Weekend fun at Cygnet

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Quite a bit of the last week we have been busy in one way or another with the Cygnet Folk Festival, which takes over the main street and many of the buildings/cafes and shops of Cygnet. I volunteered for the festival, while hubby did volunteer work for our school’s main fundraising event, cooking and serving up curries during the festival.
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Here’s me in my special Volunteer tee-shirt heading off to my first session which was meant to be registering performers, but turned into more of an envelope and program-stuffing session.

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The main street getting ready for festive happenings – note the lovely old Bank to the left, now the new home of the gorgeous Cygneture Chocolates as well as one of our favourite places to socialise.  IMG_1500

Market stalls going off …IMG_1498

The truck stage in the centre of town where I did a bit of MC-ing.

Happily I got most of my volunteering stints out of the way before the program started so I did get to see a fair bit of music, as well as the usual time spent in the kids tent seeing music and making stuff. Julia now has another favourite new band featuring a member of the Wise family – The Stray Hens. We attended a singing workshop they ran, and managed to catch one of their gigs – they were fabulous!

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The wonderful Old Bank venue where we retired a number of times mid-festival for a glass of wine, and to finish off the festival in style with the fringe cabaret.

A most enjoyable festival – as usual I saw way less music than I had hoped, but was chuffed to have caught a number of acts for the first time – highlights included Afenginn (the insanity! the dancing!); The Formidable Vegetable Sound System (musical permaculture – I kid you not!); and Sam McMahon (amazing young guitarist). I’m looking forward to next year already!

Random garden moments

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Been a bit busy over the weekend as we got involved in the local Cygnet folk festival, which was heaps of fun, so here are some random shots from the garden…

IMG_0279Our girls, Midnight and Dawn (so named by miss 8) chilling out in front of the new slab. We have a slab! Ready for our big shed! Well, Stewart’s shed really. Apparently if I am lucky I might be allowed to store a few jars of preserve in there. And maybe some cider.

I only have the two chickens for now – we need to get the proper chook house built before we can get more. At the moment only one sleeps in the mini pre-fab chook house, and they both just free range all day. So far they have been very restrained around the veggie patch, for which I am grateful! Once the shed is up we can focus on getting the veggie patch fenced in.IMG_0276

I’ve let all the salady / raddichio greens in my first bed go to seed. Who knew they could produce such gorgeous blue flowers? I can’t even remember what this green was. I’ll have to go looking on Provenance Grower’s website, as I bought the seedlings from their stall at the fab Farm Gate markets in Hobart.

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My first spud harvest! I usually go ‘bandicooting’ potatoes far too early and then end up with a bit of a sad crop. I had resolved this time to resist the urge and see how good a crop I would get. But we were short of supplies one night, so I caved and plucked these for dinner – yum!

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A close up of Julia’s garden with her angel under the bean teepee. With the weather heating up I really have to secure a good local source of spoiled hay to use for mulch.

Evolution of a Veggie Patch

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Having spent the last two days doing lots of work in the garden, including making two more beds and planting them out (which I will chronicle in another post), I thought this would be a good time to do a little photo-journal of the evolution of my patch.

As I may have mentioned (modest cough) I am rather proud of this patch – in just under four months I have built one of my largest and most productive veggie patches ever. I have also demonstrated some wisdom in my increasing age by learning from previous mistakes (particularly our last house in Wellard where the patch was as far away from the house as was possible on our block). The new patch is literally outside the kitchen door – you can see it from the kitchen sink window, the dining room, lounge room and the office where I sit typing. (As you may gather our house is pretty small. Also, all these rooms are actually the same room!)

The first bed was started on 20th September – exactly one week after we moved in. As I was keen to get going quickly, I did a raised bed with cardboard, straw, mushroom compost and sheep poo.

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Above you get a good view of the grassy shrubby wilderness that had to be taken out to build the rest of the patch.

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lots of grass and roses had to go!

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First bed in and planted, and second bed in ready for potatoes. I cheated with these – at the previous house I had a load of seed potatoes I had put into big tubs. They had already started sprouting so I had my doubts, but I gently transplanted them and they grew successfully. Who knew?

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The next bed I prepared and then covered with weed mat – both to get rid of the grass and to heat up the soil ready for tomato seedlings. I also planted some pumpkins into mounds covered with black plastic – again to heat the soil up a bit.IMG_9917

Then the salad bowl (featured in a previous post) in the water tank, with some plastic across to provide a nice little greenhouse for all the lettuce and carrot seeds.

