Rain Stopped Play

Rain stopped play over at the farm today.

It takes a lot to stop my usual Wednesday morning visit to the allotment when I catch up with the other gardeners. Our morning teas are legendary as we all turn up with a plate. (It’s an Australian expression, the plate has to have food on it!)

But we have had torrential rain since yesterday morning and the farm will be waterlogged.  I heard from a few friends that they wouldn’t be going today either. Shame, because I was looking forward to taking my grandson along to show him around and to join in the ‘cake-fest’.

Just to prove that we don’t always have blue skies in Brisbane I took the camera out for a quick snap.

If you haven’t seen them before the white painted wooden houses are built on stilts and years ago Brisbane was full of homes like this. I heard that building the houses on stilts kept them cooler in the summer with the movement of air under the houses. I also heard that it kept the snakes out – but they could have been pulling my leg.

“Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close up”

I couldn’t resist this quote from Sunset Boulevard.

I have been wanting to take macro photos at the allotment for some time now. I use the camera on my iPhone 4S and splashed out the other day to buy a 3-in-one photo lens. The lens is quite small and clips on to the corner of the phone.

New 3-in-one lens

I am still learning and my hand tends to wobble as I try to zoom in, you need to get really close to the subject, and of course being a leaf or a flower they will Not Stay Still.  Anyway, this is my first attempt which I would like to share with you.

This tiny mauve flower is on my garlic chive and is 7mm across. The garlic chives have been flowering for weeks now and I think they are so pretty.

Flower on Garlic Chives

Flowering Garlic Chive

This is my thyme plant with the shot taken at the tip of a stem which is 6mm across. I see the beauty of the leaf at such close quarters.

Thyme

Here are a couple of shots of the developing flower on my sweet basil plant, taken from the side and from the end of the stalk.

Sweet Basil starting to flower

Sweet Basil at the tip of the developing flower head.

The lens also allows me to take wide-angle and fish-eye. Could be fun trying them out.

Another Wednesday morning at the farm “Eat, Drink and make … Compost”

Today was our usual Wednesday morning at the farm when volunteers and allotment holders gather together to tend the community garden and work on their own plots.  We all down-tools at 10am for morning tea. Gallons of tea, plenty of cake, and lots to talk about.

The weather in Brisbane is just beautiful at the moment even though we are supposed to be going into winter.  I took this photograph this morning looking across the community garden, it was early so just a couple of volunteers in the background. But will you look at that lovely blue sky.

Looking at the grass in the foreground it looks as if Peter has already been round with the lawn mower and the whipper snipper.

Blue sky over “Beelarong” community garden today.

I thought I’d show you one of the huge tumblers where we make our compost, we have half a dozen of them going at the moment. These tumblers were built by John who is one of the volunteers. He built them some years ago and they are still going strong. Heather oversees the filling of these tumblers and builds them up like a lasagne. Layers of lawn clippings, newspaper, chicken manure and weeds that have been put through the mulcher are assembled, the top half of the tumbler is then locked into place and a date put on the side.

The tumblers are turned every week and after about eight weeks we have great compost ready to use. In the summer it might be seven weeks, in the winter a little more. But I think it’s extraordinary that compost can be ready to use in such a short time. Heather tells me that ideally they would be rolled every day, but even rolling them each Wednesday morning gives a great result.

John’s compost making tumblers

At the end of each visit to the allotment I love to wonder around the farm. It is such a peaceful spot, and hard to leave sometimes. Wondering around today I ‘snapped’ this tiny pansy growing among the tomatoes. I thought it looked rather pretty.

Tiny pansy growing among the tomatoes

A busy day at the allotment

I had a busy day at the allotment yesterday. There is always the weeding and the harvesting to do but this time I wanted to clear out some old crops and do some fresh planting.

I had nothing pressing so thought as the weather was absolutely perfect in Brisbane, clear, sunny and not too hot it would be a lovely way to spend the day.

