Monday, 31 August 2009

Look I am sorry but it is NOT Spring tomorrow!

Had a weekend working, and so was away from home overnight.  Staying north of the city of Hobart. These views of Mt Wellington were taken on my way to work at just after 6am yesterday.  Not a lot of snow it seems, but it is quite deceptive as Mt Wellington is tree lined almost to the very top of its 1271 metres.
The beauty about Hobart as a small capital city,( population is only  209,300approx.), is that you are never far from nature.  Hobart is on an amazing Harbour, and Mt Wellington is its majestic back drop. 

 This picture is of the dolerite cliffs that are very noticeable on Mt Wellington. (A lovely walk is possible to view them up close to really get a feeling of their majesty.

This picture is as I get closer to where I was working.  I am almost at the foot hills of the mountain. 

It is incredibly windy down here in the beautiful Huon Valley.  Trouble is I can not see much of it.  The weather is horrendous, and bleak.  
We have had all weather today, hail, sleet, rain making it best to be inside with the raging fire, stew cooking and damper baking (as I am right now).  
My mind is full of gardening, the need to get out and have some really good days, digging and planting, transplanting, protecting and mulching, feeding enriching and enjoying sunshine in the garden.  So sitting here with tea and honey, soothing and warming with a lovely chicken stew/pie..
(as I have put a mashed potato top on it) I feel it makes it more a pie, cooking in the oven.  Damper or herbie scones will accompany it. Red wine and the lovely heat giving fire, knitting my DH jumper and maybe watching a dvd.  Arrrgh are you sure it is really Spring tomorrow?  
I read mainlanders blogs and feel a real sense of living close to Antartic today.  I am more empathetic with the northern hemishpere bloggers today.  
One thing though I am sure that in a couple of weeks the sun will shine and it wont take long for our garden to be growing and we will be reaping some wonderful home grown vegies.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Wind, water, washing and wallaby

This morning I was greeted by this site as I came out our front door.  Morning sunlight amongst the trees.  
 Quite beautiful. 
I decided that since it was going to be windy, with sunshine that it would be lovely to have the clothes dry out on the line instead of over the stair rails in side.  Which is how the drying has been happening for almost the last two months.  To show how much rain we have had over the last two months you can see the new water feature that has been added to our garden.  Not something we planned and it does make for interesting times when hanging out the washing. Very muddy and slippery.  Fortunately I did not add to my washing by slipping or muddying my clothes!

What I did not notice until it hopped away was a lovely Bellamy's wallaby that must have been coming down to drink at the new water feature, if you look at the picture below you can see it in the lower third of the photo.  I just caught him with the camera.  I must say it was lovely to have company as I hung the washing out.
Today is a day for catching up, finishing of the marmalade, generally tidying up, preparing for work and a night away from home.  I am also going to slow cook a roast chook today, for our dinner tonight.  
I made a cake last week apple and walnut (though I used pecans) and it looked lovely but oh it was lacking something.  It was heavy and well it has been fed to the worms in the worm farm, now that is unusual here.
So perhaps I will bake a butter cake/maderia cake.
My seedlings are doing well I have peas up, cabbage, and sunflower, sprouting quite well.  It must be the worm castings and potting mix I planted them in.  Now I am hoping that in several weeks I will be putting lovely healthy seedlings into my vegie beds.
I noted that the rocket has gone to seed, so that will mean some seeds for next season and maybe some will self seed, if I miss them. 
All in all a day a full of varied and different things, my darling man is cleaning out the gutters, in preparation for the next rain, they filled with wattle flowers, and gum leaves, and the other day they began to overflow in the extra heavy rain we were having.  Again there is snow on the Hartz mountains in the distance.  So still winter time in the south of Tasmania. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

My hope chest

Sorry but I have not quite had enough of the wattles.
Ooops sorry to anyone who thinks I am about to declare secrets and lots of positive
My hope chest are the seeds I have planted into pots.  Seeds for tomatoes, beans, peas, pumpkins, melons, capsicum, chili, zucchini, aubergine.  I hope that they will provide some fruit and vegetables for our table over summer.   

