Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chick Update: 1 day old Black Australorps

Now our little chicks are a day old, its off to the brooder box they go.

We made the call by midday that any unhatched eggs were out and the hatched ones were ready to leave the incubator.

Its officially six (6) out of 9 eggs hatched. We have six beautiful and strong personalities to welcome to our family.

With scrupulously clean hands we moved them one by one into the brooder with the heat table (actual brooder), dipping their beak once into their water and once into their chick crumble (food source) to introduce them to their basic necessities.

Then came time for their Mareks vaccinations. I now understand why so many people do not vaccinate their chicks.

  1. They come in enormous batches (doing 125 to 1,000 chicks at a time)
  2. Its expensive for the little we have hatched. (Over $100 for our small batch)
  3. Its a multi-part process to mix the vaccine to become active.
  4. The vaccine has a limited life span of only 2 hours. YES, only 2 hours.
  5. Injecting a chick on the back of the neck is harder than you think, especially if you have never done it before.
  6. Can only be administered on day old chicks.

To learn how to mix and administer the vaccine for Mareks check out:

We put them directly onto newspaper for their first day and sprinkled chick crumble around so that they can get use to their food source before we add any wood shavings. Otherwise they will only peck at the wood shavings and not learn about their food.

The brooder is set fairly low to begin with and will be raised higher as they grow each week.

They are cuteness on legs!

Or you can go for the much clearer picture as to what Black Australorp chicks look like, below. Mine won't stand still for a second for a GOOD picture. :)

via MyPetChicken

We are hatching chickens

Its our first time hatch our own chickens. And these little sweeties are purebred black Australorps.

Its been a tricky slog, first of all using a broody hen which quickly turned into THREE broody hens for only 12 eggs. Made great use of my excessively broody Silver Laced Wyandottes and Light Sussex girls.

As time progressed we lost three (3) eggs.

1. One of my kids accidentally put it into the fridge with the other eggs.
2. One was cracked. Tried to glue it with PVA glue but the hens attacked it and ate the chick's head.

...which prompted us to rescue the eggs and pop them into the new incubator.

3. One went bad! It was oozing a honey-like substance and it stunk out the entire incubator!

Then there were incubator dramas. Mostly all humidity based or rotational.

Day 18 was 'lock down'- no more turning, and the sections were removed so there would be no more movement of the eggs.

On the morning of Day 21, today...they started to hatch.

Signs were apparent at breakfast but they held off on coming out until the kids got home from school, with the first two popping out in the 4pm hour.

There are big breaks between hatchings and we are still awaiting the remainder to hatch as I type this. (My hubby wants to show off the pictures at work!)

Tomorrow morning we will be vaccinating them. I think we might have an all-nighter on our hands to maintain the correct humidity (65-75%). The kettle is regularly on. And kitchen paper towels are on-hand. No opening the incubator until they are all hatched in the morning.

Our first two hatched black Australorp chicks. Black beak and Pink beak.

We are completely in love with them all.

This is better than TV! This is ADDICTIVE!!!

If you are hatching eggs too, we would love to hear from you and any tips you can share.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Eggplants: What a difference a soil makes

This is my first year of growing Eggplants and I have discovered just how easy they are to grow. But the curious situation in my garden is that even though all the plants are the same age from the same punnet, they are at two very different levels of growth.

Its amazing what a difference a soil type makes.

The plants in the planter was given fresh potting mix while the smaller plants have been planted after a crop of leeks with minimal rest time to that bed. There was some digging through of potting mix and chicken manure, but it hasn't produced the growth like that of the planter. Wow!

I'm using a potting mix that is especially for Vegetables and Herbs containing a wetting agent.

And speaking of potting mix, I've been on top of my potted fruit trees this year keeping them hydrated with Wetta Soil watered in.

Since adding the Wetta Soil the Naval Orange tree has sprouted some surprise new growth, growing oranges as well as sprouted some new orange blossoms.

How are your soils coping this summer?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Banana Coconut Bread

Too many ripe bananas in the fruit bowl?
Need a gluten-free recipe?
Need a little more fiber in your diet?
A cake for a sugar-free diet?
This delicious recipe covers it all.

This cake not only surprises on taste, but its a remarkably healthy alternative.

Banana Coconut Bread


12-14 dates, seeded and chopped
3 bananas, mashed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbspn chia seeds
1 Tbspn brown rice protein
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup brown or white rice flour


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  2. Line or grease a loaf tin.
  3. In a medium sized bow, mix melted coconut oil with vanilla, eggs, mash bananas, dates and bi-carb.
  4. Add shredded coconut, chia seeds, brown rice protein and rice flower. Mix through well with a whisk.
  5. Pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  6. Bake for 45-60 minutes. Test the centre with a skewer to see if it comes out clean before removing from the oven.
  7. Let loaf sit in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Coconut Oil, Bananas, Dates, Bi-Carb

To that is then added the Shredded Coconut, Chia Seeds, Brown Rice Protein and Rice Flour.

