Hello, my name is Sandy.

Garden things in July 2016

The flower bed has progressed, with the addition of pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis) and lobelias. I believe some native violets (Viola hederacea) have sprung up as weeds; not sure if that's actually what they are, but we've had them as weeds before. And on either side of the geranium (Pelargonium) at the back, I've planted aeoniums (Aeonium arboreum, also known as houseleek!).

The bed is still a mess, though!

overview of the flower bed

This house has Hedera ivy and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) all over it, which will serve as lovely coverings for the very plain fence. I'm expecting the aeoniums to grow to just above knee height as the geranium gets bushier and taller. With the rosemary and lemongrass too, this is going to be one odd flowerbed, but hopefully it won't look unattractive.

tiny flowerpot and tiny triceratops

I found a tiny triceratops in our yard, and for some reason, we have a tiny flowerpot too. I'm sure there are stories behind both, but their new life will be in a yet to be decided tableau. Would be nice if this was the start of a floral arc sweeping around that bare front section.

main garden bed with arum lilies and nasturtiums

Here is an experiment. The three arum lilies seem happy doing their own thing. So between them, I've placed the bottom half of the broken pot, filled it with soil and scattered cat mint (Nepeta spp.) seeds in and around.

There might not be much to look at when the lilies and nasturtiums take over the bed, but when those die back, I'm hoping what's left is a lovely patch of catnip continually growing and self-seeding.

In front, there's an osteospermum daisy to provide colour on a similar schedule.

maroon osteospermum daisy

I'm not sure yet what to plant around it, but we're getting there. Maybe next week, I'll decide. After five years of playing in the garden, I'm satisfied that these things take time to cultivate - mentally and horticulturally.

purple pansy

pink pelargonium with a purple pansy perimeter

Time, however, is now something we don't have a great deal of. I thought we'd live here a couple years, but we've pulled the trigger on moving again, aiming for sometime in the next three months or so. I've decided that's my timeframe for making the garden presentable for the residents after us. So maybe next week, I'll have to decide.

rainbow radishes

Harvested a little rainbow of radishes! They tasted sooooooo peppery and went straight into my pickle jar. We have coriander, garlic & chilli salt pickles now.

rainbow radish row

That's it for now. Stay tuned for more garden make-nice adventures. :)

Garden things in July 2015

top down view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

It's been a while since the last Garden Thing, so let's get into it, eh? These are my cos lettuces in our no-dig garden bed. They indeed survived and appear to be thriving. Hooray, the garden bed is OK!

side view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

Except... are they actually cos lettuce? That's what the label said, but they don't look like what you get in a pub Caesar salad. Maybe they grow into that - we will see.

top down view of my new strawberry tower

We finally have a strawberry tower. I've wanted one of these for so long, but kept getting stuck on fretting over how to make it. Eventually, I decided to just suck it and see. Plants are hardy - if it doesn't work, I'll just put them somewhere else.

But looks like it has worked. It's been a couple weeks and the strawberry isn't dead. There's even new leaves growing.

The easy, cheap way to build a strawberry tower

Get 3 medium-sized pots, and maybe a little one to go on top. Fill with soil, stack, then plant. Water well for the first week or two.

Some tutorials tell you to cut holes into the pots - more holes means more spots for leaves to poke out - but I'm not down with the cutting, in case I need these pots for something else.

tomato seedling in a garden bag bed

I have two garden bag beds, containing the soil I've been cultivating over the last two years. Over the weekend, I found a little tomato plant growing out of it. At least, I think it's a tomato. It looks right, but the leaves don't have that tangy tomato smell (tomatine?). This bag bed gets full sun for most of the day so it's the perfect spot for my pre-season tomato.

carrot growing in a garden bag bed

In the other garden bag bed is a carrot crop. Not a particularly exciting one - I was hoping to have them harvested by now, but carrots take a long time, and I planted them quite late in the season. So, we'll just wait and wait. Once these come out, we'll give chilli another go.

a pleasant pot of catnip

Potted some catnip and cat grass too. Every time we've tried to grow these, they've ended up getting mangled or dead. But we're trying again in some nicer pots, in a nicer garden, to see whether they'll live longer.

