6 Week Veggie Report

garden-update
It’s been 6 and a bit weeks since we planted our vegetable seedlings and I needed to post an update on their progress. Need to because we’re really quite obsessed with our edible garden, and just look at these Before & Afters – the growth has me gobsmacked.

We’re not the first people to ever have a veggie patch, yes, but this is my first serious garden. It’s the Ikea Effect – if you make something with your own hands, you’re so much more impressed with it, you value it more. So every morning, Simon and I wander outside to see how much everything has grown. Simon performs semi-religious Seasol applications and I poke around between the leaves, looking for a new flower or cucumber stump.

I’ve finally paid attention to the flower-to-fruit life cycle and it excites me like the Christmas my sister and I found a doll’s house under the tree.

So here’s our bounty and my very amateur thoughts about our crops.

tomato

The one I’m most proud of. We have 2 Roma plants, a Big Red and a Cherry. I’m continually re-staking the cherry plant because it’s shooting stems off in every direction. They weren’t exactly seedings when we planted them, but they’ve really bulked up in foliage and are sprouting plenty of little green gems.

6 Week Vegetable Report
6 Week Vegetable Report

Basil

No issues here – cute little leaves down low and more mature, recognisably pointy leaves on top. Smells amazing and is going into pasta sauce, pesto and eventually my fave salad – tomato, mozarella and basil with crusty bread cubes.

6 Week Vegetable Report

coriander

My favourite herb and one I used to buy weekly and only use half of. Now we have two plants and I’m not using it fast enough. It looks like it’s going to seed sometimes but we keep breaking those stems off to prolong the inevitable.

6 Week Vegetable Report

corn

A strange beast – we put in 6 seedlings and only 1 really took off. The others are catching up but my bet is this one will bear ears long before any of the others. No idea how tall they’ll get – we might have issues with the arched net.

6 Week Vegetable Report

cucumber

Pictured is the Lebanese cucumber but we also have a Crystal Apple variety. The first has a wee little cuey but the second hasn’t had much luck yet. We thought it might be due to its shadier spot so have moved it to the other side of the bed (out from under tree shade) and it might be my imagination but it seems to be doing better already. I also looked up some more info and apparently if the fruit is struggling we can manually pollinate by getting the gentleman flowers nude and rubbing them on the lady flowers. *wink wink*

6 Week Vegetable Report

dill

We’ve used a bit with salmon and cream cheese but otherwise it’s just quietly going bananas.

6 Week Vegetable Report

nasturtium

I took these photos a couple of days ago and there are twice as many flowers today. It’s supposed to keep bugs away and I haven’t seen any bugs so perhaps it’s doing its job!

6 Week Vegetable Report

spinach

They weren’t joking when they labelled it Perpetual Spinach. You can pull the big leaves off and two days later they’re back, ready for another salad. The plant that keeps on giving.

6 Week Vegetable Report

So that’s most of the veggies at the moment. What are you growing and how are they doing??

Dark Bedroom Inspiration

dark-walls-bedroom

While we talking bedrooms, would you paint yours dark? I’m a big fan of light and bright, so when Simon suggested going moody with the bedroom walls, I took a bit of convincing.

I started pinning these sorts of images to my Bedroom Inspiration board, and soon realised it was only going to work if there was plenty of natural light to prevent a cave-like scenario. Luckily, our bedroom has a huge window which faces south, delivering constant and rather pleasant daylight (as opposed to direct sunlight that a north-facing window would receive).

The floors will have to be light, and the built-in robe doors, which will make up an entire wall, will also be light. The timber on the doors will add a different texture which I think keeps things from feeling too ‘flat’. Our cornice and skirting will be a crisp white.

All this is pretty abnormal for me, an avid lover of colour. Nearly all of the examples I collected used white or neutral bed linen but I’m going to sneak some colour in somewhere – perhaps a print or artwork if not a crazy quilt cover (I’ve been pinning those too).

Photo Credits

Krista Keltanen + Stadshem + Morten Holtum + Mikkel Vang + Stylizimo + West Elm

Bedroom Walls & Ceilings

So we’re still sleeping in the dining room.

Of course we knew that any time frame we put on things would have to be extended a few times, especially on the first room or two. We’re also working with a very un-square room on all three dimensions so every wall needs to be packed out, levelled or completely reframed.

