Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Veggie patch update

Choosing a sunny position for your veggie patch is important. Unfortunately my veggie patch is too shady now that winter is approaching and I have lost all the squash, zucchini, pumpkin and watermelon I had planted. They were looking healthy, some had even started to produce, then suddenly they all died off just before we got all the rain last week.

This photo was taken about 11.30 this morning and shows the offending trees in the background....
The trees aren't going anywhere so I will have to find a sunny spot to have a winter patch next year.

Some things don't seem to mind the shade. I am picking sugarsnap peas, purple king beans and capsicum at the moment. Lettuce, celery and brassica's are looking ok, and the parsley is thriving, I had just pruned a lot off it just before I took this picture.....
I am picking 6 - 8 chokos a week....

These tomatoes self seeded from the compost I added to this spot. It will be interesting to see if they continue to grow through winter.

The pumpkin vine that self seeded is running rampant.....

But it only has one pumpkin on it at this stage.............

We live on top of a hill so we weren't too worried during the recent flooding rains, but the wind picked up and that is always a worry when you're surrounded by gum trees. It blew a tree over in the back paddock and tore a branch from a tree in the front paddock. The branch landed on top of this gate!

Have a great day.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Handmade Dishcloths and a Tea Cosy

After making Tania's frugal scouring dishcloth I started looking at patterns for crochet and knitted dishcloths.

Finding free patterns on the internet was easy. The trouble started when I realized most are written to suit US and used worsted weight or kitchen cotton.

What is worsted weight?

I found a lot of conversions on this site -

Worsted weight is equivalent to Australian 10 - 12 ply

Wouldn't that be too thick for a discloth?
Is 10 - 12 ply cotton available in an Australian brand?
I can only find 4 and 8 ply.

I like a thin dishcloth and I only had 4 ply on hand so I knitted up a basic version of granny's favorite.... too thin.... pulled it out and knitted two lots of 4 ply together and liked that result better.

I looked at the crochet patterns then decided to play around myself and settled on a square of half-trebles (US = half-double crochet).

Then I knitted up the Garterlac dishcloth which was a fun pattern to work with.

Here are the first 3 dishcloths......
The Garterlac one looks abit out of shape. I should have washed and blocked it before taking the photo. Too late now as I have already given these three dishclothes away to a friend :-)

I made these for myself.....
Versions of Granny's Favourite & King Charles Brocade

The King Charles Brocade probably would have looked better if I'd knitted it in a plain colour.... oh well, you live and learn :-)

All of the dishcloths above were made using 4mm needles (or hook) and 2 strands of 4 ply cotton.

I made the next two dishcloths for one of my sisters......
For pattern click here

Rose pattern click here

The rose didn't show up as much as I thought it would, so I knitted the next picture dishcloth on smaller needles and the picture stood out a little better. Sorry no photo as I was in a hurry to get a set of dishcloths ready for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.

I haven't knitted or crocheted anything for years but it seems like now that I have started I just can't stop, which is probably a good thing as I might use up some of the yarn I have stashed away in the cupboards.

My latest creation is a tea cosy.....
Rosy Cosy pattern here


Friday, May 1, 2009

Veggie patch update

I've been distracted by other things and haven't posted for a couple of weeks, so I thought it was time to take the camera back into the veggie patch.

Every clove of the Australian Garlic I planted in March came up and looks healthy. If they all mature to a good size I will have a great harvest :-)

The onions didn't do so well and if I don't get busy soon the few that have come up will be inundated with weeds!

This watermelon doesn't seem to have grown much.....
and I've now found another which is bigger than the first one I'd spotted.....

A stray pumpkin seed in the compost must have sprouted and has taken off. It's a big vine so I am trying to guide it out onto the lawn so it doesn't take over the whole veggie patch.
We've had a few tomatoes off the heirloom plants and I've picked 29 chokos so far.....
The 5 tomatoes on the left end of the paper towel are heirlooms the one on the right is a Health Kick (probably the last I will get off those plants as they look ready for the compost bin).
The green and red tomatoes in the basket came from friends. They're not sure what breed the tomatoes are as they self seeded in the compost.... perhaps from a home grown tomato or one from the supermarket. These friends are moving to another town and couldn't bring themselves to leave these beauties behind as they were the biggest and healthiest looking tomatoes they'd grown since starting a small veggie patch last year.
They begin house hunting in the new town tomorrow. The layout of the yard is an important part of the criteria for their new home as they plan to put in a lot of vegetables as well as some fruit trees..... just over a year ago that wouldn't have even been a factor! I wish them luck in their venture :-)


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Choko's Galore

I've picked 15 chokos from the vine so far and there's plenty more to come by the look of it....
Baby chokos are so cute! Here's one with the flower still attatched....

