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!


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!

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: 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!


growing lemons, growing your own, Uncategorized

My Citrus Issues

I’m very happy that for the first time, this year/season we had a crop of mandarins grow on our quite young mandarin tree. The tree I think is three years old. Last year we had blossom but not fruit, so we watched it anxiously to see what would happen this year.

Well fortunately, our watching must have worked, because this year we had lovely  mandarins to eat for a month or so. There weren’t enough mandies to quench all of our mandarin wants, but it was good anyway, to be able to go outside and pick a mandarin or two for eating!

The mandarins for this season are all gone now, the last one eaten late-ish last month. Now, the mandarin tree has brand new blossoms just popped up, all over the tree. This bodes well, I hope for an even bigger crop of mandarins coming along at the correct time! The tree is well watered, and has been fertilised appropriately, I think (this is Graham’s task, and I’m lucky I get to enjoy the benefits after his hard work – I love my husband!).


We don’t have ‘issues’ with our mandarin tree, it is growing well and as it should. The citrus that has the ‘issues’ is our lemon tree. I don’t really know how old our lemon tree is. I can’t remember whether we planted it, or if it has always been here. We’ve lived at our place since late 1988, and it seems like this lemon tree has always been here, way down the back of our place, growing there, but only very little, with lemon tree smelling leaves and nothing else.

We’ve not really done anything much with this tree, apart from put in a dripper in the irrigation hose that we have put in years ago for some of our trees and bushes around the place. So when the tape is switched on, the lemon tree gets watered along with all of the other plants. We didn’t care about growing our own lemons, so never thought any more about it, nor questioned why there were never any fruit.

I don’t remember ever seeing blooms growing on that small tree, just wondered a little about why it’s so tiny still, and noticed the quite vicious looking spikes that grow along the branches. If there were any lemons growing there, you’d certainly need to be careful of those nasty looking spikes, that’s for sure.

Anyway this is all leading up to the point of this post – today I went and looked at the mandarin tree, marvelling at all of those promising blooms, and drooling (in my head) at the thought of lots and lots of scrumptious mandarins when we get to that season. Then I continued further north-east, to look in the shed to see if the Boobook Owl was there – it wasn’t, then I walked south and looked at the lemon tree. I’m not sure why, I just did.

The tree has some dead looking branches, with those vicious spikes, but also other branches with lots of leaves, and there were also something that surprised me. The branches with leaves also had tiny little white dots, similar to the mandarin tree. The mandarin trees (admittedly bigger) dots are actually blossoms. So that means the lemon tree is getting ready to put out blossoms then!

Hooray! I don’t remember ever seeing this before. Has it ever happened before? I just don’t know. It may have happened but I wasn’t looking for anything, so didn’t see anything. I’ve certainly never ever seen lemons growing on that tree. I don’t know if it has ever happened. But now that I know the tiny white dots are there, I’m sure going to keep an eye on the situation.

This lemon tree is smaller than the mandarin tree, which is in the photo above, which was taken when the mandarins weren’t quite ripe yet.. I would love it if we could grow our own lemons as well as our own mandarins! If anyone out there knows more about growing lemons that I do, feel free to leave some information, or thoughts of encouragement (or even brutal nay-saying honesty if appropriate).



The Edible Garden

I live on a reasonably big piece of land, one and three quarter acres. We have a house, with a lawn in the front yard , and another one at the back yard. There are lots of trees (over 45, not entirely sure how many in total), and there is a lot of land with nothing much planned by us, more by planned by Nature.

I wouldn’t want to live in a totally landscaped place, and given that we moved out to Redbanks, in the northern Adelaide Plains, to breed dogs, it was never important. We don’t do the dog breeding anymore, we just have Missy, who was a show dog when she was a baby puppy, and never since. Missy is a pet dog, and she is happy with that role. She is the queen of the dog sofa, and rules her world while reclining regally there.



Missy has two areas where she can run – the backyard, with its yummy grass which she likes to eat sometimes, and the ‘dog run’ with kennels, where supposedly dogs were supposed to live. That project never really happened, our dogs have always been pets first, show dogs second. The kennels aren’t used now at all, but we’ve begun planting in the dog run, and it’s turning into a pleasant area.

