Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

Grapes

Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/

 

Seasons are Turning. GSC March

I’ve missed doing a post for a few Garden Share Collectives (GSC) recently, just can’t seem to make the deadline! Thanks to Lizzie at StrayedTable  for co-ordinating all of us home growers showcasing what is happening in our plots.

Harvests at the moment. What else? Tomatoes, tomatoes and yes tomatoes! I say that bit it has generally been a pretty average season. Also capsicum, cucumbers, grapes, zucchini and mini eggplant. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to planting full size eggplant. The ‘finger’ variety suits us well. There are a couple here left, centre.

Tomato harvestThe capsicum crop has been the best in years, yet I haven’t had much success with chillies that  are usually mounting up by now.

IMG_9815I discovered what an invasion of white cabbage moth on the capsicum growing in the greenhouse so a dose of Dipel was in order. Dipel is an organic pesticide derived from Bacillus thuringiensis. I’ve used this successfully in the past and I must admit I love seeing the little critters fall to the ground!

IMG_0116Yet again the value of using exclusion bags on crops as they mature has been proven. This shot shows tomatoes, some in the protective exclusion bag and one that didn’t have the protection. See how the birds ruined the tomato? Little buggers are even attacking green tomatoes this year!

IMG_0110I’ve started seed for kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts and cipollini onions. Hope I haven’t left it too late for the sprouts!

IMG_0124Time to gear up in preparation for the onslaught of autumn leaves that have already started to shed from our English Oak. This is a massive task. Will need to spread the 4 different compost piles I did last year and reset them ready to fill this year. This photo was taken last year and I love it. Quite look forward to seeing these pretty colours!

IMG_4643Head over to the Garden Share Collective and see what other gardeners are doing.

TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

 

Weekend wrap.

Christmas thoughts.

I’m pleased to say that even though Christmas is about to hit us, all is calm, peaceful and smooth sailing  down here. I consider one of the best decisions we have ever made was to avoid the hype and marketing that goes with Christmas. We focus on friends, food and fun. I must admit that I am not a religious person and for a long time I struggled as to why we even have to acknowledge Christmas when we are non believers. I found it just too hard trying to explain to many of our ‘just because you should’ extended family, so I came up with my own justification that I use the Christmas period to celebrate family and friends and to reminisce. I am also a big fat sucker for pretty lights and I like nothing better than sitting on the floor staring into those sparkly delights. IMG_6682We decorated a tree this week and it was quite emotional. No kids live at home any more and they have pretty much cleared out all the tree ornaments with them. That’s OK, my plan was that they get a new decoration each year, then when they left home they would have enough to do their own tree. We are left with lots of broken balls, baubles without hanging hooks and tinsel that has lost most of it’s sparkle. We do however, have some beautiful memories, cards the kids made from kinder and early school years.20141214_194754books that were lovingly read in the lead up to Christmas and ornaments made with love from family and friends. Little knotted christmas bells that my sister gave me when our daughter was born 15th dec 1986, they went on her hospital crib and jingled around the ward for a few days. A decoupage egg ornament my niece brought back from America, a lead light decoration made by a family friend who has had long-standing mental health issues and I have no idea where  or how she is now. Especially nice are the few ornaments we bought way back when we were as poor as church mice and the only thing we could afford when we went to buy some decorations were pencil sharpeners. Important not forget how far we have come and the obstacles we have tackled to get where we are now.

20141214_194841 20141214_194911

We went down to Monbulk yesterday morning to have a lovely catch up with friends and also managed to visit the Monbulk Market. Small market, but big on quality from what I could see. Our favourite organic vegetable growers Thorpdale Organics were there so I was able to thank Wendy and Tony for their ever consistent quality produce and outstanding service and wish them a happy festive season. I also got to sample some preserves from Grandmas Delights. Quite nice they were too!

We continued on to the Dandenong Market and returned with some pork ready for the next sausage making adventure, some turkish bread and mangoes. Summer is here for me when I start gorging on mangoes and this began in earnest today!

Outside wrap.

We (well, mostly Mr ATMT) finished fitting out the last wicking bed with its four poster poles. I can now train the tomatoes up the climbing twine and will be ready to fit shade cloth in preparation for the summer swelt that is bound to hit.

