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Gardening with Hellish Weather

Today is the day after Christmas, 2018, and at the moment the temperature is hot, hot, hot! Neither gardens nor hounds do well outside in such conditions, so as a good dog owner, and as a sometimes gardener, I am taking actions to ensure the dog, and as many of the plants as possible, survive.

Missy goes outside in such conditions for only brief periods to do hwat she needs to do, then she comes back  inside to recline once more upon her ‘throne’! Her sofa is situated in one of the coolest spots possible, with the cool air from the air conditioner blowing onto her. I think this is why she goes outside and lies down on the grass, and has a bit of a roll on the grass too, to warm up before cooling down again.

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Of course, with the plants, it isn’t that easy. You can’t bring inside plants growing on our property, they’re roots connect them to the soil outside. We can water them too, and today the usual plants will get plenty of water, once the sun goes down a little bit. I think over the next few (stinking hot) days, the potted plants will get more frequent quenching, and with luck there won’t be any big losses …

Having MS (multiple sclerosis), makes it more tricky to do too much outside in this weather, and I’m glad my husband, who is also my carer, is well and truly up to keeping our outside plants watered and living, for the most part. Most of our vegetable growing is over for now, with only herbs in pots still going, as well as the polystyrene box of Purslane, which is absolutely thriving, along with the chocolate mint growing in one of the vegetable beds.

Anyway, I’ve been playing with growing some vegetable produce indoors, to see if I can usefully do that, to help out in the kitchen. I saw an opportunity, and jumped at was was on offer – this was using the last of our our Spring onion crop, which was pulled up several weeks ago. I grabbed the few weedy looking plants, and popped them into two used ‘jiffy pots’ that have been in our kitchen, on the windowsill for years.

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(The plant above is the first of the jiffy pot ones)

So once I’d put two extremely weedy little plants into the jiffy pots, I grabbed the four  smallest remaining ones, and put the others, (after rinsing off the dirt) into a plastic bag in the kitchen. I put those four into an old glass, and partly filled it with fresh water. I then committed to keeping them all safely hydrated (watered).

I had the idea that throwing away spring onion parts, the bottom end, with roots attached, was possibly wasteful, and maybe I could grow them inside, in water, or something. So I grabbed a cut off part of one of the spring onions from the fridge, and put that one in the water, with the others.

I’ve been watching, waiting and watering, and am pleased with the results so far! I’ve had new growth on all of the ‘plants’, and I’ve been able to snip off the strongest leafy parts to use in cooking. It hasn’t been a lot yet, but who knows how it will go? You sure can’t get any fresher than grown, cut and cooked within minutes! The window sill, chopping board and stove top are all within about two metres apart!

I’ve also taken some cuttings of the chocolate mint, and some thyme, and am seeing whether they will grow roots in water. I have no expectations, just a simple hope. If no roots come along, it doesn’t matter, the parts can all become parts of a lovely hot chai choc drink, or better still, choc chai mocha drink (if I get some coffee involved too)!

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(spring onions growing in water, note the cut off tops, they were in dinner last night)

 

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(chocolate mint is larger leaved one, and it has roots growing! the thyme, being a woody stemmed plant may not be as successful, but I have more growing outside, so that’s fine)

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A Garden Catch Up

Well, it’s been a while since my last post on this blog, and there have been lots of things happening out in the garden. Summer has arrived, with quite variable weather for the final parts of Spring, and into the ‘hotter’ season. There were some stinking hot days at the end of Spring, and our poor mandarin tree suffered hugely because of it.

That lovely crop of tiny mandarins we had covering the tree have  all frizzled up in the hear and dropped from the tree. There will be no mandarins this year, not from our tree … This should teach me to stop counting the fruit before it ripens, shouldn’t it?

We have had successes with other produce growing here though, at various levels. We have had two strawberries so far that made it to the table, nice and ripe ones, though quite small. There were a few more strawberries coming along too, last week, but the birds got to them before we could. We are going to put some netting up to save the strawberries from the birds, this time …

We have a tremendous crop of Purslane growing in a box outside, and I’m trying to eat some in the morning every morning, because my gardening expert has told me they are more beneficial regarding Omega 3 Fatty Acids, if eaten then. I don’t manage to do that every single day, but manage it several times a week for sure. Is it actually doing me any good? Who knows, it certainly isn’t doing me any harm, and I’m feeling good …

My husband, who does most of our cooking, has included some of the purslane in the occasional meal, and I think he’s coming around on thinking it may be a worthwhile addition to some of our meals. I keep thinking I should do more research on possible easy ways to use purslane in meals. At the moment, I eat it raw, sometimes as is, other times mixed in with a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It has no flavour, really, but it has a nice ‘crunch’.

