Hi-de-ho it’s Sunday again

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Hi All,

Well as the title of this blog post alludes to, it’s Sunday again. That means I either sloth around reading or lazing around in a hammock or I decide to take a few photos and update my long suffering blog. Steve had a chat to a friend the other day who mentioned that she loved reading my blog so I am going to dedicate this blog post to you Kaye. Without your gentle prompting this post would most likely have been set back a few weeks 😉

Bezial laying next to the fridge wickers
Bezial laying next to the fridge wickers. This is one of his favourite places to lay as the fridge wicking beds are nice and cool.
Steve looking like Joe Walsh
Steve looking like Joe Walsh crossed with a pirate. The bandanna is actually Earl’s but Steve stole it to tame his long hair.

So what has old Narf7 been up to over the last few weeks (months)? Well, we started TAFE again and are up to our eyeballs in learning how to create short films with all of the accompanying technical jargon and additional learning that goes with learning a new craft. The course that we studied last year didn’t run this year as only two students signed up for it so we can use the classroom and computers to edit our films as the screen and media room only has 2 computers capable of editing. The last 2 years classes in Screen and Media have been small and manageable. This year the class is more than double the size of the past few years and at 17 students the ratio of cameras and audio equipment per student is significantly diminished so Steve and I are going to film our short documentaries on his Nikon.

Narnia
As you can see, Narnia is flourishing and the wicking fridges have worked perfectly over summer only requiring minimal watering and giving me back a lot of time in my mornings.
Garlic chive flowers
These are garlic chive flowers. I will collect the seed and pot up more garlic chives to add to Sanctuaries biota over the coming years. The strange thing is that along with garlic, the chive flowers attract bumble bees like crazy. I am not sure I would like to sample onion honey to be honest!

We have been doing a bit of research on Youtube and found that there are a lot of people filming on Nikon’s so we are going to give it the old college try. We may not have to buy the cloud from Adobe which will make us incredibly happy as we only just got our old CS6 programs back after having to delouse our computer from could contamination. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless their business requires it. All of the computers in our old class are loaded up with the editing software that we need to edit our films so if it means we have to head in to TAFE on our days off, so be it!

Baby avocado
Meet the newest baby (aside from all of the chooks that is!) on Serendipity Farm. He grew from an avocado seed from our Christmas feast. He will get planted out into Sanctuary when he gets a bit bigger.
Coriander seeds
These are coriander seeds. I love coriander. Steve HATES it. I think it’s one of those love/hate things and as usual, we are on opposite sides of the table on this one. Also, as usual, we planted it at the wrong time and it went head over heels to seed in a most magnificent display. I don’t mind as the bees adore it and it has lots of seeds forming so we can harvest them and use some to replant our own coriander (in the right season) and the rest for using in our recipes.

We are really enjoying the new course and the class is a mix of middle aged students, fresh out of high school students and all ages in between. Everyone gets along and no-one is left out and I can see this selection of classmates being a brilliant asset in the future. I am still a bit twitchy about learning how to use all of the technology involved with mastering this course but I am not the only one who hasn’t ever made a film before and everyone is supportive and friendly which makes it a really excellent atmosphere to learn in.

Chinese veggies
There might well be people out there that actually like Chinese veggies but we are not enamored of them in the least. We were tricked into planting them by our local large hardware store “Bunnings” that were selling them labeled as “Japanese spinach”. Nope. Not spinach in the least and goodness only knows what we are going to do with these veggies aside from maybe attempt to make kimchi with them. We won’t be buying “Japanese spinach” again! Even then, Bunnings wasn’t able to get it entirely right as the light coloured larger Chinese vegetable in the middle of the pack was also included in the same punnet.
Some chillies growing
We have no idea what kind of chillies these are. They were bought at a local garden centre (that we won’t be visiting again) and have no resemblance to the chillies that they are supposed to be. We are not even sure if they ARE chillies as they are almost the size of capsicums!
Some more chillies
These are obviously chillies but again, we are not entirely sure what they are as they don’t resemble what they are supposed to be. Either way, we have a LOT of “chillies” growing in the fridge wicking beds and hopefully some of them are hot as I want to make gochujang.

The garden has been going mental now that the weather has warmed up a bit. The boys are not at all happy that we are back at TAFE but despite digging up a section of rock garden whilst hunting for lizards, Earl hasn’t eaten the furniture yet and Bezial spends his days lazing around in the sun so we count ourselves as lucky (so far). We have had a chicken explosion with most of our hens heading off into the wilderness and bringing out between 1 and 15 babies. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of chickens that we now have but we are going to have to start reducing numbers soon as pretty soon we won’t be able to afford to feed them all.

