Saturday, December 31, 2011

My filtered drinking water solution

Coffee filter into a spring water bottle. Set the iPhone timer at 25 minutes, come back and get my water.

My wife Sylvia hasn't been drinking my rainwater for some time now. I think it's because she didn't like the floaties.

I think she's cool with the rainwater now.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Self seeded something: perhaps mulberry?

I hope so. This thing sprung up on a very convenient place. Next door has a mulberry tree and I wouldn't be surprised if this is a "bird distributed volunteer seedling".

So can anyone tell me if they think it looks like a mulberry to them? And will it give true fruit?

Below or @cullenofadelaid on Twitter.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Laying a path as a hobby

I got these pavers 10 months ago as they were demolishing the place across the road.

I like a garden with paths. I had some paving sand delivered three weeks ago and it's been an albatross since then:

I finally got the sand off the lawn and into the garden and built my little "fairy paths.

Those Correas I've just cut back hard and even in this tiny plot there's also a Cape Wattle, Olive, three Daisies, Agapanthus and some Marigolds.

And they come off of some older existing paths I laid down over 15 years ago.

Walking in my front garden is even an adventure for me.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Scare Cat: The Most Thoughtful Ever KK Present

Given that I spent six hours on Christmas eve putting the nets on and there's another four to go, this secret Santa present was very thoughtful.

Keeping the birds off the nashis, plums and figs needs to be a multipronged attack.

Many thanks to Chris Graves.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Case of Mexican Beer and Emergency Chill Down

The power of suggestion. The car that passed me as I walked out of Bunnings had a case of Mexcan beer in the boot. What a great idea. Hot home and it was a little warm, no ice in the freezer.

So I'll use a convenient method involving some frozen stock and a deep saucepan. Emergency chill down.

And apparently this new Blogger+ app works ok too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Milk appears to kill downy dead

I put a post in the other day where I sprayed with milk. I've done it a few times recently because the weather is shocking for downy mildew.

I think Juliet Henderson was right. Milk 10-20% kills downy mildew dead. When it's growing it looks fluffy and a little white on the back of the leaf. And a berry hit with downy looks like a furrball.

But with this milk spraying the grapes have got some grey on them, but not that rampant mildew growth. That grey I only ever saw at the end of the season, thick and ugly and the grapes were beyond redemption.

So perhaps milk works. It's gentle and organic I suppose (whatever that means). And the best thing for me, when I spray they smell reminds me of the days I'd work in a National Foods cheese plant.

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Carrots: Apparently I can grow something else

It needs a sandy loam soil and not too much fertiliser as well as a long time unharried to mature. Amazing it got all that with the chooks scratching around them.

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Artichoke a pretty flower

I got a little unexpected luck here. Somebody gave me a tiny artichoke plant a year and a half ago, got three flowers in the first year then took some bad advice.

At the end of last spring after their flowering, I was told to cut the plants down to the ground. It went against everything I know about gardening but the person advising was very sure of themselves. It was bad advice. The whole plant languished through summer, then winter and was slow to move in spring. I got a flower a month ago and thought that was it.

But then we got a flower just then. Nice. So my plan is to let the artichoke run through summer, build strength up and then cut it down to the ground in early autumn.

That's how I hear to do it with asparagus, too.

Live and learn. The person who told me to cut early had a bad season too. I'm sure my way will work better.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Milk: Last line of defence against downy mildew

As the forecast is for some serious rain and warm temperatures I want to put up some defence against downy mildew on the grapes.

But the poor vines have had a lot of spray already this spring. Cupric hydroxide, copper oxychloride, sulphur, lime sulphur. "three sprays before Christmas" is the wine industry standard. I am seeing some funcicids damage

More about my dosing than number of sprays. But for a gentle option this timeI've gone for milk (10-20% in water). John Lamb has been talking about it for years but I was convinced when Juliet Henderson, winemaker and Uni of Adelaide MBA graduate suggested milk - unprompted when I was talking about it last year.

