Thursday, 26 April 2012

Anzac Day Broad Beans

Anzac Day was yesterday, 25 April and is the day that Australians and New Zealanders remember wartime sacrifice on the anniversary of the beginning of a battle that was lost in Turkey in 1915.

Rather than remember such disaster,  I use the date to remind me to plant the broad beans.  They can be planted earlier, or later,  but they seem to be most productive when planted around Anzac Day.

I saved the seeds from last year's crop....
and I still have qute a few left even after today's planting.

There's not much to see yet,  but these should come up fairly quickly as the soil is still quite warm.
The extra seeds will be planted also, even if they end up among the weeds behind the chicken coop, as they are so hardy and always produce plenty of edible pods and beans.  Even those dried beans (that I have saved for planting) can be cooked and eaten.  Broad beans much be one of the easiest, most productive and least temperamental food crops that one can grow.

Monday, 23 April 2012

A change in the weather for Fiona's birthday.

This morning is the first cold and windy morning of autumn.  We have had a total of 5mm of rain over the past two days and the wind has made it unpleasant to be outside.  This morning the sun is shining and, though it is still cold, the birds are busy.

I fed the goats, the chickens and the fish and as I walked back into the house, I saw the galahs sunning themselves in their favourite gum tree....
 .... I had to go inside to find my camera, and quite a few of them flew off.   There were still quite a number though....
....  and I couldn't help but imagine that they were sunning themselves to warm up after a shower of rain a couple of hours earlier.

I am happy inside with my coffee and the kitchen fire alight.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cauliflowers and climate change

It's been warm and sunny for the past few weeks.  I had planted some winter vegetable seedlings a few weeks ago,  hoping to have a few early items for the kitchen.  I hadn't counted on the hot dry weather into April.  The plants are all surviving well,  though the cauliflowers are confused...
 ... there are several tiny cauliflowers (less than 5cm/2inches) across.  Normally these should have continued growing for some months and only produced the cauliflowers much later.  The weather has confused them.
While weather events (like this little hot spell) are not a significant indication of the climate of the planet being modified, the change in temperature of the earth will cause these oddities to happen more often... in the same way that we are being threatened with a greater number of more severe and disruptive weather events.

I read an interesting article that states that, while people, who deny that the climate is changing due to the warming of the planet, point to the lack of accurate measurement of the atmospheric temperature that would demonstrate the change in global temperature.  However, apparently 93% of the heat that is trapped by the increase in greenhouse gasses is absorbed by the oceans and the oceans have increased in temperature steadily over the past 20 to 50 years....  the period of time when billions of years of carbon sequestering has been squandered.

In the past, I have done as much as I could have to convince my community (and those beyond) that there is a real climate emergency.  I have changed the way that I live and I have made some small difference. By now,  I think that it is too little, too late.  It makes me sad, but I think that the recent article in The Ecologist" says it all too well... that humans might die out in 100 years or so.  The time frame is vague,  but humans may well not survive the conditions that evenuate due to the damage that they/we have done.  The earth will survive without such a damaging species.

Meanwhile, my "winter potatoes" are up....
... there should be plenty more yet, but these are looking healthy.  I have kept the chickens in their chicken run, as I will until the potato plants are all big enough to survive the chickens raiding that patch for earwigs.  I'll be anxious to see how well this crop, protected by the trees and water modified micro-climate, deals with the winter weather when it  arrives.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Birds, trees and my garden

This morning there has been a huge flock of corellas flying around the town.  There are always a few,  and I am aware of their plague proportions in farmers' fields as grain crops are being sown.  I understand the damage that a large flock of birds can do...  it's reminiscent of the bat colonies near fruit crops in other places that I've lived.  I am also aware that the populations of some species have been able to increase as their food supplies became easier... something like humans who have done much the same thing.

As I watered the tiny vegetables this morning though, I heard a chainsaw whining away.  There's been a lot of that lately.  Neighbours have cut most of the large trees in this area... some for houses, and some just to have a tidy yard with no leaves on the pathways.

I have a self seeded redgum that has planted itself on the other side of my vegetables...
 ... it's that little white truncked tree in the middle of that photograph.
Its parents are here too.....  preventing any fruit trees from getting a "foothold" in my yard.  Large trees are greedy for water.  I can grow vegetables, but not fruit trees.
Some of the other trees in the yard have become nesting spots for parrots....  this photograph was taken a few months ago....
... and I can't help but think that the loss of all of this will be a disaster in the long run.  I'm sure that this has already happened in the city (Adelaide) and it is sad that the "city folk" who are moving here are making the same mistake.  Once all of this is gone, it can't be re-invented.  "Re-vegetation" in city areas does not return the land to what it used to be...  it's probably more like a zoo or a park.  I find it sad, and can only imagine how sad Chief Seathle must have been when he made his speech (this is the oldest version, written from notes taken at the time, though Seathle didn't speak English and the speech was translated through two languages at the time, apparently.)

