Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Fermenting Stuff To Eat

On the weekend I went to a fermentation workshop to learn the art of making my own Sourdough Bread, Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Fruit Wine.  It was such a great day, and I learnt a lot! The lady who ran our workshop was Elisabeth from Permaculture Real Foods, based on the Sunshine Coast.

To me, the fermentation previously sounded kind of gross as it conjurs up thoughts of food that is off and mouldy and going rancid. After the workshop, I got an insight into the health benefits and non-off-ness of the foods you can ferment. I had it completely wrong!

First we learnt how to make sourdough bread and pikletes. Yum!

Making our sourdough bread

I can’t eat gluten, but tried some of this as there is a high possibility that someone who is gluten-intolerant can eat sourdough as the grain has been broken down during the fermentation process, and therefore easier to digest. Hmmm. This didn’t exactly work for me and about 30 minutes after having a piece I was headachy, lethargic, battling to keep my eye lids open, and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening crampy and bloated. It took 2 days to calm down. I guess at least I can enjoy making it for others, but not eating it for myself!

Making our morning tea

Fruit wine making came next – you can make wine out of any kind of fruit, although some fruits are not as tasty as others. Our workshop leader said that a good indicator on what flavours you may experience in your wine is to try and imagine what the fruit would taste like without the sugar flavour in it. That is pretty much how it will taste as a wine. Strawberries and mangoes sound awesome, but they are quite bland. Elderberries and lemon = divine!

morning tea

We enjoyed our pikletes with homemade sour cream, cottage cheese and jam for morning tea. We then went on to making sauerkraut which was divine! Lots of Vitamin C in those cabbages and very good for your health.

Making sauerkraut

We also made kimchi which are fermented veggies with loads of punch! Very spicy, hot and yummy!

For lunch we ate all the foods that Elisabeth had either made from scratch or grown in her garden.


Looks like a Christmas lunch!

It was delicious! I especially enjoyed the cheeses that she had made previously. Elisabeth runs a cheese making course as well, which may be on my workshop list for next time.

SUCCESS! Shutting Up Chooks.

After a few forced early morning starts something had to go down – big time!

Chicken drumsticks? Chicken soup? Chicken fillets?

To our horror, our lovely, quiet chooks all of a sudden decided that getting up at the crack of dawn and exploring the yard in a noisy fashion was cool. While exploring, they would spread out from one end of the garden to the other. One chook would be in the box laying her egg while the others busied themselves foraging for insects in the bushes. Then they would decide to check on one another to make sure everyone was accounted for (perhaps they heard me talking about chicken drumsticks, chicken soup and chicken fillets). The squarks and chatter would carry across our yard – back and forth, back and forth. My husband and I would jolt awake, jump out of bed and try to shoosh them – I am petrified of disturbing the neighbours!

So before we prepared to eat them, we decided to try a few things first 😉

Our first plan of action – keep the chooks locked up in their pen until 7am. We closed up the little hole in the wire part of their cage which they could previously wander in and out of from their pen to the yard whenever they felt like it. This tactic didn’t work as the very next morning we experienced the earliest wake up call ever – 5am! It seems the chooks were up and bored from being all cooped up in the pen.

Our second and final plan of action – completely black out the pen. We figured the sun was responsible for letting them know when it was ‘appropriate’ to get moving, so we decided to control the light! Hubby spent most of Sunday making a door and covering the holes with boards. We put their seed and water in the pen so they had something to do in case they woke up early again and we went to sleep with joy in our hearts hoping that this was the solution we were craving. The result was perfection! 7am and no noise. We let them out just before we went to work and everyone went about their business refreshed and happy!

Here is a picture of the new and improved blackened out pen:

This was a dog kennel and hubby added in a laying box, door with latch and covered all the panels inside to stop the light.

The inside of the pen...all covered up and the ramp up to the laying box.

Happy chooks = happy people

So if you have a problem with vocal chooks, make their pen as black as possible!

Bursting at the Peas

We got back from two weeks of holiday time to find our Honeypod Peas were bursting at the seams with sweet goodness. I had never seen them so swollen before.

Harvesting some swollen Honeypod Peas from our veggie patch.

I was scared they were overdone so I harvested the big ones straight away and left some of the smaller ones (even though they are nice and round too) and ate these biggens for breakfast!  They were so crisp, crunchy and sweet that I couldn’t leave them for lunch.

