Friday, August 31, 2012

Vegetable Growing Challenge

 I have joined the Yates vegetable growing challenge this year. I am of the mind that it isn't really a challenge because I love growing and I love sharing about what I grow. It is free to join up and sometimes there is even a free seed offer or two. This challenge only has the requirements of making at least three blog entries on their site and growing the produce from seed or seedling. I don't even need to win a prize in the challenge to feel like a winner. The picture above is my 'before' picture (and my official before post at Yates here). If you spy really hard, you can even see me in the garden. Thanks to Tim for playing photographer today. It just so happens that the best spot to take pictures of the garden is on top of the 20 000 litre rain water tank and I am too chicken to dare climb up there.

The garden is never completely bare so this is as 'before' as it gets. There is still broccoli, peas, snow peas, spring onion, carrots, broadbeans, garlic, carrots, silverbett, turnips, cauliflower and the ever-present asparagus producing. But my spring plantings are what will be the focus of the challenge. It's worth having a go even if just to spread the growing word a bit further.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hazelnut Chocolate Biscuits/ Cookies

I make these biscuits only  sometimes, they are a rich and a tad too decadent for regular consumption. Usually I just use chocolate but now I am adding hazelnut spread to make them completely over the top delicious.

The days have been busy, busy after last weeks day off. We have been digging holes for fence posts which is hot work, sowing seeds which is the most pleasant work and checking the bee hives which turns out is very sweet work. The super chambers are all full of honey even though we are still officially in winter. There are spring blooms aplenty and we will have to extract to keep the hives happy. So with a little bit extra physical work, it's ok to eat a few snacks which are high in yumminess if not in healthiness. I guess.

Hazelnut Chocolate Biscuits/ Cookies

Hazelnut Chocolate Biscuits/ Cookies
60 g butter
185 grams chocolate(milk or dark)
1 and 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut spread
1/4 cup icing sugar(for rolling)

Preheat oven to 160 deg C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until melted. Add the hazelnut spread when slightly cooled.
In a medium sized bowl mix the egg and sugar together with an electric mixer then slowly add the chocolate mixture.
Stir in sifted dry ingredients until combined and set aside in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The mixture firms up on standing.
Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls and then roll in the icing sugar. Place the balls onto the baking tray about 3cm apart and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
Probably best to let them cool completely but just warm is truly delicious.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Slacking Off

 A trip to town for a school function last night was a good enough exucse to take the afternoon off from farm work. Of course it does mean more work left for the days ahead but a gorgeous late spring day is a good reason to get out and about.

Tim and I went walking. The track is steep in places and quite a hike but just the thing to clear the mind and give the body a bit of a boost.
 6.2km or about 3.8 miles of rocky and steep paths.
 The views along the way and at the mountain top at the turning point in the walk were definitely worth the effort.
  But today it is back to reality and some fencing. A couple of the young ewes(which are notorious escape artists) have been getting through this older fence. Once they get a taste for what's on the other side of the fence, they are harder to keep in. At the moment we have some portable,solar powered electric fencing set up just to be sure and it is keeping them on the right side of the fence. We haven't had any sheep get through this fence before but now it has happened, it will only be a matter of time before others follow suit I suppose. No matter what, adequate and appropriate boundaries are a good thing to have in life.

It seems the spring-like feel in the air has made everyone feel a bit eager and busy. Marie the Wyandotte though only has to be busy doing all things chooky.Laying an egg every so often and having a dust bath to stay in tip-top condition. What a life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More pruning

Rose prunings
 Yesterday I was feeling a little pleased with myself having managed to prune all of the fruit trees that needed it. I thought I was done with pruning for the time being but alas I was mistaken. Joolz reminded me about the roses which needed some late attention. I gave the roses quite a decent pruning and I think they will benefit from it. Only three incidents with thorns so not bad going for half an afternoon's work. I should say that I do not like pruning. It just doesn't seem right to lop off perfectly good stems and branches but I guess in the long run it works to our advantage.

Bee on rocket flower
 It can't be all work and no play so I spent the rest of the afternoon in the vegetable garden. It is that time to do  a bit of prepartion for the plantings ahead. Tidying up, weeding, adding some compost but most importantly enjoying the unrushed pre-spring garden.
And also enjoy the wintery goodness of hearty vegetables that are on offer. Broccoli, turnip, silverbeet and kohl rabi today.

It's very likely that tomorrow will be a busy and tiring day with some fencing to do and a trip to town in the pm and no time for recreational gardening at all. Work must be done.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nothing Much

My routine is completely out the window and most likely won't return to 'normal' until after September 7th. Tim is on annual leave from work and things do go a little haywire. There are more tea breaks than usual and not as much time spent online. I'm hoping we manage to get a few larger projects completed that get put aside when Tim only has a few days off 'real' work at a time.

 Today I made sure all of the fruit trees that needed pruning were done and ready for spring. There are signs of spring on some of the trees. The black mulberry and the satsuma plum have bids and even baby fruit in the case of the mulberry. Tomorrow I am planning to sow a few early tomatoes in the greenhouse, hoping it isn't too early for here.

 In the couple of weeks since I last posted here I have had a trip to Sydney to visit Tom and also a few ups and downs too. Just run of the mill happenings with nothing exciting to report.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More cactus love. In a teacup planter this time. I am enjoying succulents and cacti so much that I put the word out on Freecycle and have had a couple of offers for free plants. I will pick some up tomorrow and some on Friday. I am planning on some for the ground and some for some more quirky plantings. Actually I shouldn't be making any plans at all just yet as I don't even know what I am being gifted.
This pinkest of pink camellias is utterly splendid right now. I am certainly not a pink type of girl but this one does have some charm. The sunshine both direct and reflected off the shed caused the slightly strange special effects in the picture.
Another flower that is not just right now like the camellia but will keep going all summer, is the borage. The bees love it, the compost loves it and like it a lot too. It does self-seed very readily but doesn't seem to be invasive at all and is very easily removed. It is a gorgeous colour (blue is my favourite). I think the sky in the background could  almost be described as borage blue or perhaps the borage is almost sky blue. Not sure which but lovely just the same.

