Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Feeling fine about the end of the world as we know it?

March 20, 2017

An interesting look at human behaviour. Not sure if it makes me feel positive or negative about the future.

See what you think.

February update

February 26, 2017

Well, it looks like summer is almost over and a coolish one it was. We didn’t have any days over 40º C and the ones in the 30’s didn’t drag on for days on end, but were punctuated by cooler days. Hot, northerly winds on the hot days were conspicuous by their absence. It was calm, simmering, fry-an-egg-on-the-footpath heat.

It has been the worst year for tomatoes I can remember. The cold wet spring meant I didn’t get them planted till early November and straightway they started to get blight—late or early, I can never work out which—but the lower leaves get yellow patches and brown spots and gradually that creeps up the stem leaves. This time they got some other sort of lurgi as well, where the lower leaves just went brown and shrivelled. I’ve never had that before. Luckily, the upper leaves just managed to keep ahead, but the whole lot looked very sick and sad. But at least the cherries started to ripen this month :

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I’m not drying any this year—I haven’t got enough, the weather hasn’t been great for sun-drying and I still have plenty of dried ones left over from last year. I’ll freeze the excess instead and use them for casseroles and soups in winter. I still have 2 packs of frozen cherries from last year in the freezer.

The eggplants are doing well, flowering and setting fruits. There are just three, in one large tub :

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I’ve never grown them before—in fact I’m not even sure if I like them. I’ve eaten them out but never bought them to cook at home. If they’re going to be easy to grow, I guess I can learn to like them!

I grew these Italian Long Red (rossa lunga) salad onions again this year, because they were so easy :

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And so pretty :

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The seedling-grown purple muscatel grape is setting a couple of bunches for the first time :

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I tried one and they’re surprisingly quite sweet even at this stage. I hope they grow a bit bigger and I’ll wait till they colour up before picking them.

These are carrots from a wicking box. I agree, they wouldn’t win any prizes! I think the wicking boxes aren’t deep enough to get a good, long carrot. Not to worry—they’ll make good lunchtime nibbles.

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Apples are ripening :

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Those in the big basket are from a seedling tree, grown from a seed of Red Delicious. Apples are notorious for not coming true to seed. It looks like they have a few Granny Smith genes in them, which wouldn’t surprise me, as the 2 original varieties are growing next to each other. Those on the top right are the real Red Delicious, just starting to colour up and those at the lower right are Cox’s Orange Pippin. I bought it because it’s supposed to be the Queen of apples (or something like that) but I can’t say the flavour is anything to write home about. The good ol’ Red Delicious is still my favourite and there’ll be a good harvest this year because I have a net over the tree :

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I keep poking my head under to check :

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I’m going to dry as many as I can :

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I planted some of the turmeric tubers I grew last year (and kept some back for drying) and they’ve sprouted and the plant has grown even bigger than last year :

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I’ve kept the pot in the polyhouse over summer and now there’s not really enough room for both of us, so I’m wondering whether to risk putting it outside for the winter. Has anyone grown it outside this far south?

The Girls have all moulted and stopped laying, so I’m buying eggs at the moment. Nice, new shiny coats for the winter :

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This is Evening Primrose. It’s self-seeded and more or less taken over this spot beside the pool :

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I grow it for the seeds (when the parrots don’t get them). The oil in the seeds is supposed to have a high concentration of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which is good for reducing inflammation. According to a study reported in the Lancet, GLA-rich evening primrose oil was found effective in controlling rheumatoid arthritis in a substantial number of patients. I have RA so I’ll try anything that helps. I put the seeds in my bread.

Finally getting enough Purple King climbing beans for a feed. They’re on a wire frame at the rear of a wicking box, which also contains basil, parsley and some self-sown mizuna. I really get my money’s worth out of a wicking box! :

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Looks like I’ll get quinces again this year. I’ve protected some with apple socks (the one on the lower left) and the birds or possums have had a go at a few (upper left) but mostly they’re untouched. The tree still gets those brown fungal spots on the leaves but I’m not into spraying with chemicals, so it has to cope as best it can :

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Pepinos are ready to ripen :

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We had 2 nice dumps of rain in February—one of 37 mm and one of 40 mm—exceeding Melbourne’s monthly average of 46 mm. There were a couple of smaller falls as well. It topped up the tank and made a huge difference to the garden, especially to the size of the apples which I hadn’t bothered to thin.

