I took my camera to the allotment today

With the camera in one hand and the instruction book in the other …

Not quite “raindrops on roses” as sung by Julie Andrews, more like “water on lettuce”. The ground was dry so I gave the allotment a hosing and wanted to see if I could capture the drops of water on this cute little lettuce.  Yay!!

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Note to self. When you take a photo make sure your shadow is not directly over the subject. But I still managed to capture drops of water on the rosy coloured leaves. Homework – check where the sun is next time.

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I like the detail on these leaves, below. Just wish I knew the name of the vegetable as it was gifted to me amongst a few lettuce seedling. It was such a tiny little thing I didn’t even know if it would live. But thanks to the magic of worm juice and some tender loving care here it is. Beautiful.

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I’ve got the bit between my teeth now and I’m determined to crack this photography lark.

Happy gardening.

The community tool shed

Down at the allotments we have a community tool shed which we open Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Today it was my turn to open up the shed.

Allotments in the UK tend to be rather large, but at Beelarong community farm each plot is eight square metres. No room to put a shed on that pocket handkerchief – hence the community shed, where tools and equipment are made available for any allotment holder to use.

Most of us keep our own gardening tools in the boot, but not many of us can fit a wheelbarrow in the back seat!  That’s where the community shed comes into it’s own.

Once I’d opened up the shed I checked on my allotment. The ground was lovely, thanks to some recent rain, and it was a pleasure to just admire my veggies – and pick them.  The silver beet (chard) has done really well this year, and the Cavalo Nero kale is looking wonderful, no caterpillar damage which I’m very happy about. One year the cabbage moth devastated the whole lot.  I picked more broccolini from my broccoli plants – just turned my back for a few days – those plants can’t help themselves.

The flat leafed parsley seems to be fashionable now but I prefer to grow the curly parsley – I love the rich green of the leaves – and I don’t know what it’s roots are sitting in but whatever it is, that parsley is revelling in it. So I just keep hacking away at it and pass a bunch of it on to anybody who wants some.

Curly parsley

Curly parsley.

I picked a couple of Kohlrabi to chop up and put in the savoury mince I cooked when I got home. (A whole lot of veggies went into the pot, I tend to get carried away, so if the army turn up on my doorstep I’ll be able to feed them all.)

I digress.  I had some time to kill before it was time for me to lock the shed up so I took the camera out. I bought a really nice camera ages ago but haven’t used it much because I haven’t mastered it.  So today I took the instruction book with me and practised with the macro lens.

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This lovely little lettuce is no more. I enjoyed it with my lunchtime salad.

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A daisy to attract the bees

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This is my Cavalo Nero kale, you can tell just by looking at it that it’s full of minerals. These leaves were chopped up and added to my savoury mince in the last few minutes of cooking. I’ll have muscles like Popeye.

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I thought this was pretty. It’s one of my spring onions gone to seed.

I’ve got a way to go with the camera. But you have to start somewhere. I really could use a few lessons.

The real reason behind my dusting off the camera is reading Mr Tootlepedal’s blog – his photos of birds and flowers are amazing. I’ll never reach those dizzy heights.

Happy gardening.

A preserving workshop for kids

I ran a preserving workshop this morning over at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment.

It was part of Brisbane City Council’s GOLD n’ kids program for children aged four years and over and seniors to enjoy together.  They run them during the school holidays.

I chose to make strawberry jam as I thought that would hold more appeal for children – rather than chutneys or pickles. And they loved it.  We had seven children, youngest 6 years old, and it was great to see them enjoying the freedom of the farm and the use of the out-door kitchen.

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The first job was to wash the strawberries and hull them.

I broke the morning up with a tour of the farm and showed them where the strawberry beds were. That was a roaring success as they foraged for the fruit. They needed no help to find the tiny cherry tomatoes which tend to self seed all over the place. And the mulberry trees attracted like moths to a flame.

Then back to the kitchen for morning tea and to complete the jam making.

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The finished product. Each child took home a jar of the jam that they had made.

If you live in Brisbane and are looking after grandchildren during the school holidays it’s worth checking out the GOLD n’ kids program. Most, if not all, of them are free.

Digging in the dirt

The best de-stresser as far as I’m concerned. Go dig in the dirt.

My allotment has been a bit crowded of late, due to a really successful winter crop, so it’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to get ‘the big fork’ out. (In truth, the size of my tiny allotment I could probably achieve the same with a nail file – but I like to swagger through the allotments with the big fork.)

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A great way to spend a Sunday morning.