Earls digging
This area of rock garden was completely defoliated by Earl in the hunt for a lizard. Prior to this the wall was covered in seaside daisies.
Mowed lawn in the small orchard area
Steve whipper snipped inside the house fence and we thought we would take a few photos as it actually looks nice now. This photo shows all of the figs that we planted out last year along with some chestnuts that we planted out this year. They are all growing well. We put the tyres around the bottom of the small fig trees so that whenever Steve whipper snips he won’t hit them with the line and damage them.
Looking back towards Narnia
It was nice and cool the other day and we took a few photos from up the hill down towards Narnia. We also shot a couple of short films that we are going to attempt to edit next week in class.
Small quince tree
This small quince tree has been limping along for a few years now. It was planted out 3 years ago and was a gift from a friend who dug it up from under his large quince trees. This year it has finally decided to be happy and as I also decided to squish all of the pear and cherry slugs that usually infest it around about now and heap up some mulch around the base of it, it is a much happier plant.

The weather in Tasmania has been exemplary. We have had a wetter and cooler summer but that has meant less watering and more green leafy vegetable production. We grew celery and silverbeet in the wrong season and they didn’t even go to seed! We don’t know all that much about growing vegetables and succession planting does my head in. I just potted up some pink gooseberry plants that grew from a handful of pink gooseberries that I scattered over the top of some potting mix last year. I am going to give some of them to a fellow classmate who has a very similar ethos to us. I love sharing.

Pink gooseberry seedlings
Some of the pink English gooseberry seedlings that I repotted today.
Solitary passionfruit
This is the sole passionfruit that grew on my tiny passionfruit vine. I have mulched around the base of it and Steve and I irrigated along the fence line for the loquats that we planted last year and this passionfruit so it has been regularly watered this year. Fingers crossed we actually harvest this passionfruit before something scoffs it.
One of three pepions ripening nicely in Sanctuary
This is one of three pepinos ripening nicely in Sanctuary. I had to ask Bev from foodnstuff blogging fame when to harvest them. It’s gone a bit more orange and I will probably harvest it this week.

 

Talking about sharing, we gave our 4 x 4 away for a bag of plums. Well, technically we just gave Betsy away to someone that we used to wave to when we were walking our dogs. He would pass us every day on the way to work and he owned a Feroza like we did (which is why we waved). We would sometimes see his car in Exeter when we were driving through and when Betsy decided to dump one of her pistons and stop working we decided that we would like to give her to the man in Exeter. The only problem was, we couldn’t find him any more. He had stopped working in our area and we hadn’t seen his car in Exeter for quite some time so we decided that we would advertise Betsy as a ‘giveaway for free’ on Gumtree.

Plums for a 4 x 4 a good swap.
Plums for a 4 x 4 a good swap. Not only do we get to eat these large sweet plums, but we also get to save the seeds and try to grow some from seed. A win-win situation for everyone involved 🙂
Cherry tomatoes harvested
These are cherry tomatoes. Back when I was small, “Cherry” tomatoes were tiny things. These are not tiny things but they do have that incredible tomato sweetness that comes from a fist full of sunshine ripened tomatoes so I am not complaining.
Some of our beetroots
We decided to use some of our beetroots in tonight’s beetroot burger dinner. I keep the leaves and use them in other recipes as they are very tasty in their own right.
Bullseye beetroot cut up
This is what the inside of two of our beetroots looked like. I forgot I grew a punnet of bulls-eye beetroot. I was most impressed when I cut them up.

We did see someone that wanted a rear axle on Gumtree so we contacted them and waited…and waited…and waited for a response. Obviously they didn’t want Betsy so we were just about to list her on Gumtree after we had to pick up some more chook food (we are going through 20kg in 3 days) and Steve saw the Feroza in Exeter! We skidded to a stop (much to the bemusement of the line of cars behind us!) and I raced off to knock on the door and attempt to give Betsy away. It turns out the man doesn’t live in Exeter and was only visiting his mate. He was most happy to take Betsy and picked her up the next day and gave us a nice bag of ripe plums. You can’t do better than that 🙂

Happy small fig trees
Happy small fig trees.
Stone grown avocado tree
We have a lot of seed grown avocados growing in Sanctuary now. They seem very happy so fingers crossed we get some avocados in a few years time.
Warrigal greens
I often see plants that can be included in food forests growing wild on the sides of the road or bush tracks that I am walking along with Earl each day. I noticed this Tetragonia also called Warrigal greens growing in some local bushland next to the river a few weeks ago and pulled a couple of tiny plants up by the roots and relocated them to Sanctuary. I am hoping that they act as ground cover and I can harvest them whenever we want a spinach substitute out of season. So far they seem to be very happy.

