Friday, October 24, 2014

Counting my blessings....

I feel so blessed to have a garden, with flowers and little dribbles of food (we certainly cannot live on what I grow!) ......... and butterflies ...... and a peaceful place to sit and enjoy it all.  
There was some lovely soft seaweed on the beach yesterday afternoon, so we gathered a couple of bagfuls.  I laid it out as mulch on the asparagus bed, but clearly will have to get some more.  I am sure I can be talked into another walk on the beach some time soon.  This asparagus stalk was chopped up and divided between the two of us - tender all the way to the bottom.  The Mary Washington is skinny little stalks as you can see in the background.  I have decided I will go ahead and plant some more purple asparagus seeds.
Look!  I have some eggplant too :)
 Purple basil - this is such awesome basil - leaves of this and also amaranth, parsley and lettuce were  added to the leafy mix of our salad.  I guess we are getting enough of the vitamins that purple food supplies!
 The Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are beginning to bloom :)
I can never get enough of these stunning flowers.  Look at those beautiful stirpes, and the perfect little stamens - with one long white one...
 Opening up the bed has brought the golden candles to life as well and I do love the purple and yellow together.
 I have been blessed with two grandchildren here in Australia and my new little one in America.
 No matter where we are I will hold them in my hearts, I will think of them as as I go....

Happy grandparents day to any other grandparents out there.  
Have a very blessed weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spring buds

It has been so dry here lately, and windy, which dries out the soil even more.  There is promise though in all the buds popping up around the garden....
I love the excitement of seeing little curled up pockets about to unfurl into sheer awesomeness.  As a child I couldn't resist peeking inside the poppy buds to see what colour was going to open next!
Firstly there are amaryllis coming out all over the garden.  I know they like a bit of dry weather to induce flowering.
 This little red amaryllis is happier in a  shady spot.
The giant peace Lilly are living up to their name, the flowers are huge and the stephanotis buds weave through the greenery.  I really must look up some ideas of how to train this vine as I keep looping it back onto the frame.

I just think the little buds are so pretty, and their scent is awesome, but it looks very straggly in this corner.  does anyone else grow them and have any ideas of how best to tie them back?

The desert rose also loves this time of year and my white one is bursting with lovely blooms

These awesome lady slipper orchids are all over - so, so cool!  That vine is meandering all over the weeping tea tree just as I anticipated.

Last night we got some very welcome rain, so maybe the drought is over.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Food forest in the tropics becoming a reality?

Everywhere I look I see food forests being referred to as the way to go growing food in a small area.  I often have to put up a shade cloth to protect the delicate greens like lettuce.  I have toyed with the idea of planting a dwarf avocado, and growing lettuces and greens in the shade of the tree instead of putting up a shade cloth.  A couple of weeks ago I saw a grafted avocado which the market seller assured me was not going to grow too big for my little yard.  In a leap of faith I purchased it, pushing aside the memory of the 40ft tree that was growing in my back yard in Africa.  This weekend I added yet another shade cloth.  It is so hot and dry and the shade cloth helps to keep the plants cooler and they dont dry out as quickly.

I had to prune back the long branches of the barbadoes cherry so that they didnt touch the shade cloth.  I have been mulching with my own compost instead of buying mulch, but at this rate if it doesnt rain soon I might pick up a bag of sugar cane mulch. 
  The bok choy and rocket has gone to seed, so that will remain until I can harvest the seeds.  I dont mind if that area just self seeds itself every year, but feel as though I should save some seeds just in case.  Wouldnt it be marvellous if my little garden could grow up again year after year.  Is there anyone out there who does that?  Do you just let the plants die in place and cover them over with mulch?  I often like to grow a green manure crop in between, so does that upset the balance and drown out the original seeds?  I know my amaranth comes up all over the place, but then that is easy to recognise.  At the moment the entire front bed is covered with tiny amaranth plants, so I guess I could dig that in.  what is better for the soil?  A green manure crop, a ground cover type of crop ( or mulch?  The asparagus bed is weeded and I have started harvesting a few tasty stalks.  I keep them in a jar in the fridge until I have neough for a meal.   Only the purple asparagus has lovely thick spears.  My little seedlings didnt make it through the dry season :(.   I am not sure whether to start more seeds or hope that the green ones thicken up a bit.

