Friday, 3 July 2009

Morning garden through the window

During this cold patch of weather, I have been getting up later.  This is the first winter that I haven't had to get up and go in the dark!
Years ago, with six children at home,  I used to be up and around before them, just to keep up with the day-to-day stuff. 
In recent years we have had a small freight delivery business in the town and so we needed to be out and working quite early, and in winter,  that means before the sun.  
Last winter, I needed to drive Chris to the train in the mornings.   We used to see the sun come over the horizon while we were on the way to the end of the train line.
These days,  I wait for light at least, and my first view of the garden is from the toilet window. The louvred windows are not very weatherproof, but the view is wonderful.  This morning, everything was very wet... more rain overnight!  (9.5 mm)
This house is old.  Originally it would not have had running water and so no inside bathroom. The first big addition to the house (around 1900) contains that part of the house where indoor bathroom is now, not that it would have had running water or a bathroom at that time.  
The bathroom looks as though it has been made from the pantry (beside the kitchen) in about 1920 or so.  Still no toilet!  The 1920 vintage toilet is still outside, a short walk from the back door.  It would have been connected to the septic tank, and the effluent used to irrigate the yard.
The modern toilet (with the view) is on the back verandah, and dates from about 1970,  I should think. It runs into the new septic tank that drains into the Community Waste Water System; then on to the lagoons and then to water the town's golf course.  
Storm water can't be drained into this waste water system,  though now that we are using our own tank water (storm/rain water)  that will be ending up on the golf course also.

I have been out to collect vegetables for dinner.  Here is a cabbage (I grow a small "sugarloaf" variety) a cauliflower (plentiful at the moment) and some leaves from the top of the broad bean plants near the back fence.
I will cook these with eggs, potatoes and  onions (like a big fritatta) for dinner tonight.  
There are about two dozen eggs there already.  Since the daylight has begun to increase, the hens are back laying again!  

I have written about our visit to JB winery last weekend,  and this is another bottle of wine from there.  It would be good with a frittata dinner tonight.  
At the winery, Lenore offered me some lemons.  The tree was loaded, so I picked a six-bottle carton full.  I will make some lemon cordial (syrup) for the summer.  
I will also preserve some in salt.  These are Meyer lemons and very good for this.
I still have a bag of apples that I bought from the orchard in Angaston a few weeks ago.  They are Granny Smiths and have been in the fridge,  so they are still good.   
I'll make some apple sauce this afternoon (with a whole lemon added for flavour) and buy some cream from the grocery store (the cows that make the milk and cream for our local dairy, Jersey Fresh, live in Greenock, just down the road.) 
This is becoming a food blog as well as a garden blog.  I suppose that is because so much of our food comes from there.  The garden is definitely a part of our food system, rather than a recreational or flowery place.   
I try to "eat locally" in other ways as well, and it is not too difficult here, except for coffee and sugar!  
Coffee comes from Hightrees in northern New South Wales,  the closest that I can find. 
Sugar comes from the same area, or Queensland.  We don't use much sugar, it's mainly for preserving fruit when I have a glut.  My plan is to try to preserve fruit in its own juice.  It's not difficult to do,  though it means that you need much more fruit.  
Many of our spices come from other countries, as they have always done!   I have tried planting some of them though and I think that quite a few will grow here.  
I have been reading about growing food lately and one book that has a lot of very good ideas is "One Magic Square" by Lolo Houbein.   The author describes growing patches of garden, each one metre square of various types.  While I don't necessarily keep patches to a specific size, some of her ideas about combinations of vegetables together are very useful.   It has more to do with which vegetables you would eat together than traditional companion planting,  though in fact some of these turn out to to be similar arrangements.
The one that intrigues me is her "Horta Plot."  This is named for the plants that Greek people have collected from the wild after rain in the autumn...  "horta"  and is this where "horticulture" comes from?.   She suggests planting seeds every two or three months, and these can be all sorts of herbs and spices, and fast growing greens including chinese brassicas.  She also suggests letting these plants go to seed in order to be self perpetuating.  
This is also the kind of edible leaves that could be grown in any "weedy" patch in a garden, and reminds me of the self sown rocket that is already flowering among the weeds where my fruit trees are struggling.
Growing food is a continual learning process.  
It is also a useful thing to learn.  In difficult economic times,  the food produced can make a big difference to the budget.  In stressful times, the better quality food can help the immune system.  The satisfaction of doing something practical and achieving a tangible result can make a difference to one's mental health.  


Fiona (posts by her mum and dad) said...

I know that you like the camera....but really...taking it to the loo?

Devon said...

Jane, if you are going to do a bit on the bathroom you need at least a picture of my sink installation! Did you ever finish the mural?!?

Also, you can use honey to put up fruit preserves, we have a book on it. Might work better than fruit juice, and you should be able to find local honey.