Wednesday, 31 December 2008
I am thinking of all the things that will be happening in the year ahead in Adelaide.
The Botanic Gardens has a great school holiday program, check out their link
The NELUMBO POND home of the SACRED LOTUS should be in bloom. The lawns in front of the pond have to be the best picnic place in Adelaide.
The Rare Fruit Society will have their yearly question time meeting in January. Check out their site.
The Herb Society of South Australia has some really interesting speakers this year. Check out their website.
We shall be having our usual seed and produce swap meetings and I think we should have some on Sunday afternoons as well or instead of our Wednesday afternoon gatherings.
There are lots of interesting Herb Farms we can visit.
The Farmers Markets will continue and all of the markets I go to are getting bigger and bigger with new stall holders appearing all the time.
What would you like our seedsavers group to do in 2009?
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE
Monday, 29 December 2008
Christmas means different things to different people. We have spent most Christmases over the last 15 years or so at our beach shack and I wouldn't have swapped them for anywhere else.
In the photos is our Christmas table set for the first time for only two, beside our deserted beach, as close to paradise as you can get to eat your turkey and Christmas pudding.
10 minutes after we finished lunch, while we were sitting enjoying the view, a fierce wind blew in from the south west and everything had to be rushed inside.... perfect timing.
My mother makes the puddings for all the family.
This summer flowering wattle has blown in on the wind and now is well established beside the shack. The birds love it and it thrives in the sand with no added water ever.
At home I have been picking the fresh, new growth of the purple amaranth that I am growing for the first time. The leaves are beautiful and rich in colour, with the undersides being a brilliant purple....quite stunning and a nice, gentle flavour. They are growing like mad and providing a constant supply. While I am away they will be allowed to grow unhindered and probably will need cooking when I get home, instead of eating raw.
When Hugh helped me pick all the broad beans, we cut off the stems and chopped them to dig back into the soil and left the roots to decompose and release nitrogen from their leguminous nodules. What I didn't expect and have never found before, is that they are now reshooting all through the capsicum and lettuce patch! To stop them taking over I am constantly picking the tips for salads. These are one of my favourite additions to a salad at the moment.... along with the fennel flowers, of course! I don't think I will let them reach maturity or they will smother the rest of the bed. I will probably keep picking the leaves until the weather gets too hot for them and then cut them for the chooks.
The sweet potato plant that Ting gave me is doing really well and it will be ready for me to start picking the leaves soon too. Another of my summer salad favourites and so easy to grow if you can get one started.
I picked a whole large esky full of greens from the garden to bring with us to our shack but, since we eat such a lot of them every day, we will run out soon..... I will have to buy some lettuce, at least, and I know it will not be a patch on mine in flavour or goodness or variety. I also picked lots of herbs to bring, including fennel flowers and fronds (they are reshooting too!), oregano, lemon verbena, Vietnamese mint, spearmint, rosemary, chives, parsley...and probably some others I have forgotten. Some of these are for tea, some for salads and some for cooking.
Luckily I brought my pot of basil though and if I am careful to give it liquid feed now and again, it will provide us with leaves for the holiday time. There is an Italian family who has a shack near us and I saw them unpacking the car as I walked by the other day. Maria always brings pots of basil too..... this year a whole foam box full of plants. I smiled and ran my fingers across the tops of the firm plants..... and we exchanged our usual joke of how our husbands always forget to leave space to pack the plants in the car, when we go on holiday!
This perfect piece of clear "plastic" is what comes out of the inside of a squid tube....it is like its backbone... how does a squid make such lovely "plastic" ? It feels like thick cellophane.... if only humans were so clever...
We ate the squid for lunch, sliced into rings, quickly fried in olive oil and sprinkled with a finely chopped garlic clove and a squeeze of lemon juice.... out of the sea into the pan within minutes.
Every night we sit outside and watch the sunset .... and admire nature's canvas.....