I still can’t believe how much better food tastes when it is grown by yourself, picked and eaten straight away. It really doesn’t get much better than this and there is no comparison in flavour to the shop variety.

The inside of these peas are awesome.

In other news, I think I need to pull out the entire broccoli plants. When we got home the broccoli heads had all flowered and spread out quite straggly so I had to chop them off completely and throw the top part away for the chooks to devour. Hopefully we don’t end up with broccoli flavoured eggs tomorrow morning – that would be gross. Maybe I will do a little experiment and leave the broccoli in just to see if they will grow some normal heads again…or is it too late?

Any ideas? Do you grow anything in your garden?

Tried & True Learnings From Herb-ing

So I have had my herb garden for a few months now and ready to reassess and replant a few bits and pieces in a couple of weeks. A lot of it will keep producing and will not be touched. I have learnt so much in a short space of time – from pretty much zilch to a few handy tips in owning a herb garden.

Trial and Error Tips –

Flatleaf Parsley – pick regularly otherwise it will grow too big and the leaves will thin out. Don’t be afraid to eliminate your parsley for cooking reasons (oops)….it will grow back, thank goodness.
Coriander – grew really fast for me. Use scissors to harvest and cut at the stems. It grows even quicker in part-shade and gets a nice dark green colour about it.

Rosemary – regularly has to have the chop otherwise it rebels and goes a little haywire. I think I need to get some cuttings to give away for friends who want to grow some. Any takers?

Spring Onion – if you throw leftover spring onion down the back at your fence as ‘compost’, it will grow and you will be sad that it is in the wrong place, but stoked that you have an awesome supply of spring onions for dips that you didn’t even have to plant or care for. I am careful where I throw my old tomatoes now….

YouTube – not a herb, but a very handy tool in working out when and how to harvest your herbs. I enjoy reading books, but I learn much better when it is visual so watching YouTube clips with people actually doing the pruning, planting, and picking really helped me learn.

Next Time –

First of all, I know what I use most and what I definitely need more of! Next round there will be no lettuce (it was a little fickle with where I have my herb garden planted…too much sunshine), but I will try again with the baby spinach (it went a little bitter…), more basil, more flat-leaf parsley for cooking (the curly parsley is great for salads so I have a mix of both), and more shallots (which I kept using before it got to its full potential).

Who knew there were so many types of rosemary? I have no idea which type I planted and they all have slightly differing flavours and growing habits, so next time I will take note of what I have. I also need a little planting calendar to make a mark of when and what I planted. I didn’t bother working out what seasons to plant what, I just did it cause that is the way I roll.

Next time, I will never ever leave my strawberries unattended when the chooks are on the prowl. I learnt this the hard way with my first harvest. Just a few survived to continue growing after the massacre.

Farmer K Update: growing our own food

My posts on here have been few and far between lately, so I thought I’d give you a quick update using photos of our vegie-growth in our backyard. Click here for the previous photos.

Garden Bed 1 - garlic, broccoli, honeysnap peas

Garden Bed 2 - carrots, celery and kale


It is all getting so big!

Our first tomato growing.

Our strawberries

First sign of a lemon on our lemon tree

Maximus trying to avoid the chooks as best he can.

Panini will have nothing to do with the chooks, but watches them carefully.

This Jasmine vine is growing on our water tank and smells incredible. When we leave the back door open the scent goes all through our house.

A Gift

I really will be able to make lemonade from my lemons.

Hubby came back from his doctors appointment with a gift for me….a lemon tree!

This is a pretty big thing in our household as he had previously knocked me back when I first said I wanted one. I’m not sure why he decided to get it for me, but I am not complaining 🙂

I use at least one lemon a day so this will be great!

Our ‘The Girls’

We picked up our new girls the weekend just gone. We were going to name them Sheryl and Beryl (and Meryl if we got a third) but they are now just going to be referred to as ‘the girls’.

I read on a blog a few weeks ago: “I started off calling our chickens names that went through the alphabet but once we got to Tess it began to get a little depressing.” Perhaps I am being a bit pessimistic, but that sounds like a plan – ‘the girls’. I am not good with things dying (not that it happens very often…promise!).

We collected our girls from a place that I expected to be murdered at and brought them back to their new home…our home. They are only four months old and should be laying delicious eggs when they turn six months old. In the meantime, we are just going to enjoy the ‘chick chick’ sound they make. At feeding time in our house you will now hear “Kirk, Kirk, Kirk”, followed by “Puss, Puss, Puss”, and a “Chook, Chook, Chook” to finish it off. Thank goodness we don’t have a pet bee or horse or turtle.