So what else? We have a fine crop of chocolate mint growing, and it has been adding interesting notes to some of our meals. I’ve also used some of that mint in an interesting Choc Chai coffee on some days. Interesting, and quite different to my usual white coffees I have in the morning, every morning (unless I am have fasting bloods done, like I am next week). I added a little thyme to the chai on occasion, that we have growing in one of our hanging baskets on the back veranda. As I said, interesting …

What else is out there? We grew our own spring onions this year, and have been using them at times. Graham pulled them up the other day, because he wants to use that vegetable bed for something else. I saved a few of the tiny plants, and I’m growing them in water, in the kitchen, just for a bit of interest. I’ll need to do some more studying on the best ways to grow spring onions inside in water, I think. I’m not sure the way I’m doing it at the moment is ideal …

We grew garlic this year too, and it has been harvested, and once it is all dried, and we’ve used up the garlic from the Adelaide Central Market, we’ll use our own garlic, for as long as it lasts. What else? We have been growing our own parsley in one of the vegetable beds too, and there is still some of that growing, lovely and green, but I’m not sure how long it will last.

I think that’s it now, nothing else edible growing, unless you’re a dog – our dog Missy likes to eat the grass growing in the back yard, not always, just every now and then. So overall, we’re doing an ok job of providing ourselves with fresh fruit and vegetables, but there is still a long way to go before we could ever be self-sufficient …

If you grow your own, I’d love to hear about how your garden is going.  Feel free to leave a message here!

 

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More Dog than Garden Today

Today my husband and I took our dog Missy to the vet, to see her specialist, actually. Missy has a disease called ‘Canine Dry Eye’, which means her tear ducts don’t actually make tears. This means she doesn’t naturally wash out the dust and things that get in her eyes, she just gets gunk in them instead, and it needs to be cleaned out by somebody else.

Missy has been on medications to try to deal with this problem, and in fact make her tear ducts actually work, but after an extended trial of this med, it’s proven to be useless for poor Missy. The specialist gave us four different options to deal with this problem, and
Graham and I made our decision, based on our feelings, knowing MIssy, and hearing what the specialist said.

I think we’re more or less at ease with the decision we’ve made, a painkiller to ease her pain, and an eye wash, to help wash all of the gunk out, twice a day. I’ve given her first half tablet to her, and Graham will get the eye wash type med tomorrow from the specialists office.

The specialist said a lot of things on Quality of Life, which of course is important to always bear in mind, to keep our beloved pets happy, healthy, and having as good a life as possible. Two of the options were not acceptable to me, not at all, given the circumstances, and I think another option was to do nothing, which is also not acceptable, not at all.

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So medications will continue, and we all hope Missy’s QOL improves, and she has more years of a more or less happy and good life. Our pets can’t say what they need, we have to do our best to work it out, and hope for the best. At the moment, Missy is in her favourite spot, reclining on her sofa.

She’s been outside several times today, toilet breaks, looking around to check things out, sniffing around for some ‘wild tucker’, and other doggie things. And now,  Graham is in the kitchen, so Missy has jumped off the sofa and she’s there with him, hoping for a treat! Her tail is wagging, and yum, yes she got something nice to eat. She’s a good dog, and she deserves good things!

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I feel that having pets adds so many good things to our lives, pets show us other ways to look at things in our lives, they make us get up and do things, and they remind us that there are other important things in life, not just us people.

Do you have pets that add to your life? I’d love to hear about it!

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birds in garden, dogs

Watching the Birds …

Well, it’s Spring in Australia, and in the garden, Spring means lots of new things are coming along, both plants and creatures. One of the things I’ve been noticing much more than usual is young birds …

I’ve seen various birds doing their natural thing, courting, mating, nesting. And now I’m noticing the baby birds first, and now the adolescent birds. One bird species in particular has connected with me, and I was thrilled to see a pair of Willie Wagtails building a nest, and then obviously having laid eggs in the nest. The nest is only a couple of metres from where I park my car, and I’ve been thrilled to see the pair of birds taking turns at sitting on the nest.

About a fortnight ago, three baby Willie Wagtails could be seen in the nest, and then, a couple of days ago, they took flight! They didn’t fly very far, and they are still hanging around not too far from where that nest was that was their first home. These babies slowly  growing their tail feathers, practising their flying, and learning to wag their little tails!