So, yesterday I removed the last of my tomato plants which left me with a nice bit of ground. What to do with it?

I was given a handful of cabbage and lettuce seedlings a few weeks ago that were struggling as they were crowded in. And I had a couple of pots of flowers that I bought from Oaklands Street Community Garden the other day. So I put them in together which should give me something for my dinner plate in a few weeks, a bunch of flowers to cheer up the place, and keep the bees happy at the same time. Win, Win as they say.

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The first of the plants goes in. Narf from Serendipity Farm has given me of the name of these daisies. Osteospermum daisies.

And to keep to the theme of the day here is a pic of my favourite cushion.

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Go dig in the dirt folks. You know you want to.

Happy Gardening.

A visit to Oaklands Street Community Garden

On Friday a group of us from Beelarong went to Oaklands Street Community Garden at Alexandra Hills in Brisbane. Click on the links to learn more about this community garden, and lots of photographs.

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I have been a member of Beelarong Community Farm for over three years now, working both as a volunteer in the community garden and also working my own allotment there.  But it’s always interesting, and informative, to see what other community gardens are up to.

So we did a bit of car pooling and headed off, receiving a warm welcome from Tony and the volunteers at Oaklands who took us on a tour of the gardens. The first thing I noted was that they tend to use raised beds for their vegetables. These have been made by volunteers by re-using roofing corrugated metal. Nothing goes to waste over at Oaklands – same as Beelarong.

They also use lots of flowers amongst the veggie’s, apart from the visual effect it’s also beneficial in attracting the good insects. The bees were having a great time when we were there. These particular flowers are popping up all over the place and I took the opportunity to buy a couple of pots to take back to my allotment.

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They have taken one area and laid out flower beds in a geometric design, making a very peaceful place to sit. I’m afraid my camera-work is poor but I wanted to show you the two ‘totems’ they had set up at the entrance to this particular garden. They were covered with hand made tiles, all different, and giving a lovely effect.

IMG_4470Then we sat down for morning tea. A large pot of tea, plates of scones, and a good natter.

Happy Gardening.

Broccoli – the plant that keeps giving

I have four broccoli plants and they have been feeding me for weeks. The magic of growing your veggies in an allotment is that you are never short of advice, wanted or otherwise. So you pick up these tips. I was given four tiny broccoli seedlings months ago. (Another benefit of having an allotment.) It is of course reciprocated.  I thought to myself “Great, I can now depend on four broccoli heads”. Wrong. In due time, and with diligent care, the tiny little seedlings grew to their full potential, which gave me a glut(?) of four broccoli heads! Fortunately, after I harvested them, a much wiser gardener – and there’s plenty of them over at the ‘lottie’ –  stopped me yanking said plants out and told me to ‘leave them be’ and they would re-sprout. So I did. And this is the result, below.  Now I know it’s not a very clear picture, but you should get the idea. You can see where I had sliced off the main broccoli head from the top of the plant and the new broccoli head is growing from the stem that I left in the ground.    More dinner for me. IMG_4460 But wait, there’s more! This head of broccoli is from one of the plants that completely re-grew from the bottom of the original stem and I get a whole new head. IMG_4457 Now if that isn’t enough I’ll tell you what happened next.  One plant had provided me with the original head of broccoli, then it had re-sprouted and I’d harvested that and I thought ‘surely it’s done it’s dash’ and I tried to dig the (by then, I would have thought, exhausted) plant out of the ground. That stem was so tough I couldn’t shift it. I got it half out of the ground and gave up. Left it for another day. I’d managed to shift half, but the other half of the root was still in the ground. I gave up and went home. Days later I returned and this is what I found.  That darn stem was growing again! You can see below. That tough old stem, lying on the ground with just a few roots still in the soil, is sprouting. IMG_4327 A week later and the new plant is ‘growing like Topsy’ out of this stump lying on the ground. And you can see the scars on the stem where I have been harvesting already. IMG_4450 And today I found a second plant growing even further along the stem. IMG_4454 The lesson I have learned from this is that if you find a plant that loves where it is growing then the seeds HAVE to be saved so that they can be passed on to other gardeners in the same area. Happy gardening.

The allotment is looking rather spectacular

If you never want to speak to me again I quite understand. Dear reader, it has been eleven months since I last blogged.

I haven’t been lazy, I’m still in love with my allotment and at the moment it is looking wonderful.

You may have noticed, I said ‘allotment’ singular. I gave up my second allotment during our last long hot summer, it was hard to keep up regular watering with no rain and regular 35 degrees celsius temperatures. So now I have one (tiny) eight square metres plot but it’s keeping me in vegetables and herbs. Take a look.

