Monday, July 30, 2012

The Wartime Kitchen and Garden

Gardening inspiration ignited in me when I thought about how people coped during war time on rations and learning to make do. It's not all about craft and darning socks, you know!

Growing your own produce became essential to the war effort, and there is no reason why we shouldn't do the same today. Add some chickens to your back yard and you're half way there.

As energy prices skyrocket throughout Australia to unacceptable levels, we need to pull our boots on and get back to basics and preserve our food bowl.

My great discovery this week is a series that apparently was only first aired in 1993 (seems a lot older than that), from the UK called The Wartime Kitchen and Garden. The book is available online through Amazon and other good online book sellers.

I'm hooked!

Here's the first two episodes of The Wartime Kitchen and Garden.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Best Begonia Potting Mix Recipe

Here's a great soil mix for growing great Begonia plants.
Courtesy of Alan Taylor and Gardening Australia.

  • 2 parts coir for orchids (soak and wash coir in water to remove unwanted salts, then shred to a fibrous material)
  • 3 parts coco peat brick (or similar)
  • 2 parts premium potting mix
  • 0.5 parts perlite
  • 0.5 parts coarse sand

Monday, July 23, 2012

DIY Plate Art


Need another great way to get the kids to eat their veg?

The artist in me has had a real work-out!

I have discovered Porcelaine pens to create my own art on plates and cups. So I have been hunting high and low for innovative ways of using the hand drawn crockery and experimented with quite a few different object and pens.

Sharpie permanent pens do NOT work as well as many have claimed. I managed to lose a single plate's art work in one meal time. So sad. So it's back the good old reliable Procelaine 150 pen once again.

To create your own masterpiece, simply:
  • Draw your design with a black Porcelaine 150 pen.
  • Allow 24 hours to dry.
  • Bake in oven for 35 minutes at 150C/300F.

So easy! Even the kids can do it (with adult supervision).
As you get better with design try one or two more Porcelaine pen colours. So cool!!!

Check out my previous blog article: Kids, Play With Your Food

Here's some more amazing inspiration...




Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beautiful Fungi

My front garden is prone to many different types of fungi or mushrooms. I have found two new species in my  damp garden under the conifers and rosemary. Bark mulch is the perfect environment for fungi as they thrive on rotting down wood.

If any one can tell me what species they are and their properties, I'd be very interested to know♥

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fruit and Vegetables Jigsaw

Here's today's fun distraction♥

Click on the image below to start your jigsaw.
It automatically saves where you are up to.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our First Worm Farm

It's time to welcome our newest additions to our garden. Our first ever Worm Farm!

The polystyrene foam boxes were free from our local fruit 'n' veg shop.

I grabbed three boxes in all and one with a lid. The third box is for when it is time to change over to a fresh container and use the castings on the garden. I popped eight holes in the top box to drain and a few air holes around the top for ventilation.

The worms were free from our neighbours up the street who are passionate gardeners. The only expense was the mushroom compost and worm blanket. Absolutely affordable♥

The kids are very excited and are keen to learn what they will and won't eat. We are yet to identify the worm type we have. Let's hope we have a population explosion soon.

Have you got a Worm Farm story to tell? Drop me a line.

To learn more, check out this great video...

Monday, July 16, 2012

How To Make Your Own Terrarium

If it's craft that involves gardening I MUST try it. Terrarium creating literally took over my life during the July school holidays. So once I started with one, I just wanted to keep on making more. What a fun addiction!

My two glass containers are great examples of what you can do with just a little. I used only two plants in each terrarium. The possibilities are endless as not all terrariums have lids, but it does help with the micro-climate eco-system; condensation moisture.

Large Jar: $23 from Its N Bits (O'Hollaran Hill, Adelaide)
Small Jar: $3 from Ikea



  • Large glass container
  • Small decorative pebbles
  • Activated charcoal or carbon (available at pet stores for pet terrariums/tanks)
  • Potting mix
  • Perlite
  • Small indoor shade loving plants
  • Decorations/Props (extra)
  • Water



Start with a clean dry jar.

Work in layers.

  1. Small pebbles at the very bottom for drainage, about an inch deep.
  2. Add a thin layer of activated charcoal; keeps your terrarium healthy and mold free.
  3. Mix a little perlite through the potting mix and add as the next layer.

Make sure you have enough soil for the plants' root system.

Using small indoor low light loving plants, reduce the root size by half before planting. Don't be scared to do this as the reduced root size will assist in the plant size for terrarium planting. They survive very well with reduced root size.

Make sure that the leaves do not touch the sides of the glass, if possible. This keeps the plants healthier for longer.

Top up with soil around the plants if needed, at planting time.

Add a little water to ensure that the mix is damp, but not soggy.

Place rocks, small toys (e.g. plastic horse, birds, miniature dolls house furnishings, etc.) if desired.

Replace lid.

Place your terrarium in a spot where it will receive indirect sunlight.

If plants are looking a little sad, check the soil moisture as they may need a little watering.


Watering Care

Watch your plants for the first week to make sure that they are coping.

Droplets on the glass is great because we know that the eco-system is working.  If the soil looks a little too wet, just leave the lid off for a couple of days to dry out.