Today I found wifi in Moonta..... walking down the street with my laptop.... searching.... The things bloggers do to publish a couple of posts!
Balgowan is a little seaside destination only about two and a half hours' drive from Adelaide but it occupies a whole other world where life is simple, time is slow and strangers exchange smiles and a chat. There is a shop called The Clifftop Kiosk where the never-ending stream of owners work for a while, coming from all walks of life for a little refuge or the chance to go fishing a few metres from work when business is slow. From there the view stretches across the bay and along the red cliffs, where, on the beach below, huddle the local farmers' old red tractors, seen daily at holiday time chugging down every street of Balgowan in the early morning, towing an astounding array of fishing craft bound for launching into the sheltered waters from the beach.
West of the kiosk is a space loosely described as a caravan park..... a rectangular area of grey gravel, bounded on the north by some mallee trees, at the western end by a couple of public toilets and on the south by a stretch of lawn as closely guarded by town residents from use as the lawns in the quadrangles of the colleges of Oxford University! Signs warn campers who are looking for some alternative to setting up a tent on the gravel to think again.... use this space at your peril. Lawn is rare in these parts....and this is the only patch of green you will find anywhere in Balgowan! It is for viewing only!
The avenue of shady trees provides no more than 8 caravans with a cool place to set up for the summer family holiday and offers a million dollar view down the coast, all for $10 per night. The days either side of Christmas are a race to get these spots, with caravan owners driving from near and far to claim their favourite position under a tree before it is taken by another. Once parked, children, dogs, annexes, chairs, tables, eskies and all manner of water craft are disgorged from the vehicles by parents worn out by the preparations required to be the first to arrive and put up the victory flag....the tea towel on the annexe rope. Once some kind of order is found, you will find the men standing with a cold beer, talking to their new neighbours about utes, boat engines, barbecues, the harvest and the missus. The women will be gathering to chop cabbage for a coleslaw, fix children's knees already skun by skidding their bmx bikes on the gravel and delving deep into boxes to find bathers,hats, towels and bats for a dip in the sea and a game of beach cricket before dinner.
One of the few places to get enough reception to pick up an sms in Balgowan is under the far tree, next to the last caravan, or further up the road by sitting on the concrete table outside the kiosk....on the table....not at it....the extra inches are vital for grabbing those mobile phone waves from a town further up the coast! Electricity has made its unreliable way to this place and even a bitumen road, but no other technology is here yet and let's hope it never is. It is there, under the phone tree, that this story begins in the late evening of Christmas day.
The day had been unusually heavy and cloudy and the evening was dim, with a few large spots of summer rain bringing that wonderful damp smell so loved by people of a drought-stricken landscape. We wanted to ring son Alex in London on his Christmas morning so had wandered over to the tree to try to get reception. The people of the caravans were doing their dishes and the children were having a last play on the swings as we approached. We checked the mobile reception and found it almost zero..... funny how it changes with the weather and the time of day. A man came by on the way back to his van and said a friendly hello to us, standing in the dim light under the tree. We got to talking as people around here do. He'd arrived the day before and secured his favourite spot. He was meant to be at a work Christmas party compliments of his boss, but he hitched up the old but immaculate caravan and took to the road with his wife instead, phoning his boss and telling him something had come up and he couldn't get to the party after all..... but thanks for buying him the ticket for the doo at the hotel..... maybe he even gave the impression his mother was ill.... he couldn't now rightly remember the details of what was said....
He suggested we go to the table on the other side of the kiosk to get reception..... so we weren't the only ones who knew this trick! First, we talked about the view, now visible with the last vestiges of the sunset still highlighting the red cliffs in the soft evening glow and how when you get here and have time to sit, you can hear the breeze in the leaves of the trees and see it play on the water below and feel it fill you with a peace that stays with you if you let it. Talk turned to fishing, as it invariable does in seaside towns, and he told us of his lucky catch on the break-water, only a hundred metres or so from his van, earlier in the day.
