Whiling away Wednesday

Hi All,

Writing blog posts in comments is a great way to share the love without labouring a point in a post. I can caption my brains out and that keeps me on track and pertinent to the post. At the moment, February is shaping up to be a hot month. Most of our summer so far has been overcast and more like autumn but it seems Franderella WILL go to the ripe tomato ball after all. “PHEW”! I was getting a bit worried about all of those green tomato recipes I was going to have to find and make! So on with the photos for this week…

A good friend that I met on the "Fans of Grassroots Magazine Australia" Facebook page that I follow studiously asked me if I would like to have some plums. Why yes PLEASE Ruth, I would love some :). She also gave me some perennial leeks. I have planted most of them out and gifted a few to friends. The good thing about me planting them out is that when Ruth moves, she can get some back from me to populate her new garden.

A good friend that I met on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine Australia” Facebook page that I follow studiously asked me if I would like to have some plums. Why yes PLEASE Ruth, I would love some :). She also gave me some perennial leeks. I have planted most of them out and gifted a few to friends. The good thing about me planting them out is that when Ruth moves, she can get some back from me to populate her new garden.

Plums sliced in halves ready to put on the dehydrator sheets

Plums sliced in halves ready to put on the dehydrator sheets

Dehydrated plums that look like raisins. They are a bit tart but will be great in muffins

Dehydrated plums that look like raisins. They are a bit tart but will be great in muffins

Coconut kaffir lime rice with perfectly ripe foraged peaches sliced on top. An amazing breakfast made even more amazing when eating it in the sunshine on the weekend on the deck :)

Coconut kaffir lime rice with perfectly ripe foraged peaches sliced on top. An amazing breakfast made even more amazing when eating it in the sunshine on the weekend on the deck 🙂

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffin mix

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffin mix

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffins

Dried cherry and dark chocolate muffins

The very first of my new subscription of Grass Roots magazine to arrive in our mail box. No more hunting around in random News Agencies in the vain hope that they might have a copy :)

The very first of my new subscription of Grass Roots magazine to arrive in our mail box. No more hunting around in random News Agencies in the vain hope that they might have a copy 🙂

The steps down from the deck. Nature appears to be taking back it's property. Might be time to get the secateurs out and tame her a bit...

The steps down from the deck. Nature appears to be taking back it’s property. Might be time to get the secateurs out and tame her a bit…

 

Here is a stand of creeping groundcover raspberries that I will be harvesting for rooted cuttings soon. I want to get a good selection of them growing in pots if anyone else wants some as no-one that I have mentioned them to has ever heard of them or can find another source of them

Here is a stand of creeping groundcover raspberries that I will be harvesting for rooted cuttings soon. I want to get a good selection of them growing in pots if anyone else wants some as no-one that I have mentioned them to has ever heard of them or can find another source of them

 

This is the area under the deck that was very difficult to grow anything in. We chose species that like arid conditions and that would take the full sun  in this area and now there is a reasonable amount of vegetation in this area and it looks a whole lot better now

This is the area under the deck that was very difficult to grow anything in. We chose species that like arid conditions and that would take the full sun in this area and now there is a reasonable amount of vegetation in this area and it looks a whole lot better now

This is a lovely standard grafted "Cascade Falls" that my daughters gave me for Christmas one year. We planted it out  under the deck and although the wallabies took an early fancy to it, it seems to be recovering nicely

This is a lovely standard grafted “Cascade Falls” that my daughters gave me for Christmas one year. We planted it out under the deck and although the wallabies took an early fancy to it, it seems to be recovering nicely

Just to show you how much vegetation is in this previously sparsely planted area. This photo was taken from the side of the garden

Just to show you how much vegetation is in this previously sparsely planted area. This photo was taken from the side of the garden

This indoor plant has been living the hard life underneath a conifer in the side garden. Someone obviously once put the pot out in the garden and forgot about it. Many years on and it is still alive. It is one of the plants that have benefited greatly from us putting in a larger fenced area and clearing out the weeds from under it.

This indoor plant has been living the hard life underneath a conifer in the side garden. Someone obviously once put the pot out in the garden and forgot about it. Many years on and it is still alive. It is one of the plants that have benefited greatly from us putting in a larger fenced area and clearing out the weeds from under it.

