Archive | November, 2011

Harvesting garlic with child

11 Nov

Remember when I planted garlic under my roses, then Jerry shattered me with the news that it was infected with some virus, and it was all doomed?

Well now I scoff!

Because I pulled it all up over the last week, and I have a bountiful garlic harvest. I don’t seem to be able to count the bloomin’ thngs without muddling myself up and losing track of where I’m up to, but I think I have about 150 bulbs of garlic.

I think that some of the garlic could have used a week or two more in the ground, but as they started to die off I had a nasty aphid infestation go through, and I didn’t want to spray them with anything, so I thought I’d  just get them out.

I started initially to hang the bulbs on one of those sock and underwear drying racks with lots of pegs, but I quickly ran out of room. I then moved onto the clothes lines under the cover of the car port.

Some of the garlic is huge.

Some of it is small.

But most of it is about the size of the stuff you get in the supermarket, and I’m really chuffed!

Now I promised you two exciting things this post, so hopefully I won’t disappoint. My slackness in posting lately is because I’m 12 weeks pregnant with #3. I’ve been super tired this time, but thankfully (miraculously) not sick! I’m taking every puke-free day with thankfulness, knowing it could change any time and I’ll be back to dehydration and hospitalisation like with the other two. They say every pregnancy is different, but I really didn’t believe it.

So I’m feeling enthused again, and as I’m home today with a quarantined  preschooler, I thought I’d replenish the rose bed after the garlic harvest. I’ve deadheaded the roses, fertilised with dynamic lifter and mulched heavily with Swanes Gro-cubes. This regime worked a treat last year, and when you’re onto a good thing…

Bring on the summer fruit

10 Nov

It has been a really hot and wet week in Sydney. Almost tropical- stinking hot and humid with thunderstorms in the evenings. The vegies are leaping out of the soil, and the first of the summer fruit is starting to come on.

Wandering out the other day I found a single ripe blueberry. Not sure how long it had been there, but I really never realised that blueberries could taste so good. So different to the shop bought ones, which really never appealed to me unless they were baked into muffins.

I’ve discovered the trap with them now though- after eating the first one and raving to P about it, I picked three more just after they turned blue. I inadvertently had set a booby trap. When P ate them he puckered up like crazy – I think they need a few days on the bush after they turn blue for them to sweeten up.

My strawberries are still powering along, although the lizards are out in force now and they love them as much as we do.

The slugs are making a meal of my mulberries, so I really need to get some of the Multiguard slug pellets out quickly.  I love the fact that they are iron-based and  non-toxic.
My little sunset nectarine is still holding onto 3 or 4 fruit. Unfortunately the peach didn’t take well to the late sulphur spray and dropped its crop.

Luckily our good friends brought around some of their stonefruit crop, really early this year due to the heat. How good does it look! Well it did look good until Little D got his mitts on them and tossed a few like cricket balls, so we were forced to gorge ourselves immediately. They tasted amazing!

One of my apple trees is still holding onto 2 apples. Now I’m terrified  that I’ll pick them too early or late – so much pressure! Apples are funny things. I have two warm climate apples that flowered at the same time. The fruit on the Tropical Anna (the only one that actually set fruit) is nearing maturity. The other tree (a multigraft of Granny Smith and Pink Lady hasn’t even started flowing yet. It has really only woken up from its winter hibernation in the last month. Either this first year is going to be a dud, or the timing of these different varieties is up to 6 months apart. Funny thing, these apples.

Now Ali will be sad (either that or secretly delighted) at this news. Of my two avocado trees, one of them (the Sheppard) set a single fruit. It was tiny, it was gorgeous, sadly doomed. I came out the next morning and it had dropped off. Better luck for both of us next year, hey Ali?

Next post, I’ll have two very exciting things to share with you. One of them is hanging in my carport right now, and there’s not much space for anything else.

Introducing Yolk-la-homa

6 Nov

Last weekend my parents kindly came down for a visit, and Dad helped P build the chicken coop.

We decided in the end to convert the existing shadehouse. I wasn’t using it for anything worthwhile and all the ornamentals hanging in there were being badly neglected. More importantly, it was an existing structure that didn’t need too much in the way of modifications.

The first thing that the coop needed was weatherproofing. Most importantly, it needed a roof. Luckily Bunnings had a 50% off special on Laserlite roofing, and seeing as we planned to buy the stuff regardless, that was a major bonus. The other requirements were that it needed enclosing, so we needed to construct a door, and enclose the whole thing with wire.

Mum and Dad also brought down the old nesting boxes from the chicken coop I grew up with. They are a whole lotta ugly, but hold so many memories for me – I’m thrilled to have them as part of the coop.

The kids had a great time helping.Little D had his hands in everything, and J really just loved talking non-stop with Nan. The whole project was rather more involved that I imagined, and the retrieval of materials took up a good portion of the morning. So Dad really only had time to finish the roofing and mount a post before running out of daylight.

The next day J helped P roll out the wire and start to enclose the coop. He very carefully dug away the ground and buried the wire underneath in order to stop the chickens digging their way out, and also to stop any enterprising foxes. I’m pretty sure the chickens will be safe now!

So yesterday P finished off the last of the coop. We have a rudimentary door and a coop fully enclosed with chicken wire.

The chickens have been living out there during the day and coming in at night. So far they seem to really like it.

I have ordered a treadle feeder from Chooktred and some nipple waterers from Hatchers and Catchers, which should arrive this coming week. That should provide a longer-lasting feeding/watering solution that the current arrangement, whereby we refill food and water twice a day.

We are really starting to see the different personalities come out in the chicks. The Australorp in particular is a bit  of a bully, but when she doesn’t get her way, she’s also a top class whinger!  Now I just want the chickies to hurry up and grow – frankly I’m pretty sick of the house smelling foul, and I want me some eggs!

The weirdest thing to grow in any garden (ever)

1 Nov

Well after a long break (more about that soon), finally an update on the garden.

So much has been happening that I’m not sure how to begin, but how about with what I found growing in the shadehouse over the weekend.

 This my friends, is a mushroom. Certainly not one that I will choose to eat, but apparently a type of stinkhorn fungus, and it isn’t likely to kill anyone. I have these things growing fairly prolifically in the leaf litter in the shadehouse. They are long, spongey in texture and don’t smell the best if you sink your nose into them.

If it wasn’t for their pong-iness, I might be tempted to make a bouquet.

So onto other red things growing in my garden – my early tomatoes have been a roaring success. These were the variety ‘Stupice’, and they have ripened beautifully over the past week.

This is the first one I picked, and there has been maybe 10 since. They are on the small side, and quite varied in shape, from this type, to smaller round ones and larger ‘bum shaped’ ones as my sister put it. The flavour is definitely better than the supermarket, but not what I would call fantastic. About what I expected from an early variety.

In addition to the earlys, I have about 20 other plants in large pots (Tigerella, Black Cherry, Grosse Lisse, Brandywine, Tommy Toe) and 12 San Marzano seedings still waiting to be planted out. My aim is to have more than I can possible deal with, then a huge late crop of San Marzanos for a monster batch of passata for bottling.

The tigerellas already have fruit!