Sunday 30 November 2008


Of course Chook's baby Rebecca is gorgeous but I am talking about the birth of new fruit that occurs all year round at my mother's place. I took these photos last Thursday and there are more fruit appearing every week, all year round.

Baby mangos by the  hundred...
....and figs...
....and nashis....more than ever before


There are also the baby apricots, plums, lemons, oranges, nectarines, peaches, pears and several varieties of apples. 


Granny Smith apples...
.....moorpark apricots...
...and twin mangos....cute


And at my are some ripe boysenberries.....must be THE most difficult things to photograph...but the easiest things to grow and best to eat.....all warm and black and squishy, straight off the canes.


image image

And look who came sauntering into our garden today..... an echidna! It seems to have walked straight through the mesh I put on the gate to keep the chooks out of the pool area..... another job to do.....but worth it to have this gorgeous creature visit us. No wonder the chooks were acting a bit odd!

Friday 28 November 2008


Over the 6 weeks of my travels I passed through 11 airports and so caught 11 planes......and one thing is for sure airports ain't airports and planes ain't planes and airlines ain't airlines....and as the ad on TV used to say "Oils ain't oils!"

Sometimes I just sat in the airport, waiting for a connection, and watched the crowds....and crowds there were, compared to Australian airports. At the Washington Dulles Airport the-man-at-the-podium made announcements about flights coming and going from gate 24, every few minutes, and each was like a 30 second act from a live comedy festival. He had that barely comprehendible accent (to me!) of some black Americans and I had to really concentrate to understand the fast speech, in case it was something I needed to know about my flight. The gate lounge was full of Americans.....I could tell because of their size and the volume of their conversations...and I suddenly felt very alien, so was glad of the entertainment coming from the podium.

One of his announcements was...."Ladies and gentlemen, if your name is Margaret or John Cameron, for flight 365 to Dallas, Texas then I am here to inform you that you have missed your plane and there ain't nothin' you can do 'cause that's it taxi-ing past the window! You are too late and shouldn't have had that last drink at the bar!" And another..."If you are waiting for flight 987 to New York then get over here to gate 24A, door 3.....not door 2.....that's for folk headin' to Alabama...why they'd wanna go there who knows I reckon you better make sure you go to door 3 unless you want to get fried 'cause its hot in Alabama today!" He seemed to have lots of reasons why you wouldn't want to go to various American cities. Mostly they had bad weather or he had some relative there that you wouldn't want to meet!

Then there was an announcement I didn't believe until someone explained it to me later...."Anyone want a free trip to Miami for the weekend? Over at the podium at gate 26 they are looking for 2 people who wanna go tomorrow and come back hotel and all flights.... go see the man waving over there". Well, would you have believed that? Evidently they need a certain number of passengers or they have to cancel the flights and this one needed 2 more.....but all the people in this part of the airport were already going somewhere....still, I suppose they could have rung a friend and told them or something....seems to me they should have been advertising it out in the public area!

Twice on short legs, I ended up in the very back seat of the plane. This has its ups and to speak. Once, in America, it was horrendously noisy...and I wrote a post while on that flight, stating how dreadful it was. But, although the rest of the plane was full, I had the 2 seats to myself and the stewardess sat on a little fold-down seat and chatted (or rather, shouted) to me,  telling me about her flight schedules and how often she gets home etc, which was nice. The other time was the flight from Sydney to Melbourne and I was in seat 57F.....the last seat on the plane. The Steward was chatting up the 3 young women in front of me who were off to Melbourne for a weekend of shopping..... and he gave them extra drinks and sandwiches for lunch the next day! But the bonus for me was that he started by serving me first.....and I was starving....when actually he was supposed to start at the front. He had been an electrician but changed careers only 6 months before...... I couldn't hear why..... and he was enjoying it so far......anyway, the flight was very turbulent .....I mean VERY, especially as we approached Melbourne and it was bad enough not being able to see out a window, but then when we landed, albeit very roughly, those who could see, actually least I was sitting beside an emergency exit! I have never been on such a rough flight and with the plane swaying around after landing, like in a show ride! Probably best I was in a seat with no outside view, just happily eating my lunch!

