Too Much Too Soon – Day 22 NaBloPoMo 2017

I thought it was unusually warm for this time of year but apparently it’s a record-breaking heatwave for Tasmania. The forecast for tomorrow has been upgraded to 31 C (about 88 F) and hopefully a thunderstorm in the afternoon.

Despite all the mulch I use and regular watering, things are looking a bit dire out in the yard. The chickens and rabbits have good shelter – the bunnies even have their own umbrella – and plenty of fresh water and greens, but I always think this is the hardest time of year for them.

This evening when I went down the yard to feed everyone and water the garden, Boudica our British Giant doe was stretched out next to her water bottle and demanded to be hand fed her fresh grass ration. As you can see, she’s a dreadfully vicious creature – not!

Although I’ve been at work, I’ve had a week off from study and was hoping to get a lot of gardening done, but all I’ve managed to do so far is pull some garlic and try to keep things alive.

As I write at 10:40 pm, it’s still 18 C (64 F) and very hot in the house. I hope we get the forecast thunderstorm tomorrow. This is too much too soon for my taste!


Garden Update – Day 8 NaBloPoMo 2017

Yesterday, I wrote about teaching Food Gardening so I thought it was only right and proper to give you all a little update on my own urban farm.

While it’s undoubtedly spring and the soil is starting to warm, I suspect my patch is about two or three weeks behind where we were last year. Raspberries were setting fruit this time last year and I was getting ready to lift the main garlic crop for curing. At the moment, all the berries are only just flowering and the early garlic (my main crop) is nowhere near ready yet. Nevertheless, there’s bright spots – it looks like I’ll get my first Tayberries this summer ❤

Tayberry flower

Also, we’ve had a rough entry into spring, with very warm weather followed by snow and a few very cold nights in the past month. This didn’t seem to hurt my young apricot tree, which has quite a few fruit on this year. The plum an nectarine are loaded and I’m thrilled that my pollination plan with my 2nd year dwarf apple trees worked a treat. All four trees are looking incredibly healthy and all carrying fruit. I’ll be thinning it pretty drastically to encourage stronger trees and discourage biennial fruiting but I’m very, very happy to be finally looking at a few home grown apples at the end of summer.

Baby Royal Gala apples

Because of the up and down weather, I haven’t planted out this summer’s tomatoes yet, but I decided to grow them on a bit longer in folded paper pots. It’s a really good way to use up newspaper and come planting time (this weekend I hope), I can put the whole thing in the ground and avoid transplant shock.

Mama Mia tomatoes, waiting for the sunshine

As you can see above, I mark the plant name and the date they were potted up as I tend to lose plant tags. If anyone’s interested, I’ll write up some instructions on this great little paper recycling tip.

In the meantime, the zucchini’s are in the ground (most of them survived the cold) carrots are starting to size up, the late garlic that I’ll be lifting in the new year looks fabulous but a good deal of the early garlic that I normally dig up in November looks like it’s rotted in the ground. Incredibly distressing! Also, the Snow Peas were decimated by slugs this year but the potatoes are looking great.

Through it all, the chickens just keep on laying eggs! Considering most of my ladies are quite elderly (4 years and older) they really are quite remarkable and I’m struggling to keep up with them!

Madame Mephisto

So that’s all for today – I’m off to bed early tonight as I have to do my six monthly blood test tomorrow morning and I’m helping out with a fencing job afterwards. Sometime tomorrow I have to make bread, write a story draft for uni, do my prep for teaching work on Friday and maybe do some catch up with weekly work for uni. (I’m tired just thinking about it!)

Take care friends and see you soon ❤

Sunset from my backdoor

Ah, Spring!

Yes, it’s finally spring in the southern hemisphere – according to the calendar. The weather systems across southern Australia had other ideas this past week! It’s snowed down to the suburbs of Hobart and even I’ve noticed some sleet occasionally this week, particularly when I’ve been doing the late afternoon feed of the animals and picking veggies for dinner. Not good news for the nectarine or apricot tree that are now in full flower, but that’s the way it goes. I’ll be interested to see what kind of crops I get from them in January. Also, the beautiful Bella Bunny is due to birth her kits in the next few days. She’s made a gorgeous, silky nest in the nursery hutch out of her belly fur and if this cold weather doesn’t stress her out too much, I imagine there’ll be a litter of baby bunnies very soon ❤

Meanwhile, I’m not doing any of the things I thought I would this weekend. Instead of going to the movies today, I’ve been distracted by books, most particularly ‘Carmilla’ by Sheridan Le Fanu that I’ve been reading for my current university unit about Gothic and speculative fiction. It’s a small volume that was originally published as a serial in The Dark Blue in 1871-2 and is reputed to have influenced Bram Stoker when he was writing ‘Dracula’.

I’ve found it incredibly entertaining and I’m well into my second reading now. It contains all the classic tropes of Gothic fiction, an isolated, motherless heroine living in an old castle far removed from society. She yearns for a companion, a friend of similar age to her – and then Carmilla arrives in dramatic fashion into the story! The attraction between the two girls is well written and it’s at times surprisingly terrifying.

In tandem, I’ve also been reading ‘The Blood of the Vampire’ by Florence Marryat, (which sports one of the best covers ever) and while it’s a great read, it doesn’t have the same levels of tension that Le Fanu manages. Interestingly, I found Marryat’s characters far more believable and real (for want of a better term) than La Fanu’s and I think that might be part of Carmilla’s charm. The whole story has a dreamlike quality that’s very hard to pull off, and I think it’s one of the elements that makes ‘Carmilla’ such an enduring work. Both of these titles are available through Valancourt Classics and (naturally) I bought mine from Cracked and Spineless in Hobart.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get some gardening done (it’s been too wet and cold to do much this past week) and hopefully, the soil will start warming up and I can start planting for summer.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some more reading to do 😀 Take care everyone, particularly my US-based friends who’re having quite a wild time at the moment. Stay safe ❤