Congratulations Lyndell and Andy

Lyndell and Andy have the allotment next to mine at Beelarong Community Farm.  Congratulations to you both on the birth of baby Rosalyn. Can’t wait to meet her.

Lyndell is a very talented ‘crafty’ person – you can catch up with her on her blog Show us Your Crafty Bits. She makes cute stuff for babies and little girls.

We are rather lucky that a number of mothers bring their babies and toddlers along to the farm on a Wednesday morning to work in the community garden. It’s wonderful to have these youngsters wondering around and enjoying the fresh air.

I am delighted to have a new allotment neighbour, Victoria and her little boy took on the plot right next to mine.

It’s not just vegetables we are growing at the farm!

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Caterpillars’ Playground

That will serve me right for ‘gadding off’ for a week and leaving my allotment to the critters.

It’s turned into a caterpillars’ playground.

I’d sprayed with a home-made molasses spray but I obviously didn’t do it right, or often enough.

So when I arrived at the allotment yesterday I ripped out the couple of red cabbage I’d been growing for pickling and threw them on the compost heap as it was too late to rescue them. Then it’s over to the kale bed, the plants were not so badly affected and I decided to harvest as much as I could before the caterpillars really took over. The silverbeet wasn’t affected at all.

I had a good harvest, two huge bags of kale, a bucketful of silverbeet, flat leafed and curly parsley and a very pretty Red Coral lettuce.

Red Coral Lettuce

The Italian and the curly kale have got so many little places where tiny caterpillars can hide (and I don’t need the protein) so when I got it home I filled the sink to the top with cold water laced with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar and soaked for ten minutes to make sure there was nothing lurking that I had missed.

Kale and silverbeet seems to disappear to nothing when you cook the leaves but I still had plenty to pop into the freezer.

Despite the cabbage moths using my plot as their own special nursery there is still plenty of food left for me.  I got a bit carried away when I was sowing my Speckled Lettuce seeds and despite giving seedlings away, and transplant some too, I am still left with this carpet of young lettuces which I will pick and use the tender new leaves in my salad.

Speckled lettuce living ‘tenement’ style

Here is one I transplanted and you can clearly see the speckles on the leaves. (I had just been around with the hose pipe.)

Transplanted Speckled Lettuce

This curly kale plant looks almost too pretty to eat. I harvested the outside leaves yesterday. The caterpillars left this one alone.

Curly kale

Here’s a pic of the allotment yesterday after I had thrown out the cabbages and harvested food to take home. Starting at the front and moving backwards I have flat leafed and curly leafed parsley, mint, giant endive, kohl rabi, harvested silverbeet in the bucket, silverbeet plants, various lettuce, carrots, beans, two types of kale, leeks, garlic and the potatoes still growing in their bags.

The rather bedraggled looking lettuce just behind the bucketful of kale is a Drunken Woman lettuce that I have left to go to seed. It has a huge seed head so I am expecting to have plenty of seeds to share. The original seeds were a gift, I’m not even sure if you can buy them in the shops.

As I have said before, I have just the 16 square metres of land so I plant small amounts of each vegetable.

The allotment

Happy gardening.

A social butterfly

I’ve been a bit of a social butterfly.

Good job we’ve had some rain so that the allotment can struggle along without me. Thanks however to Di for removing the shade cloth from my carrot bed now they have germinated.

Enjoyed a lovely couple of days with friends Simon and Lisa at Mt Tamborine who took me out for a celebratory Birthday Dinner and the next day helped me understand the settings on my new camera. Then off to the flower bed to get some macro shots  and this is what happened next ..

Scruffy gets in on the act

Back to Brisbane for a wonderful party hosted by son and daughter-in-law. Thank you Jenny and Steve, you thought of everything and really went the whole hog!

Up early on Sunday to catch the coach to the Carnival of Flowers at Toowoomba. This is an annual event which runs for a week when the spring flowers are out. The camera got another work-out and it’s been hard to decide which pics to include from the 100 or so I took. Here is a tiny taste.

A visit to the Clivia Society

One of the floats from the carnival

Just one of the private gardens on display

Monday morning and the start of another week. Enjoyed sharing the first day of the school holidays with grandsons.

Back to the allotment tomorrow. Better take a couple of big buckets with me – there’s going to be plenty to harvest.

Retirement can be great fun. (I think I’ve just found the name for my next blog.)

“My Mother’s Kitchen” – a Recipe Swap

New Farm Library hosted an interesting morning this week “My Mother’s Kitchen”.

The idea was to re-live the memories of childhood.  I quote “Pick your favourite of the classic recipes that were handed down to you, and bring a copy of the recipe to swap with others over morning tea.”  It made for an interesting mix of recipes.

Nadira bought along a Sri Lankan curry; Santina shared with us her Italian baked pasta dish; Halina and Urszula served a selection of savoury Polish dishes. All were delicious and varied and gave an insight into other cultures.

