A Sea Of Green

It has been a month since my last post.  This is going to be an iPhone picture post to show you how my veggies have been progressing.  We cannot keep up with the lettuce supply but nothing else is in abundance yet.  However, it is coming and when it does, not sure we will be ready for all the tomatoes, beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, watermelons, rockmelons and potatoes!  Cannot. Wait.

Fruit trees aren’t doing much. Just two measly apples and birds ate the only 3 cherries I saw. There are oranges and limes but if it’s like last year, they won’t come to fruition (!)  Next year might have to be year when I can finally use nets to protect all the fruit that will be coming our way!

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The Experimental Summer

It’s been 199 days or 6 months 16 days since my last blog post. I admit I got a bit bored with it. After all, I had proved that I can blog and I can have followers. There must be millions of us out in blog land that have been forgotten. But if you are still following me, thank you! And for those who spam me with comments on how I can blog better, LEAVE ME ALONE! I don’t need you.

So let’s go back to an old fave, my veggies. I have a good feeling about them this year. I have mostly given up on winter crops as it takes excruciatingly long for them to do anything. But spring has hit with a vengeance with summer on the cusp. And I can’t wait to see what happens.

What am I growing? Beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, spring onions, basil, spinach, beetroot, zucchini, watermelon and rockmelon.

It’s the year of the experimental summer. The melons need so much room – 100cms between plants, that’s a tough call. So I am growing one seedling each in a potato bag and one in the veggie patch. I am so over pests and bugs that attack my food, I have decided to split my veg into different locations, hoping at least some of them will survive the heat and the bugs. I haven’t come across one garlic and chilli spray, homemade or not, that kills those pesky bugs. So here’s hoping neem oil does the job this year. As for rats and possums, they only seem to attack my veg in the backyard. Thank you to husband Dean who has repaired the cages he built for me a couple of years ago.

Finally, my fruit trees. They have been in the ground for over 2 years now. And zilch fruit. Lots of flowers but no fruit yet. How much longer do we have to wait? I remain ever hopeful this year. Oranges, mandarins, cherries nectarines, figs, apples, limes and lemons. Good in theory when we planted them but no one told me it comes with years of patience!

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Bluesfest Blues


I am having withdrawal symptoms, the Bluesfest kind.

5 days of sunshine, 2100 minutes of music, 29 acts.

1054 workers and 500 volunteers
107 acts performed for 13,350 minutes (which means I only caught 27% of acts and 15.7% of the music)

Could there have been a better high?

Obviously not, as I am still coming down from it.

I want more! I miss the music. I miss the weather. I miss the organic doughnuts, the noodles and the fish tacos. I miss the people that I hung around with and the new people that I met!

I was at gagging stage with portaloos by Day 5 but that won’t keep me from going again. I now understand why people turn up year after year for their fix.

Yes, we were lucky there wasn’t a drop of rain and I never needed the wellies I ordered at the last minute. Didn’t stop me from wearing them on the first day just because I could.

I don’t know how much I walked but next time I will bring a pedometer. I am sure it would have been at least 7kms a day from the car and back and around the festival itself.

I danced until my feet and knees ached but all that moving around must have saved my back.

I loved the fact there were babies and toddlers (some of them in extraordinarily ingenious contraptions made by parents to cart them around in), children of all ages, young and old adults. All there for just one thing – the music.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about?

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Festival Virgin

You’d think at that my age I would have been to a music festival or two by now. I have seen so many bands I have lost count but, at a proper festival in a far away place where people get to camp? Never.

In less than two weeks, it will be a different story. The Byron Bay Bluesfest story to be exact.

Byron Bay Bluesfest (source: http://www.bluesfest.com.au/)

Byron Bay Bluesfest (source: http://www.bluesfest.com.au/)

This time last year (well, actually, it was more like January 2013), my bestie and I decided that 2014 was going to be the year. So a year ago, I booked our accommodation and as soon as the tickets were on sale, we went the whole hog – five day tickets.

Nearly 60 hours of music. Wow, imagine that.

