers (divide up the head)
  • Chive flowers (divide up the head)
  • Borage flowers
  • Calandular petals
  • fruit tree blossoms
  • vegetable flowers (Sacrifice the boy flowers, not the girl flowers; as they produce your crop)
  • Rose Petals (the deeper the colour, the deeper the flavour and aroma) (lovely on top of an iced cake too, or made into Rose Petal Jam, which I will be doing soon)
  • Rosemary flowers (use sparingly) 
  • Lavender flowers
  • Geranium flowers from the scented varieties
  • Pansies
  • Violas and Violets and the young leaves
  • Nasturtium flowers and the young leaves
  • Society Garlic (only the flowers, never the leaves)
  • Fejoa flowers
  • Young tree fern fronds. (Blanched as a salad veg) (use the young spirals)
  • Begonia flowers
  • Impatients flowers
  • Amarynth flowers and young leaves
  • Snapdragon flowers
  • Yellow Day Lily flowers (these have a lemon flavour)
  • Carnations
  • Chrysanthemums flowers
  • Banana flowers (after the banana bunch is formed) (look on internet for ideas)
  • Elderberry flower heads. (used to make cordial and even battered and deep fried)
  • Elderberry berries. (used to make jam)
  • Pomegranate flowers
  • All your herb flowers
  • Radish seed pods (when they are a lovely swollen pod of juicyness)
  • Lilac flowers
  • Hawaiian Hibiscus flowers
  • Hneysuckle flower (not the berry)
  • Wild Hyacynth flowers (not the cultivated garden variety)
  • Marigold
  • Sunflowers
Wow! what a list....is there any I have forgotten or left out? Will you give your salad a revamp with some of these lovely colours. I will miss my Calandular petals in my salads, but I have plenty of dried petals to experiment with now.

You should also have a few plants to harvest seeds from; for your next crop. 
I just harvested seeds from:
  • Corn Salad Leaf 
  • Tatsoi Salad Leaf
  • Water Cress.
  • I also saved for the first time, my Poppy Seed heads....but I'm thinking they are a bit runty to be keeping. Once I work out how to add a photo from my phone, I can show you the huge difference in size.
Richard the gardener, said that they are the same as the ones used for the tops of bread, but I'm not so sure about mine...they are just toooooooo tiny. Ah well, it's all a good learning curve. 
I wonder if anyone has had success with saving poppy seeds for the top of home baked bread? Please let me know the details, as I am interested in the process.

Poppy Seeds for planting
When saving your tomato seeds, leave them on the vine for as long as you can. Allow the fruit to get as big as possible and harvest just before it begins to go bad.
Some seed needs to be fresh when planted otherwise they won't germinate. These include Papaya, and Lemon.

In my garden at the moment

I've been working in the garden too, doing lots of clearing and lots of planting. Here is just a taste of what I have been up to since the course.

Drying the last of the Calandular petals
and harvested Apple mint ready for the dehydrator.

Using the layering method with the no-dig method.

What have you been up to in your garden? 
Will you be tempted to add some edible flowers in your next salad?


  1. I just love your garden class posts. I had no idea all of those flower petals were edible. I've been served redbud flower petals on salad. They were sweet and so pretty.

    brenda from arkansas

  2. Thanks Brenda, I will certainly be adding some newbies to my salad from now on. I love the garden class too.

  3. I would love to do a gardening course like yours. I'm sure you get more done after the course due to renewed enthusiasm!

    Good to see you've been enjoying time in the garden!

  4. Hi Linda: Ask around at your local nursery, put the word out that the need is there for the public....I think that's how our course came about.You do get more done..and you try different things that you wouldn't have thought of too......People are starting to bring in their excess seedlings too which is great to share...I took along heaps this time to share out....They all sprouted, so I thought why not share the ones I don't need.
    Gardening can be very cheap if you just have the patience to wait for cuttings and seeds to grow. Fellow students are now enjoying the sharing of each others work too, which is fantastic.
    I'm definitely enjoying time in the garden...It's all good therapy for both the mind and the body.

  5. We have heaps of nastursiuams planted around and my girls love that they can eat them, not a salad goes on the table with out a flower or two on top!!!

    Thanks heaps for the gardening tips!

  6. What wonderful information you are getting and thanks so mcuh for sharing it with us!

  7. Oh, Narelle, I DO hope you are feeling better! Loved this post - I learn so much from your garden posts. Wish I could attend a similar class - I'll have to look into that come Spring. Be kind to yourself, friend and make sure to rest in between your busy projects! Remember the rule about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first in the event of a crisis on a plane? That applies to us too Narelle when we are on our own... we must care for ourselves first so that we may be healthy and well to care for our families :) XO

  8. Thanks, Sherri: I am starting to feel better and yes, I'm trying to look after myself so I can then look after the rest of the family...sometimes it's just one day at a time...and that's fine.


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