 I moved the little potting bench next to the bins, right at the end of the path.  Front and center, as I want to make sure that I do keep up the watering and taking care of the seedlings and microgreens.  I was tempted to buy a small greenhouse for this area since they were on special at Bunnings, but they are flimsy and wont last more than one season.  I bought another tree too :)  a bay tree!  I am not yet sure where to plant it, so it is just sitting on the potting bench waiting further instruction.   The leaves are strange - they grow right alongside the stem before they open up.

  I am starting out some microgreens (carrot, leek and radish)  so that I have some salad greens to go with all the cherry tomatoes that are in full production.  I also started some rosellas as I want to grow more this year along the back fence and tatsoi - which I got from Liz at 8 acres. I am waiting for my rocket to seed so that I can send her some of those seeds.

All in all I think I had a rather productive weekend in my food forest.

PS - I fixed the trouble that I had with photos turning sideways!  Edit and rotate them in picassa and then add them from there to the blog.  :)  Happy me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Garden share collective heading into October

I missed last months catchup as I was away.  linking to The Garden share collective for October.
Hubby took care of the garden and was inundated with scrub hens trying to roost in the garden, so I am afraid the veggie garden took a bit of a beating.  I have been giving it some good long soaks, sprayed a bit of soapy water on the pests, and cut back overgrowth. We are over-run with cherry tomatoes, I even oven roasted some and popped them into the freezer to add to casseroles etc at a later date.  I think they are now coming to an end as the weather heats up.

 About a year ago I mentioned in a post that I had placed an order for some seeds that were only 1.00 a packet,  It all sounded too good to be true.  I must admit that when the seeds arrived I thought they were a little stingy with the seed, but carefully planted them out.  I can be a little lazy in following up how a particular seed has been performing, unless they perform in a truly outstanding manner.  They e-mailed with a request for photos, offering a 5.00 off coupon, so I dug out my old order: Eggplant Tsakoniki, Basil dark opal, Lettuce parris island cos, lettuce salad bowl red, cucumber lebanese, Petunia, Kale red russian, Warrigal greens, Tomato cherry cocktail, Bunching onion, Italian parsley.  Amazingly most of those are the seeds that have done really well in my garden!

After I came back from my overseas holiday I found the eggplant in the wicking bed in a sorry stage, full of bugs.  I began to water them well, gave them a  soapy water spray a few times, and split the plants between two wicking beds.  They bounced back very well, as you might know I have lots of trouble trying to grow eggplant in my garden.  It is Tsakoniki variety.  No fruit yet, but they are looking hopeful.
 The dark opal basil is another favourite.  It is more mellow than the green basil I normally grow.  I notice some of it is variegated, which is pretty in salads.  I dont mind lots of basil so have let some of it go to seed.
 Of course the "hedge" of italian parsely is amazing.  I love the fact that it is easy to harvest, and I hope this becomes a permanent feature along the edge of my herb spiral.
On my return the red russian kale was also covered with bugs, but with a soapy water spray and regular watering it has bounced right back again.  It is the first time I have had any success with kale.
 I noticed that the leaves develop little "baby kale" sprouts.  Has anyone else had this happen?  I tear the leaves away from the central rib and have the pieces in my mixed salad greens, along with amaranth, baby lettuce leaves, dill, basil and rocket.  Such a nice mixture.
 There are always lots of cherry tomatoes to top off my salads with.   I am especially loving these little yellow ones.

The borage has all come up in a nice line.  I have never grown it before, and read that the leaves are edible, but I took a nibble, and am sure I am not adding it to my salads.  Maybe I have a different variety.
The choko vine developed some strange white spots on  the leaves, and then seems to have died. 

I planted gemsquash seeds kindly sent to me by Kim at Little black cow and lots of plants have come up - more than I planted -  whaat?  They look very similar to loofas or pumpkins  so hopefully I have some gems, and they dont all turn out to be loofas.

