Tuesday, 19 February 2013

It Beets Sugar

I’ve grown them a few years in a row now, mostly they were thrown over the fence to the pigs. I only had a few seeds, so this year, after saving the previous years seed I’m growing a larger crop. I’d like to have a go at extracting sugar syrup, slicing it thinly, washing out the sugars, compressing them and then drying  the pulp that remains for winter feed for the goats.  Has anyone had a go at doing this? I’d also love to have a go at making ethanol. But without a still, that’s not going to happen. If things fall apart in the future it would be good to know how to keep the whippersnapper going.  Though, come to think of it, I still have the scythe in the shed. 

I’ve taken a year off work to study fulltime, and while uni hasn’t started yet I’m having a great time writing non-fiction, novels and catching up with the garden, and, as always, extending the darn thing.
The summer has been the hottest since we arrived in Tasmania, now seven years.  It's also the hottest and driest most locals can remember.  The kiwifruit (which, unfortunately, I had already counted) were devastated by the 41 degree day we had several weeks back. And yes, it was a new record temperature. 
Extending the garden is probably not the brightest thing I’ve ever done. I love planting out, I’m just not so gung ‘hoe’ on weeding.  



Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Sustainable Surburbia - where all good sustainable blogs meet

I've just joined  Sustainable Surburbia links list - it's kind of like a dating service for blogs - in this case with a common interest in green living. It's worth checking it out, list yourself if you have a compatible blog,  and hopefully have a happy ever after.

If not, you can spot what others are up to in their sustainable world.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Duck Dinner

an old paint tray makes a good first pond for young ducklings
Every year we vow and declare, no more ducks! We’ve just gone from six ducks to fifteen with a further twelve to go. Unfortunately we put two mother ducks together in the same seven by three metre pen, and Nibbler, our original duck, first broke the legs of two of the ducklings, and then killed them.  They have a divided pen these days.

Duck soup, duck pies, roast duck, they’re back on the menu. At least for Trev and Cal,  but  I still can’t quite go there.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


We were sure there had to be more than one in there. A late night wait for the second to appear, even a rummage around inside to see if it was stuck. She’d been wider than a bus for weeks. But no, just Solo.
Tilly is the goat on the left.
We're still not quite sure she's not carrying too.

The oddest thing is that Tilly, her Aunty, appears to have taken on the role of mum, and Peg seems happier to be on her own, but is happy enough to feed her.  It’s lovely to see Tilly, normally the bossy, bully matriarch of the group being so tender and sweet and playing games with wee Solo who does things like stand on top of her in a game of, ‘I’m the king of the mountain’ when she’s lying  asleep in the sun. I haven’t quite got there in time to photograph it yet. 

I spend way too much time watching her antics, the leaps, cavorts and carry on, particularly involving tree stumps. She's a cuddly wee thing.
She's in line to be our next milker. A couple of years away just yet.

As if that wasn't enough Solo’s a thoroughly convenient animal and only feeds off one udder, so we get the udder one.  Back to our own fetta again soon!

Home made Ice-cream and Raspberries

Thirty kilos of raspberries for the freezer, thirty kilos fresh for waiting mouths. All hail the mighty raspberry! 
Fresh raspberries with homemade ice-cream is yum, but we're now down to just 25 kilos of frozen. Sigh. The 41 degree day shrivelled every last remaining raspberry on the bushes. 

This is the world’s simplest  ice-cream recipe. I used to make a really fiddly version that was never as good as this.
Home Made Ice-cream

300ml of whipped cream
1 can of condensed milk
Four egg whites beaten till stiff
Fold the condensed milk through the whipped cream.
Fold the egg whites thoroughly through the  mix.
Stick it in the freezer and try not to eat it before it’s frozen.
It doesn't have lots of softeners in it, so take it out of the freezer for ten minutes before serving.

Many headed Hydra

all these are from one plant,
 except the baby peeking out the bottom
My three fold fantastics. Nectar for the bees, sunflower seeds for the chooks and goats, and the stalks and leaves for the goats. Did I mention that they also provide a bit of visual pleasure too? Four fold then. These are parked out the front of the house in three or four individual plantings, probably amounting to something like two hundred plants. They're planted out from the south of the block and moving north with subsequent plantings so not to shade out the younger plants.

These are the black oil seed producers, I'd like to grow confectionery seed, but still haven't found a great way to shell them for eating. A little tedious by hand.

This seed was bought from the local rural supplier as animal feed so I don't know it's variety. I've decided to call it Hydra due to a lot of the plants proclivity to grow lots of heads.

Growing rockmelons and watermelons in a temperate zone

I’m obliged to give it one last go. Earlier attempts resulted in poor fruit set, and pallid, tasteless fruit. This time I’ve hunted down heirloom varieties which are early croppers and cope with the cool nights.  I’m giving four varieties both rockmelons and watermelons a go and I've planted them in four different areas and hope cross pollination will be avoided. I want to find a variety that can go the distance and save seed from the best of the crop and continue to develop its ability to thrive in our climate.

I helped things along by planting them in black plastic. I cut a cross in the plastic and fold the edges under and hold them back with paperclips. Later, when older and stronger the paperclips can be removed and the plastic rest up against the plants stem, keeping down weeds and reducing evaporation. 

This photo was taken about a month back and they’re now setting fruit. Even Caleb, dedicated non- gardener that he is, makes the occasional appearance to check out progress. 
They are, after all, grown with him in mind.  The photo is of Caleb at age 5.  He wouldn't eat meat at that age, it was all about fruit. I once found him submerged in a watermelon in the local supermarket. He emerged a pretty shade of pink. It was a bit embarrassing at the counter. Today he still eats a lot of fruit, but he's a dedicated meat eater these days too.