In My Kitchen – January 2016.

Welcome to 2016 where a very busy year is staring us straight in the smacker. To start the year, we have a grand baby due to arrive (literally any tick of the clock), a wedding in February, hopefully a working kitchen soon after that and a holiday to Greece and Turkey in May. I’m also hoping to hold some sourdough bread workshops once we have a kitchen, so I’m trying to wrap my head around the best way to present information that is most useful to participants. Thanks to Maureen over at Orgasmic Chef who has kindly taken over the co-ordinating of In My Kitchen while Celia has some ‘being gentle to herself’ time.

I’ve had a peek at a few other IMK postings and I can definitely say I’m not going to wow you with delightful Christmas goodies and gifts. In My Kitchen this month is very down to earth and some may even say “boring”. Never mind, here’s what’s In My Kitchen this month regardless.

Harvests:

Cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, beetroot, capsicum and in a couple of days there will be corn. We are chook sitting for our son, so I think I will have to turn some eggs into pasta over the next couple of days.

Egg Cucumber HarvestI love pickled cucumbers so I made some bread and butter cucumbers (not sure what the difference between the two is). I have been using this recipe that I found over at Liz’s Suburban Tomato Blog  and it’s a winner. Bread & Butter CucumbersPickled beet and cucumbersI also pickled some beetroot using this blend of pickling vinegar. This was enough for 500g of beets.

    • 750ml malt vinegar (can blend types to suit)
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Boil all together, let cool then strain and pour over cooked beets that you have sliced or cut to desired shape and size and packed into sterilised jars, seal. Let mature for a couple of weeks before using. I really like the flavour of star anise with beetroot. Served with some feta or add greek yogurt, blitz it and you have a delicious dip in a matter of seconds.

Garlic.

I’ve followed a tip from Francesca at ‘Almost Italian‘ and this year not plaited my garlic harvest but just bundled the heads together and hung them. This was so much easier than plaiting and I think they look pretty good! I have not bought garlic for years now and I just love having it on hand knowing it’s been grown with no chemicals, no bleaching agents or sterilising agents to reduce the chance of it sprouting on the shelf. Nearly 100% of supermarket garlic is imported and the growing conditions are very questionable.

Garlic harvestAs well as this stash (it should last 12 months) I have kept enough aside for planting. I usually plant in March. This is much earlier than many recommend, but I have had great success since doing so.

Garlic for plantingWe have been picking tomatoes since mid November. Most have been from the greenhouse but they are now coming in from the wicking beds as well. We have to pick as soon as they get a slight blush because the birds are onto them like a flash if we don’t.

TomatoesI have about 15 compost buckets on my kitchen table. I take responsibility for collecting the compost bin from the staffroom at work  (sadly, I don’t have to compete with anyone for the privilege of doing this). I bring the bin home, add the goodies to the compost then usually forget to put the bin/bucket back in my car to take back to work. I’ve given them all a good scrub and airing and they are ready to be returned for the new year. I really wish I could create a swell of enthusiasm among others on staff to be more involved in sustainability and waste management, but there just isn’t any interest or sense of purpose  for doing so at all.

Compost binsClean out the fridge soup! There were many bits and pieces that were getting close to needing to be used or piffed (compost only, not rubbish bin) and as the weather was nice and cool today I made soup. This meant I could use up some celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, stock, and turkey that were sitting in the fridge. I added a stubby of passata,  some potato, my favourite zing szechuan (sichuan) pepper  and served the soup with some sliced chorizo I had grilled, flat leaf parsley and some of my ‘Maurizio’ sourdough

IMG_3585that had been grilled, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with garlic.

Clean out fridge soupHappy New Year to all fellow IMK’rs out there and to any new participants. I am really looking forward to see what 2016 will bring to everyone.

Gardivalia 2015-We’re in!

October in West Gippsland is the month when gardeners, would be gardeners and just lovers of gardens have the opportunity to visit properties throughout the Baw Baw Shire. Gardens that are opened up for the public to visit and learn from. Food gardens, formal gardens, native gardens, permaculture and community gardens as well as events, forums and workshops being available for people to expand their knowledge and develop friendships and networks. This event is Gardivalia and I’m excited! Yep, check out garden Number 13, Around The Mulberry Tree. That would be us.

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I’ve entered Around The Mulberry Tree so that we can show people  what you can achieve in a relatively short time to get a food garden established.  Wicking beds, chooks, shiitake mushrooms, permaculture concepts, composting, worm farming, fruit trees, berry growing and greenhouse gardening are all part of our garden. The importance of thinking through the design and demonstrating how you can use recycled materials and creating habitat for birds and bees is also part of our garden. This is only the second season the vegie patch has been constructed and we want to show the development of it and the garden over the next few years, so this is the benchmark. Excited as I am, it’s a bit like having to clean up before you have visitors! I want to make sure we present in the best possible light, so there are a few jobs to do before our open garden weekend.

