, I really know Winter is here. Arthritis is bitings hands and hips ,knees and ankle. Oh well old age has some compensations.....like time...to garden, to read and to play on the computer too.
The past two weeks has seen me harvest the last tomatoes, the first and last pumpkins ( in June- who would have thought!), only eight this year and smaller than last year, but enough if they are keepers.
This will be my last year of wood chopping for the open fire I think.It is becoming increasing hard to get the axe through the logs unfortunately.I am researching costs of LPG Fires but prices scare me and news is that LPG will go higher as the govt exports more gas to China.Good on Ya!!
I have been moving some of the Egyptian Walking Onions ( tree onions) as they have 'walked' all over the vegie bed by now.I am going to move them all down behind the shed where they can spread as much as they like. I haven't yet tried pickling the little top onions but I use the whole base bulb and little tops in all my cooking- they can be quite pungent at times so my eyes run like mad when I peel the tiny ones.( which is why I have not yet done enough to pickle!) LOL
I planted a European Strawberry Tree this week,(Cornus Capitata). The strawberry like fruit look lovely hanging on the tree. This pic is borrowed from the net as the tree is only 2 mtres as yet with only a few fruit on it.I planted it in the front yard where the old sour cherry died ( darn pear & cherry slugs!).
I also planted a Pomegranate in the chookyard, this will grow into a bushy tree and give the hens some shade and shelter at ground level. I have just given away all my hens and roosters in order to redevelop my chookyard with more fruit trees, a division into two pens down the centre and a netting roof over poly arches.This will hopefully save more fruit from the cockatoos and less stress when the crows are around for the hens. When I restock I will this time maintain only heritage breeds as was my original plan, but kindly gifts from friends meant I ended with lots of crossbreeds, five roosters and only two laying hens who where in moult plus two pullets not yet laying, so I was feeding 11 for nothing. Now the pen is empty I am taking their deep litter out of the sheds by the barrowload for the garden and will replace it all with new rice hulls in Spring. The rice hulls make great litter in the pen, loose friable and very warm in winter but cool in summer plus it absorbs all the moisture in their droppings so they have dry litter all the time.I buy a huge bale that fills the back of a ute and I barrow it straight out of the bale( too heavy to lift it!) into the two pens and still have a lot left over for the garden mulch too. It is so easy to shovel around, light and friable.It does need wetting down when mulching with it as it will blow around in the wind otherwise.But it is easy to dig in to incorporate lots of organic matter into soil too.Worms adore it too!
I have also used it as kitty litter and then as mulch around trees and ornamentals too.Good stuff! Available at most farm supply places. This pic below shows the rice hulls deep litter in the new breeding pen.
Moth eaten pansies - well snail eaten really. I have a plague of snails at the moment, I just this morning stripped the mini peach of dozens of leaves covered with small snails.I put them into the wet compost bin to drown- no sympathy for snails here, they eat everything. even my pansy flowers!
I spent a wet day this week sorting out my recipe books- this bookshelf is all recipe books only! The top shelf is all preserving books- probably the most used of all my recipe books.. The shelves on the other wall are my gardening, chook and other animal husbandry books.I really must do some culling of my books but it is hard to part with old friends.
Work in the studio this week has seen me finally finish the rooster pic 'Greeting the Dawn', as I wasn't happy with the lack of contrast in it I repainted the rooster into a Light Sussex and now it looks finished. Also a few retouches on 'Bees love Borage' sees it ready to hang too. Now on the easel is another in the Bees Love series.....this one will be 'Bees Love Fuchsia' , my 'Ballerina' Fuschsia is a picture right now and inspired me to begin this one.I have collaged a background for it and will begin painting as soon as it is warm enough in the studio.I have brought a LP gas heater for the studio but it is not yet installed.That will make a big difference in the large unheated space. Next job is to complete the mosaic work on the three birds for the totem pole and the eggs to go between each bird.I am halfway done with them but have hit a dry spell because it has been so cold my hands are stiff and don't like working with cold wet putty. No I cannot stand wearing gloves for working.
The Heuchera has been a good friend in the garden, bugs(snails and slugs) don't eat it, it quietly expands in size and fills a space nicely.It has a lovely burgundy leaf colour with the ruffled edges that catch the eye. It has a pink flower on a long stalk but is ephemeral and lasts only a short time.it is really the lovely leaf form and colour that Heuchera is all about and she does it well.