We have a mandarin tree there, and this year we had our first crop of mandarins, which were far better than I’ve ever had from a store! (I may be a little biased on this subject) We also have a vegetable patch where at the moment we have garlic, chocolate mint, coriander, spring onions, baby spinach, and lettuce growing.



There may be something else, oh yes, parsley.  These are growing in two garden beds, set up higher than the ground, and are in an area where Missy can’t eat them. Missy likes her vegetables, but we grow them for the people of the house, not the dog!

We also have two almond trees, which were already there when we moved in, back in 1988. These almond trees are a little bit higher than is useful – if they were pruned, it would be easier to get bird netting in place, and maybe then we’d be able to eat our own almonds again. I don’t mind the cockatoos getting a good feed of nuts though, not really, I suppose …

What else is edible here? Well, there’s the weeds of course. Weeds are simply plants that Nature grows for us. Some of what Nature grows is wanted, but some things not so much. But if we learn to use the good things from Nature, we can learn to appreciate these plants rather than hate and destroy them.

Weeds we have that are edible include Marshmallow weed, nettles, dandelions, and who knows what else. The cockatoos like to eat the pine nuts from our stand of pine trees at the front of our place, and various birds like to visit our Bottlebrush trees,


and the Cape honeysuckle, when they are flowering.




Very, Very Noisy Miners …

At our place, we have a shed. The shed is quite open to the air, and at the moment, there is an owl, I think a Boobook Owl, living in there quietly during the day. Owls are nocturnal creatures, and I assume the owl is out and about in the night, and comes back to the shed, its resting place, to sleep during the day.

In the past few days though, a group of Noisy Miners have begun going into the shed, and loudly complaining about the bigger bird being there. It doesn’t seem to be actually bothered by the Noisy Miners, but more by me being there trying to get a decent photo of it, so I’ll leave off getting a better photo of the Owl and leave it alone. This photograph will have to do for now.

boobook owl

Photographing living creatures is always a bit of a hit and miss thing. I know that fine photographers spend a long time and money to be able to get their fine photographs, and I certainly know some fine photographers. I’m content with merely taking happy snaps, at this stage, but I may try to up my abilities in this realm at a later stage.

My husband and I have been keeping an eye on this particular bird. This is the first year we’ve ever seen a bird taking up residence in our shed, and we just like knowing it’s there, happily living in our largely unused shed. We just both go and take a look every few days, just to check whether ‘Owly’ is there. I’ve put the word out about this creature, on Facebook, and now I have a friend, who is a much better photographer than I am, coming around to see if he can get some good photos of our avian visitor, exciting times!

The Noisy Miners and the Boobook Owl both live at our place, which is obviously their place as well. I hope the Miners don’t chase away the Owl before the photo shoot, because I would love to be able to have a really good photograph of this bird, instead of my scrappy snaps …




garden, Uncategorized

On Likin’ Lichen


There are so many different kinds of life in our garden, some flying up high above, some creeping and crawling on the ground. And of course there are th plants, green grass, tree leaves in various shades of green also, or in Autumn a variety of shades of yellow, orange, red. Leaves that are on the tree and then when the time, the leaf, and the wind decide, down the leaf flutters.

The life in this photograph, that is a very different kind of thing. Lichen … I don’t really know much about lichen. I just know I love the look of it, when I see it. This lichen in the picture is on the fence in our backyard, on the northern side of the yard. It’s a wooden fence, made of red/brown pine paling. I’m loving that word ‘paling’. I’m not sure what the difference between a picket and a paling, but our wooden fence is horizontal, not vertical, so maybe that has something to do with it. I’m not the handy-person of the household …

Anyway, I like lichen. Old things can have lichen on them, like our fence. I remember a book I first read way back when I was a teenager, the book was written by a British author, John Wyndham, and this book was called “The Trouble with Lichen”. I loved it! I also loved other books by the same author, the most famous of them was a book called the Midwich Cuckoos. A fine tale indeed.

So, lichen … Another interesting thing about lichen is that it was the theme for one of the entries in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize for 2018.