Roll on autumn. The nicest time of year in Melbourne (usually).

 

Postscript

That eggplant. I wasn’t sure when to pick it. The experts said, ‘when it’s black and shiny’. So….. :

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Yes, I know. Laughter is permitted, but rude comments are not!

Not “Living The Lie”

February 13, 2017

Reblogged from Not Something Else

I was inspired today by a shared post on Facebook, recommending the video you will find below.  Inspired enough to reshare it and also to make this declaration.  I hope that any and all readers may…

Source: Not “Living The Lie”

Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

January 26, 2017

The crescendo of news pointing to 2020 as the date to watch is growing apace…. it won’t be the year collapse happens, because collapse is a process, not an event; but it will definitely…

Source: Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

Reblogged from Damn the Matrix

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh, to be a fly on the wall as it unfolds…

January update

January 23, 2017

First thing I did in January was to buy myself a present. A toy oven! So, what’s a toy oven, you ask? OK, read this post from Maree at Around The Mulberry Tree.

Now, I’m nowhere near as good a cook as Maree (let’s be honest, I rarely cook, not fancy stuff anyway), but I thought a bench-top oven would be easier to use, would heat up more quickly (which it does—5 minutes to 180 degrees C, compared with 15 minutes for the wall oven!) and therefore be more economical with power. (For the detail-minded, it’s a Sunbeam 19 litre Pizza Bake & Grill model #BT 5350 and was $96 at the Good Guys.)

I found a spot on the bench without too much fuss :

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When the weather finally cooled down, I tried a tray of roast veggies. Very happy with the result. Cooked in less time than the big oven and the potatoes were nice and floury. Next up was bread—I make a loaf about once a fortnight.

Ooops! Not so good :

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The bread tin almost fills the oven! I let it rise too high in the tin beforehand and watched in panic as it rose towards the top elements, ready to whip it out before it touched them. Luckily it just fell short, but as you can see, not a nicely browned top!

I’d cut the temp back to 165 from 180, following recommendations in the manual, but the rest of the crust was too pale in comparison to my normal loaf, so next time I will put it back to 180. I don’t want to fiddle about with the recipe to make a smaller loaf (there too many ingredients), so next time I will put the tin slightly lower (turning the wire rack upside down lowers it by a couple of centimetres), and try putting a piece of foil over the top halfway through. I won’t let it rise so much beforehand either. Despite the lower temperature, it was cooked right through and wasn’t doughy.

I’ve since made a batch of choc muffins which was a success (no photo…I forgot) and will get the bread right eventually. On the whole, very happy with my new ‘toy’.

Out in the garden, the thornless blackberries were starting to colour up, so it was time to get a net over them :

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They’re ripening unevenly and I discovered I have to be careful picking them because if I leave them to get too ripe, they fall from the bunch when I touch it and I lose them in amongst the ground cover of native violets underneath. I love their shiny blackness :

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So the trick is to wander down the back to the blackberry patch before breakfast and pick the ripe ones, which then end up on my breakfast bowl of mueslii and fruit. I’m definitely going to put in more plants of this variety this winter :

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The ‘mini’ Cape Gooseberry I bought a couple of months ago is doing well and setting fruits :

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They’re much smaller than the normal variety I’ve been growing :

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The flavour is quite different, much sweeter, and am I imagining it, or are there hints of pineapple? It might not be imagination, because some years ago I grew a definitely pineapple-flavoured variety from Phoenix Seeds, called Cossack Pineapple. It isn’t in their current catalogue but Googling will find other suppliers who do have it. It’s another species of Physalis—Physalis pruinosa (the common Cape Gooseberry is P. peruviana—that’s it in the photo above, on the right). I’m going to extract the seeds from the ‘mini’ fruit and grow more. It’s lower-growing and more spreading than the common gooseberry, with a neater habit and is a good plant for a large pot or tub (I put the two plants I bought from Bunnings in large pots). I might even try one in a wicking box.

