Our DIY vegetable garden

I guess most gardens are probably classified as DIY, aren’t they?!

Well, I decided to build a small 1.2m sq in May of last year, to plant vegetables and fruits in time for the current summer.

Getting my handy-girl on. Manny and Bob would be proud

After a few false starts (buying treated wood at first, then correcting the choice with hard wood pails) I built the structure all by myself (proud! ps, corded electric drills work WAY better than cordless ones whose battery never charges properly) and using the giant fat Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander, I prepared the soil and got the bed ready.

Next birthday present please somebody

Annnnnnd 7 months later HOLY WOW! We have been rewarded with humungous zucchinis and the juiciest, best tasting tomatos ever.

A small selection of our tomatoes, at last count we had about one billion

People keep asking me what I’m doing to yield such good results, and the answer is “nothing”! So far, we’ve been lucky to avoid any caterpillars or birds or snails trying to eat anything, and all I do is give it a good water every few days if it hasn’t rained. Lucky or what?!

Thank you garden!Yummm #nofilterFirst crop!

I planned spaghetti for dinner tonight, and forgot to check if we had any zucchinis before I went to the shops, so I got one just in case. I came home, and picked these two beauties right off the vine. Makes the shop bought zucchini look pathetic really!

Store bought at the bottom, home grown at the top. I think we can officially say the vege garden is a success.

This is my crop of tomatos from today:
And tomatoes aplenty

I also made a quick bruschetta for an entree from the mini romas, on top of some store bought garlic bread, and oh. my. It was super delicious.

Best bruschetta ever

I’m definitely going to make a bigger garden for next summer!

My Vegetable Garden – Part 1

Today I *finally* got the structure started for our Vege Garden! I feel a big sense of achievement here, because the area has been sitting there getting more jungley by the day, for about 2 years now… And today I managed to weed it, move a wood sleeper to create the fourth wall base, put 3 star pickets on the correct place, and placed the wooden garden edging stuff around to create the walls.

I now need some more metal stakes to secure the walls in place, some hessian for the sides, and then, over the next few months, I will be building the perfect garden bed for planting things such as tomatos, zucchinis and beans =)

I’ll be following the sage advice of Stephanie Alexander:

So good to make a start!

Do you have a vege garden at home??

Open Garden & Inspiration

Mum and I visited a lovely open garden inCanberra on the weekend. It was owned by an older retired couple, who have lived there for 43 years! So they have about 40 years on me and my garden, but I was still so envious. The style of their garden was not totally on par with mine, but I’ve taken away several things to use as inspiration for when I can finally get outside and get things happening in my own garden.
I want slate (?) stepping stones with gravel and mondo grass outside the back door to the left, leading up to the vegetable garden.
I love the look of small trees in big pots! I think this would be a great way to continue the japanese maple theme from the front yard into the back, as a dividing marker between the future undercover pergola and the grassed area.
The use of mirrors on garden cabinets (instead of a cluttered shed) will reflect greenery and add depth, not sure where though…
Our front landing is quite a big area, and ferns would grow quite well there I think (sheltered).
Again, love the mondo grass here. I am also planning on putting a large pot to make a small water feature out the front, with water lilies and other water plants.
I loved the extra touches in the garden, and we could definitely have some hanging plants or a fernery type area under the future pergola, to bring some greenery to the space.
The solid garden edging definitely made the garden look really neat and tidy, where as our front garden looks a bit bedraggled with it’s hodge-podge edging, and it’s hard to whipper-snipper the grass properly. Something like this (in this colour to match the future new colourbond roof) would work really well along the front.
I really like this mass of succulents!! I’m not sure where we could have something similar, I’d have to research a bit more the ideal conditions for this type of succulent.
Somewhere to sit! Always important ;)
I’d like to plant more medium sized bushes along the front garden, with smaller flowering plants in front of them. Hopefully I can find a range of plants that flower at different times of the year so there’s a bit of colour all year round.

My plans are many and varied, I wish it could all happen in the blink of an eye!

Skinny Front Garden

In December it was quite cool and rainy here in Canberra, so I took the opportunity to be outside and work in the garden, tidying up the front yard and creating the Skinny Front Garden bed to “fence off” the front corner of our block.

