Thursday, 5 November 2015

45mm of rain and a quiet day

The garden continues to feed me and to only improve with time.  As I manage to get each garden bed 'under control' I expand my territory and gradually make more and more of my yard civilised.  My house is situated right in the middle of  a square block that is about an acre in area.  This means that there are several separate triangular patches around the house. These are easily segregated into different uses.
The vegetable garden is on the far side of the house from the gateway onto the street.  During the winters, I plant most of it with edible plants, though in the summer (with less rainfall) some of the garden beds are just covered with pea straw to preserve the living organisms in the soil when the water requirements would be too much to maintain the whole area.   With that in mind,  the summer garden is more or less planted in the patch that is easily covered by shading material, some crops are finished and the beds almost ready for covering and a few things have gone to seed for me to save for next year.
The weather bureau forcast rain for this week, and so I bough pea straw though I didn;t spread it.  I was waiting for the rain to soak in and then to cover it, keeping the extra moisture blanketed by the mulch.
The rain turned out to be more of a storm than I had expected.  In Gawler, earlier in the day,  the clouds looked ominous…
… and by the time I got back to Kapunda, the rain had begun. The local shop was awash and they were warning us that the electronic payment machines weren't working… we would have to pay with cash only.
It rained very hard for a couple of hours and then gently through the night.  In the morning,  the gauge showed 45mm(!), the heaviest one day of rain for many years.  There was significant damage to properties around the town and my leaky roof left puddles all around the house.  There was no communication by telephone, fixed or mobile, or via the internet either for about 20 hours or so… quite a shock to those of us that are used to making use of these gadgets as the mood or necessity takes us.
However, the tanks are full, the pond is overflowing and the garden has benefitted from the deluge.
There is not much to be done out there today…  it is a good day for sitting inside, reading.

"The Solitary Summer"  by  Elizabeth von Armin
I have read several other books by the same author.  She is an interesting woman herself.  She was born in Australia, but became Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin when she married a prussian count and later Countess Russell when she married the elder brother of Bertrand Russell and it was much more complicated than that!  
I have read "Elizabeth and her German Garden",  "Vera", "The Pastor's Wife" and "The Enchanted April" and I have enjoyed them all… different moods, but all written in her easy, almost conversational, style.
I have enjoyed her writing and so I plan to read about the solitary summer during this 'solitary summer' of my own.  This book is written as a brief diary-style account of the months of May to September and so I will need to think of the months from November to March instead… those being the equivalent months in my part of the world.
I wouldn't have started it today but for the rain that makes the garden a little bit too soggy to work on just yet.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Strange weather, garden food.

Winter 2015 seemed to drag on.  We had cold nights and cool days through most of September.  It made a slow start to the season, but the change in weather was even more peculiar.  Suddenly we had a few days with temperatures in the high 30's (90's in fahrenheit) and it was as if the delayed spring happened suddenly and with strange results.  I have picked quite a few broad beans and there are still more to go,  but the hot days have stopped the stalks from flowering.  It may be a short brioad bean season.
I was away from home for a few days (during which the weather was hot) and came home to a spectacular display of lilac, roses and some of the later salvias…

The vegetables have found the sudden hot dry weather hard as well.  I am picking leeks, potatoes, kale, lettuce of various sorts, beetroot,  the last of the snow peas, broad beans, artichokes and a few cauliflowers and cabbages.  These last brassicas have found the hot weather hard, and are trying to bolt to seed.  Last night, I cut the heads off and made them into soup with lentils and some of the last tomato passata from last year, some herbs and an assortment of vegetables.  I didn't have any bread, so I made dumplings instead.  Not particularly elegant,  but good.
This is what happens when you make dinner from whatever you collected from the garden.  And there is enough left over for lunch today.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Spring begins after the equinox this year.

It finally feels like spring.  While here, people begin to celebrate spring at the beginning of the month,  I always wait until the equinox.  We have passed that well and truly, and finally the garden feels like spring. The prediction for the next few days includes temperatures of 33C and 35C… perhaps we are skipping spring and going strqaight into summer!

Out along the Tarlee Road today, I found dog roses flowering… a real sign of spring, but if the weather is too hot, they won't last long….
 The flowers seem so fragile,  but beautiful while they last...
The vegetables are planted, growing and the remains of the winter crops remain.  We don't really have a 'hungry gap' here.
Currently I am picking snow peas, leeks, all kinds of leafy greens and brassicas and I am still digging potatoes.  The herbs are flowering and some of the winter herbs have gone to seed (parsley, coriander and fennel) and I am preparing for seed collection.  The chickens are laying and I have enough fire wood to cook and enough water in the tanks to make it through the summer.
It has been a hectic season (with family and friends) but thankfully life seems to be calming now.

