Changes in the garden too

The garden we have today looks different to those we had in the past.  We're in the process of preparing for older age while we continue to live here, close to our family, in a place we love. Next month it's been 20 years since we moved here. We've kept chickens and grown a garden for the past 30 years so it's not been an easy decision to let some of it go.  One of the must-haves for me is herbs. I use a lot of herbs in my cooking and can't imagine having land outside the back door without half a dozen different herbs growing in the sun.  We both love our fresh oranges and lemons too and if we can harvest 60 or 70 passion-fruits and a few berries, well, it feels like we're living on easy street.



The photos above are three of our past gardens. The last photo is probably around 2013-14. Soon after that we removed the two middle beds and now have four garden beds left. We're not taking out any more but we're not growing vegetables in the bed next to the chicken coop now. As you can see in the photo below taken last week, it's been given over to roses, sage, grumicharma (tropical cherry) and a late variety orange - Lane's Late. None of which require intensive care.

Two years ago when we took out those two beds, we still managed to grow what we needed in the four beds we had left. We moved all the citrus into the main garden and continued on with fruit, herbs and vegetables.

The photo above is of Hanno's soil preparations which always happen in March. When all is ready, we plant seeds and seedings and continue gardening till December. When it's too hot to garden, the herbs, citrus and berries continue on without much help from us, most other things die back and we start again in March.
 Above, I think it was 2014-15 when we took out the first bed, the one in the middle went soon after.

And this is what it looked like the following year.  The grass grew back and we moved a table in.



 Head gardener and his apprentice.

We frequently have visitors and these familiar faces - Nana Chel and Damac (centre) with her cousin have been here a couple of times.  This was us having afternoon tea in the garden last year.
Of course now we have our gardening Scottie, Gracie.

Currently we are growing our summer veg and herbs: corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kale, berries, lettuce, chilli, capsicum, Welsh onions, dill, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, bay, comfrey and fennel. Now that all the winter vegetables have been removed, we're planting flowers in the back beds closest to the chickens and next year we'll still have the four beds but will only grow veg in two of them. I think we'll manage that smaller space well. We'll be able to grow our favourites, still have plenty of herbs and fruit and the planting out and maintenance should be well within our capabilities. I'm only looking ahead three years, when Hanno will be 80.

I planted these out during the week. It's a selection of flower seeds - Cosmos, Bergamot, Queen Anne's Lace, Yarrow, Dill, Caraway, Cornflower and a few others that will attract bees to the garden.  I planted out my Thai Pink Egg tomatoes around the border of the garden and have sprinkled these seeds in the middle of the bed.  I hope they flourish there because the bees will help pollinate the tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges and passionfruit.

Hanno still loves gardening and looking after the chickens; he cleaned out the chicken coop and renewed nests yesterday. It's only when he's sick or dizzy and not feeling well when I step in. This past year he had two of bouts of pneumonia and a couple of other small things so I did most of the gardening. It took me longer than it takes him but time is something we're not short of so I pottered away at my own pace and enjoyed the time spent out there in the garden. We had a magnificent year for tomatoes and I've just planted a new crop of Thai Pink Eggs so, hopefully, we'll be eating our own tomatoes on Christmas day.

Some of our girls.  Above, a silver laced Wyandotte.
Blue Australorpe.
Gold laced Barnevelder.
Silver laced Barnevelder.

We have a lovely block of land with rainforest and a creek in the backyard and although the yard is big, Hanno enjoys mowing the grass with a ride-on mower. There will come a time when we hand over those tasks to others but I'm pretty sure we'll be out there watering and harvesting for a few years yet. There was a time in the not too distant past when most of us lived like this. Our homes were more productive then. We made bread and soap, cleaned our homes using a few basic cleansers, cooked from scratch, invited family and friends over and spent time in the back yard gathering vegetables, fruit, honey and eggs.  It's still a viable and very satisfying way to live and doing it gives you the feeling you can go on forever. Although none of us do. 😊

38 comments

  1. Being a little smaller and less maintenance allows you to continue with it and enjoy rather than it get out of control and you can concentrate on what you have. Your garden has so many different types of areas and you plan and adjust it so well.
    The first thing I saw in your earlier photos was your huge kale tree. I love kale and was instantly drawn.
    Your girls are looking so happy and healthy. How old is your oldest chicken?
    Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Kylie

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    1. Hi Kylie, at the moment our oldest girl would be about 5.