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The netting in the background is to keep the fruit fly off my tomato plants. I bought a mozzie (mosquito) net from the local op-shop for $2 and used that. Worked a treat and I’ve been eating tomatoes for weeks now. And they taste like tomatoes should.

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This season I scattered my veggies to confuse the pests. No straight rows and no ‘beds’ of the same veggies. Just a hotch potch and it seems to have worked. The ‘brides’ on the right of the picture are my netted tomato plants.

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Just an overview of my tiny plot. The bricks are the beginning of my little pathway through the allotment, long since disappeared under the foliage.

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This season I’ve also used flowers interspersed with the veggies to confuse the pests. That’s the theory anyway. It seems to work. With mixing the veggies up and adding the flowers I’ve had a really good harvest – and not too many ‘lace’ leaves.

It’s lovely to be back. Thank you to Sue over at the farm for giving me the push to revive my gardening blog.

I have a certain interest in another blog you may like to check out.   Happy gardening.

I’m taking a break

No, I havn’t fallen off the edge of the world. I’m still tending the allotment but really there is nothing fresh to write about as we harvest the last of our winter veggies and prepare for a long hot summer.

I have harvested the last of the winter crop, just a bit of silverbeet, carrots and a few (tough) beans. Fortunately there is a stash of veggies blanched and in the freezer, some are turned into preserves (this is one I prepared earlier!)

Apart from a few tomato, cucumber and snake bean plants the plot is lying under a layer of mulch for the summer so things will be quiet for a while on the blogging front. If I grow an amazing tomato you’ll be the first to know. In the meanwhile, time to take a bit of a break.

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This is a lovely day spent on a friend’s boat on the Coomera river just south of Brisbane. Here comes summer. Rock on.

A spring heatwave

This is it folks, Queensland summer has begun early.

We are in the middle of a heatwave with long-standing records being broken all over the place with some towns reaching 39 degrees yesterday and it’s still only spring.

Fire warnings have been issued and crews are battling scores of grass and bush fires around south-east Queensland.

Over at the allotment the pressure is on to keep my little seedlings from giving up the ghost.  Water is a precious commodity and one of the answers during drought conditions is mulch, mulch, mulch. We can buy a bale of sugar cane mulch for $7 at the community farm where I have my allotment and that’s what I use.

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Sugar cane mulch

Mulch is essential to your garden during drought conditions. (Our recent storm is just a memory.)  It will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil reducing your need to water your veggies.  It acts as an insulating layer keeping the soil cooler in the summer and roots like that!

The potatoes are mulched

The potatoes are mulched

I’ve already mulched the potatoes and I’ll work my way around the allotment this week.

But just to lighten this post – there is plenty of green still around the place. I’m harvesting lovely carrots but I would grow them anyway just for the pretty carrot tops.

pretty carrot tops

pretty carrot tops

Love these peas. They have a lovely snap when you break them open. Could be why they call them Sugar Snaps. :)

Pretty peas

Pretty peas

And I grow these Cosmos flowers amongst the vegetables, just for the insects.

For the insects

Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

Happy Gardening.

One big downpour and a bountiful harvest

After weeks of drought it rained this week and veggies ran wild.

Couldn’t believe it when I got to the allotment yesterday, I’ve been watering for weeks to keep them alive and one big downpour and it caused a riot in the veggie patch. Growth everywhere. It’s wonderful.

It was a Wednesday morning, and that’s when we all work over on the community garden.

After working in the community garden the volunteers share the produce at the end of the morning. Pat had done a lovely job of cleaning and trimming the vegetables ready for their close-up (Mr DeMille) so I couldn’t resist getting the camera out.

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Now that’s what you call a beetroot. Not sure if it will taste any good but Molita and I couldn’t resist getting the camera out.

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Happy Gardening.

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The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

One homemaker. One Acre. My quest for Self Sufficiency.

not just greenfingers

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Tootlepedal's Blog

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frugal feeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

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Growing vegetables on one small allotment

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Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Down to Earth

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

One homemaker. One Acre. My quest for Self Sufficiency.

not just greenfingers

Mrs Thrift's Allotment & Simple Living in the Modern Day......Allotment Growing, Baking And More...

quarteracrelifestyle

The "Good Life" on a quarter acre, frugal living

Gardener Jen

Trials, errors and joys of creating and maintaining my first garden.

Our Everyday Life in Pictures

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Exercising Septuagenarian

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

frugal feeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Next Stage

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

The Greening of Gavin

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Down to Earth

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

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