The most productive holidays EVER.

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A local park near us used to have a lot of hideously ugly pine trees lining it. Good for a wind break, I suppose, but ugly and gloomy to look at. Imagine my joy when the council started cutting them all down! Imagine my delight when I realised that there were piles of mulch just waiting for neighbourhood scavengers to come and use.

Our front yard has looked awful for at least a year. Pure neglect; weeds growing waist high, unpruned shrubs rampant, trolls hiding in the undergrowth (probably). Weeding the front yard was on The List of Holiday Tasks, but three days ago I decided to bite the bullet, grab around 50 garbage bags full of the pine mulch and smother the weeds. I enlisted the boys, because we have a huge garden bed in the front yard and I really don’t think I could do it by myself. We weeded, getting as many of the weeds with seed heads out as we could, then we laid down newspaper I’d liberated from school over the course of a term. We have heaps. Then we drove to the park, shovelled mulch into garbage bags, then came back and spread it around very thickly.

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When I first heard about the mulch, I was reluctant to use it because pine makes the soil acidic. Plus it’s pretty coarse. But you know what? My neglected house was making me feel sick in the soul. I decided that I’d just do what needed to be done in the front yard to make it look presentable, while concentrating my efforts in the back yard where the food growing is happening. Clearly, I can’t do both.

Every time I step outside the front door I feel so pleased. My house looks pretty again. (We won’t mention all of the housework that needs doing. I’m telling myself that I’m working from the front of the property to the back.)

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I bought another 3 wicking boxes, and once Mick drilled some holes in the sides for me I was ready for business. So far, I’ve transplanted the Lemon Balm from the big wicking bed where it was threatening to overtake the oregano and put it into its own box. The other two boxes will have spearmint and peppermint in them. I loves me some peppermint tea last thing at night, while lemon balm mixed with some spearmint is delicious as a tea.

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Remember the tiny rhubarb that I was given when I went to Angelo’s Open Garden in April? It now has its own wicking box. I had no idea where to plant it, so I think this is the best option. This box used to have a couple of caulies in here, but I planted them too late in the season for them to do anything, so I pulled them out and turned them into chook fodder. I’ve put worms into each wicking bed and box and had no idea how they were doing. It was very heartening to see them fat and healthy and eating at the worm feeding stations I’d rigged up. Let’s hope the rhubarb likes it here!

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Someone from the gardening club gave me parsley seeds. They’ve sprouted! I think I’ll have to learn how to make tabouli this summer. Anyone have a good recipe?

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Bev gave me some nasturtium seeds when she visited here and they’ve all popped up in the wheelbarrow with the cornflowers. Should be pretty in a few weeks.

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When I pulled the lemon balm out from the wicking bed near the front door, I threw the cranberry and the bergamot (pictured) here. I really like Earl Grey tea, so I’ll experiment with the bergamot to see what it’s like. At the very least, it apparently has flowers that attract pollinators, so even if the leaves taste awful it’ll still be useful.

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Here’s something I bought and potted up a while ago in case I ever needed it for a recipe. French Sorrel.Never used it. Possibly never will. Still, it looks happy to be there and its leaves are attractive.

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I potted up the 3 punnets of alyssum seedlings that I grew from the 99c packet of seeds from Aldi. (Also growing are the 31 iceberg lettuces, also from a 99c pack of seeds. I’ll need to know how to make lettuce interesting over the summer…) I plan to move these pots around the veggie patch near anything that needs pollinating. I think it’ll work quite nicely.

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But here is the project I’m really stoked about. Months ago, Shane showed us some olive barrels that he bought from an importer that he made water barrels and a tumbling compost maker from. He paid $8 each for them, I think. Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to track down my own olive barrels to use for compost bins.

Got these two huge barrels for nothing! Instead of having a tumbling compost bin on a stand, I’ll just roll these around the back yard and it’ll do the same job. Mick was nice enough to drill some holes in the sides to allow aeration and now I’m set! Very pleased about this pick up, as compost bins (and water tanks for that matter) are expensive. (Don’t ask me where I got these from, though. The guy was very grumpy and insisted that he’d do this for me and no one else!!!)

