Archive | March, 2012

Garden Photo Tour

7 Mar

Thanks for all the kind words yesterday. Despite my inability to control the inside of the house, the outside seems to be thriving. Thanks to a low-maintenance yard, a helpful husband and some kind parents who visited a couple of weeks ago, I seem to be managing quite well outdoors and I love being out there.

I thought I’d do a quick photo tour of the front yard this morning with Little D and show you a few of the developments out there.

Here’s the front of the house:

Most of Bed B (along the front of the house) is empty now and is destined to be planted out with onions. This is the south side of the house, so it gets very little sunlight in winter. I hoped to get the onions in this week to take advantage of the few hours of morning sun it gets in summer/autumn, but the chickens did this this morning:

Well actually, that’s after I turned them back over and tried to cover the roots with soil as best as I could. Pity, because they were looking strong too. Do you think I have time to sow another batch, or should I buy seedlings at this point?

Also in Bed B is my magnificant rhubarb:

This was planted as a crown sometime in September I think, after my first crown (planted in July) never emerged.

I think I’ve been very restrained in not harvesting it yet- don’t you think? Very unlike me, but I want it to survive the winter, when it will get next to no sunlight.

Right down the other end of Bed B is the asparagus.

I planted the asparagus almost exactly a year ago – a total experiment because this soil is heavy clay. I planted 1 crown and 4 seedlings from seeds  planted a few weeks earlier. This quite impressive specimen is one of the seedlings. I thought it took 3 years before you could harvest asparagus, but at 1 year from planting from seed I have a spear that is considerably thicker than my thumb!

I guess I should have labelled the plants, but I suspect that this must be one of the ‘fat bastard’ variety.

Along the front bed my strawberries (in the polystyrene boxes) have finished and are slowly being covered by wild edamame plants.

My potato bags live along this path too, as does my neglected olive tree and a few potted tomatoes that never thrived.

My eggplant are next to the massive edamame patch, and the capsicums that I potted out are now thriving next to the chillies

I’ve written about these bird’s eye chillies before, but they are really amazing – they turn from green to black, then stay black for ages until -pop- they are suddenly red. This plant is overwintered, and I can see it surviving for years to come. I’m going to try the same thing with all the chillis and capsicums this year. This particular capsicum has been really happy since being potted up out of the garden bed. It has some reasonable sized capsicums on it and countless flowers. My other larger capsicum is on the retaining wall next to the roses in the picture two above. It has a similar number of fruit and many more flowers.

Further along the front bed is my next crop of dwarf beans. I’ve interplanted them with beetroot, which is a total experiment.

I really need to mulch here once the beetroot has emerged a bit more.

And further to the left my black cherry tomatoes have just started sprawling prostrate:

Plenty of fruit, I just hope they resist the fruit fly.

Also in there is my massive basil bush. I think there is a bucket of pesto in my future.

Skipping over the pathetic tomatoes, my apples are bagged against fruit fly and filling out quickly.

Then there’s the multitude of new flowers:

And the ones that are dying off, but looked like they have fruit set:

And the ones that definitely have fruit set, so I’ve bagged them already

Some fruit trees you struggle with, and others are just effortless. This tropical Anna apple just loves it in this location.

As does the dwarf black mulberry that is fruiting again next to the asparagus:

But still can’t fruit fast enough to satisfy this little boy

Over the other side of the front yard between the roses are my winter brassica seedlings:

But what photo tour would be complete without a quick trip round the back to the passionfruit?

Because we have fruit developing!

Probably too late for a decent crop this year, but confirms the hypothesis that the vine was just too young. Next year will be the year of passionfruit, I can see it now!

My nomination for housewife of the year

6 Mar

Today was one of those days. My pregnancy is advancing and I’m sleeping less soundly. I’m feeling more tired in the mornings than I was even as I went to bed the night before. Yet I’m trying to keep the kids’ routines going as well as managing the house and garden, working 2 days a week and a few other church commitments. I enjoy all of it, but it is getting harder.

Today I had J’s swimming lessons in the morning and an obstetrician appointment in the afternoon.

Should have been manageable, but it wasn’t.

I made it to both commitments (barely), but I must have looked like a bit of a mess to the obstetrician. As I was leaving, he actually said to me “I can organise with the hospital for you to have a few days break, you know”. Great. I thought I was at least appearing to hold myself together. I mumbled hastly that I’d be OK and slinked out of the consulting rooms before I burst into tears.

Then I got home and took a look around the house. This is what it looked like.

The kitchen hadn’t been touched since our dinner guests left last night. Yes, that is a piece of roast chicken still sitting on a meat tray. And many dirty dishes, and breakfast spreads still open on the bench, and a gas cylinder next to the stove (don’t ask!).

And if I turn around, I see:

The kids’ breakfast bowls still half full of weetbix remnants.

And the playroom, covered in toys with the kids glued to the tv, turning into square-eyes.

So I called P at work and warned him that I wasn’t coping very well and that the house was beyond disgraceful. He very graciously left work immediately, came straight home and cleaned up the house for me.

You see, I really have nothing to complain about. My husband is wonderful, my kids are actually very well behaved, I have wonderful family and friends, and most importantly a God who loves me.

But sometimes, you just get tired.

No Tuesday Night Vego from me this week. We did eat vegetarian, but I don’t think fusilli arrabbiata counts.

I promise to pull myself together to show you some exciting garden developments tomorrow.