IMG_6695The plot where corn was  planted but had been decimated has had the chooks in there a few times this week to cleanse and I decided to put some diatomaceous earth in the drills with the new seed. DE is an organic product used for organic pest control management in livestock, poultry and agriculture. DE is a really interesting product and it would take far too long to cover its reputed benefits in this post so I recommend you do some research.IMG_6685Starting to get some decent harvests now. First tomatoes and capsicum were picked tonight, I also picked some very young butter beans. These went into a pasta dish along with some of the last of the broccoli, some snow peas, nasturtiums, asparagus and herbs.IMG_6703I made a pasta sauce out of sour cream, lemon juice, sage, S&P and some delectable pumpkin seed oil. This is an interesting oil that has the most amazing dark green colour and it adds a nutty overtone to the dish.IMG_6706 IMG_6708

Quite delicious really!IMG_6718Please take the time to enjoy your family and friends rather than get carried away with commercial activities this Christmas!

 

 

 

Sunny Saturday.

What a bottler of a day! Not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, just right. The kind of day where you’d be nuts if you stayed inside. It was also our state election in Victoria today, which I must admit I feel very ‘ho hum’ about. I used to take my politics very seriously and stress over how I was going to vote, but these days I think they are all pretty much ‘tossers’ and put their ego well before commitment to leadership and democracy. I do feel though, that you need to cast your vote seriously or you don’t earn the right to complain. But that’s enough of that!

As in the iconic Aussie Bob Hudson Newcastle song where he sings “don’t you ever let a chance go by” this week I did just that. We had been advised that Vicroads were going to remove the tree on our nature strip (verge to those outside Australia), so I taped a bloody big sign around it asking the tree people to leave us any mulch and if possible the wood from it’s removal. Didn’t think anything would come of it but lo and behold- 2 great big piles of beautiful wood and a great big pile of mulch that we can put to really good use under this pin oak. IMG_6546 Bit of a work out for Mr ATMT as a fair amount of it had to be chain sawed into smaller lengths and we will need to split it into good oven sized bits at some stage. IMG_6561While he was working on the wood I began fitting the posts to our large wicking bed. As well as giving me somewhere to tie my tomatoes to (cordon), these posts also make it easy to bird proof with netting or add shade cloth when it gets too hot. I suspect that may be the case this summer! I didn’t take a photo but this is what they are like on the other beds.IMG_2297I had a lovely time ‘pottering’ around in the garden today. I picked some Elder flowers and I’m going to have a go at making some Elder Flower Cordial. I have never tasted, seen or been told what this should be like so it will be interesting. They are however the prettiest flowers so worth having just for that.IMG_6550 Elder flowersI got into the greenhouse and had a tidy up and hung racks so the tomatoes in there can be trained and supported. The sweet potatoes on the right here are going berserk.IMG_6572 IMG_6570It was nice to sit back and like what I saw in the ‘patch’. It’s really starting to look like it’s been there a while, not only the 1 year it’s been.  The garlic is about ready to harvest,I’ll do a separate post about that.IMG_6568The grapes are getting bigger,IMG_6573and the magpies tried to beat me to the hammock.IMG_6564A lovely tea of snow pea, broccoli, chicken and ginger pasta to top off a lovely day.

Off to the zoo tomorrow, I’m excited.

Thanks to Lizzie at strayed table for hosting the hookup for the monthly Garden ShareCollective.

TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Happy Birthday Warragul Farmers Market!

The weekend started magically with me having my monthly visit to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on some of the sensational organic and locally produced providence that is showcased there.

Wgl Farmers Market

The market celebrated their 1st birthday this weekend and it has just grown from strength to strength since its inception. I always think a good market not only offers great produce, but it creates an emotional link within the community. People develop relationships with traders and other community members, they come together to chat, relax, share stories and take home some wonderful things. A feel good experience! This market offers all of this, set in a beautiful location, music by local artists, activities for the kids and some of the best produce Gippsland has to offer!

Warragul Farmers MarketI really look forward to my visit to this market to see what will jump out and ask me to take it home. Some of my favourite and highly recommended traders are, Thorpdale Organics, Gippsland Mushrooms, Mirboo Pastured Poultry, the Apple lady (I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know from where but I always buy her apples!), and after tasting Jindivick Hydroponics tomatoes they are up there too.  Although I didn’t buy  as much as I normally tend to, I came home with some lovely tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, apples and a warm heart. Some of these went into a carbonara style pasta using our home grown broccoli, snow peas, broad beans and herbs, added some of Thorpdale Organics eggs into the sauce and voila, a fresh, mostly organic and made with love dinner. Thanks Warragul Farmers Market!