We still have no car. Dad’s lent us his old Ford (so old it has windows you have to wind up by hand. I hope he doesn’t get restive about where his car is. Geoff, the friend who’s looking at the auctions for me, said that too many people are on holidays and are getting too excited about the cars and bidding too much for them. I’m hoping that next week things will calm down and he’ll be able to pick up something decent for us. As you can imagine, I’m driving my father’s car like it’s made of eggshells.

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11 Responses to The most productive holidays EVER.

  1. Bev says:

    What a lucky break! Free mulch is to die for.

    Seeing as it’s so coarse, I think it would take ages to break down and acidify the soil and anyway, blueberries need an acid soil, very acid in fact, so there’s a thought for the future.

  2. Jayne says:

    Crikey, free mulch AND free barrels!
    We paid $20 each for our barrels (we have them set up like water butts under downpipes feeding into the next barrel via piping with the last as an overflow into the storm water drain) we’ve got about 20, I think, around the house.
    Lettuce can be cooked, so if all else fails, throw it into summer casseroles, as a topping on summery pizza, into marinades with meat, etc.
    Have a try of the Lemon Myrtle tea (from Coles) and Nettle tea (Woolies) they are very soothing.

  3. Lis says:

    Hi πŸ™‚
    What an awesome week you had! My front yard it still overgrown with weeds, so I am quite jealous of how fantastic yours looks and free mulch to boot!
    I make my tabouli using cous cous instead of cracked wheat but keep all the other ingredients the same. Perhaps I should add the recipe to my blog?
    As for sorrel – I had I think english? sorrel growing when I lived in Melbourne, made a fantastic soup with it. My plant looked more like english spinach but had a fantastic lemony flour in the soup.
    Hope this helps.
    Lis xx

  4. Bev says:

    Whoops. I don’t think that’s French Sorrel.

    Sorry I didn’t comment on this in the previous comment, but I was using dialup and the pictures don’t fully load before the system dies. Now I’m using wireless it’s loaded.

    Do some Googling for pics of French Sorrel. The leaves are shield-shaped and are all green.

    In fact have a look at my blog where I have a photo:

    http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/two-good-buys/

  5. river says:

    Well done on the mulch and the olive barrels.
    I used to love my lemon balm tea, I’d add sage to it most often, but sometimes mint.
    Maybe I’ll buy an extra pot when I go to get bigger pots for my jade cuttings, then I can put lemon balm in it. Or sage, or mint, maybe all three. I’ll get a biiiig pot.

  6. Mary says:

    So so lovely – I love how your front garden looks – I always get a shock at how good our poor old garden looks when it has been lovingly mulched.

  7. Bev says:

    Apologies, apologies.

    I did some Googling myself. Look at this:

    http://growingtales.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/leaf-of-the-week-red-veined-sorrel/

    So where did you get your plant?

  8. Karen says:

    Tabbouleh (or however you spell it): Soak some couscous in an equal quantity of orange juice, or lemon juice, or a mixture of both while you chop up lots of ripe tomatoes and cucumber, parsley and mint. Fluff up the soaked couscous with a fork, mix in the veg and herbs, and season with salt and black pepper. This is the base, to which you can add black olives (tear off the flesh so nobody gets a dental surprise), red or spring onion, a bit of red pepper – whatever you have in the fridge really. The quantities don’t matter either, as long as you have a 1:1 ratio of juice to couscous, so it doesn’t get too soggy. Drizzle over some good olive oil before serving.

  9. CitricSugar says:

    I’ll be curious to know how your rhubarb does… I know my mother ripped hers out one year because it can start to take over. I mourned as I love no summer/fall dessert as well as a rhubarb-strawberry pie or crisp. πŸ™‚

  10. Catherine says:

    I’m so impressed. I wouldn’t stress over the pine mulch – I throw mulch around everywhere of all sorts and it doesn’t seem to worry my plants. If it does – I ignore them…vbg. Hope the new school term goes well and a new car is on the horizon soon.

  11. Liz says:

    Funnily enough my first recipe post was tabouleh – link: http://suburbantomato.com/2011/04/in-praise-of-parsley/
    I’m going to try the lemon balm and spearmint tea – I was given some lemon balm and haven’t really known what to do with it until now….

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