The biggest surprise I found outdoors today though was not one or two but three tiny asparagus spears. They were not there yesterday but were today. I know this because I am on watch. I think it is a little too early because the frosts will freeze these tender shoots but nature knows best. And, if the frosts don't ruin them, I for one won't say no to early asparagus. It has been a long time since the last ones and it is a vegetable that I just do not buy no matter what.

I am thoroughly enjoying the Olympics each evening. Of course I have my favoured sports to watch but it is just good to see not only the spectacle of the whole event but the passion and dedication of the athletes. By the way, my favourite sport to watch is the gymnastics. Now if I could learn to do even just one handstand I would feel I had made an acheivement of Olympic proportions. And yes, I am still trying, you are never too old to learn a new 'skill'. I hope. Is anyone else watching the games?


Monday, August 6, 2012

How my garden is growing

In my neck of the woods even though it gets cold (by Australian standards), the garden always has something to offer. It may be slim pickings sometimes but you can always rustle something up. I do like seeing all of those stunningly beautiful snowscapes from the northern hemisphere but I do not envy them there lack of winter harvests.

I was quite surprised when I was in town on Satrday that there were advanced tomato plants available to buy. Now that really is just too adventurous right now with heavy frosts most mornings. I haven't even started any seedlings as yet but it won't be too long off.

 I did plant out some spinach today. It doesn't mind the cooler weather.
The spinach is sharing a bed with garlic and pak choy. The pak choy is one of those wintery greens that keep on keeping on. I always treat it as a pick as needed type of plant and it hasn't ever let me down. Although it is really an Asian style green, it really does suit any meal and is quite delicious raw in a winter salad.

 Spring must truly be on its way. I found a lonely little self-sown sunflower in the vegetable garden this morning. I know the frosts will probably end this little plants hopes of growing and flowering but you just never know. My view on self-sown/volunteer plants is that unless they are weeds and truly unwanted, they can bloom/grow where they come up because most likely that is the best spot for them and they will be vigorous and out grow most purposely planted crops.

 Just to add more proof to my theory that soup is unphotogenic in my kitchen (you know it really isn't the soup but the food stylist. I didn't even crop my foot out of the picture), here is last nights soup offering. I used Guy Grossi's recipe for a hearty bean soup which was much like minestrone and utterly delicious.

Now that my mood has improved I don't want things vexing me. Rabbits included. They are very busy right now. I have seen one in the herb garden in the middle of the day ( I think it scared a couple of weeks off my life expectancy) and if I am out after dark they are bold and brazen, coming right up near the house. It was the last straw today though. I noticed digging near my very young and temder lavender hedge and even a stem nibbled. What is particularly irritating is that they don't eat the plant, just chew it off and move on to hte next. So there may just be a dish of gardener's revenge on the menu in the next day or two. Just in case I can't bag a bunny or two though I have spread a little blood and bone around the lavenders because the rabbits hate it and it will deter them at least. The smell must send shivers down their spines.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thanks ladies and I'm ok.

Thank you for the reassuring comments on my last post. I really am ok, just not feeling very sparkly right now. I'm sure if not everyone then most people feel like that sometimes. I am so grateful for my online friends.

Not too much is happening here today. Just the usual chores, a bike ride, making up a nettle brew for the garden and then in to town so Grace can go to a farewell dinner for her Swedish friend, Hannah. The dog and cat are in the rather obscure picture abov. You just might have to look very carefully to see them. The dog on Grace's bed and the cat on Hope's. Now they really do enjoy the good life and they expect nothing less. Oh and I am crocheting up a set of dolls which I will post a picture of when they are done. I did squeeze in about half an hour in the vegie patch in my shortened day too. A good day no, a great day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


The past little while I have been feeling a bit disenchanted with life in general. I'm not sure where this sentiment is coming from because I am well aware that I have ever so much to be grateful for in my life. But moods are moods and are difficult to control completely. Perhaps it is being a little winter weary, perhaps it is hormonal , perhaps I am just bored or maybe it is just a passing thing that will leave as easily as it came. Here's hoping. While waiting for it to pass, I am just carrying on even if I am not keeping calm.

  Cooking for my family. I maintain that soup is the most unphotogenic of foods. Here is my version of Nigel Slater's Thai-inspired noodle soup. My version because I used chicken instead of prawns because I am the only one here who eats food from the sea. Next time I will spice it up a little more, we are chilli lovers afterall. I have only just discovered Nigel Slater and his wonderfully wholesome simple cookery but this week I have made two of his recipes. The soup and a lentil stew which was also delicious.

 Although winter is still very much here and now, there is some lush growth on the nettles so they will be heading for the soup pot and pasta dough tomorrow. Perhaps even some to steep for spraying in the garden and to add to the compost heap too. Gotta love a plant that can feed you and work some magic in the garden  and compost too. Even if it is quite unlovable.

More cooking. The lemons looked great on the tree but they are no use there and they even looked quite good on the plate but they aren't much use there either. So now a couple of them are in a lemon slice and the rest have been juiced and frozen for later use. There are still a heap more on the tree so I guess it might be time to make lemonade.

Thanks for visiting