I obviously got tired of taking photos of the next stage, as there is little record of the next few beds. Below you see the lovely tomato bed (having had a month or two under a temporary plastic tunnel) – and see those pumpkins go!IMG_0266

A couple of days ago i finally completed the last bed in my 4 x 2 layout (each bed is between 3.5-4.00m x 1-1.5m ) – here it is at the front, planted with carrots, turnips, swedes, lettuce, beetroot spring onion and zucchini. Behind is the last bed of tomato seedlings planted a few weeks ago -  might be a bit late but fingers crossed!IMG_0263

And finally, the whole patch from behind, including the latest bed claimed by Miss 8 who has planted carrots, parsnip, spinach, beans and strawberries. And an Angel. Hopefully not a weeping angel!

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hmm – so in fact the total is: my 8 beds, plus Julia’s patch, the salad bowl and the pumpkins. Oh, and the asparagus bed hidden up the front end…

My Salad Bowl

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Meet my lunch from yesterday – a bowl of salad:

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It might not look that exciting, but for me it both encapsulates many of my dreams for the future, as well as reinforcing how happy I am to be here in the Huon Valley, with enough time to garden again.

Having only been in this house since mid-September, I am pretty darn happy with our veggie patch so far. I’ve had to construct it in odds and ends of time around our house renovations, a rather stressful period of work, lovely visits from friends and family and a trip back to W.A.

The patch was constructed on top of what was previously a rather old rose garden interspersed with grass and bulbs. I’m not a big fan of roses, and this was the primo spot for my veggies, so most of the bushes  had to go. Which has meant a lot of digging and hoeing, and rapid haphazard construction of raised beds on top of newspaper or cardboard so I could quickly cover over the grass. Not the best procedure in every case, but I was so keen to get some food in, and the window for spring and summer planting here in Southern Tassie is slim! I’ve also not had time yet to enclose the patch to keep out our various animal friends, so each bed has its own thrown together mini-net or barrier where possible.

One of my favourite bits of the resultant, rather messy veggie patch is what I call my ‘salad bowl’, planted in half  an old rusting water tank we pulled down from its rotting frame. You can see it just to the far right of this photo – with thriving pumpkins in front and my three latest beds to the left.

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Inside is a riot of mixed lettuce greens planted in a circle around a ring of spring onions with carrots in the middle, currently being swamped by rocket going to seed. Deliberately, of course!

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in a matter of seconds I have  a bowl of fresh, gourmet lettuce leaves that put any of those supermarket mixed bags to shame. (And yes, to my shame I have bought those bags many a time in the past.) Even better, the seeds came from our local friendly farmer from Golden Valley Farm – can’t get more local than that! IMG_0259

Into a bowl with some lightly boiled eggs from my chooks, a scatter of sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, grated parmesan and a quick oil and vinegar dressing – voila! Not just lunch, but a promise of next year, or sometime soon, when most of these ingredients will similarly come from just outside the back door.

OK – perhaps not the olive oil (although we do have a very healthy looking olive tree here) but I’m aiming for everything else!

A very Tassie christmas

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IMG_1432So, our first Christmas and New Year in Tassie, and what a whirlwind it was! Apart from a couple of days of post-Christmas day bludging we’ve only really just stopped the festive fun. We started out with friends around for Chrissie Eve drinks, before we attended the annual Cygnet Christmas Pageant, followed by milling around the ‘town’ centre with just about the whole population of Cygnet it felt like. We then had friends over for Christmas lunch, which ended up going on till 8.30pm, so obviously we were all having fun.

This is what we woke up to Christmas morning:IMG_0216

and a sign of the previous nights festivities….IMG_0222

Opening presents – that very big one at the front was mine – a lovely wooden bread box for putting my home made bread in (I’ve just got to get my baking mojo back).IMG_0224

And the lunch table being set – centre decorations made by all three of us at the school, and the crackers hand made by me, including hand-made christmas hats. The kid’s crackers each had handmade friendship bracelets, little knitted finger puppets from local market, a chocolate and a packet of flower seeds – much better than the bought ones!IMG_0231

Post christmas included more socialising – a boxing day BBQ at the house of yet another friend from school. For new years we trekked up to our friends Paul and Marie in Bicheno, then onto Launceston for two nights with Tehani and family, including a visit to the redoubtable Dirk Flinthart in Scottsdale. On our return we had yet another night out playing games with another three couples and our collected 9 children, which required a sleepover and a very late night! We have been very lucky to connect with such wonderful people through Julia’s school (the local state primary school which is just a few minutes walk up our road).

Now it is recovery time so we can recharge batteries before the Cygnet Folk Festival hits us next weekend.

And to think I was worried that our Christmas might be too quiet….