It’s extraordinary – but I’ve just turned 70

I’ve been ‘off the air’ for a few days because I’ve been carousing on the Gold Coast with my family to celebrate my 70th birthday. I have been utterly spoiled.

Thank you to my two sons, two grandsons and especially my daughter-in-law who arranged everything from the booking of a beautiful penthouse – to the exceptionally fabulous cake!

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Add balloons and and your own rooftop pool ….

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A view ‘to die for’ ….

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And two grandsons ……… you have the perfect weekend.

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Just to show you can have fun at any age – take two little boys to help you find the perfect pair of sunglasses!

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A cup of tea at the allotment

This is how I make a cup of tea when I visit my allotment at Beelarong.

Don’t you just love the view from the open air kitchen.

I have an old electric water jug that I keep in the car boot. All I need to pack then are a few tea bags, a cup of milk in the jam jar I keep for the purpose and my environmental sustainability mug.

Boiling the water jug

Boiling the water jug

My eldest son is aware of my wish to live sustainably and this is his idea of how I can save water!    Thanks for the mug son.

Nigel's mug

Drink sustainably, save water

Happy gardening.

Romance in the carrot patch

It’s been hot in Brisbane for a few days now with temperatures of 26c degrees and yesterday went up to 29c so I gave the allotment a good watering, especially my little seedlings in plot 24.

While I was there I harvested some vegetables for my dinner. The carrots are just about ready so I pulled on one and wondered why it was resisting – until I realised that it was entwined lovingly with it’s neighbour.

I washed them under the garden tap and unwilling to separate them entirely (I know, I’m mad) I laid them on the grass while I rinsed my hands and it bought to mind the old Flanders and Swann song from the 50’s Show in London “At The Drop of a Hat”.

The song is about the the right-handed Honeysuckle and the the left-handed Bindweed and it’s called Misalliance. Click on the link for the words.  I have two sons who will remember it – this is for you.

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I have been unable to find the original version of the song on YouTube sung by Flanders and Swann themselves.  However, I have found this  delightful version by  Jason Hardy you might like.

Happy Gardening.

Plot 24

Readers may already have seen plot 24 on an earlier blog post when I cleared it a few weeks ago.

Lovely fresh allotment

Plot 24, dug over, fed and ready to go

This is the update. The dwarf beans are coming through.

Dwarf beans

Dwarf beans

My daughter-in-law gave me some Royal Blue seed potatoes a few weeks ago. I had wondered about growing them in potato bags but in the end decided to plant them into the ground. They won’t be so easy to harvest (as you try to find every last one) but I think they will fare better in the ground during our hot months – I don’t get over to the allotment every day and they would be more inclined to dry out in bags.  When I went to the allotment yesterday I was thrilled to see them popping up their heads.  I love growing potatoes, always a bit of excitement when you dig them up as you wonder “Am I going to cover the bottom of the bucket?”

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Royal Blue potatoes

See below what happens when you don’t concentrate when you are planting lettuce seeds. I remember that day, I had a packet of lettuce seeds Annette McFarlane had given to me at one of her workshops and I was keen to get them into the ground. But. A couple of other gardeners had moseyed over to see what I was up to (as allotmenteers do) and not concentrating on the seeds I dropped the lot.  Not to worry, I used my little fork to spread them out a bit and they germinated just fine. But in a clump.

I’ll re-plant the seedlings now they are up. There will be plenty to share, I can only eat so many.

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“free range” lettuce

Tatsoi is coming up nicely. I like to pick this Asian green very young and use it in salads, picked a few leaves yesterday and it went well with my lunchtime salad. It goes well in stir fry too.  Tatsoi just grows like Topsy for me. As long as I plant it in decent soil I reckon I have 100% germination. This is one plant I have to be sparing with as I plant the seeds or I’d be over-run. I (try to) plant a few every few weeks but the seeds are so small sometimes that’s a bit of a challenge.

Tatsoi

Tatsoi

Below is my first attempt with clumping onions.  This little clump was another gift from one of Annette McFarlane’s workshops. What I love about Annette’s workshops, done through our local libraries, is that as well as the information she imparts you always come away with something to grow and if you have a soul at all you are not going to let it die.

What a great incentive to grow your own veggies especially for first-time gardeners. That’s what started me off three years ago.

And this is the specimen transplanted from a pot a few weeks ago, I am told that once I get this clump growing well I will never be without onions. As they grow I’ll be able to split them into other clumps. Sounds good to me.

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clumping onions

Last but not least I have a few Drunken Woman lettuces. My favourite, they are so pretty. They grow so large that I only need a few at one time to pick at. I just take a leaf or two when I need them. The original seeds came from my friend Wendy. I now have my own stash of seeds which I seed-saved from my last planting.  I have never seen these seeds in the shops so I think that is when seed-saving becomes really important.

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Drunken Woman lettuce

Happy gardening,

A post script. I have just read through this post prior to printing and I’ve realised that plot 24 is almost solely planted with gifts from others. So thanks to my daughter-in-law for the spuds, Annette for my clumping onions and “free range” lettuce and friend Wendy for the original Drunken Woman lettuce seeds.

Cutting the bamboo

Work continued on these raised garden beds at the community farm yesterday. While John and Brian worked on the metal uprights Craig, Peter and (another) Craig set about cutting down bamboo grown at the farm for the rafters.