Bedroom Renovation - walls and ceilings

We initially thought we’d leave the bulkheads in (laziness, mainly) and install new wardrobes beneath them but the thought of all that wasted storage space got the better of me and we took them out. We can either have extra-tall doors on standard carcasses or get custom frames made up.

Simon has been adding to his Toy Tool Box and the recipro saw was perfect for the removal job. It’s an insane electrical knife that can cut through timber, nails, steel and no doubt bone. Together with his nail gun, there isn’t much we can’t pull apart or nail back together.

Certainly beats a hammer.

Bedroom Renovation - walls and ceilings

Simon handled the plasterboard sheets for the walls on his own while I turned my attention to the vegetable garden. He decided to lay them horizontally instead of vertically for a few reasons:

  • they are easier to handle on your own when used on their side
  • the wall frames are still a bit bowed and longer sheet lengths helps minimise this visually
  • the sheets are 1200mm wide which didn’t match the stud spacing, meaning one recessed edge would have to be cut off

When it came time to do the ceilings, we hired a sheet lifter for a day from Bunnings but it was due back before we even got to use it. When you’re doing things for the first time, there’s no point rushing through it – and certainly no point putting up ceiling sheets when we were still finding old nails in the joists. We knew we’d need to hire it again many times (with a whole house to get through eventually) and when Simon spied a sheet lifter for sale on Gumtree it was an easy decision to buy one and take our time ($160 once instead of $35 per day).

Bedroom Renovation - walls and ceilings

We’ve decided on LED down-lights in the bedrooms and the transformers and wiring for these was done before the ceilings went up. The holes were measured out and cut into the sheets as we went.

With all the sheets in place, the next phase is flushing the joints. We’re hoping to tackle it ourselves with a little help from YouTube and some step-by-step instructions. The joint tape and first layer of cement is on and drying so it’s just a matter of waiting until next weekend to get sanding!

Bedroom Renovation - walls and ceilings

Building the Vegetable Garden

Build a Vegetable Garden - This Is My Family

A big part of the appeal of our own home was the promise of soil in which to grow things. So far we’ve managed in pots (this raised garden was great for the office) but Simon was keen to plant his fruit trees and there’s just something about your own patch to potter in.

There was plenty to get on with inside the house, but with the sun shining we figured it wise to get things going now so we can enjoy the literal fruits of our labour over the summer. I was inspired by Drea’s garden beds but wanted to hide the support posts on the inside of the galvanised sheets. I realised why they had the posts on the outside – once you start filling it with dirt things begin to bulge. We originally had only 9 screws in each sheet but upped it to 15 to prevent the sides blowing out. We went form over function because they’re such a huge feature in the yard.

Here’s a few shots of the yard with the original low beds – the previous owners had been big on gardening so there is a base to build upon and a very handy tap. Then we get into the fun part – adding our massive planters and filling them with dirt.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

Supplies (for 1 bed)

  • 4 sheets of galvanised iron – we used 2 x 2100mm and 2 x 2700mm lengths as they fit the space and didn’t require cutting
  • 2 packs of Poly Zip screws
  • hardwood timber for corner posts
  • untreated pine for internal supports
  • timber for top edge trim
  • builders plastic for lining
  • poly pipe and brackets
  • crop netting
  • cable ties

Tools

  • nail gun (or a hammer)
  • drill with hex screw bit
  • circular or drop saw (or hand saw)
  • tape measure + sharpie

Instructions

Rather than re-invent the wheel, just follow Drea’s instructions (adjusting measurements to suit your site). We did pretty much the same thing but turned the sides inside out and lined it with plastic to help protect the internal posts. An explanation of the poly pipe covers is at the bottom of this post.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

Preparing the base

As we were building on top of existing beds, we pulled up the sleeper edging and put them inside, along with a bunch of rocks and concrete from a fishpond we demolished. The sides are 750mm deep which left us with about 500mm to fill – and I wasn’t going to buy or move that much dirt.

