This blog is the result of years of procrastination and fear and a few months of guilty panicks. (once you have a button on your website that says blog you really do have to do something about it)
I’m hoping to write a post – see I’ve got the language - each month for a whole year.
Whoa! That was really hard to say. Because I can’t spell. And I don’t know anything about grammar. Except that dashes seem to work well to hold thoughts apart in a sentence.
And what if I have PMT one day and write something really nasty? Or stupid? Or make something up that is just not true and press the send button before I realise that that happened in my books not my real life? What if I get sad about my corn seed being eaten by those horrid little ginger ants and swear?
Don’t worry, everyone keeps saying, ‘it’s okay.’ People expect blogs to be full on spelling mistakes and uncontrolled, unedited thoughts.’
I hope so.
I’m in Fremantle in WA at the moment running writing workshops with school groups (playing with kids doesn’t sound professional enough does it).
I rang last night to check my veggie garden – and it does not sound good.
Now this is where skype would be very useful – imagine if you could see not have to rely on other people’s descriptions of, ‘yeah I think it’s okay. I haven’t looked today. But I’m sure it’s all good.’
Anyway I shouldn’t have thrown a tantrum because after they did look it was all bad news. My newly planted corn seeds have disappeared. Not all of them – some are big and beautiful – fertiliser them quickly. Put a ring of pig wire around them to stop them getting blown over in the next big storm.
But the bed I thought would be the best - I planted them into the best piece of dirt in the whole veggie garden – the bit that until a week ago had the compost pile on top of it – and not a flicker or green came up – ants? It did rain a lot two days after I planted them – perhaps they got drowned. Or pumbled to death and the poor squashy bits eaten by snails.
I hope I get better at this.
I will send this now before I panic and run back to my little hole. Please ask questions – that would be much easier.
Some knock’em’down tips
- A dab of Caster oil on cotton wool or a band-aid over cuts and infected sores works wonders. Change it twice a day and it will heal in no time.
- Keep all your eggshells and mix them into the potting mix you use for your fragile and finicky ferns. They love it.
- Wear your sunglasses when driving through those big storms, they reduce the glare and you can see much better.
- Use your paper/wax milk and ice coffee cartons to plant cuttings in. By the time the plants have taken the box is ready to decompose.
- Keep your ducklings and chickens in a small movable cage (about 2 m long by 1.5 m wide for eight to less than 5 birds). Move it to give them plenty of green feed. This way they grow quickly and healthily, are kept safe from predators (and they don’t poo on the varandah or lay eggs in the washing basket) and they get fresh food and exercise so are tender and tasty.
- Throw grass cuttings, spear grass or hay into the toilet corner of the pig pen. Every few months collect it and put it in the compost. However, make sure you put a bit of shelter over it or when it rains, it will become the most disgusting fungusy, rotting smelly slop that no one will collect.
- Wild passionfruit leaves and green fruit will relieve bites and stings. Just crush them and rub them on and relief is instant.
Ready feasts for march
Eggplants are dripping with fruit right now but will grow all year round. Don’t plant too many. A couple of plants next to the pig or chook pens will feed you and the pig in the Dry, and keep you pretty sick of eggplant in the Wet.
I usually germinate them in trays but I’ve heard of people who just throw the seeds in prepared soil and off they go. Fertilise the seedlings from about two weeks old with a weak solution of chook poo and feed well with compost.
Plant them out when they’re about 10 to 12 cm high (about six weeks) in the late afternoon or on an overcast day. They don’t need to go into the covered veggie garden. They are pretty tough. Feed them about every three months with a heavy mulching over a good sprinkling of chook poo or blood and bone about 15 cm from the base.
You should be picking fruit within a couple of months and although they go on and off, they’ll fruit for a couple of years. Pick the fruit when it is young - before it stops growing. The earlier you pick them the less seeds you’ll get the skin gets tough and bitter.
I hose aphids off with a strong blast of water and after a while the ants get the message. But, if you have particularly stubborn ants, a solution of a tablespoon of metho and a tablespoon of washing up liquid mixed in a cup of water seems to make the them go dry and still - I think they suffocate.
Like most things that grows really well in our climate, husbands and teenagers don’t like them. And I must admit that recipes that make them taste like chocolate are hard to come by. But! Add some chilli, baste them in olive oil and garlic – make them into pickles and marinade them. (now my mouth is watering.
(Even teenage boys will eat these)
750 g eggplant, peeled and finely chopped, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp. almond, chopped (peanuts are just as good and cheaper), 1 tbsp. sultanas chopped, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 cup breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and let stand for 30 minutes, rinse and drain. In a large bowl, mix eggplant, breadcrumbs and the rest of the ingredients. Shape mixture into small balls, pressing together firmly to hold shape. Roll in flour. Fry in oil turning frequently until browned and cooked through. Drain and serve with fresh tomato sauce.
Elsie Townsend’s eggplant casserole
(This recipe has never been put in writing before but it’s like a quiche, and very forgiving.)
4 eggplants peeled, sliced and steamed till tender, 1 onion, 5 rashers bacon or ham, 4 slices buttered stale bread, 5 cups milk, 6 eggs, salt, pepper and cheese, savoury biscuits and parsley.
In a shallow casserole dish put steamed eggplants with gently browned diced bacon and sliced onion. Throw on some grated cheese and the cubed bread. Beat the eggs and milk together and pour on. The eggplant etc. shouldn’t be swimming - just covered enough to set. Slice cheese and place over the mixture enough to form a skin and crumble a few handfuls of corn chips or savoury biscuits and spread over cheese. Bake in moderate oven till brown and set and the smell brings everyone in.