Carbonara

Flour woes

I reverted to using the ordinary old ‘organic bread flour’ in my sourdough this week and it just cemented how good the flour I brought back from Callington Flour Mill in Tasmania is. Dough hydration was 75% but this flour just doesn’t have to ‘guts’ to cope with that much water so it’s a very wet dough.  I used a portion of the dough into a ciabatta style loaf and will just keep my fingers crossed for what I expect to be a very flat loaf with the rest. Looks OK, smells great but it’s too early to cut to check if I’ve got those lovely big ciabatta holes in the crumb. Time will tell. It is amazing how much variation there can be with flour and protein levels, water absorption and general structure. Back to the Callington Mill flour next week!

Ciabatta sourdoughWe spent most Sunday at the Traralgon Poultry Auction. That was a new experience indeed, not sure if I’d relive it, but it’s something new I can say I’ve done! My son and his fiancé wanted a couple of chooks to include in their backyard so off we went thinking an hour would probably knock it over. WRONG! Finally, a long 4 hours later, they did manage to secure 2 lovely little chooks, not sure of variety but I think there is some Rhode Island Red mixed with maybe some Australorp in there. They have obviously settled into their new home well as I got a message from D&A with a photo of 2 eggs. Pretty impressed and happy they are! I get a real sense of calm knowing that all 3 of our children, grow things, cook things and love fresh unadulterated produce.16112014Got the fence around the veggie patch fully painted/stained, I’m really pleased the way the stain has made the fence blend in with the old hard wood. Bit hard to see here cause of the shadow, but the patch and chicken coop are now really looking integrated.IMG_6372

IMG_6375 Nice weekend indeed. Hope you enjoyed yours too!

Lucky I like parsnip!

I pulled the entire parsnip crop on Sunday because I needed more space for tomatoes. I am really chuffed with the results, most are a pretty good shape and a decent size. They probably should have stayed in longer to develop some more, but, oh well…………….

IMG_6189 The oddly shaped ones will go into one of my favourite childhood foods. Carrot & parsnip mash! Just boil carrot and parsnip until mashable, drain well add salt and pepper (I like heavy on the pepper) and a good dollop of butter. Mash or give it a stick blender whizz and it’s done. The better shaped ones here will go in with the roast lamb I’m cooking from the recipe posted by Kylie over at  Town Mouse Country MouseParsnips cleanedOnly problem is that It’s hard to fit the joint and the veg into the ‘toy oven’ so I cooked the veg on the barbecue on a cast iron pot.Roast lamb Jamie OliverWorked out OK but unlike Kylie I wasn’t that thrilled with the gravy. I was having a bad day and even spilled olive oil on my keyboard while reading her recipe! Presentation is pretty ordinary too but the lamb tasted great! Our parsnips, our broccoli, our thyme and parsley in the rub.  All clean, fresh and full of flavour. This is why we do these things!Roast lambOther weekend jobs in the garden were, pulling the first of the garlic to make room for even more tomatoes. Looking great, another couple of weeks will really make it shine I think.Italian garlicThe berry house was out of control! First time I’ve been in there since the spring growth started, boy, things had gone ballistic! IMG_6173I found some baby grapes on the grape-vine. This variety is a slip grape we got from a man who used to supply Mr ATMT with winemaking grapes and it also makes a great table grape. First time its fruited so I’m a bit excited really.IMG_6175 Couldn’t see or get to the strawberries because of the growth of the raspberries. A bit of jute, a couple of bamboo stakes, some judicious trimming and its back in control in there.IMG_6178 As I was collecting the trimmings to go into the compost I realised I was about to waste a great resource-vine leaves. Fresh, organically grown and no blemishes at all. Gold! I will use these to make some dolmades and there will be enough to preserve a few as well. Glad I came to my senses before they hit the compost!IMG_6204

Not this year birdies! These blueberry plants are about 7 years old and I think we’ve picked about 10 fruit at the most. We have however been tagged as an easy target for the birds who love them. Not any more, tonight I covered several with my exclusion bags in the hope they will ripen and we will reap the rewards.IMG_6220 IMG_6236Today is remembrance day in Australia, a time to reflect and remember our soldiers from all the wartime conflicts we have sadly been involved in. The Flanders poppy is a symbol of remembrance day developing from its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, this vivid red flower has become synonymous with great loss of life in war.