The water wicked strawberry bed is going great guns. I only just topped it up with water today so it is working really well and the strawberries all have a new lease on life and are fruiting like crazy. It's really wonderful when an idea actually works :)

The water wicked strawberry bed is going great guns. I only just topped it up with water today so it is working really well and the strawberries all have a new lease on life and are fruiting like crazy. It’s really wonderful when an idea actually works 🙂

One of the pumpkins that are growing around the peripherals of Sanctuary. I keep having to remind them to stay on the outside of the gardens and some of them are repeat offenders...

One of the pumpkins that are growing around the peripherals of Sanctuary. I keep having to remind them to stay on the outside of the gardens and some of them are repeat offenders…

The top corner experimental garden in Sanctuary is starting to look pretty good. This was previously hard baked soil that nothing much grew on. I put some Jerusalem artichokes here to see if they would break up the soil and used them as the "stalk" part of the 3 sisters equation. The pumpkins seem to be liking it here and there are grapes around the perimeter of Sanctuary being trained up stakes this year that we are going to espalier next year.

The top corner experimental garden in Sanctuary is starting to look pretty good. This was previously hard baked soil that nothing much grew on. I put some Jerusalem artichokes here to see if they would break up the soil and used them as the “stalk” part of the 3 sisters equation. The pumpkins seem to be liking it here and there are grapes around the perimeter of Sanctuary being trained up stakes this year that we are going to espalier next year.

The first of the new gardens that we planted out with basil, tomatillos and eggplants and I have been planting all sorts of other things to fill in the gaps. I love experimental gardening :)

The first of the new gardens that we planted out with basil, tomatillos and eggplants and I have been planting all sorts of other things to fill in the gaps. I love experimental gardening 🙂

My 4 pots of turmeric are having a ball out in the ground and have doubled in size since I planted them out and are sending up new shoots all over the place.

My 4 pots of turmeric are having a ball out in the ground and have doubled in size since I planted them out and are sending up new shoots all over the place.

This is one of the poor long suffering cardamom plants that I recently planted out. They are looking a bit raggy at the moment but there are lots of new shoots coming up out of the old leaves. They both seem to be happy in their new situation and one day they will mass with the turmeric and I will be halfway to having my own fresh spice rack in Sanctuary

This is one of the poor long suffering cardamom plants that I recently planted out. They are looking a bit raggy at the moment but there are lots of new shoots coming up out of the old leaves. They both seem to be happy in their new situation and one day they will mass with the turmeric and I will be halfway to having my own fresh spice rack in Sanctuary

Steve took this shot of the sun going down behind a cloud last week.

Steve took this shot of the sun going down behind a cloud last week.

My new kaffir lime has a fruit on it! This is the best photo of the fruit that my camera would let me take. It gets bolshie sometimes and refuses to cooperate.

My new Australian native finger lime has a fruit on it! This is the best photo of the fruit that my camera would let me take. It gets bolshie sometimes and refuses to cooperate.

My kaffir lime is jealous of all of the attention that the native finger lime is getting and has decided to start putting on some new growth and has flower buds!

My kaffir lime is jealous of all of the attention that the native finger lime is getting and has decided to start putting on some new growth and has flower buds!

I planted out a bag of very sprouted potatoes that a friend gave me from her pantry in the last of the new garden beds and they are going crazy in there. I planted out beetroot seed in front of them and lolo russo lettuce as well. The empty looking space is for the sweet potato cuttings to grow into but as it has been quite cool for this time of year they haven't grown very much so far. This next week of hot temperatures (hot for us ;) ) should see them get growing a lot faster.

I planted out a bag of very sprouted potatoes that a friend gave me from her pantry in the last of the new garden beds and they are going crazy in there. I planted out beetroot seed in front of them and lolo russo lettuce as well. The empty looking space is for the sweet potato cuttings to grow into but as it has been quite cool for this time of year they haven’t grown very much so far. This next week of hot temperatures (hot for us 😉 ) should see them get growing a lot faster.

I took this photo from the new garden area looking back at the existing first 2 veggie gardens

I took this photo from the new garden area looking back at the existing first 2 veggie gardens. Note the triffids hiding among the nasturtiums 😉

Check out how tall my initial tomatillo plant has gotten.