I know, I may be getting started too early, but the sap is rising inside me.  My fingers and thumbs are itching to be out there in the garden.  Getting the beds together for these new seedlings.  I am not able to get out and do the preparation work in the beds, putting in lime, and manure blood and bone, compost and manure.  It would all be just washed into the paddock at present.  
So this is the best I can come up with for my itching green thumbs.
I have been reading other peoples comments and blogs about what they are growing, and getting from their gardens.  I love reading about the northern hemisphere as it encourages me and gives me ideas as to what to grow for our spring/summer season.   Gardening is really I think 20% planning 5% dreaming, 50% physical work, 25%   
I am looking forward to the time I can get into the garden and clear the silverbeet out, saving seeds for where I will move it too.  Working that bed to ready it for the tomatoes, though I am also going to grow tomatoes on the deck down stairs and this year I am going to give growing some things that really like the sun on the top deck to see how they go.  Though I will have to work out protection from possums and birds up there as we dont use it a lot.  
The following pictures were taken the other day when it was lovely sunshine, pardon my getting carried away with sharing them.  It is just so long since we had sunshine!  I love the way the sunlight was coming through the garden. 
Sugar snap peas and their are flowers on it. 
A part of the flower garden, geranium, lovely ground cover and a yellow daisy bush.

Sunlight on our happy wander that goes along in front of the house and deck.  Call it winter a wonderland plant!
Daisy, daisy give me your answer do..                                  
I'm half crazy all for the likes of you.

Well the vegetable garden is producing something

Garlic is doing well thankfully it growing on a raised bed.
The sugar snaps are doing well now, they even have some
Mixture of daffodils oh if only they had lifted their pretty heads a bit more.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

I Love my garden!

I have been working a little more this week, so not much has been happening in the garden. Though the weather is improving and whilst we are not getting the very hot weather that the mainland is we have been having very mild nights (no fire) and days, this has bought on many of the flowers. I have noticed that one of my fruit trees has blossoms of a beautiful red opening up on it. The rest are a bit behind, but I am living in hope that I will get some fruit of them. I have left it too late to transplant the ones that I had intended, but it has been to wet. I was out in the vegie garden deciding what to take out and where to plant things for the spring and summer. I happened on a huge bumble bee pollinating the broad bean flowers.
Bumble bee working pollinating broad beans.
I also noticed a smaller possibly native bee pollinating the broad beans as well. So I am now hopeful that we will have broad beans in the not so distant future.
This may be a much smaller native bee pollinating more broad beans.
. Looking at my brassicas, and well they have been a little bit of a disaster this year. I am sure that I planted them too late. So will be planting them much earlier this year. You can see that my cauliflowers are not forming great big heads, but this one is much more closed. For two of us it will still give us a couple of meals. Not a sucessful year for broccoli either Thankfully between the winter salad bed and the tri colour silverbeet we have had a choice of greens from the winter garden. I had been working last Sunday week for a brief time in the garden, until it rained again. I was hoping to weed all the berry bed and finally cut down my still green raspberry canes. I started to weed around the fence line and the currant bushes to no avail as the water just ran into the areas I took the weeds from and the lovely soil was still caked onto the roots of the weeds. So weeding roots has to stop. I will do some trimming of the leaves and my raspberries this week.
Water surrounds the currant bush.
I was walking about the garden today and was again amazed at how sweet the wattles perfume is. We have quite a few wattle trees/bushes on our land. I love the variation to their flowers, leaves, and colours. They bring many native animals and birds into the garden, to eat the seeds when they fall. They are incredible plants. I am researching which are the wattle seeds you can eat. I have my fingers crossed we may have this variety. The aborigines made a flour from wattle seed (Acacia), and in the southern regions of Australia there are 47 types of wattles which produce seeds for human consumption. (from Edible Wattle Seeds of Southern Australia). Edible Wattle Seeds of Southern Australia is a joint project of the Department of Conservation and Land Management in Western Australia and CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products. Whilst this book is talking about cultivating these Acacias as crops, I like the idea of having something that grows easily at our place that puts nitrogen back into the soil. You can burn the wood, and get the added benefit of the glorious flowers. Now I may be able to utilise the seeds in flour, as flavouring and apparently you can also use it as a coffee substitute. I would imagine roast the seeds and grind them. Hmmm maybe I will try that in a few years, sorry but I love my coffee! I may trim off a branch or two and bring them inside. The other plants in my garden are flowering and it seems to me the rosemary is quite early this year, and the daisy's big bold flowers in front add textural contrast. The golden diosma flowering, in front of the purple Happy Wander which flowers quite early in winter and continues flowering into mid spring.. the garden today was humming with bees.
Daisies in front of flowering blue Rosemary
Golden diosma in front of happy wander
One of many varieties of narcissus we have growing
My poor old comfrey is suffering however. I am thinking I will dig it up and place it in compost, keeping just some of the healthier looking plants. Too much rain and infested with bugs.
It really is a fantastic autumn/spring this year, even with the weeds and inability to spend much time in the garden.

