May 26, 2018

Hello Bliends, I Have Been In The Garden

Screen time? No. Garden time? You betcha.

American writer Jonathan Franzen has a respectful attitude towards those that enjoy his words. "The reader", he says, "is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator. That might explain the popularity blogs - they are places where friends meet.

I have not been posting on our blog as much as usual lately, and Linda and I are finding that we are missing our blog friends (bliends? blonds?). We hope you are all well, and are thriving in joyous simplicity.

Soon pole beans, sunflowers, and marigolds will be growing right in front of my kitchen window.
Hummingbirds like to perch at the top of the tripod. They help me do dishes.

But not to worry, it has been for a good cause - we have been in our garden. After a week of blood, sweat and tears (or more accurately, black flies, mosquitoes and ticks), it is all planted. 

I have itchy welts all over my body to remind me of all the hard work, just in case I forget about my achy muscles. Is that oversharing? 

However, it was all worth it, and it sure feels good to have fully planted garden. 

Now is a time of eager anticipation as all the work shifts to the seeds tucked into the moist, warm, rich soil that they will call home for the next few months. Or longer. Our kale will provide us with crazy amounts of vitamin K for the next two seasons.

I know it looks like a grave, but the only things buried here are potatoes.

This year we expanded our planting space a bit by incorporating things that we already have. So a pile of well-rotted compost mixed with garden soil, with the addition of some rocks picked from our property, became a bed for table potatoes that grew eyes. 

In true frugal fashion, we ate the rest of the potatoes after we cut and planted the eyes. It felt like abundance and true wealth to have potatoes in the ground, and on our plates.  

We also planted herbs in two containers that were left here by the previous renters. I placed them next to the potatoes.

Happy as chives in a bucket.

And then there are the tin buckets that I found in an old residential waste pile in the margin of the forest behind our house. The chives are doing well in their new/old home, and are close to busting out in flowery fashion.

So there it is, friends. Stay tuned for garden updates, because the real magic is about to happen. How is your gardening going?

I planted this garlic on December 1st last year. It is the only green in the garden, but that will soon change.

Our 2018 garden:

- lettuce
- radish
- green onions
- beets
- carrots 
- garlic
- corn
- acorn and butternut squash
- peas
- bush beans
- kale
- potatoes
- pole beans
- herbs: summer savoury, cilantro, sweet basil
- flowers: sunflower, marigold


  1. Anonymous5/26/2018

    Your list of veg planted made my mouth water. My garden is humming along as we head into Winter. The only thing I'm eating from it at the moment are radishes, Spring onions, kale and other greens. But lots of veg will be ready by late Winter - peas, carrots, broad beans, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, garlic etc...I have a big area I manured and covered in mulch ready for Spring planting so I don't start late as in past years! I am finally making a more serious effort with my compost heap as I realised it's crazy to be buying in stuff in plastic bags for the garden when we have enough veggie scraps, fallen leaves etc... to make really lovely compost.

    A local organic gardening expert showed me how to completely rid an area of kikuyu grass (very tenacious runners and will destroy all of your planting efforts). It is a chemical-free method that completely rids the area of the grass, and I will be clearing another area when Spring comes. Happy to share the method if anyone suffers with this grass.


    1. Madeleine,

      It is hard for me to get over hearing about gardening in the winter. Do you garden year round, then? Your schedule is so different from here.

      We have a green bin that is picked up every 2 weeks, so we are not currently composting our household green gold. At the beginning of last gardening season our neighbour gifted us with a big pile of manure. It was so much that I couldn't use it all, so I used it to start a compost pile of yard waste.

      It is satisfying to turn organic waste material into a rich soil additive. I enjoy watching it all decompose and break down over time. It is good to hear you are stepping up your efforts, because it is no fun paying for this stuff when you can make it yourself.

      Now I am going to go and look up kikuyu grass. I am interested to hear about your method, even though we do not have such grass here. We do, however, have many readers from your part of the world who might be interested in hearing about it.

    2. I'd be keen to hear the method please Madeleine! :)

    3. I haven't really started my garden yet as like Madeleine, we are going into winter here. I have planted 2 x black boy peach trees and a Northern Spy apple though plus found a good spot for my lemon tree and bayleaf. I've repotted my lime tree and am currently umming and ahhing about where to permanently place our blueberries, blackcurrants and strawberries. I'm thinking a big berry patch for the children would be quite fun :) Other than that I just have spinach, lettuce and silverbeet growing in pots. We've only been here a month so guess we have time to plan LOL!

