Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sizzling in the summer (and I don't mean the snags on the barbie!!)

It is really, REALLY hot here today (and tonight!). Gary's temperature gauge on his car said it was 43 degrees outside on his way home at 6.00pm. Fortunately the boys and I spent the day at the Balnarring Beach, we set up our umbrella and met up with 2 other friends (11 kids between us) and had a much cooler time than if we were at home. I had to pop home during the day and nearly cried at the sight of my poor wilting garden, everything looked withered and sapped of all moisture. The sweetcorn's leaves were all curled, the bean leaves just looked fried (I think they will suffer some permanent damage but I hope they can grow new leaves before the end of the season.)
I spent 1 1/2 hours this morning (early) in the relative cool, watering everything and adding extra mulch, so it was pretty sad to see it all so stressed. Thankfully, when the sun started to set, the plants seemed to take a breather and take up some moisture and I'm sure most of them will recover in the slightly cooler night (it is 11.30pm now and still feels over 30 degrees - not much sleeping happening tonight I think, as we don't have air con).

And the good news is we have only got 2-3 more days of massive temperatures! Yah!!!!
Let's hope we can all limp through to the weekend and find some relief from the heat where ever you can. ( Probably more swimming and beaches for us, although my 9 yo boy had too much sun today so we might try to stay out of it tomorrow.)

How do you stay cool in a heatwave? Any tips to nurse the garden through the heat? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bake a banana sultana cake

It has been pretty warm here today, I gave the vegies a good water this morning so I hope they cope ok with the next few days (Forecast is for 40 degrees + for the next 4 days!). I don't think it will get that hot down here, but you never know.
My boys have been busy rocking out with their friends, playing guitar hero 'world tour', so I thought I would take some time to cook up a storm! This morning I made a banana sultana cake,(or "that donut cake" as my son calls it) which is a family favourite and a great way to use up squishy bananas, it is really delicous! (they ate half for morning tea).

I thought I'd put the recipe up, so here, it is!

125gr butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3-4 large bananas
1 cup sultanas
1 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream butter and sugar until light. (I usually half melt the butter in the microwave to make it easier to cream, I get impatient if it takes too long to mix!) Add the eggs, one at a time beat well after each one. Mash bananas and add to mixture with sultanas. Dissolve bicarb in milk, add vanilla. Add to mixture alternating with sifted flour. Stir well. Place in a greased ring tin and bake at 350 F degrees ( 180 C degrees, or moderately hot oven) for 30-40 minutes.
I ice the cake and sprinkle cinnamon on top when it has cooled. Yummy!

I hope that makes sense!
I also had a go at making apricot jam as the apricot trees are in glut at the moment here.
It worked out quite well I think, it was a pretty simple recipe and was a lot quicker than I thought it would be. I was very happy and felt very domestic with my 8 jars of jam sitting on the bench! I will probably make another batch later in the week if I can scronge a few more jars.
I will post how to make apricot jam tomorrow if I get a chance.

We've got a really tough day planned tomorrow - water garden first thing in the morning, then smother on the sunscreen and hit the beach for the rest of the day, swimming, reading, playing with the kids, and generally try to keep cool. It's a hard life ain't it! lol.

I hope you are all able to enjoy the last week of the school holidays too. Next week it's back into the school routines and regimental schedule, but for now it is really nice not to have any comittments.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Home from holidays (the party's over)

Have a great Australia Day!
I haven't posted for a couple of weeks as we have been away camping at Pambula Beach, we had a great time swimming, surfing, eating, drinking, and generally relaxing as you do on holiday. One of my sisters had the site next to us with her family, and it was good to spend time with them all ( not that we don't see heaps of each other at home - we do!). Mum and dad and my other sister and her daughter also came up for a few days and bunked in with us all, so it was very much a family affair! (Lucky we all get along well!). We found a couple of divine beaches with water that was sooooo clear - it was just magic. The boys went fishing off the wharf at Merimbula, where the water was so clear we watched the fish nibbling the bait and saw huge stingrays gliding over the seaweed, really beautiful! ( Alas, the fish didn't do anything more than nibble, so we were buying dinner that night!)

While we were away we visited a gorgeous garden in TilbaTilba called 'Foxglove Spires'. It was very lush and shady and abundant with thick plantings of shrubs and flowers and a lot of established trees . They must get alot more rain than we do, as everything looked very green and damp (if you know what I mean!). There was a lovely vegie garden and lots of little areas secluded from each other and a fabulous wisteria and pear tunnel, it was a very peaceful,beautiful garden and quite inspiring!

This is a section of the vegie garden that they had caged, they must have a few problems with critters, but it all looked very healthy!

