Thursday, 31 December 2009

Let's weave!

At the beginning of November we went to Nirvana to do a natural fibre weaving course. As there is a lot of natural weaving material to be found around our place, we were eager to learn which fibres we could use, and how to weave baskets, fences, etc.

It was great fun and we were fired up to gather our own materials and use them in some weaving magic.

We weren't able to finish our baskets on that day. That had been nagging at me, though. So, a few days ago I cut back our watsonia (great weaving material!) and dried the leaves.

A stinking hot day was forecast for today so I decided that would be a perfect day for staying inside and finishing our baskets.

Gather the dried watsonia leaves the day before you want to do some weaving, bung them in the bath tub, soak. I read that they were to be soaked for only 5 minutes, but I left them in longer (about 15 minutes). However, I could have left them in there a lot longer as they were still a bit too brittle for my taste the next morning. I kept spraying them with water and re-wrapping the leaves.

Anyway, after their bath, wrap them in a towel overnight.

The next morning, grab a comfy chair and the leaves wrapped in towels.

Get out your basket and start weaving.
Here we are! First one done! I love the different colours of the watsonia leaves.
Different view. (Can you tell that I am really proud of the finished product?)

The interesting thing about watsonia leaves is that when you cut the green leaves off, they will dry to a green colour. If you let them dry on the plant, they turn a magnificent mahogany-ish colour.

Then on to Flower Gnome's basket.

*phew* Done!
What an enjoyable afternoon! It is very satisfying to create something with your own hands from material gathered from your garden.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A quick walk...

...around the garden before the heat hits.

Let's start at the balcony. This succulent tray is looking very pretty indeed. All of the plants come from The Neighbour Gnomes.

The bean bed is starting to look good. 2/3 of the beans have germinated. They are "Stuttgart" beans.
They are in a pretty protected spot. So I'm hoping they won't get burnt by the sun during this heat.

For years we have been trying to grow poppies. Strangely enough, never successfully. Everybody around us was ripping them out like weeds as they were self-seeding madly. Finally, this year, we have a ripper of a poppy!

Isn't that just the most cheerful sight? I love sunflowers. However, come spring I run out of steam with my sowing and sunflowers are put on the backburner. This one is a volunteer - it popped up from the horse manure. I did manage to sow some in late spring but they are spindly little things. Soooo glad this popped up all by itself. :)

The hydrangeas are hanging in there and still looking good. But the heat is taking its toll. The flower heads are slowly getting burnt.
The water chestnuts are growing nicely. This is the first time I am growing them, so I have no idea what to expect. I'll just have to wait and see.

A glimpse of some of the netted apple trees. They are bearing a lot of fruit and we are hoping we'll be harvesting a good amount later in the season.

The basil bar is finally looking good. It was struggling a bit with the extreme weather we experienced in spring.

The zucchinis in the zucchini bed have grown heaps since I last posted a picture here. The plants are setting fruit and we are hoping to eat some in a week or two.
The carrot bed is lush and green. We are harvesting "Purple Dragon" carrots every day to munch on. The yellow flowering plant in the foreground is "Black Salsify" that I let go to seed.

The tomatoes "Rouge de Marmande" are starting to blush. A few more weeks and we should be eating big, juicy tomatoes. We are already harvesting the occasional little yellow Ida Gold tomatoes, but it's just not the same.

This brings us to the end of the walk. Tiger Lilly is flowering and looks stunning!

Hope you enjoyed the walk. Time to call it quits - it's getting very, very hot.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

First tomatoes!

We picked our first tomatoes yesterday! Wooohoooo!

The variety is Ida Gold.Taste? Absolutely delicious. Sun-drenched, sweet, juicy.
With a few leaves of Lettuce Leaf Basil.
Made up for the stinker of a day we had yesterday.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Flowering onions

The onions started flowering a while ago.
I am absolutely fascinated by the whole allium family, especially when they start flowering.The butterflies like them, too!

Monday, 21 December 2009

You know things are crazy...

...around here, when you have to brush-cut the grass and weeds growing in the cracks between the pavers.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Garlic revisited

This is the haul from the last bed of garlic. All "Purple Monaro". Very prolific, very tasty. Once it's dried, I'll tidy it up, count it and work out how much to set aside for planting, how much we need for cooking, and what's extras. Growing garlic is very rewarding. Love it. :)

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Do you like fresh, local produce?

Direct from the farmer or producer? In season?

Farmers who grow vegetables and fruit will get the price THEY set (and not the big supermarkets). The produce will go straight from the farm gate to a distribution centre, where it is put in your box. Then you pick it up and enjoy a variety of fresh produce. Have a look what's in Brisbane's Food Connect box this week.

