Ladies who lunch

I like my daggy gardening clothes, but yesterday we dressed up.

Two friends from the allotment took me out for lunch. That is the last of my birthday celebrations. It was pointed out that if I don’t stop soon it will run into my next birthday. So that’s it folks.

We had a lovely catch up, if we had stayed longer they would have asked us to wash up!

Thank you Di and Zu for the flowers, they are already opening up beautifully.

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The parsnip harvest

I love parsnips.

Here is the first of my parsnip harvest. OK, I know they would’t win a competition. More foliage than a bride’s bouquet. BUT I grew them in Queensland, when really they want to grow in the cold finishing off with a nice nip of frost.

Mind you, I have learned a bit since I first sowed the seeds. The soil was too rich, I’ll try again and incorporate sand to make a lighter soil for them. I fed them too much so ended up with more greenery than parsnip.

The parsnip harvest

As a post script – nothing is wasted at the allotment and those parsnip tops didn’t even get as far as the compost heap – an allotment neighbour jumped on them to feed to her chooks. So there are some very happy chickens clucking away in suburban Brisbane.

Self sufficiency – and a trip to the Farmers Market

For one brief moment in time I have reached the stage when I am eating all my own vegetables.

I have my potatoes stored in a brown paper bag and garlic dried off in the garage from the last season, small but potent. In the freezer I have an abundance of snake beans – I may never get to the bottom of them as I had a bumper harvest.

I’m picking fresh carrots, parsnips, kale, silverbeet, lettuce, and the herbs mint, parsley, garlic chives, rosemary.

Whoops!  I buy onions, but I am told that South Australia is the onion-growing capital of Australia. So perhaps I can be forgiven as our weather is sub-tropical. I havn’t mentioned tomatoes because I am classing that as a fruit – and so does the dreaded fruit fly which has stung every tomato I have ever tried to grow except the tiny cherry tomatoes.

Talking of fruit, that brings me to the reason for my visit to Jan Power’s Farmers Market at the Powerhouse in New Farm Park yesterday morning. We seem to have a glut of strawberries at the moment and I wanted to buy a few kilos for jam making. I also needed a dozen free range eggs. So off I set with my ‘Nanny Trolley’.

It was a beautiful morning and lots of people had turned up. You couldn’t have hurried if you tried (why would you want to?) because there were so many strollers, an amazing variety of shopping trolleys, and dogs of all description on the end of a lead (oh my grammar – they each had a lead of their own!).  Every man and his dog had turned out to enjoy the sunshine.

The first thing that hit me was the smell of frying bacon. Now I had already eaten fruit and yoghurt at home, but suddenly it just wasn’t enough.  So I stopped at Jon’s Delights for breakfast and he cooked me the most amazing bacon and egg burger.

Breakfast at Jon’s Delights, The Barn

Then I got a bit snap-happy. These are only a few of the pics that I took of the wonderful array of stalls.

Beetroot

Lettuce

Oranges

Garlic

Parsnips

You want to get me locked up!?

And finally I picked up my booty. Three kilos of strawberries for $10.

Going home to make jam

36 days without rain

I heard on the news today that Brisbane has been 36 days without rain.

Allotment holders already know that!

So I took a photograph this morning of the hero of the hour – the old watering can I use.  We have plastic ones as well at the farm, but I rather like the retro look of this one.

The old watering can, and the nearest tap to my allotment.

During this dry period I also use the hosepipe twice a week to give a real good soaking but there’s nothing photogenic in my eyes about a plastic hosepipe that get’s kinks in it and drives me mad.  If I have the time, I’d much rather use the old watering can.

And because I want to finish on a pretty note, here is a photograph I took this morning at Jan Powers Farmers Market at New Farm Park.  I took about 70 pics so once I’ve been through them I will put them in a separate post.

Gerberas at the Farmers Market at New Farm Park

Support Daffodil Day

Support Daffodil Day.

Daffodil Day raises funds for Cancer Council to continue its work in cancer research, providing patient support programs and prevention programs to all Australians.

When I saw this huge daffodil at Coles supermarket this morning, sorry, I couldn’t resist it!  I might be one year older today – but I’m obviously no wiser.

I got carried away at Coles supermarket this morning

A decadent chocolate birthday cake

Thank you for the birthday cake Steve, and to Nigel for helping us eat it.  (Not sure about the “Happy Birthday” duet that went with it!)

Looking forward to lunch tomorrow, and family breakfast at the weekend … This birthday is going to be the longest in history – I just know it, as the diary gets full up for a week.

The allotment in pictures

Things are looking pretty good at the moment down at the allotment. We havn’t had rain for weeks but I have kept up the watering and the veggies are thriving so I got out the camera and tried a few different angles.

