Thursday, June 18, 2020

The potter planner

Making words with lego


Hello again, friends. Where have I been for the past two months? Like most parents during lock-down, our kids started learning from home with study packs. Getting creative with lego and playdough, made it a little more interesting - but all things come to an end. They returned to school, a few weeks ago. I'd like to say, that's when I caught-up with my property projects. They've been heckling from the sidelines, to come finish them. But I needed some unstructured time to myself, first.

I still pottered around outside - in the kitchen-garden, mostly. Noting how slowly, seedlings were growing. Completely normal for winter, but in an attempt to avoid heat and pests (still clinging to the warmth) I planted later too. Summer seemed to be hanging onto Autumn, and Autumn hasn't quite relinquished to winter, fully yet. We've been having 25 C days, (77 F) with overnight temps, close to 10 C (50 F). So no substantial frosts yet. At least the pest load, has eased.


11 April 2020


Back in April, I was surprised to find my first Cucamelon, or Mouse Melon. It seemed to take forever, but was only planted  2 months earlier. After plucking the fruit, I found more tiny flowers emerging. They're so cute and surprisingly hardy. The skin of the ripe fruit, was a little tough to bight into, and was mostly seeds as there isn't much flesh. But it still tasted nice, with that fresh cucumber crunch.

The skin on future fruit, was less tough - which I attribute to less evaporation, helping the soil hold onto moisture longer. I haven't quite gotten a flood of fruit yet. Not enough to pickle! Nonetheless, I was happy to graduate to a handful, recently. My son has eaten them too, and likes them!


7 June 2020


I'll save seeds from this lot, in case my current plants don't make it through winter. I shouldn't have a problem, you just never know what the weather will bring. I'm content so far, with this miniature cucumber's performance in containers. It seems to grow a lot of fruit, for the small space it occupies.

The leaves haven't succumb to powdery mildew either, which is a problem I normally have with cucumbers, in our climate. So it appears to be an all-round, good performer for the kitchen garden. We'll see if it survives winter though, as we haven't experienced a frost yet. We don't normally, but it can happen. I'd rather plan for a back-up (ie: seeds) than just hope for the best. As nature can be unpredictable, like that.


Oh Brother, where art thou?


I dismantled my trusty Brother sewing machine, because the stitch selection knob, wasn't turning. I've had this beauty for some 20+ years, and even made my first quilt with it, back in 2017. I eventually located the problem with a plastic part. Even found the part number online. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a supplier for the part. Not even overseas.

Reluctant to throw it away, I have it stored in a box, hoping I can somehow find the very simple part, required. I still have a few calls to make, so fingers crossed. As a surprise, my family purchased a new machine for Mother's day! A simple one, that does the basics. I've never really had a need for fancy stitches, so I'm perfectly happy with it.


I think it's a torte?


As it is with every year, May is the birthday month for both our kids. A decade between them, but still a lot of cake to get through! Mum and dad, really try to help out of course. Our daughter chose a yummy torte from The Cheesecake Shop.

Considering it was still lock-down, we couldn't invite guests to a party. We considered ourselves lucky to even get the cake. As she seems to really love the tradition of selecting one, every birthday. We clean and reuse the plastic decoration, when it's required.


Homemade


A few weeks later, it was our son's turn. He requested Oreo's, so I bought a packet of mini ones. I also cleaned his Minecraft play-set, to use as decoration. This was enjoyed very much - as was, the first cake. Although by the end of May, we were completely over, eating cake! Even with four people, a slice a day, can take several days to get through. We had TWO cakes to eat, in May.

I will have to consult with the Stork, whose idea it was, to bring them both in May - it's doing nothing for my waistline, lol.


Flowering Vinca, in the Kitchen garden


Basically, my pottering has involved quite a lot of work though. What I mean by unstructured time to myself is, I don't plan anything. After the cake-a-thon, learning from home and eventually returning to school again, I avoid lists. We need time away from them too. Given I'm so driven though, I inevitably find myself doing work.

I've been chipping away at those property projects - planting more in the kitchen garden, building retaining walls, propagating cuttings, managing my indoors plants and even getting more of the chicken coop renovation, done. Yes life goes on, even if the world seems like a confusing place at times. But it helps to avoid a list of expectations, on occasion too.

Do you find there are times you just cannot hold yourself to a list, and float through the tasks, by osmosis? I'm looking forward to reading all my favourite blogs in my list again. Catching up with your thoughts and goings on, always makes me smile. I'm sure I've missed a lot! To the food growers, plant enthusiasts, critter carers, land managers and community luminaries, we've got a lot of work to accomplish for the rest of the year. By osmosis, or by list, we'll get through it.


16 comments:

  1. I live by list, on paper and in my head, I need the order...but I do have days when I say s*d it and free flow. I did not like the taste of cucamelons, I grew them for two years and never got to like them.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on planning. I'm similar, but caught in the free-flow at the moment. I wonder if you had a more wild variety of cucamelon? I've heard them referred to as Mexican Sour Gerkins, too. I was expecting some kind of aftertaste with mine, but didn't happen. Which was a nice surprise. :)

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  2. Chris, I think I grew some of those cucumbers years ago when I received some free seeds from a grower I did a blog post about. I must try and find that old post. I am not terrible organised these days and should get back to my list making. I need to clean above my stove as you did a while back with Miracle Spray. I even made up a batch after intending to do so for years but never got around to it.

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    1. I wonder if that seed donation, came from Fair Dinkum seeds? I remember your post about them, several years ago now. The name has some relevance to me too. As when I went looking for Moringa tree seeds, that's the closest location to me, which came up in the search. So my Moringa tree, originated from the same source as your cucamelons. Small world, hey! :)

      Loved visiting your place yesterday, Chel. The house renovations, look amazing!

