End of Easter

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Well, it is nearly 2 weeks since my last post and I honestly cannot remember what I have been doing, apart from to say that I was totally occupied by my paid work in the run-up to the Easter break and I spent a most enjoyable Easter with various members of my extended family.  There was not a chocolate in sight…………….however, 4 generations of my family were able to enjoy a shared lunch on Saturday.

GMan, my brother and I worked hard to earn our lunch as we positioned and concreted these 3 posts in place.

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This followed on from the 6 holes they had dug the day before.  It is all part of a project which has spent several years in the ‘dreaming’ pile and has now started to come to fruition.  You can read about it here.  We hope to have the other 3 posts positioned and concreted next weekend.  I am busily working on the design of the rest of the construction and hopefully it will not take too long to complete.

There were some other fun and games as my brother-in-law extricated a visitor from the hen house.  He had been there for a couple of days and we think he was looking for a warm, dry spot to digest what looked like a substantial meal.

Anyway, it was time to move along…………

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And off to a more appropriate spot………………….

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Today was quieter and an opportunity to catch up on some jobs at home so that I can start the working week with a clean slate.  I am pleased to report that all of the washing and ironing are done as well as some voluntary admin work completed.  I even made time to do a little bit of sewing.

I hope you had a safe and relaxing Easter break, too.

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.

 

Completed Quilt

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A month ago I wrote a post about making another quilt.  You can read about it here.  Once again, I had a deadline because it needed to be completed by early this week as it was a retirement gift for a work colleague.

I met the deadline and here is the finished quilt.

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This one included some new fabric bought specifically for the project as I simply did not have enough of the chosen colour palette.

I have been busy for the past week or so with finishing the quilt as well as working and being away from home for a couple of nights.  However, it is now the end of the working week and no specific engagements for the weekend.  The weather forecast does not include rain nor super-hot weather so GMan and I are looking forward to spending some time outdoors, particularly getting vegetable gardens back in order and prepared for planting now that the extreme heat is behind us.

I hope to bring you some updates from the home front before too long.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you have planned.

The Production Line

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On Sunday, GMan and I decided we needed to pick the cherry tomatoes which are growing wild in the front garden.  I have been picking and using plenty of them for the past couple of months but there were so many that we really needed to do something with them

We picked 2 large buckets of cherry tomatoes and discarded almost as many again that were rotten or otherwise unsuitable.

Here is one bucket of our haul.

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The next job was to remove the stalks, sort and rinse them.  The ones that were fully ripe were bagged and frozen.  This is 6kg ready for the freezer.

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The remainder were spread on trays to allow them to ripen a bit more.  Here they are on the kitchen bench.

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Today we both had a rare day off during the week and this afternoon the rain eased off enough for GMan to head down to the vegie garden where there are more cherry tomatoes.  He brought another bucketful upstairs which I prepared.

There are now 10kg of tomatoes in the freezer, 3 trays of tomatoes ripening on the bench and 3 trays of tomato puree in the dehydrator.

Tomatoes are not the only produce we have in abundance at the moment but more about that in the next post.

 

Falling Nuts

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Unless you live in or have visited a couple of fairly specific areas in Queensland, Australia it is unlikely that you have seen or even heard of a bunya pine.

It is the middle of January which means it is bunya nut season.  It is certainly not the time to have a picnic under one of these trees as the cones can weigh several kilograms.

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The bunya pines are indigenous to where we live on the Blackall Range, however, there are very few original specimens due to land clearing for the dairy industry in the late 1800s.  We have one on the steep slope at the rear of our property so the falling cones roll down the hill to where they are easily accessible.

I had heard several cracks and thumps over the past week so I went looking for them and collected 4 cones today.  The photo above shows the intact cone.

Once they are ripe and fall, the cones quickly split open and the segments containing the nuts separate.

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These 3 cones in the wheelbarrow are in various stages of splitting.  You can see the central core around which the segments are spiralled.  Each segment contains a nut.

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At this stage they still need to be boiled or roasted and then the hard protective shell removed to reveal the edible nut.  There is a fair bit of work involved in getting from the fallen cone to edible nut stage.  I have a bag of nuts for to be roasted or boiled which I will take for one of my work colleagues who is a real fan.  I am not desperate to eat them but feel that I should utilise this free bounty of local produce.  I am planning to prepare the nuts and then grind them and use to make pesto.  In the meantime the crushed nuts can be stored in the freezer.

The bunya festival was and remains an important gathering for the local indigenous people.

In the Garden

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After a break of almost 3 months, I finally made it back to the garden today.  I have really done nothing since before we went to the UK at the beginning of November and since we arrived home in early December my intentions have been thwarted by hot weather, Christmas preparations, another holiday and numerous social events as well as being busy at work.

However, I woke up at 5am today and decided to bite the bullet before the sun became  too intense.  2.5 hours later I came in after having made a start on some weeding in the vegetable garden enclosure.  In all honesty, you could barely see where I had been but I felt better knowing that at least I had made a start.

We went shopping this morning and as well as food we managed to buy more than a dozen plants.  Later this afternoon GMan and I weeded the area in front of the house.  This runs the full length of the house and is planted with numerous hibiscus shrubs and covered with mulch.  Where the hibiscus are well established and close together there was very little weed, however, there are still some substantial gaps and some unwelcome plants had become quite well established.  Of course, the area is almost overrun with cherry tomato plants but I am prepared to accept them as they are food.

The next job was to tackle the raised garden bed containing the sweet potatoes.  When we planted them some months ago we placed a panel of old pool fencing over the bed to keep the scrub turkeys away from it as they just dig up the potatoes and eat them and completely destroy the plants.  We had intended to remove it once the plants became established but that did not happen.  The plants had grown right through the fencing and far, far away…………  It was not easy to remove and in the process we discovered that there was a good crop waiting to be harvested.

Here is our haul.

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I can see sweet potato fries, sweet potato mash, vegetable curry and baked sweet potato in our future.

In a recent post I published a list of some of the projects we intend to tackle this year.  One of them was to create a garden outside the vegie garden.  My intention is to create a mostly native garden with a seat in the midst of it. At the moment it is just grass but that is about to change.  Today we took the first step and bought a selection of plants which will form the basis of this garden.

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This is the result of our garden shopping so I am quite keen to see my planned garden come to fruition.  Not of all the plants we bought will be for that area but we have plans for all of them.

Hopefully, I will have some more photos to share before too long.

We are planning to make an early start again tomorrow as it is really the best option during the summer months here.

A Garden Surprise

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One of the biggest threats to successful gardening in this area are scrub turkeys.  For those readers who are unfamiliar with these pesky birds you can read more about them here.  One of their favourite pastimes is digging up and eating sweet potatoes so I have resorted to placing a large panel of pool fencing over the top of the raised bed in which I am trying to grow the sweet potatoes.

However, some sweet potato runners had obviously escaped from one of the compost heaps and manged to grow in amongst the raspberry canes.  Even better, they had remained undetected by the scrub turkeys.

When GMan was doing some tidying up near the raspberry canes yesterday he noticed some errant foliage and discovered these beauties ready to be harvested.

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2kg of sweet potato that we did not know existed! I think I will need to re-arrange my menu plan and incorporate these into some upcoming meals.