Home Preserving

We often have quite an excess of produce during its season, and while we are happy to share around with others we also like to preserve for later in the year. In the last two months we have made nectarine chutney, lemon and mustard seed chutney, ginger picked carrots, and pickled tomatoes- all with home grown fruit and vegetables.

We also really enjoy ferments and picked, and make our own sauerkraut and kimchi with as much of our home produce as possible.

In the photo behind the fermenting sauerkraut, there are (top left to right) baked beans (not with homegrown produce but a favourite recipe!), spiced tomatoes, preserved lemons, herb infused oils, chutneys, peach jam, kefir lime marmalade, sweet chilli sauce, ginger pickled carrots, and pickled galangal. The other shelf on the left is home ‘farmacy’ using home grown herbs and honey/beeswax from our hives. Favourites are calendula salve, bumps and bruises balm, lip balm, wood polish, shoe polish, and calendula lotion bars. Home remedies include mint tincture (for upset stomachs), rosemary or oregano tincture (for upper respiratory symptoms) and ginger tincture and rose tincture combined with honey for sore throats!

Making our own products for food or health are a great use of home produce, and also help us to be more sustainable. We also make our own reusable gift bags to save using wrapping paper, and beeswax wraps to avoid using plastic wrap.


Since moving to McCarthy Park 2, we have trying to find the best place for growing berries, as we had in McCarthy Park 1……. the chickens eat them, the ducks eat them, they frazzle in Perth’s hot summers……..

In our continuing attempts to reduce the amount of lawn, bit by bit, we came up with the idea of raised grow beds near the aquaponics. This area has a few benefits- the animals can’t eat them, they get morning sun but afternoon shade, they are contained (so they don’t get out of control), and they are close to the house (and the blueberries) for easy picking!

Unfortunately it is quite late in the season so we may have to wait until next year to get any berries!

We have several potted blueberries, which fruit at different times so providing us with plenty to eat and plenty to freeze for later in the year!

Everything is blooming!

The weather has been very odd here in Perth, with some warm sunny days in between cold, wintery days. While some plants have suffered from the unseasonal cold, the majority are going well with the additional rain.

The orchard now has 11 trees covered to protect them from fruit fly and/or parrots….although today we did notice an Australian Raven having a good attack at one of the nets! There is flat peach, nectarines, loquats, pear, avocado, and several plumbs all safely under cover- fingers crossed!

The roses too are really blooming and add such a lovely colour to the garden! Thankfully this year’s quite severe winter prune was successful!

And ‘pumpkin palace’ has really taken off, despite a couple of set backs with a chook getting in for a short while! We have grown pumpkin, luffa, cucumber etc vertically for some years now, and it saves a lot of space as well as being safer due to snakes. We rotate the garden beds around the chook run- currently last year’s pumpkin palace is fallow and we add all the chook scraps in there for them to eat and scratch around. Another is sown with wheat and lupins as a ‘clucker tucker’ area. The third is this year’s pumpkin palace!

October update!

Our fruit tree netting system is proving to be very successful so far, with a total of 7 (and soon to be more) of the fruit trees in the orchard now being netted- 3 plums, 1 loquat, 1 flat peach, 2 nectarines. The avocados are flowering and soon will be netted too!

The ducks are now safely returned to the duckagon in the orchard, after having to secure them in the chook run as they kept getting out! We had to upgrade the fencing (see the orchard fence above). We also installed a lovely swimming pool for them, which they love.

They have been laying really well, but have had no inclination to sit on the eggs, so we gave some to a clucky hen and now have ducklings!

Spring 2022

Spring has arrived in Perth, and is evident with the fabulous colours in the garden at McCarthy Park!

The clivias are a fabulous splash of orange in the garden, and look amazing in a vase!

The bees are very active and bringing in lots of pollen. We have taken advantage of the weather and had a good look inside, even showing friends who are interested in getting into bee keeping. There was plenty of brood and some good honey reserves they can now add to.

We recently bought a couple of female rabbits– a Giant mix, to restart our rabbit breeding (for food) program, after selling them all prior to moving to McCarthy Park 2. With the lovely warm weather we have been able to bring them onto the grass to enjoy the fresh air and get lots of handling, as well letting the dogs get used to them.

Bruce getting acquainted with Kep and Kaanya.

Spring has also been a great time to establish more wormwood plants around the chook run. This has been a goal since the chook run was completed at McCarthy Park 2, as wormwood is a natural insect repellant and anthelmintic, meaning it can reduce or eliminate parasitic worms if ingested. Last spring and summer we grew plants around the chook run in the ‘pumpkin palace’ (the area around the chook run is divided into three, providing fallow ground and growing space which are rotated each year).

This was to get the plants really established before the chooks were let in once harvesting was completed, and to let the leaves poke into the chook run so they could peck at them as needed- apparently they will leave wormwood alone most of the time and only ingest when they need to self medicate. We also put a sprig in the nesting boxes at regular intervals to repel insects.

It was a great success, with the wormwood growing sturdy enough to cope with the chooks once they had free access to them in the old pumpkin palace. We have now planted around the other sides in this year’s ‘pumpkin palace’ and will let them get big and strong before letting the chooks in to this section, again once harvesting is complete. This now gives us a complete wormwood barrier around the entire chook run!

