Friday, 31 December 2010

Windblown garden

It's been the first really hot day for this summer... later than usual, but it certainly came in with a vengeance.  It was more than 43C, but worse,  the wind that came with it was really hard for the garden. I spent a lot of time outside repairing the shade clloth protection and trying to keep the more tender plants safe.
The sun has set at about 8.30pm,  and I've been out to assess the damage...  

.... the lush zucchini leaves on the plants that have been so productive look a little the worse for wear...
 ... rose flowers are crispy around the edges....
 .... lilies just don't survive....
 .... wilted echinacea....
 ... tomato plants are wilted also....
 ... the level of the pond dropped by about 6 inches....  and the dead leave are all blown to one end (bees are taking advantage of these though)....
 ... this is all that remains (below) of the leaves that are still attached to the plants...  and you can notice the dried mud line at the previous water level, where the birds have been bathing....
 ... the bean trellis has disintegrated and will need rebuilding this week.  (I had attached the shade cloth to the bamboo structure,  and it just couldn't cope with the wind!  As far as I can see the beans and cucumber plant are all ok.
 The native species found it hard also.  This is a wattle tree that is about three years old.  The new "spring" growth is leaning toward the ground... it has wilted badly....
 But in amongst all of this, the eggplants are doing well and the fruits are growing fast....
 ... as I took photographs of the garden, a pair of eyes were watching me....  Gertie looking over her gate!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Bedouin tent weather

This morning I got up early,  knowing that it would be hot during the day.  The prediction was for 37C, though it's about 41C here now... at 6pm...  it's a hot day, and windy....
I watered the vegetable, fed the goat and gave her some water too, and covered the vegetable patches with the assortment of coverings that I have and it does remind me of a series of tents,  made of curtains....
 ... and an assortment of lace tablecloths and shade cloth....
 From the pond,  there is more lik an expanse of curtains and shade... and it looks pretty strange.


I did pick some vegetables.... more zucchini,  of course,  kohlrabi, beans, kale and that white beet right there is sugar beet that I have only ever seen in pictures until now....

The magnolia is in the varandah,  shaded,  but looking a bit the worse for wear....
... and tomorrow is going to be hotter, and windy....  it's been about 42C here today, and that is the estimated maximum in Adelaide tomorrow... it will be about 46 here....  and that is about 114F.   After that the weather is supposed to be around 30 in Adelaide for the rest of next week...  I just hope that the vegetables survive.

Dinner is back to Kitchadi....
... looks a little plain,  but this one has the usual rice, lentils, ginger and spices with kale, sugar beet and kohlrabi....  and no zucchini... those will go into the soup tomorrow, to thicken it.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Hot weather is coming

We have had a cool and wet start to the summer, but it appears that it might be over.   The prediction for the next several days is for 40C+ days.  I"ll need to protect the vegetables from the weather... the heat... this could be interesting... or at least a lot of work.

Today I picked another basket of vegetables and collected some eggs...
... and then I drew them....  yellow and green zucchini and a few beans....
 ... and went out to see how the rest of the garden was going.

My Christmas present plant, a Magnolia grandifolia (var Little Gem) was out in the sun.  I have re-potted it into a bigger pot because I don't want to plant it put in to the garden until rain is reliable... next May/June.  Today,  with the hot weather,  I moved it inside, to the back verandah....
 ... but already,  by about 11 am,  it was hot enough to burn some leaves....
...  but one of the buds had almost come out....
.... and the perfume is wonderful!  I have had a tree like this in a previous backyard and I have been wishing for one for years.  One day,  I hope to plant it near my pond.