I'm at Edan's tennis now

And the rain has started. The kids'll have to stop soon I think. And I hope the milk is doing its job.

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Vichyssoise: yes leeks, deliberately

I put leeks in about four months ago. Playing golf on Wed with an Englishman I told him I was growing leeks and his answer was "what, deliberately?". I've only come to notice the Wales / England antipathy.

But they're ready:

And perfect timing for our three good family friends - Hillier/Harris/Habel to come together tonight and start with Vichyssoise. So I toook all those leeks and two onions, gently sweated them off with a lot of butter for about 20mins, without browning. Added a lot of pepper and will test for salt sometime.

Finely sliced some potatoes, sweated them down a little and then added two cups of stock. Hilariously ham stock mad from last Christmas's ham bone and frozen.

It's just bubbling now and will be ready to hit with the stick mixer soon. Then I'll chill it and tonight stir in some cream. But of course there'll need to be a non-dairy version.

Now, my freezer has no more stock in it and my garden is free of leeks. You shall be spared leek stories for at least nine months.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Garlic Harvest Time

Now I can just let it dry gently

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Friday, December 9, 2011

December rain: the pluses and minuses

Urge, the downside will be the way that all my vines will be covered in downy mildew by Tuesday. I have sprayed three times already and will spray again this weekend, but the Red Globes and Sauvignon Blanc will be little clusters of grey mould.

But I have three garden tanks each about 1000l. The 3kl drinking tank is filled with clean winter water and closed off.

But the three were down to 60% and by end of today will be full and flowing out to the lawn. The lawn is already a little fresher. I'll get some fertiliser onto it before tomorrow's showers and that'll green it up for summer.

Generally this bit of rain is a good thing.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Serendipities: Self seeded snapdragons

In a bed of Dutch iris bulbs I'm due to pull up this Sunday:

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Wire over the butternuts

This will be interesting. I planted butternut pumpkin into freshly tilled soil. The problem with freshly tilled soil is the way the chooks love to make dust baths in it. So the wire over the top has solved that, and it will be an interesting little experiment.

I expect the vines will grow up through the wire and the pumpkins will sit on the top. And the eggplants will probably grow up through it too, as long as the mites don't get them.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Clean, fresh and from the garden

We managed to get an artichoke this year

Which I boiled with my garlic and a bay leaf

And the same garlic was use with fresh cut parsley and oregano

And mixed in with some oil and pasta for a great, quick dinner. It was even vegetarian.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Green veins yellow leaves easily fixed on citrus

It's a manganese deficiency. In Adelaide we get it a lot. Spray with some of this, once a year about now.


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Leeks are ready, and made a brilliant quiche

They've been in for ages, and a couple have just started putting up flower spikes. Ready to come out.

So, stripped and cleaned, they were ready to be chopped and mixed with a heap of other goodies to go into a quiche with 15 of my chookies home laid eggs.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Buying Beef? Beware Bone Taint

BAck in the old packaging sales days were were taught about seven types of spoilage. Many thanks to that employer for that brilliant commonsense training in food technology.

Most of these spoilage types are pretty well known by us all - putrification, mould, dehydration - yummy. Some others are less well known, like rancidity (oxidation of fats) but you'll pick something is off.

But be really careful of this one. Bone taint. I don't see it much at all on lamb but on beef it really gets up. Especially in these high O2 packs that are the perfect retail case ready solution for beef.

The bone goes dark, and when you've cooked it there's a really odd, horrible smell and flavour. This one on the osso bucco is probably not too bad, but the more dark, the more yuk.

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Messy, but still a good time in the year

All that stuff at the front is rocket that has gone to seed and I've tied up. Soon the seed pods will have dried and I can cut them off, put them in a plastic bag open. The pods will continue to crack and I'll have thousands of seeds to use.

And the lettuce is now all tied up, ready to seed and I'll have thousands of those too. Great lettuce, the leaves are long and the plant grows upwards, it makes the leaves easy to pick, and hardly need rinsing.

