Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"Left overs" and broad bean flowers.

"Left overs" has a whole other meaning when the vegetables are growing outside in the garden.   Left overs are those vegetables that were "surplus to requirements" from the day before....
 ... yesterday I picked enough for dinner,  and today I still have three potatoes, a few pieces of second growth broccoli, half a cabbage and a part of a cauliflower... with eggs or fish, this should be enough for dinner.

The broad beans are definitely beginnning to flower....


.... early,  but they are definitely on the way.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Eggs and fashionable food

The chickens are laying... and these are a new young group that I have had for only a few months,  but they are  laying regularly and I have excess eggs.... the chickens are disposing of all of my kitchen scraps,  weeds, left-overs and rubbish... and they are laying more eggs than I can use.

In the past,  I have sold eggs through a local community shop,  but this is now not legal.  It is necessary to have a special licence to do this, and the cost is prohinbitive.   I have excess eggs....
 ... and this is after using about a dozen in cooking this evening and giving another dozen away to a family member.  I used to sell enough eggs to pay for the supplementary food that I give to the hens to make sure that, even when weeds were in short supply,  they had enough food with the correct nurtients for their needs.  That is no longer an option, such is the change in the legal requirements for selling fresh eggs,  and so I need to pay for any supplementary feeding myself.  I still do that occasionally,  but it has to be on a "pension week" for sure.
Today I have given away a dozen eggs,  made 10 "creme caramels" and eaten an "eggy" dinner this evening...  vegetable fritters....
I have usually made fritters like this from potatoes and onions,  flour and eggs... but, with winter and a reduction in the amount of potatoes in the garden (they are more prolific in summer and autumn)   I have resorted to using pumpkin on its own,  or with potatoes...  and the results are wonderful....
It doesn't seem like "rocket science" but such a simple adaptation of an old recipe seems obvious now... and I'll be trying a few other solid vegetables of similar texture  (broccoli or cauliflower stalks, swedes, turnips?) in the future.  It's a matter of working out how to use the ingredients that one has,  not going to the supermarket to buy the ingredients listed in a recipe.

This is a really important issue here.  Recipe books give a list of ingredients for food that might be trendy, exotic or fashionable, but I think that being able to prepare meals with the ingredients that are available locally is important. This means collecting the vegetables from the garden in the morning and then working out how to prepare a meal from them.
I hear the idea of "eating locally" or "sustainable" stated often,  but it seems that ingredients are still being imported,  out of season, for more fashionable food preparation.
Tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers are not locally produced right now.. at least not without serious artificially heated greenhouse, almost hydroponic production, all of which is hugely energy dependent for any production at all....
Locally, I have leafy brassicas, cauliflowers, broccoli, late potatoes, preserved pumpkins, herbs, garlic, onions and plenty of eggs... with spring in view and anticipated with joy.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Feels like spring again.... with September kind of wind

It is lovely outside today,  about 20C but windy,  it feels like September and its equinoxial winds!  This has been a good opportunity to weed the "worst" of the onion patches....
 ... the onions look a bit wobbly after my interference,  but they will be fine after the next rain...  whenever that is.
I dug up one of the potato plants that was hit by the frost a couple of weeks ago... they might have recovered,  but I have quite a few more coming on,  so these will be dinner tonight....

 .... along with a cabbage and perhaps some eggs... sounds like "bubble and squeak"
 As I was weeding today, it certainly felt like September....   warm, perfumed air and a gusty wind.  That encouraged me to check for broad bean flowers, and sure enough,   I found one.....
....  just a bud, but this is very early....  according to my records though,  last year was the same...  before that, broad bean flowers had appeared only in  mid to late August.  Last year I noted that the  season was about two or three weeks earlier than usual and it appears that this year might be the same.

I googled "equinoxial winds"  to see what has been said in the past and found this from "The Murray Pioneer" from September 16th 1915 in an article entitled "Equinoxial Gales"...


