Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year from all at Dougies Back Yard

This may well be my last posting for 2007. It's bean an okay year for all those in the backyard. Just to recap, some new friends came to live here and we nearly saw the departure of Rupert, who came down with tick bite just before Xmas. In the last few weeks, we've seen a blue-tongue lizard move into the vegie patch, a baby silver eyed finch grow up and leave the nest (in the elderberry) and our clumping bamboo has got on with extending itself into the sky. I've run out of creative ways with beans, and the cos has gone to seed. The pumpkins are coming on nice and firm. I think they might be 'Queensland Blues', but we'll have to wait and see. The paw paws are still fruiting, and everynow & then Grace finds a strawberry hidden amongst the leaves. Doug has planted a lucky jade tree at the front door to attract prosperity, and the guy at Mitre 10 is still expecting me to purchase red paint for my front door. It has to be the right red. Afterall, enjoy 2008.

Monday, 17 December 2007

The Gingerbread Chronicles

And you thought Gingerbreads were for the kiddies. Doug is building a gingerbread swimming pool, to give it that authentic aussie flavour, and we have a gingerbread BBQ parked beside the 'pool' to complete the picture of Aussie Bush Xmas. Stuff the European styled GG bread house, who really truly wants to eat one of those things? But miniature GG bread steaks grilling over pretend fires made of silver cachous, now that's a really apetising prospect. Thankfully Doug has the perfect recipe, which I will post shortly. Before he engineers the Aussie backyard pool made from GG bread, he is poepling it with a village of Barchester Chronicles style folk, made of you guessed right, ginger. These spicy little people have attitudes and pets such as dolphins and pigs with big currant eyes.

Tomato Relish

Doug has made a batch of tomato relish for the lucky few. It tastes fantastisch. Even Elizabeth Taylor eats it apparently, or at least she once did ... but that's another tale for the fireside, winged-back chair evenings. What I'm really getting around to suggesting is that Doug has way too many tomatoes this time of year, and we here at Dougies Garden are scratching our heads thinking up all the uses for tomatoes. I suggested fake blood, but Doug looked absolutely horrified to think it would be exclusively used by myself & the kids for fancy dress, no, no, no, it had to go further up the food chain, dizzying heights of actual tomato consumption. Henceforth Doug trawled the extensive recipe archives kept in the library, and came up with "Spencer's Relish" tried and tested recipe to the stars (apparently Shirley Bassey had some on toast after the Melbourne Cup back in '64). Yes it's good, oh way good. But the produce doesn't stop there, we've got beans coming out our ears! Beans, beans, beans, it's beans at sacrificial prices. Bean madness! And then how about eating a french bean salad!, But wait! Maybe you could have some steamed beans with that? Did somebody say beans? "Just keep picking 'em" say the wise old people who know. So I use that as my mantra everyday when Doug sends me down into the bean fields to 'do my bit' for the bean effort. Fame and fashion do not last, but if you grow beans you have friends forever. You'd be surprised at the number of people who like beans.

Monday, 3 December 2007

All that glitters is not golden corn

The beans are growing like magic! Okay I know it was only a fairytale, but these beans are vigorous. Doug and I are running out of freezer space. Sascha and Grace are enjoying the wet weather by running through puddles until drenched. The dogs are behaving disgracefully, and the sunflowers are beginning to flower. The tomatoes are really coming on now. We have bunches of tomatoes ready to go. Bottling is being considered carefully. The purple carrots have almost run out, and I'm particularly sad about this. The were delicious, but we have a new crop planted. We have cos lettuce ready to go, and lots of baby pumpkins growing. A mother of zucchinis growing delicately like an elephant in the garden. It now seems the golden corn was left on the stalk too long. It became all rubbery and translucent. Fascinating texture. Lovely to look at, astounding to eat.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Russian standover techniques

Giant Russian Sunflowers are starting to make their presence felt in the backyard as they dwarf Doug standing over him at 6ft or 7ft high. Can't wait for the dinner plate sized flower heads to appear. We should draw a crowd of at least 3 king parrots for that. A proud moment this week sharing produce with our neighbours - we have truly arrived.

