Garden Thoughts, Nature, Life and my Garden, Mindful Nature

De-Fused by a Tomato

I really needed to see the ‘heart’ in this black russian tomato this morning.

Ironic, black russians and I haven’t seen ‘eye-to-eye’ this season.

Gardeners, I hear ya’ the world over, Nature is a tough mistress this time of year, it’s a mood-changer!

In the northern hemisphere gardeners are itching to get gardens started while late season blizzards swirl.

Here in the southern hemisphere, many of us are trying to protect crops from pest & disease pressure naturally & organically, minimise heat damage, dodge hail storms and unfriendly insects, birds and maybe snakes (so far, no snakes).

This morning I’ve taken action on a slime mold that appeared overnight. They’re ok in a garden and sign that microbial life is good – but can turn parasitic on plants in summer when food is running low. I’ve ‘had words’ with an intimidating hornet, bagged remaining pomegranates, tomatoes, strawberries, that annoyingly, certain birds prefer over their native food, which is abundantly here for them in this garden!

And that was all before breakfast.

The thought of yet another heatwave week of late thirties celsius, until Sunday 😳 The peach tree that hasn’t fruited healthily in years, despite gorgeous blossoms and needs to be let go THIS year (Nooooo!).

Every creature is hungry, hot, dehydrated and tired because they’re oxygen deprived in the soupy, ozone saturated, humid air. Sound familiar?

But then, the tomato ‘heart message’ …Stop, breathe, rest, be thankful, take in the beauty, peace-smile. It is just a changed thought away. It’s really and truly, all OK….De-fused by a tomato 🌸💕

#mygarden #tomato #heatwave #summer#australiansummer #gratitude #itsok#growyourownfood #gardenproblems#mindfulness #mindful #heart #fresh#organicgardener #smile#urbanpermaculture #vintagetrish#vintagetrishgarden

Events, Garden Update, Life and my Garden, Mindful Nature

Happy Nature Filled New Year 2019!

A flower blessing to YOU from my garden and I for a beautiful, healthy and happy New Year!

In this photo I used mini dianthus, zinnias, dahlias, nasturtium and roses I picked from my garden on New Years Day, with a purpose that didn’t involve a vase.

I felt these beauties should have multiple uses, in true permaculture style. So when I was picking flowers for my usual flower blessing bowl – a beautiful energetic practice I like to do for setting the home’s energy on New Years Day (see below) – I thought I’d do a year theme inspired photo for Instagram too.

If you’re not following me on Instagram I confess that’s really where the daily posts and action is. So please press this Instagram link and follow me there too–I’d enjoy getting to know you!

I’m more of a ‘just do-er’ than a resolution maker. But I will be better at posting here in 2019 and that’s really what I work with– a loose plan with flexibility that involves taking opportunities that pop up along the way!

On the ‘harvest opportunity front’, my edible garden is producing amazing things right now in the peak of our Australian Summer. I posted a photo of tomatoes on my windowsill today on Instagram. There are really so many ripening on the windowsill it’s making the window difficult to open. I need a new and simple system, ha ha–don’t we all for everything! It’s a great problem to have! But I wouldn’t want the window open today anyway. It’s 38 degrees C outside! So I’ve bought myself some time with the weather’s help.

I’m doing a daily pick/harvest photo, and sometimes a focus photo, on one particular type of vegetable or fruit if I think it would be interesting. Here are some examples of this colourful and productive time of year in my garden.

One of the aspects of having a garden I really enjoy is the ability to be resourceful with the produce that comes in the harvest basket from my morning garden stroll. That harvest is often determined by the weather right now (saving things from heat) or determined by what I need for a particular meal.

The cheese-ball you see above is an example of a theme based snack. I made it for New Year’s Eve (out of near-to-date milk which otherwise may have gone to waste) by making my own cream cheese and then, using it in the cheeseball. It wouldn’t be coated in chives unless I’d had an abundance to pick from in the garden. It wouldn’t exist at all if I didn’t have an aversion to wasted milk.

So the intention behind the types of home cuisine I make can be steered by the garden itself and ‘ingredient opportunities’ that present themselves. Becoming aware of your choices is what this is about, which is ironically linked to New Years Resolutions.

Mindfulness in the garden, offers a beautiful rhythm of flowing with the seasons, with life in general, if you let it work on you.

I hope you experience great ‘flow’ in 2019–at work, at home, at play, in communication with others and in your special relationships.

May 2019 be your best friend!

 

 

Kitchen, Life and my Garden, VintageTrish Kitchen

Fire up the Kombucha

I need to fire up the extra Kombucha brews as one of my kitchen tasks today.

Because booch takes longer to ferment in the winter–which seems to have arrived today with gale force winds – I need to activate more.

Kombucha is an effervescent drink with a slight sweetness, in my case made with black tea.

It has ancient origins.

