Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Gardening for the Soul

Hello luvs.
 The world has changed a little bit since we last chatted!

The pollution levels in major cities around the world has dropped to record lows.
The water in the canals of Venice have cleared up due to the decreased boat activity.
People have started spending more quality time together, planting and digging in their gardens, playing board games and taking time to teach their kids life skills.

Some people have stopped eating little animals that they shouldn't be eating. Like bats and pangolins.

We all know why. But let's not talk about the awful reason why. It's rather shit. And I've heard enough shit news over the past couple of months.

Let's just chat about nice stuff here. 

It's Autumn. I don't mind Autumn. The sun still shines warm most days at the moment and we have ALL THE TOMATOES IN THE WORLD!!!
I haven't been online very much as we have been out in the garden and enjoying our own fruit and vegies.
Below is a basket of 8.5kg of freshly dug potatoes, fresh cut dahlias, asters and roses, red shallots, and the colander of tomatoes, cucumbers, and a button squash. 
And Chuck.
 Lebanese cucumbers growing on a bamboo pyramid.
 Two tomato plants have grown over an arch and are tumbling through it. One the left hand side are  a mini tomato called 'Rapunzle' and 'Black Russian Cherry' tomatoes on the right.
 They look like bunches of grapes. In fact these are Black Russian cherry tomatoes.
 Mariposa plums and strawberries harvested in late January.

We are pulling out some summer veg such as yellow button squash, throwing in more cow poo and mulching up.

I planted a punnet of broccoli. 

I wanted to plant some lettuce and silverbeet, but our local garden centre has completely sold out of all vegie seedlings and seeds!

On one hand I was supremely cranky at nutbags buying up as if the apocalypse was upon us and they're all going to grow these things so they don't have to go to the supermarket.
But I realised that I was being a hormonal grouch and this is a wonderful opportunity to get people into the garden and gardening! Non-gardeners can discover what the rest of us already know! Growing your own food is so therapeutic and rewarding!
So get out there! If you only have a balcony or sunny windowsill then use that! Just having a little pot of mint is awesome. 

Here in Melbourne it's time to start planting broccoli, onions, garlic, peas, broad beans and the leafys such as lettuce, rainbow chard, kale and spinach. You could also plant brussel sprouts but they take so long to grow. Watch our for those pretty white butterflies as they will make lots of little babies in the form of green caterpillars which will eat EVERYTHING!!!
Although I couldn't buy any vegies, I bought my spring bulbs and extra sweet peas seeds in case we progress to more severe lockdown restrictions. The sweet pea seeds can be planted now, the daffodil, tulip, hyacinth and Scilla bulbs are going straight into the fridge until after Easter.

In February I flew down to Hobart in Tasmania for my cousins wedding.  I had never been to Tasmania before. It is so beautiful!

In the weeks leading up to it I was watching a murder mystery series on Stan called The Gloaming which was filmed in Hobart. So I had an idea of what the city looked like. It's such a unique town as it was settled in colonial times.
There are loads of original colonial buildings and houses. Green, lush parks and peoples front gardens are overflowing with roses and vegies together!

I travelled down with the Parental Units.
We were extremely excited to visit the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) in Hobart.
Would you like to take a walk with us?

 This little guy is a bandicoot! Some bandicoot species are striped. This guy isn't. He was running around on one of the lawns. 
The wonderful thing about where we were travelling around Hobart is the unique Australian wildlife which aren't easily found on the mainland. I had never seen one before!
 An archway of Pierre De Ronsard climbing roses.
The gardens were established over 200 years ago.
Below you'll see a honeybee and a bumblebee. Mainland Australia does not have bumblebees.
Not a single one.
Tasmania has bumblebees. This totally blew our minds!
Bumblebees are super gorgeous and so.freaking.HUGE!!!!
Mum and I spent 20 mins right here photographing them and filming videos of them to show people back home.