One of the most annoying things about some airports is the lack of clocks. Can you believe that some airports have no clocks at all. When you are changing time zones and catching connections you need to know the time. No wonder those people in Washington missed the plane! I would check my luggage in and they would say....your flight boards at gate 51 at 3pm......and I would have to ask what the time is now because my watch would have some other time from a previous day.....and every so often have to ask someone what time it is or, do as I did in Washington, just go to the gate and wait until they called my flight for boarding....crazy and stupid and a terrible oversight not to have clocks in all airports.

Some airports have huge distances to walk and it seemed I always needed to board at the gate furthest from where I checked in my luggage. Some have those horizontal escalators that you walk on.....I thought they were great because if you were tired you could just stand there and if you wanted the exercise you could walk....and walk.....and walk. In Seattle, there is an underground electric train that goes every 2 minutes and whisks you off to somewhere near where you need to end up. In Singapore, there is natural light coming in from above and a wall of indoor tropical plants along the corridors so it is very beautiful and I would have missed my flight looking at all the colourful foliage and flowers if I had stopped to look at it all....  Heathrow (London) could do with a long look at the Singapore airport! Actually, everywhere should take a look at Singapore, where they focus on the amenity for the people, first.

One thing Terminal 1 at Heathrow does better than all the rest is coffee lounges, with comfortable couches, coffee tables and a nice, quiet atmosphere especially compared to the noisy, plastic, American airports I visited. There was even a powerpoint for my laptop....a nice touch....

The strangest and cheapest flight I went on was from Bergerac Airport in France to the Midlands Airport, in the UK. The only charge was for the taxes which amounted to something like AU$20....but there was catch! From the minute you boarded the plane until the moment you left the plane you were bombarded with sales talk and special deals on ......anything.....from holidays to watches.....and there were raffles and scratchy tickets and chances to spend, and to win, non-stop.... RyanAir.....very cheap but don't fly with them if you need peace and quiet! AU$20 is an incredibly cheap way to get across the channel, though.

I was very surprised when I approached the plane, across the tarmac, to take me from Seattle to had propellers....and only 50 seats. We bounced our way across the clouds to Vancouver, at quite a low altitude but arrived safely, in 45 minutes but it took over an hour to make my way through immigration..... mine was not the only flight arriving at this time.

The best planes I went on were invariably owned by Canada Air and the most comfortable and quietest was a Boeing 777, with a powerpoint for my laptop....luckily I had it with me in my hand luggage this time....and also luckily the plane was only 1/3 full so I had 3, second to front row seats to myself. Nice, especially when I was hungry and because I was at the front I didn't have to wait for a hundred or so other people to be served first! Tip....always take an apple and some is embarrassing to have to ask for food in the middle of the night!

Wednesday 26 November 2008




This time of the year there are soft scents wafting about in my garden, intensified by the heat of a day like today. The first time I notice them for the year I turn to where they are coming from and smile at the appropriate plant.....sometimes hiding its first flush of delicate flowers as if shy and feeling they may have been forgotten, amid the brash colours of other flowers in the garden. This is the philadelphus that I am talking about.....or evergreen mock orange, at left, hanging its small, white, beautifully scented flowers under its leaves, almost going unnoticed until there are enough of them to send their perfume down the path to the front door.



I also have the deciduous philadelphus, at right, with is stunningly beautiful, pristine white  flowers held upright in bunches, amid the dark green leaves, but having much less scent.



lemon blossomI was going to write that these are my favourite perfumed plants but I cannot! I think the philadelphus are amongst my favourites.....but there are also the scents of the flowers of various citrus trees that are so fresh and invigorating that maybe they would claim my first prize. Lemon blossom, at left, is number one in my citrus good it makes me close my eyes when I breathe it in....or maybe that is to avoid the bees who also love it!


dendrobium flowers But I also absolutely love the powerful but elusive scent of the dendrobium orchids, that only give off perfume from the flowers when the temperature is over 18C, in August or early September.....just an hour or 2 here and there....I keep them inside then so I don't miss the moment.

Honeysuckle takes the prize for the first of the spring perfumes to come to my garden and probably for the one that lasts the longest too. We have a honeysuckle hedge which is a delight to brush past on the way to the clothes line. I know roses are wonderful too and I enjoy them in other people's gardens but I don't have them here. Somehow I have never got on well with roses, nor they with me.