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  2. Rhonda your garden looks great and I am sure it is enjoying the recent rain. Hopefully there is more to come and it is overcast here today. There are also big changes here in the garden too as we age but while I can I will continue to potter around in the veggie garden as I find it therapeutic. Nice lot of visitors you had last year too ;-)

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  3. Your garden looks incredible. It's nice to see the old photos, too. My garden looks so messy next to yours. It makes me giggle. Nice to see the picture you, Hanno, Nanna Chel, and Damac, too. I'm amazed at all that you are still growing. I find the flowers really do attract the pollinators.

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  4. Your photos just say PEACE to me. I understand why you can shut the gate and not go out for weeks on end.

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  5. Your garden looks wonderful as do your chickens and your family/friends. That loaf of bread pictured in the sidebar looks divine also. I hope my pestering you about the dishcloth didn't lead to the change in the sidebar! I'm giving a go with Aunt Lydia's # 3 crochet thread and a 4mm needle to see if I like it. Thanks for the info.

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    1. Hi Richard. No, I didn't feel any pestering but your comment did make me realise that post ad been there too long and needed to be changed. I hope your dishcloth serves you well.

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  6. I grew the Thai Pink Egg Toms last year. I had what looked like it was going to be a bumper crop, when the Qld fruit fly moved in. We got a few toms but nothing like what I was expecting. I will stick with the Tiny Toms as the fruit fly seem to leave these alone. I love the photo of Hanno and the apprentice. They both seem right at home out there working in the garden.

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    1. That's a shame about the fruit fly, Jane. Luckily we don't have it here. I got really good results with cocktail tomatoes this year. The best crop of small tomatoes we've ever had. We'll keep them going because as you know, those little tomatoes have few problems.

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  7. I just love your little piece of paradise. If I could, I would come there and help you guys in your older age too. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Your gardens look lovely Rhonda. We are hoping to create something similar here. Love that picture of Gracie! And isn't the blue Australorp chicken a beauty? We are looking to add a few more chickens to our small flock as we sadly lost one a few months ago. I'll show my daughter these pictures. Is she a good layer?

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  9. Such lovely markings on those chookens.
    There is a lot of fruit fly about this year.
    I have caught quite a few in my traps so far.
    Seasons have been too mild.
    I have a grumicharma & it quickly achieved 4mx4m.
    It seems to have slowed down now & I would like to reduce its height but not sure about the required pruning technique as I don't want to loose it or upset it's production cycle.
    Its rather a heavy bearer. Apparently many trees hardly bear at all, its a bit of pot luck.
    Or maybe they got pruned too hard too young.

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  10. You have a beautiful garden Rhonda. I love the blue table in there. A perfect place to relax with a cup of tea or entertain friends.

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  11. Your yard looks green Rhonda, ours is brown and crunchy.The vege garden is such a credit to you both.

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  12. love seeing your gardens, past & present. so inspirational
    too dry here yet for much to grow, am currently working out where to put my geraniums out in the garden, they like the heat & don't mind it dry either.
    Gracie's a cheeky thing, wonder what was in the wheelbarrow lol
    Hanno is looking well as is the apprentice, wow he is growing up so fast!
    have a great weekend
    thanx for sharing

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    1. Selina, I'll tell you what was in the wheelbarrow - chook poo and straw. Hanno was taking it from the chicken coop to the compost heap and Gracie had to inspect it. If she could have climbed into the barrow, she would have. Thank goodness for short Scottie legs. 🙄

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  13. Thai Pink Egg Toms - I'm going to write that name down to grow next year. I love Hanno and your garden Rhonda, in fact I'm very envious of the 4 garden beds. Hopefully with time I will manage to build beautiful soil in mine too. Cheers Lyndie

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  14. Oh, your yard is so lovely! And I'm not quite sure those are real chickens....they're so incredibly beautiful, I'm pretty sure they're 'yard art'!!! I've never seen such beauties such as that before.

    I love the picture of nosey Miss Gracie in the wheel barrow!

    Our yard is another reason to downsize. It's pretty big and a lot of work. We've always used regular mowers for the good exercise, but I think my husband is now looking wistfully at the neighbors with the riders lol!! Who, I should add, are all about half his age with less than half the yard. It's funny how different things are across the states. In SoCal, the only riding mowers I saw were on immense estates, farms, & public parks. Here, they're a status symbol even if one has a postage stamp sized lawn.

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    1. Hi Debby, thank you. Hanno used an ordinary mower for the first 17 years here and it took him at two days to do the job. When he was well and truly in his 70s I suggested a ride on and after we bought it, the job was then about 3 hours. He wondered why he didn't go to a ride on earlier. The ride ons are quite popular here for large lawns.

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    2. Debby, we are in the USA and have had riders for years since we have always had a big yard. If you decide to go with one my advice would be to skip the inexpensive ones that are in rows in front of the big box stores and get a really good one. We had a couple of those cheaper ones and they last 2-3 years. Now we have a Snapper that has been going strong for 20 plus years although we did have to replace the engine after some mice did some mischief over the winter one year.