Upon arrival I had a good chat with my allotment neighbour Tim and admired his sweet potato patch. He showed me the bags of sweet potato he had harvested that morning and I just hope his wife has her recipe book out because I know who is going to have to deal with them. He was generous enough to give me a couple of these wonderful tubers – I love sweet potato, especially roasted in the oven. I was able to reciprocate with my crunchy radishes.

Then a couple of visitors to the farm rocked up and questioned Tim and myself about how you go about getting an allotment. They were a nice couple and that took a while of course. And they left us with a possum joke – see my earlier post.

Time eventually to get down to work. I started by ripping out the wizened pea plants. I was still able to harvest the last of the peas but basically they had done their dash. The cherry tomato plant was in the same state so out it came, but not before I had gathered the last of the little tomatoes. I am going to cook them tonight in my pasta sauce.

Then I got my big fork out and turned the ground over. Not sure what will be planted there yet, I need to feed the soil first anyway.

The next job was to weed the whole plot (I only have 16 square metres so it’s not a scary job to tackle).

By the time I had finished the weeding it was time for lunch. This meant a trip to Bunnings (hardware store) and their weekend sausage sizzle. Stuff I don’t normally eat but tasty as all get out. They slap a sausage onto a piece of white bread, smother it with fried onions and then you add a generous squirt of the sauce of your choice. Tomato, barbecue or mustard. I noticed one particularly adventurous diner eating his swimming in both tomato and mustard sauce. It cannot be done elegantly as he was able to display! I have a theory that the reason folk visiting Bunnings at the weekend wear their daggiest clothes is not because they are taking a break from the gardening or the DIY jobs – it’s because they don’t want tomato sauce on their best clothes.

I got off lightly at Bunnings’ gardening department on this occasion, buying only a punnet of Rainbow Silverbeet.

Back at the allotment I planted the silverbeet then used the farm’s watering cans to give a good dose of liquid fertiliser around the plot. The last job was to get out the camera ….

Weeding done and liquid feed watered in

Rainbow Silverbeet seedlings planted and watered in

Hollow Crown parsnip plants just popping up their heads

Baby Beets looking a bit straggly, hopefully they’ll pick up as I’m planning to pickle them – I have the jars and vinegar at the ready but looks like I’ve got a bit of a wait.

The curly parsley’s looking good

A pansy just starting to bloom up the corner of the allotment

How do you know which possum ate your parsley?

I stole this silly joke from a visitor at the allotment yesterday.

Question: How do you know which possum ate your parsley?

Answer: The one with sweet breath.

 

The camellias are out at New Farm library

The camellias are out at my local New Farm library.  The library is set in a wonderful location on the edge of New Farm Park. However, the library itself has rather a nice garden which I couldn’t resist ‘snapping’ when I went in the other day to change my books.  I was especially taken with the camellia bushes outside the front of the library, and surrounding the metal bench which you can see in one of the photos.

I have tried to thin out the photographs but could only manage to get down to eleven!  I don’t think they need any additional narrative, the photos speak for themselves.

Bench outside the library surrounded by the camellia bush. A nice little sheltered spot to read your book.

A single camellia bloom but I’m not sure which variety

Camellia blooms

Camellia bush beside the metal bench

I love this tree at the front of the library, it throws wonderful dappled shade especially welcome in the summer. Must be some variety of Gum Tree I think. I just love the silver trunk. It could even be a ‘Ghost Gum’. I’d love to find out.

And here’s it’s neighbour.

This lovely palm tree grows near the steps as you walk into the library.

The birds love this bush. I waited for ages watching a bird with it’s tiny beak in the flowers and tried to capture it in the picture, but I was making it nervous so I left him (her?) to it.

This lovely bloom grows in the border outside the library window at the front. Looks like somebody has had the ‘Pledge’ out and given the leaves a good polish.

Not sure what this plant is but I find it interesting, and love the variegation.

No wonder it takes me ages to change my library books. I think the Council or the Parks Department got something right when they planned this library.

Many shades of green

I find this is the best time of the year to be gardening in Brisbane, during these cooler months.

