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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growing your own, Uncategorized

Our First Home-grown Mandarin

Graham and I made a big decision this morning. We thought about it a little, then we went out to the back of our place, and we picked a mandarin from our mandarin tree. If you haven’t been following this blog, that may seem a little uninteresting to you, but if you’ve been following this blog, you may know why this is such an important thing.

This little mandarin tree (bush really, because it’s still so small), has been planted in the ground for only about three years, and this year is the first year we have actually had fruit go last all the way to maturity. There are only about 20 mandies, lovely orange coloured globes of fruity goodness. Well, 20 minus one, because we plucked on from the tree, brought it inside and ate it. It looked exactly like a mandarin, smelt exactly like one, and yes it tasted exactly how a mandarin should taste, tart and delicious.

A little too tart, really, but still very tasty. We will leave the remaining fruit for a few more days, so they can ripen some more, and get some sweetness happening. The one Graham and I shared today, was worth trying, and I’m glad we did, but I hope and expect the next one will be even more delicious!

I love having homegrown things. Tonight we are going to have chopped cos lettuce and baby spinach, which either Graham or I will pick from our vegetable patch, yum! This will be the first time of this season too, and I love the way all of these delicious things are moving into the stage where we can taste the value of ‘Home-grown!’

If you have any ‘home-grown’ success stories, or even horror stories, I’d love to read about it, leave a message and we can all congratulate or console you!

 

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dogs

Dogs & Gardens

If you have a dog, and you have a garden, you probably have two of the best things in the world! A dog or two really make a garden, and having dogs gives you reasons to be out in that garden with them. From the fun to the dreary and mundane, and everything in between, dogs and gardens are great things to have.

Dogs help by doing some pruning, at the moment, one of our three dogs has been increasing her fibre intake by trimming the grass that is slightly long … They get rid of pests at times too, which can be somewhat scary, when the pest is a venomous snake, BrownSnake_Australiawhich has happened in the past. It’s still too cold for snakes at the moment, but we’ll be keeping an eye out as things warm up in Springtime …

Dogs also keep themselves fit by chasing birds. I’m glad that most of the time, the birds are quick enough to fly away in time. Sometimes they aren’t and it’s especially this Springtime/mating season when the birds can get ‘distracted’ and it’s the dogs and not the birds that get lucky … That’s the way of Nature, carnivores eat flesh …

Our garden provides us humans with food too. At the moment we have garlic and herbs growing, and we have tomatoes at the growing leaves and flowers stage, so tomatoes should follow. We also have almond trees with lots of blossom, so if we get organised and put up some netting, we can beat the cockatoos and have almonds later in the year. We also have two large Old Man Saltbush trees as well as I think three smaller ones. We don’t use these much for food, but the option is there if we want to.

We have had lettuces recently, and there are some small baby spinach plants outside. On our back patio we have two hanging baskets with strawberry plants in them. There’s one strawberry that has reddened up nicely, and we may be eating that one very soon. There are a few other strawberries coming along there too, even though it isn’t really strawberry time quite yet. I hope for lots more strawberries a little later on.

Our dogs would probably like to eat all of these things, but they either can’t get into where these goodies are, or they’re up too high for the dogs. Our dogs are fed well, and they won’t starve because we don’t let them eat our home grown goodies! I love the idea of us feeding ourselves, and I sure appreciate all muAH7rk(1)of the work my husband does to keep the produce plants going so well!

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flowering plants, Uncategorized

Garden To Get a Drenching

I’ve checked the Bureau of Meteorology Website, and am preparing for some moderately heavy rains that appear to be on the way. There’s no rain yet, although the image indicates there is supposed to be. But even though rain and image aren’t matched up yet, the look of the yellow and orange indications won’t allow me to rest easy.

garden produceI can see actual clouds outside and they’re looking threatening too, so I’ll stay inside, or at least close to cover for a while. There’s the tail end of a football game on, and after that there’ll be another one, the dogs are all comfortable settled inside, and I don’t need to be out there in the cold. Winter was toying with us a while ago, letting Spring have a play, but the colder weather certainly hasn’t finished yet.