Monday, 17 August 2009

It is begining to look a lot like Spring at our place

We took an impulsive trip, in the glorious weather last Saturdayweek, temps of 20degrees Celsius to head the 140km return trip to Hobart. We had been wanting to go to Salamanca Markets for some time. This was a perfect day. It was too! Warm sunshine, and fantastic. Southern american music, jugglers, artisans, craftsman,photographers, cooks, cheesemakers and food smells abounding. It is sad though to see the cheap, imported manufactured goods appearing on so many stalls. It is really taking away the wonderful uniqueness of this Tasmanian institution. It is still worth a enjoyable leisurely stroll, and trying the great foods, and drinks that are being produced. We certainly enjoyed it.
First time pasta making! I have also been cooking home made ravioli, after following a tutorial on the Down to earth blog, I really enjoy this blog. It was such a enjoyable thing to make, and even though I have not got a pastry roller, and rolled the pastry by hand, it was not too bad for a first effort. Spinach and ricotta cheese in a tomato sauce yummo! They took a bit longer to cook than I allowed for, as I had made the pasta a bit too thick. I know next time to roll it even thinner. I am going to try my hand at spaghetti next time. Still too wet to get into the garden, and it began to rain again on Sunday so it was a good thing we went out yesterday.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Dr Feelgoods Chocolate Cake, just the thing for a rainy day

So it is raining, non stop today. Too wet even to take the dog for much of a game, every time he is out side we have to wipe his paws and give him a towel down. He seems to be happy sitting out the front on the door stoop watching the rain and the world go bye. This photo shows the view or should I say lack of view from our deck. This is how it has been for the last couple of days. If I sit still too long I think I am going to go moldy! Today I have been planning meals for DH while I am away, so right now in the oven is a lovely simple lamb slow cook casserole, otherwise known simply as Lamb Stew. Lamb Stew, simple 4 lamb chops, 2 cloves garlic, 2 onions, 3tblspns Worcester sauce, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, (peas I will add in a little while, and some flour to thicken it if it needs it) I have lovely heavy duty enamel casserole dish, so I can do the whole process in one pot. Gently fry garlic and onions, add chops and brown, chop vegies, adding what ever you like, add a couple of cups of water, and Worcester sauce, S & P put lid on and put in oven to cook slowly, or in your slow cooker.. Serve with crusty fresh bread or damper. (which is not going to be happening here this time) Also in the oven is Dr Feelgoods Chocolate Cake recipe, from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. One of the best simplest recipes ever,made completely in one bowl you only need a 4 cup measure, a teaspoon and tablespoon and no dairy or eggs, so is great for any vegans out there. Okay Makes 2 9 inch cake rounds or one 9 x 13 inch cake grease your cake tins, well She uses 2 tblspns of sugar (I use raw), and 2tblspns of cocoa powder(I have a great very dark cocoa powder that I buy in bulk) but normal would be okay though I have never used it. She uses this to shake all over the greased baking tins, which gives the cake/s a lovely crust that is sweetish, saves icing it. I dont always do this usually I ice it. this photo shows the uniced version, too hot to ice. So Cake ingredients, 2 cups sugar 2/3 cup cocoa powder not sweetened 3 cups wholemeal flour plain 2 tspns baking powder (soda) not bicarb soda 1 tspn salt 2 cups of water 1/2 cup vegetable oils, 2tblspns cider vinegar, white vinegar(which is what I usually use) or freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tblspn pure vanilla extract. (I am using my home made vanilla essence shop bought would be okay too) Preheat oven to 350f Spray or oil generously your cake tins. I use pyrex glass baking dishes as the ones I have, come with lids, so I can store the cake in the same dish it is cooked in. Do the dusting thing as explained above. Coating the dishes well. Easy to make this cake by hand as it is a very quick simple mix with a spoon. Begins quite sloppy but thickens as wholemeal flour absorbs liquid Put flour and sugar in large mixing bowl add cocoa, baking powder, and salt and mix with a spoon, In your four cup measure (or if you are like me only have a 2 cup, I pour 1 cup of water into dry mix and then mix all the liquids together in the jug). Put the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla essence mix vigorously for a couple of minutes. (I often just pour it all together and mix in the bowl with dry goods making sure it is really mixed well) Once mixed pour into the dry ingredients and mix until all dry stuff is mixed in. Pour mix into cake tins, bang on bench a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. Place in preheated oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides of the tin and the cake tests clean with a toothpick (you stick a toothpick or thin bamboo skewer into the centre of the cake, if the pick/stick comes out clean cake is cooked, if cake mix sticks leave for longer). Let cool. Decide if you want to ice or leave. Serve however you enjoy. So right now the house is warm, with the smell of lamb stew and chocolate cake cooking. Gray skies and mist, rain falling, DH clattering about in his workshop creating more wonderful timber creations, the cat laying on the desk, fire glowing me sharing simple pleasures. Lovely simple and very little washing up! That is bliss. I am looking forward to sitting by the fire reading a book, having a piece of Dr Feelgoods chokkie cake.
This photo was a few weeks ago as I drove home from Cygnet, the small village nearest us.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Too wet for gardening so lets make marmalade!