Now, with the clear soil it's time to plant those tomatoes that my father in law gave me.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Smelling the roses

Today, wheeling through the garden:

Some eggs

A varietal of an Angel's trumpet (brugmansia)

And the common variety

I must say the roses are not really worth the photos. They're in the transition from spring flush to hardy summer. Not pretty, but about ready for a cut back and some water.

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Not a crazy cat lady house, yet

A pair of young friends came out to see me the other night but got their suburbs wrong. Same street but one suburb across. When they got to the overgrown garden with six cats in it they began to wonder "something's wrong, Cullen didn't tell us he had cats".

I suspect that one day my house might be that way, but for now it still looks pretty nice. But it is awaiting me getting on top of employment and money so I can get some serious maintenance done. Roof in particular.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spring snack - even healthy

One head of broccoli from the garden, microwave for 1min20 spray with some of that Bordeaux wine vinegar spray and some salt.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cactus flower to welcome me home

There are some great things about being away. The garden keeps working in my absence. This is the first time this cactus has flowered:

It's quite stunning for a pretty boring little cactus, boring but alluring to me:

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Praise the lord for grandparents

The unacknowledged asset of our day. I'm sitting next to a couple in a plane, and they have a toddler. On a six hour flight it was likely to get cranky. But four hours in it's all cool, many thanks to the grandparents sitting behind.

I, too, am such a beneficiary. Why else would I be Cullen of Adelaide? Sure, the practical help is amazing but also to have the values of my inlaws and my mother imbued on my kids? Priceless.

My boss is such a grandparent, so are many of my colleagues. One day god willing (and in the right circumstances) so will I be. If not in the right circumstances, then however.

But as I said. Praise the lord for the grandparents. Not least on this flight.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Confusing but fantastic lettuce

A recent family disagreement came about, mostly because the person I was talking to didn't know this lettuce. Amazing, because he's the one who gave me the seeds. But with any other lettuce, when they start to grow tall, they're going to seed. They're crap. But these are different. They grow, increasingly upwards, for about eight weeks. And you can simply peel the leaves off. They're high up off the ground and barely need washing.

The ones at the front are still productive, and the ones at the back are just starting to go to seed. The leaves will get a little leathery and bitter on this ones.

But by then, it makes sense to tie those stems up, and collect the seed as it matures. It truly is the best lettuce I've ever had.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tomato and _basil_? Mountain bread?

Not to be picky but I hope these tomato and basil wraps will be good. But the graphic on their pack has the green stuff looking more like parsley than basil. But maybe I don't know my basil.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A memory from about 2002

I was scanning some stuff recently and got this photo of myself and a few friends. It was the state meet, competitive sktdiving in 2002 over bordertown. See all that flowering canola below us?

It was where we learnt just how hard formation skydiving was, we only got one point, sometimes none, per round.

Black and yellow is me, white jumpsuit is Katrin Kjellberg, now back in Sweden, pink arms is Richard Jubb - I think still lives North of Adelaide.

And the blue helmet is great friend Robbie Hollis who sadly died in the sport in 2003. I don't want to get morose, but we lost a good guy that day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mr 7yo and the joy of spring

Jonah is onto it. He planted a single broad bean in August, and in in harvest mode

He also went to a health workshop and got this really cool little matchbook of lettuce seeds:

And we're getting our first strawberries

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

My daily gift at this time of the year

Each day I manage to pull a couple of handfuls of broad beans out of the garden and put them at Sylvia's place at the table.

This goes for about three or four weeks. Sylv tells me they get a little tough and unpalatable late in the season but they're good when there's plenty of moisture in the soil.

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Don't be afraid to re-pot if it's growing quickly

I took some cuttings, last season of these Cordyline Australis. They grow wild up in Cairns and the still do well here. And look at how one year's root growth has gone:

So one of the ticks to having nice plants is to not stick them in a pot or the ground and then leave them.

These plants in particular, love to be cut at the stem. They'll reshoot and what you take of the top will grow roots in water. How do you think I got these ones?

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