If no droplets are forming on the glass, it may be time to add a little water.

Rotating the terrarium from time to time will ensure that your plants will grow straight.



  • You can add earth worms if you desire.
  • Use a spray bottle to water.
  • If using ferns, wrap moss around near roots to help keep moist.
  • Terrariums do best in cooler environments rather than hot direct sunlight.
  • The bigger/wider your terrarium is, the more landscaping and plants you can add.
  • Try a different type of terrarium: desert, moss-only, etc.
  • Great really creative and make yourself a terrarium necklace!
  • If you would rather buy a ready-made terrarium, due to import/export restrictions, you can only buy from within your country.

Great websites to check-out for more information!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mulching with Pebbles around Citrus

Organic mulches such as straw, lucerne, bark, shredded sugar cane or nursery mulch mixes are ideal for reducing the loss of moisture around the roots. Organic mulches can increase more fungal activity around the plant, so ensure that any form of mulch that you use is not touching the stem of the tree. Overall, they have proven themselves to be ideal for citrus of every kind.

How much mulch?

A two inch depth of mulch is recommended to maintain soil moisture.
For potted citrus, allow more than an inch clearance around the stem with mulch.
Garden bed planted citrus, allow for up to 12 inches clearance around the trunk.

But what about Inorganic mulches, such as pebbles, stones, or rubber?

  • Pebbles can be great for assisting in humidity around a citrus to help increase yield and pigmentation in colder environments. Set the planter on a tray containing pebbles and water. The evaporating water will create the humid environment your citrus tree needs in order to survive. Limes and lemons benefit the most with humidity.
  • Rock and plastic placed around the base of the tree, especially the darker colours, will heat up more quickly which can cause a drying effect during summer which is especially dangerous to potted dwarf trees. Excessive heat around a citrus tree may also cause harm to the leaves, flowers and fruit. It is not recommended that pebbles/stones be placed around citrus trees for this reason.
  • Placing 1-2 inches of pebbles inside the base of a pot of a potted dwarf tree is highly recommended in order to assist with adequate drainage. This will not cause any harm to the vegetation of the plant.
As beautiful as pebbles in the garden can look, the trees' health need to be our first priority.

Inorganic mulches work best around flower gardens, natives, succulents and ornamental plants in pots.  

Great for drainage around plants that are prone to being flooded as well as providing a less muddy walk between plants.

Suits ornamental pot plants that love the heat.

 Ideal for suppressing weeds around boarders.

Best to use around drought tolerant plants.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Imaginative Garden Inspired Bags

I'm always on the look out for garden inspired ranges especially when I shop for my gardening-mad friends. This week I have discovered the incredible talents of Lyuba and Max from Moscow, Russia who have a store on Etsy called Krukrustudios; making the most amazing felt bags.

Reasonably priced for the amazing detail and work that has gone into each and every bag creation. Check out their store for more in their extensive range.

Even a Doctor Who fan or musician will love what's in store!

Red Felt Watering Can/Pot Bag

Green Felt Watering Pot Bag

Yellow Felt Watering Can/Pot Bag

Orange Felt Milk Can Bag

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

This is such a classic dessert that never goes out of fashion and is such a great way to get through the hefty harvest of rhubarb in the garden. Apple is added to this dish to balance the tartness of the rhubarb which makes it very appetising especially to the little fingers at the table.


1/2 cup Castor Sugar
1/4 cup Water
650g fresh Rhubarb, chopped in 2cm lengths
3 large Apples, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm cubes

Crumble Topping:
3/4 cup Self Raising Flour
80g Butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 cup Brown Sugar

Crumble instructions: Combine all ingredients and mix with finger tips to rub in butter to resemble bread crumbs. Creating larger lumps amongst the mix is welcome.


  1. Preheat over to 180C/350F (Moderate Oven).
  2. In a large saucepan, dissolve the castor sugar and water over a medium heat, stirring constantly with the back of the spoon. Do NOT let it boil.
  3. Add apple and rhubarb to the saucepan, coat in the syrup and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Any longer and it will become too mushy. It should be tender but firm.
  5. Remove from the heat and transfer into baking dish.
  6. Cover with crumble.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes until brown on top.
Serve hot or cold either on its own, with custard or ice cream.

Rainbow Chard Jigsaw

Click on the image below to start your game.
It automatically saves where you are up to.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Top 12 to Buy Organic or Grow at Home

Grow at home the chemical and pesticide free way♥

These are the foods that should be bought organic if you have to choose, because they are highest in chemicals and pesticides.

This list is in order of pesticide load, apples being the worst offenders:
  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Capsicum
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Imported Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Domestic Blueberries
  12. Potatoes

One of the best and safest ways to protect your health is to grow your own produce so that you know what has gone into them.  Before planting check your soil for contaminates to optimize your safety as some chemical residues can stay in the soil for long periods of time.  It’s another great reason to consider container gardening.

This list comes courtesy of Tree Hugger.

Tip of The Day #8

When planting trees in pots or containers of any kind, ensure that the pot is fully open at the top. A v-shaped or straight sided pot is the best for when you need to re-pot the tree in a few years. Using a narrow topped pot will not only make re-potting harder but stress the tree's roots during the removal.