The hugelkultur beds alongside the main pathway are taking a while to break down. I’ve planted asparagus and rhubarb in the longer one and an espaliered dwarf Granny Smith apple and two pepinos in the smaller one. The rhubarb’s not doing so well—it needs more feeding. I tidied up the beds, removed weeds and covered them with mulched bracken. The blackbirds persisted in tossing the mulch all over the path and I was sick of raking it back onto the beds, so I’ve edged them with short (1 metre long) sticks cut from the dozens of branches that are always falling in the bush. It seems to have done the trick. I’ve only done the edge that fronts the path so far, but will eventually do the rear edge, too :

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I’ve decided I need a dedicated potato bed—one that I can grow an actual crop of potatoes in, instead of just poking odd ones that sprout in the cupboard under the sink into any convenient spot. I can go back to buying a bag of certified seed potatoes again each winter like I used to do. I can also use the bed for other root crops like yacon and Jerusalem artichoke. So I’ve decided to use one of the three second-hand baths I have. Two were being used to grow azolla, the floating water fern, and I don’t really need two for that, so the one next to the compost tumbler is being re-purposed. I bucketed out most of the water and began filling it with weeds and other prunings so they’d rot down and provide a good base of organic stuff. Then it rained and the bath re-filled again. The water is now a rich, black, very stinky nutrient-rich liquid that should grow anything. I’ll have to bucket out most of it again, before reaching through the mire to find and pull the plug, but I’ll use it to water other crops until then :

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The Magpie Larks in their mud nest on the TV aerial finally fledged three young ones :

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They managed to keep them alive in that exposed nest through Christmas day with the temperature in the high 30’s and, a couple of days later, through a downpour that delivered 30 mm in half an hour. They’ve left the nest now and are constantly yelling “feed me” from the branches of a nearby tree. Mum and Dad Mudlark deserve a medal for devoted parenthood.

Last year I had a go at growing eggplant, but the seedlings didn’t make it into the garden. This is this year’s effort :

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If I’d known it was going to have such huge leaves, I’d have chosen a shadier spot. It has flower buds already so I’m hoping for some fruit this year.

My dwarf Stella cherry didn’t do so well in its third year, with only a dozen or so fruit. Last year it had about 20 and I sowed most of the pips in a pot and left them through the winter. Disappointingly, only one germinated. I’ll plant it somewhere and see how it goes :

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I had better luck with seeds from the Concord grape variety which produced one small bunch last year. I potted up 6 seedlings from this pot :

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Oak-leaf lettuce, endive and carrots in wicking boxes—all direct-sown. So much easier than potting up and transplanting seedlings :

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This, believe it or not, is 2 cucumbers in a recycling crate (not wicking—there are drainage holes in the bottom) :

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Ordinarily, I’d be assuming I’d mixed up the labels and planted pumpkins instead, but I knew I didn’t have pumpkins sown at the time. The crate was filled with chook poo compost and just shows what lots of nitrogen will do for leaf size. Here are what my normal cucumbers look like, in a wicking box on the deck, only topped up with a bit of chook poo compost :

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I thought I’d have another go at growing Goji berries. I tried several years ago but they didn’t survive in the garden. I think I wasn’t au fait with my soil types then, in terms of what should be planted where and probably put them in the wrong spot. So I took some dried berries out of a trail mix I’d bought (previously, I’d just bought a packet of berries in the supermarket) and soaked them in water till they swelled up, then I scraped out the seeds and sowed them and I have 4 plants to play with. This time I’ll do some homework before I plant them. I’ll probably try one in a large pot as well, just to be on the safe side :

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Still no ripe tomatoes or beans. This is the latest they’ve ever been, owing to the cool wet spring we had. I’m starting to suffer withdrawal symptoms for a nice, home-grown tomato sandwich.

That’s about it for January. We had 18 mm of rain in one event mid-way through (the average for Melbourne for January is 47 mm) and another 25 mm a week later, which will help swell the February apple harvest. We’ve had some hot days, but nothing over 40 C as yet and no really hot, northerly winds which freak me out because of the bushfire risk. I always count down the days to the end of summer and breathe a sigh of relief when we get through another summer without a fire.

Extinction is the End Game

December 11, 2016

Brilliant writing as usual, in this reblog from xraymike79 at Collapse of Industrial Civilization. If only people could be made to pull their heads out of the sand and read this.

Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Civilizations are living organisms striving to survive and develop through predictable stages of birth, growth, maturation, decline and death. An often overlooked factor in the success or failure of civilizations are cultural memes—the knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors passed down from generation to generation. Cultural memes are a much more significant driver of human evolution than genetic evolution. Entire civilizations have been weeded out when their belief system proved maladaptive to a changing environment. One such cultural meme holding sway over today’s governments, institutions, and society is our economic system of capitalism. The pillars of capitalism represent a belief system so ingrained in today’s culture that they form a sort of cargo cult amongst its adherents.Cargo cults are any of the various Melanesian religious groups which focused on obtaining material wealth(manufactured Western goods that came on cargo ships) through magical thinking, religious rituals and practices. Today the term “cargo cult” is used to describe a wide…

View original post 1,783 more words

A few pictures…..

November 28, 2016

…..just to show how things are going.

Looking from the edge of the bush across into the food forest. The sticks in the foreground are part of a hugelkultur bed in the making. Between the two stakes is the thornless blackberry bed, raised up and built on contour. The green groundcover on the right is a native, Swamp Mazus (Mazus pumilio). That area always seems to be wet for some reason, so the Mazus does well. It’s possible there is some sort of underground water seepage from the sloping area behind. The black pipe in the right hand corner is coming from the tank overflow up by the house and takes water to the three pools just to the left of the blackberry bed :

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I put a vigorous form of the Native Violet (Viola hederacea) under the blackberries. It’s taken off in the damp conditions and the rabbits haven’t touched it. This is the second year for the blackberries and there are many more flowers than last year because I pruned heavily to make them branch. Hoping for a good crop. I’ll need to get a net up soon :

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In the food forest itself there has been so much growth due to the wet winter we had. Borage in the foreground, much loved by the bees. Nasturtiums under the plum in the background and the apple (under the polypipe arches), which is a Cox’s Orange Pippin. This is it’s third year. First year it did nothing; last year it set two fruit but they dropped off when quite big. This year it’s had masses of flowers, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some fruit at last :

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Another view of the food forest, looking up the path towards the house :

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And looking down the same path, away from the house :

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Yarrow in flower. The rabbits love the flower stems, so I can’t get it to flower unless I put a circle of wire around the clump :

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Lots of hoverflies around this year. I hope they’re pollinating, because I’m not seeing many bees now. I’m not sure what this little guy is, but he’s not a hoverfly :

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Quince is setting fruit :

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A good crop of loquats but most of the fruit is covered in black patches and spots. I assume it’s fungal. I’ve bagged a few of the better bunches :

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The self-sown poppies are in bud :

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And the first flower appeared. It’s a frilly, double form and is attracting what few bees there are :

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My little Australian Finger Lime is in bud and a few flowers have opened :

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Redbor kale is in flower in one of the planter boxes :

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The leaves are frilly and an intense purple. The familiar grey-green, crinkly leaves of lacinato kale are on the left :

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Up on the deck, this tub of strawberries is doing well. There’s a tomato in the rear :

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The strawberry wicking buckets have all been topped up with fresh compost and are raring to go :

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I’ve planted tomatoes and alpine strawberries in the second of the two planter boxes :

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More tomatoes in tubs and wicking boxes :

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Endive in a wicking box. This lot was direct sown. So much easier than sowing seed and potting up seedlings :

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Dandelions direct-sown in another wicking box. The chooks will get most of these :

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I bought this mini Cape Gooseberry at Bunnings, although the label says it will get to a metre in height, so not that mini. I’m already growing the large form in the garden. Judging by the size of the flowers on this one, the fruits will be no more than pea-sized; it will be a bit of a novelty at best. I won’t risk it in the garden; I’ll find a large pot for it, so I can be sure to collect fruits and sow the seeds to get more plants, then I can try it in the garden. They grow easily from seed :

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It has been a strange year in the garden so far. Rainfall over the last six months has been double the average for Melbourne. There have been very few cabbage white butterflies, but hundreds of little hoverflies. The redcurrants have not flowered and fruited, but all the feijoas are covered in flowers which has not happened before. We have had warm days followed by freezing cold ones. I wasn’t game to put my tomatoes out until early November, the latest they’ve ever gone out. I’ve planted beans three times and they’ve all rotted before germination. My neighbour tells me he’s had the same problems with his beans. Usually I plant the first batch of beans in early October and every month thereafter; no way will I get beans before Christmas now. Has all this just been due to the extra rain or what? As the saying goes…..we live in interesting times. In the garden, anyway.

Well…er…I’m back

October 8, 2016

Three reasons really.