The seasons are funny things, aren’t they? We all rely on Winter running from June to August, then in September it’s Spring, and so on. But it doesn’t always follow those human rules, and why should it? Nature relies on many different things, and even though some of those things happen because of things mankind has done, that certainly doesn’t mean we are controlling Nature. Nature is controlling us.

At least, if mankind we clever, we would allow Nature to control us. But of course people only THINK we’re clever, but the reality is something else. We cut down trees to plant crops in places that had good rainfall and then are surprised when the rain stops coming. Trees help to bring the rain – Trees suck the moisture from soil through their roots, then the moisture travels throughout the tree and the moisture leaves the tree as transpiration from the tree leaves.

It’s a natural process, and a reliable one, that people would do well to understand. I’m looking outside and then at the BOM site and it still isn’t matched up – cold but dry out there at my place still, even though the website indicates otherwise. Ah well, as long as the roof does its job properly, we should be fine in here, when the rain gets here. If it gets here … still waiting.

Weather is a strange thing. Such an unpredictable thing, it is, but it’s reliably good as a conversation starter. If you’re meeting someone and can’t think of a thing to say, just mention the weather, and away the words will flow … Something like, “Hasn’t this winter been cold, lately?” will do it. The other person will agree, or not, and either way, that’s a conversation.

anankaPets are good for conversation starters. If you have a dog, or two, or three, you can ask someone if they have a dog, and if they do, they’ll love telling you about their precious pet. If they don’t have a dog, but have a different pet, then they can talk about that pet and you can both talk about the differences and similarities of your pets.

a-rose-by-any-other-nameGardens are good conversation starters too. Growing can be an obsession for some people and they can talk about their roses, or their pumpkins, or radishes , or petunias for hours if they get the chance. I’ve been enjoying all of the flowers we have growing at the moment. And I’m getting interested in our strawberries because of their flowers and the delicious fruit that will come in time, with sunshine and time.

Winter isn’t really the right time for strawberries, but ours grow in hanging pots under cover and so never really stopped producing fruit. When petals fall off, then the strawberry begins to grow. In sunshine the whole thing happens more quickly. At the moment we have several new strawberries coming along, with one of them beginning to change colour from green to pink/red. These winter strawberries are small though, the fruit we had before winter’s cold came along here bigger.

The rain seems to have started now, not heavy yet, but we’ll see how it goes. And the new game is getting ready to start now, Fremantle versus someone or other, and I’d better watch it, because I like Fremantle, it’s my second favourite AFL team. The Adelaide Crows weren’t able to give me a win for this round, so let’s see if Fremantle can do the job!

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birds, birds in garden, dogs, Uncategorized

What’s Good in the Garden?

At the moment, water is flooding the back yard. Our gutters are trying to give up entirely, and the ground seems to be chocka block full of water. with rain happening today, and more roan forecast for the coming week too. The dogs aren’t choosing to stay long when they go outside, much preferring the warm and dry conditions inside.

It’s night time now, and I’m happier with the dogs staying inside as well. With four dogs, there is a certain amount of outside work required to keep things ‘nice’ out on the back lawn, but that task is a cold and wet one tonight. I’m glad the dogs are only going out for a quick wee, not the other task …

Anyway in our garden at the moment, as well as the water, we have lovely flowers growing in the hanging baskets on the back veranda. We also still have cherry tomatoes growing on the two tomato plants that sre just a few metres from the back veranda. I have about six or so of the tomatoes ripening inside, and there are about the same number of tomatoes on the plants outside that are about ready to come inside. There are also quite a few new tomatoes that will be ready to go in another couple of weeks, I’d say.

