Friday, 30 November 2012


After the heartbreak of the last lot of chicks, the practical reinventor swore the next time a hen went broody she'd be unceremoniously dunked in cold water and frog-marched into the sun.

And then our remaining chick, Shirley, who had only just started laying, went broody.  There was frog-marching, but before a regime of cold baths and firm talking-tos could happen, the creative reinventor prevailed and we got her some fertile eggs.

And so she sat on her nesting box, with feathers fluffed and looking self-important.

And three weeks later the Marmalade Cottage CWA boasted five new members: Violet, Enid, Marjorie, Gordon and Barry.

Of course, neither of us has a clue how to sex chickens so the names are pure whimsy.

Then there was the first casualty.  We're saying it was Barry, because young boys are generally self-destructive.  One chick got out of the re-re-re-reinforced chook pen - goodness knows how - and we found it eviscerated up the other end of the garden.  Poor, pathetic little thing.

At least this time, we're confident it wasn't kelpie Jodie or tabby Lola.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Our first planting of tomatoes were mostly sick plants rescued from the trolley in the corner of the garden section of the Green and Orange Temple to Lost Weekends.

They seem to be doing all right.  The next lot has been grown from seed (Rouge de Marmande), and will be ready in six or so weeks.

The third lot is just emerging (Granny's Throwing Tomato - a Diggers Club variety, good apparently for salads and throwing at one's nemesis)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Here we go again

Neither of reinventors likes painting.  We've put off and put off doing up the guest bedroom, but with very important guests imminent, it can't be put off any longer.

There's a fair bit of filling to be done, then the inevitable sanding.

But once that horrible cream and green 1950s colour scheme has been replaced by lovely fresh white and blue, the room will look beautiful.  

We might even polish the ornate doorknobs.  They seem to be brass.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Up the garden path

When we moved in, the front garden wasn't so much garden as wasteland.  And now we can't find a photo of it, but imagine one dead and one dying hibiscus, a couple of neglected hydrangeas and a few straggling weeds.
Now it looks like this

Much nicer, yes?

The practical reinventor had her heart set on an all white garden, in contrast with the red brick and dark green of the ivy.  The hydrangeas, being blue, were doomed.  There was outrage among all our friends.  Even with a dose of glyphosate, they survived, so they're staying.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Passionfruit update

We have three passionfruit vines, two are your basic grafted Nellie Kelly ones, the other a cutting of a local breed.

This one is doing the best, due in no small part, to its proximity to the chooks.

If the bees are to be relied upon for pollination, we should have a bumper crop of passionfruit in six weeks or so.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Gardening as a radical act

The organised, western world is run on the principle of specialisation.  People are expected to do one thing - hopefully well - and rely on others to take care of other needs.  Some people grow food, other people buy it from them.

When you grow your own food, you're bucking the system. You're taking back control of a vital aspect of your own survival - and sur-thrive-al.

If you plant heirloom varieties and collect your own seeds, you fly in the face of efforts of mega-corporations like Monsanto that is trying to wrest complete control of global food production into its own profit-driven hands.

If you garden according to historic (now called organic) principles, you defy the pesticide and herbicide companies that simultaneously poison the planet and our minds with the fear of naturally occurring pests and diseases, most of which are less harmful than the chemicals used to kill them.  Note that most advertising and information about herbicides and pesticides doesn't use the word kill, rather it's all about control: pest control and weed control.

If you eat food that you can see growing, you take away the power of the storage, transport and retail companies, all of which spew enormous amounts of carbon and other pollution into our atmosphere, while allowing the nutrients in the food to degrade.

If you share what you produce, you're spreading the word that ordinary people do not need to be controlled and dictated to by faceless corporations.

If you can't grow your own, but choose to buy directly from a farmer, you are still taking away the power of the corporations, and  helping a local, small business to remain viable.

Gardening is a very powerful statement. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The force is strong with this one

Avid readers might remember waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the beginning of Marmalade Cottage, there was some discussion about whether the dessicated stick of grapevine in the back garden was still alive.

Here's your proof.  Not quite 18 months on and it's not only alive, but producing.  And producing a lot. 

The creative reinventor took a picture of our juvenile grapes to a viticulturist of his acquaintance who tells us they're table grapes.  Which is a little surprising since the former owner was Italian and grew a huge amount of veg.  We'd expected them to be wine grapes.  But, well, there you go.