August update

Well it was nice to finally see some sunshine and warm days towards the end of the month and the winter blues slipping away. Here’s hoping the warmth continues.

Around the garden…..

The first of the tomato seedlings are out in the polyhouse after being sown at the winter solstice and being kept inside in a sunny window for a couple of months. I sowed three seeds to a pot and will let them grow on a bit, then take mini cuttings of the extras as I did last year :


The tamarillo season ended with a flourish with this beautiful truss of fruits. Almost a shame to eat them :


I’m really going to miss them on my breakfast cereal. Some fruits still haven’t ripened and I don’t know why, or if, or when, they will. I don’t know what triggers ripening—is it increasing warmth or lengthening days? They’ll be getting both of those from now on, so maybe there are delicious breakfasts still to come.

Leeks are looking good. These are in a wicking box. There’s a similar batch in the garden looking just as good :


Likewise garlic. These are in the garden and also in a wicking box :


This is a dwarf nectarine. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s only about 50 cm high, and is supposed to grow to about a metre. The flowers are also much pinker than the photo shows. In its first year it had 5 nectarines and a rabbit/possum got them all. Last year it had 2 and I got them.  I’ve made a special cage for it this year :


All of the larger stone fruits are flowering too, but it’s a worry that I’m not seeing many bees around.

I’m not really a great one for growing plants in odd-looking containers, but when my 15 year-old wheelbarrow finally died, I decided that since it was too tall for the rabbits to get to, it was worth being repurposed for veggies in Zone 1. It’s now sporting some kale and chicory and I’ve tossed in seeds of mizuna :


While I was taking photos for this post, I saw the first Cabbage White Butterfly for the season. Damn & blast. That means it’s probably too late for netting, so daily inspections of all things cabbagy for eggs and caterpillars will be needed.

Er….? :


Fooled you?  I cut them out of some white plastic sheet. Because…..

…..on last Saturday’s ABC Gardening Australia program, one of the presenters came up with the idea of plastic white butterflies, pinned to the top of sticks and poked in around plants in the cabbage family, the idea being that if a female Cabbage White sees other butterflies there, she won’t waste her eggs but will go somewhere else and lay.

Don’t laugh…..I did it years ago and it worked! Only then I hung the fakes on fishing line above the plants. I stood and watched and it was true; the butterflies wouldn’t land on the plants while ‘other’ butterflies were hovering there. There was only one problem—I had to spend some time each day untangling wind-blown fishing lines. I didn’t repeat it in subsequent years, and think the fakes must have been thrown out, but after that TV program, I’m going to have another go. On sticks this time.

I’ve had a few meals of asparagus. There are new spears popping up every day now. To store them until I have enough for a decent meal, I just stand them in  cup of water. It keeps them hydrated and they will even continue to elongate :


I harvested oca during the  month. These were the largest tubers. I planted the tiddlers straight back into the garden, but in a different spot. I’ll probably pickle most of these. I don’t like them roasted :


This is purple mizuna. It has beautiful, lacy foliage and looks stunning in a salad :



Generation from the solar panels bottomed out in July and started to take off again towards the end of August, with 9.7 kWh being recorded on the last day of the month. Amazing what a difference a sunny day makes! Over June and July I imported more power from the grid than I sent back to it, but I’m in front again now and exporting more than I’m using. I’m still waiting for a corrected bill from the retailer. According to their web portal there are 46 days in the January-April billing period that show no export to the grid, and this represents a credit of over $200 they owe me. They keep sending me texts to say they’re “working on it”, but since these are probably automated, I doubt whether they actually are. Main thing is, I haven’t paid a cent for electricity in the last ten months and don’t look like paying anything for the rest of the year. Or ever again. Maybe.


At 64 mm, we scraped in just 7 mm above Melbourne’s average of 57 mm for the month. It’s been good for the citrus and the oranges that looked a bit undersized are now looking a normal size.

I was about to hit the publish button when I remembered the most important thing. Eggs. The Girls haven’t laid since mid-January. I’ve been giving them subtle hints nagging them for a couple of weeks now. Molly apparently got sick of me harping on the fact that it was spring and normal chooks lay eggs in spring and laid one on the last day of the month. And as if to say, “there I’ve done it, now will you shut up”, hasn’t laid since. Not to be outdone, Cheeky has laid three. And one dropped out of someone during the night and broke. Oh, well. It’s a start.

16 Responses to “August update”

  1. k8heron Says:

    Hi there, I am keen on establishing some chickens myself this Spring, so went back through the archives to determine your coop setup. A friend advocates a custom coop from the very beginning, but as I am limited to max. 5 girls by my council, and the custom coop looks like it would be very expensive not to mention time consuming I think I like your setup a lot better. I can always build a custom coop at a later stage once I’m a bit more familiar with their needs.

    I was wondering if you could shed light on what gauge wire you used for the (they range from very cheap, ungalvanised & thin wire to expensive galvanised thicker wire). I don’t mind buying the more expensive stuff as it can be used for so many other projects, provided that’s what’s needed.

    Also, how is your pre-fab coop standing up to the elements? Feel free to email me directly if you can through wordpress – sorry there was no direct method of contacting you so I had to hijack this post!


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi, thanks for getting in touch. Oh, dear, I don’t know the gauge of the wire…it was written on the label, but of course, that’s been thrown away. I got it from Bunnings (are you in Australia?) and it was just called ‘garden mesh’. It definitely wasn’t the normal woven sort of chicken wire; it was welded & galvanised…I was told foxes can chew through the normal stuff (although what that would do to their mouths is something to wonder about). The pre-fab coop is standing up well, but then the whole area it’s in is covered by a tarpaulin so it doesn’t get wet.(did you find a photo of that in the previous posts?) A coop that size would be too small for 5 chooks, I think, although maybe bantams… It was reasonably expensive (about $140 I think) and as I learned, not all that suitable, that’s why I’ve made one of my own.