We followed with a selection of ‘sweets’ prepared by Monica and Barbara, Tatiana served her Auntie’s Russian Masurka cake and Australian Lamingtons, and I baked my mothers Bread Pudding – solid English fare.

The table was decorated with produce from Tatiana’s garden and there was a big selection of cook books on display from the library.  I was able to load myself up with a bag full of cook books to gorge on. Don’t think I could manage to satisfy my urge for cook books without my library card.

Talking of cook books what I didn’t realise was that Monica and Barbara were published authors and had produced a cook book of their own.  Barbara would be remembered by students at All Hallows School in Brisbane as nun Sister Mary Basil. And that is how she met Monica who was a pupil at the school, and whom she taught.

The cookbook “Basil Over Time” (not Thyme) refers to Barbara as Sister Mary Basil, and I don’t think they could decide on “Time” or “Thyme”.  Either way, it’s a great little book beautifully illustrated and I’m looking forward to trying out the recipes Old and New. Here is the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning, and would recommend it to anyone who is involved in a group and is thinking “what shall we do next”.

Playing tourist

I played tourist today.

I live five minutes away from the city of Brisbane by road but this being a lazy Sunday I thought I’d take the City Cat and travel to the city by river.  City Cat’s run up and down the Brisbane river and it’s a lovely way to travel.

City Cat heading down stream on Brisbane river

Here’s a close up of the Cat as it pulls in ready to take me into the city.

My City Cat arrives

I didn’t time the journey but it was probably about twenty minutes as the river meanders around the New Farm peninsula. I alighted in the city centre (how handy is that!) and made a visit to the city library where I loaded myself up with magazines and DVD’s.

Time for a coffee at the Shingle Inn where I took advantage of one of their comfortable armchairs overlooking Brisbane Square then a stroll along the mall where I came upon these dancers. They were terrific and a good crowd soon gathered, all the iphones were whipped out as folk started snapping away.

Further down the mall the Queensland Wind and Brass Band had drawn a crowd.

Queensland Wind and Brass Band

There was another reason for visiting the city. No tourist should be without a decent camera and I had decided to check them out.  And here it is. Watch out for amazing photographs – just gotta get that instruction book out ……

My new toy

It was a lovely way to spend the day. It’s easy to take our home patch for granted, sometimes it’s just good to get out there and do the ‘tourist’ thing.

What Happened at 6 O’clock

This is my entry for Deb’s photograph scavenger hunt this weekend. The photograph could be taken at 6am or 6pm on Saturday. I am a morning person and this is the view that greeted me from my balcony.

The sun rises and sets very quickly in Brisbane. These pics were taken as I snapped away for about a minute.

I love this time of day.

Sunrise over Teneriffe

A few moments later

Sunrise over the rooftops

Compost Rolling and Manure Mounds

Yes folks. It’s not all glitz and glamour down at the allotment.

This morning I’ve been rolling compost bins and forming pony poo mounds.

But the first job was to get the hose going as it is now two months since we last had rain. After I had watered my plot I played the hose on the compost bins which were very dry. And then we rolled the bins. I know that I’ve featured these bins before but it was some time ago and it’s a job we do each week.

The temperature was in the late 20’s today so the hats were not a fashion accessory!

Rolling the compost bins, I’m the one taking the photo

We have six of these bins in use at the moment – here are just three.

Compost bins lined up

Back at my little plot it was time to dig up the last of the parsnips and clear the bed. So here they are lined up after a quick wash – more legs than a line of chorus girls and more whiskers than Santa.

Parsnips – nothing to boast about.

The four parsnips on the right were in the bed that I had prepared carefully and apart from slicing off the root of one as I was digging it up, they are shaped as a parsnip should be because they didn’t have to struggle through the soil.

The dramatic ones were growing on the edge of the prepared bed and that shows me that you need to make a bit of effort with your soil when you are growing these root vegetables to stop them forking. The minute they hit a pebble or anything they’ll grow legs.

Anyway, enough of that. The question was what to put in that bed now? Very shortly we will be in the heat of the summer with temperatures regularly in the mid 30’s and with high humidity. I’ve only been gardening through two Queensland summers and I sought the advice of Sara who knows what she is talking about. Zucchini was the answer.

Now I’ve had a bit of a dabble with zucchini’s once, to a thunderous (what’s that word – the opposite to success?)

But this time it’s different because Sara told me how to do it. You build a mound, plant three seeds, thin out the weakest two, and you are left with one strong plant sitting on the top of a (slight) mound to give it good drainage.  I had room for two plants, so I needed two mounds.

I am determined these two plants are going to keep me in zucchinis through the summer so they needed a bit of a good start.  Nothing better than a good dollop of well rotted pony poo.  And as luck would have it there was still a bit left of the original pile sitting no more than a few yards away.  Just a few shovels full would do it.

So, I built my little mounds, laid three seeds on the top of each, and watered it all in. Easy.

Then, a stroke of genius!  Lettuces suffer in our summer heat and just bolt. I had some Speckled Lettuce seedlings which needed transplanted as they were a bit crowded so I planted them around the bottom of the mounds with the idea that as they grow the zucchini leaves will give them shade. It could work, time will tell.