Anyway, all good things must come to an end, and we got home yesterday late afternoon. Back to reality! To tell the truth, I was starting to miss the chookies and I was a bit worried about the garden ( pathetic, I know), we had some really hot days at home while we were away and I thought everything would be frizzled, but luckily my friends did a great job keeping things watered and everything survived -thanks Esther and Jude!

It is amazing how much things can grow in 2 weeks! These sunflowers weren't flowering at all before we left and today they looked so cheery I had to pick a bunch for inside. Great colours, aren't they? So much stuff was ready to harvest in the garden!
I chopped up a bucket of overgrown zucchinis for a chook treat and picked over 2 kg of mixed beans- very delicious!

These are the beans I picked today, there are Violet Queens, Lazy Housewifes, Brown Beauty, Tendergreens, Rattlesnakes and Snapbeans. I think my favorites are Rattlesnake and Brown Beauty.

I also dug up a couple of potato patches and got a nice big bucket of Dutch Creams and another one of mixed varieties (King Edward, Pink Fir Apple, Purple Congo, Atlantic, Pontiac) I lost the labels from this plot, I always think I'll remember what they are, but I never seem to remember at harvest time.
Anyway, I've got lots of work ahead of me in the garden at the moment , it has all gone a bit berserk will we were away, but never fear, I'll soon have it all under control (yeah right) !!
There is a first time for everything I guess!
I've got apricots to pick and jam, seeds to sow for the next market, mowing everywhere, compost to make, weeding,weeding and more weeding, chook housecleaning (not to mention human housecleaning!), and the list goes on ! The boys are back to school next week so there should be plenty of time to get everything done, hahaha! This is going to be the Year of Getting Organised ( or the Year of Actually Completing Stuff) so I am determined to try my hardest at organising my time better. I actually like having heaps to do, as long as I feel on top of it and not like I'm swamped and drowning in jobs and tasks that never get done. Hence the new year pledge.
I've got lots more to talk about ( I've been reading some interesting and inspiring sustainabilty stuff in other blogs), but it is getting late now so i think I'll do it tomorrow. Cheers.
PS. I am so happy -I have my first follower on this blog -Yippee and thanks for checking it out!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Check out these potatoes!

Spent some time in the garden today, I tried to start getting the front garden beds under control - quite a big job as it turned out! I have been very slack and the weeds have pretty much taken over, so I've decided to pull out most of the plants in the bed and start again. It will probably take a week or so to get it organised, but I think I will try and create an edible border, one that is beautiful and productive!
I also cleared an empty vegie bed to plant my extra bean, melon and cucumber seedlings. It was dry as a chip so I hope I can moisten it enough to get them off to a good start.

I thought these potatoes were pretty impressive! They weighed 900grs just the 2 of them! We had them for dinner - very delicious. Not bad for a self sown spud left from last year.
Actually dinner tonight was a very local affair - we had roast beef from my friends cattle (about 2km away), and potatoes, beetroot, carrots, beans, snowpeas and lettuce from our backyard and my community garden. The boys gave it the thumbs up, which is always nice.

These are the vegies we had for dinner tonight (the potatoes and beetroot were already in the oven)

The Growing Challenge rules are that you need to grow something that you haven't grown before from seed. With that in mind, I bought some seeds on the weekend - quinoa ( a high protein grain, I thought might be good for the chooks), and several types of kale (scotch, tuscan, siberian and red russian) . I know it is a bit early to sow kale, but I thought I would get organised. Anyway, I can never resist a seed stall, I can always find something new to try!

I had my regular stall at the Red Hill Market on Saturday - it was flat out! There were people everywhere, and I sold more seedlings than I expected which was great. It was lovely weather and there is always a great atmosphere at Red Hill so everyone had a good day I think. There are some really fantastic stalls at this market, I love going there! Mum came up to give me a hand so I even got to have a little look around (even though you could hardly move there were so many people).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Growing Challenge

I am going to try and put a link to The Growing Challenge page and see if I can get the hang of linking. If this works I'll be very happy! I have worked out how to do something that everyone else seems to find really easy , but I have never known how to do it. I'm slowly unravelling the mysteries of computer land!

I will post a list of what is in my garden tomorrow, after a big garden blitz that I am planning for in the morning, I have a heap of melon seedlings and bean seedlings to plant so hopefully nothing comes up to stop me getting on with it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year Chooks!

I hope everyone had a great new year!We had lots of fun at a friends place and I'm feeling pretty tired tonight, so I 'm going to hit the hay soon, but I thought I would post these pictures of some of our chookies. They are real characters, these girls, and we get a lot of enjoyment (and eggs!) from them. We currently have 8 chooks and 2 babies, they are very cute.

Here are the hens scratching around in their yard.

I will post a longer piece about the Growing Challenge and how my garden is going at the moment very soon!