The area I wanted to use for the garden is very hard clay soil, so I decided to build a raised garden bed, like I did for the circular garden. I ordered sleepers and soil from Canberra Sand and Gravel, and used the wood-chips from the big old tree we had to cut down as mulch. It was a bit of a challenge to hammer the garden stakes into the ground (to hold the frame together) and I’ve still got a bit of a way to go with all of them, but that was the most difficult part of the whole garden bed! Once I had the frame in place (one end being a branch from the old tree also), I filled it with new garden soil, planted the new plants, and topped it off with a nice thick layer of mulch. I gave them a good watering, and in the weeks that followed it also rained a lot (thanks, Mother Nature!), so they’re well on their way to becoming established.
Mikaela landscaping garden

I tend to forget what species of plant I’ve used in previous gardening, which makes it difficult to go and buy another when I find one that’s hardy enough to cope with having me as an owner! Luckily Santa brought me this cute Garden Journal, which has some good info about different kinds of plants, but also space to write and little pockets to keep the plant tags! Very handy =)
Mikaela landscaping garden journal

And lastly I’ve got some photos to show how much the plants in my circle garden have been growing, though these photos make me realise I really need to plan in advance and take better photos in better light for the blog (ie, not in the middle of a blistering hot sunny day, and focus on the garden so you can actually see stuff, instead of being distracted by the bricks of the house in the background!). If you look carefully though, you can see the Gum Tree on the left has grown enormously, in only 18 months it’s just about quadrupled in size!
Mikaela landscaping garden

January To-Do List

I have 6 months before I go back to work. I want to get a LOT of stuff done around the house before that happens, so I need to get a wriggle on.

Here’s my list that I want to get done this month!

  • Paint Bathroom cornice and ceiling (and post final bathroom reveal)
  • Buy new TV cabinet
  • Get quotes for Living Room blinds
  • Weed pavers (left area)
  • Put all weeds and branches etc in trashpak
  • Pull weeds from big front garden bed
  • Paint timber sides of skinny front garden bed
  • Transfer soil & wood chips to big front garden bed
  • Plant new plants in big front garden bed
  • Get blinds installed in Living Room
  • Move BBQ
  • Set up pot plant light out the back

Ok that’s probably enough for this month!

Flowers in my garden

After some very heavy rains in Canberra in November and December, my garden is doing pretty well =) I took some quick snaps on my new Canon Ixus the other day to share. The Agapanthas are not very amazing, as they are *everywhere* in Canberra, but I’m really happy they’re flowering because I replanted them from another part of the garden and that has never worked for me before =P

Mikaela's Garden

1. ?
2. Iris of some sort
3. & 4. Pansies that started out as tiny little punnets, have spread into these big bunches
5. Geraniums – I think these are the first time these have flowered, they do really well in the shade
6. Wild Iris – I *think*… or this might have been some sort of cordyline, but I didn’t think they flowered.
7. Blue Aggies – I also have some big white ones about to bloom, yay =)
8. Yellow Kangaroo Paw – I thought this little guy died on me last summer, but he’s tall and strong now!

I’m going to have to ask mum (or anyone out there know??) for help naming the first 2 and #6, we got the bulbs together but I forget exactly what they are! I’m a bit of a hopeless Garden Blogger =P

Weekend Plans

This weekend while JA is playing soccer I’ll be attending Heidi‘s 1st Birthday! She is such a little cutie, I can’t wait =)

Sunday is going to be my “work” day. Apart from about a gazillion loads of washing that need doing, I’d really like to knock over a couple of the following:

  • Do 2nd coat of enamel paint on spare room cupboard doors
  • Finish the freaking cat run!
  • Do a coat of enamel on trims in hallway
  • Plant geranium cuttings in front garden (need some dirt for that garden too)

Ok I could make that list go forever, so I’ll stop at 4 and maybe I’ll be able to get them all done. Wish me luck!

Front Garden Update

It’s been a little while since I posted anything from the garden, because to be honest I haven’t been doing all that much! Only a little bit here and there…Which I guess add up to quite a bit of difference when it’s so long between updates!

Here’s the front when we moved in:
And after a little bit of digging:

Our hedges out the front were not successful. All but about 5 of them died a slow and terrible death. So I had to change tack, and instead of having a hedge to fence off the front part of the garden, I decided to build some trellis fences and plant flowering climbers. I painted the trellis a deep blue/charcoal which helps to blend it in and not be too obvious until the climbers actually do some climbing. My trellis stakes are very wonky and so too is the fence, but I’m hoping once the Chinese Jasmine and Hardenbergia‘s do their job that no one will notice! I also added a row of pavers to the front of the edging, because the corrugated garden edging wasn’t holding the garden bed in very well by itself. Everything is pretty wonky but I like it, makes it look handmade =P
Fence Garden

The circular garden is going great guns! From humble beginnings, it’s growing really well (all natives except the Japanese Maple in the centre). Though it does lack bursts of colour, so I’m going to plant some lovely bulbs in between the existing plants and come spring it will be so gorgeous!
Circle garden
Circle garden

So the front is slowly slowly coming together… There is still so much to do, but I know working on it a little at a time will pay off eventually. I’m just so impatient, it’s hard to not get disheartened!