Down by the pool we have a dry climate garden bed...with plants with silver foliage and things that need very little water or care. Today, in the hot sunshine, I noticed the curry bushes were giving off their pungent savoury aroma......quite unusual for a plant but a smell of summer, to me. The aroma comes from the leaves and there are other plants that have scented leaves too, the most obvious being herbs.....rosemary, mints, lemon verbena, oregano, thyme etc. Then there are the scented geraniums.... lemon, cinnamon,etc and sages like pineapple and chocolate. There is nothing more delightful that brushing past the pineapple sage that Barb gave me, on a hot summer's day and almost tasting pineapple, ever so briefly....then it is gone.....and you wonder if you imagined it.....



Another of my favourites is the Flinders Ranges wattle that flowers for many months, beginning in autumn and going on through winter, but it only has a scent on sunny days, it seems to me. It is the smell of the Australian bush... at least, it is of the bush where I used to holiday. I cannot conjure up its smell.....unlike the citrus or other sweet every year I relish the days when I can visit my best specimen in flower, on the way to the letter box.


A little story, courtesy of Sarah from The Gardener's Calendar  ,whose garden I visited in France.

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist
complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and
asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

 "But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the
  American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient
  to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

 "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a
  siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my
  friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs . .
  I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help
 you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell
 the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a
 bigger boat."

 And after that?" asked the Mexican.

 With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second
 one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of
 trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then
 negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open
your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to
 Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can
 direct your huge new enterprise."

 "How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

 "Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my Friend, That's when it gets really interesting,"
 answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big,
 you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" said the Mexican.

 "After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the
  coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a
  siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying
  your friends."

 And the moral of the story is:
 Know where you're going in life... you may already be there.

 Enjoy Life Now - Be Happy

Tuesday 25 November 2008


I have some big, beautiful boysenberries in the garden, ripening from a rich red to a glossy black every few days. I picked a bowlful to photograph.....but we ate them...... sorry.....Now you will have to wait a few more days so I can gather some more.

But I did find a couple of things to photograph. First is an attempt by this rather small garlic head to produce another little garlic half way up the stem. I have noticed that Tony Scarfo's garlics sometimes do this but I have not seen it before on other varieties I have grown. image









image The next thing is the water spinach (kang kong). I bought 2 bunches of this delicious Asian vegetable at the market last Friday so I could grow it myself, in one of my tubs of water, during summer. I cut all the leaves off (to eat) and put the stems in vases and already they are beginning to get white roots. The photo on the right is from a Singapore site called . which will deliver fresh, organic vegetables to you either picked or in this farm-in-a-box idea. Anyway, I am going to grow it in a tub, partially filled with soil and then topped up with per water chestnuts. I think it is one of the nicest of the Asian greens and has pleasant, crisp, hollow stems. kang-kong Kang Kong









......I interrupt this blog to bring you a human interest story....all this writing about garlic and water spinach and boysenberries made me hungry so I made some lunch.....chicken, beetroot and a green salad with avocado....and as I was eating it, without my glasses on, I thought "Oh, I have dropped a bit of avocado on the table..." and was about to stick my fork into the lovely lime-green morsel when it hunched up its back and moved was a caterpillar, I realised, after putting my glasses back on....I have eaten lots of unusual things, including a millipede inside a strawberry, but as yet I have, as far as I know, avoided caterpillars!....

Now....where were we....Water spinach can be eaten raw or stir fried for just a few seconds. Last night I cooked it like this, and served it as a bed for grilled chicken:

Into a wide pan on very low place a dash of peanut oil or other oil and some thinly sliced spring onion or other mild onion or garlic stems, a couple of teaspoons of minced ginger and a couple of chopped garlic cloves. Cover and leave a while and have a glass of limoncello....or go outside and pick some Vietnamese mint .....and chop up a bunch of water spinach a bit....and find some home-made plum sauce...just a teaspoon or two and some mirin.....just a tablespoon or so .....and add them to the pan with a little bit of Thai fish sauce. When you are nearly ready to serve the rest of the meal, turn up the heat to medium and add the water spinach and Vietnamese mint to the pan and turn it all into the juices...... cooking only for a few seconds to heat and wilt. I grilled some chicken and basted that with peanut oil and soy sauce as it was cooking.

