Sunday, 30 December 2007

Salad Days

It's hot and we are eating mostly salad.

Tonight's salad was Salad Nicoise. One of my favourites. Most of the ingredients came from our garden, except for the potatoes and beans which are from our neighbour's garden. The eggs are from Louise - our oldest chook who is semi-retired. She lays when she feels like it or when she remembers to do so.

Playing with corrugated iron sheets

While we are on the subject of the old wood shed.
I stacked the individual sheets along the fence for later use. One suggestion was to build raised beds. I have always wanted raised beds but shied away from the cost. Now, re-using these sheets would be perfect. But how to cut the sheets to size?
Do a search and you will be rewarded.

Tearing was the answer. I will take pictures of the individual steps as I found it really easy to tear the sheets and assemble this compost / raised bed. I also love our new toy - a cordless drill! Very handy.

Anyway, this is the prototype. More to follow. I'm on a roll, baby! (Once the heatwave is over, of course.)I might get fancy and use old irrigation pipes that are lying about here. Slit it open on one side and slide it over the edges of the bed. Whatchareckon? Worth a try. The edges are not really that sharp, but I like the idea of a nice finish.

I built the bed in between two old fence posts. They are no use at the moment, but I was thinking that maybe I could plant some climbing veggies or fruit in this bed. Then it would be easy to string wire between the two posts and the stardropper in the middle.

Just behind the bed you can see a big pile of weeds. These will be going into this bed (and the other yet-to-be-built beds) with layers of compost, kitchen scraps, horse manure, daggy sheep wool, straw, etc.

There's probably room for about 3 or 4 more of these beds in this area. Just think of all the veggies that we can grow in there!

Wood Tank

What do you do with an old rainwater tank?
Use it as a wood tank.

Remember the big pile of wood along the fence line when we dismantled the old wood shed? Our neighbours noticed that we were short of a wood shed and offered their old rainwater tank (Thank you J+W! Great idea!).

Mama Gnome stacked all the wood nicely into the tank a few days ago. The photo was taken when 2/3 of the wood pile were stacked in there. Everything fit in there. Brilliant!
Ps.: We do have a new shed which we will put up soon. Promise! Time has been a bit scarce in the last few months. And yes, we still have enough wood to fill up the new shed once it's up.

Ho Ho Hollyhocks!

You may have gathered by now that I really, really like Hollyhocks. Especially these ones. They are double hollyhocks. Might have to see whether there are other colours around for those double ones. They are easy to grow from seeds, perennial, and don't need any special care. We don't water them at all. Tuck them into a corner, preferably where wind doesn't blow too much (hard to find around here). They look good even when they are not flowering. There will be plenty of seeds later on, if anybody would like to grow these.

Aren't they gorgeous?!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Hot hot hot!

There is nothing much going on here at the moment. Early morning watering of vegetables and fruit trees. Good exercise with a watering can in each hand! Then closing up the house to keep the heat out. Late afternoon / evening opening of curtains and doors to get some of the breeze, if there is any. A walk around the garden to check if everything is still alive.

We have already had a few days over 30 C and this is the forecast for the next few days:
Saturday  Dry. Sunny.         Max 38
Sunday Dry and sunny. Max 39
Monday Dry. Sunny. Min 23 Max 41
Tuesday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 21 Max 32
Wednesday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 19 Max 33
Thursday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 20 Max 36
Friday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 23 Max 39
Saturday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 21 Max 34
(Taken from the BOM website)

Thursday, 27 December 2007


A generous fellow gardener shared his surplus of turmeric with us a while ago. I froze quite a bit, planted some in pots earlier on and left these pieces out to let them sprout.

The ones in the pots haven't done anything yet. But these are looking very good.
Time to put them in a big pot.
Cover with mulch and hope they'll grow nicely and supply us with more fresh turmeric.
We use quite a bit in our cooking, especially in winter when we enjoy our curries most.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

What did Charlie get for Christmas?

Socks! Just in case it gets cold this winter.

The coolest sheep in the Hills!

Charlie showing off his socks:

Monday, 24 December 2007

Shovel, shovel, heeeaaave! - Tank, the 2340th

Everything was in place yesterday. The dolomite had been delivered. The earth-ring was positioned in the excavated spot. Time to do some shovelling. And more shovelling. Until the earth-ring was filled. Then levelled. Then compacted. Then levelled....

Then some more measuring. Cut the malthoid and position it on top of the dolomite.

Now for the more 'interesting' part. Roll the tank over, position it in a spot where it would be easiest and safest to heave onto the earth-ring. Think and double-think whether you are comfortable with the setup. Feeling confident? Can 3 gnomes handle the tank? Shall we ask for an extra pair of hands (a big thank you to everyone who had offered to help)?

We are confident. All hands on deck!


Position until it's snug on the base.

Drive in star droppers and tie down the tank. No chance to run away now. Aaaaahhhh! We did it!

Friday, 21 December 2007


Finally! The rain clouds found our place and provided us with gentle but steady rain through most of the day. What a wonderful treat!

A few pictures from my walk around the garden after the rain.

The King Protea

Grasshopper resting

Yellow Alstromeira

The hydrangeas are looking absolutely gorgeous!

The grapes are coming on, too.

This is a stunning double hollyhock!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Have a very Merry Christmas

...and a Happy New Year!

May it bring you joy, love, laughter, health, friendship and all the good things in life.

Mama Gnome has been busy baking traditional Christmas biscuits to sweeten our holidays. (Fatten us up - more likely!)
This is an arrangement to have with our 3 o'clock cappuccino. Enjoy!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

My favourite jam ... apricot jam.

