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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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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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garden, Uncategorized

Purslane – Weed or Wonder?

I have a new favourite herb/plant, one which I again have growing at my place. It’s called a weed  by some, a valuable and useful (and tasty) herb/food by others. Purslane or Portulaca oleracea is its scientific name, is a plant that grows in many parts of the world. It is an annual plant, that arrives in Spring. It is a low growing plant, with succulent, tear shaped leaves, and a small yellow flower. The stems of the plant can be reddish in colour.

It can grow in quite poor soil, not needing a lot of water. Because it has few ‘rich’ needs to grow, it can pop up all over the garden, in cracks in pavements, and almost anywhere else. Because of this, it is disposed of by many people, in favour of more attractive and showy plants. But when you learn of the medical benefits of this plant, you won’t be inclined to dispose of it, if it shows up, you will welcome it instead, as I do.

Purslane has vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact this inconspicuous little plant has more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant. It therefore is an invaluable source of it for people who don’t eat any fish, which is a common source of this nutrient. It is also an antioxidant, and has the minerals, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. With all of these good things, it really should be welcomed instead of shunned if it shows up in your garden!

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The small plants in the photograph are the ones that suddenly popped up unexpectedly in that container, where I had actually been trying to grow some that I found in the pavement in my closest town, in winter this year. I was unsuccessful at growing that particular plant, but I am confident I will have more luck with these two. Because, as I have now learnt, the plant is an annual, I had been trying to grow it at the very end of its growth period. Now that I’m growing it at the optimal time, I am looking forward to a burst in growth!

This plant has many culinary uses. It can be eaten raw, or cooked, and can find a place in many different cooking methods, and meal courses. The leaves, flower buds, and stems are both edible, and apparently the Pliny the Elder, advised the plant be worn as an amulet ‘to expel all evil’. It is also said that purslane was Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite food, and he recommended it to others as a good food to eat.

I am hoping I can have plentiful amounts of this plant growing in my garden very soon, and I also recommend it to others as a good food to eat. If anyone else has knowledge of this plant I would love to hear of it!

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garden, Uncategorized

Hooray for Rain!

Yes, finally we have had a reasonable amount of rain, so hooray for that. But of course, living where we live, with rain will come caltrop, a much disliked weed indeed. We have had many caltrop plants popping up all over the place after rain. And of course, nobody wants to tread on the prickle from a caltrop weed, ouch!

If you don’t know what this dastardly prickle is, there is much information here: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture The plant is a beautiful one, with fern-like leaves and a lovely delicate little yellow flower. It grows low on the ground and can be easy to miss, amongst taller plants. But the seed is a vicious one, similar to the three corner jack, with a painfully sharp prickle. After rain, I know these plants will be popping up all over our property again.

Every caltrop plant pulled up is many thousands of these horrible prickles that won’t end up in the bottom of shoes, or in the soles of feet – a very good thing indeed. I hate finding caltrop seeds with the bottom of my feet, when someone’s shoes have brought them inside, and they’ve settled in the carpet!

I began this blog post yesterday, when we got a reasonable amount of rain, 6mm apparently.  But the wind has still been there, in the morning any, not so much rain though. The wind is bring up lots of dust from the paddocks and such all around, blowing the dust toward Adelaide, where the suburbanites and city folk will complain about it, when it lands on their washing hanging out.

If we’d had a lot more rain, this may not have happened, but it would probably be bad for the hay that is still in paddocks around where I am (Mallala region South Australia). As I’ve often said, I’m glad I’m not a farmer – having to rely on the weather for your profit is a huge gamble, and if you get it wrong, there goes your money …

But I’m not a farmer, although there are farms all around where I live. I am a gardener though. Today, my husband and I went into our back yard, and picked up some of our plants which were blown over by the winds last night or this morning … One plant had a broken branch, which I’ve neatened up and put into one of the vegetable plots, in the hope of the cutting growing roots.

We’ll see, it’s up to Nature of course, these things are always up to Nature doing her thing, and the people doing their thing, all for the betterment of our plants! I’m going to go outside later today or maybe tomorrow and check some of our yard, to see if those nasty caltrop seeds have popped up. Apparently the seed can remain, in the ground and viable for seven years. And after every rain, more and more pop up.

If we don’t keep on top of the caltrop weeds, it will be dangerous times for feet!

 

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