I have been thnking very much about my good fortune in having such a lovely garden (messy, but productive) and I am beginning to understand the feeling of "belonging to the land."  For much of my life, for various reasons, I felt like a gypsy, moving for the benefit of other people.  I learned a lot, gardened in a variety of climates, but to watch a patch of soil improve and begin to support me seems such a luxury.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

End of the month! Already.

Well,  this is getting to be a little bit shocking.  The blog seems to have become a 'monthly report' in recent times. Life has been busy and, with the cold weather, the garden has been slow, and this will have to be a catch-up.
We have had more rain during August than we had during August 2014… 83mm (3.26 inches) compared with 29mm last year.
  This has been very noticeable in the vegetable garden. I have been mowing pathways to maintain access to the clothes line and food plots….

With the rain,  the native birds are displaying nesting behaviour….  the pair of parrots that have been working away at making a nest hole in one of the big trees have been at it again… for the fifth year.  The hole is still inadequate.

I will try to have a nest box made for them, for next year.

Native flowers have been lovely.  Most flower during the winter here….

Vegetables have been productive also…

I have been eating well,  especially with the particular chickens that I have at the moment.  They are the kind that lay all year around.  I am not sure that this is good for the chickens and I don't think I'd have this kind again… but after the fox raid (more than a year ago now) I had to take what I could get!

… and the next crops are beginning as well… seedlings, annual preparations and fruit trees.  There is much to do.  My espaliered trees will need some maintenance this spring.  My newest experiment is underway.

As we move closer to the sping equinox, the herbs are beginning to flower… even the rue…
September will be busy with the seedlings, planting and a short period of time that has longer day lengths, warmer soil that is still wet, and yet before the serious summer heat.  I love the hot weather myself,  though with the very hot dry months to come, the garden will need a lot of help.  An interesting climate that is changing every year.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Busy month, slow winter growth.

Once again,  life has taken over and a month has gone by with no time for updates from the garden.  The family visit was wonderful, wood cut and stacked, garden tidied and a few odd jobs achieved, including a water feature… but more of that later.
It is time for wattle to flower also….

There has been significant rain during the month (55mm, more than 2 inches) and that makes 287 mm so far this year (more than 11 inches.)  This is a lot less rain than we had had by this time last year, and with an el nino year expected (with the dry spring and summer that it brings)  this year may well turn out to be one of the driest in recent years.  It has also been very cold, with more frosts than usual…

 …some frost is beautiful….

In the autumn I left the last of the fennel bulbs in the ground so that I could collect the seeds.  Not only have they gone on to produce seeds,  but they have also made more bulbs as 'suckers' from the old plants….
 This shows a dried stem (broken off) with three 'new' bulbs that will probably mature in sequence, not all at the same time…  convenient.
The same plants are still producing seeds as well, or at least flowering in preparation….

The winter lettuces are producing….

though this patch is half eaten...
… though leaving the root and the bottom of the plant will allow these to continue to produce until the weather is too hot and dry for more.

Other harvest vegetables currently are potatoes, leeks, coriander, parlsey, silver beet, broccoli, cauliflower and the chickens are still laying intermittently.

 The broad beans are just beginning to flower and I am beginning to anticipate the beans and artichokes and the recipes that include them both.

Seedlings are starting for the spring.  This is the first mangel worzel sprouting and when the weather is warmer in the spring, it will be transplanted to the vegetable garden.

The colder weather has slowed the garden down (except for the winter weeds) and made working out there a little more demanding.

The espalier patch (fruit trees) is still a work in progress, two more trees to add and at least three more wires to add this year prior to pruning.  There is always more to do.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

June, family visits, music and the first snow peas.

I have been determined to post this eventing before the end of the month… 30 June…  as othewise the whole month would have passed me by without a single update.

The weather has been cold, the rain intermittent and the garden slowly productive.

The family visits have involved music, wood chopping and tree planting…  and more of the trees later (the espalier patch.)

There have been a few 'health and welfare' issues to deal with, but then the kapunda garden was taken over by family and friends.  My kitchen is very small,  but the music was good….

There was a significant amount of wood chopped, stacked….
 …. kindling included….
 … most is stacked on the front verandah ready for the rest of the winter (there is now more than this half-built pile!
 … and a studio area prepared so that I can get back to painting and to my 'kapunda drawing' blog as well….
 …...  the first snow peas have arrived.  The garden is producing slowly now that the weather is colder,  but it survives and I have posted at least one garden photograph this month.

Tomorrow… tree planting.