It’s well worth doing if you can commit to the process. The scoby is living and needs care.

So back to my task at hand. I need five batches on the go, rather than the 3 I have in summer, for our needs.

The reason is simply that in summer a ‘batch of booch’ is ready in 3 days in our heat.

But in winter it takes 5–8 days depending on how low the thermometer dips. It’s exceptionally rare here in winter, to go below 2 degrees celsius overnight.

Since 1 jar is equal to one day’s drinks and a minimum of five days brewing time is needed… I need five!

So the two jars on the end (in the photo above) will be fed and filled today.

The small amount of raw sugar I use to ‘feed the scoby’ is mostly gone by the end of the process.

My husband and I drink it in its natural state after chilling of course.

Our grown sons still prefer their more traditional fizzy drinks.

Kombucha is delicious and refreshing, especially in summer heat. It is not generally considered an alcoholic drink, but it does ferment, which means it has some alcoholic content. Raw kombucha is approximately 0.5% alcohol if brewed correctly, apparently.

Hope your Monday is going well 🌸

#kombucha #drink#healthy #vintagetrish #vintagetrishkitchen#homelife #refreshing #winter #summer

Garden Thoughts, Nature, Garden Update

Garden Update: Focus on what you Can do

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A summer bearing Imperial mandarin focusses energy for survival in a hot climate by not wasting it on producing an orange skin–even though its ripe and ready for eating.

A garden can teach you anything if you let it. Focus is one of those ‘anythings.’ It springs from cultivated patience and observation over time. Nature says ‘you’ll just have to deal with this,’ the Garden says ‘all that remains is what matters.‘ And a gardener who looks and listens, learns the lesson. Well that, at least, is my experience.

If you follow my Instagram feed you may have seen my post about my tiny 2 feet high Imperial Mandarin tree. Despite this high heat-ridden, windy, dry summer, the little trooper produced 5 very large mandarins. They were delicious and juicy. How? Well, you’ll notice I harvested them green with slight yellowing of the skin. This is because the mandarins in our hot summer climate are best harvested (for taste and sweetness) at this stage. I harvest the Valencia oranges the same way, from another tiny tree. The fruit at this stage, are ready for eating, but they don’t look it. The tree focusses its energy to prioritise survival in a hot climate summer-bearing situation, by stopping short of full orange colour-ripening. The tree lives. It’s that simple, but complex too. In a natural forest hot climate situation, the fruit would fall to the ground where the ripened seeds (unaffected by peel-colour) allow the plant a chance to reproduce. Now, if you’ve ever waited (in a hot climate) to harvest summer-bearing imperial mandarins until they went orange, you’ll know it was a long wait and the fruit tasted bitter (been there). The tree wants the fruit harvested quickly to increase chances of reproduction, so water can be directed to the roots and growth. Those actions will in turn increase its survival and resilience. Nature is way ahead of us! We have to get with the program!

Focus is the best piece of advice I can take from my experience in my garden this season, then give to you, as a possible hint on handling these weather weirding times. Right now there’s a ‘back-up in the flow’. Observation is telling me to ‘hold…hold’ – just like the Scots were told to ‘hold’ attack by William Wallace in that powerful battle scene in the movie Braveheart. It’s still too hot in the garden, for several types of cold season crops. Though, not necessarily for all types. Further, the steps I take when, have to be pared back to the essential, minus any flurry (because I, like the garden, have not got the energy to waste).

To fill you in, I think we are discovering ‘Second Summer’ in southeastern NSW this year. This is the name I’ve heard some indigenous elders call the weather cycle in the warmer regions of Australia, which seem to be eerily similar to this years weather patterns we’ve been copping. It’s April and yesterday was 35 degrees celsius here, again.  Today is over 30 degrees in temperature, but this time accompanied by strong hot and drying, northwesterly winds. The lead up to this has been 8 months of regular windy days from different directions, suggesting wind might be ‘the new daily normal.’ The heat in my area this month has been a consistent 7.6 degrees celsius above average. Less than 1 ml of rain fell this morning (the first rain of this month) and we have had just 106 millilitres in 2018 so far. My water tanks, are dry, again. The 106mm rainfall roof-harvested and tank-stored water has this year been used sparingly but consistently, on parched earth throughout the season. Many high temperature records have tumbled. Our nearby cousin, Penrith, was the hottest place on Earth recently. Our local area flying fox population was decimated by the heat  in early January, when our maximum temperature registered 45.3 degrees celsius. Later today I’ve learned in the news that a serious bushfire is burning out of control in a bush lined suburb just kilometres from here. Hot northwesterly and westerly winds seem ever-present when bad bushfires occur on parched land.

