Friday, 30 April 2010

Planting broad beans

The beginning of this "short" week (with last Monday being a holiday) was busy.  I had some council business and some meetings (council and Carer's Link) to attend, and by yesterday,  things were calming down.
Since then,  though,  I have been trying to find something of interest in the garden to write about here.  It is that time of the year when some crops are finishing and others are barely beginning.

Yesterday I did aome re-organising on the kitchen.  First of all,  I cleaned the stove and "blacked" it.   It looks so much better than it had (I should ahve take a "before" and an "after"picture!)  but here is how it looks now....
... it had been stained with rust and dirt.  After the recent rain,  the top was looking pretty awful.  The chimney is completely open up there...
... the flue only goes up for about 2 metres (two lengths of flue pipe) and then the brick chimney and the sky.

As well as that little bit of serious cleaning,  I got to rearrange my bench space.  I have had a tiny television sitting on the bench as I like to watch Silvio Rivier (The Global Village) and the news while I cook dinner.  I have found a tiny digital one that will fit on the bookshelf at the end of the table...
... and so I can have my whole kitchen bench for cooking....
... here it is a little cluttered with the bread bowl and the remains of the washing up.  In fact that picture shows my whole kitchen,  I think... taken from the other side of the table in the picture above.

This morning I went out to the garden again, and I picked enough food for dinner tonight...  the last three eggplants,  some small capsicums that probably can't grow much more now....  about 30  jalapenos, and a bundle of kale leaves and herbs.   I'm not sure what this might make for dinner,  but perhaps I could use the other half of the spaghetti sauce (preserved in a large jar) with these vegetables and some noodles (the chooks are still laying.)



Then, out to the garden and the new crops are doing well.  I have leeks nearly ready to pick and a lot of leafy green things....  kale, coriander and the tops of the rood vegetables...
The biggest (oldest) plants here are, on the LHS, onions, chicory and kale;  and on the RHS  beetroot and potatoes.
I am really pleased with these potato plants and these should continue to do well until we get a frost...  not that we get much in the way of frost here,   so we might do really well from these really happy looking plants.  I have a few more to plant (potatoes)  and hopefully we'll increase out carbohydrate production this year.
The garlic that I planted a couple of weeks ago.  I have since planted hte rest of the crop.  (The frst few were urgent because they were trying to wprout already,  in the cupboard.  These are a few in the "herb" patch,  but there are another hundred or so planted in another couple of places in the garden...  that will allow a couple of bulbs per week next year.


Meanwhile the capsicums are still flowering!
And so are the eggplants!  Beautiful flowers,  but a bit late in the season.  I'd like to cover these with plastic flim (on the same frame that I had shade cloth  on in the summer)  to see whether the plants can survive and have a head start next summer.

This morning I planted the first of the broad beans... about 60 seeds in two rows here....  though not much to show yet....
... with quite a few more seeds to go.   As other crops finish all through the winter (brassicas)  I can put more of these beans into the soil.   We'll raise beans to eat (as baby pods, hulled beans and dried beans)  and enough for seed for next year as well...  planning ahead.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Collingrove (with added photo)

Today was a holiday Monday.  This was for Anzac Day, which was actually yesterday (25th April) but, as that's a holiday for most people anyway,  we have an extra day off on Monday... making this a long weekend.
My usual task on Anzac day is to plant the broad beans, but they were postponed yesterday (by the garlic,  onions and some extra peas) and I'll get to the broad beans at the end of the week.
Today,  being a holiday,  had a number of events happening, and we chose to drive (with Gawler Car Club friends) from Gawler to Collingrove to the hillclimb.  We went in the Mark 4 Bolwell...
It is a lovely car,  though I'm glad it didn't rain while we were out...  it is supposed to rain later tonight and clouds gathered during the day,  but we got home warm and dry.
First of all, we drove down to Gawler to meet up with the rest of the car club.

The drive from Gawler was lovely... via Sandy Creek,  Cockatoo Valley, Williamstown, Springton, Eden Valley (near where my brother lives) and on to Collingrove.  The vines are definitely on their last autumn legs and the olives are ripening...  the rain of the past couple of weeks has made the hills look so green and lush  (it's still drier up in Kapunda) ....
... these pictures were all taken from the car at more than 100km per hour... many above the windscreen.





... and on to the track.

We walked around to check out the cars and then claimed our usual spot up on the hill.  I got out my knitting and finished another sock between cars.  (Love the "Sunsmart" hat!)  It was a beautiful day.
I had a view of the cars as they prepared to climb the hill and a view of most of the track, from the first hill....

... to the tricky bit up further.

Hillclimbs are good for knitting... the cars come one by one and here are significant gaps in between (in case you need to look at what you're doing!)
We had been there for about an hour when Chris and Andrew arrived, so we sent them on the food run...
... and here they are, bringing steak sandwiches up the hill...  the start line is behind the timing box that is behind those two and that is the track coming up the hill on the rhs.

Home again,  and I do feel tired.  The garden looks healthy and we are expecting rain.  I still need to get to the broad beans,  but they'll never notice the few days that they are late.
I still need to pick the last zucchinis,  eggplant and capsicums...  we are eating chinese broccoli, lettuce and some kale.  Last night we had home-made noodles (some "oldish" eggs)  and home made pasta sauce (bottled) with added zucchini, herbs and kale.   We are back to planning dinner around the garden produce!

Added later:  See the lady in the green hat down there (in the above photo)...
... well  there's a photo of her on the internet....  
and up there,  behind her is someone knitting socks :)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Long weekend...

