veggie patch revamp

When we created our veggie patch, we used reclaimed hardwood roof trusses to make the raised beds, thinking they would outlast our time here. Eleven years of Tasmanian weather proved us wrong and the timber was starting to rot, the screws were no longer holding and the boxes developed all sorts of twists and turns.

After weeks of mulling over possible solutions, we came up with the idea of reinforcing each box using metal sheeting on the inside. Our local Colorbond supplier was very helpful. We gave them the measurements of each piece required and they cut them from ends of rolls that would otherwise have been discarded (at a reasonable price). After digging away the soil at the edges,

the strips of steel were screwed to the timber with pond liner at the corners to avoid water seepage.

We were happy with the tidy result.

The rhubarb box was a bit of a challenge, just as well it needed thinning out.

We had a truck load of loam/ compost mix delivered and topped up all the beds

just in time for spring planting.

The fruit salad tree box had to be completely demolished and rebuilt (I was too distracted to take photos of the process).

Our unpredictable spring weather meant I was constantly chasing sunlight and warmth for the seedlings

but I finally had success and planted out in summer.

I threw some marigold seeds in for the first time, they supposedly deter pests as well as looking pretty.

By the end of January, there was no stopping the flow of produce.

Thankfully, we found some willing recipients for the monster zucchini.


Some of you will know, at this point in time we should be enjoying the second half of our long awaited holiday in New Zealand. It all came to a very messy end last Wednesday when we learned all Australians had been advised to return home while they still could. We changed our flights to the earliest we could get, which was Monday, and continued with our plans for another three days. We returned the hire car and spent our last night in luxury at the new Novotel at Christchurch Airport. We wandered across to check in at 10.45am for the 1.45pm flight and the queue was already horrendous, it didn’t move at all until 11.20am. It seems that the ban on gatherings of 100 people or more isn’t applicable at airports! Speaking of bans, why has no-one mentioned covering your mouth when you yawn. Have you seen the spray of saliva droplets when someone yawns? Have you noticed how many people at airports yawn, especially when trapped in a check-in queue? Of course, there are those who chose to wear masks. After 22 years of my career working in the operating theatre, I thought I had mastered the face mask but it seems to have evolved into an art form. There is the chin mask, the ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ mask (lowered to the neck to facilitate consumption of a burger), the random scarf or bandana and my favourite, the eye shade mask. Simply invert your complimentary airline eye shades and wear over the nose and mouth!

We finally made it to the desk after fifty minutes and that is only because a very large portion of travellers were removed from the waiting line. It seems their connecting flight from Melbourne to their final destination had been cancelled and they couldn’t enter Australia without an onward flight. Arriving in Melbourne, we made our way to the Domestic Terminal, mortified to discover all seating areas in bars and eateries were closed, only take-away was available. That meant no wine to ease the pain of a four hour wait and a dinner of crisps and a chocolate bar! It also meant those people who would ordinarily have sat eating at tables were now thrown even closer together in the transit lounges.

Finally made it to Devonport soon after 9pm, with the help of wonderful friends our car was waiting for us, the keys with the ground staff. We weren’t allowed contact with anyone and are now in isolation at home for two weeks. Our lovely housesitter, Karen, had to rearrange her plans to depart before we arrived home. She did an amazing job of stocking the freezer, fridge and pantry before departing, thank you Karen, we will want for nothing.

Disappointed as we are to have our adventure cut short, there are worse places to be quarantined.

We have good company


and a veggie patch burgeoning with produce.

There are soups and jams to be made as well as gardening to catch up on. We still have 15 cubic metres of mulch to spread


and many odd jobs to complete. I don’t think two weeks will be long enough!

spider surprise

We all know that feeling of walking smack bang into the middle of an orb weavers web. These clever spiders spin their beautiful webs at night to catch unsuspecting flying insects, enjoy an early morning snack and retreat for the day leaving the web to catch unsuspecting humans. We had one residing in the veggie patch, just to the left of the door and we never failed to fall prey upon entering. The spider proved smarter than we are and moved to one of the beds where she wouldn’t be disturbed. Early one morning, she (or he) was resting in the middle of the web.


As I watched, she woke up and moved toward a tasty morsel that had fallen foul during the night.


She grabbed her breakfast


and returned to the centre of the web to dine.


She then curled up and went back to sleep.


I am grateful to her for helping keep the insects from the succulent leaves of the veggies.

rampant rhubarb

The warm, wet summer we have had so far has sent the rhubarb rabid.


I have given it away by the kilo, along with the recipe for the very popular rhubarb champagne and still am inundated. Fortunately, I have another fabulous recipe in my armoury – rhubarb & ginger jam. I thought I would share it in case you are in the same predicament. You will need 1.5kg trimmed rhubarb


chopped into small pieces.


Mix it in a bowl with 125ml lemon juice and 1.5kg sugar,

cover and leave it overnight.


Next day, transfer the mixture to a large pan


and finely chop a 4cm piece of fresh ginger.


Place the ginger into a muslin bag tied securely with string and add it to the pan.


Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.


Bring to the boil and boil rapidly 20-30 minutes, stirring often. Remove any scum during cooking. When the mixture has thickened, test for setting point,


put the muslin bag in the compost bin and spoon the jam into sterilized jars.

I am grateful for my husband’s penchant for Rose’s Marmalade, the jars are perfect.


It’s not the most enticing colour but the flavor of this jam is awesome.


venerable veggies

My poor veggie patch has lain sadly neglected for months. Normally resplendent with a winter crop, this year was just too wet for anything to survive. Apart from weeds. A hefty dose of mushroom compost was added somewhere between showers but even the mushrooms were few.


I am pleased to say, the weather has improved and I have been busy. Into bed one went the tomatoes.

The pots next to the plants are to allow for deeper watering (I stole the idea from a picture in a magazine). Onto bed two with some green beans,

mixed Asian greens,


and Bloomsdale spinach.


Beetroot went into bed three

along with carrots and garlic. I haven’t learnt from past experience and planted four zucchini and two pumpkin in bed four.

I was inundated with zucchini a couple of years ago and gave most of it away until I discovered it can be grated and frozen to be used for zucchini slice throughout the year. It just needs to be thawed overnight in a colander to drain the excess liquid. The Jalapeno chilli has a small box of its own

and I added basil


to the herb bed.

The fruit salad tree is doing well, producing an abundance of lemons.


Four weeks on and the growth has been astounding, we are already harvesting the Asian greens.

I forgot to mention the rhubarb. It has been prolific through all seasons and mostly is donated to various friends & acquaintances.

I’m looking forward to reaping the rewards in the coming months.