Monday, June 21, 2010

Fourteen degrees here this morning, a bit chilly and cold enough to light the fire for a bit this morning. I hope it doesn't get much colder as winter goes along, this is enough :)

Well, I have managed to get the next garden finished, well nearly. I just have to get some more dirt today and that row will be done.

I did realise that I am not very tough, and after unloading the blocks had to have a rest, and the next morning my shoulders were sore.

And then I had to unload the dirt, which I did over a couple of days. You can't rush these things :P

When we went into town we bought beetroot, carrots, cabbage and celery to plant in the new garden beds and also some corn which will go in the last bed when the dirt goes in. Hope it all grows, we really are just experimenting this first year as we figure out the difference in the climate between the mountains and the coast. The theory is that everything will grow :)

But it all looks good and the wind breaks seem to be working.

I will now put some wind breaks on a couple of the fruit trees, the first one being the Indian Guava, which doesn't look too good at the moment. I am hoping it is just because it is winter or the wind.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Our stove is going along really well and the most important thing is the beer is now bubbling. We have officially run out of beer and the last lot of home brew took a month to be ready to bottle as it was too cold for it. The new batch is bubbling away nicely so I am sure it will be ready to bottle a lot sooner than the last lot (which will make my partner in crime and life very happy).

I made some windbreaks for the garden yesterday afternoon in the hope that the gardens will pick up a bit. The wind has been a bit vicious for the garden and some things are suffering so hopefully this will do the trick.

I bought some cheap shade cloth and had some old tomato stakes in the shed. A staple gun is so handy for many things and more staples are now on the shopping list :)

Our number one and only son said that they actually look like gardens now, so I guess I am professional now :p NOT :)

So today I am going to hook up the trailer and go and get some more blocks to build more gardens, and then go get some dirt. I still have plants screaming out to be put in a garden so off I will go, just wish I could back a trailer :P

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We had a busy weekend and apart from putting in our fire, our number one and only son turned 13 years old on the 13th.

We actually had the day at home on his birthday, which is when we put in the fire, but on the Monday (which was a public holiday) we took our number one and only son and his friends bowling. I took some very fuzzy photos with my mobile :) They all enjoyed themselves but we discovered that teenage boys lose their brains, and when we walked up to McDonalds to get them all something to eat the boys ran wild. It was only the two girls that were there, that were sensible. I wonder when boys get their brains back?

When we were putting in the fire, I took some photos from the roof of the shed. The property looks quite good from up high so I took quite a few pictures, particularly seeing we don't get up on the roof that often.

Also, the block looks way bigger, and at least everything is nicely mowed.

Yesterday was Elders Abuse Awareness Day, and my Tai Chi classes were asked to do a demonstration for the event. Only six of us were able to turn up, but I think we did a good job, and then we got a cuppa and cake afterwards.

There was more people there than we thought be around on a Tuesday morning, but everyone put their nerves to the side and focused.

Everyone in my classes are great, and I am really proud that they will come out and show others what they can do :))

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We finally have our fire, and what a difference it makes. To be able to just take the chill off the air is great and I am really looking forward to being able to crank it right up.

Getting the stove home was easy, getting it off the truck was the hard bit. It is very heavy and required some thought about how to get it out of the truck and onto the ground without letting gravity do too much of the work. We had to back the truck onto the veranda and right up to the door.

We had to make sure that the place we were going to put it was really the place it should be.

And then we had to cut a hole in the roof, of course making sure it was precisely over the stove, no mistakes :p

Put the flue in and align it all and hope it fits together. My partner in crime and life spent some time on the roof and I went up too just to give a hand.

Just making sure there will be no leaks.

Now, the moment of truth, did we put it in correctly? And will the smoke go out the chimney or into the house?

Amazingly, all went to plan, or was there a plan? I am not sure, we may have winged it more than planned it :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

I decided that I could no longer stand the vegetable wasteland that is my garden and have bought some seedlings. Waiting for seeds to grow into something that resembles something that could be eaten is tiring, I have lots of little green sprouts and what I haven’t nearly (unintentionally) killed and mutilated, is just plain slow in growing :(

So I have put in Basil, Rocket, some Asian greens but not sure what they are, a variety of cucumbers and lettuce, the type that are continually harvested including Asian lettuce. So all the things that we eat and will keep on keeping on, providing the cold doesn’t get them, I am really out of my element with the change in climate that came with the move.

It looks like the cold has settled in and we are consistently getting 12 to 13 degrees every morning. Our shed is very cold as we have a lot of gaps, like above the roller doors, so we are going to do our best to get a pot belly or some such thing this weekend.

With the cold mornings, I am starting to wonder if my garden needs to be covered at night with some shade cloth just to protect all the little plants that already have enough to contend with as I try to make them grow but instead overdo the love :)

One advantage to the cold weather is the fact that I now know that we have millions of spiders on the block as I see the webs every morning. If I had ever thought that I should walk around barefooted, I definitely wouldn’t now. Not only are there spiders in the trees, but they are all over the ground, building very tough thick little webs, so you know they are there even if you don’t actually see the spider.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another cold morning this morning, 13 degrees, definitely going to buy a fire this week. It is only the beginning of June, so I don't know how cold it will be in July or August.

The sun isn't hitting the shed till about eight in the morning, so it is still cold inside until then. Once the sun is on the door, I then open it up and let the sun in to warm us up and the dog just moves into the sun to warm up too.

I have one little strawberry on one of my plants, and some flowers on others. They are surviving so I think I will make an entire garden bed for strawberries, it would be lovely to have lots of fresh strawberries.

My garden is still kind of bare and I think that I will buy some seedlings as it is all going too slow and I seem to kill the seedlings when very little. Also something has been poking holes in the dirt and getting the seeds out, so nothing is coming up in those spots.