Admittedly, we are not skimming it. We are not camping or even glamping. We have rented a very adult house in Bangalow that comes with a pool and spa. We will have a proper shower to stand under to wash off the mud and sweat. And the day will end with a comfy mattress to rest our weary heads and backs upon.

I have been reliably informed everyone wears gumboots or wellies so I hope mine arrive on time. They even have a name – the Viking Adora. I do hope they are adorable (but mostly comfortable).

My back and legs will be sore and I will probably never EVER want to queue again. As for portaloos, the more I think about them the more I am dreading them. Thank god for disposable disinfectant wipes and an invention called Go Girl so I can wee standing up! (My husband just shakes his head…)

I am prepared and armed with as much information as I can be. Now it’s just a matter of showing up in my wellies and expect the unexpected.

I hope to be able to report back in one piece.

Bring it on, Byron Bay Bluesfest!!

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Summer Harvest – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

My aim for this summer was to see if we could live off what I grew in the garden only buying what we didn’t grow. Some good, some bad and some decidedly ugly.

The Good


I cannot remember the last time I actually bought tomatoes. Must be at least 2 months ago. Whilst the heat did not bring in the bumper crop of tigerella tomatoes I expected, it was enough to keep us going until the next lot kicked in. We are still eating this new crop of big juicy tomatoes. I don’t know what they are as I grew them from seed that I saved from tomatoes my neighbour gave me. They only bloomed later in the season almost to the point where I thought about pulling them out. I was worried why nothing was happening, no flowers just lots of big leaves. But I think they were so late because these tomatoes are so big, the plant actually needed to grow bigger to hold the weight!

Juicy ripe big beefy tomatoes grown from seed

Juicy ripe big beefy tomatoes grown from seed


We had two types of zucchini – round ones in the back and standard long ones out the front. The ones in the back I think did not get enough sun and we only managed a few. I do think the rats got to a lot of them first. The ones out the front, we got more but not as much as I expected. Exposed to the hot sun and looking as if they were nearing the end, I was tempted to pull them out. But all of sudden, they are sprouting new leaves and flowers. So hoping there’s more to come from these.

More zucchini is coming

More zucchini is coming


A bit of a late season crop, in fact only starting to eat them now. The crate is a sea of cucumber so hoping I won’t need to buy any of these for a while. Great snack for my son’s lunch box!

Lebanese cucumber

Lebanese cucumber

Yellow peppers

Again, a late season bloomer and just starting to harvest now. And seems some red ones snuck into the bunch. Love these on the bbq, juicy and sweet.

Yellow peppers

Yellow peppers

Red peppers

Red peppers


Another latecomer but now finally showing some life. I bought a mixed batch of seedlings so can’t wait to find out what colours they are.



The Bad


Experimented with the potato bag this year. The first lot we only managed one meal out of. The second lot, a total fizzer!  The third lot went into a crate where they grew very well last year. So fingers crossed it’s not too late in the season.


The only ones that feasted on these were the rats.


Unlike last year, my basil was truly pathetic this year. These were grown from seed so maybe that’s the issue. Next year, it’s back to buying seedlings. I miss homemade pesto!

Not much basil here!

Not much basil here!

The Ugly


So far, there is only one! I am hoping this will change in the next few weeks but I don’t see any budding flowers so I don’t hold out much hope.

One lone eggplant

One lone eggplant


The hot summer sun burnt quite a bit of the tigerella ones so it wasn’t long before they started to look pretty sad.

The tomato plants (ones from seed) I grew out the back didn’t do much. The ones I planted in a recycled crate fared the worst. I think that was my fault though – I bought the cheapest soil mixture from Bunnings. Even though I mixed it in with lots of chicken poop and compost from my worm farm, there was not much success.

The ones I planted from seed out the front were a huge surprise. Literally. I had no idea they would grow so big so I wasn’t prepared. I had to buy more stakes (extra long ones) and put them in a bit late so it was an ugly hot potch of tomato bushes.

