Monday, December 27, 2010


I have my first ever sunflower growing tall and proud in my little veggie garden. It is so cheery and bright you just cannot miss it. I planted quite a number of them, but sadly I grew quite impatient and pulled them all out except for 2, now I am kicking myself for not having some self control and patience. As the saying goes "all good things come to those who wait" next year I am definitely going to be patient and watch these beautiful flowers grow into tall majestic golden suns. Happy gardening.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas and New Year!

Wishing everybody a very happy Christmas and New Year! See you all in 2011 for more gardening stories!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hot Summer Days!

The weather has been a little warm over the last few weeks and I must confess to becoming a little lazy due to the heat, it has made me quite lethargic and not terribly interested in doing much at all.  The veggies are growing in front of my eyes and the bugs are eating them just as quickly, I have succumbed to spraying Dipel (a bio insecticide) that only kills caterpillars, and is safe for bees, lady bugs and other flying insects, sadly it doesn't kill slugs or snails that seem to be everywhere and are eating their way through all forms of plant matter (they are even happy to munch on rhubarb leaves which I thought were poisonous!)
On the other hand the tomatoes I planted are laden with fruit and now I am waiting for them all to turn a glorious cherry red, fingers crossed this might be my best year at growing tomatoes. I have mainly all heirloom varieties and some "tommy toes".  I am a little perplexed with the green zebra tomatoes, how will I know when to pick them? If anyone has grown them before I would love some tips!

Mini Roma Tomatoes
The hot weather is even affecting the animals I spotted Milo flat out and sound asleep enjoying the cool afternoon breeze wafting by on the veranda!  Happy gardening and happy holidays!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas!

I have been keeping a mental note of all the lovely little gift ideas that I spot as I turn the pages of glossy magazines and treasures that I covet from afar as I read new and exciting blogs, there are just so many that spring to mind so I have narrowed it down to 10 and here they are!

1. Orla Kiely handbag from Small Acorns
2. Star fish pendant and chain from Tiffany & Co
3. Seed saving envelopes from Lark
4. Environmentally friendly re useable takeaway cup from Keep Cup
5. Resin salad servers from Dinosaur Designs
6. Bird Bath from Eva Solo
7. Organic pamper kit from Bloom
8. Hand crafted Tea lights from Wapa
9. Newspaper seedling pot maker from Heaven in Earth
10. Vintage Children's Nursery lamp from Vintage Nursery Lamps

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I love radishes! For a start their colour is so brash, the wonderful colour combination of deep pink and leaf green is so vibrant and almost "showy" for this humble overlooked vegetable and one of my favorite characters little Peter Rabbit found himself in trouble over a few radishes in Mr McGregor's garden. One of the other reasons I love radishes is that they taste great in a salad and are amazingly easy to grow. It really is as easy as scattering a handful of seeds in rows in a sunny position and daily watering to keep the soil moist and before you know it in approximately six weeks you will be pulling up baby radishes. There are quite a few varieties of radishes, I grow French Breakfast and Round Red, but the list is endless so be adventurous and try an heirloom mix of all different colours. Happy gardening!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Holiday!

Leo,Jack and I have taken ourselves North on a little break from the cold weather in Sydney. We are having a great time. The weather is spectacular, it is Summer everyday. Soon I will be back and tending to my veggies that have beenin the care of my vigilant husband. So happy gardening and I will have a new update later this week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Veggie Garden Overhaul!

Well where do I start? A lot has been happening in the veggie garden of late, in fact Dan and I decided to redesign and add three more raised beds. In doing this there were a lot of things to consider, first decision was the design and this is what we came up with.
The second decision was the type of wood to use for the raised beds. That was easy we needed ACQ treated timber and this was readily available at our local Bunnings hardware store. So we set about remodelling the first bed, off came the existing wood and a little bit of digging here and there and voila there was the first bed complete, now to the rest. It took quite a few weekends and finally we had the look I wanted a "stylish" looking veggie garden.

They are now filled with soil and I am slowly filling them all with seeds and lots of seedlings, so stay tuned over the next few days as I update you all with lots of photos of my veggie garden.  Happy gardening.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What is Communication Shutdown?

On the 1st of November 2010 I have taken the pledge to turn off Facebook and Twitter! A large number of people and children who suffer from Autism struggle with social communication and for one whole day I am going to experience what it is like not to be able to communicate through social networking channels! So for me it is NO TWITTER and NO FACEBOOK! If you know anyone with Autism take the pledge by donating to and for one day SHUTDOWN for people with Autism.  We are a family living and learning first hand a life of Autism, everyday is a journey with a new set of challenges and sadly there is no cure, so please donate to this global fundraising challenge, be a hero and shutdown for one day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October is Pink!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and as I love the colour pink I thought I would put together a list of my favourite pink things. What is your favourite pink item? Is it something you already have or is it on your wish list? Remember to buy a pink ribbon every dollar counts in helping to find a cure.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grow, Grow, Grow!

