Thursday, February 27, 2014

Garden Share Collective- March

 Each month a group of gardeners from around the globe talk about their gardens. The good, the bad and the wonderful. Lizzie from Strayed from the Table is the driving force behind the idea. If you would like to check out what others have been up to, click on through .

Well it is no news that the drought has been tough and it is by no means over especially from a farming perspective. There is little feed about in the paddocks for livestock everywhere I go and there are plenty of  SORRY, NO HAY signs up outside the lucerne farms. It is how it is.

On the gardening front though I have enough water for that and the rain we had recently has lifted not only spirits but garden growth as well. There is nothing like the magic of rainfall (when it is needed) to get plants to shoot onward and upward.

This is my guilty secret. There are strawberries in the garden. Not many, one or two a day are ready and no one else here knows about them. I eat them when I am working and I haven't told my family. Sorry Tim... not!

Tonight's dinner. Not sure exactly what as yet but what is in the basket will be on the plate. I'm feeling in the mood for some gnocchi so it just might be a ratatouille type sauce with the gnocchi.

In two days time it will be autumn and it really is starting to feel like there is a slight change in the weather. I didn't think it so much today when I was working outside and it was 35degC. The asparagus knows it though, there is some yellowing of the fronds and...

there are some thin little asparagus that can be picked and eaten. At this time of the year the stalks don't rush to unfurl their leaves as quickly so you can pick a few if you are lucky.
Harvesting this past month has been a mixed bag. All of the summery goodness, tomatoes, chillies, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, beans, onions, herbs, finger lime, blackberries, corn.
Trays and trays of brassicas.
I loosely follow the guide on Gardenate.

My poor jasmine
 Things to do in March:
  • first job, fix or rather replace this arch that was holding up some jasmine plants. Those cheapy arches are obviously not up to the job.
  • plant some lavenders to replace those lost in the heat/ dry -about 10 plants.
  • keep sowing seeds
  • making pickles and chutney etc as necessary
  • grate zucchini
  • mow- it only takes a tiny bit of rain for the 'lawn' to take off
  • start preparing beds for winter vegetables
  • order any seeds I 'need'
  • keep up with my weeding rota
Cinnamon basil
Sometimes Garden Sharers offer seeds to give away and this month I can offer some Cinnamon Basil seeds. This plant has grown well for me. It isn't as basil-y pungent as regular basil but still very nice. The leaves aren't as large as ordinary sweet basil either.
I can only send within Australia and not to WA or Tasmania unfortunately. Just send me an email with your details. My email address is on my profile page (I hope).
Happy gardening


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday 25/2

The temperatures are still warm, low to mid thirties (Celsius) but that rain last week definitely brought a shift in the season with it. The promise of autumn in the cool nights and early mornings is just so pleasant. It also brought some renewed vigour in the garden. The weeds and 'lawn' are doing their best to keep me busy but I'm taking my time, smelling metaphorical roses because there are no rose flowers to actually smell.
Here are some of the flowers that delighted me in my vegetable garden today.
 Dahlia- My Love. It is a dinner plate sized dahlia so the flowers are quite large. The pure white petals don't give it anywhere to hide and it quickly fades away to a mess but its spectacular while it lasts.

 This little cutie is a chilli flower. It has lovely purple-green foliage and the chillies are rated as a 4 so supposedly mild. The chillies I've tried off this bush so far are actually quite hot indeed. Which makes it even better in my opinion.

 This flower is from the New Guinea bean. It is gourd-like and has the typical white flowers which I assume are pollinated at night by moths. Not spectacular or pretty but interesting.

And if I'm looking at flowers, there is always going to be a bee about. This time on the Echinacea.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday 23/2

A weekend filled with lots of driving and admiring the scenery along the way.

Home is still best.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday 19/2

Just bits and pieces going on today. Nothing especially interesting or pretty or exciting. Typical Wednesday most likely. 

Just my friendly wasps that live in the garden. No really, they look scary but they so far have taken the attitude that we aren't foe so no stings. They can stay... for now.

I did get some lovely mail though which made the day interesting, pretty and exciting. One letter from Wales, two from England and an envelope full of puzzles from my mum who lives close by.

One thing I have discovered since taking up letter writing again is that people are never too old for stickers.