Cavalo Nero, Italian Kale

The kale bed

Silverbeet

Lettuce, not sure of the variety as the seedlings were a gift

Red cabbage has a long way to go

“Baby Beet” beetroot

A little visitor on the mint

And this post wouldn’t be complete without another pic of the ‘Drunken Woman’ lettuce. As it goes to seed it just gets taller and taller and I think, rather lovely.

Drunken Woman lettuce going to seed

Happy gardening.

Growing potatoes in bags

When I went out to the allotment yesterday I was really pleased to see how my potatoes are coming along.  My daughter-in-law first introduced me to the idea of growing my spuds in these bags rather than in the ground – she got them from Green Harvest.

3 potato plants in this potato growing bag

The beauty of these particular bags is that there is a flap on the side of each bag, held with velcro, that you can open up when you are ready to harvest. By opening the flap you can firstly check whether the potatoes are ready, but it also gives you the opportunity of ‘bandicooting’. If you havn’t come across this expression before it just means you can take a few potatoes from the bag without disturbing the rest of the plant as it keeps growing. Clever eh?

I got googling and found another Australian company Garden Express that also stocks these bags and if you click on the link there is a photograph of the bag with a side-on view that shows you the flap I was talking about.

I am using three bags, 9 plants in all. Not a lot, but as I only have 16 square metres at the allotment space is at a premium. I am hoping that by using the bags they will take up less room and the big advantage as I see it is that none of the harvest will be lost as you just empty the bags into a wheelbarrow, or onto a tarpaulin, and you have the whole crop, nothing left in the ground.

I’ll keep topping up the compost in the bags until I reach the top of the bag and see what sort of harvest I get.

Watch this space!

Cob Oven Cooking workshop down at the farm

Down at the farm where I keep my allotment they are always running workshops and on Friday I helped with the “Cob Oven Cooking” workshop. Great fun.

John came along at 8:30am to light the wood fire in the cob oven so that it would be ready to cook an hour and a half later.

The cob oven

Participants arrived at 9:30 and got straight into making the dough. We had decided to go with a no-yeast recipe, and using yoghurt, which I thought would be a little different.

Pizza Dough (with no yeast)

Yield: 2 pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt (approximately)

Method:

  • Measure dry ingredients into a bowl
  • Add yoghurt and mix but don’t overdo it
  • Gather dough together and press into a ball, then divide dough in half
  • On lightly floured surface roll each half into a 13-inch (33cm) circle
  • Place on pizza tins
  • Cover base with passata (tomato paste)
  • Add toppings of your choice and bake for 20-25 minutes until it looks done

For toppings we harvested herbs and green leafed vegetables from the farm’s community garden to add to the chopped ham, then topped it all off with a layer of grated cheese.

Making the dough, chopping the topping

While the pizzas were cooking we made a tour of the farm’s community garden and the allotments, paying particular attention to the array of herbs that we grow there and at the same time working up an appetite. Here is the first pizza coming out of the oven.

The first pizza comes out of the oven

I’ve been dying to say it,  “this is one I prepared earlier!”  Actually, it was prepared earlier, a lot earlier.  I forgot to take a photo of the cooked pizza when it hit the table – but this is a photo I took at an earlier workshop. the variety of toppings is endless. All cooked in our cob oven.

This is one I prepared earlier!

A working bee at the farm

At Beelarong Community Farm where I lease my allotment we have received a grant to improve our building and paths to make them more accessible, and to build some raised garden beds designed for use by people in wheelchairs.

The first job is to start preparing the site by transplanting some plants, removing a brick wall, and dismantling a raised garden bed to give clear access. To that end we had our first working bee last Sunday.  It was a beautiful day and we had a really good turn-out. I lost count of the number of volunteers but there were folk all over the place wielding tools, shovelling earth, moving plants, even moving a guava tree.

I am not sure why, but there is something therapeutic about wielding a sledge hammer to fell a wall.

Dan doing some damage to a brick wall

My friend Barbara came over for the afternoon to help. We teamed up with Craig, the three of us worked like a well-oiled machine, while Craig slashed and hacked and worked up a sweat Barb and I worked as his backing group!

Craig clearing the ground to transplant the Taro

Then all we had to do was hose in the plants

The next job was transplanting a Strawberry Guava tree. We left Craig digging a hole big enough to bury an elephant while Barb and I barrowed in the compost and manure.

We all stopped for a cuppa and cake

Ground cleared, wall knocked down, and time for a cuppa

“take five”

Days like this are great fun. There’s a lot more work to be done but we made a great start.

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