Check out how tall my initial tomatillo plant has gotten. I have more growing quickly in the new garden beds

One of my 4 pepino shrubs growing like topsy in among the tomato plants. I was most happy to discover that pepino's are actually perennial so that means that my babies should carry on through winter if I interplant them with lots of winter veggies to protect them from the extremely minimal risk of frost damage.

One of my 4 pepino shrubs growing like topsy in among the tomato plants. I was most happy to discover that pepino’s are actually perennial so that means that my babies should carry on through winter if I interplant them with lots of winter veggies to protect them from the extremely minimal risk of frost damage.

Looking from between the first 2 garden beds towards the back of Sanctuary. I am really happy how the gardens have come on and to think, this time a few months ago, there were just weeds up there!

Looking from between the first 2 garden beds towards the back of Sanctuary. I am really happy how the gardens have come on and to think, this time a few months ago, there were just weeds up there!

Lastly this is where I have planted out most of the citrus trees and experimental compost gardens. As you can see, my love of pumpkins has somewhat skewed the contents of the compost buckets and thus I find myself loaded with free pumpkin vines that are all starting to produce large fruit. I am guessing they are the creamy skinned pumpkins that look like Queensland blues but with creamy yellow skin that I was buying not so long ago. I really like them so fingers crossed they stay true to type :)

Lastly this is where I have planted out most of the citrus trees and experimental compost gardens. As you can see, my love of pumpkins has somewhat skewed the contents of the compost buckets and thus I find myself loaded with free pumpkin vines that are all starting to produce large fruit. I am guessing they are the creamy skinned pumpkins that look like Queensland blues but with creamy yellow skin that I was buying not so long ago. I really like them so fingers crossed they stay true to type 🙂

As Mr Peter Cundall would say “That’s your bloomin’ lot this week folks!” I hope that our gardening endeavours have given you something to think about this week, even if it is just “Oh MY their gardens are messy!” ;).

 

Damn the man!

Hi All,

I DID IT! It might have taken me 6 months but I DID IT! I damned the man. 6 months ago to the day, I barely blearily woke up assured that Daylight Savings wasn’t going to make me its biotch ever again. No longer would I stagger from my bed in October in a rough approximation of jetlagged for the next fortnight till I got used to having a precious hour of my day removed surgically by the nefarious powers that be, I would wake up an hour earlier AND I would hit Daylight Savings running…but then my ever inquisitive questing mind realised that this would be a pattern that would repeat itself and that I would just slide back into absorbing that extra hour come the end of Daylight Savings in April… how was I going to prevent this happening. You have to go back into the ether 6 months ago to see how very different my life was then…you have to imagine that wibbley wobbly cutaway scene that they are able to recreate on telly but that I seem to be having difficulty reproducing here in my post so it’s up to you guys to wibble and wobble ok? Righto, back to the story folks! 6 months ago I was a night person. I stayed up regularly till 1am reading, watching television and generally inhabiting the night. My mornings were a study in grouchiness and Steve was always up before me proffering my first (bucket) mug of tea with shaky hands and the scene was set with Steve, fully dressed and raring to go, both dogs twitching with anticipatory excitement at their prospective walk and me, stubbornly clinging to the bedclothes and my teacup in a vain effort to stay in bed…I grumbled…I complained, I muttered my way into my mornings with my ears pinned back in warning to ANYONE foolish enough to talk to me or even look in my approximate direction. I was a morning harpy folks! A full month before Daylight Savings was going to hit us I decided to get up slightly earlier to adapt to the full hour that Daylight Savings was going to steal from me. I started with setting the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each week and by the time Daylight Savings hit, I was ready for it and it didn’t render me apoplectic and staggering like every year prior. Not THIS little black duck! I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and when I realised that there might just be a problem at the other end of Daylight Savings I just decided that if I could adapt to 6am…why the heck couldn’t I adapt to 5am? Now for me, this was tantamount to crazy land. I hadn’t seen 5am aside from the start of long trips and 5am wasn’t a time, it was a beginning…

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“Err…excuse me…someone appears to have forgotten to leave the gate open, do you think you could do me a favour and just open it up?…please?…pretty please?…”

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“I KNOW you aren’t going to leave me alone till you take a photo so just take it and bugger off!”

