Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The start of our grove and much more...

The Start

We have an area in the back yard which was once a small dam filled with an invasive weed. The weed was a great additive to our compost piles as it added heaps of nitrogen and was a great mulch but we were concerned about the weed escaping during heavy rain and washing into the surrounding creeks. A friend of ours did a great job of filling in the dam with a front end loader.

After filling the dam in 2012, thanks Steve.
This will be the start of our grove. Over the last two years we have been scattering any spare green matter that I didn't want in the compost, like weeds or woodier stems which break down slowly and chook poo and horse poo to try and improve the soil.

Our grove is underway with 2 x native tamarinds, two finger limes a lemon and a black mulberry.

In 2016 we visited Daleys Nursery in Kyogle and purchased a few fruit trees to add to them. A Grumichama  and a Cherimoya  as well as another Macadamia.

Fast forward to 2017

And one of the Tamarinds died, as did one of the native Finger Limes, the rest are doing well.  

Cherimoya doing well., doubled in size !

Eureka, it's a Lemon !

We've since added Dragon Fruits x4 , a Blood Orange.  

Blood Orange

Around the yard

Down in the netted Orchard we've also added 2 x Avocados (a Type A and a Type B) , a dwarf Mulberry and 2 more varieties of Figs.  

We also added a Liquid Amber Tree to replace the two Oleanders that were in the back yard that we removed, 
Liquid Amber
as well as a Crab Apple for its bee attractant properties and it's fruit is full of pectin for jam setting.

Banksia in flower !

In the garden

Winter is coming, some things are lovin' it, some not so much.  

Oranges getting close

Asparagus getting closer to needing to be cut back (when they brown off)

Bok Choi

Echinacea as a bee attract and Insect deterrent for naughty insects !

New Passionfruit, seeds courtesy of Trevor's Mum !

In the kitchen

Toni has been busy as always, making her own Mayo, Rosella Jam and Sauces etc.  Bread and Cheese of course, Mozzarella this time.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Renovating !


Originally we had one "middle powered" saw but as anyone with a property knows, eventually you discover you need a large saw and a small saw.  We managed to find a great bargain on Gumtree for a large petrol powered saw in immaculate condition and when doing some research for a small saw we decided to go with the cordless Stihl MSA 200.  Being on solar, the energy for this smaller one is essentially "free" from the sun. There's no pollution or carbon emissions as from two stroke engine (which are incredibly polluting).  The gotcha was, with all cordless equipment the upfront cost of the battery but essentially you're paying all your fuel up front.  It's very quiet, no muffs necessary, only needs bar oil and cut through this tree easily.  Two thumbs up for everything aside from cost.

Renovating the Bench Seats

We had two old bench seats, both were unusable but the metal ends were in good condition.  One was aluminium, and one was cast iron!   We finally decided to renovate them to make them useable and Wow! have they come up beautifully.
old bench seat

ripping the wood (river redgum) to length

finished and in place

Renovating Fireplace

The drum acted as an expansion chamber providing heating in the bedroom but it has seen better days (you can see the rust holes in the base below) so we decided it was time to replace it.
Old Drum, looking worse for wear
 we managed to find a used 60l oil drum on Gumtree for $10 and got to work...

Repurposed Oil Drum, holes cut and sanded

... and painted

Fixing the flue

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bountiful harvest

We have been very slack with posting lately. We have been berating ourselves and this morning I decided to come upstairs to the computer and start a new post. Instead I found the below draft so I decided to publish this one and get cracking on another.

The last few months have been the driest any of the locals can remember and we have started to despair. Trev placed a stick on the edge of the dam and said 'I hope it doesn't get much lower. Then another stick further in as the water dropped and 'Oh bugger'. Yet another stick and we started the plans to bring water from the big dam on the other side of the property, a project that would cost $$$. Over the last few weeks, glorious, sustaining rain. The figs are plump and sweet.

Figs, proscuitto, blue cheese, balsamic 👍

Sausages and Mince (Crazy Trevs naming system)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

new stuff

Luffa (or Loofa)

We're always exploring new things. Toni was given a few seeds for a luffa plant which she'd never encounted. Undeterred off she went and planted them.  She now has heaps of her own home-grown luffas, what a thing.