The whole meal took less than 1/2 hour to prepare and was scrumptious.

Serves 2.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Weekend Markets

Just a reminder that Diana and Jen should be at the Stirling Market tomorrow (Sunday) if you are looking for extra seedlings for your garden.
The other Sundays they go to the Adelaide Farmers market.
Today there is the small market at Fullarton Community Centre, Fullarton Road.
They have a web site if you are interested.
I have not been to any of the other Hills Markets. Have you? what can we expect to find there?

Friday 21 November 2008


Everyone is doing it....politicians, scientists, bloggers, now it is my turn. What they are doing is making lists...lists of what to do for our planet, our futures, our existence.....and what not to do. There are thousands of lists and they all differ slightly and some are good and some are just advertising rubbish to sell green products. My list is short and simple:

Take responsibility for everything you do, buy, use, say, think,

  • Grow nearly all your food, nearly all the time. Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Eat feral meat.... no farming, helps native animals and our environment survive.
  • Have a solar hot water heater and buy 100% green power for the rest. Get up and go to bed with the sun.
  • Buy by location rather than price - clothes, food, goods. Refuse transported goods. Buy local, swap stuff, make your own. Choose a few luxuries and stick to them only....I choose bananas, imported coffee, basmati rice and some spices.
  • Refuse processed foods that have more than one ingredient eg only buy dried fruit or flour or cinnamon. Don't buy fruit bars, pancake mix or flavourings etc. (Dried fruit from the local farmers' market are just grown and picked and dried and brought to the market. But fruit and nut bars require factories and trucks and ships and plastic and chemicals and supermarkets etc)
  • Re-use everything. Be inventive, creative, have fun with making-do.

I thought of this because I heard the rubbish truck go by....we hadn't put our bin out again.... because we hardly have any rubbish. Some people in our street have 2 bins....If we put it out and its not full, the truck has to stop, pick it up, put it down, move off again...all using more energy than if we wait and use the service only when we need it.

Sure, I have just come back from 26,000 miles plane travel, in 11 planes, several trains and 7 cars. No way round the facts!

But nearly all our school holidays for 20 years were spent at the beach 2 hours drive from home, swimming, snorkelling, walking, paddling boards, sailing Kermit our dear old catamaran....not a motor in sight....or a shop.

There are hundreds of things to put on such a list but the most effective thing to do is to take responsibility for what and who you are and do. When you die will anyone care if you had a new handbag or a matching phone or newly painted house? No. But they will remember if you were generous with gifts of baskets of produce from your garden or home-made jams or little seedlings for their garden or a kind word and time to listen. Funnily enough these are also the planet-saving actions....

Responsibility is a big word and it has big ramifications.

Thursday 20 November 2008


At the Rare Fruit Society meeting on Tuesday night, there was quite a group of Hills and Plains Seedsavers, all happily gathering fruit trees and produce from the wonderful stalls which open after the meetings. We were standing around chatting at the end and decided it was time to make a date for our end of year get-together. So here is the plan:

Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Economic garden (follow the arrow to area 4 on the map below)

Wednesday Dec 10th, 1pm

Bring lunch to share and whatever you need for a picnic

botanic gardens map 

Apologies to the people who can't come on a weekday but when I organise things for the weekends you rarely come anyway!

Tuesday 18 November 2008


This afternoon I went and visited our newest seedsaver.... baby Rebecca, who was born on October 16th. She is amazingly gorgeous and didn't even cry at all when I kidnapped her from her basinet, while Chook was on the phone....well, I couldn't wait any longer to pick her up....and Peter was busy watching The Wiggles so.....

Anyway, amongst all the thousand other things a young mother has to do, Chook has propogated some seedlings for me and I am looking forward to getting them into the ground and watching them grow.

The other thing she has done is to somehow end up with an extra, not a clone.... another hen! A new-laying ISAbrown has arrived, uninvited and is causing some chaos in the chook yard which is the last thing this family needs right now. What's more, this one keeps getting out and digging up the vegetables and in all the ruccus Marly, the dog, has started digging into the chook yard and between all of them the commotion is continuous!