Tomatoes at the front are nearly done as are the beautiful sunflowers we had

Tomatoes at the front are nearly done as are the beautiful sunflowers we had

Lemon trees

I have two, one is around 7 years old and the other just over 1 year. Most of the leaves have fallen off them and I wish I knew why. The older one is infected with the citrus gall wasp. Not only does this look very ugly, it is stopping my lemons from growing! This one is going to get a drastic prune come autumn. As for the other one, I can’t figure out why it is the way it is.

What's going on with my lemon tree?

What’s going on with my lemon tree?

Summer is not quite over but I am starting my autumn collection of goodies. Currently growing from seed I have broccoli, onions, carrot and lettuce. Except for the carrot, none of them were a success last year. Hence starting the seedlings earlier so we shall see. I have so many seeds that I feel obliged to grow my own but, to be honest, I am finding I am having much more success buying ready grown seedlings from the nursery.

To end on a good note, my ginger which I grew from a bulb and the little fig I grew from a cutting seem to be doing well.

Ginger plant is sprouting but not sure how to harvest!

Ginger plant is sprouting but not sure how to harvest!

Figs on our little tree which is still in a pot

Figs on our little tree which is still in a pot

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Fear Of The Pantry

I suffer from Pantry Phobia.

The fear of opening those pantry doors and discovering what is behind them.

Nutritional information. That is a contradiction in terms, isn’t it? When you say something is nutritious, it usually means it is good for you. Dictionary.com defines nutritious as “providing nourishment, especially to a high degree.” Not that something has too much fat, sugar or carbohydrates.

Wish my pantry looked like this!

Wish my pantry looked like this!
(Source: The Wardrobe Man)

I was joking with my sister-in-law that we spend so much of our time lurking in supermarkets, reading all the fine print on the labels. Comparing product after product. And has anyone noticed the fine print is getting smaller? And that we need to carry a dictionary around to understand the list of ingredients? I have to assume that any ingredient I don’t understand must be some sort of chemical.

Just because something is labelled healthy and natural doesn’t mean it actually is. And none of my family of three is gluten intolerant so why I am I even looking at the stuff? So far, I haven’t found anything that would be more delicious than the gluten variety.

Who doesn’t end up more than what is on the list, irrespective of whether you are carrying it on a piece of paper or in your head?  Even my “perfect” husband does! Supermarkets are so clever at manipulating you, especially when they know you don’t always have time to stand around reading labels. So then every time you open up that pantry door, you say to yourself “damn, I wish I hadn’t bought that but what a waste to throw it out!”

The key, of course, has to be balance and moderation. Luckily for me, I spend less time at the supermarket (well, technically, I go to the supermarket less but I probably spend more time there reading labels!). Nowadays, I flit between the organic shop, butcher, markets, local grocer and supermarket. I grow my own too. And people ask me what I do all day?! Thank goodness I work from home or it just wouldn’t be possible.

All that shopping around doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty or fearful when I open that pantry door.

My latest thing…..? Sunscreen. That lives on the top shelf of the pantry. The more I read about it, the more I think we are better off without it. So now I am spending hours of research on finding the most natural one that is easy to apply, does not make you look pasty white and doesn’t cost the weekly wage. Where would we be without internet review forums? Probably a lot less stressed.

PS rosblogger is back. Been on a bit of a brain holiday. Seems to happy over the summer months. School holidays kind of takes over for a while.

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The Return Of The Blog

Yes, rosblogger is waking up soon, very soon…

Watch this space.

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Technology Has Killed The Letter

I hear the faint sound of a car door slamming. I take a deep breath and place my book face down carefully on the coffee table so as not to lose my page. I quickly dash over to the window for the fifth time that morning. Yes! I say to myself. Finally, it’s the postman.