Interested? Then have a look at the flyer below. Do you like this concept? Why not go to Adelaide's Food Connect website and read all about it. Maybe even subscribe to a box?

Be part of an exciting shopping experience! Get your fresh veggies & fruit locally grown, in season, direct from the farmer. :)

Click on the flyer to see a larger and clearer image.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Oh whey oh

The benefits of making cheese are manifold. Not only do you get tasty cheese, but also heaps of whey.

So, what do you do with whey?

Make sure you bake bread with it. Instead of water, use whey. It's amazing what a difference it makes. It rises more, it's fluffier, it browns up more, it's tasty, and you use up a bit of whey.
There are a lot more uses for whey, but they shall be revealed in another post. So, what do YOU do with whey?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A walk in the garden

It's been a very strange season. First we had the heatwave in November, then 5C nights a week or so ago. Then the last 2 days with temperatures above 35C.

Some plants have coped well with these extremes, and some haven't.

The okra patch is non-existent. Well, there is one. Can you spot it? But I can also see a big snail coming its way. Never mind, I'm only growing okra for its pretty flowers.
The tomatoes, however, are rocking 'n rolling. Rouge de Marmande is bearing fruit.The cucumbers suffered heaps. This bed has 4 plants left. The slaters attacked the plants, so did the snails. Then the extreme weather hit.
The zucchinis are still hanging in there. I have lost only a few plants, but the remaining ones are doing fine at the moment.
The melon bed. Nearly devoid of melons. Slaters, snails, extreme weather. The very good looking plant at the very end is an Austrian hull-less oil seed pumpkin. Grown for its seeds.
The capsicums are looking good. Chimayo has even set the first fruit.
This is the structure for the luffa. Can you see them? I can't either. I planted them just before the 5C nights hit. They don't like the cold. The one plant that still had one leaf that looked alive, was killed in the heat of the last 2 days. I shall plant climbing beans in there.
So that's the state of the garden. It's a mixed bag. Some plants are dead, or struggling, and some are thriving.

That's what happens when you work with nature. No point in getting upset or frustrated. You adapt, experiment, start again, learn and enjoy the good things.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

My love

...of Hollyhocks is pretty well documented here.

So, here finally a picture of a Black Hollyhock. This is the first year they are flowering. Aren't they just gorgeous!?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A blue sea...

...of hydrangeas.They are looking fantastic again this year.Flower Gnome thinks they might even be ready for picking at Christmas.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Marinated Feta

I had made a batch of feta cheese a few weeks ago and after it had matured a few days in the fridge I decided to marinate some of it.

So, out in the garden to get some fresh garlic, herbs and a lemon.
Layer the feta in a (very clean) jar, with the sprigs of thyme, rosemary & oregano, lemon peel and garlic slices. Add a bit of cracked black pepper.
Cover with olive oil.Put in fridge and forget about it for a week or two.

We tried some last night (after about 2 weeks in the fridge) and it was delicious! No, it was amazing! Definitely worth making again.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Boom chacka pop...

... in the middle of the night.

We were out of bed before we even had time to wake up properly. There was a bang, a tinkle and silence. Lights on and a cursory glance around showed that the house was still standing, the roof hadn't caved in, so it was safe to go back to bed.

Another blast early morning, another inspection, house still intact, back to bed. This time I kept wondering what this noise could have been. Until it dawned on me. The Elderflower Champagne! Of course, this must be it.

Yep. This is the box.Glass fragments everywhere. Plus the tops of 3 bottles. Cleanly blown off.
I put the rest of the bottles in the sink and slowly released the pressure. Fiizzzzzzzzz....

By the way, this was an earlier batch. I used this recipe.
This is not the batch I wrote about earlier. That batch is still fine, but I have put a thick towel on top of the boxes. Just in case.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Look at my...

...pretty hat!Russian garlic starting to flower.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Elderflower Champagne

2 1/2 weeks ago we followed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for elderflower champagne.

The brew looked liked this, as some of you may recall.

Well, today we decided it was 1 1/2 weeks after bottling (no bottles had exploded, so that was rather pleasing) and it was time we had a little taste.Gosh, it is nice! Very refreshing, tasty, fizzy, delicious. Dry with a very pleasant elderflower flavour. We made two batches, but may decide to make more next season. Cheers!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Happy Birthday, Mama Gnome!

May you have a wonderful day!
Enjoy yourself and let yourself get pampered.

We shall have a honey stout for you. Prost! :)