So, if anyone wants a chook who is young and just started laying, please ring or email big Chook, or me, ASAP.



It is worth going to some trouble now to help reduce evaporation, keep the soil from overheating and maintain soil moisture around the root zones, during the heat of summer. We have had a week or so of beautiful, cool weather which has been ideal for getting these jobs seen to so and to avoid working in the hot summer sun, battling against the elements. Working with nature is always the best option because you will never beat or control the forces of the earth.

I fork over the soil, lightly dig in some compost and whatever else you like to use. This year I am also adding some reconstituted coconut fibre blocks that are $1 each at Cheap as Chips! They help to hold the water in the soil and are a better option than those granules or other chemical solutions.....and MUCH cheaper. On this whole bed, I used 1 block, reconstituted in about 1/2 bucket of water, or maybe a bit more.....try it and see. I hate buying inputs but I am preparing for extreme, prolonged heat.

Then I have laid out the dripline. I hate the dripper and much prefer small sprays but this is my front yard.....and people walk by all the time so I have to obey at least this part of the water restrictions. Large plants like capsicums, tomatoes, eggplant and okra are fine with drippers. There are 4 rows of dripline and I will plant between the rows, so there will be 3 rows of vegetables. Over each dripline I place about 3 sheets of newspaper folded into thirds, so that's a thickness of about 9 sheets.....thanks to Joy for the newspapers......I have discovered in the past that this does a great job of keeping all the water going down, into the soil. Then I  lay thick 'biscuits' of straw over the top.....if I thought we were likely to get any substantial rain, I would fluff up the straw, so the rain would penetrate.....but it seems unlikely that there will be any rain, ever!

So, now there are 3 channels, between the 4 rows of straw, and into these I will plant the seedlings. They will need watering until their roots reach out to the moisture from the dripline. This method ensures that the roots will congregate in the coolest, wettest, most mulched areas, and there will be a little space around the plants for airflow. This is very hard to just all looks like a mass of straw....I hope you get the gist of what I am describing here!

image image image


Another thing I am developing is my water vegetable garden.....4 tubs will all soon be full of various, mostly Asian vegetables like water chestnuts, water spinach (kang kong), taro, water cress, duck potato and nardoo. I also have a few water irises which have been spectacular in the last week or so.

The water chestnuts are doing very well this year..
..3 of the 4 tubs installed..
..A photo for Chook of the whole scene!


The water can get very hot on a 40 degree day so I surround all the sides with straw for insulation and fill the tubs completely and also use some non-invasive creeper to cover the water surface. If I think mozzies are a problem, I get a few of those tiny native fish, that don't eat frog eggs, because there are lots of frog noises coming from this area already! Ideally I would like to have light-coloured tubs but beggars can't be choosers!image


I erected this floppy bit of shade for the new seedlings but I want to make something more like in Scarecrow's garden. In addition to the white shade top, I am going to put some light weldmesh along the sides and grow beans. By the time it is mid-summer, the beans will be providing extra shade along the sides of my curving garden beds, which are more difficult to shade than if they were in nice, straight lines! Under these more substantial structures I will grow softer things like lettuce and cucumbers.



In the full sun, in another bed which always seems to be drier than anywhere else, I am going to put the terracotta pots, with bush beans and celery around them as they do best with more water. So, better late than never and this cool weather is letting me get these jobs done, while listening to the wildlife.....shame snakes don't make a noise though!


Mt. Osmond is a noisy place but not in the ways you might think. It is the wildlife, you see, that screeches, grunts, chirps and laughs from before sunrise to after sunset and sometimes all through the night too. In winter I wrote about the wood ducks and previously I have mentioned the parrots, that make so much noise for several months of the year, that it is almost impossible to talk on the phone outside and at times drive me inside for some peace and quiet.

