A journal of my favourite pastimes gardening, farming and sewing.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Australia Day Activities

Do you say 'Happy Australia Day'? I don't know.  Anyway we're just pottering around today doing Aussie things.  Hubby is 'organising' his shed - I hope to be able to find him in there soon for lunch.  Me - I've been making pickled beetroot.

Hubby loves beetroot any time of the year so I usually try to get two crops through to ensure we have enough goodness for him.  I'm not overly partial (I know, un-Australian isn't it?) but recently I have discovered the golden beetroots.  What a treasure they are! So sweet and not as 'earthy' as the red ones.  So this season I planted the Detroit Red, Golden, and Choggia.  Of these the Golden was actually the most successful.


I used the pressure cooker which saved a bit of time.  Here are they are ready for cooking.

And here they are complete in their jars.  I just love the softly coloured ones, some sliced, some whole and some chunked.

I know the colour will weird out Hubby and the kids, but that's part of the attraction!  Ha ha, evil me.

However, note to self:  put the rubber rings on the Fowler Vacola jars before you fill the jars.  Otherwise there is bound to be an incident. 

Lucky I was in my old working kit.


Monday, 25 January 2016

Food Gardens January 2016 Pt 2

So to the veg garden now.  This will be the last season that we have the wide beds (1.5m wide and 4m long).  Being a short person, I find it difficult to reach into the bed to weed, water or pick veg without actually falling into the bed.  Hubby won't enter into the Mandala garden concept, so we borrowed some ideas from Wendy's blog and decided to make future beds much narrower and longer. We certainly have the space and with a bit of work it should be do-able.  We'll probable start doing this as the weather cools down.

One aspect of gardening here on the Darling Downs I am still adjusting to is the much shorter and sharper growing season.  In Boonah the climate is more sub-tropical where as here it is classified as temperate.  Obviously with 35C+ days it is more than temperate in summer but certainly things do take longer to get going.

Anyway,  here are some pics of the veg garden as it is now.  These are the cucumbers I thought I had lost when I planted them out.  I have a bad habit of leaving things in punnets for too long and then planting them out when they are leggy and don't look like surviving.  However the cucumbers are enjoying the heat and I have picked those ones hanging down already. I put them on the slanted trellis to make them easier to pick.

I have planted several varieties of tomato - San Marzano, Moneymaker, Rouge de Marmande and Grosse Lisse to see which grows best here.  We  use a lot of tomatoes to make passata each year.  Its a crazy jumble of tomato plants under the shadecloth, next year I plan to have a trellis type of set up in the middle of the bed, with plants either side so they are easier to tie off.  

Its all a mad jumble in here

Some nice sized fruit on

You wouldn't believe it but in this bed we had beetroot growing.  You can tell the grass gets away from me in summer can't you.  Anyway, we ended up with a good bucket of beets, most of which will be pickled as slices, chunks and baby beets.  Both this bed and the tomato bed above will be halved in width and extended in length for next summer's growing season.

To finish off, just some random shots from around the place. 

My one elderberry sapling.  I'm hoping to plant this beside the greenhouse so I can enjoy its shade on a summer's afternoon.  Also to the right is a sage plant from DTE's Dottie and lemon balm from a friend on the Granite Belt.    Don't you love the rustic plant stand?

Here are two pots of turmeric that I thought had gone to heaven, but with the recent hot and wet weather up they came.  I think I'll keep them in the greenhouse.

Also from my Granite Belt friend, some strawberries.  I'll have to think hard where to put these.

And from my good friend Nanna Chel some Bishop's Crown Peppers which are described on the net as 'satisfyingly spicy' as well as tangy sweet and fruity.  It sounds like they will work well for a sweet chilli sauce or a chutney of some description.  Thank you Chel.  Since I took these pics they are starting to change colour a little.

My comfrey plants mounting a global takeover

Thank you for having a look around the garden with me.  


Thursday, 21 January 2016


Too hot to blog today!