We actually have tomatoes ripening and have been using lettuce and greens and herbs from the fridge wickers for months now. There is something deliciously luxurious in being able to harvest something for your dinner from your own garden. Now that Steve and I are both vegan we have been able to use a lot of our harvest to concoct tasty meals. Tonight’s dinner has already been made. We collected 3 large beetroot from the fridge wickers which we steamed and added to ground up sunflower seeds and chickpeas. We added herbs and spices and flax seed to bind them together and we used egg poaching rings to make burgers so that they would be the same shape and size. We will cook them and serve them with home grown tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce and homemade vegan mayo.

Organised chaos in Sanctuary
Organised chaos in Sanctuary

 

More happy chaos inside Sanctuary
More happy chaos inside Sanctuary. We whipper snipped the pathways between the garden beds and now that the beds are all drip irrigated, Sanctuary has blossomed into a truly sustainable garden.
Oca growing in a fridge wicking bed
I am most interested to see the difference between these oca (New Zealand yams) growing in this fridge wicking bed and the oca that I planted out in Sanctuary. I sometimes think I am more excited about experimenting with plants than I am harvesting them.
Oca growing in raised garden beds
As you can see, the oca growing in the raised garden beds has smaller and more sparse leaves than that growing in the ideal growing conditions of the wicking beds. That doesn’t really mean anything as we don’t eat the leaves and so the most important part of this experimental equation is what is going on underground. Stay tuned as I will let you know how the tubers fare in a future post.
Oca and tomatoes
This stand of oca was planted as an afterthought. I found the plant on the $2 small plant stand up the road and decided to add it to Sanctuary to act as more green mulch.

We have enjoyed harvesting veggies all summer long and now we have to work out what we are going to do with a few anticipated gluts of veggies including celery and chillies. I have plans for the chillies but the celery was grown entirely by accident. We bought one punnet and the other two that we planted out were bought for 50c a punnet and we couldn’t pass them up. That means we have three wicking beds full of celery and we don’t use a lot of it. I guess we live and learn. The three punnets of beetroot will not go to waste as Steve and I love it so it will be included in a lot of our prospective meals.

Silverbeet and celery
We have grown a lot of celery this year. Grown naturally, celery is very different to it’s shop bought counterpart but just as tasty and I am not entirely sure how I am going to preserve all of this celery but I have found tutorials for how to dehydrate it and turn it into celery powder and I will probably slice and freeze some for winter stir fries.
Happy cardamom plants
I had two clumps of cardamom limping along in Sanctuary for the last few years. They had been only barely surviving in pots for a few years before I planted them out and I assumed that they had died but when we were redesigning the garden beds and irrigating Sanctuary in December last year we found both plants alive and well so I carefully dug them up and planted one clump in it’s entirety and gingerly (pun not intended) separated the other clump into a series of smaller plants to see if they would grow. They all grew happily, albeit slowly thanks to a cooler summer, and are just starting to really take off now that the weather has warmed up. I will divide up the other clump next year and will move some of these cardamom plants to other wicking beds to share the love. Cardamom has glorious white orchid like flowers. I can’t wait to see one flower one day 🙂
Clancy of the overflow surrounded by bags of hay and chook manure
Clancy of the overflow surrounded by bags of hay and chook manure. He had to be moved as we needed the space between the wicking beds where he was situated to fill up with bags of spare dry grass clippings. I cleared out the hen house the other day and bagged up the resulting bedding that can be used to top dress the gardens next year. I love having a stash of soil ameliorates ready and waiting for whenever we need them. It makes me feel rich 🙂

We collected more grass from the park over the Batman Bridge and have stashed it to use as mulch in Sanctuary. I also cleared out the chook coop and replaced the bedding and instead of just shoveling the bedding out of the coop and forgetting about it, I shoveled it and Steve barrowed it into the house fence and I bagged it up the next day to be saved to use as top dressing, nitrogen rich mulch in the fridge wicking beds when we put in our autumn crops. I am really looking forward to growing broad beans this year. I love them and nothing tastes as good as homegrown broad beans fresh from the garden.