He'd dressed up all spick and span to have Christmas lunch with his mother, who lives at another seaside town 30km or so away, where the phone tower is, and having half an hour to spare before setting off decided to throw in a line and see if there were any squid about. His wife warned him about getting squid ink on his best clothes but he reckoned there wouldn't be any squid anyway but he'd be careful. He'd no sooner thrown the squid jag out over the rocks when he hooked a big one. Terrified of upsetting his wife, he began to jiggle the rod to and fro, and move from side to side to avoid the ire and the ink of the angry squid but at the same time desperate to land his catch and secure it in his lidded bucket. As luck would have it, the catch was soon safely in the bucket, with another 20 minutes to spare. He cast out again.....and again had to do the squid dance, narrowly missing by only inches the ink being squirted. This happened 5 times in the thirty minutes and each time the squid dance had him working off the Christmas dinner still to be eaten later in the day. This was the happiest Christmas morning he'd ever had and his mother was very pleased to receive 2 squid, cleaned and ready to cook, together with her regular Christmas presents. He said he wouldn't exchange his Christmas for anyone else's in the world....
We chuckled as he told the story..... only in such a place as this would a bloke wrestle with 5 squid, in his best clothes, before Christmas lunch.
As veggie gardeners it is always good to find new ways to use vegetables, fruits, herbs and sea vegetables. I have just found this great blog written by Heidi and called 101 cookbooks.
You will find a delicious seaweed, wild rice salad recipe here as well as great idea for all sorts of veggies.
The image comes from an article from the Eco Times entitled Superfood News: Sea Vegetables by Seth Braun. It mentions Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, great local food for our KGI Maine friends.
There are lots of great sites talking about organic seaweed.
Saturday, 27 December 2008
It is like a bird feast in our backyard this morning, the red flowering gum is in bloom and the rainbow lorikeets and other birds have arrived. (this is a pink flowering gum, photo from flicker)
The ground is wet from overnight rain, the veggies are thriving with this lovely warm weather.
We have basil and spinach, tarragon and chervil, we have turnips and chillies, we have curry leaves and tomatoes, we have edible chrysanthenums and baby capsicums, we have passionfruit and mint, we have the best garlic I have ever tasted, we have parsley and shiso, we have lemons and chives, we have lemon verbena and lemon myrtle leaves, we have lemon grass and tulsi, we have nettles and comfry, we have horseradish and purple congo potatoes, we have miners lettuce and wild rocket and lots more in the garden.
The weather forecast for the next week is just lovely sunny days about 26 F, no heat waves yet.
Well they call Australia the lucky country and for us gardeners we certainly have lovely weather this week.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Monday, 22 December 2008
Chook asked me about the varieties of cucumbers we are growing after I commented that we had more bees in the garden last year when we had an Anise Hyssop growing in near the cucumbers. Last year we grew Richmond Green from Diana & Beit Alpha from seed. This year we have grown Richmond Green, Armenia & Bari (seeds from Kate - named after the village in Italy where they come from) cucumbers. The Bari cucumber is a hairy oval shaped cucumber with a nice flavour & crisp texture. Bari cucumbers tend to wander along the ground more than wanting to climb. Kate wrote about this cucumber here. A gentleman she met wanted us to grow and save the seed from his homeland because it is such a prolific, wonderful cucumber. So the cycle continues with people & seeds & good food & fun & seed saving. Please read Kate’s article about Bari cucumbers.
Maybe you have grown a similar cucumber in your part of the world
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
Our greatest surprise last summer was a herb we bought at the herb society last year.
The label said Agastache foeniculum, Tea Herb and Bee and bird attracting.
This one glorious plant attracted lots of bees to our garden and obviously the bees did there work in pollinating lots of other herbs and veggies in the garden.
We had an amazing amount of cucumbers.
