Sunday, October 25, 2009

I'm excited about garden tools?

My new toy. A brush cutter that does start first time.
It has a full harness, safety glasses and ear muffs.
Brush cutting still isn't one of my favourite jobs (I have a friend who says he loves his brush cutter) but it just got a darn sight easier!
I had a little go today before I realised that I needed to adjust the harness to hold the weight. My arm is slightly sore tonight but I was also pulling out weeds today too so I'll give the tool the benefit of the doubt. More to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.........

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What to do?

There are 39 seedlings here, four different types of beans (bush not climbing) but the labels all washed out so I don't know which is which now oh doh! But they look like they need to be moved and our Pete (Cundall) says the ground is still too cold for beans. I decided to transplant 8 of them into bigger pots and have put my extravagant see through covers (tonic water bottles) over them and put them on the top of one of my half water tank gardens. So I don't want any more frost or wind thanks!
In the front bedroom I still have 78 assorted tomato and eggplant seedlings. I've been brave and put a couple of the zucchinis into the tank and covered them, just to see what happens.
I have a cheesecloth full of feta cheese draining in the laundry tub and I'm trying to stop myself from going out and giving it a prod, to make sure it is draining...... The ricotta which I made from the left over whey is already salted and in the fridge ready for some crackers. Hmmm that sounds like a good idea. M is going to be late tonight so I could have a little nibble, couldn't I?
The little bit of sunshine that we had on the weekend has encouraged my potatoes to finally show they're still alive and not drowned, great. I had almost given up on them. But one of my fennel has definitely given up, helped along by a certain cat called Fiddle I think.
And the big news is that yesterday M and his work team removed all the false brick from our little old house so now we are back to weatherboards. Dirty, old weatherboards, but I don't care. It will be painted this summer and will look glorious.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Babies on the bed!

I've just spent the morning transferring millions of tiny seedlings (well it seemed like that many!) from a seed tray into little plastic cups to continue their growing.
There are three types of tomatoes, Roma, Siberian and an ordinary red one which I can't recall the name of and all my little labels got washed clean when I sprayed them with some water (the plants not the labels). They're all bush tomatoes. I have more seeds of different types but how many tomatoes can we eat? There's quite a few eggplants too, but only four zucchini. I've learned my lesson about zucchini!
I still have four different types of beans in the other seed tray yet. The weather here is too unpredictable to even think about putting them outside, never mind in the ground. We could have frost tonight and there has been snow on the high peaks again. Yes it is spring but we are in Tasmania, far south Tasmania, next stop Antarctica.
By the way, the rest of the little pots are on a table by the window in the same bedroom. It's currently unoccupied, except for these babies, but I am expecting my son for a visit on the
10th November so they have to be ready to be moved outside by then.
I just went outside to see if any of my Dutch Cream potatoes had dared to sprout in the above ground garden. It's been sooooo wet I had resigned myself to the fact that they may have drowned. But wait, there are a few darker looking little leaves just showing. Now, they could be weeds, I'm very good at growing weeds, but lets hope that we have enough sun over the next few days to encourage them to get a bit bigger and then I should be able to tell.
So in the garden beds I now have three lots of broad beans at different stages; silver beet and ruby chard; mixed lettuces; peas and snow peas; raspberries; coriander; Italian parsley; thyme; sage; chives; chamomile; and rosemary. In pots I have 4 baby fennel; garlic chives; parsley, mint; Thai mint and strawberries. I have never ever tried to grow so much, I hope it all does grow! The fruit trees have started to blossom too, crab apples, lemon, apples, pears, peaches, plums and one nectarine. I forgot the fruit trees in pots, lemon, cumquat, lime and olive. I'm almost overwhelmed with it all.
So, please could we have some more sunshine and warm up the earth?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chook Shed is coming

This is a work in progress. This old shed which was a hen house originally was due for demolition because of the precarious slant it had.
But, M said that he could probably fix it and he has, the slant that is.
He's now converting it into the Taj Mahal or Chook Palace (as he calls it due to it being larger than his bedroom).
It won't be long now I'm sure, although he only has time to put one day a week into the project.
I should have little chooks by Christmas, I hope...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cheese at last

My first Feta cheese, not tasted yet but at least this time it has a form!
Cheese making certainly teaches patience; keeping an eye on the pot so it maintains a constant temperature, draining it for hours or overnight and then having to store it for a couple of days before trying it.
Still, it has proved the difference of fresh milk compared to dried milk. It worked as it should have and set properly this time.
My friend across the road is going to make a farmhouse cheddar this weekend but I fancy Gavin's (the Greening of Gavin) recipe for Caerphilly. Being from the UK originally, I remember the crumbly, white, tasty cheese quite well and really enjoy it. So I might give that one a go next time. But you have to wait three whole weeks before you get to taste that one, what a test that will be!
I wish for some more sunshine today, my seedlings are refusing to pop their heads up, even in the house where it should be a bit warmer.
Oh well, patience required again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bottle Growing????

