Sunday, 9 September 2018

Quiet Sunday

We have had a few warmer days and they have been very welcome.  Mornings are still cold,  but the days are beautiful.  This morning I woke,  as usual at about sunrise.  It was cold enough that I didn't really want to get out of bed.  I had a lunch date to get to, but plenty of time.
My bedroom window at 6am  (you can't hear the birds,  but they are busy already.)
The soil is still quite dry, so I did water some parts of the vegetable garden after I had fed and watered the chickens.  
Shortly after getting up and about, making coffee and feeding the dogs (I am "dog-sitting" an extra at the moment) I heard the neighbour's sheep calling very loudly.  It turned out that he (Eddie) had found a hole in the fence and was munching on the grass close to the house....
It took some time,  a saucepan full of oats, two children and two adults to corner him near the fence and finally return him to the yard next door.  It turned out that he had been an orphan and had been raised by the neighbour family...  not hard to guess, as I'd been hearing him for sometime.  It seems that his escapade today will hurry up his return back to the farm.

Lunch with friends and a quiet late afternoon with not a lot done in the garden today will make for a busy week ahead.  It is time to plant the hardiest of the seeds, potatoes...  leaving the softest transplants for a while yet.  There could be more cold nights,  though the long term prediction for this year is for a hot dry spring.... we shall see.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Spring, 2018

After just about the driest winter we have had for a long time.... so far 241.5 mm  (9.5 inches) up to the end of August.  We have had another 7mm in the first few days of September.   The average annual rainfall in Kapunda is supposed to be about 450 mm (18 inches or so)  per year, and so no matter what,  this year will be very dry.
The garden area is reduced (I can't afford to water a huge area) and as the spring evolves,  I will be very careful about what I am planting.

The main area that I have been "eating from" in recent months has beautiful soil (having been mulched and fed over many years,  and so I will be growing most of my food for the summer in this patch.
 I am still picking a few brassicas and lost potatoes, though the last of the carrots was eaten last week.

The marjoram is flowering.... one of my favourite herbs.  I like it in risotto.  I love its perfume.

And as  I have been watching daily now,  for the broad beans to begin producing,  the first baby bean has appeared.  I don't have any artichokes this year which is a little bit sad, as I love them with broad beans.  My gardening helper mowed the plants down to the ground just as they were about to "flower" last season,  and the plants have barely recovered.  I may not have any this season.
This bean is almost an inch long, and I have not picked it.  It looks as though I will aha plenty this year....  I will feel no guilt at pinching one off just to get the new bean taste very soon.
Meanwhile,  I aha learned to cook broad beans with rice and dill (with crispy potato base) from a dear friend and so this year will be my "Persian rice  (Tahdig) year", I think.

And perhaps, after some stressful patches taking care of "other people's issues" I will be back with my "kapunda garden" and even my "kapunda drawing" blog.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Change in direction? Not really.

The blog has sat,  unattended, for some months.  Since July!  Even that surprised me when I actually checked back with it.  I hadn't forgotten it.  I had even referred to it when I had been "discussing" some issues on facebook or in the real world.  I have thought about beginning a new series altogether.  The garden continues to thrive, and it is even more productive that I had ever imagined.  I have a few ideas about why, and how this has come about, and mostly it means that "instant fixes" just don't work.  It all takes time and patience and remembering to take care of the soil. But I have said all that before.
Winter flowers - wattle.

In the past I have ventured, very briefly, into areas of philosophy, books, recipes, and life.  All of this seems to be related.  The garden, the cooking and the ideas that go with it are unavoidably connected.  Where one bit ends and the next begins is hard to pick.... it's all a work in progress.  But then it didn't really start only when I moved here,  to Kapunda.  I had been trying to live simply, despite living as an "academic gypsy" for many years.  And there are many stories there too....

Kitchen bench - winter.

These days I am able to grow most of my own food, and when once it was a novelty to provide all of the ingredients for dinner,  it happens regularly now.  I have reduced the amount of some plantings, and increased others as I work out just how much I need to have,  and how much surplus is too much to deal with.  I continue to learn.  I am becoming more "self sufficient".

Broad beans - early spring.

The other issue that I deal with is preparation of food in appropriate quantities.  In the past,  with a large family, I was able to prepare huge quantities of food at short notice, including a few significant occasions when I was sorely tested by important guests or teenage "invasions".   The opposite problem,  cooking for one, can be just as challenging.  I am learning.

Salvia somaliensis - a favourite.

Now that spring is here,  almost the summer solstice, it is time to change direction though continue to tread lightly on the earth.

Monday, 31 July 2017


I have just watched an interesting video on youtube about permaculture, agriculture and more... and it has made me think.....
The video is well worth watching,  but there is more to think about.

