Monday, 10 November 2014

Springing into the Garden

It is officially Spring, and the weather is the usual mixed bag of yuck and promising.  Nothing is certain and you are thrown into the whirlpool of hope and delight, tinged with gloom and despair!  It is 6 November, and we have a fire blazing to feel a temporary blissful heat!  

But, on those days when the wind and rain are not-too distant memories, and the sun wins the battle to outshine the chill in the air, I venture out with a clipboard of To Do lists!  First up: declare war on all the weeds that took over while we were sunning ourselves in Bali, and on those pesky overwintering slugs and snails that decimate whole beds of newly planted spring seedlings (I use Quash, an eco-friendly option which kills the slime-footed blighters but leaves birds and hedgehogs to see another day).

An oxy-moron; frozen chilli!
In the Kitchen:
Rustling in the back of the freezer, I found a few bags of frozen chillies which needed sorting - they are actually great to freeze, freshly harvested, then frozen, whole!  They freeze well and when one has to process them, they are easy to handle, and the chilli juice not as fearsome as when handling fresh chillies.  Each year I make 2-3 bottles of Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce - easy-peasy!  I often don't have time at the end of Summer, as harvesting becomes a semi-full-time job.  A big freezer is just what a gardener-cook needs, to stave off those processing jobs till the need arises, or time is plentiful.

Frozen chillies blend well. I now have Sweet Thai Chilli sauce for summer supply.
We chopped down a sorry-looking bunch of winter-frosted and blackened bananas which had ripened.  They are not the best for eating, but I have made endless blueberry/banana smoothies for breakfast with them, as well as inventing a new banana jam recipe below:

Banana jam
One morning, I whizzed about 6 small bananas with 2 tablespoons almond butter and a large teaspoon honey, with a shake or two of cinnamon.  Spread on toast, and sprinkled with sesame seeds, it was SOOO yum!!  Tastes far better than it looks!

'Tis the season of Citrus.  Wonderful Signature Food for female breasts!  I am collecting red and yellow grapefruit, oranges, vaniglias and mandarins by the basket-full!  Or Pouch-full!  I tend to make blends of different citrus orbs into a wonderful juice most mornings.  A great immune boosting dose of fresh Vitamin C.

Citrus collecting pouch
Wonderful grapefruit
Grapefruit, orange, vaniglia juice blend.

Making Citrus Cleaner with citrus skins
Easy Cleaning Spray and Wipe Recipe:
Fill a glass jar with 1L white vinegar.  Add the skins of citrus; grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, orange etc.  Allow to steep for 3-4 days.  Pour mixture into spray bottle and use as a general spray and wipe (not to be used on brushed stainless steel surfaces).  Does not smell of vinegar but rather a pleasant citrus undertone.  And flies don't like it, so don't tend to land where you have recently sprayed!
The Garden in Spring
The cat that loves the garden
Garden Harvest
We are picking swedes, citrus, spring onions, cauli, celery, artichokes, peas, silverbeet, lettuce etc.

There are definite signs of Spring, even though I find I am still wearing my merino thermals!  Blossoms everywhere and that rush of growth on everything green!  I have planted my seeds: tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, beans, flowers, chillies, corn, herbs and lettuces.  Many have come up and grown into healthy little seedlings, still awaiting others' slower emergence, but it never ceases to thrill me when I see them push up through the soil.  I am trialling a home-made compost mix to raise the seeds in, covered with a fine blanket of seedling mix (store-bought).  That way, I have to buy far less store-bought stuff, and although I have the odd 3-4 weeds come through in each tray, a quick cull restores order.

Store-bought seeds have a Best Before date, which I take roughly  not terribly much notice of.  If the date is older than a year or two, I simply sow more seeds than normal, allowing for seed failure rate.  It does happen, rarely, that nothing comes up, but I would rather try than throw away perfectly good seed!
Garlic crop growing nicely

Peas and salad garden

Green leafy veg bed

Always in the garden, never far away from the gardeners!  Garden-loving Shanti.

Claw-sharpening exercise, usually done in frenzied style!
The blossoms have long since blown away on my plums, nectarine and macadamia (we have had very fierce Bay of Plenty (wind??) winds, so hopefully, the bees have managed to sneak in the odd pollination miracle!  The blossoms were very breath-takingly beautiful while they lasted!  At the moment, there are still blossoms on the apple and pear trees.
Bee Balm Blossoms

Blossoms, like ladies in their finest gossamer-silk frocks.....

He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me..........

Nothing in Nature lasts forever, floral beauty undergoes a metamorphic change to swollen edible delights!

Spring:  A sign that Hope Blossoms!

All the bees need, is a little love, understanding, and blossoms.  Plenty of all that stuff.

How delightful for the waiting blossom; the sweet anticipation of bee-tickles!

Oh, my Honey, if you were a Bee, and I were a Blossom, you'd drive me crazy with anticipation!

Artichoke and blue Jewel-bug

Masses of Bee Fodder

Busting out with Colour

So, as I stoke the fire tonight, and plan my garden activities for that sunshiney day (whenever that may be), I languish in the anticipation of long, warm, sunny days to come................. Bring It On!!

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