However, despite this there are some things flowering.

Including the marigolds which are going very well and are of course very pretty. Some of the natives are also flowering and the dam looks wonderful.

I really do need to make more gardens as I have more things to plant, but we are just not finding the time. I need my partner in crime and life to come with me in his truck to buy the blocks, though I can manage to get the dirt and mulch alone, I do need the blocks first. So we will find time, sometime :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

It is 12 degrees here this morning, I can hardly feel my fingers and I really think this is the week that we go buy our fire. I don't care how much rearranging of furniture goes on to fit it in, and I know there are places that are colder, but we live in the tropics for goodness sake, 12 degrees is silly :P

My mum has sent me some photos that she took while here, so thought I would post them as they are very good. This first one is of the snake that was in our roof that the dog hated, and we thought was cute and named Buttons. Buttons has now moved on, however I am sure that some of his relatives will be around sometime, but if they are looking for somewhere warm to be they are out of luck :)

Buttons seemed to quite like popping his head out and over to have a look at what we were doing.

These next photos are of the dam, very pretty aren't they? As you can see, we have more purple flowers than pink but that is OK as purple is one of my favourite colours from when I was a little girl (that is probably way more information than is required).

So at the moment the dam is just covered, it is very pretty.

And there are many interesting things to see.

We had a busy weekend, our number one and only son had a friend stay overnight, and they had a lovely time freezing in the tent (it really wasn't any warmer inside so it didn't matter). They had a great time around the fire, probably ate a million toasted marshmallows before eating a great meal that was cooked on the fire.

The same night, someone up the road hit the dog from next door while riding a motorbike, so there was people all over looking for the dog, organising the ambulance for the rider and, we also believe the police arrived. The dog turned up, not too bad, in the middle of the night and the rider had some minor (I think) injuries.

While they were doing all this, someone also ran over our letterbox and snapped it off at the base, so my very clever partner in crime and life has cobbled it back together. Though this morning when I drove past it looked like it was taped together, so I had better go and have a better look at it, but most importantly, we can still get mail.

Who knew that so much could go on in a very small community? We really need to move somewhere more isolated and quiet, moving just out of town and out of suburbia obviously wasn't quite far enough :P

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another foggy morning today, who knew you could get so much fog in the tropics. I could hardly see the road, and there were people who didn't have their headlights on, others whose lights barely worked and others who only had their park lights on that barely did anything in a heavy fog. So gotta be careful on the roads for a while till the fog clears.

I made a peanut butter slice the other day but I am not going to post the recipe as it is evil. It is so yum that you can't help eating heaps and you (as in me) shouldn't eat it at all, it is so unhealthy it is wrong so I will not put the recipe out there :P

The chokos now seem to be powering along, and once they started growing and putting out little tendrils onto the fence, each morning they seem a little bigger. I am pretty sure that talking to them helps :)

Well, I will be doing some mowing today and not sure what else but maybe some cooking if I feel like it. What I actually want to make is trifle, I was over on this blog yesterday and there was trifle and peach crumble, oh yum. Also check out her blog about her million dollar challenge very good.

However, I really need to make some healthy things despite the call of trifle, but I will still make it sometime in the very near future :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My little choko vines are still alive and curling their little tendrils around the fence. They aren’t growing very fast but I guess they will pick up speed as they go along.

As it turns out, chokos are very versatile and I really wonder why they aren’t more popular and why more people don’t grow them. I know they won’t grow everywhere but they still grow a lot of places. My mum used to grow them in Sydney along the fence when we were young but when we moved to the Goulburn area it was too cold and she could no longer grow them.

According to Isabell Shipard in her book, How Can I Be Prepared With Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods, chokos are related to cucumbers, pumpkin and gourds. They like to climb and are heavy bearers of fruit, I have read somewhere that not only is there the common green variety but a white one too, though I haven’t confirmed that.

Chokos can be eaten raw, steamed, stuffed, pickled, fried and made into tarts, sauces, pies, puddings and I believe chutneys. Also according to Isabell Shipard, you can eat the young shoots, tendrils and leaves, putting them into a stirfry sounds nice, and also the roots are edible.

Choko Pickles

½ kg onions ½ kg chokos
2 tbs. salt 1 litre vinegar
½ cup sugar 1 tbs. turmeric
1 tsp. mustard powder 2 tsp. curry powder

Peel and cut up onions and chokos sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for twelve hours.

Drain and place in pan and add remaining ingredients and cook until veges are soft. Mix in ½ cup flour to a thick paste with a little vinegar and add to pot to thicken the pickles.

Bottle and when cold screw on the lids.

Thank you Isabell Shipard, I am looking forward to making this when I have chokos.

I did read in another book that if you let chokos grow over lantana it would kill it, just smother it. We have lantana growing down by our seasonal creek so I might also give that a go, though I wonder if the wildlife will eat it before it gets established. I guess the only way to know is to give it a try.

Jackie French says that chokos take almost no work, YAY, that so that is one reason this plant is for me, I want all benefits of a vege garden but am a bit lazy so I love this bit about chokos. In frost free areas they will grow all year (guess this is why mum can’t grow them) and it is best to eat them when they are young not ginormous (is that a word? Kids say it so it must be).

So I am looking forward to all the ways I can cook chokos, steamed, stirfried, roasted, chutneyed and pickled. With so many things you can do with chokos and the fact that they are easy to grow, it REALLY is a wonder they have gone out of fashion. Maybe I should go on a crusade to bring back the choko into people’s backyards, I know a lot of gardeners out there and they don’t grow chokos, I think I might start talking to them about the choko :p