We have had some wonderful rain showers recently and you only have to look at my allotment to see the benefit.  Healthy plants and so many shades of green.   Here are a few photos taken at the plot this week.

Radish

Potato bed

Salad greens

Italian kale ‘Cavolo Nero’

Lettuce ‘Drunken Woman’ ready to pick

A batch of delicious herb and cheese scones

It is now becoming fashionable to cut down on waste and live sustainably which I think is wonderful.  But it is nothing new to me as, to quote my Barbara, we were both ‘war babies’ born during a time of great conflict in the world.   It was a time of rationing in the UK and general deprivation.

“Now what has all this got to do with a batch of delicious savoury scones?” I hear you say.

Well, I found myself in ‘retro mode’ this morning.  Plus, I had flat leafed and curly parsley from the allotment, a nice piece of cheddar and half a jar of fresh cream that I wanted to use up.

So out came the ‘Margaret Fulton’ as I have found her to have good old-fashioned tried and tested recipes. I decided a batch of scones would just fit the bill, with a bit of tweaking from me.

Flat leafed and curly parsley from the allotment

You don’t usually find full cream in my fridge (the hips!) but I bought this jar for a special recipe the other day and bought the larger jar to be on the ‘safe side’.

So …  Pre-heat the oven to 220c.

I used the basic scone recipe of 3 cups of self-raising flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 oz (60 grams) of butter. Rub together to resemble breadcrumbs.

Instead of a cup of milk I used milk/cream half and half to make a richer mix.

I added a really big handful of the chopped parsley and a cup of grated cheddar to make a nice stiff dough.

Rolled out the dough, brushed the top with the rest of the cream and a sprinkling of grated cheddar. And it’s that finishing touch that gave me the lovely golden top to the finished batch.

Scones ready for the oven

Pop into a pre-heated oven – in this case it took 20 minutes. And out come the delicious herb and cheese scones.

Thank you Mrs Fulton.

I harvest my first purple carrot!

We have had so much rain in the last week that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to the allotment yesterday afternoon.  The potato bed looked a bit battered from the downpour but I don’t think any real damage has been done. A few cherry tomatoes were lying on the ground, but apart from that I think the rain has done lots of good.

The main reason for my visit was to gather salad vegetables for today’s lunch as I had invited friends around. The menu was planned and just needed the fresh taste of a bowl of salad to complete the meal.

I was really pleased with the result of my labours. Left to right is lovely crunchy radish, multicoloured harlequin carrots and Drunken Woman lettuce. Curly parsley and flat leafed parsley is at the back.

This is the first time that I have grown harlequin carrots. I really wanted to pull a purple carrot out of the ground. And here it is in the centre of the photo. it’s a bit thin, but it is purple.  The rest turned out to be white (an albino carrot!) and finally one very ordinary orange one. It was very tempting to keep pulling them up just to see what other colours I have – but I left them for another day.

I am now hooked. That is the joy of planting from seed, the variety is endless.

“Tips from the Old Gardeners” by Duncan Crosbie

I have been lucky enough to receive a fascinating gardening book from my fellow gardener and friend Wendy.

“Tips from the Old Gardeners” by Duncan Crosbie is full of interesting facts, hints, quotations and little titbits garnered from gardeners over the years.

The first chapter deals with “old wives tales” and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there is usually some fact behind it.  One little snippet is on page 9 If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers off and sit on the ground!  as a way of finding out if it’s warm enough to start the spring planting.

By late Victorian times this was thought of as not nice at all (and I won’t be encouraging this around my allotment either.)

And what about this gorgeous quotation on page 53 by Evelyn Underhill in 1912 We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so like life. Don’t you just love that one.

I could add my own quotation from one of my neighbours over at my allotment. She reckons Gardeners are all positive people – you only have to think about what we are up against …  but we still keep planting!

I’ll be off to the monthly meeting of the Gardening Group over at New Farm library at 3pm and I’ll be taking the little book with me. Should bring out a few smiles.

Happy gardening.

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