I found a recipe for Choko Salad on Belinda Moore's blog -
I've made the salad twice now, and it has been enjoyed by most who've tried it.

Just to show I'm not totally obsessed with chokos here's a baby watermelon.....

and some baby squash.....

This Red-necked Wallaby was feeding just outside the front fence this morning....

Have a great day.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Choko Vine update

Last October I posted this picture of the White Choko vine.....

It has really taken off and I had noticed it flowering recently, then last weekend I was shocked to see there was good sized fruit on it.....

This morning I picked these.....

Hubby loves them, but I find them a bit tasteless. I've only eaten green chokos.... maybe the white variety have more flavour?

I have been surprised how well this vine is growing as I have tried to grow green chokos many times without success.

If you have a favourite choko recipe, now would be a great time for you to share it with me :-)

Yesterday morning the feed tray was visited by a couple of Galahs.....

Have a happy and safe Easter break.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Drowned Worms :-(

Worm Farm Lesson #1 - Always leave the tap open on a worm farm.

During the last 3 days we've had 218mm (over 8inches) of rain. Unfortunately it didn't even cross my mind that the worms might be drowning. And why should it, the collector tray is quite deep and has a centre mound... even the instruction manual says "It has been designed with a ‘mound’ in the centre so any worms that fall into this tray are able to climb back up. "
Lesson learned, don't believe everything you read! ;-)

After draining the tray, I left the tap open slightly and put a small watering can under it to catch any liquid fertilizer, and if it rains the watering can will overflow onto the ground!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Lamb's Fry, Bacon & Onion in Gravy with Mash....

With the weather cooling down a little this week it was time to cook a heartier meal than usual so I decided to make an old favourite.... ok, it's not everyone's favourite, but everyone in this household loves it :-)

Lamb's Fry, Bacon & Onion in Gravy

Slice up a good size onion and lightly fry in a little olive oil

Add some chopped up bacon (3-4 rashers with all fat trimmed off) and lightly fry

Set the onion and bacon aside.
Coat slices of lamb's fry with flour and fry briefly in batches. I turn the slices as soon as the blood starts to show, then set aside when the blood shows on the other side.

Add some Gravox (gravy mix) to the leftover flour and enough water to make a gravy.

Return the lambs fry, bacon and onion to the pan, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
If your frypan doesn't have a lid put it into a saucepan.
We love it served with mashed potato. You can serve with other vegetables if desired.

Leftovers are delicious on toast the next day.

I haven't included quantities as I just add what I have at the time.
If you need quantities do a Google search for Lambs Fry and you will find plenty of recipes.

Have a great day.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rainy day

Weather Forecast for Today:
Rain periods. Some moderate to heavy falls and local stream rises possible. Windy with fresh and gusty E to SE'ly winds.

I like how they say "rain periods". It hasn't let up since it started early this morning and it feels like it's set in for the day!

The view from our back deck on a rainy day...

Moon Planting: 27th March to 2 April - New Moon
During this phase I put in a new lot of mixed lettuce seedlings as the last lot were starting to go to seed.

April 3rd to 9th - First Quarter
Sow or transplant fruiting annuals and sow green manures. Apply liquid fertilisers.

If you prefer a daily guide to moon/zodiac planting, check out the April Moon Guide at Cosmic Gardening.

If you're wondering what veggies to plant in your part of Oz check out What to Grow in April at Aussie Organic Gardening.

Have a great day.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Little Lorikeets

These two Rainbow Lorikeets landed on the railing of our front veranda yesterday morning
and they were here again this morning

Moon Planting: March 19th -to 26th - Last Quarter Phase
No planting during this phase so I have been busy weeding, preparing a small no-dig bed for my potatoes and turning the contents of my compost bins.