Building raised beds

Raised garden beds

We have a huge clump of bamboo growing beside my allotment and they set about cutting down four poles. Here the guys are all ready to go chain saw and safety gear at the ready. Craig doesn’t always wear an orange hat and ear muffs! and Peter’s not really going to chop off his leg with that chain saw. Boys will be boys.

Chain saw at the ready

Chain saw at the ready

This photo will give you some idea of the height of the bamboo they were to cut down.

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The clump of bamboo

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Bamboo poles cleaned of leaves and propped up against the clump of bamboo

A job well done. These bamboo poles can now be used as rafters for the top of the raised beds and will be draped with shade cloth. Nothing goes to waste and the green leaves stripped from the bamboo poles will be mulched for the compost bins.

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A job well done

Thanks guys.

There’s greens in my bucket dear Liza dear Liza

Regular readers will know that volunteers meet every Wednesday morning at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment. We get together and work in the community garden.

We are having lovely weather this week and as we arrived at 9am the sun was already warm enough for me to remove my jumper, T-shirts were the order of the day. Remember we are in winter here until the end of the month.

The community garden is looking wonderful and it’s a time of real abundance.

The first thing to do was the harvesting before the sun got too hot. There was more silverbeet than you could poke a stick at so I started with that.  I had a couple of bucket loads in no time. Doesn’t it look healthy.  You could live to be a hundred if you eat enough of that wonderful stuff, full of minerals.

buckets of silver beet/ chard

My friend Zu, under the protection of her sun hat, tackled the Asian greens and lettuces.

Zu with the Asian greens

Zu with the Asian greens and lettuces

The harvest was destined for the share table together with herbs, limes, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, broccoli and more. It was shared amongst the volunteers at the end of the morning.

Happy gardening.

Coffee, The Cube and a walk in the park

The daytime temperature in Brisbane at the moment, 24c degrees, is perfect for a walk in the park.  So my friend Barbara and I did just that yesterday but this is what we did on the way.

We took a trip down the river

We took the City Cat down the river as far as QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and Gardens Point.

City Cat coming in to dock

City Cat coming in to dock

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We had coffee at Old Government House

Old Government House is in the grounds of QUT Gardens Point Campus, 2 George Street (next to the City Botanic Gardens).  Check out this link to Kane Constructions and you’ll see some beautiful images of the building. It was originally constructed in 1862.  Restoration work was carried out by Kane in 2008 to ensure the building was available for Queensland’s 150th year anniversary in 2009.

Old Government House is beautifully restored and my friend and I enjoyed a coffee in one of the inner courtyards, within the beautiful sandstone walls. If you check out the images in the link you can see the courtyard.  I’d love to be able to print the image but due to copyright issues I’d be sent straight to The Tower.

We visited The Cube

Barbara’s husband Peter told me about this place months ago so this was the main reason for our day out.

The Cube is one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces in the heart of QUT’s new Science and Engineering Centre at Gardens Point campus.  The interactive wall soars up to two stories high. It’s great fun. Here are a few pics I took. I had Barbara stand against the wall to give you an idea of the size. The screen is in constant animation so you are transported to the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

Barbara at The Cube

Barbara at The Cube

The Cube

The Cube

The Cube

The Cube

But that’s only part of the cube. (Obviously – it’s a cube!)

We had great fun on another wall finding my street, and my building, on the big screen. I can only describe this interactive wall as being like playing with the biggest iPad you’ve ever seen!  No messing about with little pinkies here. You can use your whole hand! Swish it backwards and forwards and in and out. You really must take the kids to this.

Look! That’s my unit.

I've found my unit on the big screen

I’ve found my unit on the big screen

We dragged ourselves away from The Cube and stepped outside into the sunshine.

We took a walk in the park

We strolled over to the City Botanical Gardens and I snapped away.

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Check this out, below. The African Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana)

African Sausage Tree

African Sausage Tree

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Old Government House, The Cube and City Botanical Gardens is all at the river end of George Street, Brisbane.

A lovely day out.

Down to Earth

I went to a really interesting session at Beerwah library this week to listen to Rhonda Hetzel from “Down to Earth” blog. She is also a published author of the book of the same name. The talk was about Frugal and Simple Living, a guide to a simpler, sustainable life.

Rhonda covered such topics as budgeting, cooking from scratch, buying in season and stockpiling.  She talked about cutting down on chemicals in our home with green cleaning methods and handed out a booklet she had prepared giving ‘recipes’ to make our own green cleaning products.   And lots more.

If you want to catch up with Rhonda just take this link to her Down to Earth blog.

Wait a tick!

Had to go to the doctors this morning to have a tick removed from my scalp. ‘Orrible little things.

We seem to have had a bad tick season recently, this is the second one I’ve had removed in a matter of weeks.  The earlier one took two nurses to get the critter out. They said “you’d never have got that out yourself”.

If you are not on intimate terms with ticks here is a link to explain more.

I have never thought of vegetable gardening as an Extreme Sport but it’s obviously not for whimps! Lol

On a lighter note, after the doc removed the offending parasite from my cranium I showed some interest in it as I’d never actually seen one.  So the doc popped it into a little ‘urine sample’ jar and handed it to me. I didn’t ask him to do that – but as I have it anyway I will put it with the DVD they give you (why?) after your colonoscopy.  Straight to the pool room!

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