At the very back, to the left, you can see a bromeliad, though I'm not sure what. It should be dead by now, but every so often, I notice it's grown a tad longer, so I'm hopeful it'll grow into something remarkable enough for me to figure out the name of.

Back and centre is a Crassula tetragona, grown from cuttings taken last October. Yes, they're still alive!

Partially in the photo, on the far right, is... drumroll... an arabica coffee tree! :D They have them at Bunnings now, so you don't have to drive all the way out to the larger nurseries to find one. It'll take 18 months or so before it bears fruit, but fingers crossed, we may eventually get enough for half a cup of coffee. It's growing in a pot, so it can come with us when we eventually move again.

a little succulent trio

OK, last one - my donkey tail Sedum morganianum with a freshly trimmed Crassula ovata (Jade plant), and a Lithops I've had for a couple of years. It wasn't looking happy indoors, each new leaf pair smaller than the last, so we'll try this outside instead.

All right, it's cold and I'm thirsty. Time for tea before bed. :) What are you growing in your garden?

Nesting and crap

my messy desk

We're in the new house and everything is a mess. But slowly, slowly, objects are finding homes, and we are settling into new routines.

a no-dig garden bed pile of crap

This weekend, we spent some time setting up a 'no dig' bed. It's basically a compost pile you plant seeds and seedlings directly into. At the moment, it looks like a pile of crap. It is actually literally a pile of crap. Cow crap. Wet newspaper, pulled-up weeds and soggy mulch too.

It'll be a couple weeks before I can plant anything in it. Our landlords, who lived here before us, suggested herbs for the amount of sunlight in that spot. So, maybe parsley or coriander.

I've been told this is crazy, but I kept my soil from the veggie bed at our old house. About 250 litres of it in 3 large, heavy bags. After 2½ years of careful cultivation, I wasn't about to discard my loamy treasure. We're due a thunderstorm tomorrow, so I planted kale, carrots, radishes, marigolds, rocket, and a habanero chilli, to see whether any of them will grow this winter.

teacup in the sky

I ordered the Secret Garden colouring book last week, and am looking forward to sipping tea on cold nights, while making colours with various implements. It won't be here for another 3 weeks, and I'm feeling inspired to try drawing colouring book pictures. This teacup was my first go - there are a couple of wonky bits from my unsteady hands, but it was fun and relaxing. I wonder now if I needn't have bothered buying a book, but aaah, I'm still excited. :)

garden lights and a ceramic thingy no one can identify

I've been pondering the 'free' time I have now. I say 'free' because when you work part-time, people assume you put your feet up all day and just lounge. I admit, there is naturally more lounging, since you spend fewer hours tied upright to a desk, but think I actually lounged for a greater proportion of my spare time when I worked an 8/5. Simply from needing to unwind and process. Mentally, I feel more awake now that I work less. And at work, I feel focused.

A 3-day work week seems to be optimum for me, so I'm a bit nervous that this month, I'll be doing 4-day weeks to help cover a few projects. In my 12-year in-an-office career thus far, I've had burnout twice. Twice. I'm not even 35 yet. Not only is it a bad state, it makes you develop self-defeating habits that keep you there - so each time, it took a couple years of constant vigilance and re-training to recover.

But I don't want to run from offices like they always spell frazzled doom. I mean, they might (at least for me), but the prejudice does no good. It would be nice to know what this variation in the week will be like, and there are clear and manageable boundaries around this, so I guess it's safe to dip my toe back in at the shallow end. :)

Anyway, I'm feeling the urge to spend some of this 'free' time making things that are not teacups. But for the present, I'm taking it slow, since there are still 43 days left of this bloody project. That should be enough time for both scheming and lounging.

It is time for tea now. Good night, friends!