Archive for December, 2001


Why do sunflowers always reach towards the sun? There are two schools of thought:

  • It’s due to differential growth of the stem. There’s a growth-regulator that builds up in the shaded side of the sunflower’s stem, making that side grow faster than the sunny side. This causes the stem to bend towards the sun.
  • Go outside, stand on your tippy-toes, stretch your arms out wide, and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Feels good, eh?

1 Dec 2001 13 Dec 2001 14 Dec 2001 13 Dec 2001 23 Dec 2001 23 Dec 2001

14 Dec 2001: The first flower is just starting to open (see picture above).

Oct 2001: Planted sunflower seeds in the top garden bed.

December 15th, 2001

New CityDesk Article – Index Pages

I’ve written a new article on using CityDesk, Index Pages. I also modified the Folders article after swapping tips with Terry Kearns – having a file named Index in each folder of the site makes it confusing when editing them. Now I just use the keyword “(Index)” to identify articles that are topic indexes, and can use any name I like for them.

December 14th, 2001

New iMac For Grandma

Today I organised the purchase of a second-hand iMac for my Grandmother. She’s outgrown her old Mac II, and now wants to join the rest of us on the internet. It wasn’t too bad a deal, either – $820 for a 350 MHz G3 with 128 Mb RAM and a 6 Gb hard disk.

December 14th, 2001

Renovation Plans Are Ready

We got our renovation plans back from the draftsman tonight. They look great – the living area of our house (excluding the garage) will go from 100 square metres to 182 square metres!

Finally somewhere to keep all our crap!

December 13th, 2001

Tumbling Compost Bin

I’ve been wanting to buy one of those commercial tumbling compost bins for a long time now, but they cost over $300 bought new. You’d have to make truckloads of compost for that price to be worthwhile! Time for some miserly cunning.

When buying bales of lucerne from the feed store at Albion Park Rail, I noticed they had a few large PVC drums lying around. I asked if they were for sale, and got one for $25. They also had smaller ones (about a third this size) for $20 – they’d be good for making comfrey tea or liquid manure. Getting it into the boot of my hatch-back was not easy – these things are about the size of a 44 gallon drum, and I already had two bales of hay in there.

Once home, I drilled a few holes in the drum to let air in and water out, then filled it with leaves, manure, grass clippings and garden prunings. I also chucked in a few handfuls of comfrey, a dash of blood and bone, and a shovel of fresh compost to seed the bacteria and micro-organisms. Every morning I roll it around the yard to mix up the contents, check it’s not too dry inside, and then leave it to stand in the sun. If it works like a normal tumbling compost bin (and I see no reason it shouldn’t!), I should have nice compost within a month or two.

9 Dec 2001 9 Dec 2001 9 Dec 2001 13 Dec 2001

The nice thing about this compost bin is its portability. You just roll it to where you want to use the compost, screw the lid off, and empty it out. It’s the same when filling it with weeds or prunings – it comes to the job with you.

The bin was filled on 9-12-2001. I’ll post more photos as the compost breaks down, to give you an idea how quickly it works.

One thing to note – if you’re going to use a drum like this to make compost, check what it’s been used for first. This one was an old olive barrel, and had more recently been used to store horse feed. You definitely don’t want to make compost in something that once held chemicals, oil or some other noxious substance.

December 11th, 2001

Vegetable Garden

I began building the new vegie patch on 16-9-2001. Railway sleepers are bloody heavy – don’t start a garden like this with a pregnant wife who can’t help!

16 Sept 2001

By 17-10-2001 (hey, nothing works fast in our house!), the retaining walls were set up. I laid a thick layer of newspapers over the grass, then arranged biscuits of lucerne hay on top. In the top bed, I planted pea, corn and sunflower seeds in handfuls of compost.

17 Oct 2001 17 Oct 2001

This is what the sunflowers looked like on 26-11-2001:

26 Nov 2001

On 9-12-2001 we covered the whole back section of the yard with a thick layer of newspaper (hose it down to stop it blowing around), and then spread lucerne hay over the top. That’s another 30 or 40 square metres of lawn I no longer need to mow.

9 Dec 2001

December 11th, 2001

Nursery Preparations

We bought a bare pine chest of drawers for the baby’s room. After much deliberation, we decided to paint it a gender-neutral bright red and yellow. The cot we bought off a friend also got a lick of paint while the brushes were out. All we need now is a baby.

24 Nov 2001 24 Nov 2001 23 Dec 2001 23 Dec 2001

December 11th, 2001

Lettuce ‘Green Cos’

7 Dec 2001

Mr. Fothergill’s (seed)

Lettuce ‘Green Cos’. An excellent variety of cos lettuce, producing large, firm hearts with a crisp texture and good flavour. It is suitable for both Spring and Autumn sowing.

Sow: Spring and Autumn, a few seeds in each clump, 6mm deep. Cover with a fine layer of seed raising mix or soil, and water gently. Space the clumps about 20cm apart. Keep moist. Thin to the strongest seedlings. Feed with liquid fertiliser every 10-14 days. water often as lettuce have shallow roots. Make successive sowings at fortnightly intervals.

Harvest: Will be ready 8 weeks from sowing. Eat straight from the garden.

Green Cos is ideal for growing in large tubs, pots or troughs.

Early Dec 2001: Began picking leaves. They’re perfect for sandwiches and Caesar salads. Eight or ten plants provides more lettuce than the two of us can keep up with!

Late Oct 2001: Pricked out the seedlings, and planted them in the bottom garden bed.

Mid Oct 2001: Sowed lettuce seeds in the sand/coir mix.

December 11th, 2001

Christmas At Husky

On Saturday 8-12-2001, we had our first Christmas dinner with Mum and Dad down at Huskisson.

8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001 8 Dec 2001

December 10th, 2001


My favourite way to cook zucchini is in a small saucepan with butter and thyme. Towards the end of their fruiting life, I leave one or two zucchinis per plant to grow into a huge marrow. These are great stuffed with chilli-flavoured mince and topped with grated cheese.

28 Nov 2001 26 Nov 2001 1 Dec 2001

It pays to have plenty of bees around the yard to pollinate your zucchini flowers. Sunflowers are especially good at attracting them. If a female zucchini flower doesn’t get pollinated properly, it won’t form a proper fruit and will end up looking like this:

10 Dec 2001

You can tell male and female zucchini flowers apart by looking at the centre. The flower on the left is a female, the one on the right is male:

14 Dec 2001 15 Dec 2001

13 Dec 2001: Picked 3 more zucchinis.

12 Dec 2001: Picked 2 more zucchinis today. They’re starting to pile up in the fridge – if you know any good zucchini recipes, email me!

10 Dec 2001: Picked 1 zucchini.

9 Dec 2001: Picked 4 zucchinis today.

Early Nov 2001: Planted zucchini seedlings from punnets.

December 9th, 2001

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