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We transplanted a couple of standard roses from the front yard to frame the entry to the patch. They were just in the wrong spot out the front and should do much better here. This area has compost bins, a worm farm, potatoes in the bath tub, garlic growing beside the chook shed and there will be bee attracting flowers bordering the beds.

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I’ve transplanted the rhubarb from the garden beds to the veggie patch, these pavers will be filled with toppings, herbs and bee attracting flowers will be planted in the bordering spaces. I’ve planted climbing peas on this frame near the compost bins,

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and these sweet pea seeds have been planted near the berry house. I soaked these overnight then left in damp newspaper for another 2 days to hasten the germination.

In the greenhouse I have a range of cuttings that hopefully will be established enough to sell at a little plant stall on the weekend. I have tomato seedlings starting, poppies and other flowers seed ready toppling out. I will definitely need to give this a sort out!

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I always perform better with a deadline and this is certainly one I look forward to meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

Logs into firewood, flour into bread. A weekend of conversions.

A couple of months ago I mentioned the gum tree from our front nature strip was removed by VicRoads and I managed to have the wood and mulch from it left with us. The mulch was a drop in the ocean to what we need but the quantity of logs was much more than I had anticipated. We have been looking at this pile of logs since we moved them to the backyard and this weekend was the weekend to split them. I hired a log splitter and Mr ATMT spent Saturday turning this,

Flowering gum wood

into this.

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The wood then had to be stacked away to let it dry, which in itself was a huge job. Well done Mr ATMT!   Don’t worry, I did contribute, not just observe. My job was to move all of the wood we had stacked against the back fence after we had trees removed when we took over the property. All the wood is now in one place, stacked, split and ready to be used however we choose. While splitting the wood we noticed a couple of the logs had fresh ‘blood sap’ in the core. This looks amazingly like blood and I could have been fooled if Mr ATMT had wanted to stir the pot and tell me he had injured himself. Quite bizarre seeing this, it is quite common in gum trees, apparently those that are not well.

Gum Tree blood sapI took advantage of the magnificent balmy winter day and planted a couple of hundred bulbs I had ordered from Garden Express. There was a variety of freesia, daffodils, ranunculus, anemone, iris and ixia. A couple I can’t remember too!

Garden Express

Now that the screen fence (the one made from old greenhouse shelves) is in place I was able to plant a range of plants that had come either from my sister or rom our Fish Creek property  before we sold. These included, geranium, native orchid (Dendrobium), violets, ferns  and Clivia. Of course the girls were on hand to help and supervise!

IMG_1154The bread I made this weekend was Ken Forkish’s ‘Pain de Compagne’ (Country bread). I’m really enjoying making a new bread every weekend and it is very interesting to see how the different bakers methods compare. This photo is of the dough going through what is called ‘bulk fermentation’. That is after is has been mixed and stretched and folded (form of kneading without kneading). I love watching the dough go through its changes until it is ready to shape and do a final proving before it is baked.  The black line on the bucket is where the dough started out when I put it in there.

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This loaf is a winner! Forkish doesn’t normally slash (score) his loaves, he places them in to cook with the seam up and they do a natural eruption at that point as it is a weak spot.   I however like to play with  razorblades!

Pain de Compagne ForkishSweet potato happiness.

Today was the day! I’ve been eager to see what sort of result, if any, I was going to get from the sweet potato I planted in the greenhouse. This was grown from a sprouting I did last year and I would not have been surprised if I had no success. But Look!

Sweet Potatoes Melbourne

2 Whole kilos of beautiful, mostly good sized tubers. I did a little happy dance at this result! The one at the front is going back in to the wicking bed along with some tip cuttings, it looks healthy and has some good roots so we’ll see. I can see a personal  challenge happening with these. What have you has success with growing that you didn’t expect to achieve?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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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Garden Share Collective July 2014

Time to have a think about what’s been happening, being harvested and planned over the last month.

We are halfway through a school term break here and I have been going ‘gangbusters’ trying to achieve as much as I can while I have the opportunity.

Plantings

I have planted a whole lot of flower seedlings I started earlier in the year, these have been put into the bed that has a lane way running along it. A good spot for viewing flowers from the lounge room window. I have also planted some kale, leeks, divided up and planted runners on strawberry plants. I grow these strawberries in self watering pots, the plastic drum is filled with nutrient rich water and refills the planter automatically as needed. I’ll add a more detailed post about these at a later time.

Strawberries in need of TLC IMG_4605We’ve planted a few shrubs , one I’m excited about is the native pepper berry which should fill in a nice gap along the fence as well as giving us the opportunity to use the berries in cooking and it is a good for attracting native birds. I’m still working on a place to plant my peach tree! Just can’t decide where will be most suitable.

