2012 in review

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. Thank you for visiting my blog since I started it in March this year. I really appreciate all of your comments.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Not the biggest melon in the world but it’s a start

Not the biggest melon in the world but it's a start

 

Here it is.  My first melon from the allotment. Ta Dah!

 

 

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Preserve your harvest

At some stage most veggie growers have to deal with the question – how do you deal with the surplus?

I have just 16 square metres and I STILL get a surplus. This is great really, gives me chance to share with others (who don’t mind odd-shaped veggies or ‘lacey’ green leaves) and some left over to preserve.

I’ve done well at the allotment this weekend.

Another good picking of cucumbers to pickle.  Plus a nice bunch of sweet basil for a little jar of pesto.

I have already posted about my cucumber “Bread and Butter “pickles here and here at the end of November. (If those three cucumber plants keep going at this rate I’ll be drowning in these pickles!)

So in today’s post I’ll concentrate on the pesto. I started with a bunch of Sweet Basil but I also had a surplus of parsley which I decided to mix with the basil.  The basil had been going to seed giving it a much stronger flavour so I was quite happy to add the milder tasting parsley to boost the quantity of herbs required for the recipe.

I assembled the simple ingredients for this recipe. You will see that the recipe also requires parmesan cheese but I add the parmesan just before I use the pesto.  I read somewhere that the pesto keeps a bit longer if you do that.

Pesto ingredients with garlic

Pesto ingredients with home grown basil, parsley and garlic

And here is the result of my labours of the morning, three jars of pickles and one little pot of pesto. The joy of this is the fact that I produced so many of the ingredients myself (with Mother Nature of course).

What I didn’t mention is that I have a small red pepper plant growing on my balcony and I also added the peppers to the cucumber and onions in the pickle but they are obliterated by the labels. Nothing is wasted in this house.

I will store my little jar of pesto in the fridge as we are at the height of summer here in Brisbane. I plan to use it within the week, spread over a slice of crusty bread, drizzled over sliced tomato and mixed through a nice bowl of pasta with a good grating of cheese.

The result of my labours

The result of my labours. The little pot of pesto on the left.

Happy gardening.

Starve yer carrots

I’ve got this thing about growing the perfect carrot. There is something about pulling a carrot out of the ground, it’s the smell, it’s the way a carrot should smell, and it’s hard to recapture again. 

I am prepared to go to great lengths to grow my perfect carrot and I’ll be preparing my next carrot bed today by doing nothing.  By not digging in manure.

I’m feeding the soil in my little allotment with manure ready for my next big planting season in March. Except for one little corner which I am saving for my next carrot bed. I grew my kale last season up that same little corner. 

Carrots do really well after a well-manured greedy leaf crop such as kale. So all I plan to do is add some horticultural sand when I plant the seeds. This helps because if carrots as they are growing hit anything to stop them they will fork. And just how many legs do you want on your carrots???  By adding the sand it will lighten my soil and hopefully there will be nothing to stop them reaching their full potential.

So like I said, today I’ll do nothing to my new carrot bed.

What I will do when I go over to the allotment today, however, is harvest some carrots. I planted a late bed of this lovely root veggie and even in the heat of this December I’m still pulling them. 

Now just because I like to finish with a photo this is one taken in our winter and you may have seen it before. No apologies.

So, as all the good foodies say, “this is one I prepared earlier”. 

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Happy Gardening.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to plant we go

After a very quiet December I think I have my blogging mojo back.

If you are interested in planting according to the phases of the moon, the full moon in Brisbane today should be the perfect time for me to be sowing my seeds as advised by the e-newsletter from Linda Brennan at Ecobotanica.

The idea is that the seeds germinate and grow so much faster depending on the gravitational pull which influences the moisture level in the soil. One of the ladies at our allotments swears by it. I’m going to give it a go.

So today I’m setting out to the allotment to plant my English Spinach and Tatsoi, seeds gifted to me on Christmas Day.

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If you are interested in finding out more about planting according to the moon cycle you can check out this link.

Happy gardening.

A gardener’s Christmas

Thank you to my family and friends for the thoughtful Christmas gifts. I’m going to be the smartest gardener in 2013 as I received lovely new gardening gloves, tools, seeds and books. I cannot wait to get out to the allotment and put these gifts to good use.

