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Friday, April 29, 2011
I tried for quite some time today to squeeze some sort of link to the royal wedding out of my garden, but alas, to no avail.
So in honour of the impending nuptials, I instead decided to crack open the case of mushrooms I had been cellaring.
Now while perhaps not quite mensa material, I have somehow managed to toddle my way through life so far. But quite frankly, after reading the instruction manual included in the mushroom kit, my brain hurt.
It all seems quite clear now, but for a while there the toss up between which bag was compost and which bag was casing material was 50/50. But my brain finally cooled down, and I cheerfully added my 500ml of water to the casing material.
And dutifully placed it on top of compost material. The spreading it out part I guessed all by myself.
I then had to hunt around the house for cool and humid conditions away from wind and light. They forgot to mention children and the cat, but that at least I can forgive. I'm not sure that this spot really fits the bill, but there is at least room for them to breathe.
If anyone has any objections to where I have placed my potential mushrooms, please speak now.
Posted by Ali at Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
In a gardening move not up there amongst my finest, I was lured today into a nursery and seduced by this fabulous little specimen - the Jaboticaba.
I first tasted this bizzare little fruit fresh from the tree. It seemed to me the most unusual thing - the fruit actually grows all along the trunk and branches, and to be honest it looks a little like the tree has some sort of problem.
But a problem this tree doesn't have, the problem in fact is mine... because the Jaboticaba can take up to 40 years to fruit.
Posted by Ali at Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Those of you familiar with Hazel Dene might remember this fabulous rating that her dad (I think!) came up with. The percentage refers to the amount of food that comes from your garden, so for example if you have a roast chicken (shop bought) with three veg (garden grown), you might rate it at 50%.
I had been thinking about this challenge for a while, just biding my time, and this afternoon it dawned on me that I could probably pull it off.
So off I trotted into the garden, scissors and basket in hand.
I cannot lie, it wasn't easy, but tonight my dear bloggers, the boys and I had a delicious, nutritious 100% home grown meal.
This is what we found in the garden...
mini chocolate capsicum
mini green capsicum
four green beans
And this is what we made...
I'll never make it as a food photographer I know, but I am just bursting with pride over our little egg roll stir fry.
Thanks for the challenge Hazel's dad.
Posted by Ali at Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Up until a few days ago, I actually had my heart set on K being for Kohlrabi. Up until, fellow bloggers, I read this: "Almost 80% of Australian sweet potato production takes place in Queensland". 1
Well. How could I go past that?
With almost 80% of production taking place in Queensland, one would think that I would be growing sweet potatoes, which is the more or less fancy name for kumara (depending on your tastes), left right and centre.
Well I'm not. I've never produced a good crop.
I have seen home grown sweet potatoes the size of a robust newborn baby. Mine look more the size of an undernourished bantam hatchling. And I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong. How can I be doing wrong - this is where they grow best!
But I do have a theory.
I cut a few slips off today and have them sitting in some water, waiting to be planted out... and just wait 'till you see their special new home.
They are going to start contributing to that 80%!
Posted by Ali at Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Which is wrong, because Tommy Toes are way more exciting than wrinkly fingers, especially seeing that this particular tomato is the first to ripen since the flooding we had in Brisbane. And I promise myself that I will try very very hard to never ever ever run out of home grown tomatoes again. Ever.
Tomatoes aside, I wanted to thank you all for your lovely wishes for my birthday. I posted the mushroom kit post a little hurriedly, as we were off camping for the long weekend (no less than several national holidays for my birthday), and when we arrived home this afternoon of course the first thing I did was turn on my computer. And when I saw all your kind comments, I was very chuffed indeed.
If being greeted by vine ripened tomatoes and tons of well wishes is what birthdays are all about now, growing older is not so bad methinks :)
Posted by Ali at Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
There are really very few things that I seem to be able to grow with any success, and to my delight the humble potato seems to be one of those few.
It took 15 days from planting for this particular potato plant to reach these dizzying heights.
I think we'll be eating some home grown potatoes this whenever it is that potatoes are ready!
Posted by Ali at Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I planted this lettuce when it was way too hot, with the intention of letting it bolt and flower. It did this pretty quickly, and for a long time I kept looking at it, patiently waiting for the seeds to appear.