Use it like a scourer in the kitchen, a loofa in the shower and when it wears out, throw it in the compost.

Skin removed and dried, then you just cut them to whatever size suits

From the end

Rosella Jam

Another one we're trialing is the Rosella Plant. Knowing it's imported and listed as a weed, we're keeping ours inside a netted enclosure to stop the birds spreading the seed We grabbed one from Daley's Nursery earlier in the year and it went crazy, 

producing enough in the first few months to make.... JAM... a few messages back and forward to Trev's Mum and there you have it, 

Finished product awaiting the taste test

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

we're back

Back from our sojourn to Cambodia.  You can read more about that here if you're interested

We had some decent rain while we were away, about 170mm or so and a few more showers since we have been back.  The rain was great as we had been in a drought, the locals saying they had never seen it this dry... now we have some green in the grass

that aside, our guest, Mark, kept the place looking great, the garden is still alive and thriving

Kale doing well

Toni has been busy in the garden, getting the beds ready with our home made compost and planting new veggies
Garlic just planted


The citrus is starting to show a tinge of colour, much looked forward to for yummy marmalade and plenty of fruit.  The trees are well loaded this year, Oranges, Tangelos, Mandarins and Kumquats on the way

Orange Fruit with a hint of colour

Some of the new fruit we planted when we first arrived is getting close, the chocolate sapote has fruit, so we'll see how that develops.

The newer fruits we planted at the start of this year are all alive and doing well

Dragon Fruit getting a move on

Mulberry, 4 months old

Some more rain would be nice as the drought took a real toll on our dam, so to get through the typically drier winter and a predicted El Nino more would be nice before we head towards another drought !

Monday, January 13, 2014


While summer is heralded by the heat, several things remind us of Summer.  Some are great, like being able to enjoy swimming in the river, some that are annoying like the noise from the Cicadas is a constant reminder of Summer.

Hatched Cicada Larva
Luckily they are only bad about once every five years when the larva come up out of the ground to mate in the trees and the snakes start to move about.  I found this Night Tiger (Brown Tree Snake) on the upstairs windowsill.

Southern Night Tiger
We caught it and released it in the bush the next day.

But Summer also brings the garden to life

and always brings plenty of fruit

Passion fruit and Strawberries for breakfast

Strawberry Jam
Extra strawberries made into Strawberry Jam

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yum ... feta and wtf is that !

Yum ... feta

We decided to try some Feta  with a few herbs in oil.  Soaked for a few days.. wow.  Awesome, as opposed to the goats milk feta from a previous blog post !

Hard at work with the feta in flavoured oil


This year we didn't have a Spring to speak of and it's been quite hot. Trying to live with a low environmental footprint, we have no A/C etc and on a warm day (as it was on Sunday !) it reminded me of how effective  the mud brick construction and closed windows  are at keeping the house cool on such a hot day.  I took this photos of the thermometer proving the point.

Inside Temp ion the LHS; Outside Temp on the RHS
36.9 outside and 26.1 inside. Nearly 11 degrees difference.  We had just got back from a swim on the nearby Nymboida Rv, so we enjoyed how cool it was inside, amazing difference !

Fruit Fly

We tried a different method of fruit fly control this year involving traps for male adults on fence posts and enclosures and spraying organic deterents on the tree trunks. We can report back it didn't work at all and sadly we lost all our fruit.  We cleaned the peaches and nectarines off the trees the other week, and this week the apples off our two trees. We need to cook them in garbage bins in the sun for a few days :(  Next year we will bag them individually, as much as we can, it's the only process that seems to work)
Fruit fly stung apples

Weird Lookin' !

No I am not talking about me but in the process of stripping the fruit fly stung apples off the tree we came across this unlikely looking fellow

Macleay's Spectre
Wow.. what a beauty, a Macleay's Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum), a female I believe, from all it's thorns.  No they don't bite or sting and prefer Eucalyptus leaves (like a Koala !).  She must have got lost on her way to the Gum Trees !  She was perfectly camouflaged and even waved about, when the leaves moved in the breeze.