So here is the picture. Hard to see the mounds really, but you can see the lettuce seedlings so you get the idea.

Zucchini mounds and Speckled Lettuce seedlings

And this is what I planted, Golden Zucchini.

Golden zucchini seeds

I try to be a bit adventurous as well as growing the staple vegetables and today I planted golden zucchini which I hope will be a bit more exciting than the green variety.

And I am looking forward to watching my speckled lettuce grow as the seeds were given to me and I was told it is an heirloom variety with European origins dating back to 1660. In my book that makes them rather interesting.

Happy gardening.

A Sunday Drive up to Toowoomba

I took a drive up to Toowoomba yesterday, a picturesque city at the top of the Great Dividing Range with wonderful views over the Lockyer Valley.

This was a treat organised by my friend Tatiana and the idea was to travel through the beautiful Lockyer Valley and visit the wonderful farmer’s markets on the way.  The Lockyer Valley is the fruit and vegetable farming area that was absolutely devastated in the floods of January 2011.

Tatiana picked me up at 7am and went on to collect Judy who made the third member of our party. And off we set. The day was perfect for a drive out, warm and sunny and we tootled along enjoying the wonderful scenery on the way.

We had a great time filling up the car with plants, fruit trees (yes, trees), bags of fruit and veggies all at a most amazing price. $1 for a beautiful cauliflower. And it was wonderful to be buying locally from the folk who grow the stuff. I couldn’t resist a red cabbage, so solid and heavy and just waiting to be turned into pickled cabbage!  Also couldn’t walk past a huge bag of beetroot just asking to be pickled. (It’s Monday morning now, guess what I’ll be doing in the kitchen all day?)

It has been years since I went to Toowoomba, it’s such a pretty city and at the end of September it’s the annual Carnival of Flowers so the blossoms were already out. The last market we visited was in Toowoomba itself – by the time the car was packed up to the gunnels I don’t know how the three of us fitted back into the car.

But then it was time for lunch. There are some great pubs in Toowoomba (I’m sounding like a travel guide) and we found one right next to the market that served a grand steak. And time for a glass of wine for the lucky passengers as the driver looked on!

A relaxed drive back to Brisbane and then it was the opportunity for me to check out Tatiana’s veggie garden. I had heard all about it as she worked on setting up her raised beds and establishing fruit trees. The plants were bursting with life. Naturally, out came my camera.

Raised beds in Tatiana’s garden

It was a grand day, thank you Tatiana.  I really should make the effort to get out of town more often, but I suppose then it wouldn’t be a treat.

So I’m back to the kitchen now to get out that vinegar and the pickling spices.

“In Your Garden Today”

“In Your Garden Today” is the subject of this week’s photograph in Deb’s Photographic Scavenger Hunt.

My garden is not in my backyard, it’s a 15 minute drive over at Morningside, it’s my allotment.

So here we go …..

The allotment at 5:30pm with red cabbage, kohl rabi, parsley and mint in the foreground

The allotment at 5:35pm from the other direction with kale and potato bags in the foreground

The allotment at 5:45pm as the sun starts to set

Exotic Herbs and Spices

I spent an interesting morning today at a workshop on “Exotic Herbs and Spices to Grow at Home” given by Annette McFarlane as New Farm Library.

This was something new for me.  Raised in England I know a lot about growing mint and parsley!

It was an opportunity to learn about the sort of herbs and spices that we can grow in South-East Queensland, except for saffron – you would need to move to Tasmania or New Zealand to be successful with that.  We covered garlic, tamarind, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, galangal, peppercorn, coriander, saffron, vanilla and horseradish.

I already have a bed of garlic and coriander at the allotment but I’m certainly going to be more adventurous after what I learned today. After morning tea we went outside into New Farm Park and potted up turmeric and ginger and were able to take them home. So that’s a good start.

If you want to know more about growing these exotic herbs and spices you can check out this link to Annette’s website  where she has posted a PDF of the workshop.

Previous Older Entries

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Writing about all things thrifty, home cooking, fun on a budget and living between Cornwall and Huelgoat in Brittany.

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The Blog that Challenges Policitally Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

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Frugal Queen

Writing about all things thrifty, home cooking, fun on a budget and living between Cornwall and Huelgoat in Brittany.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

The Power of Thrift

and other ramblings

Nourishing Traditions

The Blog that Challenges Policitally Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

could do worse

adventures in London

Allotmentals Plot 103

Allotment, garden and daytrips

Pickle Me Too

Nourishing foods for the whole family (including pickles!)

myproductivebackyard

Sustainable Backyard Food Production

My Front Burner

making what matters

30 acres of sunshine

organic, sustainable and self-sufficient hobby farm in the making

Lottie Land Girl

Living the 'Good Life' the Brown way!

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...

Foodnstuff

Energy decline & self-sufficiency from Melbourne, Australia

horticultural 'obbit

'obbitry of the horticultural kind

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