This time of the year it is the koalas, that roam the gum trees, sounding like a sick bear, with their deep, throaty growls sounding out across the tree tops, that are the most distinctive. And there are the crows, whose call was made to carry across the dry, flat plains of Australia, but are deafening when only a few metres from you! Now, in late spring, the sky is often filled with flocks of cockatoos - sometimes the black ones whose call truly takes the cake for the most raucous Australian bird, and sometimes the sulphur-crested cockatoos and less frequently, the pink-crested ones, all vying for the prize for maximum volume at the same time!

image image image

The kookaburra season seems to be over, but they are the real comedians, laughing across miles of scrub-land, as though they are telling hilarious jokes to one another, at full volume, but sometimes stopping just short of the punchline and reducing their mirth to a giggle.....I don't know why.....maybe the joke wasn't that great after all...

image image image

I have seen and heard all those creatures while I have been out in the garden this morning.... and I took a photo of the latest koala to wedge himself between some branches for a feed of manna gum leaves, and a few hours' sleep. To get a good shot, I got out my biggest old lens, for the first time since I got my new camera, and couldn't help zooming in on anything I could see.....check here for more photos.

image image image

Monday 17 November 2008


Hills Hoist 006

In some States of America and some other countries it is illegal to dry your clothes outside, you must use an indoor clothes drier, how crazy is that!

Here is Aussie land most of us dry our clothes outside, I very rarely use an indoor clothes drier and many of us hang our clothes indoors, on drying racks, in winter or on wet days.

Well let me shock you America, look over my side fence today and you will see a work of art, my new Hills large size collapsible clothes line.My very talented Industrial Designer son designed this and I love it.

It has 32 little lines, 60 metres of line space and 64 hooks to hang shirts on. The whole darn wash fits on it and it glides effortlessly up and down. It has a cover to make it like an umbrella and you can remove the whole thing and it folds away for storage.

Remember the old steel Hills Hoists (Icon of South Australia and included in the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony) they were hard work to wind up sometimes. But as you can see Kate is growing peaches on hers.

Okay now for the gardening bit, it did not take me too long to work out what I could do with my old hills hoist. A shade house for young or shade loving plants. We have some new plans for arranging the shade cloth down the sides. I think I shall even grow some things hanging from pots, I have been reading on the KGI forum about people growing things upside down to save space!

Hills Hoist 015

Check out this cool shade house. Gardening Australia - Hills Hoist Makeover (I actually like my air conditioned version better.)

I could say I would love to fill up our heat barren front yard with old hoists and shade cloth but I wont say that. But instead I am digging tiny circular gardens in the front and planting zucchinis and pumpkins. I dont know they will survive the hot summer days, Deb uses old sheets to protect some plants and we use shadecloth over our back garden bed.

Bob is really the gardener(i.e. the one who makes the compost and does all the hard work) but I am becoming more interested because I love eating the fresh veggies and herbs we grow. I also like designing garden beds and letting plants go to flower then seed. I love the bees and bugs that come to the garden and I love growing different things, last year we grew a pepino plant and this year we are growing okra.

I can understand now why people get obsessed with their gardens, there is always something to plant or prune or harvest or just enjoy. There are always new varieties of seeds to germinate and new things to cook, eat and learn about. I reckon it wont be long before I start calling myself a gardener but for the moment I am still a cook, well maybe a kitchen gardener.

And speaking of Kitchen Gardeners please sign up and join KITCHEN GARDENERS INTERNATIONAL, we need all the experiences of gardeners from different parts of the world, different climates, different experiences, you who grow different plants and have different ways of storing, cooking and preserving veggies.


Sunday 16 November 2008


Last summer I wrote about myself, in the middle of a heatwave of 14 days over 40C and I called it The Aussie Summer Gardener and now there is another, equally rare creature appearing in my garden, for only the second and hopefully the last year. You see, my mother has a peach tree, and every year I bring home some peaches to eat and we put the stones in the compost bin. Somehow the stones end up all over the yard..... in places I have never spread must be rats I guess that shift them around....and every year several germinate and I get peach trees coming up everywhere! Usually I dig them up when they are tiny and give them away but every now and then I let them grow......and grow they Jack and the Beanstalk. I never water them but they never die or look unhappy; they are super duper peach trees and after only maybe 2 or 3 years, when they are as high as the eves or higher, they bear hundreds of the sweetest, juiciest, tastiest, most incredible peaches! This is no joke and I have written about them several times.....and this year, again, they are laden.....and that is the problem!image


