Monday, November 12, 2018

Lots of digging in the veggie patch

Since I last posted there has been lots of digging going on.  Two trees were removed - a moringa in the herb spiral and the barbados cherry in the veggie bed. Those roots were everywhere, and I think were robbing the veggie beds of nutrition.    This is looking from the back, and I have collected the roots that I dug up to go into the high part of the swale -  as these roots break down they will add to the soil structure.  I am also going to empty out the compost bin and cover it with soil for the same reason.  You can see here that the soil is lower at the back of the beds and then rises up to the swale.
 I still have leveling and digging of these paths to go.  I am not sure what I am going to do with the bed alongside the fence.  I like the idea of a row of those wicking polystyrene boxes as I like to  grow solanacea family in them as I have bacterial wilt in the soil. With the rest of the garden looking so nice and neat, will the polystyrene  boxes look untidy?  any other ideas? 
 The gazebo did not make it out to the back, but the shade cloth works really well over the area, and in the end  I have put the beds this way as I think it works better for the drainage. the bed to the left has the perennials - I severely cut back the peppercorn plant, and kept the barrier to stop it spreading into the forward part of the bed.  I dug out the asparagus plants, and re-planted them, although the one big very productive plant I left and just built up around it - I hope this was an ok thing to do, but I really didn't want to disturb the roots.I planted out a few perennial rocket and parsley in the front of the bed, and sweet leaf against the divider  The other bed has tons of compost and chicken manure mixed in with the soil, as I am going to move the compost tumbler and need to have it be almost empty in order to move it.  This bed will be the bed I grow in mostly during the dry season, and for now I have planted a green manure crop.
 I put up the umbrella in the herb spiral while I was working to give myself a little respite from the heat.  The herb spiral was tidied up and mulched.  It badly needed some TLC.  I like how my little hedge in the besa bricks is working out. 

I watered in my plants, and then later on we had some lovely drenching drain.  I feel I am on the homeward run now - more than halfway through this total revamp of the veggie garden.  

Friday, November 2, 2018

New plans for the veggie patch

Having done two overseas trips this year, and suffering drought conditions which led to water rationing for a year means my poor little garden has suffered.   My hubby did his best to keep watering at prescribed times, but we have had high winds, and then also visits by plenty of bandicoots.  They find a way in through the smallest possible little gap under the fence.
This has of course been very frustrating, and I began to wonder if in fact I really do love gardening.  It is all so hard.... miserable .... depressing......Oh my gosh I got myself into a deep place of miserableness. 
"Hello"  said the flowers on the dragonfruit, cheering me up a bit,
and the golden candles seem to be thriving in this weather,
Plus ....Yes!  there are lychees ripening, and I am sure there are other creatures watching for the minute they are ready to pick, just as I am!  

After having the family over for  a breakfast out in the garden, hubby and I had a little chat, and both feel so much better, because we have PLANS.  Big plans, so hopefully the budget complies and we find some awesome deals.

We are once again in the market for another gazebo/cover/awning.  In the past we have found some awesome deals for the gazebos, Although they really only last about three years.   We are thinking of looking at something a bit more permanent.   The old gazebo will be re-used in the veggie patch.  We really do need shade for veggies to grow properly in this climate, and I plan to build two raised beds, (or maybe four square ones? - one in each corner?) which will anchor it nicely, and also stop the bandicoots from getting into the beds. Not to mention that as I get older raised beds make more sense.

We have been digging out the roots of the Barbados cherry to remove it from the veggie patch.  It has become too big and unwieldy and I think was taking too much out of the soil.  I think there is a fine line as to what shade plants to use in a food forest!  My gosh those roots are tenacious though!   I will see how it goes with the shade of the gazebo, but might end up replacing the fabric with shade cloth.

So the work begins, and I wonder why I ever thought I didn't like gardening. I just needed to make some plans!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fennel salad

I saw fennel on special last week and bought a nice big bulb for $1.00.  I always think I should like it, but then often when I get it home it doesn't live up to its expectations.  I tried roasting it and it never really softened, I thought you could roast anything and it would improve the flavour and texture!  Roasting vegetables is my very favorite way of cooking vegetables, and every week I roast a couple of trays of vegetables. 
So while my tray of vegetables was roasting, I decided to make up a salad with the fennel. The one that had caught my eye combined apple and fennel, and whenever I am juicing a lemon I will grate in the rind - do you do that?  It adds so much extra flavour.  The following day I sort of combined everything for my lunch and it was AMAZING.  You have to try this....

1/2 large bulb chopped or finely shredded fennel
2 apples, cored and sliced
juice and grated rind of one large lemon
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 cups mixed salad greens
Assorted roast vegetables,  I had eggplant, carrots, and pumpkin
1 small tub hummus

Make the fennel salad - up to the salt and pepper, then you can layer the rest of the ingredients on top and just mix in before serving.  It works great for a lunch to go this way.

We have had such trouble this year with bandicoots, the drought and the garden missing me when I am gone!  I am mulling over different garden plans, but one thing is for sure - there will be change. Stay tuned....  