What I’ve been and plan to be doing.

Jobs targeted over the last couple of weeks have been to spread mulch over the newly marked out beds along the back of the yard. This is what’s left (until it stops raining), rest will be spread next week.

IMG_4609 Mulch really neatens the overall look up. I had been using these beds as a dumping ground for all the soft prunings and old tomatoes, pumpkin vines etc, knowing that they would be covered soon. Now the mulch is covering this green waste, it creates a natural composting environment which will aid in developing better soil long term.

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I’ve started building 2 wicking beds in the greenhouse, already I can see how much more available growing space there will be compared to using the old bathtubs.

IMG_4600I’ve targeted next week as the time to put smaller wire on the chicken shed to stop those pesky little sparrows coming in. Only if it stops raining of course! We’ve had around 60ml in 24 hours. Glad the gutters were cleaned out last week! I also plan to move the shiitake mushrooms to a dedicated space  behind the greenhousethat’s not much good for anything else. Think it’s time to innoculate  some fresh logs soon.

IMG_4575Harvesting

We’ve had some great harvests recently. The broccoli is sensational, as is the kale. I’m picking celery, beetroot, snow peas, assorted herbs, silver beet, lemons, lemons and more lemons.  The chooks have started laying again after a short layoff. I had to buy eggs last week for the first time in 12 months, that hurt!

Had a great stir fry with most of our stuff and some kohlrabi that I bought from Thorpdale Organics. Never tried it before and it was sensational, absolute winner of a veg. Bought a water chestnut type crunch to the dish. Great chicken and veg stir fry was the result!

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Red!

Finally after weeks of waiting, the first ripe Rocoto chillies can be seen in the lower part of the bush. IMG_3238 These chillies are a perennial variety that can keep producing for years. I planted a cutting in early spring and the bush is now about 5ft high and masses of flowers appear continually. I have been hand pollinating with a tiny paintbrush to ensure good fruit set. Even with our bee attracting plants we aren’t seeing many around. If this goes well I don’t think I will bother planting other varieties to save using precious bed space Plantings this week have been parsnip, succession broccoli, garlic, strawberry runners separated from main plant and potted up. I did try and prestart some parsnip seed quite a few weeks ago and although I used ‘guaranteed’ fresh seed, nothing has appeared. For the last few seasons Ive been getting garlic from Simon at garlic world  and I am so impressed by the quality of his bulbs I just can’t stop myself. I don’t really need to buy planting stock anymore, I could use my own, but I just love his reasoning as to why he does what he does so I like to support his ethical business. Californian and Italian garlic. IMG_3237 Harvests this week have been tomatoes (the last few growing in the green house), basil, spring onions, beans, eggplant, jalapeños, lettuce, kale, strawberries, thyme, silver beet and a couple of lonely asparagus spears. I used the last of last seasons compost to fill the garlic bed and desperately wish I had more. Think I will be calling on locals with horses for some stable manure! IMG_3253 I had to trim the thyme in the patch that is planted near the water feature so into an exclusion bag went the trimmings, hung up to dry in the shed. It shall not be wasted! I just love these exclusion bags. Drying thyme We are still working on the floor boards and with luck we can ‘move back in’ next weekend.

I’ve got good news & bad news. Which first?

Well the really good news is the floor sander turned up when he said he would! The interesting rather than good news, is that our original floorboards are apparently ‘rose’ Baltic pine which gives them a pinkish centre. This according to Mr Sandman is quite rare, so rare in fact that the boards we replaced damaged ones with are the normal Baltic pine because it doesn’t happen often enough for anyone to check.  He was quite concerned that it will look odd once complete and wondered if we wanted to continue or replace all the floor (yeah right!). Upon inspection most of the replaced boards are in the master bedroom, so the bed will cover a fair bit, then when you add rugs, bedside tables and dressing tables and wardrobes etc it is unlikely that it will jump out too much. We really don’t mind too much, the house is almost 100 years old so it is important to us to keep as much of original content as possible.

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The other not so good news was that he uncovered some more borer damaged boards that needed to be replaced. Sanding/finishing job was put on hold until work to replace boards was done,  poor Mr ATMT spent the entire weekend going to Melbourne to buy more reclaimed boards, then removing the damaged boards and refitting the replacements. I don’t think he got a minutes break at all. We (I really did help by staying away from the works in progress as it was better for all parties concerned!) went back and removed a couple of the already replaced boards in the hall and replaced them with boards removed from the kitchen to make the colour variation less noticeable. The spare room at the front has also been put onto semi-permanent hold as there are a few too many boards that need replacing and we won’t be able to fix them in a hurry. We know we will get a few spots of colour difference throughout the floors but hey, it gives character so they say.

IMG_3204Outside action.