I love seeing daffodils and jonquils, it is a time to really believe that winter is almost over! We love Seville orange maramlade. I have been hassling my local vegie supplier as to when there would be some seville oranges. I kept being told next week, next week. Well it was this week and I have made one batch of marmalade so far. I used to be very fussy and chop them finely and thinly. Now I just pop them into the food processor for a few turbo boosts, and all the work is done for me! Yipee it really is a wonderful labour saving device, a bit like my apple slicer and corer. I priced the marmalade we used to purchase and it is $5 for a 200gms jar. I made 11jars worth in vary sizes from 150ml to 500ml and filled a 300ml bowl as well.I have run out of lids so need to purchase more. No real hardship as we have been eating the marmalade in the bowl. $3.95kg. I used 2 for this volume $8.00 plus 2.5kg sugar (from a bulk bag that cost me $13.95 for 15kgs. Equals 93 cents a kg which is $2.23 so for $10.23 I made 12 jars or more of jam, so less than $1 a jar. Okay so power and gas for processor, and cooking. My labour well cutting and putting oranges in the processor 10mins, adding to pot with sugar and very little water, as I like to let the juice from the fruit do the jelling. Jars were reused from previous jams and produce, lids about 12 cents each. Still beats the $60 or more that a smaller quantity of marmalade would have cost me. Not forgetting it is an imported product so that helps. Mind you the oranges I used came from Victoria so not a very local product, and sugar from qld. So not many points for local produce in this one. I picked a cauliflower yesterday, not very well formed, but it appeared to be going moldy. I can understand this as it is still raining and from memory we have not had a day without any rain for nearly a month! Even when we have had no rain in the daytime, it has rained in the night. The forecast is for more and I was told in town that the long term forecast is rain till mid to late September. So not the only thing that will be going moldy. A friend said to me today his chooks are asking for gum boots, or hitching rides on the ducks! My broad beans are doing well, but I am trying to hand pollinate as I am not seeing bees about one would assume due to the wetness. So my hope for lots of broad beans may be gone. Peas are growing, though I seem to have lost all the peas I put under the broad beans to grow up on their stems. I must have had an idea that there might be a bit of wet weather when I planted my garlic where I did. As you can see I made a mound just in front of the berry patch. A lot of my friends are saying that theirs in the ground is not doing very well. I have some yellow tips on some of the leaves, but I am hoping that it will recover and be okay in the spring. Potatoes are still just waiting about and will get put into the garden later in September! Even my worm farm has not been doing so well. The worms I guess got a bit cool and were not eating as much. I was giving them too much food. Yes I know the information does say they are less active in winter. There are heaps in their, and some powdered milk and they are back on the happy way again. I have some peach blossoms forming on my trees, and finally the raspberry canes are begining to yellow. I will cut them back and redo the berry patch in near future. I have been weeding the grass that has grown from the hay I used as mulch. Whilst some people think it silly to use hay, it gives me more mulch when I pull out the grass before it seeds for this year! Also it was a heck of a lot better price than straw or pea straw was last year. I am including a photo of our new letter box. Our blue barrel (plastic has done us well) but we have been getting damp mail, due to a hole in the top. So the man of the house has built yet another wonderful wooden structure. It is lovely!. He has been keeping very busy this winter. We have also been taking some vitamin D capsules, all winter which have really helped our moods. Tassie has one of the highest rates of seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression bought on by lack of sunlight. We sure have not had much of it this winter. So we have both found it to be helpful. We have also both had head colds, but have managed to soldier on. So many others have had flu so we feel very appreciative that we have not! I made a delicious stew last week just using up the vegies in the crisper. I tend to do this the day before I am going to go shopping. I called it my I almost threw that out stew. I love putting some fetta on top just adds something to most vegie dishes. Other times we grate parmesan on top of our soups or stews. We had a lovely gift of some great kale, blue cheese and mushroom tart from a local cafe yesterday. (they had too much left and they were closing for their two days off so I was having a coffee and received this great gift what a great tasting tart. I am going to have to find a recipe for it. The vegie garden has been providing us with silverbeet, and green leaves for salads. My parsley has been doing really well, yet many people in the area have had no luck! So I am really thrilled that I can grow one thing sucessfully! Yipee can you live on parsley alone? I have many people comment when they see I have Daphene flowering in a pot. It has been here in this quite shaded position for over 2 years now and when I take crazy dog out for his last ablutions for the night, the scent is just so amazing. It makes this last task of the day quite bearable on these still very cold and very wet nights.