Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to make the most of a ham bone

I left a family 'do' recently with a whole heap of great food (which we have used) and a ham bone. I know that a ham bone is one of the great assets, way ahead of a roasted chicken frame and just behind a prosciutto bone.

So a searchon how to use this asset told me that I should create a solid "Lima bean" base. Lima or butter beans are big and sloppy - overcook them and you'll get mash.

These are perfectly done:

But a great recipe here showed me how to get them ready and then you can use them for three bean mix but better for a pasta fagioli.

Out of pure pigheadedness I will probably make pasta fagioli so that my kids will know what Dean Martin meant when he said "that's amore!"

Ow, now that I've looked at the Google images of pasta fagioli I know that it's like the tomato broth that beloved mother in law Dora does quite often. Better go buy some new shaped pasta.

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Utensils drawer, cleared at last

OK so I put all the 'crap' in a box nine months ago. With the idea that 'if we need it we can go to the box'

As we get to summer cleanout it wad time to send the box away.

But then Christmas and 'where's the nutcracker?' Rescued.

Back in the drawer.

Tranquil all of a sudden

An hour's raking, pile up the compost and put up a few chook fences. Overnight, a garden of peace.

Never mind that it's a year round obsession.

I know what you're doin, and I don't like it

I can see you there. Self seeded and drooping over my navel orange. For sure you look stronger now, but you'll never give me oranges.

Yeh fine. I'll water you both, for now. But ther will be a time, not too far away, when I come around with a pair of secateurs and some Trichlopyr (mixed 1:6 with kerosene) and take all you fuckers out.

It's a once a year deal but all those crap trees - golden raintree,  date palm, alders, maples (acers) that are in the wrong place and too rooted in to pull out - gone. It's a 45min job. Tralala.

But I'll blog you when I've exterminated you.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas tomatoes

Zucchini seedlings: A great gift from Dora

My mother in law gave me three plants a couple of weeks ago. I know she didn't think much of it but I did. What a great gift.

Christmas ham: my plan

A little extravagant - after all a ham is a ham. Most of the work is done before we get it. But I like to dress one up each year.

This year I'll use some stuff from around the house. I still have a few Valencia oranges on a tree outside and our neighbours gave us some of their homemade mulberry jam last year.

So I'll do an orange and mulberry glaze this year, probably with some honey in it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Completed: Shittiest gardening job of the year

The only way I get any fruit is to keep the birds off the trees. And getting a net over them is a painstaking, monotonous job.

Grape vines next, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why nature rule 11: Freshness

When the garden rewards you it rewards with a vibrant freshness. I transplanted this blood orange very carefully six weeks ago. I fertilised four weeks ago, especially with zinc and manganese and pruned two weeks ago.

And kapow.

Mites: One I wouldn't have guessed

Halfb of my tamarillo tree has its leaves destoyed. Tiny leaves and tiny buds. Malcolm Campbell told me it's mites.

One I didn't guess at.

Why nature rules 10: Pandan plant and so much to learn

My friend Shyama bought in some Pandan plants the other day and gave one to me. All my friends who cook Asian food swear by it, and I'm happy to learn.

So to tonight I'm putting rice, coconut milk, some ginger and a leaf of this tied in a knot into the rice cooker.

How interesting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why nature rules 9: So easy to do better than the commercial guys

It doesn't matter what it is - tomatoes, lettuce, flowers. At one time in every year - at least - you can beat the system. And this week for me it's Asiatic lilies:

Why nature rules 8: An insight to something bigger

The first ever lovebird I had was about 20 years ago. Its cheeky personality showed me that spirit and personality weren't confined to the human domain. I really felt that the bird had a soul as big as many people I knew, and that the life force I saw within my bird was a sign that something big was going on within the universe.

And again, now, with my kids I have the pleasure of three birds, two guinea pigs, a dog and four chooks. And they remind me that the universe is big.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why nature rules 7: So much from so little

This lettuce seedling is an inch high. If I keep it alive it will grow as a stalk about 18 inches tall, with beautiful six inch lettuce leaves all the way up. And then it will give a seed head that provides 500 seeds for next year. Where do you think I got this one?

So much from so little.

Why nature rules 6: She's relentless

Under the right conditions, nothing will hold nature back. I cut this orange a week ago. A little heat, some moisture and (I know because I did it) some good nutrient and I already have two inch new shoots.

Why nature rules 5: Surprise beauty shots

Every day, it's there if you are able to see it. The right light, at the right time. I stood in my yard and took this:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Why nature rules 4: Everything has its time

One of the important facts of life with a metaphor in the garden.

This morning Edan smashed a teapot that was given to me by my first ever research student when I met her in China. C'est la vie.

But in the garden that's simply how it is. Put in a passionfruit, don't expect more than about seven years. Petunias or tomatoes two or three at the very most.

But everything has its time. And you can sometimes cheat. This Polygala was a gift to us at our wedding. It's meant to be a 7 year deal but we have it out to 23 next year.

Note the dead lower limbs. That's the product of why nature rules 4. Ruthless was rewarded, although at the time my father in law told me I didn't know what I was doing.

And on reflection the "till death do us part" is the only expiry date I have planned on my marriage. But step 1 is to outlive the Polygala.