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Steve’s collection of twang (note the inclusion of a banjo so that we can blend in with the local’s if we ever need to 😉 )

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The invaders are coming to deliver a telephone mast to the other side of the river…”GET THE TIN FOIL STEVE!” 😉

After adjusting my brain to 5am and realising that there were so many possibilities with waking up at this ungodly hour, I started to wake up even earlier. In 6 months I have gone from a night person who shunned mornings to a very early morning person who went to bed at 7pm last night. Once you set yourself on the pathway to changing your habits you never know how much it is going to change your life. In the past 6 months I have managed to totally change my days and nights (although I don’t really know what happens at night anymore because I am fast asleep!). I went from having a degree of insomnia where I would lay awake worrying about the state of the world to being unable to prevent sleep and having no problems staying asleep. I went from someone who hated walking the dogs and exercise in general to someone who is out the front of the walk and eager to carry on. I went from bordering on obese to “ideal weight” with very little effort and you know what? I think it all came from that initial desire to damn the man and make a tiny positive change in my days. There is a Bupa health fund ad where people see their future healthier and fitter selves and that’s what I am doing today. If it wasn’t for my bolshie desire to bugger up Daylight Savings and remove its tentacle hold on my life, I wouldn’t be the vibrantly buzzing healthy specimen of early morning happiness and possibilities that I am today. One tiny little stubborn desire has entirely changed my ethos and my way of life.  I wonder what other tiny little changes could predominately effect our lifestyles? If something as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier in my day could deliver this sort of massive change, what else could I start with by just putting my feet on a new pathway?

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Talking about a new pathway…this is a Stromboli. A Stromboli is Steve’s latest favourite food. This one consists of some homemade pizza dough (with the inclusion of mixed herbs, chilli flakes and home grown, dehydrated and powdered tomato) and cabanossi sausage made by Nige our local butcher at “Nigel’s on Tamar” (do I get some free meat Nige? 😉 ), bacon, home grown sliced last of the season tomatoes, thin sliced local grown onions and a mix of grated parmesan and cheddar.

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Once you top the Stromboli, you need to roll it reasonably tightly

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Next you need to cut the Stromboli midway through with a serrated bread knife

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Put your Stromboli, along with the baking parchment you SO cleverly rolled it up on to prevent having to do washing up onto a baking sheet

I got a request for sharing a recipe for those baked spring rolls that I shared a photo of in the comments section of my last post so here is my recipe. Steve and I customised it to be healthier than regular deep fried spring rolls because Steve isn’t a fan of anything deep fried (I, on the other hand, LOVE deep fried anything and that, my dear constant readers, is why I had trouble fitting through doors in a past life 😉 ) and although baked spring rolls need to be served up and eaten pretty much straight away to maintain their crunch, you can be smug and satisfied that you get pretty much the same taste with a whole lot less fat and a lot more nutrition…

Homemade baked spring rolls

1 packet of spring roll wrappers (usually 20 in a pack). We get ours from Coles as they are the only reasonably priced option in Tasmania but feel free to get yours anywhere you want to

A large quarter of a cabbage finely shredded

6 large carrots grated (the longest part of this equation)

1 egg (I don’t eat these spring rolls anymore and the egg binds the filling and reduces any liquid that would make the rolls soggy)

2 packets of MI Goreng (ramen) noodles along with their seasoning packs OR if you are being über healthy, sub veggie stock powder (Massell is the BEST and is Aussie made :o) ) cook the noodles according to the packet, drain them and chop them finely with scissors and reserve the seasoning packs to add to the main mix or you could just add some dried Chinese noodles of your choice. We used to add rice vermicelli and that worked amazing well so it really is up to you :o)

You can add finely chopped capsicum, mung bean sprouts, finely chopped cooked mushroom (to remove excess moisture) and just about any other vegetable or Chinese add (we have previously used soaked dried wood ear fungus and white fungus to great advantage) in that you like at this point but we usually just use cabbage and carrot and the results are yummy

We add some form of protein. Steve likes finely diced chicken cooked with some chilli flakes and I used to have firm tofu but you can add diced up cooked omelette, bacon, any finely diced lightly fried meat, prawns, anything really and you only need about a cup of finely diced protein in total for 20 large spring rolls