Some years ago,  I read a really interesting book by Lolo Houbein entitled "One Magic Square".  She described growing a food garden on a relatively small scale and which included "horta" which can refer to "greek boiled vegetables" or an Etruscan Goddess!  Houbein's "horta" plot "can be sown in any season" and "it grows fast, provides variety and can be grown.... each season thereafter."  According to Houbein,  the Greeks have, since ancient times, gathered horta from the mountains, gathering edible wild greens for the pot.

My garden weeds don't really look very likely as pot herbs go,  though some are edible and prolific.  The idea of growing a 'horta plot' has occurred to me now that I am saving seed from many of my food plants.
Most plants produce much more seed than is required to replace the "parent plants" and, despite planting larger areas,  I am left with surplus seed.  I do give plenty away.  I am still left with surplus seed.  I plant bigger areas,  and I am still left with surplus seed,  even in less productive years.  While it is good to know that I can produce plenty of food plants for myself, many of them grow for limited time, seasonally.

All of this is really a series of "problems"....  how to grow the right amount of food,  save the appropriate amount of seed, and what to do with the surplus when there are no more recipients.

It occurred to me that those Greek people who gathered wild greens for the pot,  horta,  no doubt spread the any seeds of those plants in convenient, easily located places for next season....  not quite "agriculture",  but more than just "wild gathering".  It is somewhere in between.

And so I am beginning to sow excess seed relatively randomly in a medium distant part of the garden...  quite a mixture...  herbs and vegetables... so that, despite not having a mountainside to explore,  I might  be able to gather horta for the pot in a few months time.

In the past,  I have done this with "old" spice seeds, some of which grew very well,  some less so....  but this year, and with 70mm of rain this month, I think that I should have a horta patch by the time that spring arrives.

Friday, 28 July 2017


It is an unusual winter....  and the internet is helping me to see just how different it is this year.  My old blog posts are a part of this,  though facebook (with its good and bad) has been showing me pictures of  "this day" in some past year.  It makes comparisons with other years in the garden effortless.

June was very dry and so my planting, along with many local farmers, was late.  We have had more rain during July...  more than 50mm so far,  and so the winter vegetables are coming along and the weeds are germinating rapidly.  The difference in seasons is shown effectively by these "flashbacks" in my social media feeds.

I still refer back to my "old" posts for information sometimes, and feel as though repeating information isn't very useful.  This was made obvious to me this week when someone, elsewhere, referred to the "phosphate issue" and the fact that we are "flushing it all out to sea".  It is true,  and I am reminded me of my old post....
Perhaps I can diverge into thoughts about life, the universe and everything.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Not much rain, late season and where to from here....

I have just posted a "half written" bit from over a month ago.  It's not because I have nothing to say,  but because I seem to have "gone off on a tangent" as far as what is happening in the garden, the house and everything.  There is the issue that "life has got in the way" as I am now a carer for my aged mother....  having just (almost) relinquishing care of my youngest son.  He seems to be doing well, and my mother seems to be needing more effort on my part.  I hadn't anticipated this.
The garden is running late this year.  It has been a very dry autumn and so I planted seeds and seedlings later than usual.  It isn't a serious problem,  but it is fairly extreme.  Facebook has made the delay even more obvious.  The "this day last year' memories that the app enables makes it all so obvious.  Instead of the jonquil flowers that I am being shown of this day last year,  the bulbs are only now emerging from the soil....

I have planted most of the usual winter crops,  and those have needed supplementary watering...  in June!  For the whole month, we had only 18mm of rain.  
 Broad beans.....

..... and an assortment of brassicas.
I have also been writing, as usual,  a diary of sorts,  and so I may begin to include some of those thoughts here....  though it may end up being an essay on "why I am an introvert" rather than a garden monologue.

End of May... but posted late.

I haven't been writing any "serious posts" for quite a long time.  My garden, growing food and managing my household (while dealing with a few difficult personal issues) have taken my time.  That doesn't mean that I haven't been thinking.  I try to avoid discussions about CO2 in the atmosphere, climate or renewable energy sources, mainly because I don't agree with many people and it is rather stressful to find myself in arguments.

The measurements of CO at Mauna Loa,  even if they are inaccurate as a measure for the whole earth,  are the longest consistent estimation that we have.  Just how unsafe the levels are now does require some projection, and the "deniers" are happy to say that it's all rather speculative so that we needn't consider it an issue.  (Some even think that the added CO2 might help plants grow, despite the fact that there is no indication of a CO2 deficiency for plant growth.)  Anyway,  it has been suggested that 350ppm would be a safe level to contain any serious consequences.  Unfortunately,  the Mauna Loa levels are now indicating that we are at 410ppm and rising.  This does not seem prudent.

The only solution that ever seems to be discussed is the production of electrical energy by "renewable" means to maintain the current "first world" lifestyle.