Monthly Archives: July 2011


We’re in a whole world of teething pain here at Lavender HQ and as a result are Capital T Tired. Today I am ordering one of these amber teething necklaces, to see if they help young Tobes. Has anyone tried them? Any successes? Or failures?

In the meantime, I’m off to inject coffee directly into my bloodstream and finish off a birthday present for my nephew whose party is…today. Way to plan ahead and reduce stress, Brooke. Living the simple life, that’s me!

In The Garden: How to Prepare Soil for a New Garden Bed

A chilly Monday morning to you! The weekends go by so fast, don’t they? This one was particularly quick, as I seemed to cram a lot into just the two days. Unfortunately a lot of it wasn’t very productive or fun (sorting laundry, anyone?) but we managed some good times.

Sparky was laid up all weekend with a super sore back, so we juggled kids and painting on Saturday, and I tackled the soon-to-be fruit tree garden bed on Sunday.

I’ve never had to prepare a brand new garden bed from scratch, so I did some reading and thought I’d tell you how I went about working on the soil, getting it ready for some apple trees in a few weeks’ time. (I’m clearly no expert, so feel free to take or ignore the following as you see fit!

1. I bought a few bags of composted cow manure and chook manure from the nursery, as well as a bag of mushroom compost. Cons: All bagged manure/compost sold in Australia has to be heat-treated by law, so they are lacking some of the vitality of the natural manure you can source. Pros: Easy and a much quicker turn around.

If you’re looking for the best way to prepare a bed, they say to buy manure straight from the producers (ie local farms, studs, dairies etc) and compost it yourself. Problem: it takes a long time to prepare it this way (at least a month or two before you should use the manure in your garden) and can lead to lots of weeds in your bed by way of undigested seeds etc.

2.  I added one bag cow manure, half a bag chook manure and a bag of mushroom compost to the bed (I was unsure about the amount of chook manure to use, as I know it’s very rich and can burn the roots of some plants, so I erred on the side of caution).

3. Dug through the bed to at least 30cm and thoroughly combined the old soil with the organic material. This took longer than I thought, but was such a good workout in the chilly winter air (it was dark by the time I finished) that I didn’t mind. I made sure to remove any bits of tree roots, stones, concrete I found, as well as to break up any clumps of dirt.

4. I levelled it out, raked the surface and gave the whole area a thorough water.

Ideally I’d add a thick layer of lucerne hay, to help the soil settle and prevent too much water loss, but I need to go for a drive to a farm to get it and I may not have time.

I’ll leave it as is for a couple of weeks now and then take another look before we go and buy our bare-rooted apple trees.

I hope you had beautiful (chilly) weekends too??

In The Garden: Getting My Geek On

So it’s been a tumultuous kind of week or two round these parts, but hopefully things are heading back to normal-ish. I can live in hope anyway!!

Aside from drinking a tonne of coffee, any down time this week has seen me embracing my inner garden nerd. I’ve had my nose stuck firmly in some of my favourite organic gardening books and planning what we’ll be planting in August/September, and figuring out how our crop rotation system is going to work. I’ve also been planning out the front garden, which we’ll plant in September/October.

Toby is having his christening next weekend, so it’s all hands on deck to get the place looking good before then, but once that’s over I’ll be garden-crazy all the way. I really want to have the beds in place and the soil worked on by the time August comes. (Or maybe the middle of August.)     

There are a gazillion different gardening resources out there, but in the effort to keep it as simple as possible I’ve decided to choose two or three resources and just stick to their advice, otherwise I find one book will contradict another and I just wind up confused.

So in case you’re keen on starting your own vege garden, I thought I’d list the resources I’m going to stick with as I build and start the garden.

Organic Gardening magazine is great, but they have recently released their third Essential Guide, and they are all excellent. You can buy the newest one online, and the others on special order or from ABC shops:
– Getting Started (bed construction, composting, soil, growing in pots etc)
– Fruit (A-Z of fruits to grow at home)
Veges (A-Z of veges to grow at home)

City Food Growers website is awesome. There are free and paid versions of the subscription (the paid version is so worth the $50 a year) and it will personalise the planting details based on your postcode, as well as offer a list of the best plants for your area, when to plant, what to plant with and common pests and diseases. It’s incredibly helpful and I find I look at it most days when I’m trying to figure out what I’ll be planting.

Gardenate app for iPhone. It has less detailed information that the City Food Growers website but it has the benefit of being portable, and it has a Garden Notes section where you list what you planted and when, and it will track the harvesting progress for you. Handy to keep track of the details that seem so simple at the time but will get pretty fuzzy pretty quickly.

So that’s where we’re at currently. And thank goodness for the gardening distraction, otherwise the past weeks may have seen me consume way too much wine and chocolate! Gardening as therapy = win!

Dear Parenthood

Thanks for kicking my butt. 99% of the time I really love this gig, but then there are times where you floor me. This is one of those times.

Sorry for the break in transmission, folks. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled posting soon.

* Note: Sparky just asked me to clarify – this is lipstick, not blood. In fact it is, or rather was, my only red, birthday present from Sparky, Chanel lipstick. And now it’s all gone. Bummer, dude.