DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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7 December 2015

Winding down

Well, the first week of summer has been and gone and was marked in my traditional way - eating fresh yellow peaches. I think many of us mark the changing of the seasons with different foods and for me, everything about those first golden peaches says summer, heat, knitting and cricket. The heady aroma, the sight of peaches sitting in a bowl, the temptation to buy a tray of them and make peach jam. It's all there to tell me that Christmas is on the way and for the next three months there will be peaches to enjoy.

These chillies are the extremely hot and small Trinidad Scorpion and next to them and below, the mild large yellow Hungarian wax pepper. They turn orange when they ripen.

I've been busy with the library talks over the past two weeks and have the last two this week at Caloundra and Maroochydore. It's been a real pleasure to meet so many people interested in creating a simple Christmas for their families. I've noticed a real change this year in the number of people coming along to the talks and the enthusiasm they've taken on their various life changes. Mindsets are shifting and that has to be a good thing. I've taken Maggie the rabbit with me to the talks. She travels inside a calico bag and rides in my red shopping trolley then sits on the table during the talks. She's version 3 now; I changed the shoe laces on her boots from embroidery cotton to hemp string. I've decided to make another one before Christmas for another little girl I know so during this week, I'll gather my materials and then sew and dress her next week. I'm looking forward to going through the process again. I'll take photos so you can see her.


Meanwhile, out in the chook house, the girls are diligently sitting on eggs and refuse to be moved. These are three breeds we won't keep again because of their tendency to brood - Australorps, Wyandottes and this particular Frizzle, which I think is a Rhode Island Red cross. They're wonderful if you intend to raise your own chooks but not so wonderful if you don't.

Outside in our backyard, the hot weather is taking its toll on our vegetable garden and, as usual, there are broody chickens sitting on eggs that will never hatch. The cucumbers have finished and been pulled out, blight has taken hold of the Rapunzel tomatoes, the lettuce in the ground has all bolted to seed in the heat and the flat leaf parsley is forming flowers. But on the other hand, the first of the rosellas are on the bushes, chillies and capsicums are growing like wild fire and the raspberries canes have reached the top of the trellis. And as usual, the rosemary, sage, curly parsley, Welsh onions, comfrey, oregano and kale are all loving the heat and growing strong. There are more than enough blueberries and passionfruit too, they're not quite ready to pick yet, but it won't be long.

 Passionfruit above and raspberries below.

I'm also caring for a trough of baby lettuce in the bush house. When our lettuce go to seed in summer, these troughs keep us going for another six weeks. They only get a couple of hours of sun in the early morning, the rest of the day they're under 80 percent shadecloth. They're a handy crop to have in summer and instead of buying lettuce, I just go outside with my scissors and cut a bowl full of baby leaves.

As soon as these tomatoes are picked, we'll rip out the blight effected vines and let the soil rest for a few months.


Nothing can kill this kale. It will go on and on over summer and still be there in winter. It happily grows alongside the herbs.
The rosellas are flowering but still have a long way to go before we have enough of them for jam, cordial and tea.

After Thursday, I have no engagements, no deadlines, no articles to write. I'm a free agent for a couple of months and I'm looking forward to that a lot. I have a few projects to make, some gardening to do and a little bit of cleaning but apart from that I'll be relaxing along with the rest of you over the summer holidays. I won't write the blog for a couple of weeks over Christmas but will be here when I can be until then.  I hope you're looking forward to the holidays too, and if you're in a colder climate, that you've got your fires burning. How I envy you that time you'll have in front of your fire. But we'll be sitting here clinking our iced drinks, knitting with feet up and watching the Boxing Day cricket test. (Hello Sue.) Good times!

26 comments:

  1. I have and an Australorp and a Wynandotte that are both broody at the moment too, frustrating!

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  2. Hi Rhonda, I've been enjoying reading your blog for a few months now and I purchased a Rupunzel tomato plant after reading about it here. My plant appears to be producing well and I expect to have the first fruit ripening around Christmas. I was wondering about your thoughts on it. Would you grow it again? Cheers, Ben

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    1. If we didn't have blight, I'd grow them again, Ben. I don't think I'll risk it a second time though. I liked the taste of the Rapunzels, they are prolific fruiters, but it looks like they have little resistance to the blight we have here.
      We have a volunteer cherry tomato that seems to be resistant to blight so I'll continue on with them, we have several coming up in the compost heap at the moment. I think I can't live without at least one of the beefsteak varieties - such as Brandywine, so I'll grow them again next year along with our volunteer cherry.
      I'm interested to know how you go with yours, Ben,so keep in touch please.