And for after I take a much-needed shower after digging in the dirt I have a gorgeous new fragrance – Givenchy’s Dahlia Noir.  See, I’m not all sweat and dirt – I’m a girl too!

Finally, thanks to lovely friends Pat and Steve for their wonderful hospitality, a beautiful festive table and a cooling swim in the pool.

Love to you all.

And to everyone reading this blog, I wish you happy gardening in 2013.

Happy Christmas

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog this past year. I have enjoyed writing about life down the allotment  and reading your comments.

There hasn’t been much happening at the allotment this month to blog about. We had the heat wave earlier in the month, and regular days now over 30c degrees to deal with, so the main thing is the watering. But I did manage to plant a couple of sweet potatoes given to me by my friend Tatiana. They were sprouting like mad, and are doing very well in the heat.

Happy Christmas to you all and I’ll meet you again in the new year.

Throw it a kiss and say g’day and walk away

I’m used to cane toads and ticks over at the allotment, this is Queensland after all. To complete the trilogy we now have a snake.

When I was at the farm the other day we found a Black Whip Snake when we were rolling the tumblers.  It was under a compost tumbler and was trying to desperately get away when disturbed.  Dan who was there when it was discovered has some bush experience and was able to identify it. It has a very large eye, body and tail long and slender. Rich brown above, spotted with black and flecked with white: small dark blotches on top of head; belly green grey.  It can grow to 1.5m and is potentially dangerous but not neuro-toxic. See further reference on Page 204 of “Wildlife of Greater Brisbane”.

We have been advised of the action to be taken – be aware but not alarmed. Take care when moving tin or boxes on the ground.  Move objects with a rake handle first just in case a snake is sheltering underneath.  Walk heavily in long grass or bush.  Snakes will always try to get away.  Laminated first-aid prints are distributed in prominent positions around the farm. Don’t forget to wear closed in boots and if bitten apply first-aid and seek medical attention. A first-aid kit is supplied.

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I’ve been doing a big of googling about snakes in Australia and I just love this comment by Rural Reporter Brooke Neindorf on the ABC website  –  check out the last sentence  “Australia has lots of venomous snakes. They cause few problems to sensible people [and] left alone they just go about their business.”  “Just throw it a kiss and say g’day and walk away, that’s what I reckon.”

I must remember that ……  I’m sure it will help.

Happy gardening.

Cavolo Nero – RIP

My allotment comprises 16 square metres of land and so everything growing there has to be held accountable. Perform, or else!

Then just once in a while I meet an over-performer. In this case my Cavolo Nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur Kale)

I have been cutting at this kale for months, more than I can eat, so much has been blanched and is now deposited in my food bank (i.e. the freezer in the garage).

Which brings me to the point of today’s post. I made the painful decision early this morning that the time had come.  From the original five plants I still had two left, still producing valiantly, but home to more pests than I could control.

The kindest thing was to make the final cut. Out they came, and I moved them over to the area where Peter will now put them through the mulcher and they will live again via our compost heap.

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In memory of happier times. Here is a photo taken at their peak.

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These plants have been heavy feeders so all that remains for me to do now is to feed the soil where they have spent the last few months. I’ll add plenty of organic matter and give the bed a bit of a rest while the worms do their stuff.

Happy gardening.

“We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave”

Who first sang that line?  I’m singing it today!

It’s 39c degrees in Brisbane as the heatwave continues this week.

I went over to the allotment at the crack of dawn this morning to see if anything is still living!  It was.

It amazes me that stuff is still growing despite this heat as I cannot get over every day to water it. But I thought it was a good idea not to push my luck and to harvest as much as I can, while I can.

I filled up insulated bags with plenty of silverbeet, kale, parsley, cucumbers and carrots. Once I’ve finished this post I’ll process the silverbeet and kale for the freezer. The curly parsley is starting to go to seed so I picked heaps of it and I’ll chop it up and freeze it in ice cubes.

I’ll check over the cucumbers to make sure the fruit fly hasn’t stung them and I’ll probably have enough to do another small batch of bread and butter pickles.

It will be a good way to spend the afternoon, in the air conditioning.

Just to finish off, here is a pic of my first tiny little melon. It was hiding under a leaf.  Is it cute or what?

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Happy gardening.

Frugal Queen

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and other ramblings

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