Gary called me out to the pool early this afternoon, and there in the middle was a wee frog swimming down to the bottom and then up again, then it started to swim from one side to the other, it was putting on quite a show. As it started to swim down toward the skimmer box we decided it was time to intervene. Gary quickly picked up the net he uses to remove debris from the pool, and carefully scooped the little frog out, setting him free on the paving. Then we started to worry – what if a hungry bird saw it as a meal! Re-enter the net, and the frog just leaped right back in. This time it was set free in the laundry garden, where we hoped that it would be safe from predators, and it quickly hopped under the leaves of a small foxglove plant where it remained for most of the day.
A little seed sowing
- Onion – Jaune Paille des Vertes (old seed) (did not germinate)
- Broccoli – Purple Sprouting – Early (germinated 8 April)
One of my orchids is in bloom, I always get a little excited. I think I have the perfect spot for them on the back porch, and every now and then am very lucky. I watch as the buds form, and then I wait, and wait and wait, until finally they open up.
A little seed sowing
- Spring Onion – White Lisbon (germinated 12-17 April)
- Kale – Russian (germinated 9 April)
A little seed sowing
- Onion – Rosa Lunga (germinated 10 April)
- Brussell Sprouts – Long Island Improved (old seed) (germinated 10 April)
With the days becoming shorter, and knowing that it won’t be long until the colder weather is upon us, it is time to get the firewood in. We are luck to live close by to an outlet where they sell off-cuts as firewood. Gary hitched up the trailer and headed out for a load. When he returned, it was my turn to – I’m the stacker of the wood! This wood is generally cut to a similar length, but the width and thickness can vary, so it means selecting and placing the right pieces together to keep the pile safe and uniform – I call it giant jenga! I’m always pretty proud of the end result.
A little seed sowing
- Climbing Snow Pea (direct) – Mammoth Melting – (germinated 12-17 April)
It’s time to make some changes to the espaliered fruit trees in the veggie patch. I find it quite difficult to keep the top level of the trees trimmed, I’m just not tall enough, and in addition, it is also difficult to net the trees to protect the fruit from the birds. Decision time… I’m going to remove the top level. This will kill two birds with one stone, bringing the trees back to a manageable height, and leaving the top wire free so that netting can be easily attached when required. So today I started, and the apricot trees have been done. I kept questioning what I was doing, but I know that it is going to make things much easier to manage.
More wood stacking, yes, another load, but this time it’s a load of mixed hardwood split blocks. We have an old aluminium shipping crate that is covered in a tarp where I stack this wood, it’s much easier, less festidious work, and as always I love the appearance of the pile when it is complete.
We don’t have any grape vines… Well that changed today! I’ve just planted ‘Muscato Gordo Blanco‘ along the fence at the rear of the citrus garden. I am hoping that it will grow and produce beautifully, if it does, I may just have to add another. While I was there I also transplanted a lemon balm plant from the vegetable garden, and some lemon grass plants purchased from the local nursery.
I’ve also planted three elephant garlic in the citrus garden. I picked the bulbs up from the Bega Farmer’s Market when we were holidaying in the area back in February. This was a little farmer’s market, but the produce was amazing. When I was purchasing the garlic, the stallholder convinced me taste a tiny piece… It was hot, strong and powerful and, really, I don’t recommend taste testing raw garlic that early in the morning!
I actually purchased four bulbs, but used one when making my tomato sauce last month. I can’t wait to see if they grow.
While I was doing all this work in the citrus garden, I discovered that the mulch that I’ve been using is not a good choice. It has created a water barrier rather than helping to retain the moisture in the soil below, and as I discovered, created a wonderful home for ants! as I scratched it around and the ants went crazy. Decision quickly made to use organic sugar can mulch, used in the vegetable garden, right through my garden now, I know that it breaks down nicely, which in turn helps the soil.
Down in the vegetable garden, I removed the top level of one of the espaliered nectarine trees – getting their slowly. Also got to do a little weeding in the Citrus Garden as well as Duchess’s Garden, so all in all it was a great day in the garden.
Though working, I managed to get a little more weeding done in both the Citrus and Duchess’s gardens.
Seeds planted indoors:
- Broccoli – Chinese (Kailaan) (old seed) – (germinated 12-17 April)
- Broccoli – White Sprouting – (germinated 12-17 April)
- Broccoli – Romanesco – (germinated 12-17 April)
- Broccoli – Green Sprouting – (germinated 12-17 April)
- Onion – White Sweet Spanish (old seed) – did not germinate
- Onion – Gladalon (old seed) – did not germinate
- Onion – Red Brunswick (old seed) – did not germinate
- Onion – Creamgold (old seed) – did not germinate
After signing up for a monthly subscription of seeds, the first four packs arrived today, and it included a bonus pack of Flanders Poppies just in time for Anzac Day. I must admit that I was eagerly awaiting their arrival, and the four packs received are:
- Okra ‘Clemson Spineless’ – I ‘ve never considered growing Okra… It looks like it’s time to reconsider!
- Rocket ‘Wasabi’ – I can’t wait to get these seeds growing – I love the intense flavour of wasabi and to have it in the form of a salad green will be amazing.
- Turnip ‘Golden Globe’ – this is a new variety to me, apparently similar to Swede Turnip, so am eager to get some started.
- Celery ‘Light Green’ – again another new variety, apparently and Asian celery that is not as large and thick as the celery that I am used to.
In addition to the seed order, today I also received two Vanilla Orchid plants. Given that I have a little luck with orchids (cattleya, dendrobium and phalaenopsis), on the back porch, I’m hoping that I may just have a little luck with this new addition… Fingers crossed!
A week has passed without any updates… Business and Easter with our family took priority.