The rain and burst of warm humid weather is perfect growing conditions and the veggie garden is just loving it! I planted some very small tomato seedlings 2 weeks ago and they have doubled in size, the rhubarb seems to be very happy where I have planted it, and the strawberries look like they will give us more fruit this year, as long as the strawberry thief keeps away from them. I particularly love all the flowers, the sage is bursting with bright purple blooms and the broad beans are covered in little white flowers dotted with black spots, it is a very pretty time of the year. What is happening in your garden? Are the seasons being kind to you? Please tell me your gardening stories. Until next time happy gardening.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pedal Power!

A little pedal power goes a long way to helping our environment.

1. Jelly Bean Bikes - design your own bike, you will definitely stand out from the crowd.
2. Electra - The "Amsterdam" is a classic, very chic!
3 Giant - The "Via" is a take on the classic bike but with high tech specs!
4. Electra - The "Townie" a great ride for going to the shops and about town!
5. Johnny Loco - The" Dutch Delight" is perfect for when there is a little person in your life!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eggs with Soldiers!

For the last two Sunday nights I have introduced Leo and Jack to and old time favourite of mine......Eggs and soldiers! They weren't too sure at first, but last night night they attacked the poor egg with mighty gusto and devoured every last bit!  I find it hard to decide which is my favourite way to eat eggs, I love fried eggs, poached eggs and I can never pass up an omelette, but eggs with soldiers takes me back to when I was little, I can still see my little red egg cup holder, I hope my boys will love eggs as much as I do.  How do you like your eggs? Please tell as I would love to know by taking the quick quiz below!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Favourite 10 "Gardening Tools"

I decided to tap into my creative side and put together a list of my 10 favourite gardening tools. I really can't do without any of them and a lot of these little thing have found their way into my potting shed over time, sadly they don't look new and shiny like the images but well worn in and still going strong.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rock Cakes with a twist.

Today was a little chilly and wet, so that makes a good day to stay inside keep warm and bake! So I decided on a quick easy, not too much mess recipe and that had to be good old rock cakes. Often it is the simple recipes that work out the best and everyone loves. I decided this time I would add a few little extras, like dried pineapple, apricots, craisins and paw paw. So far they are a hit with the boys!

200 grams all purpose flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
110 grams butter (room temperature)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup sultanas 
1 egg (lightly beaten)
3/4 cup of milk (add more if needed)
Oven temp 180 degrees C

Sift Flour, cinnamon, baking powder & bi carb soda, mix with butter using tips of fingers, add sugar, sultanas then mix in egg and milk until a thick batter consistency is achieved.  Dollop on to trays lined with baking paper and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Everybody Knows.......

There is no such thing as a Gruffalo!  This beautiful book has found its way into our house and Leo and Jack are just smitten with this enchanting tale of a mouse who invents a Gruffalo to save himself from evil predators, only to find that there really is a Gruffalo. Leo spied the DVD in the bookshop on Saturday and it has played non stop all weekend, and I quite liked the sound of Helena Bonham-Carters voice narrating this sweet story.
School holidays start next week so I am making a list of things to do and places to see with the boys, hopefully the weather will stay nice and warm. A trip to Taronga Zoo and the Australian Museum in town will definitely keep Leo and Jack very happy. The last week of the holidays The tree loppers will be cutting down 4 very big trees, so if the weather is good maybe a trip to the beach will keep two little boys out of mischief and away from falling branches. Until next time......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Edible Garden

Recently I have fallen in love with a little gardening show on Foxtel. I can't wait to sit down on a Saturday night and watch my garden heroine Alys Fowler dig and delve through her beautiful Victorian garden. I am truly smitten with her quaint veggie, herb and floral English garden, including her two busy chickens and cute little dog "Isabel'.  Alys' garden is truly amazing, she manages to plant everything from Asian herbs to blueberries and the way she plants is "a little bit here and a little bit there" and it really works, not only does it confuse the nasty bugs it looks very pleasing on the eye! One of the main aspects I like about her show is the way she uses everything from her garden, and has taken the time to share all her little tips and ideas with the world, I especially can't wait to try out her lavender biscuits they look a treat! If you have cable TV and have an hour to spare on a Saturday evening at 7.30pm, sit down and immerse yourself into Alys Fowler's edible garden, like me you will be entranced.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Spring has arrived and everywhere I go I can smell the air is different.  The dank smell of Winter has left and blossoms fill the trees and perfume fills the air.  The veggies are growing at an alarming rate and the slugs and caterpillars are wanting their share! The boys seem to be happy with the change in weather and are happy to shed their heavy Winter clothes in favour of light cotton shorts and t-shirts and run around with no shoes on their feet! Though we have had a few warm days Winter is still nipping away at our heels, it may be a few more weeks before we finally say goodbye to Winter for another year!