Recycling: I've set up a worm farm in this Can-O-Worms I was given by a friend who no longer wanted it.... thanks mate :-)
I've put it in a cool spot close to the back door so my wriggly friends will be guaranteed plenty of treats.

Have a great day.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roast Pumpkin Salad

We had dinner at a friends house last night. I'd offered to contribute a couple of salads. I ended up taking Fried Rice and a Pumpkin Salad.

The Pumpkin Salad is always enjoyed when I make it so I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Pumpkin, Spinach & Pine Nut Salad

4 cups pumpkin, cut into large chunks of 3-4 cm
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Half a cup of pinenuts
Olive oil

1. Brush pumpkin pieces with olive oil and roast in a moderate oven until cooked through.
2. Place spinach leaves in salad bowl and add roasted pumpkin. Warmth from pumpkin should slightly wilt spinach if this is the desired effect. If not just combine all ingredients when cool.
3. In frypan combine olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. Roast pine nuts until slightly brown.
4. Add roasted nuts to pumpkin and spinach.

I don't follow the exact quantities given, I just use what I think I will need for the number of people sharing the meal.

Optional Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
Mix together in a small jug and sit beside the salad for those who want it.

I have made the dressing in the past, but don't bother now as we enjoy the salad without it.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Waste not, want not"

Idiom: Wise use of one's resources will keep one from poverty. -- waste not, want not.
This proverbial saying was first recorded in 1772 but had an earlier, even more alliterative version, willful waste makes woeful want (1576).

Inspired by Tania (at Outback blog) I used these 3 things....

to make this frugal scouring dishcloth.

My seed potatoes arrived in the net bag and the cotton has been floating around my cupboard for years so the scouring dishcloth has cost me nothing but a little time. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

I have another net bag from the garlic so I'm off now to start another one.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

King Parrots

The other day I posted about this King Parrot in the feeder.....

He was there again this morning, then his mate flew in to have a feed.....

So he headed over to the water bath and sat on the post keeping watch while she ate....

Some lorikeets flew overhead, calling out as they passed by and the King Parrots took off.


Australian Garlic

I have been keeping an eye out in the supermarkets and greengrocers for Australian Grown Garlic, but it's always from China or other overseas countries.

Thursday morning I woke up to find an email from Green Harvest letting me know their autumn supply of seed potatoes and garlic are now available. Thank goodness! I ordered some Italian White Garlic, Pontiac Potatoes and seeds of Moon & Stars Watermelon and Lockyer Gold onions, then went out into the veggie patch.

Moon Planting: March 11th to 18th Full Moon phase.
Time to plant root vegetables so I put in a metre long row each of Baby Carrots and Detroit Red Beetroot seeds. I cheated and used Yates Seed Tapes so they'll be evenly spaced when they come up. Or should I say, if they come up! Unfortunately I don't have much success with small seeds.

Yesterday I was in a Woolworths and spotted some Australian Grown Garlic. That'd be right, now that I have ordered it online it is suddenly available in the supermarket! I bought some anyway, and told a young chap in the veg department to thank his manager for stocking it.

I checked the letter box when I got home from shopping and there was my parcel from Green Harvest. What great service :-)

Later today I will be planting garlic and onions. I will have to chit the potatoes.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Neglected Patch

I've neglected my veggie patch during the summer. The heat and rain of our wet season lead to many failures. All is not lost though as some things have soldiered on despite the lack of attention.

Yesterday I started to clear out the weeds and figure out what's left in my patch.

The capsicums are still producing fruit.....
The leeks are thin, but will still taste goodThe mixed heirloom tomatoes have taken off in every direction
The spring onions and chives are doing well
Plenty of parsley (basil & mint are both fine too - coriander died)
Mixed lettuce seedlings I put in last month are producing well
The silverbeet I put in at the same time have been attacked....
The beans had dried out so I collected some seed. I found some potatoes when I was preparing an old bed
And the carrots I though would never grow had matured while I wasn't watching :-) I pulled some up and left some in the ground.

Yesterday I planted seedlings of watermelon, squash, corn and honeypod peas, and seeds of butternut pumpkin, scarlet runner beans and telephone peas.

Have a great day.