Then comes the seasonings. I use lots of oyster sauce (for Steve), Thai chilli sauce, yellow American style mustard, a squirt of toasted sesame oil, lots of crushed garlic (about 7 cloves) and an equal quantity of crushed fresh or jarred ginger, a couple of squirts of Worcestershire Sauce and we add a couple of teaspoons of dried chilli flakes but we love hot food so I would suggest a little sprinkle if you aren’t sure as you already have chilli in the sauce (depending on how hot it
is). Steve likes pepper added and I used more of the Massell veggie stock powder (sub whatever stock powder you fancy to your heart’s content) and feel free to add any other favourite condiment to your batch that takes your fancy. It’s all about customising to your own personal tastes here…that’s what makes these delicious and what makes “homemade” the best.

Mix the entire mass together with clean hands. It’s therapeutic to be up to your elbows in Chinese food. Once you have an even distribution of sauce through the shredded/grated veggies you can start making the rolls. Open your packet of spring roll wrappers and keep a clean tea-towel over the packet to keep them from drying out as you work. I am pretty quick at rolling up a batch of 20 but I have had a lot of practice over the years. Here’s a great tutorial to show you how to roll them up…

http://www.steamykitchen.com/22276-chinese-spring-rolls-with-chicken-recipe.html

She also talks about draining off the liquid to prevent soggy spring rolls. Liquid is an antagonist to a spring roll and keeping the filling reasonably dry is especially important with baked spring rolls. This tutorial makes small spring rolls…yours are going to be big spring rolls but the rolling method is the same and feel free to go ahead and deep fry them if you fancy. The process is the same BUT we like to brush ours with olive or rice bran oil and bake them till they are crisp and golden brown. Either way you end up with something full of flavour, absolutely addictive and you don’t have to pay by the roll. Very economical and much tastier than what you can buy from the supermarket or most food vendors. Give it a go, if you like Asian food (who doesn’t?!) you are going to love these :o)

YUM just found another pictorial tutorial with a completely delicious looking recipe for more spring rolls. Remember, it’s all about customising them to your own personal taste and when you are eating a plate piled high with your own personal favourite flavours you can smugly damn the man all over again!

http://shesimmers.com/2011/06/fried-spring-rolls-po-pia-tod-html

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This is what the cooked Stromboli should look like. I didn’t include a photo of Steve as he was drooling too much to be anywhere near presentable enough for a photo 😉

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Cut crosswise into chunklets just like you would with a Swiss roll and eat…eat a lot…eat too much of it and there will STILL be enough left over to satisfy your appetite the night after with some home baked homemade oven wedges 🙂

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I forgot I had this casserole dish…I picked it up for $2 from a local thrift shop because it didn’t have a lid. How many times do I need a lid? Not many! This is a shepherds pie topped with a mountain of riced cooked potato. Ricing the spuds keep them separate and make a lovely crisp topping.

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I am still getting zucchini’s and a trickle of tomatoes and these are the very first of our ripened jalapeno chillies along with “something” curious that tends to invade most of my photos these days 😉

I am sitting here quietly on Tuesday morning tapping away with “eau de rotting kangaroo carcass” wafting through the air. The decomposing large roo that is about 20ft from the back door is starting to attract more than flies and crows and its wonderful aroma is starting to permeate more than it’s immediate proximity. The native wildlife has done it pretty tough this year and after a couple of bumper seasons, the bushfires that removed a lot of their grazing territory and the long, hot, extremely dry summer that we just had has resulted in a lot of animal deaths. Tasmania is the Aussie home of road kill, thanks to its cooler conditions and larger proportion of vegetation. The animals have been forced to eat pretty much anything this year and my guess is that our kangaroo friend up the back is the culprit who has been eating all of the potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and his toxin tolerance just hit zero. Steve had to take an impromptu trip into town because when we got back from walking the dogs our daughters phoned up to tell us that the hot water tap in the kitchen decided to turn itself on permanently last night and they had to turn the water off at the mains (at least they now KNOW where the mains is 😉 ). Steve was expecting a major job but $15 for a tap and a few extras and about the same amount of minute’s worth of work resulted in job done and happy campers all round. Steve thought that his midday adventures pootling around in the Mumbly Cumumbus were going to be extinguished but now they are back on the cards. I just finished my wireframe drawing of my poster, the final part of my assessment that needs to be submitted on Monday and have the rest of the week to put in a concerted effort to reduce my RSS Feed Reader and to plan our veggie garden that we will be starting on quite soon. I am hoping to convince Steve that our small orchard could do with enclosing fully at the same time so that we can prune the poor long suffering possum playgrounds and perhaps get some fruit next year.