They never did up and reveal themselves, and it wasn't until today when I was about to rip it out that I realised I just hadn't been looking properly. The seeds were there alright, just not quite where I thought they ought to be.
Now I hope this segues well, because there is something else I wanted to tell you about today.
All my life I have blathered on with, "if I were rich, I'd be helping the world in X way". In my mind I set up charities, donated amazing amounts of cash to causes I believed in, and just basically Did Good Deeds. A shorter Angelina Jolie. All in my mind though, because I was waiting to be rich to help out.
It occurred to me some time ago now, that I am not ever going to be really cash rich. There was never going to be any setting up of trusts for charities, or large monetary donations, because I was pinning my hopes on a time that wasn't going to come.
So I decided that if I was going to do something, it was going to have to be a Realistic Good Deed.
And so I started this blog. I am very time poor during the day, but once the boys are in bed I have the nights to myself. So instead of watching television, I blogged. For the sole purpose of making some money. Now before you throw something at the screen, to make some money to Do A Good Deed with.
I was afraid when I first started advertising and asking for sponsors on Mud Pie that people would think badly of me, so I didn't say anything and tried to do it unobtrusively. I promised myself that each time I reached a certain threshold in advertising payments, I would donate that money to a charity that was close to my heart. Well that threshold has finally arrived, and my charity chosen.
The choice was made very easily, because it is a charity that I have always wanted to give to. One of my boys had four operations (all successful!) and ongoing specialist care at the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital, and I couldn't think of a place I would more want to support. I know that the care of small children is very close to most of our hearts, and when that small child is your own, to say you feel very grateful is an understatement.
So today I sent off a very small sum to the Royal Children's Hospital Foundation, and I am feeling as happy as that little pig who enjoys the mud.
It isn't the grand gesture I had always dreamed of making, but it's a realistic small contribution.
One that I could have always done, if only I'd looked at things the right way.
Posted by Ali at Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
These banana plants have provided me with so much excitement in the garden.
I was just thrilled when I first got them, seven in total, and in fact so thrilled was I that I had all seven planted in one afternoon.
I was then excited to see them grow, and when they did that, I was impatient to see them fruit. Seeing the first flower emerge and reveal the first hand was just marvelous, and watching them ripen was a daily ritual.
Cutting down and tasting the first bananas was a momentous occasion, and today, with the last of them down, there was just one thing left to do.
Today I got to chop a whole plant down.
Like most people I'm sure, once one goal has been met, you immediately set your sights on the next one. I have been excited about cutting this plant down ever since the fruit first appeared. There is something quite fascinating about destruction, and chopping down a huge banana plant was really something I was looking forward to.
Luckily I had been warned by Scarlett from BLF that banana bunches are heavy. Really heavy. Even with 80% of the fruit already taken from it, cutting down the rest of the bunch when it's just you and a saw on top of a ladder is quite the experience.
I was a little concerned about my ability to cut through the plant, but I needn't have worried, it was a lot like the proverbial hot knife through butter, really easy.
Of course what I really wanted to do was go for the base of the plant and fell the whole thing with a big "timber" shout, but unfortunately I had to be sensible and chop it off in segments. While not quite as exciting, I still got the chopping down a tree thrill.
These were the last ones left on the tree... spoils of war.
Posted by Ali at Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Do you know that I, a Queenslander, of the sunshine state, land of the banana and pineapple, had in my mind right up until a few years ago that pineapples grew on trees?
We were all in the car somewhere in the countryside one day, surrounded by all these fields filled with row after row of spiky looking plants, and I kept thinking to myself, gee those spiky plants sure are popular around here. Then I probably thought of what I was going to cook for dinner, and on a scale of one to ten how much I felt like cooking said dish, when one of the boys piped up.
"Daddy, what are those?"
"They're pineapples mate."
Vague visions of pretty pineapples trees floated through my mind as I squinted really closely from the things growing in the ground to all the roadside stands offering three pineapples for five dollars.
Well it was a long time ago now, and I have progressed from total pineapple ignorance to slight pineapple knowledge, i.e. that they grow in the ground.
Which is where I have put one... kind of. In honour of my marvellous imagination (a way superior word to ignorance, it's all in the angle you look at it) I have placed the pineapples in hanging baskets, and in turn hung them high from the ground, hopefully to resemble the fabulous trees that still reside in my thoughts.
