Thursday, May 16, 2019

The most wonderful time of the year

This really is the most wonderful time of the year in the tropics.  The weather cools down, and we are still having the occasional rain which keeps the soil damp.  In the side area we now have a roll out awning, which is great as it keeps the open feeling of the garden, but still gives us protection from the rain.

I spent some time clearing out the pathway and generally tidying up.  Tropical plants can take over and need to be tamed!

The area that you look out on against the fence was looking a bit sparse and uninteresting, so I removed one of the elkhorn ferns from the tree and attached it to a frame on the fence.  The fan palms are growing too big as they used to block the fence, but the leaves are now all above the fence....  I hung a few bromeliads on the trunk of one of them, and planted out a few cordelines.  I also strung some solar lights along the fence so it looks pretty looking out onto the garden at night.

Out in the back I am loving the raised beds, even when a bandicoot gets into the yard, they cannot jump up into the beds and destroy all my work!  win!win!
I have some zucchini flowers, cucumber flowers, eggplant flowers!  In the meantime, until the veggies start producing I am growing microgreens in my little greenhouse.  Fenugreek are my new favourite.

This butterfly bush is covered with flowers and makes me happy!  

Next weekend I am planning on making an insect motel - has anyone made one?  I would like to attract solitary bees so that I get lots of pollination. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Gentle art of domesticity - repetition

I really enjoyed this weeks reflection on repetitions within the domestic life,, but I cant say I will ever be a big fan of the repetition of housework!  I tend to give the house a good clean over the weekend as I work during the week, and often times when the weekend is busy and I only get the cleaning done towards the end of the weekend I feel as though I am missing out on enjoying the clean house!  I am lucky that my hubby who stays home does all the laundry. 
Cooking can be repetitive, but I find I am so often trying new recipes out that there is not much repetition there. 
She highlighted three paintings, all of women knitting socks.  Now that is one thing I do enjoy the repetition of!  Knitting!  I love to have something next to my chair that I can pick up in the evenings and work on.  Very often it is something that requires a bit of concentration, as right now I am working on a scarf for my daughter who lives in Europe.  There is no way that I will ever need a scarf in the Far North Tropics!  Last month I received my birthday voucher from Lincraft and wandered in to see what I could spend my 10.00 on.  There was a pattern in the back of the better homes and gardens magazine that I liked the look of.  I dont know if it is just me, but I can never find the yarn that they recommend, and I really wanted a variegated yarn, but there was none in the thinner yarn, so I settled on a beige.  It is fifty percent angora and was originally 9.00 a ball, marked down to 3.00 a ball.  Win/win!  I like the way it is turning out, and the pattern is repetitive enough that I don't have to concentrate too hard, although I do have to count....

With my lack of concentration I might have made a few mistakes, but in the whole scheme of things hopefully they don't stand out.  Therapeutic and blissfully zoning out is exactly the way I would describe my evening knitting. 
Do you knit in the evenings?

Monday, April 8, 2019

The moon waits for no one

I have been wanting to try planting according to the moon for ages, and carefully marked on my calendar that the first weekend in April was the prime time to plant root vegetables.  The time of the waning moon, when the gravitational forces pull the roots down into the earth., supposedly giving them a good start in life.
Then I threw my back out -a common side effect of gardening!
I remembered the seed tape I had made years ago, and wondered if that would not be the answer to my dilemma.  Nothing is actually better for my well-being than sorting through my seeds and imagining huge harvests. I sat on the couch and laid the strips  out onto a wooden board.  Spraying with a seaweed spray as I went along to give those little seeds a taste of things to come.  I have pretty tight spacing, and stagger the seeds to get more in.  I start picking leaves when they are still small, so they can be pretty close together.
 I already have tatsoi going down the one side of the bed, and beetroot down the other, so the strips did not have to be very long.  I pulled away the mulch, and sitting on my little step stool, gently laid my seed tape into the furrows.  I have carrot, turnip, and bunching onion, with silverbeet and lettuce in between, so not only root crops. The soaker hose meanders between the rows  just under the mulch.
 I like to use brunnings seed raising mix which comes in a compressed block.  I sprinkle the dry mix over the seeds, and then wet it down afterwards, and find that I can get a nice even layer that way. We are still having some heavy rain, and then when the sun does come out it can be pretty intense, so I suspended a piece of shade cloth over the bed.  This was a piece I cut from a large shadecloth from the pool area that was being replaced.
 I will see how it goes in the wind, and if it allows enough light in once the seedlings start to poke their heads up.  I do have lots of tiny green grasshoppers around so sprayed a little garlic chili spray onto my basil to deter them.  The cucumber plants that came up from seed a couple of weeks ago have been decimated!
I have a few seedlings in my greenhouse to plant out once we reach the next phase of the moon, when you plant plants that tend to grow up.  That will be in the waxing moon phase.
do you plant according to the phases of the moon?  seeds or seedlings?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Texture and choosing colour from nature

Last week the gentle art of domesticity linkup was cancelled.  Jenny was not well with migranes, and family health issues, and of course this horrible weather, with continual rain is just getting everyone down.  Today the skies have cleared a bit, and there was a lovely post.  I do enjoy Jennys attitude to life and not to mention the lovely sewing she does - do check it here.

When my first grandchild was due I spent months making a candlewick quilt with the outline of a teddy bear on it.  It was my first adventure into candlewick, which is essentially lines of french knots.  I love the texture of rubbing your hands over these stitches. I had a candlewick bedspread when I was a child, and loved that knobbly texture.  Sewing something like this allows your mind to wander as your hands keep busy.

