Sunday, 27 January 2013

Easy summer dessert for Nutella fans

This was so easy and looked good on the plate!
Using the metal ring forms',not sure what they are called, but they look like wide egg rings. I set the rings up an a tray with a piece of baking paper under them.
I broke chocolate wheaten biscuits up to make them fit into the rings, as a base. Then I spread Cadbury chocolate chip,vanilla ice-cream over the biscuit base.
Next I put a generous dollop of Nutella on top.

Then another layer of ice-cream followed. On top, I put an even more generous dollop of Nutella and sort of roughly swirled it around.

Covered the tray with glad wrap and put it back in the freezer till I was ready to serve.
You could use any fruit, but I had strawberries, blackberries and mango which I soaked in a little sweet dessert wine and a little sugar. Use your favorite alcohol for this or none if you prefer.
When it was time to serve,I just loosened around the edges of the rings with a knife and they just pushed out.
Put the fruit on top and served.
It was so easy because I had made the icecream base the day before.
Best of all, I made more than was needed, so now have them ready for a quick dessert. Although I am hoping I will forget they are there, which unfortunately was not the case with the left over jar of Nutella.
I think I was depressed.
Earlier in the day the Wii trainer on my Wii fit plus had told me in his little, upbeat voice that is was only 349 days since we had last met. After checking my weight, informed me that I did not seem to have met any of my goals set then either.
Luckily the Wii remote was firmly strapped to my wrist or I might be shopping for a new TV! When I finished my routine he asked me if I would like to know how many calories I had used. His next question was would I like to know how much food that equated to. I was sorry I asked when he told me it was one boiled lolly
Anyway this was a great no stress dessert even if I dare not try and equate how much exercise the Wii would want in return for a serve.
Ignorance is bliss!

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Saved fridge dump fees

I have started my new garden beds. Using two fridges that had 'died' as garden beds has saved me dumping fees. Not to mention the hassle of getting them to the dump.
The motor end has had a piece of steel pot riveted over the opening.

The freezer compartment in this one will be great to isolate something that usually takes over.

As you can see it makes a good depth of soil and will keep the ground moist and cool. I have emptied the current compost container into it, along with rotted manure.
Old styrofoam lids can be cut to size to block the ends with a few bricks to hold them up and the soil inside can be filled against this barrier.
This will be left empty till autumn plantings.
I have also begun extending my upside down roof garden too. As you can see the soil depth is not great but shallow rooted plants have done exceptionally well.

This will be filled with compost and well rotted manure as well.
I plan to utilise another roof garden as a strawberry bed next year.
Gardening at waist height is also a great advantage, especially when hunting strawberries.

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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Garden stress planning day

Everywhere is so dry now and plants are dying in the garden. Rather than just getting more and more depressed I have decided to develop my garden plan for next summer so that I don't repeat mistakes.
You know it's bad when agapanthus struggle to survive!

My biggest issue apart from 45 degree days is lack of water.
One garden that is unexpectedly thriving is the asparagus garden.
Asparagus needs very deep, rich soil and water. The difference here is that I planted the asparagus in an old commercial fridge. Put a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage and used it as a compost pile for about 12 months. Mixed in good soil and planted.

The big difference in using the old fridge is that it is insulated so that helps keep the soil moist and cool. When I do water, very little water is lost to evaporation or draining away uselessly. This is going to be the blueprint for next summer.
I grew my tomatoes in raised beds this year but no matter how much I mulched I still struggled to water efficiently. The other problem is, as I have previously mentioned, the water quality now is terrible and the plants are
starting to die back. My thyme was doing beautifully and has been watered and mulched but it just can't tolerate the water.

My horseradish is also showing signs of stress. I am going to switch to watering this with rainwater now.

My vegetable garden next year will all be in old fridges and baths.

I will continue to use my 'roof' bed as this was so successful for shallow rooted plants like Beetroot, rocket and spring onions.

We have ample rain in winter so I will position a tank next to this bath and fridge garden. I will need to elevate it so that I can use gravity water these gardens with good water. I am also going to look at putting one garden under shade cloth.
This is the plan anyway! I feel better already!

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

New resident

Easier to get to an itch with long legs!