The first layer needed to be cheap, easy to move and voluminous. We decided on straw but it will eventually break down and drop the level of soil. I realised AFTER I’d shovelled on 5 tonnes of dirt that I could have used styrofoam – it takes a thousand times longer to break down, is light and probably available free from the local Transfer Station where folk drop it off to be recycled. Anyway, the straw was down and it was onto the next layer.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

I needed to keep the dirt from filtering down through the straw, and read that newspaper or cardboard was a good option. I didn’t have access to enough newspaper but I did find a whitegoods store with plenty of dismantled boxes available. They let me raid the recycling bin and I soon had my impenetrable barrier.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

The dirt was the worst part. Over 2 weekends and an extra day, I had 2 deliveries of garden soil dropped in our driveway, plus a bonus trip in the ute for an extra tonne. I shovelled it into the wheelbarrow, wheeled it out the back and up a purpose-built ramp to tip it into the beds. I must have done this a hundred times.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

Once the dirt was in, it was pretty much ready for planting. We added a range of seedlings which I’ll detail another time and left them to settle in over a couple of weeks.

One morning we work up to a forecast of hail, and got a bit worried about our little plants, all exposed to the elements and vulnerable. We needed to add some protection without blocking the sun, and so rigged up these covers using poly pipe and crop netting. The weave on the net is small enough to stop hail and flowers from the overhead tree, but large enough to let through the rain and sunlight.

Simon screwed the brackets into the top edge and we just bent the pipe into place. We cut the crop sheet to size and lay it over the pipe, then secured the two together using cable ties. The edges can be rolled up to get to the plants, and are otherwise held down by some small hooks in the timber that the net slips over.

Build a Vegetable Garden - Photo: This Is My Family

Costs

It wasn’t a cheap exercise, with the build cost totalling around $1000. About half of that was spent on the timber and iron sheets, so a large saving can be made by using recycled materials if you have access to supplies. The soil/compost mix was around $350 and essential to the success of the garden.

It might take a few years but we’re hoping to save at least that much on groceries and gain a whole lot in taste!

Planting a Pittosporum Hedge

Pittosporum Hedge

With the Simon in charge of progress on the bedrooms, I decided to tackle a few outdoor projects while the sun was shining and before Spring got properly settled in.

Thinking ahead, we want the outside to look as good as the inside as we make progress, so we have to give it a head start on growing. We’ve been keen on the idea of a hedge and the existing fence could certainly do with some covering-up.

I started by removing the existing plants – a few went into pots to be replanted elsewhere later and the others went into the green waste bin.

Pittosporum Hedge

Admittedly, I didn’t do a lot of research when it came to hedge plants. I knew of two options – the lilly pilly and the pittosporum. I made my second Bunnings trips for the day and chose the pittosporum “Green Pillar” for two reasons – its bright green, shiny leaves and the availability of enough plants. I needed 14 for my 9m hedge and there they were, waiting for me in the nursery.

Back home again, I prepared the soil by digging through some organic compost from our local Sand & Soil supplier. A third trip to Bunnings was required to buy a pick and break up some lumps of roots (roses?) I found lurking below the surface. Note to self – think more about what you might need for a job before you start it. I don’t need the staff at Bunnings learning my name just yet.

Pittosporum Hedge

A watering system was already in place so once the dirt was ready all that was left was to get them in the ground. I used an off-cut of timber stud Simon has discarded on the porch as a spacer and lined up the pots, dug the holes, and planted our hedge.

I turned on the watering system and sat on the edge of the porch, cider in hand, while I admired my work. The neighbours gave their nod of admiration too, secretly jealous of my tufts of hedge and the potential for greatness that lies within.

Pittosporum Hedge

Gutting the Bedrooms

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

With our bed currently sitting in place of a dining table and clothes stacked on boxes around the house, it’s pretty clear where the renos have to begin.

When the rest of the house is covered in dust or held together with builder’s plastic, we’re going to need somewhere to escape to – a little sanctuary amongst the chaos. What better than a cosy, finished bedroom to motivate us through the next stage of work?

The house was advertised as having 3 bedrooms, but it’s more like 2 + 1/2. The third bedroom is part of the sunroom built on to the back of the house, and measures around 6m2. We’ve decided to remove it completely in favour of an outdoor entertaining area, but more on that at a later date.

The 2 remaining bedrooms are both pretty roomy, at around 4m x 4m each. They have had built-in robes, in poor condition, and some delicious peachy/pink walls.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

We started gutting the bedrooms by removing the robes, which had been well and truly built in. With the cupboards out, one of our first discoveries was revealed – the house was originally a weatherboard. It’s since been covered with metal cladding and we’re not yet sure why, but we’d love to take it back to the original timber eventually.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

The plaster used in the walls and ceilings is HEAVY DUTY. Before plasterboard sheets were invented, all sorts of stuff was used to reinforce wet plaster, including asbestos. Ours appears to be sisal so it’s non toxic, but weighs an absolute ton.