We live on a hill.....a bloody great big, steep hill.....not a mountain though.....just a hill, called Mt. Osmond......(most of Adelaide is pretty flat so anything sloping is called a mountain!!) Flat land is at a premium at our place though, and we have spent 18 years working to make usable areas out of this hill and one of those little flat spots is around 1/2 of the Hills Hoist  clothesline ...... the other 1/2 hangs over the you can see in the first I have to turn the clothesline to reach all the sides.

imageAnd guess where one of the peach trees grew so fast I didn't quite realise until it was too late? Yes, right next to the clothesline, under the dripline of the gutterless roof! During winter the tree has no leaves and the branches are light and spring up and keep away from the arms of the Hills Hoist, but once we get towards the end of spring, the branches are laden with leaves and fruit and lean down further and further.....until....I can't turn the clothesline without knocking off some of the peaches! So, you say, why didn't I prune it before we got to this stage....again? Well, you may or may not know that I have been away for 6 weeks.....when I left the tree was still bare.....and I had forgotten all about the problem.....until now! Now I can't stand the idea of wasting about a dozen beautiful peaches for the sake of the I have to LEAN precariously over the slope, on tippy toes like a ballerina....which I definitely am not.....or hang all the clothes on one I did today, in the photo.

One of the advantages of this arrangement is that, in a couple of months, I will be able to start picking the peaches and this will be a lovely treat for me while I try not to get peach juice on the clothes I am putting on the line at the same time as eating a sticky, juicy peach and.....the branches will gradually get lighter until they will one day be fruitless and spring up and away and I will probably forget to prune it please....if you think of it.....remind me, will you?

Saturday 15 November 2008


French Festival 2008 – Provence
The biggest event of its kind in the Pacific region, The French
Festival brings together people from diverse backgrounds to
celebrate French language and culture. Attractions include music,
performing arts, food, wine, and cooking with world famous chef,
Jean Montagard.
Where: Carrick Hill, 46 Carrick Hill Drive, Springfield
When: Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 November 2008, Sat: 11am -
10pm Sun: 11am - 6pm
Prices: Adult: $25 (per person per day), child: free (under 13),
concession: $20 (per person per day), student: $15 (per person
per day.)
Call for info: Media - 8272 4281 or email
Public – visit

Nuts About Fruit Art Exhibition
Working from live specimens and photographs, Botanic Gardens
artists have shown plant development after flowering, expressing
their love and appreciation for flora. Watercolour, graphite and
colour pencil have been used to depict the natural beauty of fruit,
nuts and berries.
Where: North Lodge, Adelaide Botanic Plane Tree Drive, Adelaide
When: Saturday 15 – Sunday 23 November 2008, Mon – Fri and
Sun: 10am 3pm, Sat: 11am - 3pm
Prices: Free
Call for info: Media and Public - 0401 985 994

The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo
The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo aims to become the
premier annual event for those interested in environmental,
gardening and 'green' activities, products and services. Gardening
identity Sophie Thompson will open the event, which will feature
demonstrations from environmental experts. There will also be
various activities and entertainment.
Where: Uraidla Showgrounds, Swamp Road, Uraidla
When: Sunday 16 November 2008, 10am - 4pm
Prices: Adult: $5, child: free, concession: $3
Call for info: Media - 8339 6842 or email
Public – visit

Friday 14 November 2008


I wanted to write a thing about special foods of the areas I visited but I had forgotten until this I hope I can remember what I discovered!

I was reminded of this idea while just now reading the October/ November edition of Sumptuous (a magazine all about South Australian food and wine) where there is a thing about black rice which reminded me of wild rice.....

I was staying in Agassiz, an hour or so east of Vancouver, with Kathy-from-my-garden-group's parents. Agassiz is in the Fraser Valley, a food growing area for Vancouver and beyond. Rosemary and Garth took me to a house that simply had a sign outside saying .....Coffee Roasting and Pottery..... sounded interesting! Inside was a woman sitting at a potting wheel, who barely spoke at first, while we followed the signs about the coffee roasting going on behind the glass screen. She heard my accent and, as we were leaving, asked me what I was doing there, in a little town like Agassiz. We got talking and she was so wonderfully interesting I would like to have stayed longer, and written a whole thing about her.....but we were heading for the airport as it was my last day. I have her email address somewhere in my as yet not-completely-unpacked suitcase.....I must write to her.