This kangaroo seems to have decided to make our place "home". The green grass on top of the septic drainage is his favorite grazing spot. He is sleeping behind the wood shed and has pretty much taken over.
The dogs are not happy about this turn of events as we can't let then run free and all their walks are now on leads. The dogs would not be able to resist chasing the kangaroo and would come off worst with his big claws. It would not be the kangaroos fault so they just have to put up with leads.

The smallest of the unhappy dogs
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Growing Beetroot

This has to be one of the easiest and most forgiving summer vegetables to grow. We have limited water that becomes salty as summer progresses. We have had extreme heat but still my Beetroot soldiers on!
I have grown it in what was previously a curved roof. The soil is about 30cm in the middle to about 15cm at the edge. We put a few holes in it for drainage.

The Beetroot was planted from seed and mulched well with mushroom compost once the leaves were through. The soil was a good mix of well rotted sheep manure and compost. I am overwhelmed with success!

Now I am deciding what to do with my bounty.
I will definitely be making Beetroot rosti.
The great thing about rosti is that they freeze so well and will still come back crisp and beautiful.
I will use my own horseradish (which I have grown for the first time and am about to harvest ) to make horseradish cream to go with it.
Pickled Beetroot will also be a good option.
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Growing garlic

Garlic is easy to grow but does require patience. Plant in autumn and harvest in summer.
A Plot about 1 m square can take about 50 corms but I prefer to plant mine in lots of small plantings throughout the garden.
Garlic is a great companion plant and is supposed to be particularly beneficial when planted with roses and raspberries.
Garlic needs a sunny, open, well drained position.
Good friable soil with plenty of well rotted organic matter. Too much fresh manure will encourage leaf growth and not bulb growth. If your position is not well drained the bulb will rot.
The roots and foliage develop in autumn and winter and the bulb in summer. In late summer the foliage will start to dry off, once the bulb has developed. My friend whose crop I harvested has wonderful soil built up over years and access to lots of clean water throughout summer. Sadly my soil is still being built up and come summer, water is a problem. I use river water and by mid summer the water quality is poor. ( salty)

Easy to see which is mine!
Water regularly and fertilize during the growth stages. Don't water once foliage has dried off.
Planting is easy if you have access to fresh, preferably organic garlic. Don't waste your time and effort trying to grow imported garlic it may have been treated with growth inhibitors. If the garlic is bright white and has a long shelf life it has quite possibly been treated.
To plant, just break the bulbs (corms) away from the parent plant. The parent is the stem in the middle.

Gently push the corm into the soil ( just below ground level) and with the tip pointed upwards. Allow about 10cm between corms.
Mulch and now, be patient, your own crop will be well worth the wait!
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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Garlic harvest and garlic sauce for meat

Just harvested a friend's garlic crop!
I have made lots of jars or minced garlic in oil for family and friends. I have hung some to dry, using bird netting offcuts to make a bag and an old meat hook bought at a garage sale. It has come in handy.

We were having a barbecue so made a version of a steak Dianne sauce. It was so easy and tasted great.
I fried shallots ( the ones in my garden are so strong, tears pour down my face when I chop them). Added about a tablespoon of minced garlic and fried this to golden brown, getting all the pan scrapings as well. A good splash of vodka followed. It should have been brandy but I didn't have any. Then a very generous splash of Worcester sauce followed by about a cup of cream and salt to taste. Just heated it through, stirring all the time. I put it in a serving jug and microwaved it on low power to reheat. Lots of compliments.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Op shop vases and unusual flowers

It's amazing what you can do with a $3 op shop vase, a few stones and flowers that you don't usually associate with flower arrangements. My poor garden has literally fried in the heat wave. It was 45 degrees under the back verandah and behind a trellis of grapevines.
But I count myself so lucky as I think of the people who have lost everything in the fires. Everything is affected birds, animals, plants, it is just so terrible.
I lived in the Adelaide hills and experienced the Ash Wednesday fires firsthand and I never want to go through that again.
I have packed my photos, taken the negatives to a friend and tried to work out what else,besides important documents, I would take. It does make you realize that you have accumulated vast amounts of "stuff" and for me the most valuable are the things I associate with memories. Irreplaceable.
To get back to flower arrangements, I could do some nice dried arrangements from my garden at the moment! Very dried! However my artichokes have begun to go to seed and the colour is spectacular. So i thought why not use them as flowers. I think it looks quite effective.

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