Can’t think of a title for this post!

I was trying to come up with a catchy title for this post but it just didn’t happen. I had toyed with Friends, food and ….mmmm, got stuck, fun, friends and ……. stuck again. SO here it is, the post without a title! We had a lovely evening at a friends home in the Dandenong Ranges on Saturday night. There is something soulful about getting together with people who you can relax with, share ideas with and most importantly, have so many of the most wonderful belly laughs that it hurts! I wanted to take an offering so with the batch of sourdough I was working on I decided to make a couple of sourdough bread sticks to take. Should have proved a little longer but it just had to go on due to time restraints. As most of you know, I have limited cooking facilities so these were baked in the outdoor BBQ with the hood closed. I was very happy with these, the crust was crunchy, the crumb soft with a good flavour, sort of came out with a ciabatta style structure. This was sliced and we ate it slathered with beetroot relish and brie cheese. Very nice! My friend had made some Georgian cheese bread which is similar to puri and it was lovely, rich, but soft and full of flavour. Sourdough ciabatta bread sticksThe bay tree I’m working on establishing as a ball top with a straight stem needed some straightening so I bound it up with soft tie and cleaned any side shoots off. It’s at the right height now so I pinched the top out and will keep trimming to get the desired result.IMG_5622 Mr ATMT started extending the veggie garden path to where it will finish at the old stables. Neatened things up and now just need to infill the pavers with toppings.IMG_5627My garlic is going really well, This lot is planted in a separate box in the garden,IMG_5629 And this lot is in the asparagus bed. I’m a little concerned that the asparagus hasn’t yet started showing and I have read that garlic and asparagus shouldn’t be planted together. Waiting game now to see what eventuates.garlicThe succession planting of the broccoli is coming on nicely,IMG_5647 I pulled the last scrappy beetroot and will make some relish from these as they aren’t pretty enough to serve whole. Couple of baby parsnips here too that I pulled to see how they are progressing.IMG_5650 IMG_5632I put an old sewing machine base in the vegi patch and plonked a surplus sink onto it. This is proving to be a great asset as a workbench, potting bench and I can chuck stuff into the sink and hose it off before bringing it inside. I’m considering adding a foot pump or caravan sink type water tap to it to add to its use. IMG_5648 I’ve bagged the kale seed heads to keep the seed,IMG_5637 Such a lovely afternoon the workers downed tools and enjoyed the sun too!IMG_5635The backyard is shaping up nicely. Mt ATMT top dressed a few patches in the grass and put down some new lawn seed. Last time he’s says, it will have to fend for itself now. Let’s wait and see how that pans out!

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Garden Share Collective

Thanks Lizzie at Strayed Table for getting all these together.TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Well Spring is well and truly showing its face. Flowers are smiling at me, fruit trees and deciduous trees are in bud, leaves are popping and showing signs of life. Birds are sharing their joyous chatter and everything just looks clean, pretty and bursting with energy.

I’ve been picking oranges from the now very healthy tree. The broccoli and kale are nearly done but I’m still getting side shoots from the broccoli.

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I started some sweet potato in the greenhouse and have planted them out into one of the greenhouse wicking beds. I don’t really expect to get a crop of tubers but the leaves can be used like spinach and in stir frys. Good little root system! IMG_5358 The broad beans are growing beautifully, but no sign yet of ‘beans’. Researching I found mention that they don’t usually appear until it warms up enough for insects to do their thing with pollination. Sure hope this little guy has done a good job!IMG_5355 My worm farm is apparently a nice place for slugs to take up residence. This is just a few that were ‘relocated’ never to return. I’m sure their offspring will though!IMG_5345 I’ve tidied up my pots, adding fresh potting mix, thinning our any dead wood and fed them. All my seedlings are doing well, tomatoes growing rapidly and the cipollini onion seed that I heard about from another blogger are up and nearly ready to transplant. Time to do some cucumber, pumpkin, beans soon and all those other summer crops. The Brussel Sprouts still are teenie weenie, don’t hold out much hope there.

First tulip opened today.IMG_5417Two Corella birds sitting in the oak tree watching down on me.IMG_5428And this magnolia says it all!IMG_5270And this magnolia says it all!

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In My Kitchen

Golly, it’s nearly too late for this month’s IMK post, a blogging forum graciously hosted by Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.

I’ve been house sitting for my daughter while she was away and taking advantage of having a ‘real’ oven. See my post “A quickie” to see how I coped with that!