  2. Anonymous5/27/2018

    Hello Gregg and Karen,

    the method of killing grass I use is called solarisation and was devised by Aussie organic gardening expert Tim Marshall for use by orchardists. Don't confuse this method with the one generally used for killing grass - ie put black plastic over it and wait until it looks dead then dig up and plant.

    Because kiyuyu is so invasive you need to make a trench around the area you want to protect. If you can trust yourself to keep the trench clear of runners it doesn't have to be too deep - maybe 15 cms. If like most people you could neglect it make it a couple of feet deep. Use something like old corrugated iron roofing placed vertically in the trench to stop the runners crossing it.

    Next step, in Spring cover the entire area you are treating with black plastic. Secure it with old bricks etc to make sure no light gets in. Over several months the grass will die and stop forming chlorophyll. When you get a day that is at least 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) pull the plastic back and let the sun do it's work. This will kill the grass right down below the soil where the runners hide.

    I left my dead grass for a few weeks before pulling out the runners and dug the area over several times to remove most of them - any little bits left will simply rot into the soil. The incredible thing is, not a single bit of kikuyu has grown back over a 6 month period. This feels like a miracle, as previously the grass had to be pulled from the edges of garden beds at least a couple of times a week, it grows that fast. Although it sounds a lot of work, the work it saves is enormous and we will be working our way around the entire garden redoing flower and veg beds, and making borders around the fruit trees.

    Gregg, you asked about our gardening season. Although it gets very cold here (down to minus 9 C (15.8 F) we can garden year round, although obviously growth is much slower over the cold months. However, if you are organised with your root veg and brassicas, that is what you can eat over Winter, as well as greens. Kale and collards taste much sweeter once they have had a frost on them. On the other hand, our season for growing tomatoes, zucchini etc is much shorter than for somewhere like Sydney as frosts delay planting. So we can bottle tomatoes to have them available for more of the year, and make big batches of pesto for the freezer. I'm keen to try sun-drying zucchini this year as they do on the Greek island of Ikaria. We are very blessed with our climate as we can grow all of the beautiful stone fruit, as well as apples, pears etc... that don't go so well in warmer areas. Occasionally we get a bit of snow, but just 20 minutes up the mountain they have lots of snow.


  3. All this talk of gardening makes me so envious! I'll have to content myself to buy from our abundant local farm stands.

    I don't blame you for wanting to spend more time outside than on the computer. A break is deserved and needed, I'm sure.

    Thinking of You and Linda and wishing you well.

    1. Marla,

      Farm stands need our patronage. They are one way to fight against Big Agriculture. We think of you lots, too. Enjoy your local produce.

  4. Anonymous5/29/2018

    I am so glad to hear you two are enjoying the opening of summertime and planning/planting for future abundance! It is good to see your photos and I, too, am living a little vicariously...
    Thank goodness for our local farmers market and our generous neighbor with a rented garden bed a few miles away. :)

  5. Lovely! Can't wait to move from the apartment I currently live in to a house with a small patch of soil to garden...

  6. I laughed about your potato "grave." That only potatoes are buried there makes possible the wholeness of the spirit of your gardening post, which is all joy.

  7. Stunning natural landscape in the potato bed photo! Love the taller grass and wildflowers and how your potato bed lives amongst it. I've been wondering about your garlic and what an impressive list of wonderfulness you are growing this year. I read recently that the cure for depression in a Scandinavian country (I think it was) is agriculture work. It does the soul good, yes. I've missed you too, bliends! Sadly, I've had to find some side work in order to pay for my meager lifestyle. Frugality, resourcefulness and simply living means less money is required to sustain than for a lot of people, but it is required. I am not as self-sufficient as I would like to be. It's going well, some of what I'm doing is enjoyable. It's just shifted what I am able to do and not do. I've miss you all. Terri

    1. Terri,

      We have missed you, too. I think being in nature is good for the soul, and gardening is a pretty hands on way of interacting with nature. Every time I go to our garden I am filled with joy. It seems like magic to me, to see how tiny seeds grow and flourish with loving care and attention. Air, water, soil all of a sudden become beautiful things to see, enjoy, and eat.

      I am glad that you still have time to visit here, and to leave comments so we can keep up with how things have been going for you. It sounds like you are doing well and are taking care of business in difficult circumstances.

      George Carlin had it right, and the farther we go down the road of "business as usual", the righter he gets.

      "The politicians are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations that've long since bought and paid for, the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pocket, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear."

      Our owners make it hard to escape their greedy clutches. But a garden is one way to subvert their plans. So is frugality. I know you know, because you are an aware person. They don't want that, either. People who are woke to their BS are a threat to their monopoly on everything.

      Good to hear from you.


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