November update

Whenever I see a new variety of potato at the supermarket I generally buy a couple to take home and try. Growing, that is. So back in June I saw the variety Ruby Lou for sale in Coles and bought 3 tubers to plant. I harvested almost 2 kilos in November. The plants were pretty healthyβ€”no sign of late blight, no little nasties attacked them and the majority of the tubers were clear of scab :


I’ll keep some back for replanting and will probably freeze the ones I don’t eat right away.

My first cherries! :


There are just six! I immediately put a net over the plant. It’s only small and has been in a couple of years. There were more flowers but not all of them have set fruit. I’ll really savour these!

Quince futures. They’re covered in a furry down at this young stage. The tree was grown from seed; so easy to do :


I’ll be really interested in these apples :


They were grown from seed from a Granny Smith variety. The tree flowered for the first time this year and has only set 5 fruit. Since apples rarely come true from seed, it’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Our local council had its annual hard rubbish collection in November. I put out a small pile of stuff and had a look at my neighbour’s pile to see if there was anything I could rescue.

I scored two 44 gallon plastic drums which will be useful for storing water and a small rabbit-cum-guinea pig hutch in good condition. It might be useful if I ever have a sick chook and want to isolate her from the others :


Although technically it’s illegal to take something from a pile once it goes out on the naturestrip, everyone ignores that and it’s amusing to see the cars and trailers cruising up and down to see what they can pick up. I think it’s great to see what is rubbish to someone being re-claimed by someone else, instead of going to landfill as most of the stuff does. Most of my neighbour’s pile disappeared within an hour or two of him putting it out, so I was lucky to get the drums. I had put out a toaster that had died and someone came and cut off the power cord and left the toaster. I already had a large collection of power cords minus their appliances, so didn’t bother.

For the third year in a row I didn’t put a net over the redcurrants and nothing touched them! I can’t believe it, especially since some of the fruiting stems were right out in the open in full view of the birds! I harvested 2 cupfuls of fruit and that’s not counting the dozens I picked and ate every time I passed the line of bushes. I haven’t done anything with them other than to sprinkle a few on my breakfast cereal each morning :

wednesday 003

Of course the most important happening during the month was the arrival of the New Girlsβ€”three 12-week-old Barnevelder pullets from Julie at Country Chooks. They’ve settled in well, after a few hiccups with preferring to roost on the top of the coop instead of inside… :


…but I settled that by shepherding them into the coop and barring the entrance with a wire panel. It only took 3 nights of doing that before they got the idea and started going in by themselves. I’ve allowed them into the 5 x 1 metre long corridor that connects the two runs, but they’re still not able to access the main playground where Molly and Cheeky are. There’s been considerable interest as the 3 newbies meet the 2 oldies at the wire barrier. Molly and Cheeky have never shown any interest in the various wild ducks and pigeons that parade outside their run, not even in the baby wild rabbit that can get in with them through the wire (only while it’s small), but somehow they seem to know that these other feathered things are their own kind. Molly seems to want to be friends, but Cheeky only wants to show them who’s boss. I may keep them apart until the newbies have started to lay. I want them to become attached to their own nest and coop and always return there at night. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble with Molly and Cheeky returning to their own quarters, but I don’t want the New Girls trying to roost in there as well. My nerves won’t stand the kerfuffle if Molly and Cheeky decide to object to that idea!

The cucumelons are growing slowly :


Their tendrils are like fine threads and once the waving tip has grabbed onto something, the tendril forms a tight little spiral to strengthen its hold :


Could that be a tiny flower bud with a tiny baby cucamelon behind it? Yay! :


This Cape Gooseberry came up by itself beside the chook’s playground. It couldn’t have picked a better spot as it will give them some cool shade in summer :


It’s already setting fruits in their papery capsules :


The first of the cherry tomatoes are setting fruits. I’ve never had a ripe tomato before Christmas; maybe I’ll do it this year! :


This is feverfew:


Masses of flowers; I planted it in the hope of attracting bees, but I haven’t seen a single one on it. Instead, there are dozens of tiny flies and wasp-like things:


I have no idea why the bees don’t like it.

I did a head count of the main crop veggie seedlings I’ve put out so far. There are 35 tomatoes; 7 cucumbers; 15 pumpkins and 8 zucchini. Direct sown seeds include beans, carrots, sweet corn, dill and caraway and some more pumpkins and there are leeks and celery sown in the polyhouse for next winter. Three dozen basil seedlings are waiting to go out. I should get something to eat out of that lot!

November saw the beginning of the second year in operation of the solar panels and they continue to be worth their weight in gold. I imported an average of 1.5 kWh per day from the grid and sent an average of 17.3 kWh back to the grid. The panels produced 20.1 kWh per day and the average daily credit to me worked out at $4.13. Overall, for the month I earned a credit of $123.81. If it wasn’t for the heat, I’d wish every day was summer. Imagine earning that much every month and being able to grow tomatoes all year!

We had 53 mm of rain during the month; Melbourne’s average for November is 58 mm. Everything looks green and lush for now, but it won’t stay that way.

Onwards to summer!