Wicking bed with Japanese sweet potatoes
This wicking bed doesn’t get a lot of light but it was the only bed lying fallow for us to plant out these Japanese sweet potatoes in. I had them stashed under the bed (the tubers) and read that you just plant them out like regular potatoes. I also started off some sweet potato slips growing in water and planted them out alongside the root grown Japanese sweet potatoes. We don’t get a lot of frost here so fingers crossed they will limp their way through winter and might keep growing next year. I would like to take cuttings from them and grow them inside the glasshouse over winter to ensure we have sweet potatoes next year ready to plant out.
Cherimoya seedling
This is one of the cherimoya  (a type of custard apple) seedlings that survived to be planted out this year in Sanctuary. As soon as I planted them out they took off and are much happier now that they have their roots in the soil. They overwintered in Sanctuary last year so I am not worried about them. I might even plant out my babaco (star fruit) tree and this section of Sanctuary can be the tropical fruit garden. I love a good experiment and love it even more when it works 🙂
New growth on the kaffir lime tree
It’s been a good year for the kaffir lime. This is all new growth on it and it has a lot of flowers at the moment. We transplanted a long suffering mandarin tree into Sanctuary and it has rewarded us by fruiting up nicely.
Cherry trees going mental in Sanctuary
Cherry trees going mental in Sanctuary

Well that’s another month or so ticked off the calendar for 2017 and on the whole, we have heartily enjoyed almost every minute of it. The fridge wicking beds have been an incredible triumph and have proved that the system works really well. I have loved regaining my early mornings for reading blogs and researching rather than spending 2 – 3 hours a day watering. The watering that we do is much more economical as well and we don’t waste water. The drip irrigation inside Sanctuary is working amazingly well and is directing water to where it is needed. Everything is growing like topsy and every time I head up to Sanctuary it makes me smile. Our studies are interesting and we are learning heaps. We followed one of our lecturers and watched how to make a short documentary the other day which was both enlightening and a huge relief as it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. 2017 is shaping up to be a brilliant year and although it hasn’t been very hot this year, I am really looking forward to firing Brunhilda up for the duration as I have some serious plans for cooking that require her multiple cooking surfaces and 4 ovens to accomplish. Till next time, I hope you are all enjoying yourselves on your respective sides of the world. Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere and we are getting lovely cool balmy days here in the south. Life is good and living it is a privilege and a joy 🙂

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. We have had summer for three weeks. I am sad that the mornings are already dark when I rise but glad that the sun shines and the days are warm. Your classes sound more fun this year than they were last year. Good luck with all the filming and so on – all way over my head! The garden looks amazing and everything is growing so well in those fridges. It was worth all the work and effort that went into making this idea work wasn’t it. You two are very resourceful! I can’t bear the taste of coriander – no Thai food for me! Steve and I come from some sub-set of European ancestry that has a genetic variation and we taste something else when faced with coriander. I don’t understand it at all really but do find it fascinating that researchers are determined to uncover the why on this one. Lovely to hear how from you, keep on having fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think that we in the south have had a longer and warmer autumn predicted. I am sure that doesn’t warm the cockles of the upper eastern boards hearts as they have had a stinker of a hot and dry summer but for those of us still trying to ripen our tomatoes, it is a big deal. It’s dark here in the mornings as well. We have to shuffle Bezial off his comfy chair to go for his walk in the dark with an eager Earl. My daughters both HATE coriander. I think I might be the only one that loves it in my family to be honest. The filming is over the top of my head as well BUT this year, I am determined not to fret about it, just do the best I can to learn the craft. I would like to learn how to make halfway decent short documentaries/films and then I can post them on my Vimeo channel and share them with the blog about what we are doing here and maybe some of the interesting things about our state. I am sure people would be interested in the process for how to make a fridge wicking bed if they could watch a video about it. I just want to spread the word. If you can garden and grow your own food it’s fantastic, but if you can do it on the cheap, it opens up a whole new world for many people out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would love to see movies of your garden and your projects. I think both of you would be fun presenters too! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        I think I would make Stevieboy (the official garden gnome mascot) do the talking. I don’t like my voice (or how I look) so I would do the filming. It’s amazing what you can do with editing software these days.