While I was doing my bit by staying out of Mr ATMT’s way, I hit the back yard getting a lot of jobs ticked off, namely:

  • Moved potato bed and compost containers that held last years fallen leaves and lawn clippings to a new spot. We are hoping to plant this area out shortly, so the contents were spread to add to the fertility of the bed. This will be repeated again this year in a new spot.

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  • Fed all the citrus trees, camellias, and roses
  • Planted a few new garden shrubs
  • Mowed the grass
  • Planted a stack of seed for spring annuals and perennials
  • Tidied up the asparagus bed
  • Once again tackled the espalier pear,

Espalier Pear March 2014this is growing so fast I can hardly keep up with it. I also topped up its bed with a load of goodies that came from the old composted leaves.  I planted this tree on 10th July 2012 and it is doing its job well.

  • I also cleaned out the gutters along the back of the house, not sure why when they are about to be avalanched by oak tree leaves!

In the Tunnel of Love!

I  played in my therapy pit, the vegetable garden for a while. It is quite impressive how well things are doing underneath the netting that I have turned into a protective tunnel. There is kale, beetroot, broccoli, carrots and shallots in here. I have never grown kale before and had never heard of it when I was growing up. It seems to have hit the road running in the popularity stakes over the last couple of years. Later in the week I will be harvesting my first crop and think something along the lines of a hunza pie might be good. Any good recipe ideas you can pass on would be appreciated!

Kale

Fingers crossed for me that the floor sanding and waxing treatment will now proceed with no more glitches. Got enough of them, don’t need anymore!

Know when to call it quits!

The corn I planted was doing very well, lovely thick stalks, extremely strong-looking plants and I was very excited that I would be able to fill the freezer with cobs this year. That was until we had the weather in January that fried many plants, 44-47 degrees over 5 days in a row and we were away so couldn’t do anything to alleviate the stress. By the time we returned it was quite obvious that the heat had left a  severe impact on many of the plants. I thought I’d sit it out and see if they came good (wishful thinking) but I knew that the likelihood of poor pollination of the corn was high.

Today I bit the bullet and pulled the corn out, all was as I had anticipated, the 3 or 4 cobs (or potential cobs) that I found were not pollinated and only a few kernels were on each. So I filled the compost instead of the freezer! IMG_2948

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At least the chooks enjoyed the little that was on them!

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I felt that doing a green manure crop in this wicking bed would be beneficial so I added some compost, a sprinkling of lime and scattered a green manure seed blend over the top. Raked it in, when this crop sets seed and flower heads, I will slash and turn it back into the soil.

IMG_2962Today was a beautiful day and I managed to get a few jobs done in the garden as well as dealing with the corn. I removed all the dead flower heads and stalks from plants in the cottage garden, saving seed from some hollyhocks, granny’s bonnets (aquilegia) and lineria. Ooops, forgot to take a photo! We have a lot of wisteria shooting through in several spots around the yard and unfortunately the only was to deal with it is to spray. Great care is taken to ensure the spray does not come into contact with anything else but I hate using it. With many decades of untrained wisteria that we have removed it is bound to be an issue for a couple of years.

Plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, herbs and spring onions on the harvest plate. Think it might be time to do some of Liz’s Bread and Butter Cucumbers. I made these last year and they are beautiful. I will cut back on the sugar a bit as I found them a bit too sweet for my liking but the spicy blend is gorgeous. A secret that I hate revealing because everyone goes YUCK….is that my favourite sandwich combination is B&B cucumbers with blackberry jam,  butter and really fresh bread. Haven’t had it for years, when you think about it it marries quite a few of the taste senses together. Well that’s my excuse!

IMG_2937I’ve been struggling to keep critters from my kale seedlings and did an experiment using an exclusion bag to see if it helped. Spot the difference!

IMG_2971 IMG_2973I have now covered the bed with some veggie net that should keep the cabbage moth at bay. I planted some broccoli into the same bed so fingers crossed.

IMG_2977I found a little gem in the greenhouse too. When I planted the rockmelons seedlings I really didn’t think I would see any fruit. Well I was wrong! Not huge but it is a rockmelon or as we have until recently called them-cantaloupe.

RockmelonOne of the fun things about renovating an old house is the things you find that reveal a bit of its history. Mr ATMT was worried that the floorboards under the cupboard in the hall (a lovely 60’s addition) may be rotten and seeing as we are planning on having the boards treated fairly soon it was prudent to check. No, all good (well mostly good!) but we found some old newspapers and a letter to Dr Ferguson selling the wonders of a great new drug.

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IMG_2922Tea was a quick throw together of tomatoes, salami, roasted sweet potato and eggplant. Thyme, basil and goats cheese all plopped onto some puff pastry and into the toy oven. Looks a bit like a train wreck but it tasted good!

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