Spring Clean Failures

I bought my chickens about a month ago and they have been a marvellous addition to my suburban farm. They’re inquisitive, endearing and hilarious personalities make me smile and laugh every day.

The problem is I didn’t realise how smelly four chickens could be. I knew they’d smell a little bit… nothing a quick brush out of their run and coop once a week couldn’t control, right? Wrong! So I had the brilliant idea to give their run a hose, thinking the poop would sink into the ground and disappear. Big mistake… I just managed to increase the smell 10 fold. A quick bit of research on Google led me to the knowledge that water only makes the smell worse.

So, tonight I decided I would use compost from my giant compost heap to spread over the bottom of the chicken run. I couldn’t cover the whole area due to the wheelbarrow breaking in half, so now all I have is a barrow, but I covered about 80 percent and the smell has almost vanished. If anyone could give me some suggestions for a long term solution to my odour issues with minimal effort, that would be greatly appreciated.

XX Brooke

I’m still here

I know, I know. I’ve been so busy with work and things that I haven’t had the time. I’ve also applied to go to university next year to do my Bachelor of Nursing and have been looking into doing Cert III in horticulture because obviously nursing and horticulture go hand in hand.  I have had the time to continue my endeavours in the garden, however and much is happening.

I am harvesting salad leaves daily, mostly mignonette lettuce, sorrel, young broad bean leaves (yum!), watercress, radicchio and a bit of mint and spring onions and basil.

I have also been able to harvest several zucchini, three eggplants and plenty of tomatoes and by the looks of things there are plenty more to come.  The broad beans are absolutely dripping with inch long beans and I can’t wait to harvest them in a few weeks.

I planted two raspberry canes about a month back and they have already started to produce flowers.

The purple congo potatoes in grow bags are big and bushy and healthy. They actually make a rather attractive container plant in my opinion.

I am really quite impressed with everything growing as my garden is very sunlight starved due to four large conifers in my front garden, and about 10 in my back garden. Then there is the enormous gum tree that towers above everything. I will do a post on the different produce I’ve grown, the amount of full sun they get (if any) a day, and how well they’ve produced if anyone is interested.

Until then, there is much to do in the garden and I can hear nature calling me. Happy gardening.

XX Brookie

Congratulations Shannon Smyth and Stuff About Bullying

I have not mentioned it on here before but my older sister Shannon was recently a contestant on the hit TV series, Masterchef Australia. She was eliminated on Friday. Since being eliminated, Shannon has secured a lucrative apprenticeship at the amazing Absynthe restaurant on the Gold Coast with the two Michelin star awarded head chef, Meyjitte Boughenout. Words cannot describe how extremely proud I am of her. She is not only a fantastic cook, she is also a beautiful person, inside and out, and my dearest friend.

On that note I would like to discuss the bad rap my wonderful sister has been receiving on the online forums of the Masterchef website and Masterchef Facebook page, and no doubt on twitter. I would like to say, to anyone who has ever found themselves saying harsh things about someone on the internet, out in public or in your head, think of being that person or one of the people who love that person. I want you to know that it hurts to see or hear people saying cruel things about someone you love. Regardless of the way someone looks, dresses, how heavy they are, the colour of their hair, the way they speak, that person is a fellow human being that deserves love and respect and kindness just as much as you do. No one deserves to feel like they aren’t good enough. I am saddened by my fellow Australians that treat others as if they do not deserve these simple respects, as if they are a lesser human being for being different. I do not know of a single person that is universally known as being perfect. I do know that there are people who I see as being perfect with all their faults, and there are people you see as perfect with all their faults, and that neither you or I ever wants to see them hurt.

I would also like to discuss bullying by adults. There have been so many stories on the news and current affairs programs in recent years about the growing trend of bullying. I have seen parents saying “I just don’t know what to do, I don’t know why they are doing this”. I think I may have an answer. Adults are bullies. Bullying is learnt behaviour. They see their parents, their parent’s friends,  and other adults saying cruel things under their breath as an overweight woman crosses the road, laughing when they see disabled people doing their best to maintain their activities of daily living but need assistance to use the bathroom, talking about that stupid co-worker that keeps screwing everything up and how they can’t stand that idiot, making fun of people on TV shows for whatever petty reason they can come up with, and even television personalities saying hurtful things about people they do not know. Then their child goes to school and they make fun of the fat kid, they throw things at the boy with downs syndrome, they laugh at the child that can’t read. Bullying is everywhere, in every generation, and the only thing that can be done is to stop and take responsibility for being a part of it. Children will emulate your actions.

The good thing that has come out of the horrible experience of seeing my wonderful sister taunted by people who don’t even know her is that I have realised I can be cruel and it has made me take a step back and stop.

Being a bully is not necessary and YOU will be worse off for it.

Take care all, sorry about the rant.

XX Brookie.

We’re getting chickens!

The Unenthusiastic Gardener (now to be referred to as Tug hehe) has finally agreed to get chickens. We’ll be rescuing two battery hens to begin with. I will be calling one Anne and the other Frank. We will be building a hen-house tomorrow. We’ve decided we’re going to build a chicken ark because they take up less space and you can move them around with garden. We’ll make it large enough for 5 chickens so that we may add to the family later. Tug and I will be going to the demolition recycling shop to purchase materials for it tomorrow. Oh gosh, I am so excited!

