Saturday, 27 August 2011

Boronia

It's been a long week.  I've been to a birthday party in Brisbane, lost my camera, done a big week's work, bought a new camera (learning curve) mowed about half of the yard, been out to the studio, organised the hanging of an exhibition in a gallery and tonight I plan to make pizza and bread.
However, the highlight of the week was finding this boronia in the yard....
...  it is hard to grow here because hte soil is alkaline and the summers are hot (that means pots don't work.) This time,  I dug a huge hole in the yard, filled it with "azalea soil" and planted it in a shady spot.  It has survived and is flowering.  It surely means that spring has sprung!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

August showers and longer days bring flowers...

It has been very cold and wet.  We have even had a little bit of hail during the day.  Overnight, last night, we had 11.5mm of rain, and the tanks are almost full.... 37,000 litres!

I have already commented on the broad bean flowers, but every year, they are one of those garden produce that I await with enthusiasm.  And as I have often written before, eating "in season" makes the pleasure of those items that aren't available all year round all the more enjoyable when they appear.  The excitement of seeing the first flowers on these plants is more than just a photo opportunity.
 I went out (between showers) to check the vegetable patches as usual, and found flowers of all sorts... my garden plants seem to understand the change on day lengths.....  coriander.....
 ..... rue.... I still love the smell of this whenever I brush past it... though I know that some people find it an unpleasant odour....
 .... the "rocket" (arugula) that is self sown near the fruit trees is flowering already.  We ate some of this earlier, though once it flowers, like many brassicas, the taste changes and it isn't so nice any more.
 .... the "Asian greens" have begun to flower....  many of the plants are still looking edible, but they're probably on borrowed time.
 .... even this cabbage is trying to flower.....
 .... and my favourite calendula, those with the "buddhist monk' colours are flowering beautifully.
It is the time of the year when I anticipate the new spring plantings.  I'm beginning to work out just which plants will go where and which patches of soil are most appropriate for my various vegetable plantings.  Peter Cundall's admonitions concerning crop rotations have been well heeded and I'm busy planning the garden and its outcomes, our meals, daily.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Broad bean flowers....

Today was a perfect day to spend in the garden, though I was otherwise occupied at the studio for SALA.  When I came home, I went out to collect the vegetables for dinner... mangel worzel, onions, an assortment of brassica flowers and eggs....but I found the broad beans with flowers already apparent....
 ...... then more....
 .... not much new in the way of flowers or herbs, though there are signs of spring among the herbs that suffered during the frost a couple of weeks ago.

The constantly flowering feverfew continues to look happy and healthy....


Dinner is vegetables and eggs...
... the vegetables here are mangel worzel, broccoli (side-shoots),  onions and chinese broccoli.  Eggs to be added soon...  with sweet chili sauce.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Winter rain, winter sun.

We have had rainy, dull days for a couple of weeks,a dn about 30mm (more than an inch) of rain in the past week.  It's been hard to get washing dry (hanging it around the kitchen fire after dinner is the usual method) and I've been avoiding the soggy garden paths, hoping that the vegetables were out there enjoying it on their own.  The pathway to the clothesline is overgrown and still wet....
 The garlic is doing well....
 ....  I had mulched it with seaweed (from middle beach) and given it a dose of seaweed fertiliser and it is looking really good.

The other vegetables are looking very healthy.  This is the third to last of this particular crop of cabbages....
 .... there are plenty more brassicas to come and then I'll need to replant some of these gardens as spring approaches.  We are eating well.