So I continue to focus major effort to providing enough water to my large and unirrigated suburban garden. Having earned my certification in permaculture design in 2014, I have provided my garden (both prior to, and since) with the benefits of water harvesting design elements. They work really well for both food forest trees and my annual vegetable garden.  I also have available town water – not as good for the soil as rain water, and an ongoing problem if it doesn’t rain soon, but there, thankfully,  if I need it.

Just like the mandarin tree I focus harvested water, where it is needed and conserve its use. By growing my own seedlings (using seeds collected from previous crops) I’m giving my annual vegetables the greatest chance of survival, in this garden and climate. Those annual plants then develop their own genetic ‘water-usage instructions,’ pass them on to the seeds they produce, and I collect them. So the seeds can only get better…for this garden. Meanwhile, the perennial trees and plants develop their learning about how to live and use water in this climate, because they never really go dormant (except in summer high heat). Plants learn from conditions then prioritise an adapted response. So cool.

My change-of season garden ‘should’ technically have cool season crops starting to ‘take’ or even ‘fruit’ by now. But ‘should’ is a human perspective and the four seasons approach has little relevance in Australian conditions. There are probably more like 12 seasons but I would need training in indigenous weather content to know for sure. I take many cues from Indigenous knowledge weather advice, but I have much to learn! What I have right now is a ‘hybrid season’ annual vegetable garden, that looks much like… a summer garden! Eggplants, cherry tomatoes and capsicums have no intentions of fading. Volunteer tomato seedlings are popping up with strong little stems that don’t resemble the straggly fragile ones that usually die off at the first sign of cold. I’ll pot those up the minute the weather threatens cold, and shelter them through winter for an early start next season. The garden is not overly tidy and neither are my techniques, but it’s not messy either. I have a very strong need for aesthetic beauty and when everything is humming nicely along, my garden proves both great productivity and beauty can co-exist.

My confused granny smith apple trees are blossoming again. There is no real chance of them producing finished apples before the eventual cold, which from experience of this last year, could mean no granny smith apples in spring/summer – for the second year in a row. Bummer. It’s unlikely the blossoms will last anyway in these cruel hot winds. Even the washington navel orange blossoms which are ‘on schedule,’ may find it difficult to hold on in the wind (they are drought stressed).  We may have less oranges this winter. I caught myself singing that “Cruel Summer’ Bananarama song the other day while pruning some burnt leaves off my avocado tree. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a psychological hang-over from my youth, and is more of a meaningful thought as I pruned the avocado of this cruel season!

Anyway, there’s some cool season things like snow peas I planted in shade…now climbing and flowering. They are third generation to this garden, so they’ve adapted to the seasonal routine (which is something bought seedlings can’t do in their first generation). They make my heart sing. The red russian kale seedlings don’t seem to mind their haphazard garden spot which is the result of being put in ‘for now.’ They seemed tough enough, with my intention being to move them to a final spot, later. Their mature siblings from last season, left in over summer for an early start, burst out of dormancy into production a few weeks ago. The garlic are up and over the 20cm mark, but I won’t know how the very warm start to the ‘cold season’ has affected their taste, until closer to Christmas.

Many of my cold season crops – naturally grown seedlings I’ve started like broccoli, purple cauliflower, edible flowers, rocket and mizuna are holding out in seedling trays and pots. I’ve had to focus my efforts more than usual this season, on providing shelter from wind and heat. I find I can water them easily, keep them alive and prevent bolting this way, which wouldn’t be possible in the garden beds yet. While I hope they won’t be ‘bonsai’ by the time they get into the garden (because their roots have been in trays and pots too long) the alternative – bolting or dying when I’ve spent so much effort raising them, seems a lot worse.

My mind this afternoon, returns to the central Australian indigenous elders who’ve spoken about Uterne Uyelpuyerreme – late summer. In March usually, the advice goes that ”whirly winds dance across the landscape, scattering seeds and pulling the growth up from the seeds in the ground” and then… the cool weather is nearly ready to arrive. But the advice also goes, that if it rains, Winter can extend into September. This would delay what we usually think of as ‘Spring’. Well I’m hoping for rain but focussing my planning systems on preparing for none – which seems somehow to be a higher probability. I’m probably a cynic! But if  it does rain, I’ll prepare for a late ‘spring’ planting, which will mean another ‘hybrid change of season garden.’ I’m not sure Nature is aware she’s being scheduled by humans. If she is aware, she doesn’t care. So good luck to Her if it’s the latter!

As the sun starts to dip today, I can say the whirly winds are still here. Perhaps cooler weather is near. I’m looking forward to it, and the garden doesn’t need to speak to tell me it is too. But just look at those divine olive branches I cut and put into water this morning! It’s still warm enough weather for soft cuttings and a dream of the free olive hedge those cuttings will spawn. That hedge will protect fragile plants from the ‘whirly winds’ in similar seasons I expect to see in the future. Cultivated patience. Thoughts for another blog, obviously. Take care, focus on what you Can do. Trish 🌸

© Trish McGill 2018