10 Responses to “November update”

  1. narf77 Says:

    I wish your neighbour was our neighbour! Those blue barrels are $20 each here and that is only if you can get into the stampede racing towards the seller before they sell out. The usual price is $25+ LOVE your seed grown fruit. I am thinking about giving a lot of things a go via seed. The very first persimmon in the grocers that I see is going to be given the narf treatment. I am also going to muck around with a pomegranate after Jessie said she got lots of starts from a supermarket variety. I bought a selection of Josterberries way back when we first started living in Tassie in one of dad’s rentals in the city (now our city house) and the birds are welcome to them as they are the weirdest (not nice) taste! They are supposed to be gooseberry/blueberry hybrids but they are heinous. My daughters call them “Meat berries” and leave them to the blackbirds (who obviously have NO taste). Each year they grow vigorously despite being hacked back to the base in order for the electricity meter reader to not complain too much. You have to love currants and their ilk for their tenacity. I just planted out several red currant shrubs that I grew from teeny cuttings from TAFE when we were studying back in 2009. Back then we tried growing everything as the grow bug had hit us hard. We took cuttings from conifers that were over the fence on our early morning dog walks. We broke all of the rules and sometimes we got lucky. I had a great strike rate with the cuttings and even though they have been completely and utterly neglected since then, they survived so I planted them out in Sanctuary and lets see if real soil and regular water gives them a boost.
    Oh the machinations of chooks! People say that they are such lovely things, I am yet to see that side of them ;). Mine are all bolshie egg machines that spend their days complaining loudly and running from here to there in order to wreak havoc. The place would be very quiet without them and Big Yin roaring from under the deck whenever he can hear or see us “EGG INTRUDERS Quiet girls!” πŸ˜‰

    My cucamelons (all 19 of them) have been growing great guns in the glasshouse and it is just about time to prick them out and think of what I am going to do with them. I am thinking a few in a container and most of them dotted around in the garden with stakes to grow up. Yours look very healthy. I must remember to put lots of snail and slug pellets at the base of them or they aren’t going to make it in slug palace.

    Cape gooseberries pop up everywhere around here as my chooks harvest the berries from the big shrubs near the gate and just deposit new ones everywhere. You can tell where they loved to hang around the season before by how many cape gooseberries are growing. Apparently my side garden was “the” place to be seen last year as they are all over the place. I am leaving them there. I don’t sneeze at free fruit and they grow where not much else will. Maybe the chooks will leave a bit of fruit for me this year? πŸ˜‰

    We have feverfew everywhere here. I love it and you are right, the bees prefer the seaside daisies to the feverfew, but at least the tiny stingless bees (or whatever they are) love it. My friend drove around to lots of nurseries before she found a couple of pots of feverfew and drove out here to give me one as she thought I needed it. She got out of the car with her teeny tiny pot of feverfew and almost fell over a 5ft tall plot of it…needless to say she put her pot back in the car πŸ˜‰

    Time to gird our loins for the long dry (and hot if the boffins are to be believed) summer ahead. Stevie-boy is whipper snipping the back paddock and we are minimising the fire risk as best we can. I loved this post Bev, gloriously full of exciting things. Cheers for the tip about the supermarket spuds. There is a little grocers at the top of Charles street in Launceston that sells lots of gourmet spuds. I am going to take a visit and get some to trial πŸ™‚


    • foodnstuff Says:

      I must see if the chooks like Cape Gooseberries. They love strawberries, but I don’t like to share them, obviously.

      Be careful with your cucamelons. They’re not very robust plants (at least mine aren’t yet), and would easily get smothered by other things in the garden. Definitely put some in a container, just in case. I have 3 flowers on mine now. They’re so tiny, I can’t imagine what pollinates them. A bee would just about trample them to death.


  2. rabidlittlehippy Says:

    Bees don’t like Feverfew because it’s related to pyrethrin. I’ve some planted near my chook pen and the chooks all dust bathe as close to it as they can get. I guess it keeps the flies away.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Oh, right! There goes another great idea for attracting bees! 😦

      I think I read that it’s good for migraines, though. Have you tried it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • rabidlittlehippy Says:

        I’ve tried it and just between you and me I’d rather have the migraines. It’s pretty awful as a tea but I might try drying and capsulising it.
        It’s definitely worth keeping int he garden though and it sure didn’t affect pollination of my tomatoes last year next to the huge feverfew. My cats have made theirdaytime nap bed in the middle of it. They’ve recognised it as pest free too. πŸ™‚

        If you’re now worried about where it’s planted, relocate it to along your chook pen fence if there’s room. It was the first permaculture idea I had (unbeknown to me) but stumbled across it completely. I thought the plant was pyrethrum and its dual purpose was a real bonus. πŸ˜€


  3. Chris Says:

    Isn’t it bizarre what people throw away? I’ve gotten some really good cooking equipment I still use from council pick-ups. A stainless steel strainer, stainless steel laddle and a saucepan. All work perfectly well, but I suppose the occassional “ding” in the veneer is what had them tossed. I think it makes them look authentic though. πŸ˜‰

    Great score on the drums and hutch. I’m sure they’ll be used, especially for water catchment. Rain barrels and tanks are expensive to buy.

    Speaking of rain, its been pouring here and we’re expected to get a week of it. I love the change in weather but it does scare me a little – as this was the kind of weather which led to the supercell in 2011. It rained so much and then bang, the supercell hit and everything flooded because the soil was already saturated.

    But its still better to have the rain, than not. πŸ™‚

    I hope your garden does well this year and the heat isn’t too bad.


  4. brymnsons Says:

    Your new chooks still look a little worried lol. They will soon settle in with such a lovely home πŸ™‚ Nice tip about the feverfew too


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Every day they’re settling in more. I’m hoping for the first eggs in about 5-6 weeks. Apparently bees don’t like feverfew! (see comment above). Live and learn!


  5. Eve Inbetta Says:

    That’s so cool about the solar panels! Does the electricity “credit” just build up or is there a point where the electricity company pays you out? Or does it go against a gas bill with the same company?


    • foodnstuff Says:

      The credit just builds up as far as I know, but they will send a cheque on request (or credit it to a bank account). I have actually just asked for a cheque. It could go against a gas bill I expect, but I have bottled gas and with a different company. The credit will buy me a bottle of gas though, which is great.


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