Sunday, April 26, 2020

Some harvest, some seed sowing

There is a definite touch of autumn now. The mornings are colder, and the citrus harvest is in full swing. I am giving limes and lemons away now. The pink grapefruit is providing a large fruit per day, which we juice and have for breakfast -they weigh at least 400g each. I have had one pumpkin, but there is a huge one at the back that I hope to get to ripen nicely -looks like it would weigh several kilos at least. The mandarins have had some fruit fly, but we are still getting a feed and I am keeping up the baiting regime.

I am enjoying the cooler days -it makes for a lovely time in the garden each day. I am working hard to get seeds raised for the autumn and winter and spring  -our best growing seasons. Summer is way too hot and dry and mostly what we do is try to get the garden through it, but these seasons are the best. I have planted more garlic than last year -and proudly it is garlic I grew and saved from last year! I also gave my daughter in law some cloves to plant in her garden too. We are eating broccoli leaves from a plant which lasted over the summer from last year -I cut it down to a stump without pulling the roots out -as I didn't want to disturb the soil, and I am getting a nice crop of leaves for stir fries and soups.

The picture above is broccoli seedlings, strawberry runners, dill and coriander just coming up. I have beetroot and rocket, bok choy and mizuna too, in various places around the garden. My hanging baskets have been repotted with strawberries and the prettiest pelargoniums. I have given more plants to my daughter in law's garden and am gradually whittling down the potted plant numbers. I have to do this each year.

I downloaded the delightful novel "Mr. Wigg" by Inga Simpson, published by Hachette, following a list in an article I read about "tree change manuals". I was intrigued because I had read four of the five books listed, and own two of them. Mr Wigg was quite delightful. The link to the article is below.


The poinsettia are colouring up, a sure sign that solstice is coming. We are in the habit of having a Winter Feast each year on Solstice -but this year I was feeling sad that we wouldn't be able to do so. Our local state government has this week, however, relaxed the rules about our social isolation so that we can have up to 10 people in our homes for dinner. Not quite as many as I usually have, but perhaps we can have our whole little family -we haven't had a meal together for ages, due to the Covid19 restrictions. Our state has very low numbers of infections, and this relaxing of the numbers is a small concession to the regime. If we can keep these numbers low, we will be doing well indeed. Schools are opening for voluntary attendance this week, and this may change the numbers. I hope not! 

Some links to share 

The Doctor's kitchen interview on the idea of a Universal Basic Income is a thought provoker

What do you think of this column?
Waleed Aly: "Sacrifice a basic level of equality for economic growth and you risk social and political fracture".  Find it here 

Is your city quiet during the lockdown? Mine is-see here 

And some suggestions of wonderful books to read 

Monday, April 20, 2020

In support of the Earth

On 22 April 2020 it will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Earth Day is marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.  Now, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day.

Our current pandemic is linked to this crisis -as humanity puts pressure on wild spaces, so we live ever closer to animals we used to be distant from, and some people are suggesting the transfer from animals to humans of diseases is now more common.

The Swan River at Walyunga in the autumn -the water level is low and we all wait for the winter rains -will they come this year? 

Now, I know that the pandemic seems like it is drowning out every other concern we have at the moment, but in fact we have been at huge risk of destroying everything that makes for a viable living environment for humans, animals and the biosphere for decades now. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.  Link here 

We have an opportunity, in this time of self quarantine, to reflect on how we live and how we want to live. In all the things we are missing -and I guess you like me are missing a whole lot of people and a whole lot of social experiences (orchestral concerts, restaurant meals, parties, the library) - I wonder if we will find our true values. Just like we have discovered who is a truly essential worker -and often they are the lowest paid of our society-the cleaners, shop workers, rubbish collectors, transport workers- so we may find what else is essential and what we could let go of.

This week I was pleased to offer some of my garden produce to my neighbours. A basket of pomegranates was so well received by one person that they came back and put three chocolate frogs in my letterbox! A bucket of limes were also well received. Someone nearby had bought a box of compost worms only to find that they were nearly all dead -so I gave them some of mine and in return they gave me a banana pup, which will go to my son and daughter in law's garden.

We are continuing to support our daughter in law and the family as they set up their own garden of produce from scratch. It is such fun to see them getting excited by sowing seeds.

Meanwhile we are eating home grown pumpkins, mandarins and pink grapefruit as well as the mizuna, herbs and capsicums.

I have started a new quilt -celebrating all things gardening! I continue to work for a few hours each day in the garden -I am striving to get better at saving seeds, growing from seed and making compost.

I saved the seed from the pumpkin, which was just as well as DGS1 thinks a garden without a pumpkin patch hardly counts.


Permaculture podcast!

This episode is a good one

And this one!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter in Isolation

Hello everyone!

I hope you have had a lovely Easter. DH and I walked on the beach this morning, and look who I found! Yes, the Easter Bunny on Easter Tuesday, taking a break after a busy weekend.