And look at these sweet cards just for me. The cake card even has the recipe for red velvet cupcakes on the back. Very nice and on my to-bake list.

While I wait for the girls to arrive home this afternoon, I'm 'working' on a zine. I'd never heard of them but apparently they are very real and lots of people are making them. A few of the Letter Mo participants are sending them out and about so I thought why not? Well because I can't think of anything to 'zine' about and I am truly not creative. I make things yes but, I can't come up with many ideas of my own. I like to follow instructions or rather tweak instructions.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday 17/2

This morning I went out armed with a list of seeds to sow. I try to write much more neatly than this but when I write a list just for me, it is always a scribble. Anyway that's what was sown in the gorgeously moist garden this morning- carrot, fennel, lettuce, mustard, parsley, radish, salsify, silverbeet, swede and rocket all directly sown. I missed on the beetroot because I discovered I don't have any seeds. They are on my shopping list.

Sown into little pots of seed raising mix- broccoli, cauliflower, leeks and onions. Often I just directly sow these things as well as put some in pots. Whatever works. That's how I roll.

 That rain has been put to good use. The cucumbers are coming on and making me impatient.

 Sweet potatoes are growing well too but the actual tubers are quite a while away yet. The young leaves and shoots can be eaten apparently but I haven't tried them. Maybe I'll give them a go, I love trying new things.

I really should have pulled up these onions before we had rain but they were being stored nicely in the dry garden bed. Not to worry, I pulled up the last of them this morning and they are on the veranda drying out nicely. I never grow enough onions. I use a kilogram a week. In my opinion, they are one of the few vegetables that store bought usually tastes just as good so I don't worry too much about aiming for onion self-sufficiency. Of course growing them at home you can grow different varieties but they have always been hit and miss in my garden. Most likely I have just planted the wrong variety for my area. This lot did well so it was a hit.

It's not all digging and planting and playing in the mud. I'm sending off a little birthday something for a post circle friend with a birthday coming up. I just like making things, growing things and spreading a little bit of kindness.

No fun now though, I'm writing the shopping list and off to the not so super supermarket. I don't like shopping. Can you tell?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday 16/2

Finally the sound of rain on our tin roof. There really aren't too many sounds that are nicer. It rained on and off yesterday but not heavily. Enough to wet the earth a little and put a bit of hope in the heart for more. It did make outside activities much nicer too.

 Blackberry picking was on the agenda. It is one of those jobs that doesn't wait for a time when you are ready. It is either pick them quickly or the birds have them. Today my three blackberry pickers brought me back enough for four jars of jam. And with only one or two scratches each, I'd say that's a good day picking blackberries.

They were gone for ages though and when I checked the camera, I could see why. Resting up and snacking on berries by the creek probably took more time than the actual fruit picking.

 As you can see though it is mighty dry and brown in the paddocks. So hooray for this lovely rain.

I didn't make it down to the creek side to pick the berries, I was holed up in the kitchen dealing with zucchini. Making cakes and slices. I'll be grating some more tomorrow for fritters and zucchini burgers which are my favourite.

                                                     Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

110 grams butter, softened
180 grams brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp coffee
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 tbsp cocoa
2 cups grated zucchini, drained well
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Grease and line a loaf tin.
Cream sugar and butter until pale then add the eggs, coffee and vanilla.
Sift in the dry ingredients and combine.
Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips and mix until well distributed through the mixture.
Spread into prepared tin and bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
This afternoon I'm writing letters. I received a couple of postcards last week and a few letters too. My letterbox was a very happy place.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday 12/2

A spot of knitting. A cotton and bamboo mix for a dishcloth. Much nicer to knit with cotton than wool during the hotter weather.

Some sauce in the making. This batch is plain old tomato sauce. The recipe is here if you want to have a try. I promise it is easy and versatile too.

 My end of the street. Moving the stock down the road to a new paddock last week. They don't line up like the sheep do but they are still well behaved. The secret, train them with food. They have four stomachs after all.

The other end of the street. It's only 13km away from me but it is just that bit more dry and there really is nothing to be grazed on. The sky is pretty though.

