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.