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      3. I understand! The perennial challenge for us women!! 🙂 However you decide to do it I am looking forward to watching 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your updates so much. It’s particularly good to see that all that crazy work you put into the fridge wicking beds is paying dividends now. You’re clearly a pair of permaculture geniuses!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I wish Ms T. The truth is that we are pedaling as fast as we can and at least now, we aren’t going backwards any more ;). The fridge wickers have been very productive and as we planted them out in haste, as our season was rapidly running out and started very late, we expected to repent at leisure but they have grown strongly and incredibly well on about a quarter of the water that we used to use in Sanctuary so I call that a solid score. I can’t wait to start growing from seed in August this year and planting our very own plants out into the fridge wickers next year. Its a really lovely experiment and I do love a good experiment, especially when it takes you a step closer to where you want to be at 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Incredibly green and productive now. I’m so glad that all of your hard work with the fridges has paid off. Enjoy the harvest.
    P.S. I bought some fresh turmeric to plant – wish me luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      It isn’t as hard as people say it is to grow turmeric. We planted some out in Sanctuary and it grew despite difficult conditions and then came up again the next year. We are growing cardamom here, which most people tell us is tropical but Tasmania is decidedly NOT tropical. I also have custard apples and a star fruit (babaco) plant growing as well as lots of seed grown avocados. I think you have to take what the “experts” tell you with a pinch of salt. Especially when you are growing fruit from seed, as nothing ventured, nothing gained and the small price it takes to plant a seed can result in a seriously excellent result. One day we will be self sufficient in avocados and figs. That will have been because we were tenacious in our desire to have them and despite not having the small fortune we needed to buy the trees outright, there are other ways around the equation and growing from cuttings and seeds just takes a bit longer is all. I can’t wait to see how your turmeric experiment goes 🙂

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      1. Not trying would be certain failure. As you say, nothing ventured….
        I’ll let you know how I get on 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Brilliant 🙂

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  4. So many fantastic things growing. Those beetroot are particularly stunning. Remind me about your studies…are they just for the pleasure and challenge or is there a master plan at the end?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Pleasure and challenge but if it gives us an edge and we might be able to find employment with this additional skill then “bring it on!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. foodnstuff says:

    Wow! A long post. I had to keep going back and forth from comment box to post because I couldn’t remember all the things i wanted to say.

    So…..yes the bees love garlic chives here too, but I have never seen a bumble bee…wouldn’t know one if I saw it. I’m growing as many clumps as I can and going to spread them around the food forest.

    Those Chinese veggies look like tatsoi, the dark green ones anyway. It’s great in stir fries, but maybe you aren’t into stir fries. Agree about Bunnings labelling….I have told them many times about wrongly labelled natives, although it’s more likely the fault of their suppliers…Bunnings are only retailers after all, not nursery people.

    I had 4 pepinos looking ripe. When I tried to pick them 3 pulled away from the stem easily and the fourth didn’t want to, so I left it there. Wondering if that is a better sign of ripeness than just colour. I presume they’d actually fall when ripe, but then everything that lives on the ground would be in for the kill and I like to get there first.

    Warrigal Greens are a great groundcover and self-sow easily. All mine died back last summer when it was so dry but new seedlings grew up again in winter. They’ve lasted through this summer, because we had more rain. The chooks love it and it makes a great spinach/silver beet substitute. Yours should be OK in sanctuary, providing they don’t dry out.

    Sounds like everything is finally working for you and that’s good to hear. So satisfying to go out into the garden and pick dinner. I’m still eating meat, but I can boast that all the veggies on the plate at the moment have been grown by me.

    Turmeric…..still have mine in a pot in the polyhouse. If I get many tubers this year I will dare to put some in the garden the following year.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Tatsoi? I will do some research on it. I was a bit snitty that it was labeled “Japanese spinach” as it bloody well isn’t! I am not sure what the big Chinese veg in the middle of that photo is. It looks a bit like an open hearted Chinese cabbage. I have learned that most of what I planted at the beginning of summer shouldn’t actually be planted in summer at all and should be planted now. I just bought punnets of what was in Bunnings at the time and I don’t think that they should sell veg seedlings that aren’t in season. There is SO much to learn about this gardening lark! I love perennials as they do what they do when they are supposed to do it with no prompting (or stuffing up) from me. I was wondering why my silverbeet and beetroots were going to seed. Now I know!