It was a bit different this time, wasn't it? DH and I watched the Perth Anglican Cathedral services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, from his study. The Cathedral was empty except for a few essential people -but they did a good job at helping us all have a meaningful expression of the faith, despite the difficulties associated with the Covid19 pandemic and required social distancing measures. 

The weather was very hot indeed last week -but thankfully the autumn feel is back again now. As so many of us are now at home and trying to keep busy with growing some of our own food -and it is winter vegetable sowing and planting time now-so we need a bit cooler weather to help them along.

We are finding it so helpful to try to get outside in nature each day -my garden will be looking fantastic because it is getting so much attention! The pumpkin below was the first one I picked this year. It is a bit small, but I have great hopes for a very large one now growing under the grapefruit tree. My grand children took home a large basket of produce from the garden this week -herbs and fruit and flowers. My grand-daughter commented:  "your house is a garden wonderland!'

My improvisational quilt was finally finished this week and it is now hanging up in the hallway. I am pleased with the way it turned out. I call it 'Summer Ices" because I was thinking of gelati all the while I was working on  it. I am looking forward to being able to go back to the gelati shops at Hillarys Boat Harbor when all this is over, and enjoying a meal in a restaurant with other people in tow! 

I took my 'nanna trolley" out to the shops to get some milk from the local shop. I pick a good quiet time, and use a local grocer where there are fewer people. I like supporting the local businesses. I like the walk through the quiet streets. 

On the way I saw some chalk drawing on a fence: a palm leaf, a crown of thorns, a cross and an empty tomb.

DH has completed a project in his workshop. He found a broken small table at the Tip Shop, and thought he could repair it and make it useful again. He was able to use a new tool to make the top with a nice edge, and spent some time sanding back and refinishing the legs and repairing the frame. 

I have some lovely fabric on the design wall and am now considering a new quilt, using the new fabric and some scraps. I am missing my regular visits to the local library but DH got some new books for his birthday -and I will get to share the joy of those too. DH and DS both had birthdays this weekend. We celebrated in a bit of an understated way.

So we are keeping busy enough, with all of these projects.

I hope you are the same but if not, here are some inspirational sites for you, in case you need a few ideas to be going on with:

The Radical Homemaker :

Lucy on how to get by in these crazy times

Important information from David Holmgren, co-founder of Permaculture and writer of Retrosuburbia -now you can 'pay what you feel for the book! “Pay what you feel” asks you to respond from the heart as you choose what to pay for what I hope will be life changing content. Retrosuburbia now on download- pay what you can! 
See the launch here

Get active in the workshop
My good friend Greg has had to take his woodworking classes online -check out his videos here

How to grow seedlings from scratch from Pip Magazine

Thanks so much for reading this far. I love to read your comments!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Giving and taking

As we go through this strange pandemic with its requirement for social distancing,  it is good to find ways to contribute and to receive the contributions of others to our own lives.

This week I gave away some produce from my garden, including these gorgeous ruby red pomegranates. In harvest season we get more than we can use. Last year we made up little packets of the niblets and froze them but we still had more than we could use in a year. It felt good to be able to offer them to others.

We were given a trailer load of 'clean fill' -ie garden soil -left over from someone else's building renovation -and took it to DS's place in our trailer to help fill up one of their large raised garden beds.

We found some stables near the racecourse and got 3 free bags of Horse Poo! Gold for our compost and those new garden beds!

I watched some great videos with 'how to' information -one of them on how to make great compost. It inspired me to ask DH for some signs:

I consolidated my compost bins and have instigated the "fill one, stir one" approach which is already having good results. The one I am stirring is now nicely warm and steams when I stir it each day. Compost is such great food for gardens -it is time I got more canny about making it. I am always on the lookout for 'brown and dry" material to add to the compost -our food scraps are too soggy on their own. I hope to get a trailer load of free mulch next weekend from the local council, and add some to the garden and the compost bins, as well as take some over to DDILs garden.

Most of our children are now staying home from school, and the government has closed the playgrounds. In order to entertain children who are going for walks around our streets, many people are putting out their teddies so that the children can go on a bear hunt, or they are chalking rainbows on the footpath to encourage us all in our socially distant exercise regimes. Here is my teddy - I had to give him a rope seatbelt because he was falling off the chair in the wind! DD says it looks like I have him hostage!

We used to have a regular Friday night dinner with some friends, so we have taken it online as 'virtual drinks" and it is good to be able to catch up. I have noticed that friends and family are taking care to keep in touch via actual phone calls! This is good for us all.

We have had over the fence, in the driveway and socially distant conversations with our grandchildren -they hate it that we can't be together, and so do we. Mr DGS1 said "The person making the rules is mean!" and we all agree. However, we can see each other even if there are no hugs at the moment.

Thanks so much for dropping by and reading my little blog. I appreciate the way we are connected -please feel free to add a comment or to tell me how you find yourself giving and taking at the moment.