Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The tanks have arrived!

2 rainwater tanks. Each with a capacity of 13.500 litres, 3m diameter, 1.87m high.

So, now we have to set up the earth rings, fill them with dolomite and lift the tanks on to their bases. Glad we are not running out of jobs to do!

A little feast

Take a dusty bottle
(it has been cellaring for 10 years)

Remove sheep

Throw in a nice serving of Steak Teriyaki with Mashed Sweet Potato and Stir-Fried Snow Peas and Carrots

Finish off with Pannacotta and Assortment of Berries (frozen blackberries and red currants from last season)Happy Birthday Flower Gnome!
(Okay, I'm a bit late posting this, but better late than never!)

Saturday, 27 October 2007

First Tomato Flowers

Flowering Polar BabyMost of the tomatoes planted into my cold frame have started to flower.
Woohooo.... Will we get tomatoes before Christmas?

Artichokes galore!

The artichoke patch is looking great. Fantastic silvery foliage and plenty of artichokes.Great harvest! There are still plenty left on the plants.
3 little jars later. It always amazes me how little is left once you prepare the artichokes.
Boiled and preserved in a vinegar/spice mixture. Yum. Can't wait to taste them.

Ps.: Some of you may have noticed the writing on the lids. These are jars and lids of previously bought preserved artichoke hearts. So do not think I try to pass off bought ones as home-made ones. Just thought I'd add this. ;)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

African Pumpkin Stew in Bread Bowls

I had seen these bread soup bowls in Richard Bertinet's "Dough" book and was eager to try them. So, in addition to a medium-sized loaf of bread for lunch, I made these bowls.Then I was eager to try the African Pumpkin Stew recipe provided by a good friend. You know who you are. ;)
(This only started because I was curious to learn which pumpkin is generally used in stews mentioned in the "No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series.)
So why not combine the two? Pumpkin stew served in bread bowls.
Well, it was very nice, but I think I'd have preferred rice with the stew. And fill the bowls with a 'runnier' stew or thick soup. This stew recipe is great* - it's tasty with a hint of heat. (Use chilli powder as desired, of course.)

*Especially as we really had enough pumpkin soup for this season, thank you very much!

Flowers & Berries

The First Iris's are out

The first Hydrangea is out, it is very early and pink. Normally 99% are blue and not out until December.

This is about one third of the hydrangeas - this will be a sea of blue by Christmas

The Rohododendron is going very nicely this year



Boysenberries & Youngberries on the right
and Raspberries on the left

First Strawberries - hope the birds
dont get them.

Cut Leaf Mint Bush

A compact shrub that likes shade to part shade. Grows to about 1.5m in height and width. Very aromatic* foliage. Flowers profusely in Spring.

*Understatement of the year. When the plant was delivered to the post office, the driver of the van staggered into the shop and complained about the smell and that he had developed a headache. Then the postmaster rang us to tell us a plant had arrived for us.
5 Minutes later we arrived at the post office to pick it up. By that time they had already taken the box outside as the smell was overpowering.
It's great in the garden, though. In a half-forgotten corner, where the 'fragrance' is not too overwhelming.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Teenage Ducklings

Remember the big duck family a while ago? The parents have been doing a marvellous job keeping the ducklings safe. There don't seem to be any losses and the ducklings are growing into fine young ducks.

Here they are - enjoying a show:

Sunday, 14 October 2007

The nursery

is filling up.All boxes and crates from the balcony are now in the nursery. It's the sunniest spot and everything will be covered at night with either windows or plastic.

Row of grapes

At last this garden bed is completed! The borders are in, the gaps are filled with horse & chook poop, compost and heavily mulched with pea straw. All that is left to do is to string some wire between the posts so we can train the grapes.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Spiced Citrus Prawns

with Herbs and Pasta.

A very satisfying, quick meal. Herbs, curry paste, onion & garlic, lemon zest and juice, pasta. Don't forget the home-made bread for mopping.
The recipe is from an Ainsley Harriott cookbook. Pity, it's a library book. If there are more delicious recipes in that book we'll have to add it to our cookbook library.Oh, and it's a PROPER picture again! :)

How exciting!

There is an almond on the tree!
There aren't many, but if we can hide (protect) them from the birds, we may be able to taste a home-grown almond this year.

Woolly rocks

'Tis the season to be lazy...trallallalalalaaaahhhh....
Why move?! There's grass everywhere. Let's just graze around ourselves without getting up.

Planting tomatoes!

I have just planted the first tomatoes. They are the early and cold tolerant ones. Polar Baby and Subarctic Plenty. The Polar Baby is developing flower buds!They went into my raised compost bed that I covered with windows. Just to warm up the soil and to protect the seedlings from cold nights.
The soil is incredibly healthy in there. As can be expected from all the goodies we have thrown in there in the last year.

During the day the windows will come off, if it's very sunny. On a cloudy day I will just prop them open a little bit.
A close up of the seedlings in their new home.The bulk of the other tomatoes will be planted at the end of this month. We can still expect frosts and I don't want to risk losing any.

There is still room at the right hand side of this compost bed. I might plant out some cucumbers and protect them from the cold in there.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Weed, feed, mulch - cont.

The rest of the orchard is now finished. All fruit trees (except for the 2 almond trees) are fed, mulched and watered. They received a good layer of compost, a sprinkling of complete fertiliser, a thick layer of pea straw as mulch and a big guzzle of water (a full watering can each).

Teenagers' Retreat

Time to toughen up the little ones. This is a very sunny spot during the day, so they can bask in the sun and enjoy the view. At night they get covered with these windows. May they turn into strong and healthy tomato plants!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Baked Pumpkin Risotto

After a whole day of working outside - more weeding, feeding and mulching, etc. - the last thing you want to do is to cook something elaborate.

Baked risotto is always great for these occasions. Chop leek and celery (which you harvested earlier on in the vegie garden) and sweat in a little oil. Put aroborio rice in a oven-proof dish, add vegetable stock (which is always handy to have in the freezer), cubed pumpkins and the leeks. Stir. Cover with alu foil and put in oven. 30-35 minutes later, add peas if you like, cover and put back for another 10 minutes. Add parmesan, salt & pepper and herbs of your choice, stir, put on table. Enjoy!
Feta cheese would be nice crumbled on top, but we didn't have any. It was still very nice.While I was taking a picture of the dish (we had to wait a little before starting on it as it had to cool down a bit first) the Flower Gnome insisted I take a PROPER picture of the dish. Please find below the PROPER picture:
Much better!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Veal Saltimbocca

... with Semolina Gnocchi and Steamed Asparagus (fresh from the garden).
How's that for a meat hit?!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Spot the plums!

Another plum glut this year?

Apricots this year?

So far it is looking really good. The fruit has set.

Flowering Apples

The apple trees look absolutely stunning at the moment. What a treat to see them flowering like this.
You can see the neat orchard extension in the background. The apple orchard will have to receive the same treatment soon.

Brushcut, weed, feed and mulch

That seems to be the theme of the month.

Today it was the orchard extension's turn to receive the above treatment. The grass had already taken over and it was high time to crank up the trusty brushcutter. The trees only needed to be fed and mulched as the weeds hadn't taken hold around their base yet.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Down with the shed!

The extension to the left of the shed is already gone.

Next step - the roof.

Ladders are very important in Gnomesville!
Nearly all walls are gone.

Only the frame is left. (You can see the chooks inspecting the gnome's handiwork.)

All that is left of the shed: a pile of corrugated iron.

Most important tools: muscles, old wood splitter, hammer, muscles, ladder...