Why nature rules 3: There's always another chance

And then, when your belowed dog digs out a beautiful 4ft high chili bush, you can take it as a sign that you should plant a new one. No big deal. (sniff)

Why nature rules 2: Ruthless is rewarded, but its not personal

I can see the downy mildew starting to grow on the grapes today. I'll try to save them with some funcicide spray, but any bunches that continue to get furry - they're compost.

And the vine will reward me. Whatever grapes I get will be large and clean.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why nature rules 2: A complex dance but not a capricious mistress

As with point 1, nature doesn't lie. All problems have some underlying logic to them. The does not mean that nature's challenges are simple, just that they are not driven by the whims of human behaviour.

Working with nature is like a dance - certain things need to be done at certain times to get the best benefit.

I think of soursobs - oxalis. If you don't know the dance, they come back every year.

You get annoyed in winter and pull them out and they're clear for a week. Or if you know the dance, you spray - once - when they're in full flower and just receding. But then you never have soursobs again. It takes knowledge, nerve, patience and a willingness to act when required.

But if you dance right, you get the result. If you don't get the result, you read the signs wrong.

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Delightful Strelitzia

I got the plant for $10 at Bunnings last year, planted it and waited. I had an unfortunate cull a month or two ago, where I mistakenly lopped a flower head off, but it came good. And this is a miracle of nature.

Exquisitely beautiful, and functional. The pollen available only to whatever bird is clever enough to sit on the end of the blue flower.

For some reason. The reason can be someone else's mystery.

Why nature rules 1: She doesn't lie

Yellow leaves, iron deficiency. Green veins yellow leaves, magnesium. Some things might look like other things, but no. That is because we read it wrong.

Nature doesn't lie.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A simple four

Mum asked me to give her a photo of these. So there:

Introduction: "Why nature rules"

Pick any piece of green. It fucking blows away anything we humans can create.

I'll make this my series about why.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bud thinning: A perverse pleasure

This time of year, more green material on the ground than on the trellis. But they're unproductive and not central to my plan. So the buds and runners go. Easy decision.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Snake Bean: Perfect for that little row

My good buddy Marziah just gave me a packet of seeds. Last year she gave me.some of these beans. The old "give a man a fish"/"teach a man to fish" metaphor.

And I have just the spot for them.

Have a look at this page for some ideas of what to do with them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leeks: worth the effort.

A $1 pack of seeds and a little energy. I now have four generations growing and it will be great.

I picked a fee and I cleaned them and I'm read to fry them at put them into a quiche.


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Bug wars in springtime

My beautiful donut peach had a bit of a problem. Distorted new growth. It's because the peach green aphids are loving the fresh new growth. They suck the sap out of it and exude a sugary substance.

So the ants move those aphids all over the tree, spreading the problem. Strangely the obvious "how to control it" is a harmful act. When people think of a low impact insect control they think of pyrethrum, because they think of crushed up daisies and marigolds. Wrong. More later.

Step 1: Stop the ants going up the trunk. Put a ring of low impact ant sand around it.

Step 2: Let the beneficial insects do the rest. The fluffy white parts where the aphids were are parasitised aphids (thanks to a tiny wasp). And of course the big guns - ladybirds.

Ladybirds, both adult (above) and nymphal (not pretty but still black and red) are a powerhouse of aphid control. The bad news - pyrethrum will kill them stone dead.

So, it might take a few years to get the populations of beneficial insects up, but it's worth it. And stay away from pyrethrum - it's a green con.

I'm fine with chemicals. But used cleverly. If there was no fruit on this tree I'd use one called Confidor watered into the soil. I think that's how we got so many beneficials for this year. Confidor runs through the sap of the tree and controls aphids, but leaves the beneficials alone.

Bug wars.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Orange: Transplanted

They don't normally move well. I kept this blood orange for two years in a 44 gallon drum, cut lengthways and moved it this morning.

They don't like to move, because root disturbance, well, disturbs them. But I think I did this one gently enough.

I'll know in another few weeks. If it doesn't drop all its leaves I got away with it.

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Broad beans: don't panic

It needs to be getting a little warm for them to set fruit. Bee action.

So if you have just had the flowers dropping off, don't panic. They'll start leaving behind tiny 8mm long embryos and three weeks from now you'll have beans.

For me the biggest trick is to not plant them too early - only about August in Adelaide - otherwise your plants are 900mm high before they start setting fruit. Mine were timed well this year. They're 300mm.

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Time to plant tomatoes

I've had these in pots under glass for four weeks now.

John Lamb on @891weekends dropped the flag on the planting season. That's good enough for me.

And we're off!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Snake Bean

My Singaporean expat friend Marziah game me some snake bean last season. And they were great. Cut to one inch pieces, fry with olive oil, dried garlic and some salt, briefly. Very nice.

I saw some here in Little India

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Jonah, we've got some fun coming

Chum, I'm here on a first teaching visit. It's taken me a while to get my head clear about when we come. But on the second teaching visit here where I've also bought you a ticket, we should get the chance to

Look up the Singapore river

Go on some hurdy gurdy

Eat a crepe

Dance in the fountain a few times

Not go to Hooters

And look back at the hurdy gurdy we were on.

More (and more interesting) ideas to come.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Topiary work in progress

I've been on this for about five years. They're slow when they're small.

Care to guess what I'm trying to sculpt?

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