      Cheers for the heads up on the pepinos Bev. I have one big one that looks like it is ripening up nicely but it wants to stay on it’s stem so I, like you, figured that it would give a bit easier if it was ready to “fall” and be harvested. I will keep a good eye on it now that I know and will check it every day.

      Glad to hear about the warrigal greens. I have planted them in one of the garden beds as I figure the more the merrier when it comes to ground covers under the fruit and nut trees. The two small plants that I pulled out of the ground (and stored in a black dog poop sack) I didn’t think would grow as I didn’t actually take much care pulling them out of the ground, they had exposed roots with no soil on, they were in the dog poo bag for a couple of hours before I could get home and plant them and they were wilted when I did so I wasn’t holding out great hopes but they perked up within hours of being planted and haven’t looked back so fingers crossed they keep on growing and as their roots are in drip irrigated territory, they should be OK.

      I truly think that there is nothing as good as growing your own, whether it be veggies or chooks/rabbits for meat etc. Even though we aren’t eating eggs we are going to keep a few chooks (once we cull our lot) to scratch around and eat insects and to give us lovely nitrogen rich bedding hay as it’s wonderful for the garden so I figure chooks and I are going to have a long and illustrious future.

      I have my turmeric in a wicking fridge end. It’s never grown better and as it is near the house, when it dies down it should be protected because of the bricks and bulk of the house. I have planted out tropical fruit trees directly into the ground in Sanctuary as I figured that they survived in pots over winter last year so being in the ground, surrounded by green ground covers should give them a bit of protection. If they can’t survive here in the ground then I can’t use them to be honest so they have to be thrown in at the deep end.

      I need to find a spot to plant out my little macadamia nut trees. They need to be in the ground as they aren’t growing much in pots and the problem with putting things in the ground here is that a/ you have to protect EVERYTHING even when it’s inside the house fence (possum invaders) and b/ you have to dig a “hole” in some of the most inhospitable soil I have ever had to deal with. I guess it’s all a learning process and the sooner I plant them out, the closer I get to a macadamia nut harvest some time in the future. It’s all relative.

      Cheers for reading my posts Bev. I love your excellent feedback and comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. foodnstuff says:

        Curious as to why you don’t eat eggs as they are au natural for you, so to speak, i.e. just go hunt and gather them. Is your vegetarianism an ethical or a dietetic reason?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        I have been vegan for about 15 years now Bev. I was a vegetarian for 11 years before that. Its an ethical and dietary thing for me. I like the taste of meat (not that I can really remember how it tastes any more 😉 ) It is just a lot cheaper and I think healthier not to eat it. Steve is now vegan, has lost 12kg without even trying, looks a lot healthier (despite that photo I shared 😉 ) and hasn’t missed meat once. He does miss cheese a bit but milk makes him very nasal and he used to snore a lot. He doesn’t snore at all now but as Earl makes up for both of them I still get woken up by snoring ;). Our food bill has reduced hugely now that we are both vegan and I am cooking much nicer food as before I was cooking 2 meals a night, now I just cook one and can experiment more with some of the interesting ingredients and cooking styles as we are both eating the same thing. I like to make things from scratch and out of natural ingredients so am having a lot of fun baking and creating new things to substitute for what Steve used to eat. It’s amazing how good vegan food can taste if you put a bit of thought into it. I made a really tasty version of an all veggie cottage pie. I lightly steamed cauliflower, sweet potato chunks and some mixed veg containing corn, peas and carrots and made up a really delicious rich onion, mushroom and beer gravy from this recipe: – (the ingredients for the gravy are after the ingredients for the “meat”loaf) which is the best gravy I have ever eaten and is really easy to make…

        https://avirtualvegan.com/vegan-meatloaf-with-gravy/

        The only difference is that we saute thin sliced onion and mushrooms together till they are caramelised and brown and add beer to them and reduce till the beer has evaporated. I don’t use nutritional yeast. I think it is just an expensive gimic and it bloody well doesn’t taste like cheese! I am tired of vegans pumping it’s value up and I don’t particularly like the flavour so refuse to pay the exorbitant amount for what amounts to a bit of powder. I would rather add umami flavour by adding a bit of vegemite or miso (but this gravy doesn’t need it). It’s much nicer than regular gravy. I stirred this gravy through the steamed veggies and spooned it into a casserole dish. Next I steamed up some potato chunks till they were tender. I had cooked some vegan white sauce using 100% wholemeal flour (trying to be healthier and get more fibre) and I stirred some of that through the potato along with some salt, pepper and a shake of Italian mixed herbs. I then spread that over the top of the beery gravy vegetables and it formed a lovely lightly browned crust (thanks to the white sauce) when we cooked it in the covered bbq (still too warm to light Brunhilda). It just takes a bit of imagination and I find that because we aren’t buying meat, I can afford more fresh veggies like mushrooms etc. but I still refuse point blank to pay $9 for a tiny eggplant! I adore them but that’s just silly money. The dogs eat the eggs so there isn’t any waste but at the moment, all of our hens are going feral, shacking up in the shrubs “somewhere” on our 4 acres and bringing out tonnes of babies. I figure we have had at least 60 babies added to the mix over the last couple of months and we are drowning in chooks!