“Hurry. Go,” I whisper to him willingly after he pops the mail in the box. It seems an eternity before he drives off and I make my way to the post box. I am tentative as I leaf through the letters. Two for mum, one for my brother, one to the householder but none for me. Sigh. It has been two long weeks since my beloved left for London and still no letter. But he promised he would write straight away! Surely it takes less than two weeks to get a letter from London to Sydney. Perhaps it got lost in transit; perhaps he forgot to send it and it is still in his bag; perhaps he is just too busy exploring and is too tired by the end of the day; perhaps he just hasn’t written and has fallen head over heels in love with a gorgeous blonde English girl. Two days after he left my side, these thoughts have been racing through my head every time I check the mail. These summer holidays are just becoming too hard to bear.

Oh, to be seventeen again… But the seventeen when I was seventeen not the seventeen of today.

Anybody remember Holly Hobbie stationery?

Anybody remember Holly Hobbie stationery?

The seventeen of today’s modern developed world will never know what it is like to pine for that long awaited letter from a friend, for those high school exam results, for photos from far away family. They will never experience the excitement, the angst, the sadness or the joy of news via a handwritten note on fine letter paper with matching envelope. There really is nothing like the heartwarming feeling of a handwritten love letter. And why? Because you know it’s that much more personal. You can keep it in the bottom of your drawer, forever. Or you can choose to say goodbye and burn it, with a match. Most messages today would be lost in some cyberworld of forgotten sad, desperate and happy utterings.

Technology has taken that away from them.  And it is taken it away from me. And that is sad for all of us. I don’t even know what my friends’ and colleagues handwriting looks like these days!  If there is no name on it, I have to ask “who wrote this?” That never happened when I was seventeen.

I thought email was a great way to keep in touch with people you probably wouldn’t have written letters to but Facebook makes it almost impossible to avoid anyone. Seventeen year olds don’t email, they just facebook each other. They skype, they facetime, they text. They text with two hands as fast or maybe even faster than we ever used keyboards and typewriters.


I text. I admit I love it; I was never a phone talker so it’s a blessing for me to be able to just say what I want to say. Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship and unless my friends are far away, we never facetime or skype. Even when they are, it’s email that does most of the talking.

By the end of this year, I will write at least two letters. Letters to friends I used to write letters to. And maybe a letter to someone whom I met more recently. I will not type them first; I will just pen them. If I make a mistake, I will cross it out and write over it. But firstly, I need to make sure I have their correct street address because even that these days is a rare occurrence. Who needs that if you have email, social media and smart phones to keep in touch?

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Growing Veggies, My Favourite Resources

There really is such a thing as “too much info.”

You can spend hours surfing the net looking for one piece of information. It’s quite astounding how so many people can write about the same thing. And there is a forum on everything! And that is just in English!

But if you have all those hours to do all that surfing, it means you are not spending enough time outside in your garden!

So pick a few main ones that you like and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. I really do find that is the easiest way to keep up with what’s happening, how and when to grow things and what they are posting on their websites. If you don’t use social media, a good site should always have a newsletter or newsfeed so you can receive emails.

Pick websites that are easy to follow, read and navigate. Good photos are always a bonus as well as instructional videos.

Obviously as I live in Melbourne, my resources are mainly Australian based.

Here are some of my personal favourites. If anyone wants to share any of theirs (esp non Melbourne/Australia based), please do so in the comments field.


Suburban Tomato (Blog)

Liz just happens to live in Melbourne not too far from me so a great reference source for me. It’s very comprehensive and she includes many other blogs and websites from her site. Liz does everything from growing to cooking her own produce from her 12 sq metres of garden. She is truly passionate.




Ceres is a not-for-profit garden, nursery, organic shop and market, training and education centre. I volunteered here last year in the market garden and learnt so much about growing veggies. They also host a lot of sustainability and foodie events.




Little Veggie Patch

Little Veggie Patch is a company started by two guys who inspire people how to grow veggies in small to medium spaces. Husband Dean stumbled across this website when he was looking for our veggie patches/crates. Their shop is fantastic and they also have a pop-up patch in Federation Square car park (Melbourne) where anyone can visit. Mainly it’s city folk and restauranteurs who rent a crate so they can grow their veggies. This place a great inspiration for ideas on what to grow and how to grow it. Amazing how much you can fit into a small space. Their educational videos are lots of fun too!



