Archive for November, 2001

Blue-Tongued Lizard

The easiest way to keep pests under control is to let their predators do it for you. I’ve got a team of lizards patrolling both front and back gardens, cleaning up snails, slugs and other pests. All they seem to want in return is a steady water supply and a few rocks to bask on and live under.

Here’s one of the team in action:

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Who needs snail pellets?

2 comments November 26th, 2001

Grace Is Born

Our first child, Grace Anne, was born at 12:11pm on the 27th of December 2001 at the Royal Hospital For Women, Randwick. She weighed 3.340kg (7lb 5oz), and measured 51cm (just over 20 inches).

27 Dec 2001I had a great sleep last night. Unfortunately Megan can’t say the same thing — she started getting contractions around midnight, but didn’t call until 5:30 this morning to let me know she was being moved to the delivery suite. I quickly got dressed and headed over to the hospital (luckily it’s only 2 minutes away).

The delivery progressed smoothly (as these things go), and Grace Anne Collins was born on 27-12-2001, at 12:11pm. She weighed 3.340kg (7lb 5oz), and was 51cm long (just over 20 inches).

Due to her heart problem (an AV Septal Defect), Grace was placed into Level 3 care in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. She hasn’t required oxygen or medication yet, which is a good sign, although she is on a glucose drip to keep her blood sugar level up. There are half a dozen probes stuck all over her little body, monitoring things like blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen level, breathing rate, temperature, etc.

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So far everyone is pleased with Grace’s progress. If she keeps doing well, the nurses expect to move her down to Level 2 care tomorrow.

Maryanne (Nan) and Nina arrived at the hospital around midday carrying bags of sewing to keep them occupied while they waited for the birth. As it turned out, they didn’t even get time to get anything out of their bags!

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Because Grace was born fairly early in the day, Robyn (Grandma), Ian (Granddad) and Todd (err, Uncle Todd) were able to drive up from Huskisson to visit in the early evening.

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November 18th, 2001

Banksia Harpin

The common name is Banksia Harpin (botanic name Banksia Spinulosa). I’m planning to plant it halfway along the back fence to help screen out the neighbours’ house.

12 Nov 2001

Kiama Council (seedling)

Banksia Harpin (banksia spinulosa). Red-orange flowers in Autumn to Spring. Grows to 1-4 metres.

11 Nov 2001: Kiama Council gives away free trees to ratepayers. They hold a stall outside the Council Chambers every few weekends – I can never remember when they’re coming up next, and so usually miss them. I happened to be driving past today and the stall was on, so I stopped in to check out what they had. It was late in the day, so there wasn’t much left, but I picked up this fantastic red-orange flowering banksia. For now it’s just growing in a pot on the back verandah.

November 11th, 2001

Salad Alfalfa

25 Nov 2001

Buying seed in the small Yates packets turns out to be expensive – you need to use at least a couple of teaspoons of seed to get a useful quantity of sprouts. I’m going to try and get a larger seed packet from a health food shop or a nursery.

I’ve found that when you rinse the alfalfa, the shoots float to the top and the unsprouted seeds sink to the bottom of the jar. This makes it a lot easier to separate them for serving.

Yates (seed)

Salad Alfalfa. Alfalfa or lucerne is a real health food. It is rich in many nutrients, has high levels of vitamins and minerals. Excellent to eat in salads, sandwiches or with many dishes.

How To Use: Use a large coffee or jam jar.

  1. Place the seed in the jar, soak in tepid water for about 3 hours, covering the top of the jar with either muslin, cheesecloth or a cotton handkerchief.
  2. Pour off the water, placing the jar on a slant which will allow good drainage and ventilation.
  3. Fill the jar twice a day with tepid water, shake well and then drain off.
  4. In about 3-5 days, sprouts should be ready to be eaten.
  5. Once sprouted, sprouts can be refrigerated for about one week without losing flavour, provided they are placed in an airtight container.


18 Nov 2001: I started another batch, with about twice as much seed this time.

17 Nov 2001: Ate the alfalfa. There was only a few forkfulls, though – next time I’ll use a lot more!

11 Nov 2001: I soaked about half a teaspoon of alfalfa seeds in water to start the germination process, then poured them into a glass jar with a piece of fine gauze over the top. I drained them, then rinsed them twice a day. About 6 days later, the alfalfa was ready to eat. There wasn’t very much, though – next time I’ll use a lot more seed!

25 Nov 2001

November 11th, 2001

Beetroot ‘Derwent Globe’

Beetroot are excellent steamed for about an hour with their skin on – it peels off easily once they’re cooked. If you’ve only ever tasted canned beetroot, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the flavour of the fresh stuff.