Harvest Monday – 5th March 2012

5 Mar

I’ve been dreadful at taking photos this week, so unfortunately you are going to have to use your imagination a lot in this post. My harvest is also down a lot from last week. We have had a lot of rain and I haven’t been spending as much time outside as usual.

500g Dwarf Green Beans

Still going, and my star performer. The new crop is up and going strong, so surprisingly I may not have a gap between crops like I was expecting.

6 Carrots

These are looking a little woody now – it is probably 6 months since sowing, and a little long in the tooth. I have a few other carrot patches here and there, but I really should sow some more in full sun, where they really thrive.

700g Lebanese Eggplant

Another 700g this week! My friend Sarah took a good portion of these and the rest will become babaganoush for my sister in law’s baby shower.

2 Beetroot and a handful of parsley

Used in a seared tuna salad during the week.

500g tomatoes

Still feeding more to the chooks than we are eating ourselves, but I think we got about 500g of salvageable fruit.

300g Kipfler Potatoes

I emptied a potato growing bag today, and I got a disappointing crop of 300g (approx). I didn’t weigh it, so maybe it was slightly more. That bag was filled with purely potting mix with no enrichment at all, so I’ve learned my lesson – potatoes actually need a bit of nitrogen!

2 Lebanese Cucumbers

These have had a resurgence with all the rain. They have out on new growth and are looking really good now.

1/2 cup of Mint

I used this in a dairy-free dessert tonight. It was Choc-Mint pudding, and I steeped the mint in hot soy milk to infuse the flavour, then made the pudding according to this recipe. I used dairy-free chocolate and soy milk instead of regular chocolate and milk.

4 Eggs

I’ve come to the conclusion that I only have 1 laying hen because I haven’t had a single day with 2 eggs. Hopefully the rest of the girls will start before winter. The size of the eggs has been much smaller than the first week, but today’s egg was a whopper – 64 grams (2.26 ounces).

1 Fig

This was the last of my figs. Hopefully next year I will get enough to make something substantial, but this year we just ate them fresh.

For more great harvests from around the world, visit Daphne’s Dandelions

Cutting Parallel Lines

4 Mar

Frogdancer has inspired me with her Skinflint Sunday posts and her wealth of ideas on how to maximise the bang for her buck. In preparation for my upcoming maternity leave we have been trying to take a more disciplined approach to budgeting. That involves actually paying attention to the money we spend, setting a budget, and – here’s the bit I’m not so good at – not spending the money if it isn’t available.

The kids have been needing a haircut. Normally I would take them down to the shopping centre and pay Just Cuts $16 each for a trim.

Just by virtue of being at the shopping centre we would probably eat lunch in the food court, buy a few things that we otherwise wouldn’t have thought of and generally waste time in a large commercial building with artificial lighting instead of enjoying the outdoors.

So today I thought – no – it just can’t be that difficult. I watched a few youtube clips on how to cut children’s hair, then pulled out the hairdressing scissors.

And it actually wan’t hard. I don’t think I’ll be winning any hairdressing awards, but they looked less scruffy afterwards and I saved myself at least $32.

Now while I was cutting hair, P was mowing the lawn. I was actually using him as a distraction for Little D to keep him entertained while I was spraying and snipping. Our neighbour happened to be edging his front lawn at the same time, and when it came to edging ours he offered to lend us his petrol edger so P could try it out.

Up until now he’s been using an electric whipper-snipper style thing for the edging, and it goes through its rubber blades really quickly.

It obviously takes a bit of practice, but his conclusion was that eventually it would save a lot of time and yield a better result. A bit cruel of me to post this picture, isn’t it? This was his first attempt, just as he was lining it up for the first time.

I couldn’t help but see some parallels in our activities…

I think I might actually be a bogan

1 Mar

I must confess to enjoying a bit of anonymous bogan-bashing. There’s something about Kath & Kim and that amuses me.

Pointing out all the obvious ‘bogan tendencies’ like mis-spelling their baby names, watching Today Tonight or placing old furniture in the front yard – I know it’s mean, but it’s not picking on specific people, so no harm done right?

Tee hee hee – that anonymous person on an internet forum called their daughter Clowee!  Aren’t I so superior?

But then I had a little self-reflective moment. You know, the type that happens when the kids are asleep or you are in the toilet alone? Hasn’t actually happened for a while.

And I realised.

I like lots of stuff that bogans like.

It’s just that every time I think of one, I think to myself – I’m such a bogan, haha! and dismiss it.

But it’s happened a lot – I’m starting to compile a list.

I think I might actually be one.

I think that once again, I’m turning into the person I used to mock. And it actually ain’t half bad.  Ain’t – hee hee, I’m such a bogan.

So I think I’m going to start a series of posts called Bogan Stuff I Love because I have so much awesome stuff to share with you guys. It will be cathartic. And it’ll make everyone else feel better about themselves.

I’m going to kick it off today with:

Instant Coffee

Everyone with a shred of culture loves a good espresso. They can name their favourite cafe, discuss roasting techniques, revel in their single origin.

I like Moccona.

If I go to a cafe, I’ll order a latte, and most of the time I’ll actually enjoy it.

But I’d be equally as happy with instant.

All my friends are into Nespresso. I think it tastes pretty good, but at close to $1 a pop, I’ll take my Moccona thanks.

I know- I’m a heathen. There’s no comparing real coffee to Moccona!

That’s true, but I don’t care about ‘real coffee’. I like to drink Moccona.

Maybe they should stop calling it instant ‘coffee’. Then bogans like me won’t get a complex.

So, anyone else out there willing to own up to liking instant?