Actually that reminds me, that glass contains a groovy ice cube. Its an idea I got from my Mum who got it from goodness knows where.  The idea is you get a skinny wedge of lemon, orange, lime or whatever fruit you like, some mint or lemon balm or similar and put all that into the base of a muffin tin then you put in about 1cm of water and freeze it.  You end up with a dozen or so of these...

Which are great as they are bigger than a normal ice cube and last a bit longer (not much longer today though).  Keeps your water or juice or whatever fresher.

So cheers,

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Food Gardens January 2016 Pt 1

With the hot days we are experiencing at the moment, I am out watering most mornings.  Today I did the fruit trees.  I took some snaps of things as I went along.

I have planted vegies such as pumpkins among the fruit trees so they may ramble around without taking up space in the vegie patch itself.  These are butternut pumpkins slowly coming along.  

and Golden Nugget pumpkins which are a new one for me. They are such cuteness but I doubt how much flesh will be inside them.

I have also planted Jap pumpkins but they have only just started to flower.  And what is with that - all male flowers? I have noticed this on all my curcurbits that the male and female flowers are rarely coming on at the same time this year.  Makes for a small harvest I think  however I am hand pollinating wherever I can.

Of course the volunteer plants are always the most vigorous aren't they?  This one is growing just outside the entertainment area.  Hopefully we'll have some pumpkins from it as with any luck it should be a Jap.  My geraniums are putting on a good show.  These were all from Boonah cuttings and bits I've knocked off elsewhere (ahem).  The stand is made from an old pine bed from the School Peter works at.  His team know that we'll take most things being tossed out so he often comes to his ute at going home time to find all sorts of odds and ends on there.

This little sugarbaby watermelon is the only one for now. We have a native bee hive but it is at the front of the house so we'd like to split it and bring one half down the back to help with pollination.  That awful foxtail grass at the front is everywhere at this time of year.

The fruit trees have been in the ground for just on six months and I am very happy with their growth.  Their test will come after their first winter and hopefully a bountiful spring and summer to follow.  This is my view to the west framed by one of the plum trees.

The berry plants are doing fairly well.  We have one raspberry that we brought along from Boonah and that one is growing rapidly and has fruit coming on.

The other berries we bought from Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery last winter and the growth is good but of course no fruit in their first season.  I have tried to select varieties with different fruiting times so we have a longer berry season.  

I was gifted some strawberry plants a couple of months ago but I'm not quite sure yet where to plant them.  If I put them in down in the fruit tree area I'm sure the birds will get them so I'm thinking of planting them nearer the house in a fantastic old concrete 3 bay laundry trough we were given.  It is situated outside the soon to be completed greenhouse so I can keep an eye on them.  In the meantime, they are happily biding their time in pots.

That's it for today.  I will show you the vegie garden next time.  Please excuse the lame blog title, I'm messing about with the design and I'm not happy with anything so far.


Monday, 4 January 2016

Resumption of normal service (well sort of)

Happy new year to you!  Are we refreshed, bright eyed and raring to go? Not here - the summer cold has struck and I'm stuffed up and fresh out of voice.  Which is a problem because I am the sole entertainer for a 10 year old girl for a couple of days until we return her to her Dad.

So far she has swum in the pool - that was the real reason we got it Lynda ;)  She has bounced on the trampoline, she has fed the chooks and sheep and collected eggs.  In the evenings and whenever else she can talk us into it we have played countless Uno tournaments.  She is disgusted that she has yet to win such a tournament.

New Year's Eve was uneventful until she had a "technicolour yawn" at 10 minutes to 12 and her poor Dad had to clean it all up.  

Right now she is diligently "sewing" if you call me threading the needle, tying the knots, cutting the thread etc sewing. Anyway, she's enjoying it and saying that she's getting pretty good at it now.

Love the ratty hair following the swimming pool.

The item she's sewing is a gingerbread man which is part of a kit from Aldi that Santa brought her.

After she gets bored with the sewing we'll settle down for a movie afternoon with some choccie that she bought for me because I was sick.

Anyway, my thread cutting skills are being called for.