Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Positional problems

One of my goals in the garden this season is to grow a lot more of my veg from seed. So far, I've only done this with beans, lettuce and sometimes tomatoes.

So I planted my first lot of seeds - zucchini, watermelon (courtesy of Tracy) and various lettuces - into a seed tray about ten days ago.

First of all germination has been patchy. Out of six seeds, only one zucchini has germinated. Ditto watermelon. Lettuces about 50-50. Then the other day we had a very warm day (its been very cold, then very warm, then very cold again), and it fried some of the lettuces

I think the main problem is where to position the tray. Its under our verandah, which gets a bit of morning sun. Last Friday it would have been in direct sun (I was at work) for a few hours. With this cold weather, it's not getting sun, but it is well, cold!

Placing the seed tray is a bit of head scratcher - somewhere with even temperatures, close enough to the house for me to remember to tend it, out of the ways of chooks, dogs and bower birds.

Hmmm. Maybe direct sowing would be easier? Maybe I should just be patient and wait for it to warm up a bit? Any thoughts out there?

Meanwhile, flowering this week is the banksia rose all along our boundary fence, an example above. It's really magnificent, but unfortunately not in a position to be readily appreciated!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Little by little

Dash and half a bucket of bindies

Over the last month or two, Action Man and I have been busy in the garden, not just the vegie patch but the rest of the garden too. We've pruned and pruned our shrubs - long overdue. We've pulled out one of the beds and replanted. Most amazingly, I have been paying attention to the lawn around the house.Little by little I've been pulling out the bindies. I've killed off the weeds with a mixture of river sand and sulphate of ammonia.I've spent a few hours criss crossing the lawn with the garden fork to aerate the lawn. And today, it is looking like rain so I'll be out flinging blood and bone to encourage some growth. I'm even thinking that it could use a bit of top dressing.
This patch of lawn gets a lot of use, but precious little of my time, so I hope it appreciates the sudden burst of love!

Meanwhile in the orchard, I've stunned myself by getting on with putting the exclusion bags for fruit fly on the stone fruit exactly on time - when the petals drop. Little by little, I'm getting around to all the trees.

Fruit set this year has been impressive - too impressive. I'm doing the counter-intuitive things and knocking off some of the fruit, in order to encourage few, bigger fruits. Also, fewer fruit make it easier to fit the exclusion bags. With a little luck, I will have foiled the ***!!$$ fruit fly this year.

Let's hope so!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carrot salad

OK, so I don't blame you if you're thinking "Gee, Paola can't be up to much if she is offering up posts on bowls of grated carrot".
Fair enough. It is a bowl of grated carrot, festooned with poorly chopped parsley (must have been in a hurry that day), and a couple of pine nuts. But I post this recipe simply because this simple salad has got me out of "I don't know what vegetable to serve this with" moments, and "I have hardly anything in the fridge or garden to prepare" moments and "I have no energy to think. let alone cook"moments. A faithful recipe that has never let me down. Plus, it never fails to enliven any plate it graces. Enjoy.

Carrot salad

4 (or so) carrots, grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (I just squeeze half a lemon)
1 crushed garlic clove
Sea Salt and pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons parsely or mint, chopped

Carrots in bowl. Oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt and pepper in jar - shake it up! Toast the pine nuts and add to carrot. When ready to serve drizzle the dressing give it a good stir and strew with chopped parsley.

I could eats plateloads of this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It's as perfect a day as you could wish for out there - sunny, gentle breeze. The garden is looking it's absolute best - a feast for the eyes, ears (with bees buzzing busily) and nose. This port wine magnolia is a case in point. It is a fairly modest looking flower but the smell of lollies out there is intoxicating!

The wisteria is suddenly in flower, which heralds the beginning of spending the next few months keeping it on its trellis and not taking over the garden.

The maybush looks magnificent. It's a pretty dowdy looking plant for most of the year, but in these few weeks it definitely pays it keep.

I like this weigela with its two tone leaves. Unfortunately it's in an out-of-the-way part of the garden. Need to strike some cuttings and address this.

The last of the stone fruit - this one a white peach to flower. Which makes me think of fruit fly, my nemesis. Off now to order some exclusion bags - I will eat stone fruit this year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More lambs

Well, the sheep population of this place has increased by 66% over the last few weeks with the birth of three more lambs.
This picture was taken a few minutes after this little girl was born. For the first time, I happened to be present at the birth, although I didn't realise the sheep was in labour until just before this lamb appeared. I'd just arrived home on Sunday two weeks ago, and went out the back to talk to Action Man who was pruning buddleia. We were talking about this and that, when AM pointed out Ruth - "I think she's in labour". She was doing some unsheeplike things - pacing up and down, lying down and getting up, and acting in a distracted manner. A minute or so of this then I said "Are those feet I can see?" (we were probably 20 metres away). As AM said "I think they are!", plop! out came the lamb. Amazing. I raced up to the house for the camera, and here she is still covered in birth mucus.

A week later, these two girls arrived to Susy. They are a few hours old here - you can still see the umbilical chords. We thought (hoped) Susy was carrying twins, she was so big, and sure enough here they are.

Meanwhile, our male lamb from my post a few weeks ago is a bit of a boombah.

The best part - all arehealthy and thriving. Last year we lost two lambs, but this year it looks like they will all last the distance.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chorizo pilaf

Saturday night, 7pm. We arrive home from a swimming carnival. We are starving. Lack of forethought means nothing is in fridge. Had pasta for lunch - won't do that again. Eggs needed for Father's Day breakfast. Too much to do - three loads of washing to sort, dog to walk. Tired. All the omens point to a rare take away pizza.

Ring pizza shop to place order. One hour's wait for a pizza! Forget it!

Fortunately, I remembered I had three chorizo sausages in the freezer. Five minutes in the microwave to defrost. Half an hour later we were eating this chorizo pilaf.

Chorizo Pilaf

Put the oven on to 180 degrees.

2 red onions

2 carrots

2/3 chorizo sausages

Slice these up and soften in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes or so over medium heat in an ovenproof casserole dish.

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

Add these and soften for a minute or so.

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

Add this and stir so the rice is covered with oil.

3 cups boiling stock or water)

1/2 cup frozen peas

Add these. Bring to boil (this shouldn't take long). Cover with lid and put in oven for 30 minutes or so.

Crisis averted.