Anyway, the gist of the whole wild rice thing is that she has a friend who is from an Indian tribe further north in Canada, where wild rice is native to Canada.....I didn't know that! Anyway, only the Indians from that area are allowed to go out and collect the wild rice, and she had some for sale in her coffee, pottery and now wild rice house/shop! Rosemary bought some of the wild rice, which is not rice at all actually, and I must ask her how she got on cooking it, but as I couldn't bring it into Australia I had to leave it for next time! It is so lovely to come across such stories quite by chance, rather than by taking some touristy trap....I mean .... trip! She also talked about her chooks and her vegetables garden and how there is an annual bike ride that takes in her place and other local growers and crafts-people during summer. She has a daughter in Japan.... and so the links went on and on.....until we just had to go. As I have written before..... the earth connects so many of us.

Thursday 13 November 2008


image As I wandered around the garden with my camera when I got home I found lots of things happening. One very good thing was that the peach tree is once again laden with fruit....this is a relief because in my rush to get everything ready before I left I failed to spray the peach tree with copper oxychloride for curly-leaf. Usually this awful fungus has devastating affects on my 2 peach trees and last time I didn't spray, it nearly killed them both. So I was very surprised to find not a single diseased leaf.....but I have heard others say the same and I think it was probably our cold winter and dry spring this year that has saved us.




The garlic bulbs from Tony Scarfo are developing really well, probably the best ever, I'd say. His seeds and garlic etc certainly are excellent and since he saves his own, they are perfect for us, here in Adelaide.We are lucky he is so keen to share them with us, especially since we are also his vegetable-buying customers! I think I might ask him if we can visit again soon and see his summer vegetables growing. I met a lovely Frenchman, in France, who reminded me very much of Tony, called Gabriel, and showed me everything, explaining it all in simple French so I could understand.... lovely.

Oh no....I have forgotten about Carlo!.... I will ring him and see whan we can visit his garden....he is an Italian friend of Tony's and lives near DoodDoof.





The parrots just love the bottlebrush flowers.... image



Veggie Gnomes' rhubarb is fantastic and I will pick some this week for a crumble.










Every now and then I take a great photo...mostly because the subject is great.....and this is the best recently. Although there is a contender and more

This purple violetta artichoke is past the picking stage but there are lots more coming!





Look at those fennel flowers.....they taste sooooooooo good. I wrote about this once before and I will again. This would be one of my favourite taste sensations. Pick a stem and bite off the whole flower.....and chew....and savour.....mmmmmm.....I can nearly taste it from here at the shack!





Deb's purple-podded peas are just about ready to pick for seed saving..... see how they seem to match the colour of the background..... interesting.

There are the sweet and delicious white shahtoot mulberries to pick. The coriander is putting on a lovely flower show, along with the chervil, the bok choy, some daikon, the comfrey, the boysenberries, poppies, cliveas, nasturtiums, geraniums, some of the succulents, the seaside lavender, some grevilleas and so on and so on..... a riot of colour and a haven for bees and insects as well as the birds.


It is difficult to pull out any of it. I need a much bigger area, where I can have summer things growing while the winter things are finishing their life-cycle and attracting all the insects to keep the ecosystem happy..... a happy ecosystem is a happy vegetable gardener!

Wednesday 12 November 2008


I have mentioned before how much I love begonias and now I have, what I think, are the two most beautiful begonias to grace our planet. The one on the left, Dragon's Wings, I bought at the last ABC Carpark Caper and it has flourished and now looks stunning. The variegated one on the right was given to me for my 50th birthday and was struck from a cutting by my friend Robert, whose plant I have admired for years. The flowers are held together by threads, like a beautiful, pink spider web....  and it is soft and delicate and feathery and will grow to be tall and elegant, like its parent, I hope. I have put them in larger pots, on the verandah, outside my door where they get a bit of filtered morning sun.

Since I took the photos I have put a sturdy wire frame behind each, to support them as they grow....

...and I have a little table and chair near them so I can have my morning coffee and bask in their beauty and marvel at nature and try to forget how we humans can stuff things up so much.















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