Dinner tonight consisted of vegetables picked today, eggs  and some of the 8 pounds of potatoes that I dug out of the garden yesterday....
...  all good,

The next few days are supposed to be very hot.  Adelaide is expecting temperatures up to 43C (110F) and it is always just a bit hotter here.  I don't have a thermometer, but I probably don't need one...  i'll be busy with garden shadecloth, goat care and an eveaporating pond.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Proclamation Day

Today is a holiday for Proclamation Day and apparently the shops in the city are open.  There are sales (the post Christmas sales)  about which there have been many complaints, mainly because there have been two days during which retail shops have not been allowed to trade... apart from the "corner stores" and vendors of those items that are needed daily.  (Even the local pub was open for a couple of hours on Christmas morning, just in case anyone should run out of alcoholic beverages!)  There have been a lot of derogatory comments about South Australia and its backwards ways due to the lack of shopping opportunities during this time.  However, if an enforced suspension of consumer behaviour for a couple of days makes this state "backward"  then I suppose I'm rather behind the times.  I wonder how long it will take for "consumerism " that goes with our capitalist society to be seen as a disaster for the environment and the well-being of the community.

Once again, I have fed Gertrude the goat.   I took her out for a walk and she seems to especially like jasmine flowers.  Eventually, she seemed nervous at some noise next door, and made a bee-line for her pen.  
I've picked vegetables (zucchinis, of course, onions, beans and the first of the cucumbers)...
....re-potted a few of the plants that will need to remain in pots until after the summer and I have sorted out some seeds to be planted and then transplanted into the garden for early winter crops...  I usually plant a few broccoli plants, cabbage and cauliflowers...  though not all (I don't put all of the eggs in one basket)...  for an early crop, depending upon the season.  With climate change, we are to expect a more variable climate,  my plan, having some plants in the ground early,  and some late,  seems like a good strategy.

Earlier this morning,  the honey eaters were back bathing in the pond....
... this is a white-plumed honeyeater.  These birds perch on the rocks at this (nearest the house) end of the pond, and do flying leaps into the deep water... then back to the rocks to shake the excess water from their feathers.  This is the "floorshow" as I wash the dishes... the view from the kitchen window.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Summer vegetables

The basket of vegetables that I picked yesterday,
as well as a few more collected this morning, are definitely surplus to requirements as we finish up the Christmas leftovers today.  I have been freezing some of them already.
So far I have two bags of green beans (5oz each,  150g) a bag of green zucchinis (about the same weight) and there will be three bags of yellow squash... each larger than the other vegetable bags.
I would have had some reservations about freezing so many zucchinis if I hadn't discovered the zucchini soup recipe recently.  I have often used zucchini cooked in oil and garlic until they are very soft and made that into the main part of a pasta sauce.

The soup is even more interesting.   I made a pot full of stock,  using a chicken that went mainly into "chicken and dumplings" but I retained some for soup.  
I cooked the yellow "patty pan" zucchinis in the stock until they were quite soft,  and then blended them.  They went back into the saucepan with the bits of chicken and some rice, and it was cooked until the rice was done.  This was a real success and leftovers were all gone by the next morning.

Any of these that are blanched...
... and frozen like these today will be good for pasta sauce, soup or even just to be added to a stew once the winter is here.
The full amount today is really worth the effort...


There are some new varieties beginning to appear in the garden also....  kohlrabi...
....  the first baby eggplant....
 ... cucumbers...
 ... tomatoes... none ripe yet though...
... but as one crop ends, another seems to follow.   It's also time to begin planting the vegetables that we'll be eating in the winter.  It's always a bit of a worry, planting the winter brassicas as early as this because of the likelihood of really hot and dry weather in the next several months, but it is worth taking a chance, if only on a few plants.  They will need protecting during heat waves, but will be ready very much sooner than the plants that are started much later.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day

It's been a couple of busy days.  On Christmas Eve,  I cooked and cooked so that we had plenty of food for the extra people for Christmas.  It was predicted to be quite hot,  so I decided to go with "plan B"  and the pre-cooked chicken, ham and salads... with some steak (fresh and local) on the barby.... and the golden syrup pudding...  with lemon verbena leaves on top,  as we don't have holly....
The tree didn't have a star on Christmas eve, though it looked pretty good...
....  it's a part of a feral olive tree from the yard... with an assortment of decorations.  It didn't have  a star when this photograph was taken but eventually we found one (on a Christmas cracker!)
It looks quite good!