I cut the plant back harshly and it died(or maybe it was my neighbours use of poisons on the fence line and his drive way).
This year we have not as many bees and less cucumbers.
This was a really majestic plant and I would recommend gardeners have a couple in their summer gardens.
These photos I took look a bit washed out compared to the real thing.
I have learnt another valuable lesson in loosing this plant, slow down in the garden take care of what you are growing and companion planting and bee attracting plants work.
The common name is Anise hyssop, a hardy perennial, grows to 2-3 ft (6ocm-1m), long spikes of purple- blue flowers. Grows in rich moist soil in a sunny position flowers in summer. Propagate in spring by seed or divide creeping root. Use dried leaves as a seasoning or infuse as a tea.
There is good information about herbal teas at this site The Herbal Tea Garden
If you want an adventure check out all you can do with garden herbs at Alchemy Works
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
This was the last Wednesday morning for our garden group this year. It was at Sally's which is looking so fabulous just now that I thought I'd take some photos. Sally has been a reluctant vegetable gardener, preferring roses and other beautiful flowering things, as you can see in these photos. She and Lou and I have been part of this group for 12 years, spending hundreds of Wednesday mornings gardening at one of the 5 or so gardens. All that time I have been trying to encourage Sally to grow vegetables...to no avail..... until this last year or so and now she must be the world's most successful new vegetable gardener!
Sally already has too many enormous zuccinis .....
Her rhubarb is mammoth.... with dozens of long, thick, red stems.
Here they are, the best friends a person could have.....
Sally uses tinsel in the garden (right) to keep the parrots off the roses and she swears it works a treat.
The job today was to extend the width of this garden bed.....again!
We always give each other something home made or grown or local for Christmas and this year I made this panforte..... a delicious Italian Christmas cake made from nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. You can get the chocolate, fruit and nut ingredients, all measured out in a pack, with the recipe, from Charlesworth's in the market....you just have to add brandy, flour, cocoa and a few other things. It is perfect sliced thinly and served with coffee.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Australian Seedsavers Jude and Michel Fanton have finished their wonderful DVD, called Our Seeds: Seeds Blong Yumi
You can buy it direct from the Seedsavers website, along with other dvd's and books or elsewhere online....
......Filmed across eleven countries with twenty tribal groups, this inspiring cultural tour of the Asia Pacific region engenders great respect for local traditions and wisdom.
It shows that common global threats to food quality and food security have local solutions in which we can all participate......
This excerpt is from theNew Internationalist online catalogue of ethical gifts.....
and it is only $25....
I am buying it for my unethical relatives!
And I wondered if we should spend some of our group savings on a copy and share it around..... it is beautiful.
Friday, 12 December 2008
Parts of my broccoli have gone to seed but it is still growing little edible heads so I haven’t pulled it out yet. I also like the look of the majestic plants so I’ll be sad when they have to go. It gets lots of water from my watering spikes connected to the bucket but also has while fly on it. Can you give broccoli too much water? Perhaps if I had given it less, I would have more heads and less leaves. Does that happen? Last year, I got a new broccoli plant from one that I didn’t pull out properly the year before. When these plants finish producing, I’m going to just cut them off at the base and see if they come back next year!
Does anyone know what these 2 types of seedlings are that I planted? I remember scattering the seeds but can’t remember what I put there! I think one might have been parsnip. Would that be right? (I’ve never grown it before!)
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
It's nice to see everybody again today. I wish you a merry Christmas!
I have made garden paths and put drippers in early spring.
I made summer garden much smaller and put plants closer to each other.
Everything looks okay (thanks the heat wave hasn't come yet), except tomatoes are dying. The leaves turn yellow and brownish after fruit appear. Delicious seems the worst.
Does anybody feel they have to keep their veggie garden a secret? Sometimes, I tell people I grow vegetables, they'll stare at me, and say growing vegetables uses too much water. Well, maybe some people don't water their garden, but they must eat...Doesn't somebody else water for them?