 To do:
It is very dry around here now but I need to be thinking about the wet season just around the corner.  I planted out some winged beans on the middle trellis, and dont think I need any green manure as the amaranth is pretty much covering that whole bed! .
Once some of my purchased sweet potatoes sprout I will plant a few around the avocado tree.  I reckon that will work as a ground cover/mulch for the wet season. They need to be rotated and I have never grown them in that bed so they should do well.
I placed an order (making sure to use my 5.00 coupon) with the seed collection for Okra (yes I am going to give it a try!) leek sprouts, radish red arrow sprouts and carrot sprouts. That will be it for my wet season crop.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Afternoon tea with gluten free and diabetic guests

It was time for another afternoon tea in the garden.  One of my friends had been ill, and another was feeling sad, there were a couple I just wanted to spend more time with.  An afternoon in my garden accompanied by friends, birdsong and good food was what was needed.

My friend took this photo on her ipad,  and gave me permission  to use it here, as I was busy pouring tea.....

 Out of 7, three guests  have type 2 diabetes and two are gluten intolerant, so the menu had to be carefully planned.  I have been "baking" life changing bread for a while now, and that is great for diabetics and is also gluten free so that was a definite.  I served it on a bed of rocket, with some yellow cherry tomatoes from the garden.  Simple with a slice of cheese and a piece of sundried tomato, so that the bread is the star.  I first found the recipe here and there are many recipes on the net, but here is my version:

Life Changing Bread

Mix together
2 cups sunflower seeds
1 cup ground linseed
1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup psyllum husks
4 Tbs chia seeds
1 tsp salt

In another bowl mix the liquids together
1/2 cup grape seed oil
1 Tbsp honey
2 cups water
1 cup whey or water

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and then press firmly into 2 loaf pans.  Cover with cling wrap and leave on kitchen counter overnight.  The whey reacts with the grains, making them more digestible and gives a slightly sourdough flavour.  If you dont want that flavour you can use all water, but the grains need to thoroughly soak up the mositure and soften.
Bake at 180*C for 30 minutes.  Tip out of pans and then place them straight on the oven rack for a further 20 minutes or so until dry and firm.  Once cooled, it can be sliced and then stored in the freezer in a plastic bag.  I simply take out a slice as needed.
I make two loaves to make use of having the oven on for an hour, but you can halve it for one loaf.

the other recipe suitable for both diabetics and coelics is

Chocolate date truffles

1 cup coconut milk (freeze the rest of the tin for use in curries)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dates, pits removed
1/2 cup coconut flour

Place in food processor until well chopped, If it is not sweet enough you could add some stevia, but I find the dates add enough sweetness. Roll into teaspoon sized balls and then roll in coconut if desired.  These freeeze very well.

I am posting these recipes on my recipe blog as well - easier to find as they can get lost among all the gardening posts.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keeping scrub hens out of the garden

As you know a while back I decided to remove the remaining grass and create a new garden bed and path.  I didnt want it to stand out as separate , but the path was to provide access, so I mulched it the same as the garden bed.  Right now it is spring and the scrub hens are looking for places to lay their eggs.  They dont sit on their eggs - they gather together a huge pile of leaves and then the eggs are laid in the warm composting mulch.  Somehow a silly scrub hen thinks she can gather together enough loose mulch in my garden to build her nest.  I hung a very colourful kite above this area to warn her away.
Once this lavender takes off and forms a little hedge and the hippeastrum behind put out their georgous flowers, there will be a defined edge to this new path.

 Update:  Hubby found her digging right underneath the kite!  I think once they get used to something it becomes part of the garden as it did seem to be working for a  while.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tropical colour

The little section which I think of as my fan palm forest is coming along nicely.   I wanted to be able to look out and not see any fence.  I also wanted to look up and see the sun shining through the beautiful shapes of the fan palm leaves.  One of the most beautiful tropical sights in my book.

I also have a fluted fan palm.  They both seem to have shot up this last year.

I purchased this plant at one of the orchid shows, and it has multiplied and I need to reduce it in size once more. The foliage is so interesting. It does get some yellow flowers right at the base, but the interest is in the leaves.

Of course my favourite bit of colour at the moment is the lady slipper orchid - sorry if you are getting tired of seeing this from every angle.....  the sunbirds are always flocking around sipping nectar from these flowers and often get a bit rough and I find these little flowers scattered like confettiti under the tree.

The vine is climbing up this weeping tea tree.  I just love to look up and see flashes of yellow and red up high.

There are other orchids tied up in this tree, so I am watching out for buds.


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