In and near the other vegetable plot, we have a couple of new things happening. Graham recently bought some seedlings and planted them out the other day when I was out. It was lovely to see the plants he’d bought, and planted out. So we now have our own capsicum plants growing, as well as leeks. I love leeks! We still have kale growing too, and tonight it was my job to cook our evening meal.

I went for my old standby – spaghetti bolognaise, and for a change I decided to put some kale into it. I’ve never done that before, and I hoped it would work out OK. I cut the kale up into small pieces when I was cutting up the onions (which were actually shallots), and the garlic and capsicums too. The shallots made my eyes cry, but by the time we sat down to eat this meal, my tears were forgotten, and the fine taste made up for the onion tears!

My husband and I both make this meal various times, and we both produce quite different meals. I like to go via a long and slow path with this meal. I take a long time over the meal, and give it all several hours for the flavours to blend. There was red wine sloshed into it, and read wine always adds a lovely flavour to a meal. The tomatoes in the meal were real tomatoes, bought from the Adelaide Central Market by Graham a few days ago. They weren’t as flavourful as our cherry tomatoes, but were infinitely superior to supermarket tomatoes.

What else is there in the garden? Well, with the tomato plants, there are also ten garlic plants growing, from garlic bulbs planted several weeks ago. One of the plants is looking excellent, and the others all look OK. I’m looking forward to us being able to use our own home grown garlic again. Graham does almost all of the work in planting and looking after our garden, and he’s doing a fine job. I am the one who is more likely to pick things when they are ready.

I’m extremely happy the dogs didn’t realise the tomatoes are growing where they could have picked them off the bush and eaten them. They are grazers when they are out in the year, often chowing down on the lawn (and the occasional bird, moth or reptile visitor from time to time. It’s the Pharaoh Hounds who do this, our old Schnauzer isn’t a hunter how the other dogs are.

We also have a mandarin tree in the dog run out the back. At the moment, the little tree, which was planted a couple of years ago, seems to be getting ready to bloom. It did the same thing last year at about the same time. We have lots of lovely blossom, and some tiny little green fruit growing. But we had some hot days, and the fruit steadily dropped off of the tree, well before it turned orange in colour. I hope we have better luck with it this season. I love mandies!

If you have a garden with dogs in it, I’d love to hear about how your garden grows. Please leave a message here!

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Uncategorized

Home Grown!

It’s now Spring, and at last our garden is beginning to pay its way. We’re finally able to pick our own produce! My husband, Graham, bought two raised garden plots in Summer, filled them with compost and soil and then planted some seeds.

First up were the baby carrots, lots and lots of baby carrots, coming up so thickly it was hard to thin them without pulling up too many. We more or less left them alone, and picked some now and then, tiny carrots brushed off and consumed with satisfaction!

Then the basil came along. Actually, thinking back, that may have happened the other way around, it doesn’t matter. We have lots of carrots and lots of basil. We also have capsicums growing, and we’ve had a couple of tomatoes, mature enough to eat. So far, in terms of taste, the tomatoes are the winners. The tomatoes grew from compost made with vegetable peelings, etc, and are cocktail tomato size, a delicious mouthful of flavour!

The baby carrots are OK, but not brilliant, and the basil is tasty, but basil is basil… The capsicums are still growing and we don’t know whether they’ll be great in flavour or just good. What else? Hmm, the beans were OK, but nothing wonderful. But, like the basil I think, beans are beans…

We’ve had some super dooper heat waves which may have had an impact on the vegetables as they grew, I don’t know. The weather is cooler now, I hope with no more heat waves to come. I’m excited watching the tomatoes growing from the blossoms, and I hope all of the little green blobs turn into delicious red flavour bombs!

When I go out into the vegetable garden area, I still take a look at how things are going, and I still pull up some carrots. I usually wait to eat them now though, the thrill of growing our own has dimmed a little, and I bring them inside and wash them!

Growing your own (or having your husband do it), is the way to go!

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