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    2. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes at our place. Hopefully I'll get to taste one or two as we have nightly visitors who have taken a liking to the unripe fruit.

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  3. Isn't this planet amazing! There you are, with your iced tea, and the heat, while here I'm curled up with a hot chocolate, wondering how many layers to put on in hope of keeping warm! And I do envy your fresh peaches - all fresh fruit actually. In all the years I've planted fruit trees, about the only ones that produced every year were the sour cherry. Peaches, maybe one year in five. I don't have a fireplace anymore,but I dream about them!
    Have a wonderful week!

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  4. Aah,I'm about to hatch 2 dozen Australorps chickens & I didn't see anything about them being a particularly broody lot ! Oh well just have to deal with it now lol ! The grandchildren are very excited to come & see new chickens always !! Have a good week everyone!

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    1. Gayle, they're lovely chooks the Australorps, maybe I just have a couple of unusually broody girls. Good luck with your hatchlings. The grandkids will be smitten I'm sure.

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  5. You can keep the cricket Rhonda, I'm a tennis gal. Can't actually play to save myself, but I love to watch the pro's. Once Christmas is over you'll find me on the lounge, cross-stitch in hand, watching the tennis...often until the wee hours of the morning :)
    Cassandra

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  6. Hi Rhonda
    Last year I kind of gave up on the veg patch over summer but then accidentally grew some great pumpkins that came up from the compost so this year I am doing that again but I have also deliberately planted some watermelon and corn and the latter is looking amazing. Definitely not planting lettuce out in the garden but I am growing some in self watering pots that we made ourselves and they are in partial shade. I am also trying moneymaker tomatoes for the first time, also in wicking pots. I have grown them from seed after reading a recommendation by Annette McFarlane for SE Queensland tomato varieties so they are a while off flowering yet - have you ever tried them? I also have shallots, chilli and a lot of herbs in self watering pots that we made and so much easier to control the water when it gets really hot and dry and I just rotate the crops as they finish.

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    1. In our climate there is a select group of plants that do well over summer, if you give them water every second day, but the majority them just struggle. So it's wise to grow plants that love the heat. Pumpkins, corn and melons are a good choice, as are capsicums and chillies, most herbs, curly kale and if you have a shale tunnel, silverbeet and beetroot. We've grown Moneymakers, which are very tasty, but the only tomato that will grow well over summer here is our little volunteer which I think might be Tommy Toe. The rest are too much trouble during those very hot months. All tomatoes struggle to set fruit and self pollinate over about 30C, it becomes impossible when it's 35C. So choose your battles over summer and be prepared to do that watering. We'll let our garden go now until March and the only plants that will survive from now on are those I've mentioned above.

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  7. your garden is amazing rhonda, even with the blight!
    i have lots of weeding to do & trying to keep everything alive over the hot summer, so far the lamb's ears seem to be suffering the worse, so it's back in a pot til i can find a less sunny spot for it out in the garden (didn't like my full sun)
    making a lot of dish cloths at the moment, not watching the cricket but do enjoy some tv shows
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  8. Okay Rhonda, I am impressed. Do you actually eat the Scorpion pepper? It is native to my island and only the strong at heart here brave its sting =)
    Very envious of your rosellas (we call it sorrel and it is one of the national must haves for the Christmas season), after several bountiful years I have no shrubs this year. As the seeds germinated they were devoured by bachac. One usually sees van loads of them for sale on the roadside at this time of year. There are white, red and deep reddish purple varieties.
    I do have passion fruit though. Lots of volunteers this year.

    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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    1. Hi Vicki. No, I don't eat that one, I grow it for Sunny who loves her chillies hot. I generally eat the jalapeño that is fruiting too but I didn't take a photo.

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  9. It's nice that you are winding down from the busy year and can enjoy a few craft projects and the cricket. I have made presents for my 4 big sisters, out of my kitchen and from now on I'll do a bit of baking which I gift away to friends and family. Everybody loves my Christmas biscuits and goodies and I love giving them.
    Christmas lunch for our big, combined family will be in a caravan park this year, so that should be fun and interesting - lots of room for the littles to run and play. Enjoy this time of year Rhonda and Hanno,
    Cheers - Joolz xxu

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    1. Joolz, you're planning a lovely Christmas by the sound of it - the kitchen goodies and the day at the caravan park. Merry Christmas love. xx

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  10. Rhonda, thanks for that tidbit about Australorps. We were thinkinng about getting them for eggs soon, as I am so taken with their colour. Might have to think about some other breed, now that you mention their tendency to be broody. Our chickens have started to eat their eggs (one of them seems to be laying soft shelled (or shell-less) ones. We're trying to remedy that but it seems to be a slippery slope.