Leo and Jack have discovered how delicious fresh peas are and seemed to be addicted to the pretty green pods containing little sweet gems inside, while this is great my only problem is they are intent on picking every pod of the pea plants whether they are ripe or not! Somehow I have resided to myself that I won't be serving them up with our next roast dinner as there will be none left!

The rhubarb crowns I planted have sprouted their red stems and green leaves, now it is a waiting game. The rule is once you have planted the crowns you must wait for a full year before you can harvest any stems, this ensures the plant concentrates all its energy into the growth of the roots(crowns). I have one small concern that maybe I have planted them in the wrong spot,  rhubarb loves the sun, but not too much sun, I think I may have to erect a cloche of shade cloth over them during the height of Summer.

And last but not least new boots, just in time for the Spring rains!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thank You Mr Postman!

The last two weeks have been hectic in the McGrath family household! We had Marsie & Parsie come and stay and Jack and Leo went to hospital to have grommets inserted in their ears, which has not left much time for me to keep up with my blog, let alone attend to my veggie garden and another distraction has come in the form of a lovely, shiny new iMac! As you can imagine any spare minute available has been taken up with learning how to use this beautiful piece of computing machinery! Now that I am back on track and everyone has settled down, I can focus on Spring which is fast approaching. This week the postman delivered 3 packages from Diggers, I was so excited as they contained 3 thornless loganberries, 3 rhubarb crowns, dutch cream potatoes, "up to date" potatoes (a Scottish heirloom variety) and lots of seeds. The next few weeks I will be in a planting and sowing frenzy, Dan and I started on the area for the potatoes today, I just need to add more soil and manure and then they will be ready to plant! I planted the rhubarb a few days ago and next will be the loganberries it is such an exciting time in the garden and my list of jobs to do gets longer and longer.......

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free range or cage eggs?

Recently while standing in the supermarket, I happened to be near the eggs, I was searching for a brand of milk that I normally buy but could not spot it, what I did spot was a lady pick up a carton of cage eggs, she didn't hesitate or even mull over the free range eggs.  No she was very definate about her choice, so I decided to watch a few more customers, I was astounded they nearly all chose cage eggs. In total I watched seven people, now I know this is not a lot and not nearly enough to consider it a survey of such; but it did get me wondering who buys cage eggs and what are their reasons? Is it purely price driven, and given this if free range were cheaper would they purchase these instead.  Or is it a case of "animal welfare does not rank high on their agenda? What are your thoughts I would love to know? Do you buy cage eggs or do you buy free range?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Tribute to Mothers.

Today I was given this lovely excerpt by one of Leo's teachers at preschool, and I though it befitting to share with you all.

At the recent State Autism Conference, this was read at the Parent Forum.
"Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,00 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow, I visualise God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger. "Armstrong, Beth - son; patron saint - Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie - daughter; patron saint - Cecilia. Rudledge, Carrie - twins; he passes a name to an angel and smiles "Give her an autistic child. The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," says God, "could I give and autistic child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today; she has that feeling of self independence that is so rare and necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."

"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." God smiles, "no matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?" God nods, "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realise it yet, but she is to be envied. She will take for granted 'spoken word'. She will consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says "Mummy" for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! I will permit her to see things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice...and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely she is here by my side."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

Excerpt from Erma Bombeck

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Little garden helpers.....and nasty slugs!

Things are a little slow in the veggie patch at the moment except for the slugs who are feasting away on my wongbok cabbages.....but I have a solution to stop them in their slimy little tracks! Drum roll please.......SLUGGA! I am hoping this copper tape will give those slugs a zap and keep them away from my cabbages, I see this as being the safest solution, snail and slug bait is a definate no no and I have tried "slug patrol" in my pyjamas with a torch late at night and this is not how I want to spend my evening "down time". So fingers crossed it works and the slugs will pack up and move somewhere else!
Today I had lot of little helpers in my garden, and everyone seemed to be getting on quite well. One fluffly and very furry little helper who is normally curled up on my bed asleep ventured out to inspect my veggies! Jack and Mariah were never too far away they seemed to be happy playing and digging around the garden......Happy days!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Veggie Web Planning!

I was surfing the web and came across this great web program called Grow Veg it was offering a 30 day free trial so I gave it a go, it was fun and an interesting way of planning your veggie garden.  It had some great information on when to plant and whether to sow direct or in  pots as seedlings, it also looks at bed rotation as well as companion plants and how far apart to plant each crop.  I have put a design together for this Spring and I have decided to give it a go, and time will tell if it works. So if you feel like planning your veggie garden precisely then this is a great tool, it's free and a bit of fun!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Farmers Markets!