I’m thrilled these little babes are living in and around our backyard, where I can see them and their parents whenever I go out of the backyard! I love seeing Nature so close to me, and I wish this family of lovely birds well! I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t love these cheeky-seeming little birds!

Anyway, I have finally written a poem about these little new residents in the yard, and here it is, a little Haiku poem for the little baby birds:

Keeping watch
Willie Wagtail
babies all flown the nest –
parents still care …
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I will go on watching this family of birds, and I hope they keep on staying around. I am worried though that Missy, our dog, might decide to make a snack of one of the baby birds. They are getting better at flying though, so I hope they will be able to keep on flying high above Missy’s reach, so they can stay safe. Missy usually only goes outside if someone goes outside too, and that means we can keep watch. I hope that will be enough.
At the moment, Missy seems mostly interested in hunting for, I suppose snakes … She hunts around the fence line, where there is some grass, and sheets of fencing panels, where snakes could be hiding. I so hope she doesn’t ever catch a snake, I don’t want to lose our beautiful and silly hound. But she’s a hunter through and through, and she doesn’t listen to us when the hunt is on …
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flowering plants, philosophy

What a Day Yesterday was!

I had a fun time yesterday, but I’m glad I’d planned it so well, it could have gone sideways fast! Yesterday I knew the main thing I had to do for the day, the number one must do item. This ‘thing’ was to attend a forum, for which there was a quite handy payment, simply for taking part.

I’m not an idiot, if somebody wants to give me money simply for giving my opinion, I’m not going to say no! The venue is not close to where I live, but it’s in a place I feel connected to, to some extent. Another venue I was thinking of visiting soon, was on the way, sort of, so I thought if I go to that venue but didn’t stay too long, then it would make the long drive more worth it.

So that’s what I did, I drove to Nuriootpa to visit someone I went to school with, to buy some plants that sounded great, and were at a great price, and after that, I drove on to Clare for the forum. The plants were at the Mitre 10 store, where my former schoolmate works, and we had a lovely chat and have decided to catch up again properly, soon! (Thanks Debbie!) Combining these two events in the one trip made much more sense, with the number of kilometers driven.

I now have four more ‘pigs face’ plants, and these new plants are all in different colours to the one we already have at home. The idea of being able to get these in colours different to the one we already have was the thing that made it seem worthwhile, and only $2.50 per pot, a bargain! They will look lovely once they really get growing, and are planted up in hanging baskets on our back patio … So Debbie and I chatted, and when it was time to, I put the plants in my car and headed off to Clare.

Then the forum. There were seven other attendees, plus two people organising things, and we all worked to getting some new ideas thought about, and with different ideas about how it could go. The eight of us were split into two groups, and even though we weren’t all that well known to each other, it all went along very well indeed. It will be interesting to see whether next year, any of the things we did come into fruition.

So we worked, thought, perhaps ate a choc chip cookie or two, and then the time was up. It was getting dark by that time, and I was reminded of two things, that I’d got myself lost in the Barossa region previously, and that I really am not keen on driving in unfamiliar places at night, especially when it was raining. Last night the rain had well and truly arrived.

Anyway, I kept on driving, with the GPS in my mobile phone keeping me on track, but gee was I glad to get home. My husband was still up, even though it was getting quite late, but we were both happy to head off to bed, soon after I arrived home, after watching some of the show on the TV.

I forgot about the plants in my car until after lunch today, and I’m glad it was quite a mild day, and that I finally did remember them, and take them around to the back yard, where most of our pot plants are. One of the new plants isn’t flowering yet, but one of the people from Mitre 10 yesterday, showed me what they look like, quite a gentle pink, which will go nicely indeed!

So talking, thinking, ideas, a friend from the past (and possibly into the future too), plus new plants, payment for a job well done, and new plants, what a good day that was, made even better than it may have been, with some planning. I am currently thinking about the philosophy of the Stoics, who value planning, thinking on their day’s things to come, and then thinking on the day that has been.

So consider this blog post a part of my philosophical musings …

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philosophy, Uncategorized

Sunshine – Blessed Happiness

Today I did something I rarely do, I exposed most of my upper body to the sun! I kept my under clothes on, and my track pants, but I exposed some flesh to the lovely and blessed sunshine.

This unusual event occurred in the backyard, which is pretty private anyway, so if anybody copped a view of a little more than they were expecting, then they probably got more than they deserved! I was out there with husband and our dog Missy, while washing was being hung up, and then our Canna plants watered.