Lined loaf tin - baked at 180ºC for 50 minutes

Very yummy! Even sugary cake addicts will love this as a change.

Food that Magically Regrows Itself

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Naked Ladies OR How To Have a Pink Garden in Summer

My garden has suddenly turned pink. Blushing from all this sunshine with pink hollyhocks, a rose generosa bush rose and the most amazing flower grown from bulb, Naked Ladies.

Naked Ladies flower just before Autumn, and are also known as Amaryllis (Amaryllis Belladonna) or even Lady Belladonna.

Amaryllis are sometimes mistakenly called Easter Lilies.

They are special because the leaves and the flowers do not appear together at the same time.

And their fragrance is really something else. Its one of those aromas that leave you curious as to whether you like it or not. Some even say it is apricot like. I remember talc powders given to me as child in the 1980s that smelt just like these flowers. It is completely reminiscent.

Amaryllis love hot and dry conditions, just perfect for the South Australian climate. These bulbs are the true survivors. No bad seasons ever seem to knock them off!

Plant the bulbs in early summer time when the bulb is dormant, just before flowering. The bulbs have a habit of clumping over the years.

The first year or two they may not flower after being transplanted as they have a reputation for being a little temperamental. Once established, they come back year after year.

They also reproduce through the flowers. After each flowering season they go to seed which then expel small juicy round bulbs that scatter themselves a little further a field in the garden. They do sprout well in the next leafy season, although much smaller than the established larger bulbs.

I have never found them to be invasive in my garden. I like to plant them in sections of my garden that go bare over summer. Even mulch doesn't keep them down. They love to pop up when they are ready, to give your garden a pink make-over.

Guillot Rosa Generosa Bush Rose

Pink Hollyhock

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jigsaw: Adelaide Botanic Gardens ground cover

preview150 pieceGround Cover Garden Try my latest jigsaw. Adelaide Botanic Gardens ground cover. 150 pieces.

Lotus Pond at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

In January, under the summer sun the Nelbumbo Pond at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens springs to life with the most beautiful lotus flowers.

These beautiful flowering plants are commonly known as Sacred Lotus, or by its botanical name of Nelbumo nucifera.

According to the Botanic Gardens of South Australia
The sacred lotus has an amazing ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers, similar to humans and other warm-blooded animals. His team discovered that the lotus flowers maintained a temperature of 30-35°C, even when the air temperature dropped to 10°C. The belief is that this occurs so the lotus can attract coldblooded insect for pollination.

The sacred lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam and different parts of the plant are used in cooking throughout Asia. As well as being used in teas, garnishes, soups and herbal medicines, lotus seed paste is also a key ingredient in mooncake, the famous Chinese sweet treat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Diggers Garden Shop - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

If you love the idea of planting heirloom seeds then the Diggers Garden Shop in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is going to absolutely thrill you.

You probably know about Diggers seeds from Australian gardening magazines or by their online store for seed banking heirloom varieties. What often puts me off from purchasing is usually the postage costs, but now that's one less thing to worry about with their Adelaide store.

The shop is located at the Schomburgk Pavilion which is tucked in behind the Museum of Economic Botany; newly built to also include a cafe. Its within a stones throw of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. All conveniently centrally located in the gardens near the lake.

I have been promising myself a trip to Diggers since last year, and I am so glad I finally made the trip during the school holidays with my family. Nobody was bored.

They stock a range of seedlings, seeds of seasonal vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as bulbs, books and an array of garden hardware that you may not find anywhere else.

Looking for elusive Rock Dust Minerals, they have it!
Diotomaceaous Earth, yes.
Obelisks, yes.
Decent watering cans, yes.
Snail traps, yes.
Turn your drink bottle into a mini watering can with a screw on watering head, yes.
Trugs, knee pads, glove, yes.
Slate markers with chalk, yes.
Books about chickens. YES!!!

Packets of seeds on average were about $4 or $5. Seedlings varied in price, most of the plants I chose were around $7 each.

It does work out to be good value when you consider that most of the plant varieties sold are hard to come by elsewhere.

Heirloom varieties date back decades and have not become hybrid versions, which means you can let your crop go to seed and use those seeds for your next crop safely.

Every seed packet that is available in store is growable in our climate and ready for planting right now.

Did you know that the Diggers Garden Shop stock 3 dozen different types of tomato seed alone? Seeds are sectioned to be found easily at a glance. Even wild flower mixes are available.

Become a Diggers Club Member and enjoy extra benefits: discounts, magazines, workshops and free goodies. (There are even seedlings plants exclusive to Club Members only!)

Join up in store or online.


Check out the Botanic Gardens for Diggers' heirloom plants growing in the grounds. Just North out from the Bicentennial Conservatory (#5 on the map) you will find the garden (#4), near the fountain.

 Diggers Garden Shop is open every day, except Good Friday and 24 and 25 December, between 9am and 5pm, closing at 4:30pm in June and July.