Poodle of the Serengeti

Doug's French beans, purple beans, purple carrots with a neon orange centre, are all on the menu at the moment. Doug & I are eating paw paws with ice cream. The orange trees have lots of small jade green fruit on the branches. Doug and I are wondering if there's anyone who can tell us why the purple beans go green when cooked? We have a crop of blue & white cornflowers, and if only I could crack the bridal market in this town I have lots of pink baby's breath just waiting for a great aunt's fascinator, or flower girls posies. Rupert and Jonathon have developed a deep bond. Jonathon loves rubbing noses with Rupert and they play Rupert's favourite game 'Poodle of the Serengeti', as Jonathon plays 'Guinea pig all alone in the bush gambolling whilst poodle of the Serengeti is on the loose'. I could watch them for hours until I'm shaken from my reverie by small children riding over my toes with surprisingly heavy plastic trikes.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Moratorium lifted on Doug's Market attendance

It was with nervous anticipation that Dougie & I set forth for the un-auspicious car-boot markets together. Kids, drink bottles and ice-packs intow, we bravely set forth, averting the first near catastrophe in the 'parking feng-shui' hurdle. You know what I mean. The sixth sense you need for finding the perfect carspot. I can usually summon this when required, but I find some people bravely look for parks without calling on chi. Doug was able to occupy his time with the nursery stalls and a 'carrot on a stick' of a promised Bunnings pit stop. A blue kangaroo (Grace) and an orange kangaroo (Sascha), 1 carton of chips (sorry), 1 nachos (me), a chicken burrito (Doug), a pkt white chocolate macadamias (Doug), and some salty bush nuts later (me), with 5 trees, 2 teacups & $10 worth of F & V in tow, we left.

Monday, 5 November 2007

King Parrots Return

At long last the King Parrots are back with an eye for Doug's corn. I have a real soft spot for these enormous birds of red & green. Photo to follow soon. I missed the October meeting of the Local Orchid Society and the delicious supper that accompanies such past times. I really have a nostalgic love of these old customs that are now starting to disappear. I can make caramel tarts like the good ol' girls, but will I? Doug made a sensational pasta out of fresh baby green beans, bacon, cream, semi-dried toms and avocado, I will ask him very nicely to post the recipe.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Tropical Storms & Lemongrass tea

At the moment I'm sitting in a downpour that has lasted 4 hours. It's really quite soothing and warm. It's like living in the tropics. There have been some major storms over the area of late. The thunder and lightning build up for most of the afternoon before putting the light show on at night. Almost all silk worms have hatched, and Doug carefully lifts them out to the Mulberry tree, however, sometimes he's not quick enough to catch them before Spring claims their attentions. I note with interest that Jamie Oliver has started his own back yard garden (okay a while ago) and he is providing inspiration. I have suggested a recipe section for Doug, but he regards me suspiciously. Any one for lemongrass tea? I can manage that.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Bats Return

The bats are back! Well of course all locals know they are flying foxes, as they can see at night instead of using radar, and they mostly eat gum blossoms and fruit. The numbers are down this year. Last year we played host to 3 different types. They swelled the banks of the river black and stinky as they weighed down the casuarina trees. But this year is different, I understand the numbers declined in the northern breeding roosts mysteriously, and this season begins with no actual local bats living across the road from us. Instead, on dusk they fly up the river using it for navigation before following one of the tendrils into the sky in search of food. There is a large moreton bay fig, across the road and it is supporting the bats who can fly the least distance. Now, all we need are the king parrots to return to eat Dougie's corn, and all will be as it should, eh Dougie? I feel a scarecrow coming on.

