Photograph Sunday – Selfie

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My gardening, gum boots selfie

This is me.  Donning second hand gum boots and very old work clothes (jeans once belonging to my husband and a jumper I have owned since I was 16).

This is a real, non photoshopped self portrait, set amongst my beloved garden. 

For years I have wondered the potential harm we create for our growing daughters, when they look into the mirror then compare what they see against their mother’s highly photoshopped portraits, at the same age.

Something to ponder (or not) over the weekend. 

Flower Seed Collecting in a Rainy Season

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Marigold and Zinnia flowers drying out

Locals who have lived in the area for 40 plus years, tell me that these last 12 months have been the wettest.

With collecting flower seeds, I prefer to allow the flowers to dry completely on the plant, before removing the dead flowers to collect the seeds.

This of course is difficult when it rains all the time.  So this year, I have been removing partly dead / dry flowers at a time when it isn’t raining.  Then placing flowers of the same type together in a cane basket, to allow to completely dry within the basket.  Keeping an eye that the flowers have good ventilation so they dry out and not get mouldy.  Once completely dry the flower can be pulled apart to collect the seeds.

The above flowers are marigolds and zinnias, which will self seed (pop up next season by themselves from seed blown around but not manually planted by me).  However I like to still collect lots of flower seeds, so I can manually plant them.  This ensures flower plants grow where I want and need them.

What to Consider When Designing a New Community Garden?

As previously mentioned, I am again enjoying the starting stages of a new community garden.  If you have read my earlier post (click link above) you will already know, that I believe coming up with a combined, united vision statement is very important.

I have yet to again meet with the others who are committed to building our new community garden but I thought I would share my vision statement I have prepared (still a work in process).

“Together building an edible and sustainable garden that everyone in our town can love and belong.  A place to learn, inspire and have fun, while creating  financial support to care for our community hall.”

Apart from the vision statement, those committed to building the community garden, have also agreed to bring along their garden designs and plans.  I encouraged everyone to dream big and plan what the completed garden will look like.

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My grand community garden design is drawn on a very large piece of paper and stuck to our kitchen wall – so I can look and ponder, to ensure I have everything included (in the big dream).

What is included in my community garden design?

* meeting, eating, sitting area
* raised wicking beds with worm tunnels
* herb and sensory garden
* benefical insect attracting plants
* BBQ & cob pizza oven
* chickens? pigs? sheep?
* fruit and nut orchards
* water tanks
* glass house
* shed
* vertical garden
* strawbale gardens
* compost and worm farms
* aquaponics
* no dig gardens
* fun direction sign posts
* green manure plants

If you were in my position, what would you put in your community garden design?  I am looking for suggestions on what I may have overlooked.

Manual and Assisted Self Seeding Gardening Techniques

Autumn is my favourite time of the year in the garden.

Over the weekend, I have been planting for Autumn and Winter – ensuring we have food growing in our veggie patches throughout Winter.

So far I have planted broccoli, kale, lettuces, spinach, snow peas and coriander by seed – using two techniques (which happens to be my best two techniques for seed germination rate success).

1) Manually plant seeds directly into the garden beds, then thin them out (allowing the allocated space needed between plants). This has been more successful than transplanting from trays, toilet paper rolls etc.

2) Assist with plant’s ‘self seeding’ process.  Plants that ‘go to seed’ and allowed to stay in the ground, will disperse it’s seed via the wind for the next season.   I like to give a little direction with this self seeding process, by often pulling the seeding plant out and placing it in the vicinity of where I would like the seeds to disperse.

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Curly leaf lettuce plant that has gone to seed, pulled out of the garden.

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Placed the seeding curly leaf lettuce plant above a garden bed. Allowing seeds to disperse below into the garden bed.

A Child’s Connection to Nature, Food and Self

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We have been digging for potatoes.  It was our Little One’s first experience, of feeling a home grown spud in her tiny hands. 

She lovingly carried it around the garden while carefully inspecting it. However despite my assurances of the potatoe’s name and function, our Little One loudly announced “BALL” then proceeded to throw it onto the grass ahead.

There is much to learn – for both of us.

In a world that values knowledge of and connection to technology more than the natural environment and self awareness,  it’s important as parents we show and explain the difference.

As her mum, what do I believe are the essential lessons I would strive to install – above all else?  This is the very question I have been reflecting upon as I sense my own need to be clear and focused on the answer.

My reflections (in no particular order)

Mindfulness – awareness of what is physically happening at the present moment. What can you hear, feel and smell, while disregarding the sense of sight and ignoring one’s own thoughts.  Practiced daily, mindfulness can bring grounded peace even amongst life’s inevitable trials.

Compassion – everyone shares the need to love and be loved.  We are all equal – not one being more or less important than another. Despite what others may say, compassion is not weakness but the ultimate strength – raising your voice for those who can’t,  even against strong opposition. Always remember animals feel pain and fear just like humans. And being compassionate to ourselves is just as important as being compassionate to others.

Gratitude – being focused and grateful on what you have, instead of what you don’t have,  leads to freedom and happiness. By no means does this imply that ‘settling’ is a virtue – one can be content while achieving goals and targets. Nothing new can be experienced without first being grateful.

Creativity – beyond painting and drawing, creativity is used to solve problems.  Nothing is impossible, we are usually only limited by our imagination.

Beliefs – what we believe we can do and can’t, ultimately becomes accurate.  To change the outcome, change what you believe. First however you need to be aware of what you believe.

Purpose – ‘to love, be loved and to make a positive difference’, is my own personal ‘meaning of life’.  I pray she will discover early in life her own meaningful purpose for living.

Self Seeded ‘Volunteer’ Plants

My friend and prominent Australian sustainabity blogger Gav (Greening of Gavin) has recently written about ‘volunteer food’.

Volunteer food?  Gav has coined a new phrase for self seeding edible plants – plants that grow up in your garden by themselves (seed left in the ground from the actual plant from previous seasons).

This has got me wondering, what ‘volunteer food’ is growing currently in your garden?

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Currently in my garden rockett (as per photo), cherry tomatoes and zucchinis are growing in many places I haven’t planted them.

Some plants I have removed, some transplanted and some are left to grow just where they are.

It would be interesting to know, what volunteer food is growing in different garden locations around Australia and the world.

Pollinate Pumpkins and Zucchinis Yourself

This summer season was my first at growing pumpkin and zucchini seriously – as we now have space, since moving to our semi rural home (I previously tried growing them out of pots with no success).

Zucchinis and pumpkins are part of the cucurbit family – grow very quickly,  large prickly leaves and have large yellow flowers.  Cucumbers and squash are in the same family.

Having male and female flowers, these plants depend on bees to pollinate to produce fruit (technically they are all fruit and not vegetables as they have seeds).

My strategy was to grow, plenty of bee attracting plants in my garden, close to the cucurbits to help attract bees for them. Alas I have large plants with no fruit.

Time for a little pollination intervention.

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Using a small paint brush,  softly dust pollen from one flower to another. 

I am no expert on hand pollinating flowers but it appears to be relatively straight forward (from what I have read).

Interested to hear if you have tried ‘hand pollination’ and your outcome?