Cold Frame Completed

2 Comments

Following on from this post.  We retrieved our jigsaw on Tuesday and were able to cut the polycarbonate sheeting for the final step of the cold frame.

Once the pieces of polycarbonate sheeting were cut to size, it was relatively easy to screw them to the timber frame.  The only thing left to do was to fill the post holes and level the ground.

Finished and ready for use.  You may be able to see the tray of basil seedlings near the left-hand end of the structure.

2020-06-12 01

Another view of the cold frame as part of the wider vegetable garden layout.

2020-06-12 02

Since our winters are really quite mild, this is really only necessary for overnight protection.  I will need to make sure I open it up everyday or otherwise the basil will be cooked by the end of the week.

 

What We Grow

Leave a comment

One of the by-products of growing your own food is a need for increased creativity when it comes to meals.  What we eat is at least somewhat dependent on what is available in the garden.

Bok choy, a type of chinese cabbage, is a quick-growing vegetable.  Commercial crops are harvested while they are relatively young and generally sold in bunches of three.  We ate some of our current crop while they were small, however, the few remaining plants are now quite mature and strongly flavoured.

New ways to use up the mature bok choy leaves and stems.

2020-06-07 01

Freshly picked leaves shredded and sauteed with cherry tomatoes, snow peas and mushrooms for breakfast.

2020-06-07 02

Tonight I made a vegetarian lasagne with layers of lightly roasted eggplant slices, bok choy mixed with ricotta and finally, crushed tomatoes.

2020-06-07 03

It was topped with a mixture of parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and flaxseed meal.

2020-06-07 04

Served with beans and carrots.

2020-06-07 05

VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

1 large eggplant, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
Handful of large bok choy leaves and stems, sliced and shredded
180g ricotta cheese
Can of crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

TOPPING

1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Place slices of eggplant on roasting tray.  Brush with a little olive oil and bake at 160C for about 10 minutes – until soft.

Saute diced onion and bok choy stems until soft, add shredded leaves and stir until wilted.  Add vegetable mixture to ricotta and combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add mixed herbs to crushed tomatoes.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in dish followed by the ricotta mixture then tomatoes.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Combine ingredients for topping and sprinkle over the lasagne.  Bake until heated through and browned on top.

This is not a definitive recipe but simply what I made today.  The quantities quoted would serve 3 adults.

Winter Beds

2 Comments

Although we live in a temperate sub-tropical zone, there are still distinct seasonal variations and we respond accordingly.

Two nights ago we experienced our first cold (for us) night when the temperature dropped to 6C (43F).

The prospect of this temperature was enough to convince me that the very lightweight summer doona would not be sufficient.  I retrieved the feather doona from the wardrobe in the spare room.  For me, it is not only about the physical warmth of the feather doona but the colours I use which reflect the cooler weather.

During the summer the bed is made up using light blue and white bed linen and I love the fresh, cool effect that this brings.

2020-05-03 01
Although the fabric is no heavier, the darker coloured linen makes the room feel cosier as the weather cools.  I changed the bed yesterday and substituted the winter bedding.

2020-05-03 02

My bed was not the only one that noticed the effects of the cold night.

The cucumbers were planted late in the summer but we had been fortunate to have a great harvest.  However, overnight the vine went from being lush and green to looking quite shrivelled in parts.  It does not like the cold nor the accompanying strong westerly winds.

2020-05-03 03

With the prospect of several subsequent cold nights, I decided to remove all of the mature cucumbers and clear out the vine.

The haul was surprisingly large.

2020-05-03 04

The vine and trellis are now removed so it is time to clear the weeds and prepare the bed for a cool season crop.

2020-05-03 05

What heralds the change of seasons at your place?

Officially Autumn

2 Comments

Yesterday was 1st March and the official beginning of autumn in Australia.  Coincidentally, I saw this link from the Bureau of Meteorology.  This is what 1C of warming looks like.  Are you prepared for 3-4C increase in temperatures?  That is what we look like reaching this century if the government continues its current level of inaction.  Not a great future for our children and grandchildren.