The plants in the foreground are recently planted, while those in the back ground were last seasons plantings. These have been eaten by the chooks but have remained strong and vigorous despite that.

Netting fruit trees….latest method!

In McCarthy Park 1 we needed to net some of our fruit trees to prevent fruit fly damage, here are McCarthy Park 2 we also need to net them to prevent bird damage! We have lost so much fruit due to the huge number of parrots and cockatoos we are blessed with, so our tree netting method has been refined to make it easier and quicker.

First, the fruit tree has a star picket securely placed as close to the trunk as possible.

A length of PVC pipe (big enough diameter to fit over the star picket) has a dowel inserted on one end, with a hole in the centre. This piece of PVC also has holes drilled all the way through so a 6 inch nail can be inserted through one side, through a hole in the star picket, and back out the other side. Several holes spaced apart allows for the height of the netting to be adjusted.

The top support for the net is made from 20mm PVC piping, a four way joiner and four right angle joiners to soften the ends of the cut PVC piping. In the centre of the four way joiner, a hole is drilled so a 6 inch nail (with a large washer) can be inserted. These can be made to suit the size of the tree canopy.

Now all the parts are made, assembly starts with the vertical PVC pipe with the holes drilled inserted over the star picket but not with the nail going through any holes yet- we leave it low enough to put the netting on and then raise it. Then the top cross is added, with the 6 inch nail inserted into the hole in the dowel………..

Then the netting is placed over the entire structure………….

……….. and then from inside we raise the vertical PVC so it is well above the canopy, using the nail to go all the way through the pipe and a hole in the star picket at the required height……..

….. then we tie off the net around the trunk and star picket to keep it all secure!

We now have a tree well protected from fruit fly and birds. Of course the netting can only be placed on after the fruit has set to ensure all the lovely pollinators are able to get to the flowers and do their job!

We are watching these ones closely to make sure the nets go on after pollination. You can still see the insulation tape we used as ‘bandages’ when we relocated these trees from our old property. The tape is now brittle and peeling off itself as the trees grow and flourish. The intention is to gradually remove it during spring.

Revegetating update!

One year ago we revegetated ‘the oval’, a very large area of lawn that was completely unnecessary ………. what a change in just 12 months!

Although we lost a few plants in the final heat wave that hit Perth in summer, the majority of plants did very well. We have just replanted those that had died, and filled a few empty areas, and it looks absolutely fabulous! It is such a nice entry to the property now, and a lovely place to sit and watch the birds.

The rescued grass trees are growing well, with only two that didn’t survive. The rescued zamia have also done well, with only one loss.

It is such a pleasure walking to the main gate this way…………. so much nicer than before!

Welcome rain….

After a very long and hot summer, the rains arrived and really refreshed the parched garden! In particular the ‘oval’ is looking fabulous! We lost quite a few plants over the scorching heat waves, despite some watering, however those that survived are doing really well.

It looks so, so much better than when we moved in….


We just love the effect now, and it will be even better in another few months or so! For the story of how we transformed the ‘oval’, check here.


It is fabulous having ducks once again! When we moved to McCarthy Park 2, there was so much to do we needed to limit the animals we brought, so we sold our Pekin ducks, geese and turkeys, bringing only the chooks, fish and bees (that was enough at the time!!)

But…… we really missed them! We did some research to find the best type of ducks to keep in the orchard to help keep the bugs at bay and to tidy up any fallen fruit. We had enjoyed our Pekin ducks, but discovered Ancona ducks are a similar dual purpose duck (meat and eggs) but tend to be quieter and calmer- this was attractive as we were really loving the peace and quiet of our new McCarthy Park!

As they are a heritage breed, they were not easy to come by but we managed to get very young ducklings at the perfect time to slip under a clucky hen!

Australorp hens make fabulous mothers, and have regularly brought up turkeys, ducks and guinea fowl for us rather than using an incubator!

Over the next few months while they were being nurtured and kept warm, we started building the ‘decagon’.

experimenting with the location and layout….

When all was complete and ready to receive, and the ducks were big and strong enough to live alone…………

………they were carefully transported from the chook run to the duckagon in the orchard!

They are loving their new home, and are certainly calm ducks! Once they have really settled in and are used to their daily feed in the same place, we will be able to let them out to roam in the orchard, and return each night to be safe from foxes.

The heat continues….

The Perth heat has continued into February, with further days over 40! The garden is suffering a bit- showing the effects of prolonged heat. Despite that though we have continued to harvest plenty of vegetables, especially the usual summer gluts of zucchini, cucumber, green beans and tomatoes!

We have gifted lots to family and friends, as well as made tomato chutney, frozen cherry tomatoes ready for winter casseroles, ratatouille with the zucchini, fermented, pickled, made zoodles (zucchini noodles). It feels like a never-ending supply at the moment, but we are trying to preserve as much as possible for when there is not such an abundant supply!

It has been hot for the bees too, and we had to put up a gazebo to provide more shade during the real hot spells. It has been very successful, and there has been less ‘bearding’- the mass of bees on the outside of the hive- like in this photo the day we put up the shade.

Despite the heat, we have had a good honey harvest this season, collecting almost 30 litres!