Sunday, April 24, 2022

When you do stuff, stuff gets done

On the Easter weekend I was out in the garden and thought it was time to harvest the quinces and pomegranates and the one single pumpkin which survived the summer. When I put them in the basket, I realised just how pretty they all looked and so I took a picture of it. Sometimes you just have to celebrate the abundance of what you have and how wonderful it is that some things survive and grow and multiply. 

We are also harvesting limes and basil, and the first of the pink grapefruit. 

We have a new chorister in the choir at the moment, a mature person who is taking a sabbatical from her academic work in England  by working here at our university. She commented that she couldn't get used to the idea that our autumn is not about things dying back, but everything springing to life. These banksia flowers are a sign that autumn is here -or Djeran, the Noongar season name. 

I have completed the quilt top for my queen size quilt.Finally! I will be taking this one to the long armer to quilt up, because it is way too big for me on my domestic sewing machine. I bought a large piece of fabric for the back, and some wadding, but now I have to make the binding. The long armer puts the binding on one side before she is finished with the quilt, which is a lovely service! 

The garlic is planted, and I have seeds of coriander and dill in the ground. 

I have today planted two new  plants on the verge: 
Carissa Desert Star and Chrysocephalum apiculatum (yellow buttons). Our local tip shop has a bit of a plant section and they often have quite good bargains. I am hoping both will be as hardy as described, because it is tough out therre on the verge. We have a few days of rain forecast, and I hope they will be bedded in nicely by the rain. 

Here are some good things to read or listen to: 

 Perth is drying up 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Waiting for rain, and other Djeran activities

Djeran season at last sees a break in the really hot weather. A key indicator of the change of season is the cool nights that once again bring a dewy presence for us to discover in the early mornings.

The winds have also changed, especially in their intensity, with light breezes being the go and generally swinging from southerly directions (i.e. south east to south west). Many flying ants can be seen cruising around in the light winds.

Djeran is a time of red flowers especially from the Red Flowering Gum (Corimbia ficifolia), as well as the smaller and more petite flowers of the Summer Flame (Beaufortia aestiva). As you travel around the Perth area, you may also notice the red 'rust' and seed cones forming on the male and female Sheoaks (Allocasuarina fraseriana). Banksias start to display their flowers, ensuring that there are nectar food sources for the many small mammals and birds that rely upon them. Source:

Eagerly we are watching the skies, the weather charts, the plants in the garden. There have been a couple of very short showers of rain, and the temperatures are gradually cooling down to the low 30C. Is the summer over? Can we start planting autumn crops? Can the garden recover from the heat? 

A week or so ago I took down one shade sail, on the western side of the house. We have a large bottlebrush tree there, and the bed is planted with cumquat, sweet potato, fennel, basil.When the garden did not die from the heat (!) I took the rest of the shade sails down too. I rather too hopefully planted some rainbow chard and 12 garlic cloves, but it may be a bit early yet. 

The garden has survived the summer, but it was not as productive as I hoped, and I don't really know why. I planted some zucchini but had only one fruit, even though there were plenty of flowers. The passionfruit has had lots of flowers, but no fruit set either. The pumpkin that self seeded has only one fruit on it. The dwarf beans I planted came to nothing. I wonder about the pollinators -was it too hot for the bees? There are some  bee attracting flowers in my garden all the time -I have alyssum, which bees love, and nasturtiums, and parsley, and basil, but it has been some time since I saw the bees out in force.

Gardening, no matter how long you have been doing it, is an exercise in observation and patience. If I was actually relying on the garden to feed us, there would be times when we had a 'hungry gap'. Nevertheless, we are now harvesting limes, pomegranates, fennel and mint. DH found an olive tree on the street near our home, with small black olives, and harvested 3 jars for a quick batch. Our kalamata olives are very green still. 

If the rains come, I hope the parsley will come back again - I miss it! 

I continue to play with my sourdough recipe. Lately I have been adding 3 teaspoons of malt powder - I used to use malt extract, the syrupy stuff but I have found malt powder used by amateur beer makers, and it is great. It adds crumb and makes a great crust, as well as adding some nutrients to the bread. I am also using flax seed too. 

My favourite tree is now in flower around the suburbs : Eucalyptus erythrocorys, commonly known as illyarrie, red-capped gum or helmet nut gum, from Western Australia. It has smooth bark, sickle-shaped to curved adult leaves, characteristically large flower buds in groups of three with a bright red operculum, bright yellow to yellowish green flowers and sculptured, bell-shaped fruit.

It was our great delight to finally -after 2 whole years -see and hear the Australian String Quartet live in concert. They had been unable to attend in person, due to WA's COVID restrictions on travel. We are now open to the world (!) and COVID is at last running through our community. I know this is very different to the experiences of others in Australian states, and in other parts of the world, but our State Government took the stance to protect us until we had the chance of getting most of the population safely vaccinated, before opening up. It was hard for some families, being so isolated from relatives, but so far our hospitalisation and death rates are far below other places. We have to wear masks indoors, and that is a struggle for some people, but it is helping to keep vulnerable people safe. I hope that wherever you are, you are taking care and finding ways to connect with others even though the pandemic is not over, not by any means

Finally, I have a couple of recommendations for you: 

Recommended Book 

Henry Reynolds "The Other Side of the Frontier"

Recommended Podcast 

We talk a lot about agricultural practices, climate change, and the global food supply, and the news is not always great. Rebecca Ruda reflects on the anxiety this can cause and reminds us that just as the problems of the world deserve our attention, so does our mental health. She provides tips for recognizing anxiety symptoms and openly shares her own experience. Then Rebecca offers simple but useful strategies for continuing the work of advocating for nature without doing harm to ourselves.

Perth heat