We ended up deciding on the chook breed of Australorps as they are friendly, perfect for the Queensland weather, excellent layers, recommended by Kirk’s dad who knows a lot about chooks, and they are cute. That last point is very important. While looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t going to be hacked into little pieces, I saw ‘the girls’ parents in a pen next to where our two girls lived and they are stunning!  They are actually show chooks, so we may have some real beauties on our hands. Already they are beautiful in my eyes.

We only got two chooks for now and will expand our ‘farm’ with two more in a few months. Hopefully that will take us to four alive chooks in total. Wish me luck.

Mystery Tour REVEALED

So here is the story behind the photos from my previous post found here.

Some great guesses guys…and nearly spot on 🙂

Leaving our place.

Stopping off to get some fuel & pump up the tyres for the heavy load we were about to get.

The beautiful drive out to my parents place. You unwind just driving along this countryside.

From the top of my parents driveway.

We needed to borrow the trailer today so Kirk helped dad unload a cool room.

Part of the cool room fell off the trailer and the metal edge sliced down Kirk's leg and cut dad's finger. Lucky it wasn't too deep and I got some great photos 😉

At mum and dad's hanging out by the fire. Love this!

In an attempt to do First Aid on Kirk's leg...

Breakfast at mum and dad's place. The omelette was made using their neighbours chook eggs. In return, dad gives them some venison (deer) that he hunts. 

While Kirk was helping mum with some iPhone stuff I took some pics from their balcony.

Heading out of dad and mum's place - one of their cows.

Ducked in at home to grab a coffee before heading off to Brisbane. Kirk was in a funny mood.

A guy in Brisbane was getting rid of his chook pen, so we took it off him.

Now for some directions to get to our chooks! I love the iPhone maps.

Heading to the farm, which was on the way to Bribie Island.

Our two special packages - pen and box with our chooks in it.

Chook box.

Home at last and all set up for some scratching in the dirt.

Panini slightly annoyed and confused by the new family members.

The sisters in their new home.

It was a strange turn of events as we had planned to get the chook pen only and come home, but on the drive down to Brisbane we received a message saying some people had a couple of Australorp chooks for sale if we wanted them.

We are planning on keep the girls in their pen for a few days so they can get used to being together and in their new surroundings (also so our sooky cats can adjust). Where the chooks were previously kept by their old owners was inside an aviary with a rottweiler dog on either side…it was freaky and so loud with all that barking and banging about on the wire! We will eventually let the girls out during the day and put them in their pen at night. Here’s to hoping it all goes well 🙂

Mystery Tour

Retelling our mystery tour from today through photographs.

See if you can work out what we got up to!


Farmer K

Farmer K is the name I was given by my mother-in-law when I would come over to visit their farm. They had chooks (I get busted by hubby if I call them ‘chickens’ – so “unaustralian”), geese, goats, ducks, quail, cats and bees…all living harmoniously together. I would put her gum boots on and go out to feed some of the animals and this is how I picked up the name ‘Farmer K’.

I can see this ‘prophecy’ coming true of late with our back-to-basics, long-time life goal. We started by growing our own food, making foods from scratch that we once bought premade, and now for our latest project……chickens! I mean CHOOKS!

I'll take some of these darlings thanks.

We go through at least two eggs a day in our smoothie, and to buy free range eggs now it is up to $6.00 a dozen. Cage and barn laid eggs are a tad cheaper, but we avoid these ones. I remember someone saying to me, “each time you buy eggs, it is your vote for how you want these animals treated.” It is probably worth our while just getting our own chooks and sharing our goodies with friends and family at the same time!

Other things on my list to accomplish in the near future: my friend Jodi has inspired me to make my own jam. There is also a course you can take in Cooroy which shows you how to make your own wine and other fermented food that my friend Laura told me about. I also wanted to plant a lemon tree and have bees making honey in the backyard…but hubby said no – he has his reasons…which are valid I guess 🙂 Maybe if I had a garden like the one below I would get my own way.

The ultimate in kitchen gardening *sigh*

On a side note: we just had some exceptional Bluegrass music playing randomly in the background and hubby says with a big grin, “that song just makes me want to get chooks.” I think we need to move onto that farm of our dreams sooner than we thought….and just rereading this, we do sound a bit country don’t we!…..