Posts Tagged ‘cordial’

In which the show comes to town!

Every year on the first Saturday in March, our local town has a show. One of the men in charge in the exhibition hall goes to our church, and one year when he was visiting us, he showed me how to pick rhubarb and prepare it for the show. Thus began my association with the show, which now sees me acting as a steward, as well as showing vegetables and cooking.
It’s one of those daggy things to do that make the show a really fun outing. Because I’m a steward, I get there really early, so my entries look very lonely for a while. Soon however the shelves fill up. From that point on though, I don’t know what’s happening with my entries, because my area of responsibility is the art section.

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At the end of the day, once all the artwork is judged and displayed, I get to rush back and see how my babies have done. This year, despite terrible weather, and me being away, the babies did very well, thank you. My highlights were my zucchinis and pink cordial which both won best in section, something I’ve never managed even once until this year. Also bringing home the bacon were beans, pumpkin (already in today’s soup for lunch) beans, tomatoes, strawberry chilli sauce, watermelon, tomatillos and cucumbers, (although the cucumbers managed to come second in a class where they were the only entry, so don’t be too effusive in your congratulations!)
So, in my acceptance speech, I’d like to thank Mr Gorgeous for his tireless watering efforts in 40 degree heat while I was away.

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Now, to what’s going on in my garden at the moment. Thanks to Lizzie at the Garden Share Collective for keeping me regularly blogging.

The Garden Share Collective

There are beans everywhere. Despite losing all their flowers in the hot weather, the plants have lived on, and are now blooming and producing lots of beans.

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The tomatoes are very late this year. I’m only just starting to get good crops now

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I’ve separated my melons from my pumpkins, thanks to some extra room this year, and finally I’m getting melons. This watermelon (sugar baby, I believe) plant died suddenly, so I’ve been bringing the melons in to eat. They were underripe, but still delicious and refreshing.

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I haven’t planted anything this month. This will almost certainly leave me with a gap in my produce, but I’ll try and plant a few brassica seeds this week, and some tomatoes and carrots. If it’s not too late, I’d like to put a few more beets in. I get a monthly email from gardenate which tells me what I can plant, although I’m never sure whether I’m temperate or cool climate here.

As soon as we get some rain, I need to start some weeding, especially of paspalum and of the strawberry patch. Also, there’s an orange winged bug I need to research to see whether it’s friend or foe.

Just as soon as I finish basking in glory…..

In which I recover from Open Garden and start a new adventure

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people who planned, weeded, pruned, tidied, fed us, sat on the front desk, took photos, labelled trees, and generally helped out with open garden, and all of you who came, and were gentle with us! We’ve had the most enormous weekend, and it makes me realise how much we need our friends.

I was wondering how I would keep the impetus going after the open garden (and to tell you the truth, the nana nap has featured big in my week!), but now I’ve got just the thing. I’ve been asked to be part of the Garden Share Collective. Yay. That should keep me going at both the garden and the computer. More about that later in this post.

The Garden Share Collective

So first of all, here are (quite a) few pics of the garden on open garden day, when most of the garden was looking its best.

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The “kids’ table’ set up by Master 10 (the aunty collector) and the flowers garden

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The newly weeded raspberry bushes, thanks to Master 15 (the hungry one)

IMGP3542Mr Gorgeous has done the most wonderful job making companion planting beds under the fruit trees. We used the leftover bricks from the front of the house. The chickens, however, think they’re the most perfect dust baths, so we’re yet to have that argument, which will involve large quantities of chicken wire until the plants are established, I suspect.

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Many of these seedlings probably should have been in the ground for open garden, but I was too frantic getting ready in so many areas of the garden that I didn’t have the brain space free to decide what should go where. So there they sat on Open Garden Day, but they were a good starter for conversation right where they were.

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The babies!

I made a display table for the day with some of the food I’d preserved during the year, and lots of cordial (raspberry, lemon and lime/ginger), which we shared with our visitors.

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Now that Open Garden is over, I have a booking with these chairs. One of the lovely things about the Open Garden was chilling with visitors looking at what’s good about the garden. When I work in the garden I tend to see only the jobs, but having new eyes in the garden made me appreciate again what I have.

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I made some posters for the day: one of the history of the garden, and another of our year.

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Now, to a mystery. I had a lovely conversation about tomato seedlings with someone on the day (A wonderful lady, I do remember that much) and then this lovely gift arrived during the week. I have a tomato seedling here to return the favour, but I can’t for the life of me remember who I was talking to. Some of the day is a bit of a blur! So if this is you, contact me, and I’d love to share my seedlings with you.