Do you have any plans for your garden? Like, big, never-ending, mammoth plans? I’d like to hear about them =)

Front Garden Landscaping

The landscaping of my gardens are always a work in progress… We have such a large block, that there is just so much ground to take care of! I’ve broken it down into areas and am working on them one by one, but that means there are other areas that look horrible until I can get to them. Another problem in Canberra is, there is only a small window of opportunity to work in the garden. In summer, it is much too hot (on average about 33 degrees celcius, up to 40 in the dead heat, with a dry burning sun), and much too cold in the Winter, with days sometimes only getting up to 5 degrees. Luckily this year though I have Sunday’s free from Soccer, so will hopefully be able to get out in the garden a lot more, even as it gets cooler.

A little while ago I talked about buying some big pots at Rodney’s 50% off sale and working on an area in the front yard. I finally got around to taking a photo today to show what I’ve done!

Front Pots
This was taken looking out towards our street. I already had the three smaller grey pots, which Harley had dug the contents out of numerous times already in the backyard, so they have been given a new, less disturbed home out the front. The darker, big grey pots are the ones I got from Rodney’s, for I think $35 each. Bargain! I’ve planted some native grass plants in each (Liriopes and Wild Iris’), and as a little surprise have also planted bulbs (jonquils and daffodils) in the corners, which will show a lovely pop of colour in a couple of months. The line of pots is sectioning off the outer-front part of the yard from the part where I park my car on the dirt driveway (which will hopefully be concreted one day).

Here is a picture of when we first started working on the front yard, a little over a year ago:
Front yard

It’s funny because it actually looks so neat to me now, as the grass is nice and short and there’s no leaf litter… but talk about barren! How boring.

Since then, I have planted a circular garden to the right (will be planting bulbs in there soon for spring colour), which leads into the row of grey pots. This then turns a corner at the big tree, with 2 more white pots forming one wall to the main grassy area, which I have screened off using trellis and a long skinny garden bed. This used to have a row of English Box hedges, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) these were the wrong choice, they didn’t do well and most of them have now died. Now I have planted some Liriopes, some Wild Iris and climbing plants to cover the trellis, including Chinese Star Jasmine, which smells divine when flowering. I’m also planning on planting some more pops of colour with Snap Dragons and also some Pansies.
Front yard

So hopefully when the trellis gets covered with the climbing plants, the little grassy area will be fairly enclosed and semi-private for lovely summer afternoons in the future =)

Of course on my 5 year plan is still to paint the house, replace the gutters and get the roof done, along with 50 or so other things!

Half completed projects

I’ve been a busy little beaver recently! Lots going on, but nothing quite finished enough to dedicate a post to, so here’s the wrap up:

Last weekend we went to the coast with my parents, which was really great, it was raining and miserable in Canberra but absolutely gorgeous at Jervis Bay. We went to Hyams beach on Sunday and it had totally amazing white sand, the nicest I’ve ever seen. The doggies stayed in Canberra, they had a sleepover with their Uncle Buster at JA’s parents place.

We came back Sunday afternoon to celebrate JA’s dad’s birthday with him with take away Turkish and cupcakes. Yum.

Monday was a public holiday in Canberra, and boy howdy did I make use of it! My plan was to just go shopping for a few bits and bobs and out to DFO to see what the clothing stores could offer me, but I decided that I may as well rip up the old carpet in the spare room and lay the new stuff, since it was just sitting there waiting to be done. In order to do that, I needed to move everything out of the room, which included the big blue chair I was in the middle of re-covering, so I decided I needed to finish that up too. Turns out laying carpet sucks, and I did a fairly poor job, but I’ll leave that for another post.

I did end up going shopping, out to Rodney’s Nursery where they were having their semi-regular 50% off all pots and some plants sale. I got 2 quite large square stone pots, and a bunch of plants. I also went to Spotlight and picked up some things for my handmade stall in two weeks, and to Officeworks for some officey type stuff.

Work yesterday was draining, I’ve had a scratchy throat since Saturday and my head was fogging up, things didn’t look good, so I organised in advance to have today off and made sure all my classes were covered. I’d already made plans to visit my friend Amanda and her bub Ashlee, which was really nice, we hadn’t caught up in ages. By the time I went home though I was feeling pretty ratty, with a headache and sore throat.

Today though, when I woke up, I felt much better. If I hadn’t already organised the day off work I probably would have gone in, but I think it’s probably better I didn’t, nothing worse than spreading sickness through a school. So I stayed home and did more gardening, sitting in the sun with Bella on my lap for most of the day. Sounds relaxing I know, but I actually worked really hard, so much for resting up! I’ll post about the area of the garden I worked on another day after I take some photos.

Now I have a bit of design work to catch up on, and am about to go make a super yummy dinner of home made chicken burgers!

See? Busy beaver =)