Diggers Club

Great quarterly magazine with free seeds twice a year! They have gardens at Heronswood and Mt Erth. I can vouch that Heronswood is worth the visit for their buildings, gardens and of course shop.




The Micro Gardener

Lots of tips on how to grow in small spaces and containers. And also lots of DIY projects, most (if not all) using recycled products.



SGA – Sustainable Gardening Australia



Sustainable Suburbia



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Growing Veggies, Lessons Learnt

Two years ago, we bought our first three vegetable crates. A year later, we had a further two inbuilt patches in our front yard. In addition, we have various fruit and olive trees.

My first three veggie crates

My first three veggie crates

We actually have a reasonably big garden and if we chose to, we could live off it. But the demands of an active sporty boy means that we wanted to save some yard for him.

Year one was a novelty, experimental and I probably didn’t take it too seriously. I had no idea what I was doing. Year two, something changed. I had researched a lot more, visited more garden spaces, did some volunteering at the market garden in Ceres and I really wanted to be able to eat our own food.

So what changed? I became passionate.

And this summer, the hope is to be able to live sustainably off our patches only buying the things we don’t grow like potatoes (although I may but considering they only cost $2 a kilo at the local organic shop, I may not bother). This year I am trying to grow more from seed (I gave up trying to do this in winter).

Growing seedlings using toilet rolls

Growing seedlings using toilet rolls

So what have I learnt? I know for certain that the learning is constant and so much of it is just trial and error.

I expect that my list will grow and grow (hopefully like my veggies!)

And watch out for my next blog post where I will share with you some of my very valuable resources.

  • Make time. Especially during the warmer months. Be prepared to get out of bed at 7am and water the lawns if you don’t have an automatic system. In summer (in Melbourne), it can get so hot you have to do it early.
  • What starts off small can end up big, very big. Take zucchini for instance. They can take over your patch if you don’t watch it. So always pay attention to the spacing recommendation when planting seedlings (or seeds).
  • Water , water, water and fertilise.
  • Pay attention to companion planting. For instance, plant basil with tomatoes. But don’t plant potatoes with tomatoes. Sustainable Garden Companion Planting is one of the good resources out there.
  • Don’t plant what you don’t eat. If you don’t eat carrots don’t start growing them just because you can. You might relish them at the start but after a while you will realise you don’t really want to eat them after all. We had that problem with beetroot. Same with our silverbeet. And that just never dies; we have a crop that is now one year old and just keeps coming and coming! We don’t really eat it so it goes to friends, neighbours and I swap it for a coffee at a local cafe.
  • Maximise your space by checking out other people’s patches and ideas. Go for a walk around the neighbourhood. You would be amazed how many veggie patches you come across and you will marvel at some of the more interesting and ingenious ideas.
  • If you don’t plan to live where you are for many years, keep your patches mobile if you can. Use big pots, crates, etc. Anything that is transportable.
  • Bending down is hard no matter what age so make your patches as high as possible.
  • No dig patches are good but it costs more and the soil tends to sink so you have to keep topping up.
  • Protect your crop from pests. Rats and mice will chew through netting so you will need something stronger than that.
  • Don’t expect to get good returns on your investment for at least a few years. Soil, fertilisers, mulch, equipment and materials cost money even if you recycle as much as you can.
  • Don’t use chemical pesticides if you can possibly avoid it. Go natural.
  • If you plant using left overs from veggies you have bought from the store eg spring onions, basil, garlic etc make sure you are using organic. Otherwise, you don’t know what chemicals etc you are putting back into the soil and the new veggies that sprout from it.
  • Be prepared to be disappointed. Just because something grows doesn’t mean it will be successful. Bugs can attack it, heat can kill it and sometimes it just doesn’t work! My broccoli was looking so good but when it came to harvesting time, most of them went straight to seed or just didn’t work. Especially disappointing when you grow something from seed.
  • Be prepared to be overjoyed. There is nothing like picking your first chilli or tomato. It’s so satisfying.

So feel free to add your learnings in the comments section! Happy veggie gardening!

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