I think we should learn to use as little water as possible to grow food, (or admit we are not interested in growing food at all), rather than condemn those who grow, and enjoy most of their food from their backyards.
I hope everybody's garden all grows well through summer!
I harvested my small garlic patch last Wendsday. They are such wonderful food and no need to water. I'm going to grow more next year.
Finally, bitter gourds sprout. I hope they'll survive.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
It is such fun when you have children and, like me, you have time to do things with them. When they were young we used to make all our wrapping paper by laying reams of brown paper all over the kitchen floor and stamping Christmas designs all over it. I made the stamps by cutting out shapes of stars and Christmas trees and so on out of kitchen sponges which they then dipped into paint.
I also used to make them a new Christmas T-shirt each year, decorated with fabric paint.....I got quite good at it eventually, just as they grew out of the idea! We used to do a lot of fabric painting, making bags for holding things like pencils and music books etc.
Hugh used to cook the best mince pies and he regularly still makes chocolate truffles from the Haigh's recipe leaflet you can get at the shop.
Every year for 20 years or so we have made gingerbread at Christmas time too. It doesn't matter how big your children get, they never get tired of Mum's gingerbread. They used to help decorate them and that was very messy and "creative" but never-the-less the cooking and icing was done and a lot of fun was had by all. They used to take them for their school friends and teachers so we used to triple the recipe so we had enough to leave some for ourselves. One year I left a plate piled up with them on a coffee table in the lounge while I saw my mother to the door, and when I came back ALL the gingerbread had been eaten by the dog and the serving plate - a hand-made wedding present - was smashed. Needless to say that dog got no dinner.....for several days!
This year Roger and I made the gingerbread for our great-nieces and nephews.....oh dear, we must be very old.....I remember my great aunt and she was ancient! Well, its not so bad when you think that I was only 14 when I became an auntie. Anyway, both our boys are away and won't be home for any gingerbread this Christmas so we only made one quantity. I will put the recipe on Gardeners' Gastronomy....maybe it is already there...
The cooked pieces......are transformed into whatever Roger and I can come up with...
....like this bikini beauty of Roger's... and then packed into cellophane bags .
I am taking some of these to our seedsavers picnic in the Botanic Gardens tomorrow.... see you there.
Monday, 8 December 2008
Gavin from The Greening of Gavin, has installed a few of these himself recently and most of mine are now in operation too. I did as Chaiselongue from Olives and Artichokes did too, and put a tile on top. My plan is to put a single dripper into each , all joined by thin black poly pipe, so they will fill twice weekly, automatically. When it is very hot I can also fill them with the hose any time, since they are a receptacle ......how ridiculous.....but if you can't beat them, use their silly rules to your advantage!...Or do both.
Around each pot I have sown 6 bush beans quite near the pot rims and then further out I have planted out the various chicory seedlings Deb gave me. Since I took these photos the beans have started to come up and I have also mulched the area with straw.... not everybody's ideal mulch but I have used all my own mulch already and I like straw because its light colour reflects the mid-summer heat.
Also this week, the water spinach or kang kong, has grown enough good, strong roots in a vase to begin growing quite a lot of leaves. Notice how its roots and stems now go right to the bottom of the vase (photo at right) and the leaves are growing tall and straight.
Now it is time to pot them up and put them out into the tubs of water which I will slowly fill as the plants grow.Eventually, the stems and leaves will fall over and float on the water surface, sending down more roots from some of the leaf nodes.
Evidently kang kong is related to sweet potato and both of these I saw growing prolifically in Wilson's community garden in Singapore. I have been unable to get any of my 3 sweet potatoes to sprout yet this year....they just stay persistently and stubbornly uninterested in reproducing themselves. My plan was to grow them as a living mulch under the capsicums, and harvest the leaves regularly for salads since the leaves are delicious and far easier to grow than the tubers and are something you can't buy at the markets.