No, we've been told that there could be frost tonight. So I raided my plastic bottle bin and now hopefully all my little lettuce and the fennel in their pots will be safe.

I think it's really sad that other vegetables don't like fennel! I make sure to always have a chat with them so that they will grow nice and fat!

We had such wild weather yesterday, all my broad beans were lying down so I've done a bit of a rescue today and fingers crossed the flowers will develop into those lovely beans.

I'm not worried about my kale or broad beans with the frost as they can put up with the cold, but my silver beet and ruby chard have only just stopped sulking from winter so it's fingers crossed for them.

I've made some ruby grapefruit marmalade today and a sponge cake which was spread with the last of my blackberry jam. I seem to make such a mess when I'm baking/cooking. Today I managed to spill sugar on the bench and all over the floor! Look out ants. I've vacuumed but sugar just gets everywhere, here's hoping I got most of it!

Maybe it'll be a cheese making day tomorrow, hopefully with no interruptions. I really, really need to concentrate in the kitchen.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ta da, my first woodwork project, almost finished.
I just have to glue trim to the top and then we'll hang it in the bathroom.
I have a bag of bathroom "stuff" that has sat on the floor since we moved in on 31/12/08.
It's time to sort it all out and now we have somewhere to put the more attractive bits and pieces.
My next project is going to be a pelmet for my bedroom window and I get to learn about mitre joints. I hope it works as they really have to be precise. Near enough will not do! Patience will be required on that one I think, not one of my natural traits I'm afraid.
Tomorrow Terry is having his stitches out and a check to see how his leg is progressing. He's so missing his walks on the beach and of course less food because of no exercise. This must be what they call "A Dog's Life".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rainy Sunday

Just for a change - but we did have a good day yesterday, well half a day anyway. Long enough to cut the grass, of which we have a lot. It was getting so long and so wet we had to wait for a couple of dry days to hopefully not get bogged down on the mower. M uses the ride on mower and I have the joy of the push mower for all those hard to get to places.
But now it's raining quite hard.
Last week I was able to plant some mixed lettuces, and one of my raised gardens is now full of Dutch Cream potato tubers. I still have the Pink Eyes to plant. A friend had given me some unwanted kale and Italian parsley seedlings so I planted them and passed on the tray to my neighbour so she could have some too. I have never planted kale before and I'm not sure how to cook it etc. so a bit of research is required.
Plus, I spoke about the snow peas which I thought had been washed away during the last deluge, and planted raspberry canes in that spot instead. Well, guess which 2 little seedlings I found poking up between the canes there yesterday. Yep, 2 snowpea seedlings and whats that below, the white radish. I was just too impatient. I am also happy to report that the third planting of broad beans has popped up too. So I have three lots of broad beans at different stages.
I have four little fennel seedlings that my friend also gave me waiting to go into their own pot as she said that "the other vegetables don't like to grow with fennel". How sad for the fennel. I'm going to look for a happy pot to cheer them up. M is quite certain that I'm on the road to dementia when he hears me talking to the plants!
I've also put seeds in a tray this week, zucchini, eggplant (I keep trying to grow it), and three types of tomato. I was going to put some Purple Dragon carrots in too but then thought I'd wait a little while longer and direct plant them.
But wait, I think the rain has stopped, I might just check the blossom on all the fruit trees. Happy relaxing Sunday everyone.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Crab apples

The crab apple tree is in blossom and it looks like I might have a million zillion little apples to pick later in the year. And I still have quite a few jars of the jelly that I made this year.
Christmas presents perhaps?
The building across the road is the fire station for our little town and they practise every Wednesday evening. Why don't dogs like the fire engine sirens? Its a weekly howwwwwwl at our place!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not quite Feta

But it is cottage cheese with fresh garlic chives added from the garden and it does taste very good.
I will not be using powdered milk again. My friend across the road did make feta and is talking about mozarella for his next attempt.
I still want to make feta but we need to finish the cottage cheese first I think.
Usually I would be dishearteneed about my "failure" but this time I regard the whole day as a learning process; the time to take the pot off the stove so it doesn't go over the required temperature; the actual time it takes and of course no more dried milk powder.
Did I say that it was raining, again. It has been so wet this year it has made the ground too wet for young seedlings or seeds and I'm beginning to worry about a lack of vitamin D.
It's meant to be fine tomorrow so fingers crossed please.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cheese please

Lesson number one - DO NOT USE POWDERED MILK!
I am in the process of making Feta cheese, a nice easy one I thought. I had heard that powdered milk could be used but it has made the process four times as long I think, and it's still not cheese. However it is finally starting to separate into curds and whey and after a long talk with the man who supplied me with the cheese making kit (on the phone) I haven't given up all hope. This man phoned me after I emailed him asking what I may have done wrong. What a great follow up with sales.
So stay tuned, it might be tomorrow morning before we have cheese but I will take a photo whatever it looks like. And buy fresh milk for my next attempt!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eat, bury or exhibit.....