I didn’t plant that variety but I did grow from Diggers seed “Poppy Ladybird” and it’s very pretty as well as fitting to watch and reflect on remembrance day.Ladybird Poppy

Lest we  forget.

Garden Share Collective. Cup day in the garden.

Holy Moley, 2 posts in one night! Mr ATMT is away so I am not doing much after coming in from  the garden once it was dark. Love daylight saving, we can spend so much more time nurturing our souls watching things grow and tending to them.

This months Garden Share Collective (Thanks Lizzie), is based on how I spent the day in my garden on Cup Day, the day we usually plant tomatoes in Victoria. I only got 6 tomatoes in but it’s a start! Many more to go.

I started painting the fence we have installed around the patch. I hated the look of new treated line so I am coating it with the same stain I used on the chicken coop. Intergrain Natural Stain Charcoal. Really happy with the look and the way the greenery just jumps out with the dark backdrop.

IMG_6243 Here are the first of the tomatoes, 6 in this bed, hopefully when I pull the garlic it won’t disturb the roots too much. this variety is German Johnston.IMG_6214 Broccoli is doing really well, this succession crop is being harvested. Now, where to find space for the next lot! There are also beetroot and lettuce in this bed with snow peas that are flowering at the end.IMG_6213I planted a succession planting of snow peas on the end of this bed. Butter beans are thriving and the beautiful miners lettuce and chervil I got from Herbalicious Nursery have  (are) performed incredibly well. The last couple of leeks are on the left. I also stuck in some eggplant ‘fingerling’ which did really well last season.

IMG_6210 These are the snow peas about to from pods. Can’t wait!IMG_6207Did some tidying up in the greenhouse, planted some cucumbers in there and in the wicking beds outside. So much more to do and what I should report on, it’s so rewarding seeing this stuff grow and harvesting it.

 

In My Kitchen. Golly how did it get to be November?

What a busy time it is at the moment! We have just celebrated the engagement of our son and his beautiful partner. Joyous time indeed and a lot of creating food for the celebration.  So in my kitchen is:

10424268_1563188050563163_5140644749713191810_n Some of the leftovers of the magnificent cake my daughter made for the event. Ready to pack to put in the freezer for later use. It was beautiful and looked amazing as well as tasting sensational. She is VERY talented!IMG_6254I made some vegetable pakora, they looked much better on the serving platter, see my previous post!IMG_6185

Cauliflower pakora

I cooked up some VERY spicy tiny sausages and meatballs. These were a great hit.IMG_6179In my kitchen are a few beautiful roses, this one is  a week old in the photo and still holding up well.IMG_6186 These beautiful ‘Jude the Obsure’ blooms are from a bush our daughter gave us after her wedding. Very precious to me.IMG_6206 In my kitchen are 2 heads of broccoli freshly cut waiting to go into our tummies.IMG_6230Sadly, I have to say goodbye to the last of last seasons garlic. This bag was chockers and has lasted really well. Only a couple of weeks till new crop is ready I think.IMG_6233 In my kitchen is a leek, broad bean and mushroom risotto made from freshly picked veg. It was beautiful!IMG_6237 Some of the broad beans, nearly finished for the season so enjoying them while we can.IMG_6248In my kitchen is a smoked trout. We are so lucky having such an excellent butcher who makes his own small goods and they are sensational. Thanks Wayne from Trafalgar Butcher Shop. Such an easy appetiser, trout, some bread or crackers to serve it on and your done!IMG_6257 Another local producer who grow the most amazing organic vegetables with love. Wendy and Tony go out of their way to make sure their produce is first rate and their service is exceptional. Wendy delivered these beautiful lettuce and daikon and some other goodies to me at work. Love shopping that way! It is nice knowing that the food I served for the after party BBQ has been grown with so much love and care. Check out Thorpdale Organics, it’s worth it.IMG_6260

Didn’t get to take a photo of the view from the kitchen window but it’s looking pretty good!

Thanks Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for giving us this opportunity to see and share kitchens from around the world.

Long weekend that was-for some! Family celebrations are fun!

Amazing to think that a whole country can come to a halt based around a race horse, but yes, here in Australia we can. I have traditionally been a great Melbourne Cup Day celebrator, but this year there has been so much happening that I didn’t even give it a thought! No sweep tickets, no TAB bets and not even watching the race. Hang my head in shame! The Melbourne Cup is always run on the first Tuesday in November and it is a public holiday for the people who live in the state of Victoria. It has turned into a time when many take the Monday off creating an extra long weekend. Not so for me.