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  11. Hi Rhonda, I'm sure you will enjoy having some time with few commitments - isn't it the best to wake up and know you can do whatever you want to do that day? I hope you, Hanno and the rest of your family have a great time together over the holidays! It feels odd to hear you and the other posters talking about your gardens and the heat. It's not unusual for there to be a lot of snow on the ground by now in Minnesota, and some very cold temps, but the few inches of snow we had last week has melted away and it was in the 40s today. It feels unnatural, but it does make it driving easier. I went out today to buy a wreath to take out to cemetary for my Dad and the lack of snow will make it easier to get that in place. I also did some sewing/mending today for my Mom. Hope all of you Aussies get a long, gentle rain some time soon. Beth in MN

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  12. Isn`t it amazing how much variety there is in this country! Here in central Tasmania we have a fairly short growing season so everything is planted in a rush in November (keeping our fingers crossed for no late frost)and February and March is a massive preserving time. Between Christmas and New Year, all the winter vegies are put in (carrots, cabbages, leeks, kale). Even though it`s summer here, we had to have a fire here last week -very cosy watching the cricket in front of the fire. I`m so excited- my Christmas present this year is a brand new Rayburn slow combustion stove. Lots of cosy winter cooking coming up!!

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  13. I have an australorp, and can barely get her to sit on the nest to lay an egg, she has never gone broody and is around 3-4 I think. My silver spangled hamburg on the other hand, who's my best layer, goes broody at the drop of a hat.....funny things, our chickens :) I also have a plymouth rock who pops her eggs out where ever she happens to be standing and like Mrs Meagre's hen, she often eats them, unless I'm lucky enough to be up the yard when she lays. Luckily she doesn't rob the nests, too lazy I think to climb the ladder. I'm letting my garden wind down too, just keeping it nice and neat, as I'll be moving mid-February, but I have plenty of volunteer cherry tomatoes, my "ratatouille garden" of eggplant, zucchini and capsicums, so they'll keep me going. Summer break, enjoy it Rhonda.

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  14. It always boggles my mind a little to think of celebrating Christmas in the height of summer. I have never been south of the equator though. I hope that you enjoy your break and just have plenty of lovely time to putter and enjoy the season though. Blessings to you Rhonda!

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  15. So interesting to read of what is thriving in your garden this summer and what is not - especially the kale and your brilliant baby lettuce idea. Our neighbour gifted us some lettuce seedlings and though kept in pots on the deck they've bolted rather fast so I'm thinking of a 'tighter' planting of lettuce with six in a pot and just collecting the baby leaves as you have done. I'm slowly grasping the limits of what I can grow in a Townsville summer.
    Re:chickens - we had a Rhode Island Red when we lived in Alice Springs and she was never broody. In fact, surprisingly, she lay an egg every single day regardless of the heat or the season. Hoping to get chooks again one day.
    Something interesting - we emptied old soil from failed styrofoam trays into the back corner of the yard under the shade of the mango tree and palms. I must have tried to grow baby tomatoes in them a year or two ago because I have two strong plants with tomatoes growing in the shade f the trees! Amazing considering we can't grow tomatoes up here in summer. A cucumber plant came up too but quickly expired (though the puppy may have had something to do with that).
    Have a lovely rest over Christmas, Rhonda.

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  16. as always garden is looking good, mine is mulch even the rosellas I planted a few months back are half the height they were when I planted them.
    I had wanted so much to make rosella chutney but not to be :(
    Hope you have a nice storm free Christmas

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  17. the first thing I loved about you was that you also delight in knitting and watching cricket at the same time which to my mind is the ultimate treat lol
    xoxoxo
    Hope you are resting well today
    xxx

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  18. I love having friends like you in the Southern hemisphere so I can get out of the cold for a little while. Your garden looks wonderful; shame about the blight on the tomatoes. It seems pretty ubiquitous all over the world. My garden here in England has one brave pink rose trying to bloom for Britain, but some of the beautiful winter flowers are starting to come. Happy Christmas to you down there in the warmth. We're about to lay an open fire on to chase away the chill.

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    1. I really envy that fire, Veronica. Merry Christmas dear.

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