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    3. Thanks for the tip, Lana. We bought a regular mower at Sears (a Craftsman) 14 yrs. ago this month and it's done great. But, never a rider so we're pretty clueless there.
      When I grew up in L.A., we had a push mower (run fast!!!) and an edger that was essentially a large pastry wheel!
      No gas, no electric. All people powered. I don't think we got our first power mower until I was in my 20's. That was when the kids left and my dad had to do it himself!!

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  15. Rhonda
    what a wonderful record of how things change in a garden, the pictures brought to mind The Castle and the phrase " feel the serenity".

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  16. I love your blog. Glad I found it. Very inspiring. I will be back!

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  17. Timely post. My husband still works full time at 67 and won't retire officially till 70. We need the income. But I am always looking for ways to improve our property so that it is more manageable when the older years hit. We maintain 3 garden areas but most of the work is my daughter's. She lives with and works part time and is an enormous help. Your yard looks very manageable and lovely. Love the chickens. We have 11 girls and fresh eggs are the best. I am considering when these girls are gone not getting chickens again but we shall see.

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  18. Such a wonderful uplifting post, Rhonda, I hope lots of us are inspired to plant more produce in our gardens, large and small, after reading this xox

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  19. I am always in awe of your lovely vegetable gardens. It is smart to downsize rather than find out half way through the season that you are overwhelmed.

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  20. Rhonda, your garden looks truly amazing. Here I am sitting, thinking do I have time to do the gardening and the housework. What an inspiration. I must pull my finger out and start work on the garden.

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  21. This truly is the good life: Friends and family gathered; a meal to share; fruit and veggies in the garden; chooks; and man's best friend.

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  22. I have been enjoying your posts about growing older and preparing for whatever life throws you. I am 60 and have been thinking the same thing myself. In hind site, I would have done many things differently, but when you're younger you don't think that some day have a two story house may not have been the best idea! Ditto the mature trees that are now dying trees and need to be taken down at a steep cost. Sigh.... I always enjoy your garden pictures. They make me happy, as does pictures of your rascal of a dog Gracie. The picture of her peering into the wheelbarrow is precious! Have a good weekend, Rhonda.

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    1. Hi Debbie. Gracie is staring at chicken poo and straw in the wheelbarrow that Hanno was taking from the coop to the compost heap. And yes, she is a rascal. She would have been IN the barrow if she could jump that high. :- )

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  23. I so love your blog. Reading here feels like I'm sharing a cup of tea and a visit.
    In getting ready for the future, have you given any thought to raised beds for at least part of your gardens? I ask because one of my community garden spaces is in a raised bed, about a meter off the ground. It's easier on my back and takes much less work to maintain. I can do a good stir up of the soil with just a hand spade. It's about 2 m X 3 meter in size and quite nice to grow my salad greens and one cucumber.
    Love the picture of Gracie!!
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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    1. I'm still okay bending over, SJ. I prefer a garden that is part of the ground with all the minerals that can be accessed by the plants. We might have to have a raised bed eventually but at the moment we're okay with these. :- )

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  24. Your garden still looks very productive. Its amazing what you can grow in a small space!

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  25. Your girls (chickens) look beautiful and healthy.

    My paternal grandfather grew most of our family's vegetables when I was growing up. He carried on gardening vegetables long past retirement into his eighties. He loved it, and I'm sure it played a big part in keeping him fit and well for so long too.
    Now he's 94 he's finally had to stop as he doesn't have the physical strength, and my uncle and aunt have taken over from him. He still misses it though (and tries to tell my uncle the best way to do everything ....).

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  26. We've planted the Thai egg tomato this year too. Just the one, along with some oxhearts as Brian's the only one who eats tomatoes.

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  27. woow... what a big garden you have... Here in the Netherlands most people have very small gardens. Our is 5 mtr wide and 11 long.

    Seeing yours is just a dream... So much space.

    I understand that it's hard to decided that some beds have to go.

    Here I tried to let some vegetables grow but the birds and others eat all the young plants.

    There rose is beautiful... I love roses too...

    And posting all the garden pictures I get a better few... I saw even palmtrees...

    Hope you can enjoy your garden for many more years to come.

    Nice greetings,
    Willeke

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  28. I just love that you are adjusting to 'senior times' rather than stopping. I will be 54 when I land on my final homestead. My goal is to improve the land so when I am in my 60's it will be full of perennials, chickens, and a few productive garden beds
    Holly, USA, Illinois

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  29. Respect to you for acknowledging changing age, it's something most try to avoid thinking about and many thanks for your site packed full of information.

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