21 May 2012

Are You a Porridge Person?

OK I know this might be a bit off-track, but I'm at home sick today, so tried to make myself feel better by cooking up a big pot of delicious porridge.  Even me saying that will put half of you off won't it?!  
I've come to realise lately that people are divided into porridge lovers and porridge loathers.  

20 May 2012

Long Term Planning

My growing awareness of food sustainability and interest in where foods come from, and how they have been grown and processed has made me realise that a lot of foods that I had always assumed were grown or made in Australia actually aren't, or are quite difficult to source locally and/or organically.

My ill-fated soybean growing experiment came out of the realisation after searching both at markets and online that there doesn't seem to be anyone in Australia growing them commercially for sale in small quantities.  Another item that I've trawled the supermarket shelves for is Australian-grown pine nuts.  Most seem to come from China, and the rest from Spain.  When the latest Diggers Club catalogue arrived I noticed that they are actually selling the tree that the nuts come from (Pinus Pinea), so in a moment of enthusiasm we ordered one.

This is what the trees look like
(photo from Diggers Club website)
...and this is the one we've just planted...
should be harvesting our first pine nuts any
day now I reckon...!

19 May 2012

Seasonal Changes

For weeks now when there have been cold, rainy days, I have been getting all depressed about being in the middle of winter, then I look out into the City Garden and realise that my beautiful crepe myrtle tree hasn't even starting turning colour yet - we're not even at winter, let alone in the middle of it... 

And yet, it's almost worth having to live through winter just to experience the beauty of that tree turning to its Autumn colours and then losing its leaves in a dump of outrageous colour all over the backyard.  And in the last week it's started.  The first hint was when the green started to go a bit dark and look slightly washed out, then every time I've looked at it after that the colour is different, until finally there will be just the berries left on the bare branches, silhouetted against the sky.  

It's become a bit of a hobby of mine to photograph the tree and sky from the back doorstep to capture the beautiful light and colour throughout the year, so I thought I'd share some of those photos here to perk myself up on this cold, grey day.  If you're in the southern climes I hope you're staying warm!

12 May 2012

Some Blog Loving

I've only been writing this blog for a few months now, and I've been enjoying doing it so much.  I decided to do it as a way of capturing what was happening in the gardens so that I can keep track of timing, seasonal changes,  and decisions made etc.  I thought a few of my friends might be vaguely interested, but didn't really expect much feedback.  But, wow!  As I've developed it I've had regular page views, lots of lovely comments, and the people following it are now beyond my own circle of friends and even own country!

I was really surprised and chuffed last week when Stacey from Domestic Artisan passed on an award to me.  

The Liebster award is given to small blogs (under 200 followers) by fellow bloggers.

The "rules" are:
  • Choose 5 up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers to share the love with
  • Show your appreciation to the blogger who awarded you by linking back to them.
  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Link back to the blogs you are awarding so that everyone else can pay them a visit.
These are the blogs that I'd love to pass the Liebster Award on to:

Kathryns Brain: Kathryn breeds alpacas and Tibetan Mastiff dogs in Colorado, and is obviously an amazingly energetic, talented and creative woman.  She was the first person from another country to follow my blog, and I was rapt! 

Zucchini Island: Zucchini Island was the first blog I found that talks about many similar ambitions of food gardening in the suburbs as I have.  I really like reading about Jason's approach to sustainable gardening and food production.  He obviously has quite a scientific mind, and is meticulous where I take a more organic approach.  

The Pink Leopard: I have to confess that Miss T who writes The Pink Leopard blog is a friend of mine, but also a bloody good writer and brilliant cook.  Her blog is really human and personal while still managing to fit in delicious recipes, great reviews and stunning photos.  She's been a great inspiration to me in the blogosphere.

Eight-Acres: I've only recently discovered this blog, and don't think I've left any comments on it yet, so Farmer Liz probably doesn't know I exist, however I've been enjoying reading the adventures of someone who has taken the next step in scale to me, and is growing her own food initially on 8 acres and now on 260 acres. 

Thanks so much Stacey for sharing the Liebster Award with me, it was a lovely surprise! x 

11 May 2012

A More Positive Post

After that last sad tale, I do have some positive news for the day - we "harvested" the first of the compost today, which has been breaking down nicely and was full of worms.  We used some of it to fill four new barrels to add to the growing garden.  I just love it when I get more real estate to play with!  

And even though it feels like we've planted masses, we still had a bucket of garlic to plant as the chef is friends with a commercial grower, and was given a heap from his stocks.  So today I went beyond the boundaries of the garden and planted a row right along the garden that edges the car park, just trying to get it all in the ground.  As part of the ongoing scientific experiment I have been conducting this year, this is yet another condition - much heavier soil and competing with rose bush roots.  The drainage should be good though.  In my somewhat haphazard methodology, I have no idea what type of garlic it is, and I mixed it in with the remainder of the garlic left form our earlier planting.  I did remember to put a tag saying when I'd planted it though! 

We've been robbed!

For months and months now I've been nurturing the soy bean crop in the Country Garden.  It's been growing so slowly, and I've had to continually defend the space it's been taking up from my aunt who wasn't seeing much value in it and was dubious that it would ever produce anything of substance.  But I've been determined to see it through to me sitting with a glass of wine and a dish of freshly cooked edamame, one of my favourite snacks.  

Last week it was nearly ready, so I planned to harvest it this week.  And then, DISASTER!!  Something has got into it and attacked every single pod on the plant that is ripe. Instead of eating the whole pod, it has taken three nibbles into each one and eaten the three beans out of all of them!  I was watching the pods on the top of the plants, which have been ripening slowly, but the ones underneath were actually ripening a bit quicker, and were all taken.  All that is left is a big pile of empty pods hidden underneath the plants, and my total harvest has been one small handful.  I'm so sad...

But that's not all... I then went to the next bed and discovered that some nasty critter has burrowed into the bed from underneath and has eaten all of the beetroots that were of any decent size.  I think we've lost about 50% of the crop, of what were really delicious heritage variety beetroots grown lovingly from seed.  Argghhhhh!!!  From the size of the tunnels that I found and the teeth marks in the vegies we think it might be a mouse or rat.  The tunnel also had a few fronds from the tops of the carrots next to the beetroots, so I'm sure they were next in line.  
Has anyone else had similar unwelcome visitors to our two?  Do you know what they might be?  And how did you solve the problem?  I've never experienced it before, but are mice common garden pests?  If we get any more garden beds our plan is to attach some fine mesh in the bottom of them so that nothing can burrow from underneath.  I have also since read that sage is supposed to keep mice away, so we will plant some more of that around the garden.  And we've spread coffee grounds all around the plants.  I'm hoping that this will put the critter off the scent of the vegies and if they try to lick it off their paws they (hopefully!) won't like the taste and so go somewhere else.  Either that, or they'll become hooked and be lining up at the kitchen door begging for double espresso's every morning!!  At least then they might be distracted from robbing us again...

07 May 2012

In a Garden on the Other Side of the World

I've just received this photo from my aunt in Norway of a Spring day in her garden, and it's so beautiful I just had to share it.  To me it is full of the promise of the growing season ahead.  Hi to anyone reading this who is just waking up from winter into garden action time!

01 May 2012

Slow Living Month - April

A touch of colour in the City Garden on a cold, wet day
There's something about the weather in Autumn that makes me a bit melancholy and reflective, but at the same time filled with inspiration for creative pursuits and possibilities...

Anyway, it's time to once again link up with Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a look back at the achievements of April as part of the Slow Living Project.