Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I didn't mention...

It was my birthday recently. Thirty nine already - have I lived for nearly four decades? I guess the years crept up while busying myself with relationships and gardening. What a ball I have had though!

He thinks he knows me after 15 years

On my birthday, David bought me the perfect gift. I never expect gifts or cake on my birthday. And for the love of God, please don't throw me a surprise party! Every year however, David manages to find the perfect gift I can live with. I like simple designs, beautiful ones but most importantly, it has to be practical.

Click to enlarge

This pot holder is made out of rosewood by a local crafts-person, purchased from a shop supporting local crafts-people. Whoever made this pot holder (Arnold Lee) knew exactly what he was doing. It's not too heavy or too light. Neither is it enormous or minuscule. As Goldie Locks would say, it's "just right".

My favourite part of course, is the chicken motif - it really fits my kitchen and taste. While I'm not an avid collector of chicken memorabilia, I do like them dotted around the house.

Did I say I wasn't collecting?

I found this chicken embossed pendulum clock (that's a mouthful) at a local cheapie store, a few years back now. I don't normally patronise cheapie stores any more, as nearly all of their contents are imported from China. But this clock was displayed outside - and as I walked past, I knew it was destined to hang on my wall.

A theme is definitely emerging

I have a chicken egg timer too, which is broken now but I cannot bring myself to throw it away. I tried fixing it because it would stick every now and then (woefully inaccurate) but I ended up wrecking it even more! It stays in my kitchen as a reminder, not to mess with things with springs in them just because I own a set of screwdrivers. Some things should just not be opened! Let it not be said that while living at Gully Grove, I failed to open up a chicken. The clockwork insides were just as horrific.

Cream of chicken

These two cuties were hand made too. I crocheted the one in the creamer and my daughter made the fabric chickadee by hand. Her own design and everything. These chicks pop up everywhere in the house, especially after our cat, Muesli, finds them and takes them on an adventure in her mouth. They're currently recuperating in the China cabinet, well out of paw reach!

So I guess that makes two things I forgot to mention - how it was my birthday recently, and how I guess I do qualify for collecting chicken memorabilia after all. Not surprising it?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A gardening we will go...

Life in the garden has become fleeting. With a new baby to take care of, my trusty shovel has been collecting cobwebs. That all changed a few days ago however, when bubba was happy to snooze in the garden safely in his pram.

JAP or otherwise known as 'Just A Pumpkin' variety

The garden has been doing some wonderful things without me though. It's been producing pumpkins and sweet potatoes - the vines dying back and feeding the soil microbes in the ground. It's a beautiful thing. Messy, but nonetheless beautiful, because I can see the potential for more things growing when the warmth of spring returns. Feeding the soil every year means more plants will grow!

An offering for garden marauders

There was even enough pumpkin to sacrifice to the wildlife. Or as Jackie French puts it, a tithe back to nature. Some animal has taken an interest in this one, either a hare, bush rat or dare I even suggest the resident wallabies? They've been known to eat our sweet potato shoots every winter. Hmmm?

Sweet juicy mandarins

Also in full production in the garden is our Emperor Mandarin tree, and kumquats. This is always the perfect time of year for eating citrus, to keep colds and flu away. I pop tiny kumquats in my mouth instead of vitamin-c tablets. They make my lips tingle if I eat too many. But it's something the whole family enjoys, as we surround the kumquat tree, spotting the best ones for each other to eat!

We found a baby kitten in this wishing well, last summer
what will it produce this year?

I've been experimenting with small spaces too. Plants don't survive too well being exposed during the heat of summer, so winter was the perfect time to get some plants started. I decided to use the shade potential from our wishing well and an established coastal rosemary bush. By planting in a concrete block and a terracotta pot, the plant roots should keep a perfect temperature - the trick is having their bases touch the ground.

Five plants in this tiny space

The plants were free too - a volunteer tomato, sprouted from the compost, which I transplanted into the block. The aim is to get it to climb up the side of the wishing well and spill over the roof. I also transplanted a wild sown parsley I spotted growing in the grass, and some chives I thought were buried when our planted wheelbarrow tipped over. Dave dug through the soil to find our chives again! I suspect that's a capsicum volunteer plant in the terracotta pot too, where I also threw in a few flower bulbs to help attract the bees.

It's a heavily planted area, but my hope is they will work together through the next growing season. Plants do so much better stacked together like this, than they do in exposed rows. But that's our climate for you. It's so intense during summer that any shade potential is welcome!

More planting potential

I also managed to salvage our large terracotta pot, to place on the ground nearby. It was sat on a layer of stones first, so it could drain during the wet. Having the base partially covered by earth and mulch however, will prevent the roots of whatever I decide to grow in there, cooking in summer. Not sure if I will plant rubarb, or a medley of seeds I have which need to be planted out soon. Decisions, decisions...

Race to cover the rebar and down the retaining wall

David got busy in the garden too, weeding the grass from our jasmine vine, to place an old concrete rebar arch, we've been meaning to find a spot for in the garden. I love recycling. This warped rebar was left here when our slab was laid for the house. Six years later, and it will hopefully become hugged by greenery, for the birds to nest in and hopefully in turn, shade our garden shed too.

It's the middle of winter, but the vine says spring is already here!

The jasmine is nearly ready to flower soon. We wont get as many blooms this year, because of the hard prune we had to give it in order to get at the grass. But it won't be long until the trellis is covered again. It proves my theory of how mild winter has been this year. Many of the plants have continued to grow and even started to bud. Although the uncharacteristic wet winter may have something to do with that too. It doesn't get as cold when there's rain about, but enough sunny days to warm the soil.

I don't know how long it will be until my next venture into the Gully Grove jungle, but it will be waited for with anticipation. I know it's only a short matter of time, until our little boy won't want to come inside from the jungle either. Then, I can garden until my hearts content.


Isn't that what the promise of spring teaches us every winter?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


We broke open some of our homegrown bananas this morning, only to have our cat, Muesli, sneak a sample. Banana skin - yuck!

 Brave kitty

Don't worry Muesli, the fruit inside didn't taste that much better. It was just a little too premature. I loved the texture and smell of the flesh, but it needed a few more days to ripen. Thankfully we have a large stem of bananas to get this taste testing right!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gone bananas!

If I haven't gone bananas yet, then I'm going to - as they're just about ready to eat!

 June 2013 - click to enlarge

Check out "Ducca"! This is the dwarf Ducasse variety of banana, we planted back in November 2011. With the weight of the bananas slowly pulling Ducca over, and knowing the winds of winter can be quite strong, I took a chance and lopped off the whole stem.

I brought them inside, knowing they'd have to ripen - but for how long was uncertain. A week passed by and they were still as green as the day I picked them! It was nearly two weeks before I saw any change.

Thank you Ducca!

I think the trick is keeping the bunch in darkness, as the dark side of the bunch is where the change first occurred. The side facing the northern window (direct sunlight) are still very green.

I can't wait to taste them! We'll be eating fresh bananas in winter. The many benefits of living in a subtropical/temperate climate on a slope! We will soon be rewarded for all our patience, compost and mulching...I will let you know what they taste like.