First, when I stopped writing in mid-August and said I’d call it a day, I think I was in the throes of the winter blues; the garden was looking woeful and there was nothing much to write about. Now winter is over; sunny days, lots of life-giving rain and spring flowers everywhere, have made me feel better. As I’ve been walking around the garden and  seeing something happening I’ve thought, “I could put that on the blog…oh, no, I can’t.” So now I can!

Second, people are still signing up to the blog. It floored me at first; why would they want to sign up to something that wasn’t going to continue? After thinking about it, I realised that they’d probably come in through the side door and not the front…..reading old posts via a search…..and hadn’t seen the last post which announced I was stopping. I’m feeling a bit guilty about them….signing up to receive an email notification about a new post that would never come. When I looked at the blog’s stats just now, it is still getting up to 50 hits a day. I was very surprised!

Third, while I will still post about what’s happening in the garden, I want to add in some posts about the bigger global picture and some thoughts about  it, particularly self-sufficiency and sustainability issues and of course, energy decline (after all the blog’s by-line is, “Energy decline and self-sufficiency ………..”). Energy plays a major role in everything I do, so it deserves a greater input on the blog.

So there y’go. Now I have to actually write a post and see if I can remember how to ‘save draft’, ‘preview’ and ‘publish’.

I think a tour of the garden is required. With camera in hand, of course.

Goodbyes are hard……

August 15, 2016

…..but this is one I have to make. I’ve decided to cease writing this blog. It’s been going for almost nine years now and I think I’ve said all I want to say and I’m finding it hard to come up with new posts which aren’t just repeats of what I’ve already written. And seriously, I doubt whether it’s doing any good to encourage self-sufficiency amongst people who are aren’t already into it. I’m just preaching to the converted and those who don’t think self-sufficiency is important won’t be reading this stuff anyway.

Thank you all all my readers and those who’ve made regular comments; they’ve all been much appreciated. I will still read all your own self-sufficiency blogs and comment there, so we can keep in touch.

I won’t take the blog down but will leave it here for as long as WordPress allows it to be here. I’ll probably need to refer back to some of the information myself.  🙂

Enjoy your gardens and the healthy food they give you.

 

May update

June 23, 2016

Yes, I know it’s almost June, but nothing much happened during May and I’ve been hibernating inside in front of the fire for the most part of each day.

So just a few quick photos.

I’ve given up sowing seed in the conventional way, potting up and growing on seedlings ready to plant out. Instead I’ve taken the lazy way out and sowed thickly in wicking boxes and large tubs. This is Lacinato Kale in a tub :

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Another tub of the same, with some chickweed coming up as well :

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I’m harvesting a few seedlings to add to other greens and will eventually let the rest grow on into bigger plants.

The leaves on the turmeric plant in its pot in the polyhouse are dying back, so I’m giving it minimal water now. I’ve never grown it before so I assume that I will be able to harvest the tubers (if there are any!), when all the leaves have died back (helpful hints welcome) :

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I cut into my only summer-grown pumpkin, the Naranka Gold variety, hoping there would be viable seed and there was plenty. The flavour was a bit disappointing…not as sweet as I’d hoped, but I’ll be able to try growing it again this season :

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The purple-podded peas are producing plenty of pods but only in small quantities each day. I’m shelling them and throwing the peas into the freezer, seeing how they go without blanching this time. It occurred to me that blanching is really only done to destroy the enzymes that make cut surfaces go brown and start to decay, so I hoped maybe since they are just whole peas with no cut surfaces, freezing might work without the need to blanch :

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Tamarillos are ripening and I’ve been looking into trying a small batch of tamarillo jam. Recipes on the Net are many and varied, so I’ll pick one and have a go :

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Lots of rain in May has meant a huge crop of mushies, many more and bigger than I’ve ever seen here before. I’ve been drying them in the Excalibur dehydrator and storing them for casseroles and soups.

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Rain? Yes, it finally did. We had 127 mm (5 inches in the old scale), twice Melbourne’s average of 68 mm for May. The big tank is full and the overflow has been going into the 3 pools at the rear of the property and they’re now full and running over. All 3 dried out completely in summer, only the second time in 17 years the big one has been bone dry (it’s about a metre deep in the centre when full) and about 5 metres in diameter.

So that ‘s about it for May. If I don’t post this soon, it’ll be June and I’ll have to be thinking about another update. Time flies!