XX Brooke

Planting out potatoes

As you may have guessed, I planted out some potatoes today. It’s not the right time to plant potatoes but I wanted to plant them so that is what I did. Some may find me ridiculous for never paying attention to seasons but they are pretentious and should go away. It’s not the end of the world if nothing happens. I am not sure how long they need to be chitted but I gave them three weeks. I did some research and apparently it’s not necessary to do so, anyway.

I have planted these in an area where there is dappled sunlight all day. I am also going to plant purple congoes in hessian sacks in full sun because I have read that they can be invasive in the ground and I am not keen on a potato invasion.

In other news I potted up a large amount of basil seedlings (yes I know they are out of season but they grow brilliantly here so hush) and planted out my brussels sprouts seedlings in the garden. That’s all, folks.

XX Brooke


Every single plant in bloom. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought they were a summer fruit.. or a spring fruit. Or something. Not winter.

Planted out my beetroots today. I don’t know if they’ll work out.

XX Brooke

Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”

It’s so cold! What is going on here? I live in Qld for criminy’s sake! 6.5 degrees? Blah. In spite of the cold I did do some work in the garden today. Along the border of my property is an ugly garden bed full of what  I think are called Moses basket because the flowers look like little baskets. I don’t like the plant. So I pulled them out. Then I forked in some compost and well-rotted horse manure and planted out my green mignonette lettuces and fordhook giant silverbeet. I was thinking about getting the rainbow ones but I have so many silverbeet seedlings (maybe 30) that I think it would be silly… or maybe not. You can freeze it. But my freezer is tiny. I will also plant my grosse lisse tomatoes here and my black beauty eggplants and a bunch of other stuff that needs to go in the ground or die.

Anyway here are some pictures of some of the stuff growing right now.

Watercress. So easy to grow and so good for you. Mine are growing happily in a container in the shade. No need for running water.

Broadbeans also growing happily in the shade. I have never tried these before so I cant wait to harvest them.

Snow peas or mange toute. I don’t know if mine are growing really slowly or if I am impatient because I love them so much.

Celery – another happy shade dweller.

Row of bok choy. Why are the leaves going funny?

Popping corn. Can I eat it like normal corn or do I have to dry it and pop it? How do I do that?

Radishes – The Unenthusiastic Gardener’s favourite.

I don’t know if this is button squash or Lebanese zucchini. I’ll find out soon as they have many little flower buds on them.

And finally the beautiful marigolds growing in half 2l coke bottles. Upcycling!

That’s just a few bits and pieces from my garden.

XX Brooke

Sometimes sulking works

Yesterday I discovered my partner who I shall now refer to as the unenthusiastic gardener has been secretly (to my horror) buying factory chicken. Although I have a mostly vegetarian diet, my meats of choice are kangaroo and free range chicken. I do plan on eventually becoming completely vegetarian but I believe meat is an addiction that is difficult to kick.

Anyway, back to the factory chicken. This turned into quite an argument. The argument ended with him saying “Well it’s way cheaper and I’m going to buy it” (I wanted to make a cheep-er pun but that’s a little twisted) and me saying “Well that’s gross and see ya” and then bursting into tears. I slammed our bedroom door and spent four hours sulking. After the four hours he came in and said “Ok I wont buy it anymore” and I said “Good” and we hugged and all was forgiven. We will eventually rescue some battery hens so karma might cancel out his mistake. Anyone wanting to adopt a battery hen around South East Queensland should go here http://homesforhens.net/adopt.html.

I have no gardening news. I watered the plants and left them be today.

XX Brooke.

I am a handywoman

Today was fun. My partner and I decided that if we chop down the canopies of our macadamia nut and mulberry trees the veggie patch next to the house would receive much more sunlight. So he climbed the tree and chopped while I pulled the branches towards me so they wouldn’t land on our neighbour’s roof. I cant wait to look at the sky tomorrow.

I made a trellis for my climbing beans and got to use a drill, which was fun. I quite enjoy using a power tool once in a while. It’s nothing fancy but it’s something for the little guys to cling to.

Anyway, I need to clean my blistered hands and make dinner. Fair well, lovelies!

XX Brooke

Garden update

The seeds that I planted on May 19 are coming along nicely. Silverbeet, lettuce, beetroots and tomatoes are a bit leggy. Not too bothered by the silverbeet and lettuce since I’ll just plant them deeper when I put them in the garden, and I kind of like the tomatoes having a long stalk because I can plant them deeper and the stalk will develop more roots, making a stronger plant. That’s my excuse, anyway. I am kind of concerned about the beetroots, though, as I’m not sure if they will develop properly. We’ll see what happens.

Every single plant that had powdery mildew has completely recovered. There is not a sign of mildew or any damage, so this is fabulous.  The tomatoes haven’t completely recovered from the blight but I didn’t really expect them to. They are still growing and producing fruit, and they aren’t getting any worse so I think I may aswell continue to remove badly damaged foliage and spray the plants once a week. There’s no point ripping them out.

The carrot seeds I planted about 3 weeks ago have finally germinated. Lucky for them, too, since I was close to emptying the container and starting from scratch.

I planted some more seeds today, aswell. More broad beans (my first ones have got their first flowers), purple king beans, blue lake beans and rattlesnake beans, strawberry temptation, beam’s yellow pear tomatoes, sweet corn, fennel and some other stuff I cant remember.

Cut worms ate about 80 percent of my capsicums and chillies. I still have about 5 of each so I guess it’s ok. Sort of disheartening that 2 months of love and care can be destroyed in one night by something smaller than my finger, but that’s gardening I suppose.

I shall perservere.

XX Brooke