One paragraph that stood out and spoke to me was this

" of the great benefits of practicing the gentle arts is the opportunity to allow the mind to wander while the hands are occupied with chopping, mixing, knitting, quilting and stitching. Do you think the heroines of Jane Austen's novels were simply counting, they took these chances to plot love affairs, consider suitors and plan their next moves.

I always have some sort of needlework next to my chair in the evenings. I am embroidering squares that one day I will assemble (together with squares my daughter is making) into a quilt. Simple embroideries like this:

You can see the little french knots on the tips of the tail :) 

 I have a little knitted baby cardigan I am making for my newest grand daughter. That requires lots of counting and following the pattern, and I must say often gets pushed to the bottom of the pile

Next weekend I have some ladies coming over for crafternoons, and we will be making beesewax wraps. In the Gentle art of domesticity Jenny refers to Lemon meringue pie as simple, but I am going to make lemon slice which I think is way simpler, and just as tasty.
I am enjoying the beeswax wraps as I made a few to trial the method. I used one to wrap my bread in to go with my poached eggs for lunch at my desk..

I will be posting a tutorial on how to make them soon!

I am a bit late linking this - but I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dragon fruit loves all this rain

We have had flooding and rain, and more flooded roads and mudslides.  It was a busy week last week  just trying to get around!  some of the plants though are in their element with all this rain.  The dragonfruit has burst into flower again.  I think this is the third flush of fruit this season!  It is supposed to be part of the cactus family which I thought didn't like too much water.  Shows what I know!

Here you can see the native bees which gather around pollinating the flowers.  There are also green ants, so not sure if it needs both, but they definitely do their job well! The flowers open during the night and then by the afternoon are just a hanging bunch of petals.  Short but sweet life!  Off to the left you can see the flowers that flowered the night before.

This is the most beautiful flower, followed by very tasty fruit!

I know I do go on about the dragonfruit , but this yummy goodness on my yoghurt is what is to come!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Seafood parcels - something a little fancy

Every now and then I like to make something a little fancy for dinner.  Seafood marinara is something we buy quite often as it is a good deal, especially when it goes on special.  Sometimes I cook it with green curry paste and coconut milk,   add in a few snow peas and carrots and served over rice.  Quick and easy and even great as leftovers for lunches.
Then I had an idea that I wanted to create some fish in a bag recipes.  I lay out some baking paper, doubled crosswise as shown and began to layer what I had on hand.  Seafood, sliced green onions, grated zest and juice of a couple of limes.  Peas, broad beans and  a few cherry tomatoes, halved.  Some fresh herbs from the garden and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
 I gathered the ends and tied them with string, then baked in the oven alongside some vegetables I had roasting.  The oven was hot, about 220*C so I left them in for about twenty minutes.
I loved how the flavours were so fresh and the lime especially brought a zing to the whole meal. 
Presentation was nice with everyone having their own little packets, but in the end we dumped them out onto our plates to eat them!  Have you cooked anything in packets?  

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Time to get the veggie garden going again.

I am very excited to be preparing the raised beds to grow my vegetables this year.  I grow from seed so do not want to miss the beginning of the growing season.  Of course we never really know when the wet season is going to end, but most people rely on April being the time when one can plant out seedlings.   I might be a little early, but want to stagger my plantings, so will only start off a few each weekend.
I did go a little crazy with seeds, but will share around some of the seedlings with friends and family.  I am starting out marketmore cucumber, San Marzano and Tommy toe tomato, Tsakoni eggplant, and rainbow chard.  The greenhouse where I start the seeds is semi shaded, and I am making sure to water every day.  This is an old greenhouse, and the zipper no longer works, but I dont think I want it zipped up tight anyway because I want the fresh air inside.

It was a great buy, and I have had it now for about three years.  Even though I live in a hot climate and dont need it for the warmth, it is perfect for keeping my seedlings all together and away from bugs and too much sun.  My little seedlings are doing great.  I use seed raising mix that you buy in a block and then it expands when you add water.  It is mostly coir based I think.   I had some plastic cutlery that was just hanging around and it is working perfectly for labels!  re-use :)

I hope to have lots of compost to add to the beds, the hughelkulture bed has broken down a bit, but will not need topping up.  I will have to dig up the sweet potato and cassava, but only when I am ready to plant out seeds.  Pumpkin, zuchinni, carrots, beetroot,beans, lettuce and rocket I find do better when the seeds are planted directly into the beds.  I think I might leave a couple of cassava in the back corners so they can provide a bit of shade.  Since I put in the raised beds I dont have the trees that used to provide shade.  The shadecloth tends to be put up and down depending on the wind.  Not perfect, but I cannot think of any other options.

The other bed with the ginger has compacted down a bit but it was never as high as the hughelkulture bed anyway.  I have amended the soil with a little lime and also a bit of trace elements. I will also pick up some manure, I like the five in one.  Also a bit of compost, maybe blood and bone?

I have been growing sprouts and microgreens during the hot wet season.  I really loved these fenugreek  microgreens, and planted a few little plants into the herb spiral to see if they will grow there.  I am growing them in flat plastic trays with half compost and half seed raising mix.  One thing I have found really helps to give them a head start is to lay a piece of thin fabric (I have muslin) over the top,  this forces the seeds to anchor themselves firmly in the ground as they are starting out.  You take it off as soon as the seedlings start to push it up.

Very exciting news this morning - we are having another garden competition this year, and Costa is coming back. Yeah!  Even more reason to get my garden up and pumping!  :)
My garden adds so much sweetness to my life, and I love to share it!


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