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      3. foodnstuff says:

        Thanks for the comprehensive reply re veganism. I might give up meat for ethical reasons but never for dietary reasons….I think it is just too important now for the nutrients that can’t be got anywhere else and esp for the saturated fat. Plus it means meals would be higher carb and I’m trying to go low carb now. Just reading The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz and it’s amazing and disgusting how Big Food, with govt acceptance, has taken over controlling the Western diet to the extent that fat and cholesterol were demonised as causing CHD without any proper scientific studies confirming it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. narf7 says:

        I think everyone has to make up their own minds about what is right for them in the end. We only get one life 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Spy Garden says:

    Happy to hear all is well in Sanctuary/Narnia! Those beets are beautiful! mmm I LOVE cilantro/coriander too! (no one else in my family is too big of a fan). Your post is making me eager for planting (and eating) fresh veggies!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We are in the throes of a lovely summer that doesn’t seem to want to end so hopefully we will get to harvest those big San Mazano tomatoes and Gross Lisse that are getting bigger but not riper. There is something magical about harvesting vegetables that you had a hand in working with nature to grow. It reconnects you to the earth in wonderful ways 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. aFrankAngle says:

    Seems your summer has yielded a bountiful crop. 🙂 … which also means autumn is around the corner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Usually we are overjoyed at the prospect of autumn after a long dry period of summer but this year we have pretty much had spring all year and autumn is exactly the same so I figure we have done alright this year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pink gooseberry? I think I learn about a new plant every time you mention just a few things that are growing in your garden! Do they taste like green gooseberries? Do you cook them? So curious…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think they must taste like English green gooseberries as they grow exactly like them. I have lots of them growing on in small pots so I can plant out some of them and use the rest to swap for other interesting things. I LOVE gardening experiments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Robbie says:

    “I sometimes think I am more excited about experimenting with plants than I am harvesting them.” LOL
    I totally get that!!!! I am the same way. I get so excited about something new that I fall over my feet to get to it in the garden. I then calm down later in the season when I see it taking over my garden! I get so excited about plants that I wonder if I am a bit nutty-well, I know I am. I am thrilled when I get something to grow from seed or a cutting etc. I wonder if I ever will tire of the next new thing I want to grow. I don’t have all the space you have so I can’t imagine what I would do with all that space-WOW. I am starting to slow down and finding I have my favorites and I am learning that a small urban lot does not mean you can grow everything you want to grow in the world. I am having to take some things out and keep my favorites:-) OH well, kind of like a kid with too many toys.
    Your chinese vegetables, could you saute them with temph or something? I saute a lot of my chinese veggies or put them in soup:-) You have celery so you can stir fry a lot or make a lot of soup this winter. My celery stayed around until it dipped in the singles. It is a pretty tough plant. I put in a bed of leaf celery this year since I never have enough. It comes back sometimes where stalk celery does not in my garden.
    Your garden looks beautiful!

    I had to chuckle about your comment- furniture eating dogs. My daughter got a new dog, and he was a pit-lab mix and is close to 90 pounds. He ate 3 couches-LOL. Well, it was not funny at the time, but I remember her bringing stray animals to my house when she was a living with us. I told her how they ruined my house all her animals, now she knows. I raised her little furry kids when she left. At one time we had 5 dogs, 3 kids, 3 cats. pet hamsters, rats, mice, frogs etc… Now only one dog, 3 cats ( one is not doing well now), and no kids. It is pretty quiet and I have no idea how I ever had that many dogs!!!
    Enjoyed reading your post! Can’t wait to see your movies you make:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Earl didn’t only eat the furniture, he ate a steering wheel, 3 gear knobs, half of my precious potted plants (and he buried bones in them!), a LOT of shoes and some electrical cords. He also ate through 4 of his leads which is why he has a long lead now made of rope. He could probably have a nicer lead but this one allows him a lot of room and all I have to do is wrangle him like a steer whenever he gets too excited. It does wonders for my biceps ;).