"Every day for a week past "RudeBoreas" has teen disturbing our peacefultownship and everything has been on themove. Fortunately the splendid undergrowth and planting in between  the rowshas prevented the drift in the orchards weexperienced last year and the year before,but there is still enough to go round.  InCanterbury, - New Zealand, where it rainsnine months In the year, some one remarked "it would be .a fine country if Itwere roofed in"; and Waikerie would be& fine country if it were protected- with amountain range. - But why worry. There"Is always a fly in the ointment."
.... even then September was considered to be   the windy month... it is jsut a bit earlier this year.




Friday, 26 July 2013

Feels like spring, but it can't be... that's when you need the Digger's catalogue!

It has been warm and dry today.  All of the washing is dry,  the air smells like spring and my knees are dirty from weeding the onion patch.

The Watsonia is lovely... the flowers open is a series along the stem....

... and eventually they all open... all along the stem....
 ... the bees and the honeyeaters like them... they must have plenty of nectar, though no noticeable perfume.
Each flower is tiny and fragile....
 ... and the "forest" of leaves are beautiful too....
 ... I have tried making paper from them,  marginally successful last time,  but I will try again this year.

But now to the seed catalogue....
....  with a warm afternoon, leftovers from last year and the seeds that I've collected in my own garden it is time to think about my Diggers order (oh, and a glass of wine.)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Fresh vegetables

Today I bandicooted the first potatoes for a long time...   and they will be added to dinner tonight...
 ... along with the first of the "ordinary cabbages" from the brassica patch.

I am beginning to look for broad bean flowers... none yet,  but there is a carrot that has come up in that patch.  I'll leave it... the other carrots are still tiny... this one is ahead of the crowd!


I have been picking cauliflowers and pulling out the chunky bottom part of the plants for the chickens.  The onion plants that have struggled beside them,  growing a little bit sideways but they'll now get the run of the patch.
 I'll put some seasol and stinging nettle fertiliser on them and see how they go.

The leeks are looking good,  though some of them are still competing with the broccoli.
 I'll choose which broccoli plants to remove (the ones  that are producing less secondary shoots) to remove and stagger the leek crop a little.  I don't mind some being "left behind" a bit...  I'd rather my crops matured over a longer time than just a week or two.

The garlic is looking healthy... and this is one of four separate patches....
 ... I should have plenty through next winter.

Yet another healthy looking cabbage....
....  these are a smaller variety,  though they are growing quite large this year.  They are also very sweet,  though this may be just because I eat them so soon after I pick them.  That is true of quite a few vegetables...  even potatoes.... vegetables picked and eaten within minutes instead of days or weeks are very different.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Black-faced cuckoo-shrike


These birds are not unusual around here,  I often see them catching insects in the air as they fly...  incredible acrobats.
This afternoon I came home to find three of them behaving strangely in the trees behind the house.   One of them was obviously using some kind of displaying behaviour to another,  lifting its wings alternately and rythmically while the other watched... the third (the one that I photographed) remained on a different branch....
...  I can imagine that this may be displaying behaviour related to breeding.  According the wikipedia,   these birds breed from August to February...  probably close enough now.
I haven't seen this before,  but so many large trees have been removed that my trees may be the best nesting spot around here now.  So sad that at least 10 large trees have been cut down within 100 metres of these birds.   I will be watching out for them.... and for any cats that are loose in the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Watsonia

The watsonia is flowering again....
.... it grows all over the place....
...  I have made a painting about this a few years ago.

Snowpeas

Yesterday I picked the first snow peas of the year...
... along with another cauliflower and the "regrowth broccoli".


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Winter garlic?

I went to the market this morning.  I needed a few items that I can't grow... and some fish.  Once again, someone had garlic that they assured me was grown locally.  I didn't buy any.  It is probably from Mexico.  I saved enough garlic to get me through the winter, but most of it is sprouting by now.... even as it is still attached to the plait that I made...
 .... the taste is fairly similar even when it does start to grow,  and local garlic should be trying to grow by now.  Each bulb that I use now is separated and sprouting cloves planted....
 These will produce some new bulbs or at least garlic leaves which are also good to eat.  Garlic is a seasonal product, in the same way as many herbs, vegetables and fruits,   Currently, fresh local garlic has sprouting leaves.
I have quite a few garlic plants growing...

... the leaves are tasty as well as the bulbs,  but it is a "trade-off" as less leaf material will lead to smaller bulbs.  There are also a few self-sown lettuce plants among the garlics.