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So, onto what’s happening now. The Garden share Collective (you can click on the picture at the top of the blog to go there) is a bunch of people growing food, who share what they’re planting, harvesting, and what they’ll do next, in order to encourage one another. Here’s what I’m up to.

PLANTING

As well as putting in the other seedlings in regular beds, I’ve been making a pumpkin patch. The netting is necessary as the chickens free range in this part of the garden. I have hammered thin bamboo posts into the ground, and joined them with poly pipe. I’ve then stretched a piece of old netting over the top, and then sewing up all the holes. The bottom edge is fully pegged down with some homemade pegs, thanks to some fencing wire and the next door neighbour’s generosity with his cutters. I’ll peg down the top (front of photo) once the plants are in.

It’s also time to get in my beans and corn in, and to plant some more greens like mizuna and lettuce so they’ll be ready when this current lot finishes. I have been planting beans to dry the past few years, and I’ll do that again this year if I have the space. I have 2 big new veggie beds – surely I’ll have space.

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HARVESTING

The day after Open Garden, I went around and picked lots of the stuff that I’d left there for people to look at, and the result was a big stir fry, a garden salad and 2 lovely bunches of flowers. The strawberries have just started to ripen, and need better netting soon. I’m also picking a bunch or two of asparagus every second day, and the peas and broad beans continue.

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TO DO
Nearly everything needs netting. Urgent are the strawberries, cherries, apricots and blackberries which also need weeding. ( A shame really, my arms have only just recovered from weeding the raspberries.)
Also, and very importantly, I plan to sit in the garden and enjoy it.

Great weather for ducks…

What a rainy week it’s been! It really has been too wet and windy even for me. I’ve had a few quick trips out into the garden to pick produce, but other than that, I’ve been indoors. I thought I’d take advantage of the inside weather to use some of the limes that we have all over the tree. I’d had it in my mind to make lime and ginger cordial for quite a while, but I didn’t have a recipe or any idea really whether it was a bona fide drink or not. I bought a good sized bit of ginger at the supermarket, but by the time I got around to the cordial, there was only a 2 inch piece remaining, due to a lovely curry and another dish during the week. Still, not knowing how much was needed, that amount was as good as any. The end result was quite nice, but not as gingery as the cordial of my dreams, so I’ll double the ginger next time. Apart from my raspberry cordial, I make my cordial with a recipe from my sister in law, which is 2-4-6. 2 cups of juice, 4 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar.  yes, 6 cups, so it’s not something we drink every day). The ginger I sliced up thinly and added with some lime rind right from the start.
Once the sugar’s dissolved in the water, I add the juice and boil for 5 minutes. I usually add a tablespoon of citric acid.
These bottles have been added to my lemon cordial (1st prize at the show), and raspberry (2nd!) in readiness for summer nights on the back verandah. Just as soon as we get some SUN!
I’m not usually so worried about the weather. Having come to Gippsland from Perth, where I felt like we were in a permanent state of drought, I still love the rain, even after 9 years. As my good friend always says when it rains: “Good weather for ducks and Donna”. At the moment though, the desire to have a nice garden for Gardivalia is overriding my love of rain.

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Our beautiful broccoli

On the positive side, the broccoli are the best I’ve ever grown and there’s not an aphid (or is that an aphis?) in sight. I’ve always had broccoli which was smaller than shop broccoli, so I assumed they used chemical fertilisers (I use none), but this year, I got the seedlings straight from the punnet to the garden, and got them in too early for the bugs. Yay. Note to self for next year to do the same.

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Some of our lime surplus

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My lime and ginger cordial on the windowsill, with a few pumpkin seeds on the left. look at that rain!

I’ve got some seedlings in, after a very sorry start (see the pic below). I’ve been reading the “weeks until harvest” information with renewed interest. I’ve always just gardened with a view to a succession of harvest, but with a date for Gardivalia very much implanted on my mind (just 9 weeks to go), I’m also trying to have a good looking garden for visitors. I don’t want 100 tonnes of produce all ready the same day, but I want something that’s worth looking at, that will show and provide talking points about what we do here. I really want my visitors to enjoy their time here.

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The wind blew my seedlings over. I had to start again!

The weather this week looks much better; Friday’s forecast is even promising 20 degrees. I hope to plant my potatoes, and  sort out my alstroemerias  this week. I wonder whether there’d be interest in them if I dug some up and potted them?

I expect my first tulip, and the big magnolia to flower this week. I’ll keep you posted…