This was meant to be sauer kraut. Himself bought it a few weeks (months) ago to make it, left it in the back shed as there was no room in the fridge, and I found it this week.
A friend, who's in the film making business has described it as a masterpiece, so now I'm confused. I couldn't say it's beautiful - just weird.
I don't think it could be a centrepiece on the dining table but I don't want to mess it up either. I guess it will have to just "be".

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It was a big day yesterday and we left home at 7am only to return at 6pm with a doped up and sore Terry.
This morning after some medicine disguised as salami and anti-biotics hidden in a vegemite sandwich Terry is a bit brighter.
He's also not looking at me anymore like I am Cruella de Vries!
We go back in twelve days to remove the stitches.
Get well soon....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cooking anyone?

We have our small team of employees coming this afternoon for a bit of a thank you barbecue. My partner is in the insulation installation business and this week we finished our 100th house so we figured the lads should be given a bit of a treat. I know that the partner of one of them is a vegetarian so (despite having 2 packets of instant fallafel in the cupboard) today I decided I'd make them from scratch. Well, I have crushed coriander and cummin seeds, bits of broad beans, chick peas and all associated fresh green herbs now spread into every little nook and cranny in the kitchen. The fallafel themselves are cooling in the fridge and they almost look like the picture in the book, almost. I suppose we'll find out later if they taste good.
As I said yesterday, I have some friends coming to see me tomorrow and I'm putting on a bit of lunch. The carrot cake is not only made but now iced, lots of icing and I hope that it firms up a bit. The icing I mean. I have chicken wings to marinate and I'm going to prepare the dough for the pizzas today and leave in the fridge for tomorrow. Hopefully that will mean that there is no mad rush when they arrive.
Anyway salad to make and bugger the vaccuuming. What's a bit of dog hair and assorted food scraps?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chickens please

I hate to say it but it is raining again today. But we have had some dry and sunny days recently. So we've finally eaten all the broccoli and today I have accepted that my brussel sprouts are not going to produce (this time). So I'll leave a couple to go to seed like I have with the broccoli and dig the rest in to the tank. I've received my package from the Lost Seed company and I'm looking forward to starting at the right time, hopefully.
We have a very depressed little dog at home. He ran under the wheels of the reversing trailer and after a mad dash to the vet it seems that he has a broken ligament in his knee. So he's not allowed any walks, which is the highlight of his life, and he's due for surgery on Friday. But as one of my friends said "How come Terry gets a knee replacement before you Jan?" Oh well, so long as the nylon ligament works and he can get back to his joyful running. He smiles so widely as he tears along the beaches, you know it's the best fun.
I'm still looking at my cheese making kit but I have acquired a small bar fridge (free!) to put maturing hard cheese in so I'll have to start soon.
The other exciting news is that M has started fixing up the old chook shed. It's pretty big and the roost bars are still sturdy. I think the chooks will find it very adequate even if it's nearly one hundred years old! And M came home from work yesterday and told me that he has met the local "chook man". He knows everything there is to know and breeds all sorts. M even asked if I could go over and check things out and got a positive response, so that's great.
I'm having some friend over on Thursday so I have a carrot cake in the oven to surprise them. They all know that I am still re-aquainting myself with the kitchen and cooking/baking.
I hope it looks and tastes as good as it smells.
In fact I'd better go and check it out.........


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Still raining

But we did have a few (2) good days without rain and I have planted a few seeds of lettuce, raddish, snow peas and three more lines of broad beans. But then it has rained and rained. For all I know it's all been washed away as there's nos ign of life yet!

In the front tank I have the last of the broccoli and behind that brussel sprouts. I have never tried growing brussels and I think I might have to write this lot off. Not a sign of a sprout and I suspect they're going to seed. Oh well, last time I tried to grow broccoli was a disaster and this time it was absolutely beautiful. The taste was so different from store bought broccoli. I have blossom appearing on the pears and plum trees, well some of the plums anyway. I think the crab apple tree will be blossoming soon too.

I have a cute little lemon tree tucked away at the back which was stifled by an apple tree when we moved in. I've created more space for it both underneath and on top but it hasn't grown any taller, just heaps more fruit coming which suits me just fine.

My next adventure will be to try cheese-making. I'll let you know.....


