Renewal

Hi everyone,

Winter has arrived with a vengeance – hard frosts last week and now milder temperatures but heavy rain and flooding with a big east coast low running down from the sub tropics. And the beginning of winter is also the renewal date for my WordPress account. What better way to celebrate than write a blog post about renewal ❤

I’m still recovering from the horror virus that’s doing the rounds and having to take it quite a lot easier than I anticipated the past couple of weeks. But I’ve been busy finishing off one Griffith University unit (Television Studies) and starting another (New Media: Communications in the Electronic Age), though my brain really isn’t up to being terribly academic at the moment. While it’s seriously throwing out my schedule, being ill has reminded me that sometimes it’s more important to sit back and watch things grow for a wee while.

Whenever there’s been a respite from the cold and more recently the rain, I’ve made a point of going down to spend time with the bunnies and chickens and simply revel in the garden and its amazing renewal with the recent rain – and just watch things grow for a little while 😀

Some of my favourite plants are the small, often forgotten little herbs. Most people who cook grow them, but often we take them for granted but at the right time of year, in the right light they are incredibly beautiful to look at.

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This is the tiny and delicate Orange Peel Thyme (Thymus richardii ssp. nitidus) which comes originally from Sicily. It has a gorgeous thyme fragrance, mixed with orange zest and grows like a mat, making it ideal for containers or rockery edges. I really like it with chicken dishes but it also works well with apple jelly.

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Above is the delectable Lebanese Oregano, also known as Greek Oregano or Zaatar Leaf (Origanum syriacum), undoubtedly one of my favourite culinary herbs. The soft blush on the leaves is typical of this upright herb, that grows into an open shrub that can get quite straggly if it isn’t cut back each year after flowering. The taste is quite intense and different to either Marjoram or Oregano and it is a wonderful herb for barbecue meats, roasts and chopped finely over baked vegetables.

And after a few days without looking at the vegetables and quite a lot of rain – look what I found! This was the first head from the late summer/autumn plantings and it was delicious, lightly steamed 😀

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Of course, as I’m sure all you fellow gardeners will understand spending time even just walking around your patch makes you think of all the work that needs to be done. Gardening is a never ending job, always a work in progress!

All the rain has meant the weeds are coming back in force and it’s going to take some dedicated time over the coming weeks to stay on top of it. Spent raspberry canes need cutting and in some cases, dividing and transplanting into a new raspberry bed. The rhubarb is ready to be divided too and the plum and nectarine trees need some final pruning to tidy them up now they’ve finally dropped all their leaves.

Also, I’ve got new fruit trees arriving soon and there’s a lot of preparation to do for them. I’m quite excited though as most of the new trees are on dwarfing rootstock and all will be going into half plastic drums that I’m going to set up as wicking containers similar to the balcony boxes I did back in January. I’ll be doing a blog post about it and photographing the process. (The balcony boxes are doing well by the way, with onions, chicory and coriander still going strong and three about to be replanted with winter greens – rocket, spinach and vitamin green).

Watching the frost pattern last week also made me consider planting some out of season potatoes in pots in the greenhouse as an experiment. Another project for another blog post when I’m recovered 😀

Meanwhile, the baby bunnies are growing very fast and will be ready to be sold next weekend as pets or grown on for butchering in another month or so. While some people have issues with this, I like to take responsibility for at least some of the meat I consume. And I do the slaughtering and butchering myself so I know they are humanely dispatched. This will be the last litter for a while as I don’t like to put either of my doe rabbits through the stress of winter birthing and rearing. I find it’s better all round to wait until spring.

I’ll leave you with the first Marigold in full bloom – the only one that grew from an old packet of seed.

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Take care wherever you are and whenever you can, take time to watch things grow  ❤

Looking for Spring

 

L - R: Hipster, Mephisto, Emo and Henrietta

L – R: Hipster, Mephisto, Emo and Henrietta

Hi everyone,

As I write the sun is struggling to come out after another arctic (or should that be antarctic?) blast hits Tasmania and south eastern Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I really love winter and the crisp, clear winter days we usually get. They’re wonderful for working outside, pruning and preparing beds for spring, but this is wearing a little thin now even for me! There are signs that spring is just about to happen, blossom starting to appear on early flowering cherries and spring bulbs popping up.

And yesterday morning, I found one of my beautiful old White Leghorn hens had died during the night. I thought she was older than the rest when I got her about three years ago and she’d never been a great layer, but she was affectionately known as Emo and we all loved her ❤ The funny thing is, Emo had been looking increasingly shabby despite having moulted in autumn, the same time as my other White Leghorn, Hipster. I even said to her on Monday (doesn’t everyone talk to their chickens?) that it was probably time to say goodbye before she started to suffer. I was planning to do it this weekend, when the weather is supposed to improve. Perhaps she knew.

Nevertheless, I felt bad about her passing and checked her over before burying her in a sunny spot in the garden. There were no obvious signs of disease or any parasites, such as mites and I think she just stopped wanting to be. After digging a decently deep hole, I laid her carefully at the bottom and said goodbye. Emo will eventually become raspberries, which will be great if I manage to transplant any runners this winter! I feel I’m very behind in this winter’s work.

Admittedly, I did have a very cold and long weekend away playing shows (more about that in my next post – with pictures!) and study has been taking up a fair bit of my time, but I feel I’ve done very little in the garden this winter. I have taken out a diseased cherry tree and planted a new apricot and dealt with the annual rhubarb clean up, feeding and mulching but there is a huge list of jobs that I really should attend to. So, this weekend I’m finally going to dig some of the raspberry runners, plant out some snow peas and spread some much needed mulch around the winter vegetables and fruit trees. And of course, there will be weeds for the chickens and playpen time for the rabbits 🙂

Take care wherever you are,

Debra ❤

What do you do in your garden in winter? What are your top tips for getting the most out of the short days?

Sidetracks

Photo by Derek Tickner

Photo by Derek Tickner

Hi everyone,

It’s cold here in Hobart, time for thermals, winter food and my favourite winter pastime – Dark MOFO. This year has been as wonderful as ever but the stand out for me was Antony and the Johnsons + The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Here’s a short review from the Sydney Morning Herald. I was one of the many who wept and cheered, incredibly moved by the music and the moment.

The truth is, I’m in a strange head space at the moment. A very dear and old friend (one of the most vital people I know) is dying and I’ve been trying to come to terms with his imminent death. I haven’t seen him for quite a few years but I’m catching up in a couple of weeks, taking messages from other friends who are far away and probably going to gift him with a song I’ve been thinking about writing for some time.

Yes, I think about songs before I write them. They often start as phrases or a single line that I write in a notebook but when they start invading my brain while I’m trying to use it on other things, I know it’s time to act! I’ve got a chorus and almost two verses but we’ll see what comes out of the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, I should be working on a short story for uni and finishing off album art for The Woman on the Edge of the World. Oh well, that’s life. And death….

Take care wherever you are people, and if you have the chance, tell the people who matter that you love them while you can.

Debra ❤