Sunday, 2 September 2012

Joie de vivre

"I love Spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in the garden." - Ruth Stout.

Joie de vivre.  The joy of living!  1 September.  The idea of Spring.  Even if it only really comes on 23 September!  It's the notion of it that makes your toes tingle and your fingers twitch!  After a long, cold, bleary winter, the thought of Spring makes you literally want to dance - to leap or spring into the air!!  Oh, I do declare, it is my most favourite season of all!  
And my Organic Horticulture Level 3 certificate arrived in the mail on Friday - another cause for celebration!

Some people regard daffodils as the first sign of Spring - if I did that, Spring would arrive falsely in mid-winter in my garden!  I have one small little late-planted clump of daffies flowering now, but the rest have long-gone flowered!  My more reliable indicator is the Kowhai flowers that start to blossom at the back of the house.  And the sweet sound of excited tuis who come to suck their nectar.

Left over winter harvest ripening slowly in the shed.
I made a delicious banana bread with them last weekend.

Seed potatoes which have survived overwintering, set out in a tray to "green" up for planting out.

Last window for harvesting Jerusalem artichokes.....

I have been patiently waiting to cook this beauty - a real Cinderella pumpkin!

Beautiful orange flesh... great for pumpkin soup!
 It's been an interesting week, preparing for our building project to erect a solarium (passive heating) and solar panels.  Mike has been meeting or talking with builders, glaziers, draftsman, brick-layers etc.   Our house will never be the same again!   We also had our single-pane windows retrofitted with double glazing.  What a pleasure..... The windows in our rumpus room/laundry were the original garage windows.  The previous owner had run a concrete statue business in there, so the windows were pitted with bits of concrete sediment.  Now we have not only warm, but clear windows!!  Yeehah!  The future looks bright.......

 We also attended another meeting for our planned community orchard planting.  Things are moving along nicely, with local Council giving us the official go-ahead!
Last chance view of the house as she currently stands...

The pergola which will go, to build a roof to hold the solar panels.
Through the week, after work, Mike and I have been uploading the mulch by wheelbarrow, to lay in our middle bed.  It is good to use tree mulch after it has stood for at least 5 weeks, or it is too acidic.  Our pile has been sitting for about 7-8weeks.   I have planted 20 lavenders in the middle bed, so am expecting a military-manoevre of insectivorous movements over the summer.  I expect the place to be humming!!  Hang on, they are only 10cm high - maybe my expectations are a little grandiose at this stage!  Oh well, one can dream!  I have one late-planted bunch of daffodils flowering in my flower bed - it's great to see this seasonal arrival!

What a thrill to see the obvious signs of impending Spring - my little seed trays have emerging little green sprouty bits popping up!  Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, eggplant, peppers, beetroot and silverbeet.  I have 2 large trays with emerging sunflowers and marigolds too.  Oh, the joy!   In the garden, my rhubarb has emerged, while a few cauliflowers have flowered just in time for a Father's Day treat.  Violet cauliflower with cheese sauce?
Well-timed Spring flowers

A transplanted rhubarb popping up for Spring!

Violet Sicilian Cauliflower
Along with mulching the central flower bed, I weeded and  mulched our elongated guava bed, inter-planted with chicory and salad plants - rocket and plantain.  My garden has a waste not, want not policy regarding use of available ground space.  It is wasteful to have large areas of unproductive ground.  I managed to lay mulch on the entrance-way to the hothouse, to avoid the nuisance of the constant weeding I had to do last summer!

Mulched guava bed

Mulched walkway to hothouse.

Plum tree in blossom

First tulip to emerge
 Next weekend, I will be chopping up the green manure crop in our first bed and putting the chooks on board to clean it up.  I have been giving the chooks plenty of opps to "wild-forage" in their little movable mesh cages this week.  I would love to let them free roam, but given that they are fliers (small and light-weight), our fence boundaries will offer little resistance to keep them in, and we have 4 out of 5 neighbours with dogs!  When I feel sorry for them for not being able to be total free-ranging, I remind myself that we saved them from the cooking pot!
Bed 1 with a Green Manure crop

Last remaining pumpkin reserves
This goliath truck arrived at our place at the end of the week, to offload our bricks for the solarium.  The delivery guy whistled a tune throughout his manoevres of the crane!  In his element!   Boys and their toys!

Flying brick circus

All the bricks needed to do the job!
So Monday sees the project go ahead............. Hmmmn!  The next step in our self-sufficiency journey.  We plan to generate at least half of our energy needs.  16 solar panels.  Perhaps we should really look at how we use the energy......  Mike's favourite saying:  "Be careful what you want..... 'coz you might just get it, and then you'll wonder if you really wanted it in the first place!!"

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