And I still think that trees would be a much better idea.
Posted by Ali at Monday, April 18, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
I told you it was going to be marvelous! Anyone who knows Digger's will be fabulously excited by this giveaway, and those of you who don't know them yet, well you are in for a big treat.
Because the fabulously generous crew at Digger's is offering not one, not two, but THREE lucky Mud Pie readers an amazing hardcover Digger's gardening book each.
When Lisa from Digger's offered the books, I was so excited I danced a little on the spot jig. I love Digger's. I love their marvelous seeds in paper packaging, I love their fabulous heirloom collection, and I love nothing more than pouring over their latest catalogue and choosing what to order.
Their thought provoking articles make for lively discussion between dad and myself, and their self-sufficient mini-plot is a challenge we would both love to try. And their books... oh their books...
Oh the bliss of detailed information on all sorts of fruit and vegetable varieties... the delicious descriptions of taste, aroma and colour... the marvelous planting guides with their hot and cold climate zones... But way above all that, is the beautiful, beautiful photography of their simply spectacular produce.
From how to grow avocados in Victoria to espaliering apples and pears wherever you are, these fabulous Digger's books are a gardener's dream come true.
To be eligible for one of these marvelous books, simply either leave a comment, or join Mud Pie, or link this post to your blog. If you would like three entries, you can do all three.
There are three books on offer, one copy of The Australian Fruit and Vegetable Garden, and two copies of Growing Your Own Heirloom Vegetables, with the latter including a free sowing poster (pictured below). Each of the books is hardcover.
If you have a book preference, please mention it in your comment.
Choice preference will go to the first winner, then the runner up, and the remaining book will go to third place. Although the books are designed for the Australian climate, they would be a wonderful addition to anyone's gardening library, and the competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter.
Posted by Ali at Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I really do hope that this doesn't offend anyone, but my fig is having a second coming...
You might remember from this post here, that it has already figged once this year. Well, it's doing it again.
There are nine new figs in total, and one left from the first figging that I still haven't eaten yet. Because I am patient and never pick fruit too early and ruin it you see.
I have read that the Black Genoa variety, the kind that I have, will often fig twice, and I am very proud indeed that my plant has decided to go along with this.
What is interesting about this fig, is that it has exactly as many leaves as it does figs. It's not the healthiest specimen I've ever seen, but this is the third time it has figged since I put it in the ground, and as long as it keeps figging it up, I'm happy for it to look a wee bit odd.
And I did finally manage to pick a few at the correct stage of ripeness (subjecting them to the wiggle test worked perfectly, thank you to those who suggested it), and they were as sweet as honey, just divine.
And that's the trinity.
I sincerely hope someone gets that.
Posted by Ali at Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
As though five rats, a snake and a band of cockchafers weren't challenging enough, today, whilst cheerfully digging about in the front garden bed with no gloves on, I came across this.
You can't see it brilliantly well, because I was only going to get so close to this thing, but it's a cane toad. A big, fat, ugly, slimy cane toad. With a cranky look on his face.
And I came this close to touching it people. This close.
I must confess... my enthusiasm for gardening has been well shaken these past few weeks... well shaken.
On a brighter note, I have a most fabulous giveaway coming up at the end of this week. Marvelously fabulous I might even go so far as to say. Don't go anywhere :)
Posted by Ali at Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
When I was a little girl, one of my chief delights was lining up my coloured pencils. I loved the thrill of sorting them according to shade, starting from white, to yellow, through to the oranges, then browns, pinks and red, purples and blues... I forget where the greens fit in now.
I guess we all have our little quirks, and I still love to line up the boys pencils, but now I have found a new game to play, and it's called lining up bananas.
I think I posted a few weeks ago that I had decided to cut down one banana a day, and see how they ripened. I wasn't actually sure that this would work, nature being what nature is, but it has proven to be fabulously practical, with one ripe banana a day dutifully ready to be unzipped.
And not only that, the bananas are also satisfying that odd little lining up obsession I have.
Posted by Ali at Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Finally a dream realised. I have long, long sought after the perfect row, and this my friends, is about as good as I think I can ever hope to achieve.
Fellow bloggers, I give you my rows.
Of something that I forgot to place a name tag next to.