Christmas day was spent quietly on the front verandah with about  a dozen friends and family.  It was a really good day.  Chris got to play with his new "toys"....



...and a new waterlily flower came out....

... and then there were two...
... and notice the bee on the biggest flower...



This morning when I got up to take some fresh green offerings to the goat, I noticed that the birds had decimated the waterlily leaves.  Most of the leaves are floating on the water... all over the place...
...  but from the kitchen window...  this is the view....
... earlier, I'd seen a honeyeater (white plumed) on the rocks in the foreground taking dips into the pond behind... though I can still see the lilies.

A few minutes later....

... rosellas bathing and drinking ( and smashing waterlily plants!)  (Pictures are a bit fuzzy, being taken through the fly screen.)

I've been out to collect the vegetables... plenty after more than a day....
...  and it looks like zucchini soup sometime this week!   I think I'll be bottling some for winter soups in 2011.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Waterlily

This week has been busy and a bit miserable also, after Jess's death earlier in the week.  Christmas is fast approaching and while I had planned a quiet event,  it looks as though it will be busier than I'd planned.
I had planned to cook a nice big chicken... either on the day before, if it looked like being a really hot day... or as a hot roast beast on the day if the weather was cool.
Well,  currently the forcast for Christmas day is supposed to be 34C in Adelaide, so it will probably be a bit above that here (in Kapunda) as we are inland and north of the city.  So I have opted for plan A, the pre-roasted chicken and ham, served cold with salads and a steamed golden syrup pudding with icecream.  (I'll even make the pudding the day before and warm it gently on the day.)
Chris has some friends who are going to be on their own for Christmas, and so he has invited them as well.  And he'd like steak for dinner....  we don't often eat that kind of thing.... the budget doesn't allow  for that, however, since Christmas only comes once a year, we're going to have a feast!  (... including steak on the barbeque.  The beef comes from a local farmer, grass fed, locally "processed" using local labour... so even though it may be quite a meaty meal,  all is fresh and local.

Today I am making bread.  I have fed Gertrude, who I don't have time to walk today,  and picked the produce from the garden...  mostly zucchini and beans....  and I found another interesting flower...

... last night as we sat out by the pond with a glass of wine,  the waterlily bud had poked above the surface of the water among the leaves.

I also saw a willy wagtail.  This is a faairly common bird in Australia, though it is one of those that has been severely reduced in numbers in recent years.  The reduction in numbers of more common bird species is a whole other subject,   and it is alarming.  And so the sight of this willy wagtail yesterday was a delight.  There had been one here when we arrived,  but it has either not survived or it has moved on to more favourable territory.  Willy wagtails are known to nest in branches that overhang fresh water bodies... perhaps this little bird has noticed the pond!  I'll be watching.

Anyway,  the waterlily flower is blooming also....
... and it is absolutely beautiful.
Meanwhile,  I am stoking the fire and baking bread.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Jess's last day

It's a sad day here.  Jess has been very sick and died today.  Here she is in a photo about three years ago... waiting for me to throw the ball!
But this is how she's spent the last few days....
 ... an seeing the difference in these two pictures makes me feel better that she's not so sick any more.

In the pond, I noticed a lily leaf detatched from the plants yesterday.... and today there are several.  I hadn't seen how this happened until today.
 Here are two Adelaide rosellas bathing around the plants.  They are quite violent in the bathing!  The picture looks fuzzy as it's taken from the kitchen window...  quite a view!


I went out to cut some brnches from a feral olive tree for the goat, and found this as I was clipping away...
 ... four baby birds...   so I want out to make sure that they had a parent back after I left (I didn't need any more deaths around here today)...
The mother starling was back.

We've had more than an inch of rain (unseasonable) in the past few days,  so I don't need to water or attend to much in the garden today.  I had pumped water from the "shed tanks" to the "house tank" yesterday, so I feel as though I can have a quiet day today.  I'm glad of that.