"...language Mother!"
Apparently the reason why Tassie has them is because some naughty codger smuggled some over from New Zealand in the 1990s. They are considered a pest as they have had a negative impact on native bee populations.
There are no obvious bumblebees in the next photos.

Every Friday night after dinner, I sit down with my crochet and watch a tv show called Gardening Australia. There is a presenter for most of the states of Australia. For many years one of the most popular presenters was Peter Cundall who filmed some of his gardening segments about vegies in the vegetable garden plots at the RTBG in Hobart. This area is called 'Petes Garden'. Now that he has retired from presenting, Tino Carnavale has taken over the Tasmania bit and also films his vegie gardening tips in Petes Garden. Mum, Dad and I loved walking through this section...

 The Fathership kindly stands in to show how freaking massive the sunflowers were.
 Kiwi fruit on massive trellises...

I hope you stay healthy and safe. If you are healthy, safe and are able, plant something. Or plant many things. You can plant one seed in any container. Or you can dig a garden bed. Plant flowering things, edible things, or just green things that you like to look at. It will be good for your soul.

Red Haired Amazona

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Summer- the good, the bad and the tomatoes.

I'll be honest.

This summer.

It's been great. And it's been shit.

The shit part? Well that's kind of obvious. 
We have not been directly in the line of any bushfires, but Melbourne has had days choked with smoke from the fires in the Gippsland region to the east of our city. 
The view over Docklands in the Melbourne CBD. My camera has tried to clear the image so it doesn't truly show how horribly smoky it was.

On those days I keep my asthmatic Sonofagun No.1 indoors.  
And you know what? I don't complain about these days. Because the smoke we experienced in Melbourne was no where near as bad as the bushfire zones and no where near as bad as the capital city Canberra. I come from Canberra. It normally has crystal clear alpine air.
But for weeks it had the highest air pollution rate in the world due to smoke from the Sydney fires in the north and the South Coast fires to the east all blowing into the city, then not blowing out.

Everyday I was obsessed with watching the NSW Rural Fire Service app as the fires raced towards my parents town of Mollymook.

 Several times over last few weeks all roads in and out of the area were closed due to fire activity.
Fortunately Mollymook and Ulladulla is safe for now. But the Mothership and Fatherdom have been volunteering for the Red Cross at the local evacuation centre where they helped many people who have lost everything.
It's ridiculously heartbreaking to see the devastation to our countryside. To hear of the deaths of civilians, local firefighters and most recently 3 wonderful firefighters from the USA. And most particularly to our animals. A billion animals.
I have for a little while stopped watching tv.  Our politicians are too bloody stupid (particularly Scotty from marketing #notmyprimeminister) and the news is too sad.
So I've been making nests for wildlife carers.
 Crocheters can't pump out nests or pouches as quickly as the seamstresses but we are still all doing our part!
So the great part of summer? 
The Bear and I are starting to reap the rewards of all our work in the garden.
The indoor plants under the pergola are thriving...
One day whilst walking Chuck Norris, we found this cane coffee table base that was left on the side of the road.
We brought it home and the next day found a stone water bowl at a local shop that was the right size.
We added washed stones and pond plants.
 And a few days later we added fish!
 The water bowl also now has a little pump with a water spout.

The blackberries feed us and the birds. We just get enough for a snack while we're out harvesting tomatoes, yellow squash and herbs.
 The tomatoes are ripening more and more each day. Will it be pasta sauce or salad tonight?
 I love yellow button squash!
 I planted an artichoke plant for fun.
 Mini Lebanese cucumbers. We haven't harvested yet but they'll be ready soon!
This garden bed has Rapunzle and mini Black Russian tomatoes growing up the arch trellis, a new lemon tree in the centre, and borage and basil in the middle. Then 2 mini cucumber plants growing around the fencing on the edge. We had to put the edging in to keep Chuck from getting in there.
 I love putting Borage flowers in salads!
It will be pesto making time soon!

How has your summer or winter been?
Red Haired Amazona