The wattle is flowering beautifully this year....
... wattle is our national flower and this one, black wattle, seems to flower best in mid-winter.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Eggs 2

Continuing from yesterday's post about storing eggs... it works!
I made lasagne from frozen noodles...
 it was really good, despite the fact that the noodles were thicker than the usual lasagne style that we qre used to....
 Chris liked them....
I will be preserving more eggs (using thinner noodles) as precursors of lasagne in the future.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Eggs

Since the solstice, the chickens have been laying eggs faster than we can eat them.  I used to sell the surplus, but in recent times, no one wants the eggs with poo or feathers attached and that means that I need to wash them and make sure that they look like "shop" eggs.  I probably should do it, but I still have a few people who take them for free (unwashed) and that's ok too.
This week though, they have really got away from me....
 ... and so I have decided to be a little more creative.  Eggs make very good noodles, and these keep really well.  I even think that one of the reasons that pasta has been such a staple food in Italy may be due to the fact that eggs could be preserved as noodles for the winter when the chickens go "off the lay."

I have tried all sorts of methods for preserving eggs in the past.  For the relatively short term... months... I have used waterglass (sodium silicate) and that works better than vaseline.  I've tried high protein fruit cakes, but we don't eat a lot of sweet foods.   I have dried fettucine but it is so brittle that it's hard to store also... noodles break and are good for soup or casseroles, but not like the usual pasta dishes.   My serious lack of space doesn't help either.

Lately, our predilection for lasagne has made me try again... and so tonight I have been preparing noodles ( about 12 eggs worth) for lasagne.  Lasagne is such a good way of using odd vegetables and left over odds and ends... I think that peasant women in the past had more clues than I have caught up with.  "Trendy" versions of traditional dishes don't seem to preserve the frugality of the original versions.... or so I am beginning to believe.

We often eat lasagne... a favourite around here so it seems like a good plan... to try to make my surplus into something useful.  It's one of those commonsense ideas that seems to be surplus to requirements when we can but out of season ingredients to make whatever we wish in recent years.


And so I went to work after dinner tonight...  I made the dough and finished the kneading with the pasta machine on number 1.
 I thinned the noodles to number 4 (just a guess) and hung each piece over the same sticks that I use to dry the fettuccini...
 Once it was all made (12 eggs worth) I took each piece and cut it into three....  then I packed it between plastic sheets (old bread bags - I don't buy plastic except for when it comes with other purchases.)  And here it is....
 .... all packed into a carton that I used to bring my groceries home from the local IGA. I ususally make use of the cartons as kindling for the kitchen stove, but some boxes are taken away for more noble purposes....
 I did put a 'lasagne' label on top of the noodle sheets....
.... I hope this works.  Next is to see how frozen noodles go in lasagne!  I'll need to make this on the weekend.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Weeding the vegetable patches

It's been an amazingly warm day.  I have just spent three hours weeding the more important vegetable patches.  After a few very cold and wet weeks, a couple of lovely warm days have been very timely and mostly an opportunity to remove a lot of very healthy weeds.  The various garden plots have differing needs, but weeding is for everywhere at this time of the year.
 The garlic has some new seaweed mulch and are looking healthy...
 The smelly bucket of fertiliser (made with chicken poo and stinging nettles) is really productive....


The echinacea continues to flower....

 ... and while weeding I found this little plant (a cobra lily) that has survived a transplant and a serious frost last week. Hopefully it will increase in this new spot.

The rue plant is flowering profusely.  It doesn't very much bothered by the frost last week.

Signs of spring?

This morning we have a warm, gusty wind blowing... the kind of wind that is common in September or October, but it is only 1 August!

In recent weeks, almond blossom has been out all along the roadways around Kapunda.  Along with the wattle and frost bitten soft plants, this is a sure sign of winter.  In fact, just over a week ago, we had a really cold night when I had to dig up all of the potatoes whose plants had been seriously frosted.  It had been one of the coldest nights for some years apparently... not that that was a surprise to me as I checked out the vegetable patches next morning.

This week there's been a complete change.  While it's not so very hot yet,  the warm gusty wind makes it feel like spring.  The big slow blowflies are reminiscent of last summer too.  

Outside this morning, I found this....
... the apricot tree is just beginning to flower!  A sure sign of spring!  Confusing weather for sure.