Therefore I just couldn't resist when I saw a box of apricots for 12 dollars at the fruit & veg shop yesterday. Imagine! 10 kilos for 12 dollars. I'd have been mad not to buy that. Especially as our apricot tree refuses to bear fruit. It flowers, it sets fruit, it drops them shortly afterwards. Not impressed.

Anyway, it was a perfect afternoon for staying indoors and making jam. (Did I mention that we had received 5mm of rain and it was still drizzly and cloudy? The first rain in one whole month! Joy, joy, joy!)

This is the box after I had made jam and preserved 6 jars of apricots. 5 kilos left for eating. The fruit looks very ripe and squishy but is still pretty firm (but sweet) and will keep a while.
This will brighten a dreary day - just open the pantry door and you'll see sunshine in jars.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


This is the first year our loquat tree is bearing fruit. They look great! Not sure when to pick them? I guess with the extreme heat they'll be ripening up in no time now.
Slight problem - some of these clusters are very, very high up.

The first ripe tomato

....heavily guarded!

The variety's name: Polar Baby. The rest of the fruit on this plant is bigger but still green.

I have seen some two-legged mice eyeing this fruit - hence the guard. Little do they know that this fruit is ear-marked for seed saving. Oh, the disappointment! ;)

Jamming and Preserving

This is the outcome of a busy but extremely productive and rewarding morning.

Bottled another 8 jars of cherries (did a batch of 8 yesterday). This batch (the jars in the back with the clips still attached, as they are fresh out of the preserving unit) has some cherry brandy in the sugar syrup. No idea what that will taste like - but I'm confident it won't be too revolting. ;)

3 jars of raspberry jam. 5 jars of mixed berry jam (youngberries, boysenberries, red currants, strawberries).

Summer pudding is on hold - we have to pick a new lot of berries. And then get the decadent and luscious King Island Cream. Yuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm......

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

As requested by Cousin Gnome in Austria

G'day cousin gnome in Austria. As requested here is a pic of the wine rack. It is not always this full, but we recently stocked up because as you know Mama gnome is here. I am sure we will have to restock again soon ;)

Today's Berry Haul

Youngberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries and Strawberries.

Oh...and we also popped down the road to a local orchard and picked 8.5 kgs of cherries, just in case we ran out of our own fruit ;)

Monday, 10 December 2007

Red Currant Custard Tarts

Another bucket full of red currants landed on my kitchen bench today. 4 kilos!

Used 1 kilo to make red currant vinegar. Let's see how that turns out.
As afternoon snack I made red currant custard tarts. Yum! There aren't many left.
I used puff pastry which I pre-baked in muffin tins. Then filled the tarts with fresh red currants and a little custard on top. Bake another 10 minutes. Let cool. Dust with icing sugar. Hide some for later.

Friday, 7 December 2007


Yesterday was a stinker of a day. 37C in town and 35C up here. We were happy that no fire had broken out near us and looking forward to the change. Little did we know!
We were on the road when the change arrived in full force late afternoon. Fierce wind gusts tore off tree branches and flung them on to the road. A tree was down on the way home and we had to clear one side of the street to be able to get through. Closer to home the car's windscreen was hit by a tree branch, but luckily (or rather surprisingly) it didn't crack. On the radio one disaster after another was reported. Lightening strikes starting fires, winds causing dust storms, fires raging. We heaved a sigh of relief when we were finally home.

The first sign that the wind gusts had been / were fierce was when we noticed that one of the new water tanks had flipped over. We checked that the other one was firmly anchored and hoped for the best.

The wind was still raging when we went to bed. But no rain!

At 3am we were rudely awoken by a terrible noise. Our first thought was, "The tank!"
Out we rushed with our torches. The tank had gone walkabout. Or should we say, it had taken some flying lessons?
It had landed smack in the middle of the dahlia patch. Thankfully, its journey was stopped by the pergola. Otherwise it could have done quite some damage. There was not much we could do at that time of the night. Sleep came reluctantly after that.

This morning we were greeted by this sight.

This is just outside Mama Gnome's bedroom window. It's lucky the pergola stopped the tank. I don't want to imagine what could have happened without it.

Don't be deceived by the black sky in the back ground - still no rain!

Assessing the damage to the dahlias.

The bottom of the tank. I'm not optimistic.

But we still consider ourselves lucky. None of us was hurt, there was no other serious damage. A tank can be replaced. (Oh and the flower gnome might have to go dahlia tuber shopping.)

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Kangaroo Apple

This is a medium-sized bush/shrub. Drought and frost tolerant. Very interesting lush leaves. The flowers are a pretty blue and the fruit 2-3cm long. It will ripen to a yellow-orange. Apparently not to be consumed until fully ripe.

This is a plant in the pot. It has already fruit on it.

This plant is the same age as the one in the pot. (I started both from seeds.) It really started to grow as soon as I planted it in the orchard extension this spring.
The pretty blue flowers

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Red Currants Galore!

...and that's only the beginning!

We picked the first lot today.
The first bush (the smallest) is nearly empty, the kitchen bench is full. We will freeze this lot.

They are absolutely fantastic in winter! Muffins, tarts, frozen berry yoghurt, muesli, yoghurt, etc.....

This lot gave us 2.6 kilos of frozen berries!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Tanks #2

The earthworks are done. The 2 sites for the tanks and the new wood shed are prepared.
The next step will be to set up the earthrings and fill them with dolomite.

One tank will be beside the big shed.

The other one beside the wood shed that will be put up once the tank is in place.
The chooks love their new dust bathing area.

A blue wall...

...of Hydrangeas.

They look stunning at the moment