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bessamer Cookware

Last weekend a friend who is uncluttering her kitchen gave me a Bessamer dutch oven.  I didn't know much about this cookware, so of course I googled it and found that the majority of recipes and instructions are on their website.  I watched a few cooking demonstrations on their site and realized that this was quite a wonderful gift.
 The best way to describe it is a stovetop oven.  There is a vent that you keep open if you want the steam to escape and you close it is you want your meal to steam.  It seems this might just replace my aging crockpot which no longer works on low.  There is even a recipe for beer bread, so am anxious to try that, and a roast.  The pot is super easy to clean, and seems to cook really fast..
Last night I tried cooking in it for the first time, and made pork chops with roast vegetables.  I pre-heated the pan, and then put the seasoned pork chops down, but they seemed to be sticking, so I added a tiny bit of oil.  Oil is optional.  I cooked those for 10 minutes, then turned the chops, which by now were a lovely crispy brown, and distributed sliced pumpkin, eggplant and beetroot around the chops.  Back went the lid for another 10 minutes.  I could have cooked the chops for a little less, and the veggies for  a little more, because although the veggies were cooked they were not browned.  It was all very tasty though, and I can see I am going to have fun experimenting with this new cookware.

I cooked the broccoli, sweet potato, and greens and mushroom mix separately.  I have a cast iron  baking tray where I normally roast my vegetables in the oven, and must say that they come out of there lovely and browned and crisp.  I do want to try bread in here, and also some type of stew or curry.
Do any of you have bessamer cookware?  If so what are your favorite recipes? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Crafternoons - rag quilting

I have mentioned before that once a month I have a group of friends get together and we do some sort of craft and share a cup of tea.  I do love these get togethers and so far it has mostly been me sharing some sort of craft.  We have done t shirt necklaces, crocheting granny squares, crocheting net bags, and sometimes we just bring along whatever we are working on at the moment.
Last Saturday we made rag quilt bags.  You might remember me making a memory quilt for my daughter here that I will be taking to her in September.

the weekend before I made up two different types of bags - it is so much easier to do them if you have one in front of you.   My rotary cutter decided that it had done its time, and there was no replacement in town, so I was beginning to get a little worried.  On a whim I asked my neighbour, who luckily had  a spare that she had picked up at an op shop ages back.  I was all set, I had a bunch of spare fabric, some already cut up into 5" squares, some bigger pieces, and the ladies also brought a selection of their own fabrics.
This one is more like a handbag, I think I am going to take it overseas with me.  It is light and roomy.  I am going to try to only take items of clothing that are black white and pink, so this will match everything. This is the link to the instructions that I used, I added another square on top so I could close the bag, and made different handles.

The other bag is a tote bag.

We had a little seven month old at crafternoons and she was so good - slept in her stroller for a long time, and then just sat and played with my old tape measure!  Her Mom decided to make a quilt instead of a bag, so we had fun cutting out squares and seeing how it was all going to work out. 

Has anyone else done rag quilting?  I really love doing it - so quick and easy and forgiving of uneven seams.  Next month we will be making bowl cozy quilts - I am thinking they will make great Christmas presents. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Garden update - orchids and butterflies

The lady slipper orchid is beginning to flower again!  I have a few dichondra in a hanging basket, and like the way this is becoming the "hanging garden"!  I never tire of these beautiful flowers, and the fact that they are growing in my garden fills me with such pleasure.  The vine needs to be cut back so that it doesn't take over the entire garden.  I want light to be able to get in, and it also strains the branches of the weeping tea tree it scrambles over.

In other orchid news I cut back the plants around the back fence, letting in more light and neatening it up a bit more.  Often when one does such a thing though it can still look a little messy for  a while until new shoots start to fill in the bare areas.   All my orchids need a bit of TLC, but they have survived the neglect pretty well. My phalanopsis has two flower spikes!  yeah!  They all got a good dunking in some seaweed solution.  

This little butterfly was happy on the pepper plant.

There are tons of bunches of yummy peppercorns, which I find happily wait until I am ready to pick them.  Mmmm I think I see some steak with peppercorn sauce in my future! 

I dug up the turmeric that had taken over my asparagus bed and planted out the tiny little plants that I have been growing from seed. these are Mary Washington.  It will be nice to have an entire bed given over to asparagus. I dug a sheet of tin into the end so that the pepper plant does not encroach into the area.  

 The cucumber is still producing even though it is struggling with downy mildew.

Lots of little green tomatoes which I hope are going to start to ripen soon. I put a wire grid in front as the plants  kept falling into the path.

The antirrhinums just keep on flowering, what a pleasure they are. 

 In fruit salad alley my lemon tree is looking good with lots of little baby lemons, although the caterpillars have been munching on the leaves.  Never mind, that just brings more butterflies!  It is the circle of life!
I have not updated my gardening exploits for  a while, so thought I would just have one long photo heavy post to bring it all up to date. 
I do hope your garden is bringing you much pleasure.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A little girl busy book

I showed you the busy book last week that I made for my grandson, and now here is the one I made for my granddaughter.  They are both the same size, a bit bigger than the original one I made a couple of years ago.
 She loves to play peek a boo, and giggled when I showed her this page on skype
 We keep gathering ideas for a fairy garden, and they have an awesome fairy garden that we visit every time I go over there, so of course I had to have  a fairy page.  the little one doesnt quite fit into the door!

 On the opposite page is a branch with little caterpillars that hatch out of their chrysalis.
 I might make a few more fairies.  I love the tutu - my granddaughter wears a tutu every week on tutu Tuesday!

I also found a very simple teddy bear pattern, but it is still too big for the teddy bears picnic page.  

In the end I settled back on this one again - it is such a great pattern and adapts to all sorts of ideas.  I have used the same pattern for the fairy, teddy bears and even a couple of story bots.  I like to sit and knit while I am watching tv in the evenings, so dont like to do anything too complicated.

I love the fact that my daughter appreciates all the effort that goes into making things for the kids, and it warms my heart when I see them still playing with things I made them over the years.  Handmade gifts have love sewn into every stitch. 
I have been waiting to take better photos for this post, but have run out of time - I leave on Saturday!  


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