Harvest Time

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I feel as though I am repeating myself when I write about dealing with the masses of cherry tomatoes we are picking. I guess that is to be expected since it happens every year and I have been writing this blog for over 10 years. Some things never change. 🙂

GMan and I picked a couple of buckets of cherry tomatoes the other day. Then it was a matter of rinsing them, removing the stalks and sorting them.

The ripest ones went in the blender then I simmered until the liquid was much reduced.

The final step was to pour into icecube trays and freeze. This is a simple version of tomato concentrate.

Others were bagged up and frozen whole. These are great for throwing in a casserole or making tomato sauce (ketchup) in the off-season.

Some that needed another day of ripening were spread on various trays. Here is one.

The next few weeks will see these activities repeated time and again as we make the most of the seasonal abundance.

A Pile of Gold

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Well, it is not strictly gold but we had this pile of compost delivered today. This rich, organic material is like gold for our vegetable garden beds.

GMan and I moved it all to the various garden beds this afternoon. We also pulled up plenty of weeds which are thriving with the recent rain. At least the ground is soft which makes them easier to pull out.

Most of my posts, like this one, are about things that happen here that are a little bit out of the ordinary. However, tomorrow I am going talk about some of the everyday jobs. The ones we do day in and day out. They get very little recognition but they definitely need to be done.

Spring has Sprung

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Here in the southern hemisphere it is springtime.

The romantic ideal of spring promotes images of renewal, growth and new beginnings, however, the reality can be somewhat different.

We have very few deciduous trees in our climate so we enjoy being able to witness the changing seasons through the liquidamber tree in our garden. Here it is looking magnificent and covered in new leaf.

Spring serves to remind us all that we never know what is around the corner.

In the past 6 weeks we have had wild thunderstorms, ferocious winds and a couple of heatwave days all interspersed with some glorious and moderate weather. The extremes and sometimes violent weather events are becoming more frequent as the climate changes.

A couple of days ago we heard creaking and cracking. Upon investigation we discovered that a couple of the lower limbs had come off the liquidamber tree. I suspect this was as a result of the wind we had experienced in recent weeks.

Time to clean up the debris.

Being prepared is not just something for the Boy Scouts. We should all be prepared for whatever might happen. Whether it is driven by the weather, linked to the pandemic or of global origin out of our control, there are plenty of things that could immediately and suddenly disrupt our comfortable lifestyle.

As the seasons change we need to prepare ourselves for the shocks that natural and other events may have.

Storms and bushfires are our main threats in the coming months. If you are in the northern hemisphere and approaching winter, what are your risks? Blizzards? Storms? Flooding?

I am interested in what your seasonal risks are and how you prepare yourself and your family.

Take care and stay safe, wherever you are.

The Kitchen Garden

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It never ceases to amaze me that I can find some produce in the garden even when things are looking a bit sparse.

Today I picked a couple of sticks of celery, some parsley and spinach to add to our quinoa salad bowls for dinner.

I also planted some seeds – zucchini, cucumber and eggplant as well as ordering some corn seeds which I will pick up tomorrow.

Hopefully, the summer garden will be thriving in a few weeks or so.

Last Grapefruit

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This morning I picked the last of the crop of grapefruit and juiced them.

Although our vegetable gardening efforts can be a bit hit and miss, our fruit trees continue to provide with minimal effort on our part.

There are still plenty more citrus with the 2 Valencia orange trees still loaded with fruit.

I also picked another 270g of mulberries from our young tree. I now have just over 700g of mulberries in the freezer and will hopefully make some jam in due course.

Homegrown & Reused

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Today some of my family went to the memorial gardens where our mother’s ashes were to be placed.

These are the native flowers which I took from my garden.

The arrangement is not quite up to the standard of commercial floristry but I was pretty pleased with my effort. Especially since flower-arranging is definitely not my forte.

The wrapping was some that I had squirrelled away from previously received flowers and I even managed to find a piece of matching ribbon.

Rest in peace Mum and Dad. We love you and miss you both always.

An Evolution

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This week we spent some time in the garden and on of the jobs I tackled was tidying up the entrance pergola.

The mandevilla were growing out of control and needed a bit more training up the trellis. I also trimmed some of the lower growth and swept the pavers. We cleaned up and mulched the adjacent garden area. The flowers and small shrubs will thrive as the weather begins to warm up.

It looks much better.

There are not a huge number of flowers at the moment but this shot from November last year shows it in full bloom.

In March 2018 the area was very different.

By September of 2018 things were progressing but the plants were still in their infancy.

It is always useful to look back and remind yourself of how much progress you have made.

A New Sink

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In this post from a month ago I mentioned that we had made a start on constructing a frame for an old kitchen sink in order to make an outdoor sink.

This was what we had done then. Simply cut some timber to length and positioned it to gauge how it would fit.

Things progressed well and this is the result.

This is not quite the final resting place and we have yet to arrange some rudimentary plumbing – hose from the nearby tank as well as a drain hose connected to the outlet. The drain hose will probably just run out onto the nearest patch of lawn.

I am pleased with the result of our most recent upcycling project which will be positioned adjacent to our vegetable garden. It will be useful for cleaning up after gardening as well as washing freshly picked produce. I can also visualise the draining boards being used as a potting bench.

Different Decluttering

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Our small acreage provides us with plenty of opportunities to build and create in our garden. For the first 13 years that we lived here we were constrained by available time as we were both working full-time. However, that did not diminish our enthusiasm, ideas and the ability to collect materials.

Here are some of the projects we have completed in the past couple of years.

I have written previously about our plans to create an entertaining area under the house so part of the long-term strategy has been to sort and tidy a lot of the materials that are stored there.

During the past few days we have had a bit of a blitz to identify what can realistically be used, what is just rubbish and what we can pass onto other people.

These are some of the last pieces of salvaged Colorbond sheeting which were gratefully collected yesterday after I listed it to giveaway on a local Facebook group.

One of the things we definitely plan to use is the old kitchen sink. When we had the kitchen renovated almost 12 years ago we salvaged it with a view to building an outdoor sink close to the vegetable garden. This would help to eliminate the amount of dirt and unwashed produce that was brought into the kitchen.

Yesterday GMan removed the original taps and plumbing. We cut some timber to length to make the framing and stand. Here are the first pieces in position.

GMan will paint all of the timber before the frame is assembled so it will be a little while before it is completed. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, we recently acquired some more material but it was not stored anywhere. We used an offcut of vinyl flooring to cover the concrete is one corner of the workshop to make a small home gym area.

We are pleased with the ongoing progress.

Saving the Summer Harvest

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When growing your own produce you do need to be prepared to spend some time processing the excess. Today was one of those days.

Yesterday I picked 5kg of cherry tomatoes. I washed, de-stalked and sorted them.

I roasted the ripest 3kg of them in the oven at 120C for about an hour.

This is the 2 trays as I put them into the oven.

Once the tomatoes were roasted I transferred them to the high-speed blender and blitzed them thoroughly. Whilst not completely smooth, I had created a rich tomato puree.

I filled ice cube trays with the puree.

Ready to go in the freezer.

Once they are frozen I will transfer the cubes into a bag for easy storage. It will be a simple matter of adding a cube or two when preparing various meals.