Tornado narrowly avoids Golden Bantam Corn

Yes, it's true, we have been living in paradise when a Tornado ripped through our quiet community demolishing houses, churches (one) and school buildings. Roofs were razed, and roads strewn with debris, small children we left stranded home alone, hiding under their beds, according to local reports. Here, we escaped with only strong winds, and unusual cloud formations. Hail fell in the wider community. The Bantam Corn was nearly phantom corn, but thanks to Dougie's swift action with knot-tying skills any scout would be proud of, the corn escaped to see another spring day.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

furry green lawnmowers.

Now that we have two little furry lawnmowers, one corner of the garden looks very neat. I'm thinking of going for a checker board look by using carefull hutch placement. These guinea pigs can really eat. I've started an eco-friendly hutch litter program; they get newspaper and sugarcane mulch in their hutch to do their business on. When we clean it out the newspaper goes on the compost heap and the manure laden mulch goes around the nearest plant. So while they're eating a substantial amount of my vegies, they're putting something back, which makes them feel very smug and green. As for the rest of the garden, the lemon tree is looking pretty happy however it has become home to some strange looking insects that I think are sucking the life out of new shoots. they look like green and brown stealth bombers with a proboscus thingy that they stick into the shoot and all leaves above them on the shoot start to wilt. Sinister little beggars. a bit of white oil needed I think. The grevillias we planted with chocolate lady are going very well except for the one that Jackie thought was a chew-toy, it has never recovered from the experience. We bought a bargain tray of 20 Bangalow palms at a market last week, so the dodgy front garden bed is going to get a makeover soon. Aiming for a Las Vegas / tropical look for the front of the house. It seems that every palm tree in the district has been mortally wounded by the freaky frosts we got this winter, so fingers crossed they don't return next year. Grace has planted some Giant Russian Sunflowers near our back door which are going great guns. the seed packet said they will grow to three metres tall, which impressed Grace no end. The sun is shining, we've got visitors coming, and a five year old's birthday party to go to, so I must be off.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

A new Guinea Pig? Bollocks to that!

Jonathon has a new friend. The much acclaimed long-haired Gilbert Clockey came to join the family on Tuesday. He has pink eyes and Grace had naming rights. I think he may have previously been employed in a Dickens novel as a clerk. We asked for a name 'off the wall' and Grace looked around the room and said "How about that photo of me as a baby". Doug was imagining us introducing the guinea pigs as "That's Jonathon and that's a photo of Grace as a Baby." So 'clockey' it was. He's settled right into the Hutch Mahal of course. Now, there is one more thing about Doug's Back Yard that must be told. Jackie and Robbie have 'come of age'. Robbie went off to get 'tutored' this week. We're still waiting for it to take the 'spring' out of his step.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Doug learns how to post photos.

Dougie's Garden has finally hit the web in full colour. Please enjoy the photos and let me know if there is something else you'd like to see a photo of. My only fear is that you will now all realise how much exaggeration has been going on in our descriptions of our garden. I hope it's good to put a face to the name of some of the main characters. Robbie and Jackie aren't completely happy with their photo, but I told them it was all I could do unless they wanted to sit still for 30 seconds - they declined. A photo of Johnathon Honey has proven to be a difficult thing to achieve. If it's not the beeping of the camera scaring him inside, it's the auto focus finding the cage more interesting than the guinea pig. Yeah I know - I'm a Luddite, but I will persevere.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Jonathan Honey's hutch-warming party.

Apologies to all for the lack of posts in the last week. Time has just gotten away from us.

After three days of rain, Dougie's garden is looking like a million bucks. Towns just down the road were hit by huge hailstones, however we only received buckets and buckets of rain. The official veggie log as it stands on the 11th of October is as follows:

  1. Eggplants - still small, no fruit, but looking healthy.
  2. Lettuces - beautiful, green and crunchy. Eating them now
  3. Silver beet - red, yellow, orange, green and crunchy. Eating them now.
  4. Carrots - look like aliens, still taste great. Eating them now.
  5. Sweetcorn - still growing, wind hasn't got 'em yet.
  6. Climbing beans - 10 cm high, being watched with much anticipation.
  7. Bush beans - 10 cm high, I don't know what to expect with these.
  8. Peas - had their day. Trying to flower again, but there is really no hope of more peas.
  9. Tomatoes -They're very healthy looking plants, I'm just praying no rot sets in.
  10. Radishes - look like fairies' feather dusters at the moment, hoping for big things.
  11. Pumpkins - coming up in strange places and spreading across the lawn; look out!
  12. Capsicums - going for a second year on the same plants; fingers crossed.
  13. Broccoli - has been an absolute winner, but not for much longer.