While out and about we passed a home where a lady was putting some items out on the nature strip for people to take. She was putting out garden furniture! We pulled over and chatted, she no longer needed the furniture and was hoping that someone else could use it. I couldn’t believe my luck! I offered to help her carry it back in, but no, she insisted that she could do it while we went home and hooked up the trailer. Feeling grateful, I packed up a little package of home baked goodies and preserves for Gary to give to her when he went back to pick up these new treasures. There was a white setting, it just needs to be repainted in white.
There were also two other chairs, while a little shabby and black, they are a perfect match to another table and chair that we have. I’ll be painting this setting in a bright pinkish-red. I still can’t believe how lucky we were to be passing just at the right time, and am so very grateful.
I finally got to plant some pea seeds, I do hope that it is not too late, though.
- Pea – Spanish Skyscraper (old seed) (germinated 5 May)
Tomatoes are continuing to produce, but must come out soon.
As forecast it’s been raining since Sunday night, another 27 ml, so weeding is much easier at the moment, and with all this rain, and the lack of germination with my onion seeds, I took the time to place an order for more seeds.
- Brown Onion ‘Gladalan’
- Red Onion ‘Rippa’
- Yellow Onion ‘Spanish’
- Chilli ‘Bulgarian Carrot’
- Lovage ‘Maggie Plant’
- Kale ‘Red Russian’
- Dill ‘Dukat’
- Leek ‘Bulgarian Giant’
A good afternoon’s work in the garden, Gary is working on a terribly overrun area, and I have been trying to re-claim the citrus garden, laundry garden and Duchesses’ garden. The citrus garden is done, the laundry garden, almost, and Duchesses’, well… There’s a lot of work to be done there!
More seeds and a gardening magazine have arrived! This time
- Beetroot ‘Bull’s Blood’
- Beetroot ‘Burpees Golden’
- Beetroot ‘Globe
- Carrot ‘Purple Dragon’ – free as part of the club membership
- Chives ‘Common’ – free as part of the club membership
- Cornflower ‘Dwarf Blue’ – free as part of the club membership
- Onion ‘Barletta’ – free as part of the club membership
- Pea ‘Novella’
Looking forward to sitting down and taking the time to enjoy a little reading, and learning.
The afternoon was spent in the vegie patch. The top layer of the espaliered blood plum ‘Mariposa’ has been removed, I think that I only have about 6 more trees to go.
I was so happy to see that the parsnips have now germinated. Back in late March, I planted carrots, parsnips and turnips. Unfortunately the white turnips haven’t germinated, but they were very old seed, so I can’t say that I was surprised. And I’ve just realised that I forgot to order fresh seeds! Oh well… Also spent a bit time working on the bed that I have been preparing for the seasons’ garlic, and did quite a bit of weeding.
Just before heading back up to the house, I harvested a good quantity of chillies, cayenne and the common, milder, variety purchased from the supermarket (we saved the seeds from a store bought chilli, and the germination was fabulous).
Maybe time for some more chilli jam?
- 500 g 1 lb red capsicums
- 250 g 8 oz red chillies
- 315 ml 10 fl oz white vinegar
- 1 kg 2 lb white sugar
- 185 g 6 oz lightly packed soft brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
Remove the seeds and membrane from the capsicum and chilli. Cut the capsicum into quarters or thirds so that you have large flat pieces. Place on a tray, skin-side-up and cook under a hot grill until the skin blackens and blisters. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle, then remove the skin.
Place the capsicum and chilli in a food processor with 60 ml/2 fl oz of the vinegar, and process until finely chopped.
Transfer the capsicum and chilli mixture into a large pan and add the remaining vinegar along with the salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the white and brown sugar and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat and bring to the boil, boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened slightly.
Remove from heat and immediately pour into clean warm jars and seal. Label and date.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months.
- This jam is best left for 1 month before opening, thus allowing the flavours to develop.
- The jam does not set like traditional jams, it has a more sauce like consistency.
- The original version of this recipe can be found in Homemade Jams and Preserves, Family Circle – Step-by-Step, Murdoch Books, p 71. I have increased the amount of chillies and added salt to the mix.
Also picked little basket of tomatoes and a few more “Purple King” beans – it’s probably time to allow some to remain and become next year’s seeds.
Vegetable garden bed preparation continues, adding manure, compost and relevant additives for what is to be grown in each bed.
Struggled to remove the top off one of the espaliered cherry trees, it took forever, but got there in the end.
Garlic is planted, what a relief. This year I’ve planted a new variety, it’s a Bega Valley Turban, I picked it up from the Bega Farmer’s Market mentioned earlier in this post.
The varieties that I have planted…
- Bega Valley Turban (10)
- Lake Boga White Hard Neck (37)
- Lake Boga Purple Soft Neck (60)
Yes, I know, they are not necessarily the correct names for the particular variety planted, but I don’t have the correct names. The names that I have given them indicate where they were purchased, and bring back lovely memories of where we’ve been. I’ve been growing the Lake Boga varieties for three years now, and they do so well in my garden, so I choose not to purchase other ‘named’ varieties.
A little time in the garden late today, and the onto the porch as the light failed, to plant some more seeds…
- Cabbage ‘Coeur de Boeuf Moyen de la Hall’ (old seed) (germinated 3 May)
- Cabbage ‘Mammoth Red Rock’ (old seed) (germinated 13 May)
- Cabbage ‘ Sugar Loaf’ (old seed) (germinated 1 May)
- Celery ‘Elne’ (old seed)
- Onion ‘Barletta'(germinated 1 May)
- Spring Onion ‘Welsh’ (old seed)
While I worked at patching jeans in the sleepout, Gary continued weeding the garden. There was a tap on the window, and there he stood with a little green creature hanging off his sleeve. He found it trapped under the garden shed door…
Until next time…
Happy gardening and bon appétit!