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  3. I've been wondering about you! But I remember my own homeschooling days, and how much time it took. I've never regretted it, it was just a different lifestyle.

    Never seen the mouse melon before. Very cute. I'm trying mini type cherry tomatoes this year, but it's been cooler than normal (whatever that is) and so slow to grow.

    Your Minecraft cake is very clever! My granddaughter requested a Minecraft themed birthday last year, and we were treated to a very fun cake. I have to admit that the torte looks especially good!

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    1. Hey there Leigh, you've been in my thoughts too. I want to catch up with how the summer growing season, has been treating you and Dan. It's all happening in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is shining. I will be visiting your blog soon. Maybe I'll see some of those cherry tomatoes you've mentioned? Love me some sun-ripened cherry tomatoes!!

      Minecraft was my eldest daughter's favourite, at one point too. She still plays it with friends, but not as much. The Minecraft toys she received for birthdays, are still part of her collection. I love games that stay with children as they mature. Like Lego. My husband is still a fan, lol. Anyway, I think Minecraft will probably stay with your granddaughter, for some time to come.

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  4. Hi Chris. Cakes look delicious! I've not seen those cucumbers before. I am growing two varieties of cherry-like tomatoes. One, called Lemon Drop, is great success. Picking little handful each day. I do write a list, in an old exercise book, for days when I'm home. I find I get more done. There are days and times though when I deliberately don't write a list and it's usually if I am tired or have a book I can't pit down. 😃

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    1. I can report, the cakes tasted delicious! Maybe a little too delicious, lol. I've not heard of that variety of cherry tomato before. I've grown Yellow Pear, cherry tomatoes with great success though. It's good to hear you're having some wins in the garden. Of all the tomatoes you can grow, I think cherry varieties are the easiest. Especially if powdery mildew is a problem in humid climates.

      Thanks for sharing your planning flow. A reminder that some things can be irresistible to good planning - like a good book. :)

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  5. Too much cake, what a problem ! Love the little mini melons, would look lovely pickled in a jar.
    Sorry your machine is in Time out, you could ring Ernie Toombs, he has repaired all brands of machines for many years, he may be able to help. I won't take my 1968 Bernina anywhere else.

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    1. I hope I can get more cucamelons, but I may need a larger trellis. Thanks ever so much, for the verbal recommendation on machine repairers. I will certainly chase that lead. As the rest of my machine works perfectly. Just this one little cog broke. Hoping to get fixed, so it can be like your 50+ year-old sewing machine. Dang, that's a long time! Well done.

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  6. Hi Chris, been wondering if all was well with you and figured the lockdown had something to do with it.

    Have been going to write and tell you about my cucamelons. I found some old seed and sowed it and potted up about 8 plants. They didn't make it into a planting spot for the summer (would have probably been a wicking box like before), so they sat on the plant rack in their tubes, where they still are. They grew there and the vines got all tangled up with other plants and they produced just one little fruit. The vines eventually died away (probably lack of food), but I noticed at the base of each plant a tuber had formed about the size of a walnut. I was thinking this might be something they do to overwinter and decided not to throw the plants out but to see if they sprouted again in summer. Then I noticed that some of the tubers looked as though they had either rotted or been eaten. Maybe too wet and/or cold, so I've put the remaining ones in the polyhouse where I'll limit watering and see what happens. I can't find any info about them going dormant and producing tubers. Have you noticed any tubers (swellings at the base) on yours? Your winters will be warmer than ours so maybe they won't do it.

    Good to see you're all OK up there.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with cucamelons. I've read they're a particularly hardy variety, which can handle dry periods. I wonder if that tuber is part of the reason? Sounds like a great adaptation for the dry. I can't say I've noticed anything at ground level yet (only fibrous roots) but I'll be sure to check under the soil, if my vines die back completely.

      In winter, I have them in a terracotta pot, in full sun, all day. Which is probably why they're still holding onto their leaves and developing fruit. Anyway, I hope your tubers re-sprout in spring. That would be great! I've been meaning to reply to your email too, but want to watch the video link you supplied first. Speak to you later. :)

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    2. Another funny thing has happened with them. I'll send you an email with some photos.

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  7. Hi Chris, I think having a period of unstructured time is very good for us. That is why people like to get away on holidays. However for those of us who prefer a simpler life we have the opportunity to choose to have a period of unstructured time without having to go past our front gate. Unstructured time can help us get back in touch with ourselves because we are usually more open to listening to our own thoughts and have time to meditate on those thoughts and different ideas and perspectives that may come to light. Unstructured time is very good for our creativity.

    I do tend to keep a list of things as a reminder otherwise I just do what is in front of me and forget to do things that are more important. However I also go with what is on offer on the day. For example I wanted to do a lot in the garden yesterday, however it was very windy so I spent the majority of the day indoors working on different indoor projects. I finally got out into the garden about 3pm when the wind died down. As soon as I stepped outside it started to rain, so I worked in my garden shed for a while.

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    1. You've defined me in a nutshell, Sherri. Especially about unstructured time being good for creativity. And how the day, allows your work to unfold. Weather definitely switches everything around. The summer of bushfires, kept me from progressing on the chicken coop renovation. Then the pandemic made it difficult to source materials, after that. But I'm not telling you anything you haven't already experienced. Funny, how we eventually return to what we wanted to do in the first place. Just not in the order, or structure we planned. Glad to see you back blogging, after your summer of bushfires, Sherri. What you're touching on, is what will make all the difference in land management practices. :)

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