Jonathan Honey' s hutch has stood up to everything that mother nature could throw at it. He has been warm, dry, well fed from veggie garden throw outs, and relatively protected from marauding packs of dogs. The poor little bugger has had to move into the front yard because Jackie and Robbie have decided the best place to stand all day long is on top of the Hutch Mahal, like two little foxes at the top of a rabbit hole. The wire kept him safe, but his nerves were shot to pieces. He's now going to spend the summer beside the sunflowers at the side of our house.

Friday, 5 October 2007

No citizenship test for new resident

Yes, it's true, Jonathon Honey has come to stay in Dougie's Garden and he even has part of a Diploma. Jonathon sat through some classes yesterday, and learnt about social & emotional well being for students, he listened to Vivaldi's 'Spring' (quite rightly) and then learnt what it takes to enter 'Art Express'. He was a bit over it by 6.30pm and was glad when the subi turned homeward. The subi with all the mulberry stains splattered over the roof, from the resident bird life.

One more mouth to feed

The number of mouths I have to feed has just hit 50! And I thought I'd left commercial cooking behind me. Admittedly 42 of them are silkworms, but there is a new resident in our garden. We are happy to announce the arrival of our latest family member, Johnathon Honey the guinea pig. He is white, black, ginger and adorable. Fifi sent a text from uni yesterday that sent dougiesgarden into a flurry of activity. Some kid had tried to return his guinea pig to the pet shop for unknown reasons and the pet shop had refused, also for unknown reasons. All was not lost for kid or guinea pig though, because who was the first person they met on the footpath but Fifi, who, for very good reasons, said "I'll take him!". Grace immediately took it upon herself to start construction on The Hutch Mahal. With a little help from her Dad, her cousin Hughie, and her uncle David, the frame was built by sunset. Johnathon Honey spent the night in temporary digs; a cardboard box on the kitchen table. He seems quite happy but understandably anxious to move in to an abode befitting his fabulous name (also given him by Grace). Construction should be complete by sunset today. My only concern is that The Hutch Mahal is ridiculously large for only one guinea pig. I must remember to keep a sharp lookout for forlorn looking children standing outside pet shops cradling anything small and furry, so I can casually direct my companions to the other side of the street. Well, not really, after 50 whats the big deal if there's one more?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Chocolate cake & coffee under the mango tree

It was a warm breezy afternoon, a light easterly blowing across the yard as Doug, Grace & I ate Chocolate cake with cream. The dogs were too drowsy to bother us, and Sascha was fast asleep in the cool house.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Lolly Soup

Yes, well, it was Graces' idea. We are going to make lolly soup next week. If anyone has any recipe ideas, please send them through. I was thinking about sourcream, marshmallows, pineapple chunks sort of concoction, dressed up with coconut, but Doug - ever the more practical was thinking about making some sort of jelly base with floating lolly 'croutons'. How about 'mock borscht' using grated beetroot in the red jelly? Although Grace would be disappointed to see a vegetable make an appearance in any way. I've lived long enough without lolly soup in my life, and I'm sure every chicken on the planet would agree with me.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Grand Final Weekend.

The kids are going to bed, and nothing much happened in the garden today. Sunflowers got plenty of sun, that's about it. The Cats won the AFL grand final yesterday and the Storm and the Sea Eagles are fighting out the NRL grand final right now.