... and it's been a long week as well!
I was at at a local government conference (in Adelaide) on Thursday and Friday.  The conference was wonderful,  with lots of good ideas for our council and many others,  I'm sure.  I still need to write a report for council,  and I've taken plenty of notes... thank goodness,  as my mind was elsewhere some of the time. Chris arrived back in Adelaide in the middle of all of this...  not the best timing,  but I'm pleased to see him nevertheless.

Yesterday we went to see a possible place for a studio where I will be able to paint... even large canvasses! (I have been restricted to small works in recent times...  not only by time,  but by the logistics of dealing with large materials!)  You can see it here but it is even better in real life!  I'm not sure how to manage this yet,  but "where there's a will there's a way" as they say!

A few days ago (before I went to Adelaide)  I planted some garlic cloves in the patch where the herbs are...  more than a dozen of them are up like this already....
... and the green bits behind the retaining bricks are leafy greens from the spice shelf...
I have planted more than another hundred garlic cloves today... nothing to see yet,  but perhaps it won't be long.  I have also planted some onions seedlings that I bought yesterday.   I put some in as seeds about a month ago,  but very few have germinated.  I would have blamed myself for the lack of success had it not been for the fact that the leeks and the red onions sown on the same day have almost all grown.  I think that that particular packet of brown onion seeds might be suspect.
The two rows of onions below are the remainder of the onions that wouldn't fit in the particular spots that I wanted....  they should be a little more lively in the next few days...
... and to the RHS of these onion rows there are two rows of garlic as well.

Down the back,  where I had piled the dried grass from the pathways onto the soil to protect it from the heat,  I have "peeled back"  the mat of germinating grass seeds and chaff.  I can almost peel it back as a whole sheet.  Underneath I found a few artichoke plants jsut beginning to stir as well...
... there are about six so far like this,  and probably more when I remove all of the grass.  I'll weed around the clumps of plants immediately,   but I'll leave the "in between"  bits for a while and turn the weeds over when they are a bit bigger.
The prickly artichoke is up again too (below)...
... and every  year I consider digging it out because it is such a prickly plant,  but it produces the best artichokes!

The jalapenos are still producing too.  I have frozen quite a few so that I just need to pull out one to add to a sauce or soup or stew.  They are already a bit mushy because of the freezing so it is all jsut so easy!

And back again to the same five blood lilies... still growing,  but I can't wait until they get to the huge size later.  The tiny plants around them are stinging nettles.

The kale and broccoli that we are beginning to make use of....
... and the new winter vegetable patch...
... the big plants at the back are broccoli (the plants that were supposedly dead when I was given them)  and in front of the two chimney pots (with celery inside)  are potatoes and beetroot.
All of the rest are rows of onions, swedes, chicory, leeks, kale, fennel, carrots, and plenty of coriander

I should have planted the broad beans today (Anzac day) but sometime this week will do...  the seeds don't know much about the dates really!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The rain is gone

Outside this morning,  the sky is clear....
... the garden soggy... (though I should get the washing dry today)...  it's amazing what 2mm of rain can do.

... and so I went to check my lilies with the funnel leaves....
... and several of them have these little pools of rain water in the "funnel"   I know that there are other plants in the world that do this,  mostly rainforest plants,  but this is one of the few in my yard.

The broccoli plants are all designed to run the water towards their stalks as well,  but the water drops on the leaves are amazing...

I went for a quick trip around the yard and found these damp flowers....
... and the wattle that is beginning to flower is dripping as well....

The raindrops reminded me of this...
This is a real elk that is covered with glass "bubbles."  (Scroll down here to read about it.)  Like these...
... and here is another close-up picture with the artist behind the bubbles...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Random bits and pieces

(Actually,  not so random... all in the garden)
I have just arrived home after a council meeting and while I was out,  we had a thunder storm with rain and lightning and wind... it sounded good from inside the council chamber.  I don't know how much rain we had... I'll check in the morning. (ed:  2mm)
A couple of days  ago,  I checked on my five blood lilies in a clump...  at the time,  I was looking at the tiny weeds emerging after the first rain...  stinging nettles!
Just a couple of days later,  the lily leaves were getting noticeably bigger and I couldn't help but think about the shape of the leaves that make a real funnel to catch rain and direct it to the bulb under the ground...   clever little plants aren't they!
The funnels are getting bigger and bigger... and the leaves of these particular flowers end up really huge...  it will be a few weeks yet,  and they will be quite spectacular.

We have atually had just over an inch of rain in the past three months and with water from the tanks and that bit of rain,  along with the lovely warm soil,  the seeds are germinating...  notice the tiny plants in the far patch...  and my wooden pathway so that I can weed the rows.
... onions, swedes, peas, chicory and kale....  with coriander behind....
... and beetroot.



And this is the new,  or at least re-planted herb patch.   Last year I had quite a lot of herbs here,  but the soil was poor and there was no way to maintain the plants during the hottest of the summer months.  I have improved the soil, added a lot of compost and replanted the herbs.   Not much to look at yet,  but I'll keep watching...


These are nests found when I cut down a couple of big branches and the kurrajong tree...  from the left... a sparrow nest,  pigeon of some sort, sparrow,  Murray magpie (made with a lot  of mud) and another sparrow.

The last of the summer vegetables are still happening....  zucchinis,  still flowering...
..... and an eggplant....



I have also been out drawing the chickens again... these are from yesterday....
....  same girls....

....  different pen.