Emma Kelly
This is the art work. It is by an emerging artist, Emma Kelly. My husband and I went to the museum and saw this piece and loved it. It is of a rock with lichen on it, and the image was used for the advertising of the Gallery exhibition for 2018. I just love the idea of the Natural Sciences being used to create art, and woohoo, lichen, I’m likin’ it!
So this little ‘thing’ lichen can inspire literature and scientific artworks, what a wonderful thing that is! Lichen is actually a fungus growing on algae, in a crust-like form. The fungus is unable to get a food source from the sun, in the way leaves of plants do, because it doesn’t have the ability to perform photosynthesis. So the fungus instead grows on the alga, which can get access to nourishment from the algae, which is able to perform photosynthesis. Isn’t that clever? So the fungus and the algae together forms the lichen.
Lichen can be used for all manner of interesting and useful things, medications being an important one for sure. Lichens have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. They have also been used as dyes, colouring clothing. Lichen is also a major food source for North American caribou. Amazing stuff, isn’t it?

Making Changes

Making changes can be a good thing in life. Things get stale, or go out of date, new things come into being, and you may want to have a piece of the new best thing. These are fine things, if they suit your life, and your lifestyle.

One such change is the new image I have put on the this blog – well, it isn’t actually something new, the image is one from ten years ago, bu it hasn’t been in this position before, so that is new (although it has been in different places on this blog previously, I think …).

Anyway, the image is of a Pharaoh Hound puppy, one of ours, and possibly the puppy we still have, Missy, who is now ten years old, and a long way beyond being a puppy, and she has the grizzled muzzle to show for it. The creature with the pup is Pumba, from The Lion King, a toy for our puppies at that time, to play with. The puppy and toy are both in our whelping box, where most of our pups were born, over our years as dog breeders.

Giving up dog breeding was definitely a good thing in our lives. Showing dogs and breeding them was fun for many years. Things change though, we had an actual human baby, he grew, we all found other things to attract our attention. We still had dogs, but they became solely pets instead of show/breeding stock and pets. The dogs aged, and passed on, and weren’t replaced with new dogs. Missy is it, and she happily lives her life between the backyard and her sofa!

Anyway, gardening took over our weekends, rather than dog showing. We enjoy our garden, and our garden is certainly coming along much better now that it’s getting more attention. I am so happy with the vegetable garden, and those mandarins on our tree! I like the herbs in our garden too, in fact I was outside earlier today and chomped a few sprigs of parsley, which is far healthier than I previously realised.

dig it

I’m making a point of eating healthier food, with more vegetables. Today I chopped up a celery stalk into small pieces, and mixed it through my lunch of nuts and dried fruit. The celery was a lovely crunchy addition, and I’m glad I added it! I had a mandarin with my lunch too, which wasn’t so lovely. It wasn’t one from our garden, it was a purchased one, and even before I ate it, I had pretty low expectations of it regarding flavour.

This mandarin didn’t smell fresh, like the ones from our tree smell, it was old and stale, and that’s what the smell was like too. I love the smell of a fresh mandarin! Picking your own, when the fruit is at its absolute best is a wonderful thing. I’m so glad the change in our lives has brought these things into my life, more and more. With my husband retired from paid work, he is also glad to have so much more time to spend out in the garden, digging and planting! A fine way to get some exercise in the sunshine.


Any other changes? This year I have been putting more attention into my writing ‘career’, including this blog and my others. That’s not a big change, but with luck, it may begin to actually bring me things, who knows. This blogging is fun to do, I love putting my thoughts ‘out there’ into the online world. I get a few comments here and there, and I love that, knowing that my words have found some interested readers. What writer doesn’t love that?!

I’m thinking about my life, and ideas, a lot more these days too. Being mindful is something that interests me a lot. I love to read interesting things, and share them with other interested people. Sharing thoughts on social media in this way seems like a fine thing to do, and even better is when I meet up with the people who share things like this, and we can give each other a hug.

doggone itAs I get older, I am loving getting hugs from friends, both new ones, and long-time friends. Hugs are gifts we give to others, which also give good things back to us, so hugging people I like, often, is a great change to make! It may be hard for people who know me these days to believe, but I used to be quite shy, and would never have hugged anyone, really. Now it can be a large hugfest, when I meet up with friends! More hugs is a great change.

If you have any good changes in your life, I’d love to hear about it – feel free to leave a comment here!