passive solar house

As summer rolls around again, my house heats up and I wish I lived somewhere else. Fortuitously, I have plans to do just that!

too hot for cats

The Back Paddock behind my house will be no more. I’m building a small (3×1) passive solar, energy efficient house. If you’re new here, the Back Paddock is the empty lot adjoining my house.

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greywater in the garden

I have a greywater hose running from the washing machine to the garden so I can reuse the washing water on the vegies. Today the newly sprouted garlic needed a drink.


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time to plant garlic

garlic I grew in my garden

Now’s the time to plant garlic in your garden (in Australia). I blogged about how to grow garlic a few years ago:

I planted garlic cloves in late April and they are just showing their first leaves. April is the best time to plant garlic but it can be planted until mid June when the soil temperature cools…

Read more: Garlic from the Garden

garlic plants in my garden


garlic from the garden

garlic shoots

I planted garlic cloves in late April and they are just showing their first leaves. April is the best time to plant garlic but it can be planted until mid June when the soil temperature cools [1]. I bought the cloves from my local Fruit & Veg shop. Most garlic from the supermarket is imported and treated with growth inhibitors so it won’t start growing on the shelf or in your garden [2]. Organic garlic doesn’t have this problem but I bought WA grown, so I wasn’t sure if it had been treated. Those new leaves tell me its fine. Imported garlic is also treated with methyl bromide, to kill pathogens, insects or weeds on the garlic [1].

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a glass of rainwater

glass of rainwater

I’m drinking rainwater again after 6 months of tap water. After my tank ran down over summer, I didn’t set up the filter again until now. Why did I take so long when my favourite drink is rainwater??

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the watermelon patch

watermelon plant taking overI planted Moon and Stars watermelon seeds from The Diggers Club last year, at the start of summer. I planted them among sunflowers in the empty block behind my house. It’s sand but I spread some compost before planting the seeds. While the sunflowers were growing I hand watered and the sunflowers grew well, but only one watermelon plant came up (from 2 or 3 seeds). It was very small for quite some time, but while I wasn’t looking it grew enormously.
ripening watermelon growing in sandNow the plant is about 3m x 3m, showing no signs of slowing, and has three fruit developing. I haven’t watered out there all year. There’s been more rain than usual this autumn, but not much fell in April and there was pretty much no rain in January and February. The summer was one of the hottest on record for Perth, and the heat continued into autumn, with 30°C+ days in April. I wonder how the plant survived, let alone thrived.
Cider the pup investigating the watermelonI haven’t tasted the fruit, so I don’t know if the harsh growing conditions will affect the taste, and I’m looking forward to my watermelons ripening. But I don’t know how to tell when the fruit is ripe, can anyone help me?
today's storm rolling in when I was at the beach yesterday=^.^=

Fields of Lettuce and Tomato

the field of lettuce three weeks ago, before the tomatoes took over

I was planning to blog about the field of lettuce growing in my garden, but that thesis took over and since then it’s become a field of lettuce and tomato, with lettuce getting pretty dismal and tomato in ascendency. A month ago when it was just a lettuce field, I gave one to my neighbour and he said it was so much tastier than shop bought lettuce and what did I do to make them grow so well? I was at a loss for words. I don’t think “water them every day” was the answer he was looking for. Then I realised what it was.

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Tasty Rainwater

rainwater to drink Last year I blogged about getting a rainwater tank and said I’d be drinking rainwater soon. I got it at the end of winter, but it filled with rain from the unusual downpours in November. I didn’t start drinking it then because my dad suggested I don’t drink the initial water, to ensure any contaminants from manufacture were washed away. Over summer I used the water on the garden and the tank filled again this winter. Now, nine months later, I’m drinking rainwater from my tank.

glass of rainwater The first time I drank water from the tank it tasted so different to mains water from the kitchen tap. I thought it tasted purer, but that might be the only way I can think of to describe the difference. I have an old house, with ancient plumbing and I’m sure this does something to the water. In summer I don’t like drinking it straight from the tap, I refrigerate it first. In winter the cold air refrigerates it, so I don’t taste whatever it is I don’t like* (and it is the plumbing that affects the taste, not chlorine or fluoride or whatever, I’m happy to drink water straight from the tap at other houses). After drinking rainwater for a few weeks I’ve got used to whatever the difference is and it just tastes like water now, but I still love drinking it. Water is my favourite drink.

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Summer Produce

carrots and onion

I’ve been enjoying lots of summer produce from my garden – carrots, radish, pak choy, lettuce, onion, garlic, tomatoes, beans, strawberries, lots of herbs, and one leek. I already blogged about my adventures in growing garlic. And it’s so much more pungent than shop bought. They didn’t segment because I didn’t fertilize them enough. This April when I plant more I’m going to add lots of manure and compost before planting the cloves. And in April I’ll remind CW to plant some garlic in her garden. There was only one leek because from eight seedlings, only one survived.

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Growing Garlic

Last April I planted garlic in my garden for the first time. At the time I wondered if I’d planted it too late, but it was just right. Matt a friend of Trina’s at Greenfoot recommended planting it a month or so before the cold weather starts.

garlic growing with carrots behind

My dad is my usual gardening mentor, but my friend Anouska is my garlic mentor. When I told my dad I was planting garlic he wanted to get in on the action and did the same. Anouska said she’d planted an organically grown bulb she got from the supermarket. I went to my local Absolutely Organic shop and bought a WA organically grown bulb. It has to be organic because ordinary garlic may be treated with growth inhibitors so it won’t start growing on the supermarket shelf. I divided up the bulb and planted the cloves 5cm deep, in a sunny spot. And then they grew, with no effort on my behalf – my kind of plant! You can grow garlic from seeds, but it takes two years to form bulbs. In the first year garlic shallots can be harvested, used in Asian cooking [1]. Anouska is trying this next autumn.

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