Our son and his fiancé celebrated their engagement with a rather large party on Saturday night and you could not have asked for more disastrous weather conditions. After a beautiful Friday of 28, no wind and balmy conditions the cool front confronted with avengance. Temp slid down to about 13-15, rain was horizontal and the wind was just horrendous. All the planned outside arrangements were put on hold and thankfully our gracious hosts opened their home so the celebrations could continue inside. No mean feat for about 130 people! I had been cooking at every available opportunity for the party and it all went down well, especially the spicy (very) small sausages and the Indian pakora I made. IMG_6179 Just love this Indian pakora recipe of Annabel Langbein. I’ve made it a few times and always served them freshly deep fried but this time I made them ahead of time and reheated before serving. Wasn’t sure how that would go but it was fine. Batter wasn’t as crispy as when fresh but flavour was still good. IMG_6181Served with a minty yoghurt sauce.Cauliflower pakoraThe beautiful couple, though I think Dave may have had a beer or two by now!

IMG_6195Our daughter has a great sense of design style and does some beautiful cake decorating, she contributed this lovely 3 tier chocolate fudge cake decorated with little daisy flowers. Looked lovely and I must admit we are munching on it as I write this post!10424268_1563188050563163_5140644749713191810_nIt was a great party and a great reminder that it is so special having these happy times and celebrations with those we love.

 

 

Espaliers, skirting boards and spring pasta.

We have at long last commenced the fence around the veggie patch. We are going for a rustic paling look across the front and on the gate but along the back it is just posts with ‘reo’ attached so I can use the steel as framing for espaliers, beans and other things as needed. I got to plant the fig which has been in a pot since we bought it at the Castlemaine market the Easter before last. This may be quite a hot spot so hopefully the fig should do well. Not sure about the root system, but what the hell! I’d already started training it to a ‘U’ Goblet shape and hope I get some side shoots soon so I can train it to spread across as well as up.IMG_5168I’ve also planted 2 apples along this fence. With another 2 planted along the front patch fence which I will train as step over apples, (photos when that fence is completed). This means they are varieties which have been grafted onto unusually dwarf rootstock so you can keep them small and manageable.IMG_5169I’ll train the granny Smith as a double cordon style shape like this photo below. Mine certainly won’t cover as much space as this but I want to demonstrate what you can achieve in small spaces with fruit trees.espaliers-2013-13-620x416

Now to the walls on the inside!

I have spent some time this weekend working on the hallway. I managed to finish hanging the wallpaper and started work on restoring the 8″ cedar or Australian pine (not sure which or what the difference in fact is ). It would be so tempting to just paint these or even go and get new, fresh, perfectly recreated mouldings made from craft wood or pine but these babies have been here since the house was built and I like the scars they show and the story they tell. I wonder how many of the scuff marks are from people who were quite nervous (justified I’m led to believe) about going into the doctors for a procedure or checkup. This is the starting point, the boards have been sealed or varnished over the years with a quite dark finish. They are terribly scuffed and we’ve had to glue quite a few together in places.

IMG_6094I started by going over the boards with metho to break down the finish (luckily we found a couple of 10 gallon /20 litre) drums of metho in the stables when we moved in. Doctors obviously bought their metho in bulk! IMG_6095This along with a scourer to help dissolve the finish, washed and a final sanding using steel wool and they are looking much happier. Love that grain!IMG_6096The first coat of Tung Oil, and I’m really pleased with how they are coming up. They still show many dents, scuffs, splits. holes and dings. I’m quite OK with that! They don’t actually look quite that red which is good. Another sand with steel wool, another coat and they should be good to put back in place. I’m keeping the unveiling of the hall until it’s just about finished.IMG_6097

Spring pasta.

We are starting to get much better harvests now that the soil has warmed and the sun has been out a bit more. (I nearly stupidly said “now that we have more sun because of daylight saving”, but that would have been silly). Dinner last night was an easy pasta dish. I walked around and picked a young garlic plant that was growing in the way of something else. Young garlic delivers a subtle flavour to a dish without overpowering it. I also picked some young asparagus, thai basil, oregano, parsley and chervil.IMG_5183 Now don’t get excited but I also picked, yes, broad beans. A whole tablespoon full. We love broad beans and have been anxiously waiting on a harvest as they are very late this year. IMG_5185A couple of leeks, some broccoli I’d frozen before we went away, along with these herbs, some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and it was lovely light dinner. IMG_5189