I looked at the mandarin tree while I was outside, and it certainly looked like it needs the watering it’s getting right now. We are forecast to have some much hotter weather in the next few days, and we need to make sure these plants get what they need. Sunshine is certainly needed by plants for the photosynthesizing process, but correct watering is important too, very important.

Humans need proper hydration (water) too. At the moment, I’m working on my second glass of water for the day, and I’ve had a cup of coffee first up, as I almost always do. That coffee counts toward my needed water intake, up to a point. I feel that if I have three cups of coffee, and about three glasses of water, that is probably enough for my needs.

Other people may have other needs. I did around twenty minutes of aerobic exercises today, with the family Wii Fit machine. I didn’t work hard enough to build up a big sweat, so it isn’t like a runner, who will lose much water through sweating. One day I may be fit enough to actually go jogging outside, but that moment is certainly not now. I get tired, just doing my two minutes of jogging on the spot inside with the Wii Fit machine …

Rome wasn’t built in one day, as they say, and my aerobic fitness is a work in progress. Getting sufficient sunshine is a work in progress too. I am slowly reducing my layers of clothing, after the cold of Winter and early Spring. I like to be warm, rather than being cool, other people prefer it the other way around.

I have MS (Multiple Sclerosis), and it is felt by the experts that vitamin d, at least the lack of it, may have a negative role in my disease. Having adequate vitamin d is felt to be healthful. So, if I want to be as healthy as possible, it is a good idea to receive vitamin d from the sunshine, whenever I can.

It’s a balancing game, this one though. I have also had skin cancers (in the early stages) removed. Sunshine brings both skin cancer and vitamin d, one bad thing, but one good thing too. So, I know that getting my sunshine for vitamin d in the morning and later afternoon is the best way to go. In the middle of the day, the sun is at its most dangerous level for skin cancer. I think I have the knowledge to make this work best for me.

On another level of being, sunshine simply makes me happy. I love what it does for the plants, the vegetables, the lawn, the trees, and the flowers. I feel so fortunate to have enough room, at my place to have all of these things, at our place in the country, with no tall buildings cutting out any of that blessed sunshine.

And of course, we have solar panels on our roof, and every moment of sunshine brings us more power for ‘free’. We’ve had our panels now for long enough to have covered the costs of their installation, so it is free actually, no need for the quote marks. Sunshine’s power helps to pay for some of the power we use, and I love that idea. I also love the fact that every bit of solar power we use is other, more worrying forms of power we don’t have to use.

This is good for everyone and everything sure, people, Nature, the planet. I know there are other things I could do that I don’t currently do, but at least I’m doing something …

 

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birds, Uncategorized

My Aussie Backyard Bird Count

Because I am interested in, and care about, birds, I decided last month that I was going to do this Aussie Backyard Bird Count this year. This event is held every October, all around Australia, and is a great way for researchers to gather information about birds in the built up environment.

Or of course, some people live in a house with not much built up areas at all, and those statistics are also important too. The Aussie Bird Count requires those taking part to record the different bird seen, and the numbers of that bird seen. (I should have read up better, for my first count, I neglected to report how many of the different birds seen, so it was recorded as the basic 1 only.)

I’m going to do another bird count later on today, and I expect to see some of the birds not there for this first count. I really like this chance to get involved in something like this – helping the researchers who are working on a variety of different ways to help all of the wonderful birds we have in Australia!

Apparently thousands of Australians get involved in this event every year. It happens in October, which is the middle of Spring when many birds are out and about, for their breeding season.

muAH7rk(1)(not my photo, obtained online, creative commons)

The bird in the photo is actually one I commonly see at my place, but not today, for my first count. It is a New Holland Honeyeater, and I hope I see one or more when/if I do another count later on in the day. I did my first count at noon, but I know I will see different birds later on in the day. If I remember, and have time, I will go outside into the backyard again at around 5pm, I think I should see one or more of them then.

If you are Australian, why not take a look at the website of Birdlife Australia, and do your own bird counts! Birdlife Australia does good work in conservation, with a focus, not surprisingly on birds. But of course, birds need habitat, so the organisation uses these stats to view the state/health of the environment. If there is a healthy environment, there will be plenty of birds!

The seven different kinds of birds I saw today were Swallow, Sparrow, Willie Wagtail, Spotted Turtledove, Starling, Noisy Miner and Blackbird. As I said, I know there are other different birds around my place, and if you know what birds you have, I would love to hear about it – leave a message telling us, if you want to!

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