The second Saturday each month is the Hawkesbry Harvest Farmers Markets at Castle Hill. It is a thriving market filled with wonderful fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, chicken and a variety of wonderful organic and hand made products. If only it were every second Saturday instead of only once a month....

Today I shopped very wisely I took a $100 and came back with a bounty of fruit, vegetables and eggs.

I love walking around and looking at all the wonderful varieties of food available, there is everything from rabbit to rare kinds of mushrooms, it is great to see everyone buying direct from the growers instead of lining the pockets of Coles or Woolworths who do not care about the farmers, they only care about profits and selling old fruit and vegetables that rot within days of purchase!

So everyone find your local farmers market and experience fresh fruit and veg, I guarantee you will make a big detour when it comes to the fruit and veg aisle in your local big chain supermarket!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have been planning the new veggie beds which hopefully will go in next  this August, but first the big camphor laurel tree on our side of the fence is going to be cut down, this way we will have more sun on the veggies. Next will be the chickens in September, I have decided that four is the magic number, we seem to eat a lot of eggs in this household, me being the person who consumes the most. I must admit I cook a lot of food that requires eggs. I have decided on two Australorps and two Rhode Island Reds, I think they will stand up well when it comes to the boys and Mariah our black lab.
When it comes to types of veggies this year I have decided to give everything a go, I am even going to try growing potatoes, I have been ploughing over my list to make sure that I haven't forgotten anything, and also making sure I have the right companion plants and  herbs to go with each vegetable. My main aim is to buy heirloom seeds where possible, if you want mainstream go to the supermarket, growing your own is a chance to try different varieties that are not available in our fruit and veg shops.
This week I placed an order for two heirloom varieties of rhubarb, three thornless loganberry canes, some watermelon seed (red moons and stars) and Musquee de Provence pumpkin seeds, I think of Cinderella in her pumpkin carriage when it comes to this type of pumpkin.

It is during the cold months that I lose inspiration for the garden, as not a lot is growing at the moment, mainly due to lack of sun, I love to take a look at a picture of a vegetable garden in Victoria, it is my inspiration that one day my little garden may resemble this one.........

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Preparing for Spring!

I have been a little slack of late with my blogging due to the fact that I have discovered Twitter, but I am back now! This week I secretly celebrated Winter Solstice, we still have a long way to go with Winter but there is no going back from here...Spring is somewhere out there on the distant horizon. I have given myself the task of preparing for a bumper Spring crop. First I am making a list of all the seeds (heirloom of course) I will need, the next stage is planning some new garden beds. I have one raised bed and originally I thought this would be more than sufficient, but after two seasons it is not nearly enough to feed a family.  Now I am ready to take the plunge and add a further two beds this will give me three in total, plus I do have a small area that is starting to look good for planting watermelons, pumpkins and Potatoes as well as some loganberries along the side fence. I am looking at reclaimed old railway sleepers to make the raised garden beds. I do need to find out whether they have arsenic in them. My current raised garden bed is arsenic free, it is fantastic but it was very expensive and  it is not very wide. Well the weather is very cold and my poor veggies are not looking that good except for the mini cabbages and wongbok cabbages.
The boys have been sick with bad colds and Leo the poor soul his eardrum burst this week, I have had about of asthma and really am longing for the warm weather that brings good health and lots of tasty veggies.
Here's hoping there is only six or so more weeks to go until we see the warm weather of Spring..........

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Manolo's of Chicken Coops!

I am sure these little chickens dress in Prada and wear Manolos!!!

I found this image courtesy of Debra Prinzing she has a beautiful website and some lovely books as well!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More weather for ducks!

Well the rain is here to stay! I long for blue skies and sun, and it seems so far away. My veggies look very sad and waterlogged, and the boys have turned into little wild things that want to escape the four walls that keep them inside! Considering all things wet and rainy we have managed to have an action packed week. Early in the week we went to the zoo and braved the weather, and it wasn't too bad a little drizzle but not enough to stop Leo and Jack having a great time.
Wednesday came and a trip to the hospital was our next adventure, Leo took a tumble and split his forehead open, a general anaesthetic, 6 stitches and 4 hours later and our day was just about over.

Thursday and Friday were a lot smoother apart from the torrential rain I had a great night out on Friday. I went to see the production of "Cats" with my Mum, Sister and Niece. We had a wonderful "girly" time, lots of giggling and laughing.

Now that my darling husband is on board with my idea to get some chickens I am now planning where to house them. We have a very large front garden so I have decided to put them there. As they will be out the front it can't look too shabby, so I saw this iamge on Urban Dirt and thought how pleasing on the eye this chicken coop and picket fence looked. Maybe this is the look we are after, the neighbours could never complain about a messy looking front garden!!