It's Official! - Fifi joins the Orchid Society

Yes, yes, I know...30ish going on 65. It's always been a secret desire to join the Orchid Society and now, it's a reality. I am the proud owner of five orchids. I have seen the movie 'Adaptations' which cleverly combines the burning passion of orchid collecting with timeless plot themes of sex & death and it's all true. Needless to say I'm an asset to any organisation, give me 12 months and I'll be the secretary. One good thing about leaving a small country town and then returning, you feel like the guy who directed the 'Titanic', definitely not like someone who was on it.

Silk worms have come to stay

The Mulberry fairy is visiting with her friends the Silk Worms. Sascha is sure they are really the book worms in disguise, as every second Tuesday they go missing between 10-30 and half past twelve. Hmmm curious. Mulberry fairys' friends the 'silk worms' eat fresh mulberry leaves twice a day, and they total 42. Grace & I put them in the incy-winciest shoe box we could find - bright pink, child size 5. Which Doug and I are staring at in sort of bewilderment. Note to self - must buy more shoes.

Huge Grey Bird sighted in Backyard!

Grace saw an enormous bird in the yard this morning, it was grey. It was as big as a giant - so big. It had a really long tail, and the dogs chased it away, then they jumped into their little beds for morning nap.Doug & I thought it might be a Heron. Grace is absolutely sure it was much larger than a heron. We have a lot of wildlife in the backyard as the mulberries out. Wicked Currawongs, destroying nests all about (just ask the sad top-knots) and Red-eyed cuckoo shrieks and king parrots. Last year the King parrots got all Doug's corn as he didn't have the heart to pick it from them. We sort of felt proud that they were making our backyard their home. There have been sightings of echidnas (technically the frontyard) and a large fat, fluffy possum eating the last of our naval oranges, peering down with bright red eyes.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Beans all in

Lost patience today with growing fennel in the vegie patch. It got shunted to a lonely bed behind the orange tree. Bush beans have taken their place. I planted climbing beans on a couple of tripods also. So we should have a nice crop of beans this summer. We are eating really tasty peas at the moment and the broccoli is holding on nicely. I was up at 5 this morning and in the vegie garden before any kids woke up and needed waiting on. Great strategy as it turned out. It's official - the calf is a girl.

5am Starts on only One cup of Coffee

Doug was in the garden today at 5am, like Farmer Macgregor planting out his beans. We're on water restrictions at the mo' so we can only water the garden every second day, with hand held hoses. Doug has been experimenting with recycled water from the washing machine. It takes about 80 litres to wash a load, and if we could turn it around and put that on the garden, it would make a tremendous saving over time.

Friday, 28 September 2007

20 vegetables, but who's counting?

You name it, Doug can grow it. We have capsicums, broccoli, rhubarb, chives, strawberries, aubergines, lettuces, (oh no Peter Rabbit!) beans, peas, corn, radishes, fennel, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, lemongrass, sunflowers, more beans, silverbeet, carrots (Peter Rabbit!), oranges, lemons, paw paw, bush nuts, mangoes.

Bob's baby calf

Four days ago Bob brought home a 'baby cow' as Sascha would say. It lives with Sam in the back yard and drinks milk from a bucket four times a day. Doug thinks its a boy (Bob told him so) and I think it's a girl (Bob told me so). What is Bob playing at? Does he like it when we argue? Maybe our backyard has been too quiet for too long.

And the Lucky Winner is !

Doug, Grace, Sascha & Fifi went to the Golf Club for dinner (Doug's night off) And we had only just begun to tuck into the fried fake seafood puffs when " Number 33069" won us a vegetable tray in the raffle.

Doug's Back Yard

Hello and welcome to the first posting for Dougie's Garden. Here you will find all the latest news that you never knew you needed to know. But! Ohhh yes you'll be riveted. Thank you for visiting and if you have any need of gardening advice, we have a fabulous brains trust. You may also wish to read about Grace and Sascha, Rupert, Robbie and Jackie and Fifi, the other residents of Doug's Backyard. There are several parts to Doug's Back Yard. Firstly I must mention the Vegetables. Grace has a fairy garden, and the fairy garden doubles Fifi's Orchid Garden. Sascha helps with the watering. The dogs think the whole thing is their garden, but they're wrong.