So, in my kitchen this month,IMG_5361Is a vase of lovely spring flowers, and my new cast iron dutch oven. Is it wrong to buy a pot because it matches the tablecloth I bought in Sumatra?IMG_5363Is a big pot of stock simmering in the slow cooker. Smells great! I’ve found this is the best way to make stock and we never run out any more.IMG_5334Is a big basket of freshly picked oranges, kale and broccoli. It is just about the end of the crop for all three so I’m making the most of them. Tonight’s dinner will be leek, broccoli and mushroom risotto. The broccoli have been absolutely sensational this year. Harvesting from next planting is still a few weeks away yet.IMG_5365On the fridge is the next page of the list of instructions we found left by Sheila for the housekeeper. We think circa 1960, first time I’ve ever heard of spare keys being kept in a pin cushion!20130630_142902In my kitchen is an old cheese/butter cellar. This is built under the floor of the kitchen. It’s about 500 deep and 400 wide, there is a hole covered by mesh on the lower section where cool air from under the house enters into the cavity keeping things cool. You access it by lifting a bit of wood on the bottom shelf of a base cupboard. I’m hoping to incorporate this into our new kitchen design by using it as the bones of a cooling cupboard. This was very common way of keeping perishables apparently before refrigeration was commonplace.IMG_5368This months view out to the oak tree. Amazing that the new leaves are so well established in such quick time. It’s almost as the last autumn leaf falls the new ones pop out. This tree is a great haven for birds of all kinds. It is hilarious watching the pecking order. First come in the lorikeets, then the corellas, rosellas, then galahs push their way in and then back to the lorikeets. Today, I caught a couple of Corella lovebirds up there preening over each other.  I just couldn’t live somewhere where there were no trees!

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A quickie.

Things are a bit all over the shop at the moment. I’m house sitting for my daughter while she is in Hawaii (tough for the youngies!),  and while I have access to a real oven I’m madly baking like a crazy woman. I’m getting a lot of basics done of stuff to freeze for the up coming engagement party of our youngest son. Starting with good old sausage rolls (400 so far), mini quiches (72 so far),  I have plans for my veggie rolls and will expand the menu selection to some more exotics as the day gets closer. I haven’t used a real oven for so long it’s quite funny, I  have burns on my hands where I’ve juggled baking trays and I’d forgotten about how hot an oven gets on its extremities. In between house sitting and baking, I did manage to get s new batch of mushroom logs inoculated at the weekend. My old logs are about 5 years old and yields have been very sporadic so replenishing this wonderful crop was overdue.

I purchased some spawn from Forest Fungi, this time I’m doing logs of both shiitake and pioppiono varieties. The shiitake have been very successful, so I’m hoping for great results again. The spawn come on pre-inoccculated wooden dowels that you insert into tree wood. The magic begins as the mycelium spreads throughout the wood and ends up producing mushrooms if the proper environment is met.

These are the packaged dowels, the white stuff is the start of the mushroom magic.IMG_5278 IMG_5280Tools at the ready, drill with a 5/16 drill bit, hammer (this little treasure is one my dearly loved dad made for me about 50 years ago!) and I dragged some cheese wax out of the cupboard where things are patiently waiting for me to get back into making cheese.IMG_5276Holes drilled 3-4 inches apart on the log, I’m using offcuts from prunings of our pin-oak and some thinnings of the english oak in the back yard. Hole is drilled into the log and a dowel inserted into the hole then tapped with the hammer till it is at bark level.IMG_5286The surface is then sealed with bees wax or in my case cheese wax to prevent undesirable fungi taking over the log.IMG_5290That’s it! I’ve put the new logs into their new home, labelled with a coke can I cut up and will keep them damp and humid for a few months. The logs then have a soaking in a bath and with all being good, mushies will appear. The logs on the right are the old hosts, see how much they have aged compared to the newbies. The old logs are as light as anything. definitely was time to renew!

IMG_5309I’ve got much more to report but will have to wait until next weekend once my daughter has returned. Love this Spring weather I must say!

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Weekend Round Up

What a cracker of a day it was yesterday! Promises of things to come in spring, blue sky, lightest of breezes, warm sun and no deadlines that had to be met. Pure and simply, a beautiful day that makes you feel warm and motivated.

I spent the day ‘pottering’ around doing all sorts of jobs. At this time of year, I start to list things that need to be done and I get a bit panicky that the sky might fall in if I don’t get to them. Hasn’t happened yet, but I do usually manage to get the jobs done so I don’t want to tempt fate! Some jobs on the list were, spray the fruit trees with copper and lime (bordeaux), feed fruit trees and roses, make sure tomatoes are started, top up veggie beds with compost and manure, clean out the chook house, plan spring and summer plantings, plan where I’m going to put things that won’t fit in the veggie garden and prepare the soil to give them the best shot. I need to make up some potato beds and find space for more tomatoes. I’m a bit disillusioned with spuds (potatoes) after the trouble I’ve had the last two seasons with them being eaten by earwigs and all sorts of other critters. I’m hoping that as the garden gets more and more established and natural ecosystems kick in this will be less of a problem…. I’ll persevere to test this theory.