Meanwhile, I do not actually need the Bureau of Meteorology to tell me about the longer summers.  It is clearly evident in my own backyard.

This photo taken today is of our liquidamber tree.  It always loses all of its leaves each year but this has become progressively later each year.  There is not even the slightest colouration of the leaves yet.

02-03-2020 01
On the other hand, I am trying to make the most of the longer summer.  I planted a second crop of corn at the beginning of February.  It takes 3 months to mature and I want to see if we can extend our summer growing season until the end of April.

02-03-2020 02

I am also growing zucchini late in the season.

02-03-2020 03

There definitely needs to be a change in mindset with regard to sowing and growing times if we are to make the most of the climate changes.

It is definitely much too warm to consider cool weather crops yet.  The forecast maximum temperatures for our area (400m elevation) are 27 – 29C for the next week and this pattern is likely to continue until the end of the month.

While hothouses allow tropical plants to be grown in cooler climates, I am wondering whether there will come a time when cooler weather crops such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage become impossible to grow in our location.  It seems that celery is no longer possible to grow here as the seeds need cool soil to germinate.

Food security is just one very real and present threat from climate change.

 

Garden Structures

3 Comments

There is more to a garden than just the plants.  Pergolas, seats and birdbaths are some of the non-plant items you might find in a garden.

The vegetable garden is perhaps less likely to have these type of pieces than other areas of the garden. However, this week we made the following additions to our vegetable garden.

The first is a purely whimsical piece – a ‘windmill’ which spins in even the slightest breeze.  I am hopeful that it may even be something of a deterrent to the pesky birds.  Aside from that, it is quite mesmerising to watch and is visible from the kitchen window.

2020-01-16 01

The other additions are of a more practical nature.  These black powder-coated toppers accept 4 standard sized garden stakes which are anchored with screw fixation to create a wigwam-like structure.  Twine can be wound around them to create a growing frame for climbing plants.  I am planning to plant climbing beans on one of them.

2020-01-16 02

One of my future projects for this area is the addition of a scarecrow.  I have never made a scarecrow but I don’t think it would be too difficult.

 

 

Local and Leftovers

Leave a comment

There has been quite a bit happening here as we prepare to leave for our holiday in less than 2 weeks.

However, some things remain consistent and preparing meals is one of them.  They are not overly fancy but here is a quick snapshot of some of our recent food.

This was my Sunday brunch.  Omelette with stir-fried cabbage and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Apart from the seasonings (salt, pepper and smoky paprika), everything was sourced within 20 metres of my kitchen.  No chemicals, no packaging and no transport costs.  This is not feasible for every meal or even every day but it is quite exciting when it happens.

2019-08-06 01

Then there are leftovers.  On Saturday evening we had Mexican quinoa followed by satay chicken and vegetable stir-fry the next night.  So last night was leftovers – a multi-cultural taste sensation!  They are not flavours I would generally combine but it was a wholesome and satisfying meal.

2019-08-06 02

Note that there was cabbage in the stir-fry.  When you have several home-grown cabbage it goes into pretty well everything.  There is no photo but we also recently had baked potatoes with salad and a generous serving of coleslaw.

As a change from cabbage, today I picked these 2 beautiful heads of broccoli.  I steamed the florets of broccoli then made a tuna and tomato (with a touch of chilli) sauce to pour over them and finished with cheese and flaxseed meal topping.  A few minutes under the grill and I served it with some rice.

2019-08-06 03

There will probably be a few creative meals in the next week or so as we try to use up what is on hand as well as in the garden.

Flowers in the Garden

Leave a comment

Most of my limited time and energy in the garden are directed to towards growing food.  However, that does not mean that I don’t love flowers or enjoy having them in the garden.

I don’t have a flower garden in the traditional sense where there were beds of seasonal flower displays such as snapdragons, sweet peas and my favourite, Iceland poppies.