Yates (seed)

Beetroot ‘Derwent Globe’. A rich red, globe-shaped root. Flesh is tender and sweet. Ideal Summer and Winter vegetable.

Sow: Each ‘seed’ is a cluster of 1-4 true seeds in a corky base. Soak for two hours before sowing to ensure water reaches the seeds. Sowing in trays of Yates Seed Raising Mix will allow all seedlings from each cluster to be transplanted later.

Care: Transplant when 3-5cm tall into a sunny well-drained position. Apply Yates Thrive Soluble Fertiliser occasionally and keep seedlings well watered. Obtain continuous supply by successive sowings.

Germination: 10-14 days.

Harvest: 10-12 weeks.


18 Nov 2001: When I checked today, the seeds were just starting to sprout out of the seed raising mix. They’ll be ready to prick out soon.

11 Nov 2001: I soaked the beetroot seeds in water for two hours before planting them out into the sand/coir box.

November 11th, 2001

Sweet Corn ‘Honeysweet’

25 Nov 2001

Yates (seed)

Sweet Corn ‘Honeysweet’. An early maturing variety of the popular new super-sweet corn. Large, even cobs with extremely sweet golden kernels. Very easy to grow.

Sow: When the soil is warm and all danger of frosts is over. Sow seeds in pairs in damp soil. No further watering is needed until seedlings appear. Thin out the weaker of each pair when approximately 15cm high.

Care: Plant in a well-drained, sunny position. Prepare soil by adding Yates Gro-Plus Fertiliser. Water regularly. Pick cobs when fine ‘silk’ has just browned. Protect seedlings from snails with Yates Blitzem.

A Hint For Better Crops: Sweet corn is best grown in blocks of short rows, which ensures better pollination and yield.

Germination: 6-10 days.

Harvest: 12-14 weeks.


1 Dec 2001: About three quarters of the corn seeds germinated this time – much better than last time, but still a bit disappointing. I planted them out with the rest of the corn seedlings – they’re a bit smaller, but hopefully they’ll catch up. If nothing else, at least the harvest will be spread over a longer period.

11 Nov 2001: I planted more seeds in seed trays. Hopefully these ones will do better than the last two batches!

10 Nov 2001: I transplanted the November seedlings into the top garden bed.Only about half of the seeds I sowed germinated. They seem to be doing OK so far, but I’m not sure why my germination rates are so low.

Nov 2001: More seeds were planted in early November in the sand/coir seed raising box.

Oct 2001: I planted corn seeds straight into the top garden bed. They didn’t germinate – I think they got too much water and rotted.

November 11th, 2001

Basil ‘Sweet Genovese’

Basil is a handy herb to have growing in the garden. You can knock up a pesto sauce at a moment’s notice, toss it through some pasta, and be eating dinner 15 minutes after walking in the door.

Mr Fothergill’s (seed)

Basil ‘Sweet Genovese’. This is an aromatic herb which has many culinary uses, and is particularly popular in Mediterranean dishes.

An annual, growing up to 38-40cm tall. It is a useful border plant and grows well in pots or tubs.

Sowing: during Spring in final position 5mm deep, spaced 30cm apart. Keep moist. Sow all year round if growing in pots on the windowsill. Basil thrives in a rich, well drained soil and a warm sheltered position.

Harvesting: pick the leaves as required, basil is best used fresh. Pinching out the tip of the main stem will encourage bushy growth or prevent the plants from flowering to prolong picking.

Culinary: the leaves impart a mild aniseed-clove flavour to salads, soups and omelettes and are delicious with tomatoes. Only add basil at the last minute when cooking or the flavour will be lost.


18 Nov 2001: The seeds are just starting to sprout. They should be ready to plant out in the garden within a few weeks.

November 11th, 2001

Bay Tree

12 Nov 2001

Norwood Industries (seedling)

Bay Tree (laurus nobilis). Slow growing evergreen small tree 9-15 metres. Warm position in sun or partial shade. Dark aromatic leaves, tree can be pruned to shape and size. Dried leaves added to spaghetti, soups and stews. Will happily grow in a large tub.


4 Nov 2001: I planted this small bay tree at the end of the middle bed in the vegie garden today. I’m planning to keep it pruned so it doesn’t grow much more than about 2 metres tall. Hopefully it won’t take over the garden.

November 4th, 2001

Roma Tomato

I chose Roma tomatoes this year because they’re resistant to fruit fly and other pests, and have heaps of flavour. The shade cloth and wire you can see in the photo below gives the seedlings some shade and protection from wind.

12 Nov 2001


9 Dec 2001: Staked up the plants, as they were getting a bit big.

4 Nov 2001: I planted 3 Roma tomatoes from punnet seedlings in the middle garden bed.

November 4th, 2001


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