      How much of a hurry for info are you in? I’m just finishing off a new run and home-made coop setup for the 3 new chickens I hope to get in a couple of months. I’ve got a (long) post about it ready to publish as soon as I make the door for the run and take the final photo. It could be a week or two more. I don’t know how I can get the info to you otherwise. There are lots of photos in the post which you might find helpful.

      If you’re really desperate, I can publish it in the next couple of days…in any case everyone knows what a door looks like so it doesn’t matter if it’s missing 😉


      • k8heron Says:

        Yes, I am in Australia, not far from you I think. If you send an email to my WP user name plus at hotmail dot com. I don’t want to preempt your complete blog post! I’d be happy to receive any insight from your coop build so far.

        I guess my main concerns are cost and build difficulty – I know you’re normally pretty good on both fronts – which is why I suspect your solution will also work for me.

        Thanks so much!


        • foodnstuff Says:

          No look, I’ll give it one last check and publish it. Even if I could copy/paste it into an email it would probably be huge and blow up either my or your system!

          BTW, your name doesn’t come up as a clickable link in the comments, so do you have a blog? If so I don’t think I’ve seen it.

          Also if you’re close (south-east Melb), maybe we could meet up sometime?

          Liked by 1 person

          • k8heron Says:

            Yes indeedy – I’m in SE Melb. My blog (c. 2011) is private – a space for my musings about very boring topics I’ve long since left behind. I’m journalling regularly by hand but I know I need to start blogging digitally as I establish a permaculture system. Hopefully I’ll get permission to post about my first PC ‘client’ too. I’d definitely love to meet up!


    • fergie51 Says:

      Hi, in regards to wire just bear in mind hole size too. I had the local mens shed build my chook house and they put heavy duty chicken wire on it and it was a haven for sparrows getting in and eating the food. I had to recover it with small sized wire and it has made a dramatic difference. Only time sparrows appear now is when the girls are out foraging and I stick a pot plant in the feeder then to block it off. Hate sparrows!


      • foodnstuff Says:

        I’m lucky, we don’t have sparrows here. Only rabbits (sigh). Think I’d rather have the sparrows.


      • k8heron Says:

        Thanks Fergie, after doing a bit of research it was clear early in that so called chicken wire wasn’t really going to cut it! I’ll be sure to check out your post. Thanks for sharing your experience!


  2. kmfinigan Says:

    A lot of this looks very similar to what I’ve got in my garden! Couple of bits of advice you might find useful – one of the best tips I’ve ever shared for White Cabbage Moth is to companion plant it with coriander like I did here:

    Also, I wrote a whole blog post on getting your chickens back in and excited about laying in the winter months over on the blog, if you want to check out and try some of the tips in there! Let me know how it all goes!

    Happy Growing, Kathy.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Kathy, thanks for those 2 links…lot’s of good info there. I don’t do well with coriander here, but will definitely try to scatter brassicas amongst other plants in future.

      I have your blog bookmarked but must put it in my daily feed so I see it regularly.


  3. fergie51 Says:

    Great post and helpful replies too! Tomatoes looking great as is the garlic and leeks. I’m a bit worried my asparagus may have rotted in the bed. Never happened before or it may just be late, I may dig down a bit on the weekend and check.


    • k8heron Says:

      Me too Fergie! I’m definitely feeling like I’m behind it with my asparagus. Maybe there’s not enough fertilizer in my bed? Thinking I’ll throw down some of the compost over the asparagus beds and pray they come in later!


  4. narf77 Says:

    Spring fever has sprung! I am itching…positively champing at the bit to get out there and dig, rootle, ANYTHING and soon I will be able to. Off to pick up those yellow raspberries today and my pepino babies are sitting pretty in their new pots looking out of Stevie-boys music room window at the world beyond…they seem to like it here :). I am so loaded down with eggs! I keep giving them away and my chooks keep laying them. I have 8 dozen in the fridge from last week! I don’t even eat eggs…what to do…what to do! So I am dropping some off to my daughter who has been forced into indentured slavery at her local thrift shop (but this time she is in the kitchen) thanks to Mr Abbot and his work for the dole scheme (slavery…did I mention?) and who has plenty of takers for free eggs (and a chance to score kudos points from the grumpy old kitchen leader 😉 ). My asparagus has done nothing yet…my mulberry tree is only just budding up and everything else is sleepy…it might be spring for a lot of things but the rest of them are like me “go away it is still winter!” 😉


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Well, you are in Tassie, after all. I expect it takes Spring a while to cross the Strait. Oh, I do envy you all those eggs!


      • narf77 Says:

        Wish I could send you some Bev…my point of lay girls are all champing at the bit and though the eggs are quite small they are all over the place. I had my first clucky of the season the other day and decided to just let her sit there…silly old clucker goes clucky every year like clockwork and has to work it out of her system. I just collect any eggs from under her at the end of the day (whilst being heartily pecked 😉 ). She eventually stops but no attempt at stopping her before she is ready works (even dunking her derriere in cold water!). I gave up segregating her as she just gets more determined. Yup…being in Tassie means slower but I get to see what you guys are all up to and know that I should be doing things so I at least get a month to get my act together to where you are today (note to self, start checking the asparagus…) 🙂


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