Monday, August 17, 2009

Here we go (I think)

Okay, I've done it, I'm on long service leave until December.
It's not been a smooth track to get here, and I'm sorry to say a couple of doctor's visits pursuaded me it was the right thing to do for me.
So now the fun begins and how apt that some of the blogs that I read are currently talking about not taking on too much and burning out! So I'll try and remember all the advice.
Did I say that I'd recently given up smoking too, three months now. And my daughters have introduced me to Facebook, another learning curve.
So all I need now is a couple of days without wind and rain and for the garden to stabilise just a little so that feet don't sink down into mud and I can spray the fruit trees and continue with the weeding around the sulking veggies.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Leap of Faith

So, can I survive not working outside the home for cash?
I don't need much but....
It's all a bit scary and I've always had my own finances, even when in long term relationships.
I have so much that I want to learn and do and I feel so out of place in the outside workplace now.
I have a secret plan, and there's a time limit to it but patience has never been a virtue. And then I worry about how lazy I can be, but is that because I don't want to do what I currently Have to do?
Anyway, I've been reading lots of blogs of people that seem to have it together and are happily plugging away so I'm going to give it a go.
In the garden, or should I say rainwater tanks (I have one cut in half for no sore back gardening) I have swedes, broccoli, brussels, winter chives (I think). In the back breaking garden I have silver beet, red chard, more swedes and lettuce. I did have cabbage and peas until the pet rabbits from next door escaped and ate the lot. We have also inherited 21 assorted apple trees, 6 plum trees, 2 pear trees, 1 lemon tree, 1 crab apple and 2 peach trees (recited in a sing song voice) . Not forgetting the grape vine of course. I have already planted a nectarine, (my favourite) and currently have another peach, satsuma plum and apricot in bags waiting for the rain to ease. I nearly forgot the baby bay tree which is slowly losing its leaves (to my cooking pot) also waiting to go in the ground. In big pots we have the lemon tree, a lime, a cumquat and an olive from a previous life and assorted herbs.
The house that we live in had been empty for four years and prior to that a dear old lady had lived here so it was pretty run down when we bought it six months ago. M has done a magnificent job of renovating and we now have solar hot water and insulation. The heating is proving a bit of a problem. We have a heat pump that warms the kitchen and hallway but the lounge only has an open fire at this stage and that is so inefficient we rarely use it. If we are in the lounge to watch tv, maybe twice a week, we just use an electric bar heater and the good old granny blankets.
The house is a bit of a "tardis". People are usually quite amazed upon entering the first time. Probably because it looks like crap from the outside, it's covered in that false, toxic brick stuff (a job for next summer is to liberate the weatherboards underneath), but it has a lot of the original features from 1900 which we have tried to integrate into our way of living.
Halfway down the block, which is pretty big, is the old chook house, sort of, well it's got a bit of a lean to it, no door and the wire's pretty much gone but.... it could be saved. My woodwork lessons shold help me with that! And then we can get chooks.
Speaking of which, (woodwork not chooks) I have been learning all about hand tools for woodwork. I've used the big, noisy and efficient power tools for the big cutting and planing stuff but the last couple of weeks I have used a hand saw, sandpaper (of course) and something called a "granny's tooth" for smoothing out channels. It was the best tool I have used so far.
On my agenda for the very near future is cheese making and soap making. I already make my own bread and luckily we're not much into sweets. The kitchen and I have never really had a compatible relationship but I am improving. I no longer have to take a week off work if I have friends coming for dinner, I've knocked it back to two days!
No I'm exagerating, I just plan well in advance.
So here's to anybody out there


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another learning curve

On the eve of my 57th birthday I've decided to have a go at this blogging business.

I have enjoyed reading what other people with the same interests as me have written and I hope to learn a lot more.

At this stage I'm not really sure about what everything means but....

In seven years I have been able to drop back from a mad and frantic fulltime position in the city to a two days (starting tomorrow) hopefully mellow job in the country. The change has come about slowly, my seachange from one State in Australia to another occurred in 2002. I dropped from 4 days down to three days and now yippee two days.

I realised that there is so much to do and learn about living thoughtfully and more sustainably. To be fair and realistic, my partner requires some office help with his new business so I will work for him for one days pay per week, but I can do that in my trackies at home!

We recently moved in together after being "an item" for seven years (can't rush these things) and the garden is BIG with over thirty fruit trees and more coming. There's room for chooks, veggies and even sheep if we wanted, and I do want chooks and I've already planted the veggies. But reading other blogs there's so much more. There's soap making and cheese making and baking and sewing etc. it's all a bit overwhelming. I've already started the woodwork classes at the local high school and we do practise trying to be green but I have such a long way to go.