We do have a number of native flowering shrubs which create a screening hedge on the verge but there are also some other gems tucked into various spots in the garden.

This is one of my newest hibiscus complete with a single flower.

2017-08-02 01

The lavender is thriving in this warm, dry corner of the front garden and has rewarded us with some flowers over the past couple of weeks.

2017-08-02 02

The marigolds brighten up the tubs on the front verandah.

2017-08-02 03

The vegetable garden is not devoid of flowers, either.  The rocket has gone to flower and is providing a pretty display.

2017-08-02 04

All of these flowers provide habitat for the bees and I am always looking to incorporate them wherever I can.

Garden Notes – Seedling Success

4 Comments

It is 8 days since I planted the seeds which I wrote about in my previous post and I am pleased to report success, almost beyond my wildest dreams.

Here are the trays of cabbage and cauliflower.  It looks as though the germination rate was almost 100%.

2017-05-01 01

The cauliflower had begun to lean towards the sun so I brought them out from their sheltered spot and they are now in the full sun on some mesh which is covering one of the garden beds.  The mesh is to keep the scrub turkeys out of the sweet potato which I transplanted from the compost heap.

The broccoli seedlings are also looking good but a few days behind the others.

2017-05-01 02

The germination rate of these is also excellent as I think there were only 20 seeds in the packet – they are a hybrid bred specifically for our warmer sub-tropical climate.

The celery and spinach are still in the sheltered area and I continue to be hopeful.  I think I can see some celery just poking through the soil but the spinach are not showing any signs of life just yet.

The red cabbage seedlings have doubled in size in a week and the beans which I planted directly in the bed are growing at a rapid pace.

On another note, and related to the garden, I wanted to show you a bit of work we did last week.

When we fenced the area for the vegetable garden we installed a couple of gates.  Due to the slope of the land we set this timber sleeper beneath the wide gate.  It has stayed in position and works well.

2017-05-01 03

There did not seem to be a need under the standard width gate but over time we have noticed that the ground had settled and a few rocks were placed to thwart the efforts of the chickens to access the enclosed area.

So last weekend we found another sleeper and cut a piece for this gate.

2017-05-01 04

I need to encourage the grass to grow on this side of the gate.  I am not worried about the enclosed area as that will eventually all be mulched with no grass at all.

While we were doing this we decided to also do the gate for the chicken run which had the same problem.

2017-05-01 05

The gate is propped open as the girls were out free-ranging when I took this photo this afternoon.

Something Different

Leave a comment

We usually eat salmon once every fortnight.  It is cooked the same way each time – GMan grills it on the barbecue.  I vary the accompaniments – sometimes it is kale salad or coleslaw and sweet potato fries, other times it is a a bed of sweet potato mash or wilted bok choy plus other vegetables on the side.

The other day I came across this link on Facebook.  So, I decided that I would try one for a change from our normal grilled salmon.

I made the Tomato Pesto Salmon and this is what it looked like once I had assembled it.

2016-10-31-01

Cooked, served and ready to eat.

2016-10-31-02

Even better, was the fact that the basil, tomatoes, zucchini and sweet potato were all from the garden.

I know that fresh salmon is not exactly a budget meal but with almost everything else home-grown it means that we can splash out a little on good quality meat and fish.

What a Difference

1 Comment

……a week makes!

These are the seedlings when I planted them a little over a week ago.

2016-09-12-04

And here they are a week later.

2016-09-19-02

The comparison is not entirely accurate as the photo is taken from the opposite end of the garden.

Everything has more than doubled in size but the zucchini have shown the most spectacular growth.

Unfortunately, something is having a munch on a couple of the bok choy – probably caterpillars from the white cabbage moth.  I could try covering them or I might try a tip I saw on ‘Gardening Australia’ last week.  Sophie has made fake white moths attached to small stakes in the garden because, apparently, the white moth is territorial and the fakes bluff the real moths into thinking they have to go somewhere else.  It would be wonderful if it really is that easy.

,