Back to the kitchen now. I'm making a bit of a special dinner for a special day for us.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday 11/2

 Another hot day today. Nothing new there and I do get sick of talk of the weather. So no more on that today. But, there are some clouds around and a bit of humidity or something that feels a little different in the air. No, no more weather talk.

Turkey babies are much nicer than heatwaves and such. These guys are really quite friendly. They don't scoot off when we are nearby but willingly let you pat them and handle them. I'm fairly certain it has something to do with the fact that they know who feeds them.

Yesterday I had a break from the norm and went out for morning tea at a friend's home. It was nice to be spoilt. I took along a few goodies and didn't leave empty handed.

A heap of chillies. Some are destined for sambal and some will be put to good use in my zucchini relish. Fortunately for me both recipes are here in the same place. They aren't for the faint hearted though.
A bag of little green apples too. A couple have gone to school in the lunchboxes and I'm thinking and apple and honey cake sounds good. Or maybe an apple pie or apple jelly. Decisions.
I'm having lots of fun with the letter writing for LetterMo . Funnily enough  or rather ironically, I have had less mail come in this month (so far) than I usually do.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday 8/2

We've been on the move this week. Moving stock to 'fresh' paddocks. Though in all honesty nothing is looking very fresh right now. The ewes and cattle are now closer to the house and have access to a creek which is flowing surprisingly well. Not too much further downstream the creek isn't flowing at all. So we have a lot to be thankful for. Water is such a precious resource and right now we can't afford to waste a drop. Of course that doesn't stop the ducks splashing it around like we are in flood conditions.

This is how we move the rams. The boss, Crinkles, goes on the lead and takes Tim for a walk. Darrel just follows along wherever the boss goes. I stay out of the way of Crinkles but Darrel is a sweetie. They are in their own paddock well away from the ewes for the time being.

Although it is hot, dry and overall not too pretty around these parts right now, there are spots of prettiness. The vegetable garden has quite a few dahlias in bloom. It's the only garden that I'm still watering regularly because it feeds us. Oh for a few or a hundred mm of rain.

Then there is always some beauty around that needs no tending. You might have to look a little harder but it's there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Repurposing tea towels

I spent an hour or so yesterday repurposing some touristy tea towels. The brown one is a calendar towel from 1981 so it's certainly about time it gets some sort of use. Oh my, I just did the maths for that and 33years is quite an age for a tea towel. Still the fabrics used in them are made to last.

 I'm joining in on a swap where we have to send our partner something made from recycled, repurposed or second hand materials. And this is going to be part of my parcel. Along with some of my handmade envelopes and maybe a couple of other goodies that aren't so repurposed.

 I had such a fun time sewing. I have given up my sewing area to honey extraction for the time being so I'm back to dining table sewing. That always means that I don't always go to the effort of bringing out the machine because you just have to pack it all away again too soon.

I hope my partner likes the bag. I do! Though as I have posted a picture here maybe I need to make another one just to keep it all top secret.

If I had the legs for it, I would give a skirt like Zara's a try.

Today it's all systems go for back to school routine. Town for violin lessons (lessons for Grace not me), groceries, bill paying and all the rest.


Saturday, February 1, 2014


I posted my first mail for the LetterMO Month of Letters today. Actually I had my mailing middle man, Tim, pop it into the post box in town. The post box is 50km away and in all honesty I'm not that dedicated to mailing out a letter everyday that I would drive that far but he is at work over the weekend so all is good. 

My first item of mail for the month was a postcard along with a cinema advertising flyer for the recent Doctor Who special heading off to Russia (via postcrossing).

I also wrote a little note to my Mum and sent that too. Hope she likes it.

This is the box that I keep the letters in that I receive. It has of course filled to overflowing a couple of times so now it is just the special cards and letters from days gone by and  the most recent mail I've read and replied to.

Today I've been doing just about anything to not think about how hot it is outside. I have given up looking at any forecasts because they really don't have much in the way of good news. I've had to top up the chicks water twice. They can't have deep water dishes because they can drown. The ducks however like to mess and splash around in any water and must investigate every fresh supply that comes their way whether it is intended for them or for little chicks.

Anyway it is toasted sandwiches for dinner here tonight. I don't want to heat up t he kitchen anymore than necessary. I did make a cheesecake this morning to soften the blow of having a snack for dinner.