      I did a bit of research about those “Chinese” greens and it turns out the nursery where I bought them was only half fibbing. They are actually called Japanese mustard spinach and I texted my daughter to ask her if she wanted them for making kimchi but haven’t heard back from her as of yet.

      I couldn’t imagine so many dogs but we have over 100 chickens at the moment as they had a mass breeding attempt this season and have decided to overthrow the establishment and take over the world. We are going through a 20kg sack of wheat in 3 days! We are going to have to start culling more roosters but the big problem lies in that many of them are now living outside the coop and are almost feral. Animals have a way of taking over.

      We are in the planning stages for our documentaries at the moment. They are due next month! Steve and I are beavering away trying to learn all that we can about filming etc. and are going to shoot our documentaries on his Nikon so that we can learn how to use it to the max. We will shoot our dramas on one of the class cameras but we figured we may as well learn how to make the most out of his Nikon as that is what we have available to us here for when we are no longer in class.

      Have a lovely day Robbie and thank you for your lovely comment. I always look forward to them as you are almost as excited as I am about gardening and life. It’s great to meet fellow life enthusiasts as they buoy you up when things start to flag 🙂

      Like

  10. I know I know… I am late as ever… LOL.. Your garden produce is looking well dear Fran.. And it sounds as if you are having a wonderful time learning to film make, and meeting interesting people doing it too..
    Sounds also like those chickens have been busy lol… No doubt hiding their eggs, 🙂
    Its so good to see your new system working so well, cutting down all that watering time..
    I managed to get into the allotments last week for an hour.. I didn’t over do it.. just did a bit of hoeing and tidying up.. I came home and slept for 2 hours..
    Yesterday was the first real day I felt more energised.. A Change after the Full Moon for sure… lol.. Though I promise I didn’t howwwwwlllll…. 🙂

    Lovely to see how things are progressing. Nothing really to report on my garden blog at the moment.. there are only so many photos you can show of seedlings lol.. 🙂

    Have a great week.. and take care.. Lots of Love and Hugs
    Sue xxx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Pretty soon those seedlings will be ready to plant and it will be all systems GO! And you and your husband will be flat out. The summer goes very quickly when you are head down, bottoms up, in the garden 🙂

      Like

  11. Hi Fran, I was glad to read about your harvesting triumphs over the summer period. It looks as though you have the upper hand now that you have dealt with the rodent problem.
    Those stripey beetroot look very appetising – lots of eye appeal!
    I look forward to viewing your videos on this blog as your course progresses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Hi Margaret, we are having fun learning how to make videos and have a really great class this year where everyone is focused on doing the best that they can and we are all helping each other to achieve our goals. That kind of class doesn’t happen every day. We are having a few problems with the soil in the wicking beds holding too much moisture at the moment with resulting powdery mildew on the leafy greens but as it’s our first year of gardening this way, I was expecting to have a few unforeseen problems. I have been top watering the beds to make sure that they dry out and when I harvested the beetroots I realised that they didn’t need top watering as the soil was saturated so we might just have to add a little regular soil to the mix to rectify the problem. Things like lettuce, strawberries and carrots went mad and grew like topsy but as soon as it got a bit warmer here (March 😉 ) the greens all started to topple to powdery mildew. I couldn’t use the greens from the beetroot that I harvested but the duck enjoyed them. I don’t think we have completely managed to remove our rat problem as I was waiting to harvest a lovely big pepino till it was perfectly ripe and it was scoffed by rats along with it’s less ripe cousin so I had best start baiting inside Sanctuary again.

      Like

  12. brymnsons says:

    Finally getting around to reading my saved blogs lol. I’m envying the wicking fridges 🙂 (or is that wicked fridges..) We have had the best weather here. Beautiful sunny days and mild to chilly nights. We are heading for a record number of dry days… but it is so lovely that I don’t mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We had the same here with low rainfall but the nights were cool, the days were blissfully warm (not now, we are lucky to get 14C!) and the plants were loving it. Everything is starting to die back and the trees are all losing their leaves as it’s more than obvious that we are going to hit winter running and it is likely to be a cold one. 3 cheers for Brunhilda! I think you can call the fridges whatever you like so long as they grow our veggies 😉

      Like

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