I’ve just about got all the tomato seedlings potted up. I am in need of more coffee cups/milk containers to finish off the last few remaining ones. 14 Varieties totalling 354 seedlings, gee I hope my stall is a success!IMG_5177I planted some cape gooseberries I bought. Never had anything to do with these so It will be interesting to see what the outcome is. IMG_5186 I’ve been putting off getting this apple espalier  started until the fence around the veggie patch is complete but it really needed to go in and have the branches commence their training. The branch on the left is quite rigid so I’m hoping to slowly coax it down to close to a right angle. Depending on how successful this is (or isn’t) I may have to break the branch and re-graft it to the angle I want. Fingers crossed. This apple along with all the fruit trees, raspberries and roses got a spray of bordeaux mixture. It is possibly still a little early for best effect so I will most likely do another spray before blossom opens. This spray is a fungicide that helps prevent leaf curl which along with being ugly, debilitates the plant somewhat. Mix 50g copper oxychloride that has been mixed in 2.5 litres of water with 60g of hydrated lime which has also been mixed in 2.5 litres water. Combine both solutions together and using a pressure spray pack, spray all parts of the tree/plant. Make sure all safety precautions such as gloves, glasses etc are observed.IMG_5185 The garlic had its net removed for an extra dose of sun and some compost was added to the bed. Looking good at this stage.IMG_5181 Gave the whole veggie area a bit of a tidy up. Looking pretty good I must say. I also planted some carrot, snow peas and lettuce seed. Frosts should have finished by the time the snow peas flower avoiding damage to them. The garlic I planted in the asparagus bed is also going well.IMG_5231  I collected this pink grapefruit off the ground many weeks ago waiting for it to ripen to have a look inside. Yep, its crap!IMG_5224 Thick pith, no colour but the taste wasn’t too bad. I think the ones still on the tree should be a lot better. Will pick and compare shortly.IMG_5227Silver beet and parsley that I have planted at the end of wicking beds to utilise some extra space got a top up of compost and were fed.IMG_5234 Patiently awaiting the broad beans to grow. Such a pretty flower.IMG_5237 What’s that? Wasabi!IMG_5228I was fortunate enough to source a wasabi plant and have planted it in a damp, dark part of the garden. Trying some various techniques to keep snails and slugs away from it. Bit of a long shot but like the concept.

Sunday breakfasts are becoming a favourite part of the week. Today we had freshly squeezed orange juice from our oranges, toast from my sourdough, poached eggs from our chickens, mushrooms and a lovely pot of tea. All this sitting near the lounge bay window looking out at the magnolia that is just out in flower. Nice way to start the day!

IMG_5214As I am writing this post, I hear the rain bucketing down and think that all the bordeaux spray will probably be washed off everything I sprayed and will need to be redone. Oh well, that’s a gardeners lot!

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Posted in Asparagus, Compost, Fruit, Garlic, In The Garden, Potatoes (Spuds), Tomatoes, Wicking Beds | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oo, oo, oo, oooh!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I didn’t think the Brussel Sprouts were going to amount to anything, but on closer inspection tonight (glass of wine in hand) I noticed these little nubs that look about the size of a pea forming on the stalk. Not having grown B/Sprouts before, I am not really sure, but I reckon they may be baby sprouts. This made me very excited, I love surprises and especially love ones that come on things I have grown from seed. What’s your verdict? Baby Sprouts or not??? Photo was taken with my phone which I discovered had gunk over the lens so its a bit fuzzy.

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The next lovely surprise I got was while cutting some broccoli florets, I thought I’d pull a parsnip seedling to see how/if they were progressing. I love parsnip and haven’t had a lot of success over the years, but these look like they are going to be sensational. Straight, clean, not knobbly and taste like parsnip. Happy, happy happy!

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Ooo, look at this daffodil!

When my sister moved she collected a load of bulbs of various varieties and I was lucky enough to score some.  Wasn’t sure what they were, just stuck them in randomly throughout the garden. This beautiful daffodil greeted us tonight and I must say it made my day! I did clean my phone camera lens after this too! Spring is definitely starting to shine through.20140819_164859

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Just a little trim!

Lucky for us, these guys are nuts! Our massive pin oak in the front yard need some TLC. Nothing major, just some culling of dead wood, clearing some growth that impeded pedestrian traffic and lifting it a little from the house. We love trees and get very nervous about letting chain saw wielding maniacs loose. You can’t stick a limb back on once its been severed! No cause for alarm here. Ryan from Quality Tree Works in Traralgon did a great job. Focus on safety was paramount and the work done to the tree was done judiciously. Looks much better and without close inspection we can’t really tell where growth has been removed. Can always do a bit more later if need be. The following are some photos of various parts of the job. Hard to pick the best shots and apologies if they all look the same to you. I am still in awe of how these guys do what they do!  IMG_3554 IMG_3564  IMG_3572   IMG_3584 IMG_3586 IMG_3595 IMG_3598   IMG_3575 IMG_3566

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