Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lessons learnt in the vegetable garden

This summer has not been my most successful vegetable growing season.  Last summer I harvested over 50kgs of tomatoes in my little patch and almost burst with vegetable growing pride when I made passata entirely from my own crop.  This summer I have picked just enough tomatoes for sandwiches and salad every few days.

Disappointingly my cucumbers died shortly after flowering and it became too hot to grow lettuce months ago.

I could blame our extremely hot, dry summer.  Or I could blame my lack of time available to tend the vegetables.  But honestly I think prior to this summer I became a little complacent.   I thought my previous summer abundance would just happen naturally.   Stubbornly I insisted on growing heirloom varieties from seed which requires some patience and dedication.

Here are some things I have learnt this summer:
  • Shade cloth is something I need to embrace, regardless of the extra infrastructure required.
  • Autumn is going to be my time to raise winter vegetables from seed, when the temperatures are not as extreme. However, next summer I am going to buy seedlings and get my crops well established before the hot weather arrives.
  • A successful tomato crop requires commitment.  I knew this, but the message has been reinforced.
  • Patience is required to allow my garden beds to recuperate.  I am guilty of eagerly re-planting with the next crop whenever a spare space appears.
On the upside I do have some vegetables that are bravely standing up to the heat.

Small but tasty capsicums.

Sweet smelling basil.


Pretty Listada di Gandia eggplant.

Vigorous and reliable Tromboncino zucchini.  These would easily be the most productive vegetable I have ever grown.  

My first crop of apples are suffering from a little sunburn but I am still quietly proud of them.

Lastly, perhaps not the most practical thing in the garden but this Buddha's Hand  citrus is unusual and the little tree is proving to be very hardy.

Have you learnt any lessons recently?  In your garden or otherwise?
Are you patient or eager?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tim Coulson, The Nursery, Adelaide

Walking off Adelaide's infamous Hindley Street and into the slightly grungy but quirky The Reading Room I knew immediately I was going to have an extraordinary day.  Tim, Kesh and little Roo radiated warmth and a genuine love for life the moment I met them. 

While some of us nibbled on our Haigh's chocolate (thanks Tim and Kesh!) each budding photographer shared their story and spoke about wanting to become better acquainted with their DSLR camera.  Before we had even turned the cameras on Tim spoke at length about emotional shooting and creating a connection with our subjects.  Tim used the phrase 'food tastes better when it's cooked with love' in relation to photography which made perfect sense.   

As Tim moved onto the technical side of photography we each switched our camera to manual and began to adjust shutter speeds, aperture and ISO settings.  Tim unravelled many mysteries for each of us in his steady, calm and knowledgeable manner. 

The live shoot gave us a chance to test our new skills and to also become subjects for each other to practice on.  I loved the city lane way location as it provided such a contrast to my usual country, garden and kitchen backgrounds. 

Tim also covered culling, importing and editing which I found very useful.  I often find myself confused with the editing process and I now have a clearer idea of where I want to be in relation to editing. 

As the end of our time at The Nursery starting approaching I really didn't want to leave.   I could have stayed in that interesting little room surrounded by cameras and conversation all afternoon.  If The Nursery visits your part of the world be sure to sign up.  It will change the way you think about photography and possibly change the way you look at your world.   

The photos below are some of my favourites from the day.  The lovely Kirsten took the photo of me and kindly shared it.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Summer at home

Sweltering is a good way to describe our life just at the moment.  My vegetable garden is hot, crisp and battling against the elements.  However, we are safe and sound and really that is all that matters.

Earlier this week as I waited for Terry to return home from fighting a bushfire I watched the sunrise over our house dam.  At the moment this is the coolest and calmest part of the day. 

In the cool of the mornings I have managed to make two batches of passata thanks to Terry's family and their bumper tomato crop.


After a few failed attempts I have finally produced an acceptable batch of sourdough in our wood oven.  Cooking with fire certainly adds an extra challenge to bread making.  

Our chooks have been enjoying crispy dried up sunflower heads.

Some home butchering has been done and our meat supply has been replenished.

Our children are now old enough that we can enjoy swimming in our house dam, just as we did years ago.  This has been cool relief in the afternoons for everyone. 

We have been eating zucchini chocolate cake and drinking our coffee with ice, I just cannot face hot coffee at the moment. 

Where ever you are I hope you are safe, cool and enjoying the simple things in life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In My Kitchen January 2013

Happy New Year and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas filled with good things!  

Welcome to another little tour of my kitchen, I can barely believe I have just typed 2013 into this blog title.  Thank you once again to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this fun kitchen tour.

Firstly, a plate of smoked salmon that some friends caught and then smoked themselves.  The meat is very dense and smoky and tastes completely different from the smoked salmon that you would normally buy.   

Tromboncino zucchinis, some small capsicums, cherry tomatoes and basil all from the garden.    This summer is not proving to be my most successful vegetable season but I am still managing to pick something most days.

My grandmother has been baking this simple shortbread topped with almonds or glace cherries for as long as I can remember.  We were lucky enough to receive a tin full of this buttery goodness for Christmas.  I hope that when I am in my eighties I can still bake for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and make it look easy.

My mother in law gave me this cheerful vintage Willow picnic tin for Christmas.  Just looking at it makes me want to go on a picnic!  We snapped up this vintage chrome table from Lifeline recently for $20.00.  It is now our official pizza making table positioned within easy reach of the wood oven.

A simple bunch of fluffy flowers from some carrots that have gone to seed in the vegetable garden.

Some new Christmas reading material.  This book is American based and contains instructions on everything from dealing with common meat such as beef and lamb right through to raccoons, fish and other small game.  A good read for anyone with an interest in home butchering.  

What is happening in your kitchen this month?
Did you cook up a storm at Christmas?

Welcome to some new blog visitors who have called in recently, lovely to meet you.