Friday, April 8, 2011
In Japan, where apparently more radishes are produced than any other vegetable, I have it on good authority that it is a grave insult to call a girl, "fat white radish legs". I personally think it to be one of the most fabulously hilarious insults I have ever heard, and wish it were one we used here.
It's been so long between posts that you could be forgiven for thinking that I had given up on my 26 days of planting challenge.
I haven't, but I do have to admit, it's getting a little harder to find things to grow as the letters dwindle in number. So when I saw a packet of oriental radish seeds, I didn't stop to even think of whether I actually liked radish or not, I grabbed them and ran.
Which was a bit of a mistake, because from memory, I don't like radish.
I might have to get over that.
So for those of you who are not familiar with the oriental radish, they look like the seedlings above. At least I hope they do, because I planted a whole lot of seeds out in one day, and am a little confused now as to which one is which. Let's just go with the above ones hey. As for full grown, on the seed packet they look like a white carrot.
Or rather like fat white legs.
Posted by Ali at Friday, April 08, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I'm a little unsure of whether it's indicative of a full, satisfying life, or if it just means I don't get out enough, but I woke up with a start before 6am this morning, and my first thoughts were of the melon.
Mindful of your comments to poke at it to check for ripeness, and conveniently forgetting those that advised me to wait, I prodded at the melon to see if it would come off, until it came off.
I'd so love to be telling you all of the rapturous delights of this mystery melon. The sweet juicy flesh, the heady perfume. Instead I have to tell you that the insides were turning to slush and fermenting, and that the smell was evocative of burning plastic.
I know what that smells like, because it's a good day when I don't set the boys' porridge pan handle on fire.
I still don't know what they are, but there are five more of them left on the vine to try.
Posted by Ali at Thursday, April 07, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
We took Mrs Goggins to get spayed today.
The guilt that I felt about taking away her potential motherhood was compounded as we stuffed her into a spare cotton library bag, having no cat carrier in the house. Felix then started howling because he wanted to carry the bag with Mrs Goggins in it, which I had precariously balanced in my arms while simultaneously trying to juggle lunchbox, schoolbag and car keys.
We made it out of the house and I am confronted with this.
I am pretty sure it's not supposed to be this colour.
I am pretty sure that rockmelons are supposed to be completely covered with a "netting" type pattern, smell yum, and fall of the stalk when they are ripe.
I haven't actually read anything about them turning bright orange overnight first.
It does smell ripe, which of course, makes me want to pick it, but then I want to pick everything. The skin doesn't look right though and it is nowhere near falling off the stalk.
So... what would you do?
I haven't done anything yet. On the way home from the vet Mrs Goggins got her head stuck in a cardboard box (we ditched the library bag and took things up a level) and started making a very bizarre noise which upset the boys. My mobile phone chose that moment to ring and maintaining serenity in the face of feline, offspring, and technology whilst driving proved quite challenging.
After that car ride I was in no condition to make confident fruit picking decisions.
Oh, and just as a side note, before you google "melons" and "images", please,take a moment to consider what kind of results google might send your way.
Posted by Ali at Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
A row of potatoes stuck in the dirt is perhaps not the most photogenic subject in the vegetal world, but I am so bursting with pride and satisfaction at this new bed that I could not but share it with you all.
I worked for hours on this garden bed. When I first started whacking away at it I had only intended to turn the soil in preparation for potatoes (which in itself is far more than I would usually do), but when I came across all those horrid rats I went a little berserk with the enormous mattock I found in the garage and dismantled the entire garden bed.
And then of course I had to put it back together, albeit in a more accessible to me, less so to the rats configuration.
When I really got into it, I found it lovely and calming and soothing. I knew I was doing a good job; the soil was lovely and composted and rich, and beautifully light and fluffy. Mindful of the neat rows of fellow bloggers (that's you Mark) I worked the soil to a loose and crumbly tilth; a lovely bed that any potato would be happy to snuggle into at night.
And what is more, I braved the rats head on (with a very large mattock), picked out cockchafers for the chickens, and rowed my potatoes.
And I did it all wearing a dress.
Ladylike with a mattock was the look I was aiming to achieve.
ps thank you Hazel for the most fabulous bug word I have ever heard in my life. I am now happily intending on dropping it into casual conversation on a daily basis.
Posted by Ali at Tuesday, April 05, 2011