The cauliflowers are still producing and this year they are lovely.  They don't produce "side shoots" in the way that broccoli plants do but it is always worth planting some... the fresh ones are so sweet to eat.

Broad bean plants are lovely now....
 ....  no flowers yet,   but the leafy tips are good for stir frying in the same way as other "greens".

It is coriander season again...  coriander can be grown all year round,  though the longer days in summer cause it to "go to seed" very quickly.  The solution, of course is to keep planting regularly, but at this time of year,  coriander is just so easy to grow.

More cabbages on the way....
 ... and "second cuts" of broccoli....  just as good as the first...
 ... and the jalapenos are still producing... as always.  There aren't any new flowers now,  but hopefully there are enough fruits to last until the weather warms up and flowering begins again.  I usually add a few chopped up jalapenos to sauces, soups and pasta dishes.

Among the onions,   I found this marigold....
a winter flower!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cold morning in winter

We have had 16.5 mm of rain overnight, with a bit of hail thrown in as well!  I went out to feed the chickens quite early and found a tiny "drift" of hail out there...
 ... the hose is still there, from where I filled the water trough yesterday,  but the tiny drift of hail does indicate the temperature.  The air temperature is not terribly low (about 6C at 8 am) and the bird bath shows no signs of freezing...
 ... I am so glad of the fire in the kitchen and the heater still warm from the overnight stacking of wood in there.

I found hail inside the cabbages and bok choy too....
 

The potatoes that are further down in the yard do look a bit the worse for wear after the colder days this week...
... though the kippfler ones are looking better.   They are in a protected spot,  but even so they don't seem to mind the cold weather as much as the assortment that is further down the yard.



 I planted some more kale last week too....
 ... and it has emerged among the hailstones.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Cauliflower

The winter vegetables are wonderful.  This year has been unusual so that I am pleased that I froze some  garden produce for the rest of the year...  this evening, it was pasta sauce that was made during the tomato season.   The chickens are laying still... I have plenty of eggs,  and with a bag of 85% flour from  Four Leaf...  noodles are popular.

These days I have plenty of herbs, cauliflower, broccoli and even potatoes...  as long as I bandicoot them... and a few snow peas, developing peas and leafy brassicas... all good.

Today  I tried to photograph a cauliflower... a big one... about 1.5 kg.

... so big that it was hard to photograph!   Tasted good though!


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Frost again, frozen birdbath but the garden is still producing...

The temperature was low again overnight...  the birdbath was frozen....
 ... and there was frost on the potatoes (they have survived again though)....
 ... and the parsley......
 though no rain to measure.

It was good timing that I had put a tent over the remaining eggplant plants yesterday....  (those are cabbage plants in the foreground... and an assortment of other brassicas near the "tent".
 ... they are protected from the worst of the frost and appear to have survived well overnight...
 These "tents" are made from the same lace table cloths (from the second hand shop several years ago) that I use as shade in the summer.  I keep thinking that they will not last,  but as winter frost protectors they remain useful, all year round protection. Years ago in Canada,  I wrapped rose bushes in hessian (burlap)  for the winter and that has given me the idea for this tent during the winter. The egglants should be just that much further advanced this summer and perhaps producing early... as soon as the weather warms up.

Production continues...  cauliflowers are growing fast.... about half a dozen of them, I think...
 ...excuse the "gardener's finger nails" holding the leaves back.

Cabbages..... sugar loaf....
 ...snow peas... beautiful in the sun....


... and I am still picking a few peppers.  That late heat has prolongued the season for some things....
 and Jalapenos....
 ... this is the jalapeno plant that is now about 5 years old and still going strong...  it must be in the right place and well enough protected from the cold weather.

The broad bean plants are not flowering yet,  but these tips are good to eat as well... and as the plants recover from my raids, they are lower, bushier and produce more beans with less risk of wind damage....

The perfume from these flowers is amazing....  I didn't notice them until I tracked down the scent...
... the flowers are so tiny that they are easily overlooked.  They are parsley flowers... still going... and attract my attention with their perfume...  I suppose that works just as well for pollinators too.