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Proof…Irrefutable PROOF that Flares ARE coming back man!

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And the foolishness continues…Just in case anyone wanted to know what colour our kitchen was 😉

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This is a Schacht Inkle Loom. I bought it for $5 from the year before last’s HUGE progressive garage sale that spans 15km along the Tamar River and is our favourite event on the yearly calendar. I have NO idea how to use it so any clever clogs out there who know about weaving (you KNOW who you are 😉 ) can tell me whether it is something I should/could be bothering with or whether I should just let Earl eat it like he has been trying to do for a year and a half

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The Mumbly Cumumbus just in from Steve’s latest “pootling” event on the river. He actually caught 2 flathead (fish) and the dogs got both of them… well Bezial got both of them as Earl was suspicious of Steve’s intentions and wasn’t going to eat the fish in case it negated us giving him large quantities of steak. Bezial would live on fresh fish if he could 🙂

I am starting to get excited about the prospects of being able to garden with impunity. To be able to plant things that nothing can get (aside from the insects but their predatory grubby friends can deal with them). In preparation for the garden I have been thinking about where to find lots of bulk to fill the prospective garden beds for free or at least as cheaply as possible. My idea is to use keyhole gardens (cheers YBert 😉 ) coupled with a lot of vertical action to gain the maximum amount of growing space. I found some Jerusalem artichokes growing on the road verge this morning and managed to procure a couple of them to plant out in one of my compost bins till I can sort out a corner of Serendipity Farm for them to live happily in and spread to their hearts content. I have visions of both Jerusalem and globe artichokes growing all over the place and if winter ever comes I have visions of spending long wet hours cuddled up near Brunhilda with the laptop, an excel spread sheet (Jess already beat me to it 😉 ) and my permaculture and food forest spidey senses tingling with the research possibilities. I love a good researching event and finding the right perennials, shrubs and trees to deliver food for our series of endemic conditions on Serendipity Farm is a wonderful challenge that I am up for. Permaculture gives us that option. It gives us a new way of looking at our problems and allows us to use our problems to form solutions. What might initially seem like a bit pain in the derrière can be twirled around till it’s good points are facing frontwards. Rocks in the ground? Dig them up and use them to make raised garden beds…Dry conditions causing you growing problems? Store water any way that you can through winter and use it on your gardens when the dry weather hits and use clever gardening tricks like mass planting, mulching, trickle irrigation, choosing food crops and plants that grow in arid conditions and you can bypass a lot of problems. There is ALWAYS  a solution…it’s just up to us to look for the answer and sometimes what you are trying to solve might not be the real problem. My Jerusalem artichokes come with a “you will NEVER be rid of them!” warning. I don’t want to be rid of them. I want food that will grow itself without too much effort. I want to be able to have food all over Serendipity Farm eventually, not just zone 1, but everywhere. I have a vision of fecundity and production and an eventual harmony/equilibrium of cycles on Serendipity Farm that fills me with a sense of hope and happiness. It’s often how you choose to look at things that gives you answers and I like to turn things around a whole lot and look at the bits that other people tend to shun…I’m a bit strange like that 😉

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Another lovely day on the river

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Steve’s aquatic companions

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The Deviot Yacht Club from the river. You can see the deciduous trees starting to colour up nicely

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Some of the houses in Deviot that span the riverbank

Well I am back to normal. I am just about to finish this post off as somewhat less than a novella but definitely more than a quick read over a 5 minute tea break. I hope that all of my dear constant readers are beavering away in their respective changeling seasons between the wet and the dry and vice versa. Spring and autumn are definitely bridging seasons and whatever you are trying to achieve this year, I hope that you get it at least started before the heat of summer or the cold and wet of winter sets in for the long haul. Have a great rest of your week and see you on the weekend, rested and ready to rumble :o)