In looking up the speech again,  I couldn't help but be impressed with this statement....
"Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all."
.... and wonder how long "our tribe" will ride this current wave.

This too....
"At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.
Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless.  Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds."
... sounds more like a Buddhist text, but it makes me wonder when our civilisation will grow up, metaphorically speaking.

"Indian" summer

There's been a lapse in blog posts after some local, personal issues but I seem to have resolved most of it and I'm back on track and enjoying the Indian summer, though we don't seem to have had the suggested frost, or in fact any cold weather at all.  Not only have we had hot weather, but it has been very very dry... very little rain for about five months now.  In my last post, I had actually planted some seedlings in the closest kitchen garden,   hoping for some rain.  Well,  there's been no rain at all, but with some water from the tanks, the vegetables are growing well....
 ... these are the baby broccoli plants that I have been watching for the past few weeks.  The broccoli box contains some seeds that should sprout also.  It has been covered with the refrigerator shelf since I found one baby plant pulled out by one of the birds.   I love the birds.  I can watch them from the kitchen window.... picking the green cabbage moth grubs that infest the brassicas.  Saves me the job!

At the same time, I planted some seeds... five rows.....
 ... from the left hand side:

  •  mangel worzel and sugar beet 
  • swedes (rutabaga), 
  • golden beetroot, 
  • ordinary (red) beetroot, 
  • and carrots. 
In the lower rhs are some baby celery plants.  They seem to be doing well, despite the hot dry weather.  I have been watering them daily, and the days are getting shorter, so I think they should survive.

Across the pathway is this patch of potatoes.....
... these are all plants that "grew" in the potato storage box, and mostly came from the garden originally.   It has meant that the chickens have been confined to their quarters for a while, though once the plants are big enough they will be allowed out to remove any insect pests... that's their job.  The potatoes are near the pond this year, and that was planned.  As I have said previously, I grow potatoes during the "wrong" season, because the summers are jut too hot and dry to produce many decent tubers.  I am able to dig plenty of potatoes that are grown during the winter,  but the hazard at that time is the occasional frost.  Potatoes are very susceptible to even a mild frost and will die off immediately when "hit" by one.   I am hoping that the water will modify the climate in this little area...  there are trees around and it ahs always been one of the least frost effected spots in the yard....  it will be interesting to see how this proceeds this year.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Winter vegetables...

The coming winter crops are growing.... not ready to pick yet (I still have some old, re-sprouted broccoli and a couple of capsicums) but the late warm weather is helping these plants....
....  the cabbage moths are still around,  but I have been picking the caterpillars and eggs from the leaves daily.  It's the least expensive and safest method of control for these pests.

Feeding the fish

I have been feeding these goldfish (mossie catchers) daily, so that I can count them.  There are ten altogether.

The floating flakes are the fish food.  I love the ripple elipse.   The fish with the black back is always the last to be seen....  that must be a survival advantage.

New Holland honeyeater

I was watching this honeyeater while sitting on the end of my bed.

I took the photographs through the fly screen as well,  but they do look ok.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Breakfast companions

I ate breakfast out by the pond this morning.  I fed the fish some goldfish flakes, watched the crested pigeons picking through the mulch (which I have spread on the potato patch) for peas and then Isaw a mouse stick its nose out from between the rocks by the water... exciting company!   The honeyeaters were arguing in the trees, in between checking out the nectar supply at the blood lilies.

Then a juvenile rosella came down and bathed about two metres from my feet.   I ddn't make serious eye contact,  as I thought I might frighten him/her away....  but it was pretty exciting.  I wished for my camera.

Back inside,  I found the camera and it was already equipped with its big lens, so I tried for some pictures of the bather....
 ... and this was the view from the kitchen window, through the flyscreen....
the water is definitely attracting more and more birds.

Sunday afternoon & Peaceful Dove

Yesterday afternoon I sat out by the pond watching the fish.  There are ten of them and I have been feeding them daily, getting them used to coming near to the surface of the water, raather than remaining cryptically under the lily leaves or in the deeper water.  I try to count them and usually I see them all.
Yesterday, as I sat there I saw a pair of Bronzewings grazing on the open ground and then had to chase a pair of crested pigeons that were eating my swede seedlings!   Exciting times!

Back inside, I saw a couple of different birds by the water....
 .... there were two of them.....
 .... and I am sure now that they were Peaceful doves.....
... and I have only seen these lately and along with several other species, they seem very well attracted to water.