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.

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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

Lettuce ‘Tuscan Salad Mix’

There were four types of lettuce in the punnet -?La Roma Green, endive, radicchio and La Roma Red. The photos below are in that order (thanks to Luc Dedeene from for helping me figure that out!).

9 Dec 2001 9 Dec 2001 9 Dec 2001 9 Dec 2001

Floriana (seedlings)

Lettuce ‘Tuscan Salad Mix’. A mix of La Roma Red, La Roma Green, Radicchio and spidery endive for a perfect salad blend which may be picked leaf by leaf. Suitable for containers.

Lettuce prefer a well drained, friable soil and should be protected from snails.

Position: Sunny to lightly shaded.

Plant: 25-30cm apart.

Planting Time: All year round.

Maturity: 6-8 weeks.

Uses: Salads (radicchio can also be?barbequed).

6 Dec 2001: Maryanne bought this punnet of mixed lettuce seedlings, but then didn’t have anywhere suitable to plant them out. After sitting on her garden bench for a few weeks, I planted them in our garden for her.

December 9th, 2001

Beneficial Creatures

The more beneficial creatures you can get to take up residence in your back yard, the less work you have to do to keep garden pests under control.


Lizards clean up slugs, snails and other bugs. All they seem to want in return is a log or rock to live under and a pond or a few shallow containers of water left around the yard. Don’t use snail pellets if you’ve got lizards in your yard – they’ll die if they eat a poisoned snail.

25 Nov 2001 9 Dec 2001


Despite their sissy name and girly looks, lady beetles are actually ferocious insectivores. They especially love sucking the juices out of aphids and mites. The fellow below didn’t cause that leaf damage – he’s eating the bugs that did!

Bees make sure all the flowers get pollinated properly.

1 Dec 2001 11 Aug 2001

December 9th, 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.

27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001

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!

27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001

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.

27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001 27 Dec 2001

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

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