The dust that came down with the ceiling would have to be toxic, though. Thankfully the current living areas are blocked off by the hallway and we didn’t end up with too much through the rest of the house.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

It didn’t take long to fill the first 4m skip, nor the second. With the walls, ceilings, robes, and carpet out we finally got a good look at what we’d spent all this money on. After all, the bits you don’t usually see are the ones that cause the most drama – roof supports, borer-damaged studs, crooked stumps… The upside is it can all be fixed, and the borers are long gone.

Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family
Gutting the Master Bedroom : This is My Family

With the rooms stripped back to bones we can start straightening frames, re-plastering, painting, laying carpet and – best of all – putting in a new wardrobe. The good thing is there is no rush – no looming deadline to have things complete, other than our own desire to move out of the dining room.

The current setup feels a bit “temporary”, and thankfully it is. We’re hoping to finish the bedrooms by the end of September but we’ll see…

The Transition

Waratah Street: Week 1 - This is My Family

New Keys + Super Wallpaper

The week kicked off with Settlement on Monday, picking up the keys and heading straight over to the house. The real estate agent gifted us an Italian cook book and the previous owners had left behind an extra roll of the very special wallpaper featured in the hallway. Any ideas how we can use it?

A 2.5 Hour Move

We booked 2 men and a truck from Little Red Trucks. Our 2 bed + study house fit snugly inside, and was swiftly shifted less than 2km away, all with a smile.

The Pup

He’s been a bit sulky – probably still trying to work out where he is and isn’t allowed to go.

Sleeping in the Dining Room

We kept the bedrooms empty because they were first in line for the sledgehammer. We’ve set up camp in the living/dining room, away from most of the dust and with a generous amount of storage in the makeshift bed head.

That Stove

The state-of-the-art Whirlpool Chancellor and Robinhood 2000 are but a few of the treasures the kitchen holds. I think my favourite part might be the sink-to-shed intercom…

Feet up!

Heating our lounge/bed/dining zone is surprisingly effective. After days of shuffling boxes around, the best spot is right in front of it, on the couch – feet up and bubbles in hand. Now the fun really begins!

This Week: In the Box

There’s a nervous pup in the lounge room. A couple of bags packed is enough to make him suspicious, but start filling boxes and he gets mighty worried. So much so, he started lying on the pile of flat, empty boxes, hoping to put a stop to all this nonsense.

Packing Up

With Simon in charge of the Shed, I got the rest of the house. We were lucky to move not long after a couple of friends and inherited a decent amount of boxes. Rather than try to work out which texta scrawls were ours, I ‘labeled’ our stuff with pink gaffa, which is easier to spot in a stack of cartons. Fragile tape was put to obvious use, and any boxes marked as such were off-limits to the removalists.

Packing Up
Packing Up

I put aside one Essentials box for each room, to be packed up last and unpacked first, ensuring we had things like toilet paper, washing detergent and the TV remote handy when we arrived.

We sold a few pieces of furniture that would have been a pain to move or didn’t work in the new place, and the rest either went in our car or the truck.

The nervous pup finally realised he wasn’t being left behind and cheered up on seeing his backyard had tripled in size.

Packing Up

Hello Yellow

It’s not too hard to work out what my favourite colour is – a quick scan of my recent pins gives a pretty strong clue. I have no doubt there will be a few pops of yellow in our new place, but keeping it to just a few pops and not allowing it to take over completely will be an exercise in restraint.

hello-yellow

1 low wire basket ++ 2 hello mat ++ 3 bench ++ 4 sunny bathroom ++ 5 floor lamp ++ 6 lampshade ++ 7 rug

This Week: Stradbroke Island & Brisbane

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: 2 days escape on Stradbroke Island. Whales, dolphins, turtles and palm trees, plus prawn rolls for lunch. Melbourne winter can get stuffed.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: Joey & Rob shows us the ropes on the pottery wheel, beneath their gorgeous Queenslander.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family

Above: A particularly spotty sausage, Jock blends in with the leaf litter.
Below: Sitting around a fire takes us back to our NT camping days, where friends were made between cans of XXXX and ukulele tunes.

Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family
Stradbroke Island - This Is My Family