Strange Days – Autumn 2016

In light of all the sadness of recent times, I thought I’d give an update on the urban farm. Along with music, writing and all my magnificent friends, this has undoubtedly been the glue that’s been holding everything together these past months inside my head.

I’m grateful not only that I have these things in my life but I recognise and celebrate their importance.

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As I type, we’ve finally had some rain but it has been a very warm and dry autumn for southern Tasmania. In years past, the Prune Plum pictured above would be bare stems by now but early May and it still refuses to drop its leaves!

Elsewhere around the garden there’s other odd things happening……

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The picture above is some of my Raspberries that really shouldn’t be producing this late in the season – they are generally a summer only variety! And in the greenhouse, I discovered Strawberries and new flowers and fruit on many of the chillies!

One of the better things about this protracted warm weather has been the amount of growth in the vegetable garden. I’ve been literally inundated with chillies this season and they’re not letting up – some of the well established plants are still flowering and setting fruit!

At the moment, I’ve got the dehydrator packed with the last of the Roma tomatoes and various chillies and the basil is just crazy! The winter broccoli is starting to head and there’s plenty of growth on the Silverbeet (Swiss Chard) and the winter Endive and Chicory plants are almost ready to start picking. The Asparagus I grew from seed over the summer is looking positively lush in its permanent bed, producing lots of surprisingly large feathery fronds before winter bites. My big fear at the moment is that all the Kale I’ve planted will bolt to seed before it’s big enough to pick!

I’m going to do a last big cut of Rhubarb this weekend and cook it up for winter desserts. Then, once the plants shut down for winter, I’m going to dig all the crowns up and divide them. For any of you in Tasmania, contact me if you want a Rhubarb crown – I’m happy to barter 😀

And then there’s these little moppets…….

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They’re three weeks old now, their eyes are open and they’re out “exploring” (read constantly annoying their mother). In truth, I’d given up on Bella being pregnant (this was the second time she’d been serviced by our lovely buck) and I’d even put her back in her regular two tiered hutch near the others in preparation for winter. She is so big it’s really hard to tell if she’s pregnant anymore!

Then my gorgeous neighbour Karen came up early Saturday 16th April to let me know she found a little pink, blind newborn outside Bella’s hutch. (She is now officially the Best Neighbour Ever!) We all raced out to find two in a nest Bella had made in her upstairs sleeping area and about four more in the bottom of her hutch. They were cold so it was all hands on deck! Normally, I don’t like to disturb or touch newborns until they have their fur but we had little baby buns up our jumpers (I even had one in my bra) to warm them while we carefully checked the rest of the hutch and made sure Bella was alright. We ended up with a very smug mamma and six very healthy little kits ❤

Last weekend we moved them all back into the ground level nursery hutch and everyone’s thriving 😀

Tuesday we had the first snow on kunanyi/Mt Wellington for the year and I went to Launceston on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for Kevin Gleeson, who passed away recently. While it was great to catch up with many friends, it was a very sad day. When I was driving up, I noticed deciduous trees (looked like Prunus sp.) budding up and flowering – strange days indeed!

Take care friends, wherever you are and may all your gardens grow well ❤

Sunshine, Rhubarb & Good Ideas – Day 13 NaBloPoMo 2015

So, Friday again – where did the week go? I had to take the day off work today, my back is not behaving itself and I’m going pretty slow at the moment.

Still, I managed to feed the hungry beasts this morning, check that everything survived the rain and enjoy a little bit of sunshine. In the midst of my “go slow”, I had some gentle exercise, pulled a few weeds and picked some rhubarb. I have six plants of “Victoria” – the green variety – that get fed heavily a couple of times a year and give back a load of wonderful, tart stalks from the end of winter until the end of autumn.

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I tend to roast bite-size pieces coated in brown sugar instead of stewing these days but I’ve got so much I’m thinking of making sparkling wine and syrup with some, as well as the usual crumble and Rhubarb Fool. (Any unusual suggestions or recipes would be appreciated!)

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is actually a vegetable rather than a fruit but it’s generally used for sweet dishes and drinks. Just make sure to remove the leaves before preparing and never let your chickens have any part of the plant – the oxalic acid make it lethal for poultry or rabbits.

And speaking of rabbits, I checked the babies this morning too. All are thriving, getting chubbier and growing fur 🙂

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I found fresh mushrooms last night from the compost bags so had a filling breakfast of mushrooms on sourdough toast. I’m heading to my local plant nursery for some more mushroom compost next week!

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Do you have any favourite recipes or bright ideas for using rhubarb? Please leave a comment below.