Spring has Sprung

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Even though it is barely the middle of August there is definitely spring (some would say summer) in the air.  Our winter was very mild here and we could be in for a long hot summer so it makes sense to get a head start on the summer growing season before it gets too hot.

I harvested the last 4 purple cabbages and dug over the bed in readiness to plant some beans.

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We have never had quite enough soil to fill these beds to the level I would like so I took the opportunity to add some more material to the bed before I planted the beans.

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This is one of the various mulch/compost piles that are dotted around our property.  GMan uses this one exclusively for grass clippings.  I know that the purists say that you cannot compost just one type of material such as lawn clippings but I can assure you that the underneath of this heap had broken down beautifully into rich compost and was teeming with worms.

We removed the decomposed material from the bottom of the heap and returned the rest to the heap for another day.

Here is the bed topped up and ready to plant.

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Meanwhile, I weeded the carrots which are continuing to grow nicely.  I have harvested some baby ones as I thinned them out.

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The newer blueberry bushes which are now a couple of years old, are finally getting established and showing some real signs of progress.  Some, like this one are covered with flowers and fruit.

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A closer view.

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Finally, a reminder that the garden is not only about growing food.  It is about enjoying our surroundings.  This photo is of the natural sculptural form of the the deciduous white cedar which dominates the back garden.

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What season is it in your garden?  Is it changing?  Have you modified your planting habits or even what you can grow to accommodate changes?

 

Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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Future-Proofing

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Well, it is 3 days since my last post in which I shared our concern for the residents of north Queensland who were in the path of Cyclone Debbie.  What a 3 days it has been!

In 72 hours Cyclone Debbie has flattened the island resorts of the Whitsunday Islands and the adjacent mainland towns of Airlie Beach and Prosperine as a Category 4 cyclone before being downgraded as it moved inland.  Most of these areas are still without power or water and this situation is likely to continue for several more days, at least.

As predicted, the system then turned south east and headed towards the densely populated south-east corner of Queensland, including Brisbane.  For almost 24 hours we experienced substantial rainfall and some high winds – but of course, nothing like the conditions endured by those who were in the direct path of the cyclone.

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This is a view of part of our backyard this morning during a break in the rain.  The water in the background is not normally part of the landscape.  The ‘lake’ develops as the run-off from the mountain behind us pools in the low-lying part of our property.  It is not as extensive as some other occasions and will drain over the next few days.

The area where we live lost power about 2pm today and do not expect it to be restored until at least midday tomorrow.  There are currently thousands of consumers in Brisbane and the surrounding areas without power.  We are fortunate to be reaping the benefit of our decision to install a grid-connected battery system almost 18 months ago.  You can read about it here.

While it is great to be able to use our stored power each evening, the real benefit of the system is that it provides us with a power source in the event of a power failure from the grid.  Whether it is extreme weather or any other reason it is reassuring to know that we are not reliant on the grid for power.  This experience has confirmed the importance of a degree of self-reliance and we are extremely glad to be in this position.

 

Stay Safe

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My internet has been somewhat unreliable over the past few days, hence the lack of posts.  I had several ideas but have shelved them for tonight as I would simply like to say to everybody in north Queensland who is in the path of Cyclone Debbie, “Please take care and stay safe.  We are thinking of you and praying that you will be safe”.

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Not Tree-Hugging Nonsense

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For too long investment in renewable energy, electric cars, sustainable agriculture and a swag of other activities has been seen as the preserve of alternative individuals in our society.  These people are often derogatorily referred to as tree-hugging greenies by those who do not share their values or see the urgency in transitioning our communities to more sustainable practices.

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The Australian government continues to refuse to accept that exponential economic growth at the expense of environmental protection is not the key to our future.

However, I believe the tide is turning.  I have read several articles in the past few days in which the impact of climate change is of concern.  Doctors are identifying health issues, global banks are withdrawing funding for coal mines and an Australian private health fund has announced that it is divesting itself from fossil fuels on the grounds that it cannot reconcile supporting an industry which harms the health and well-being of its members.

This one from APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) is close to home and should be a stark warning to the government that they simply cannot continue on their current trajectory with regard to action on climate change and support of power generation from non-renewable sources such as coal..

As the support for the coal industry wanes and associated funding options begin to evaporate, the government is determined to push on with its agenda of coal at any cost.   The latest idea is to use the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund the establishment of more coal-fired power stations using ‘clean coal’ technology.  This is an absolute disgrace and should be stopped.

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A New Tank

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Our property is in a semi-rural area and we do not have access to town water.  This is not a problem as we have 2 large rainwater tanks.  The combined capacity is almost 100,000 litres and since we live in a high rainfall area we have never even gone close to running out of water.  However, we have also lived in a low rainfall area as well as in the city when there was a significant drought so we know what it is like to be careful with every precious drop of water.

Well, you can never have too much rainwater storage so today we bought another tank.  I discovered that a work colleague wanted to sell a rainwater tank due to new landscaping plans.  I checked out the details and found that it would be perfect for our plan to have another small tank under the verandah.  We will use this for watering out vegetable garden which is close by.  This will be much easier than dragging the hose all the way from the main tap which is at the other end of the house.  Additionally, a tank which is close to the house will give us the option of being able to access water relatively easily if we are without power.

It is unlikely that we will be completely without power now that we have the battery system for our solar panels but is will be good to have a back up just in case.

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Without power for the pump or a tank close to the house, it is a long trek to the main tanks to get water.  You can read about it in an old post from 2013.

Back to the new tank.  We collected it today and it was loaded into the ute with the help of the seller and a couple of his mates.  After a reasonably cautious drive home it was time to unload.

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This is the area we had chosen to position the tank.  In fact, the concreting was only done about 6 months ago with a view to getting the tank this year.

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With a bit of careful planning GMan and I were able to manoeuvre it into position.

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The next step will be to organise the plumber and electrician to get it all set up.  In the interests of efficiency we need to plan several plumbing and electrical jobs all to be done at the same time.

After the Storm

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Today was hot and sunny until about 2pm when the cloud rolled in heralding the approaching storm.

We had a couple of hours of rumbling thunder and some rain but no lightning strikes, hail or wind damage which occurred just slightly to the north and west of us.

Most of the activity had gone and the sky had lightened up just before dusk when I looked out of the kitchen window and caught the most amazing view.  I grabbed my camera and captured this shot before the moment was lost.

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