28 February 2013

February in the Vineyard

January in Other Vineyards

This post is way overdue, but in the interests of continuity, here it is...

Some of you who know M and I may not be surprised to hear that our trip to New Zealand took in many of the main wine regions ;)  We were keen to hunt out some of the great Pinot Noirs that we've heard so much about, as well as try to find Sauvignon Blanc beyond that commonly available in bulk in Australia (ie Is anyone making SB that is actually drinkable?!) and to discover what else is going on with wine there.  Having spent a few months in the vineyard here, I was also interested to see if I could start to understand the differences in viticulture methods and weather impacts.

26 February 2013

Is It Really Preserving Time?

Recently I've been pondering why in my mind I love the idea of having my freezer and cupboards full of preserved goodies, and my bookshelves are full of recipe books of great recipes to cook such goodies, but the reality is much less impressive.  My intention is always to do it, but somehow it never really happens with any conviction.  

And then on the weekend as I was contemplating what do with another two bucketfuls of tomatoes, it hit me:  Australia in a hot Summer is no place for running the hot plate or oven for hours on end to preserve stuff!  Oh the irony that just when the best of the fruit and vegies are at their most prolific, the temperature in the kitchen rises to the point that the most I can be bothered thinking about making is another bloody salad!!

But with masses of freshly picked vegies at the moment it was time to work out what to do with them all.  So I bit the bullet and made a big batch of tomato sauce on the stovetop (just slowly cooking   tomatoes, capsicum, onion, garlic and basil in a large pot with the lid on, then whizzing it all up) .  A few days later I couldn't resist Barbara's suggestion of Roasted Tomato and Capsicum Sauce so I made some of that too.

So I may not have managed Apricot Jam again this year, and my beetroot pickle is only ever a quick and simple version, but my freezer is now full of delicious tomato sauce, and hopefully if the crop keeps going for a bit longer I'll be able to make a few more things before the end of the season (if the weather cools down just a little bit that is...)

23 February 2013

This Week's Country Garden Harvest

Two buckets of tomatoes, masses of squash, several zucchinis, more capsicums than I can contemplate what to do with, the first corn, heaps of basil, a couple of cucumbers, celery, radish, rocket... and then I stopped looking  :)

Autumn 2013 Planting Plan

I've been putting it off for the last couple of weeks but there's no escaping that with several empty sections of beds in the Country Garden I really desperately needed to get the Planting Plan for this coming season sorted.

16 February 2013

Growing a Neighbourhood Garden

Yesterday my neighbour washed my car for me... it was in the path of her watering the herb garden I've set up on the footpath as she pointed the hose over her front fence, so she thought she'd keep going once my car got a bit wet.  While I was away other neighbours all chipped in and kept an eye on the garden, passing the responsibility to water it each other if they went on short holidays, perhaps taking a few leaves as they did.  Neighbours and passers-by have commented on what a lovely idea the garden is.  Someone left an empty pot next to it on the footpath to add to it.  (Someone else took the time to amuse themselves - and me - by rearranging every single label into a different pot!)  It's getting noticed, no-one has treated it badly, it's started conversations with strangers and it's now almost covering up the graffiti that I planted it for in the first place, a few more pots and some vigorous growth once the weather cools down a bit should do it.  

I've used recycled pots and mainly cuttings that I've propagated myself (although I couldn't resist adding a chilli plant that I'd bought) so the only expense has been some potting mix and wire to tie the pots onto the pole supports.  That way, if it didn't work, it would be no big deal.  Being vertical it takes up minimal space and doesn't intrude into the footpath walking space.  I try to keep flowers going in it to give some colour and make sure that everything is edible and labelled so people will know what they are trying if they want to take some leaves.  

Do you have a power pole outside your house?  Maybe you could start a neighbourhood herb garden around it?  

This week in the Country Garden

The glut season has arrived in the Country Garden!  Tomatoes, squash, capsicum, beans, leafy things... and even zucchini!  Finally a zucchini season to be proud of, with enough to dare to hope that I'll have to start dashing around to other blogs for creative recipe ideas soon.  

Happy times in the garden! :)

04 February 2013

Slow Living Month - January 2013

Last year I joined in with Christine and many others in a monthly journal of slow-living achievements.  It was a fantastic way to discover new blogs and meet new people, track achievements and actually became a tool to remind me not to forget about working toward my goals in each category.  So I was really excited when I discovered that Christine has decided to continue with the Slow Living Journal this year.  I hope you enjoy reading it during the year.  Pop over to Christine's blog Slow Living Essentials to see who else has joined in this month, and if you haven't already, perhaps think about joining in too.

So, slow living... January was definitely all about that for me, but not necessarily in the journal categories!  I spent the month travelling around New Zealand on the most fabulous holiday, so forgive me for focussing on that, I promise February will stick to the format...well after I head off to Tassie for a week first...!

02 February 2013

This Week in the Country Garden

I woke up to the sound of rain on Friday morning, and quickly realising that I didn't have to go to work (after a "strenuous" first two and a half days back following five weeks holiday!) I snuggled into the quilt and decided to not leave the house all day, and possibly not even get out of my pyjamas.  

Then as I was reading a gardening book while having a cuppa I started to get the itch.  Maybe I could just take it easy in the morning then head to the Country Garden for a short time in the afternoon... or if I just got up and headed straight out I'd be back by early afternoon... although it would be good to go via the nursery and get some replacement seedlings and do some cleaning up of the lettuces that have shot to seed in the last weeks of hot weather and perhaps get those extra herbs that the chef had asked for...  Before I knew it, I was up, out the door and excitedly on my way (and yes I did get dressed first!)  Suddenly I couldn't wait to get back into the garden for the first big day since I'd been back from holidays, and ended up spending the entire day in the garden, coming home with a good harvest of delicious summer vegies.

The always fabulous banana capsicum
Miniature pumpkins - very cute, but not much flesh! 
The corn is a work in progress 
So are the cucumbers
But we could live off of beans at the moment!
Some new friends to add a splash of colour
And look how beautiful the Pinot looks at the moment