Harvest Monday, 12 Feb 2017

We are in the middle of a long hot summer. Bats, baby turtles are dying. Not joking. On one day the records were broken, and then we went and broke them again the next day. The cycle is of 4-5 days in the high 30’s (deg C or 95 F+), followed by a 1-2 days in the low to mid 30’s – whereupon it feels positively nippy; and then it repeats. Last weekend, it got to 45 deg C (113 F). It has been horrendous. My garden hates it. I’ve had to rig up shadecloth over the tomatoes; but every time a flower on my random curcubit opens, it keels over and the flower falls off the stem. So it is still a mystery plant.

756 g tomatoes, 200g basil

Harvest Monday 12 Feb 2017

They look pretty; but the taste, not so much. I tried to harvest them in the early morning, such that it was close to 24 hours since I had watered them. I originally picked them to give to a colleague who had been inspired by my tales of sugo making from the last batch, but she wasn’t at work on the friday. So.

My friend is a member of a community garden, and posted photos of her harvesting this amazing looking genovese basil. My basil is a tough mediterranean type that survives winter frosts, but is less green and leafy. It is always in flower, and I can’t bear to cut it back because the bees love it so much. I swapped a 500g jar of honey for the basil.

So I turned the tomatoes and basil into fresh tomato and basil pasta for dinner (using fresh pasta from the markets), and enough for lunch the next day. I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar, so I used a combo of apple cider vinegar and guava vinegar.

The next 100g or so of basil I turned into fresh pesto, with pine nuts and a little lemon juice to try and keep the vibrant green colour.


Curry leaves:

Curry leaves

Not mine, my neighbour’s. He was cutting back his curry leaf plant, and offered me some cuttings. I tried to plant them – but I mentioned this stinking hot weather, right? They didn’t take. So I am currently drying them for later use. They have (to me) an unusual peppery herbaceous taste. I’ve used some leaves to flavour kombucha, as well as make a “curry leaf pesto”. It’s got that peppery taste!

Harvest Monday

I have had 1-2 tomatoes so far, all with grubs, but this was the first time I harvested a big lot of them. Ok, so there was a caterpillar munching on one, and evidence of more caterpillar breakfast on another but here is 800g of grosse lisse:

Monday harvest

I had three of them in a slow cooked ‘shakshuska’ breakfast, except that I was so distracted, I forgot to add the egg.

I’m thinking of bringing out my inner wog, and turning the rest of the harvest into my very own passata.

Add various harvestings of thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary and mint.

The cucumbers (300g) are from my neighbour, she’s such a gem!

I don’t know if this is an old wives tale, but she says that if you harvest them in the full heat of the day, it makes them sour. Thoughts?

Sydney Festival Village 2017

I went to the Sydney Festival village this year, not because I was seeing a show, but because I wanted to try a burger from Mary’s. I had seen their burger truck, briefly at the Big Design Market 2016 (Sydney Edition), but the queue was too long for my tastes.


Mary’s Burger ($12):

Mary's Burger

Toasted plain bun, slice of tomato,”mary’s sauce”, melted cheese, beef patty, butter to make the bun crispy.

This was quite tasty; and the bun remained crispy on the inside to the last bit. The special Mary’s sauce is probably just the same as the special McDonald’s sauce on a Big Mac.

Mary’s CBD has the same burger for $10, so there is a slight premium for the portable Mary’s/village atmosphere.

Since it was taking *so long* for my burger to be made, and I was hungry, I also ordered from the Bodega stall.

Corn and Cheese Tamale ($12):

Corn and cheese tamale

A proper tamale is corn flour (masa harina), add various flavourings like meat, fat, garlic, onion packed into corn husks and steamed. It ends up log shaped. This was kind of like a polenta ‘mush’, but very tasty (deep fried corn chips), all the same. Perhaps I’ll do this sort of thing to my polenta next time I cook it at home.

Sydney Festival Village
Hyde Park North (near Archibald Fountain)
Until Sunday 29 January 2017
Mon: Closed
Tue-Fri: 1630 till “late”
Sat-Sun: 12noon till “late”

Monday Harvest, Late November Edition

Not quite a harvest, but a garden update. Yes I know its December, but the photos were taken in November (and the post was started then too)… and so it’s kind of a late spring planting edition.

Native raspberry:

Native Raspberry

It looks like I’ve killed only one cane, but there’s a teeny tiny leaf poking out of the second one. Looking at the leaves, I think it is rubus moluccanus.

Dwarf avocado:
Dwarf Avocado

All the leaves fell off in a recent windstorm. This might be terminal.

Dwarf cherries:

Dwarf Cherry trees

They lost their leaves during autumn. Nothing yet has shooted for spring. Everywhere else in suburbia has done the spring flowering thing, and now has leaves. Also probably terminal. Dang it. I suspect over enthusiastic whipper snippering cut all the shallow surface roots.

So that’s all the bad news.

Harvested.

About 5 strawberries.
10kg honey.
5 Spears asparagus.
Herbs such as oregano, thyme, parsley.

Tumeric:

Tumeric Harvest

I also got about the same amount in ginger. I do like a ‘hot’ ginger, but apparently only old ginger is hot ginger. Does this mean I have to put it in the garden again for another season to make it hot?

Growing:

Banana

Bana-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA-NA-NAH, Bana-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA-NA-NAH.

This was planted in November 2013, and only now, 3 years later, do I get a hand of fruit forming. To quote Big Kev, I’m Excited.

I'm excited

Cropped and swapped.

I haven’t had much chance to talk about crop and swap. I went a few years ago to one hosted in Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains. That has been put on hold for 2016, so I joined another crop and swap group which is Sydney wide. The aim is that if you have excess produce, you offer it up for swap and you decide what the ‘value’ of what you want in return, but no money changes hands.

About the only thing I have to swap is honey. So far, from one 500g jar of honey, I have collected a kobucha squash seedling, cucumber seedling and three dragon fruit cuttings:

Swapsies

Then three jars of honey gave me a fortnight’s worth of homemade granola, made using the honey:

Granola

So there you have it, my late November/late spring garden update!

Batbox conversion to Warre: the final frontier

The journey continues …

Once again I set up a warre hive box and baseboard (luckily I had a spare), hauled out the adapter board, and settled the batbox settled on top. I taped up cracks in the batbox, the joins between the batbox and adaptor board.

Now what? I got into this beekeeping game wanting only one beehive, which has already given me 30kgs of honey in their first season, and that far exceeded my (and anyone elses’) expectations. Now I’m at 2.5, shortly to become 3.

On one of the natural beekeeping online groups that I follow, I saw that someone had recently lost their hive. It was quite late in the season (autumn), and their chances of catching a swarm and it surviving the winter were very slim. In the 2015 winter, I knew of 5 late-caught swarms that had failed, generally due to the autumn storms. As an alternative I offered them the batbox 2.5 hive to re-home.

This beekeeper was less of a sook that I was, and after giving it a week with the escape board, had no compunction in pulling the batbox apart (in fact, it “fell apart” on her). Her description of the event:


There wasn’t any brood in the bat box just capped and uncapped honey and a few cells of bee bread. I harvested all the honey because that have almost 2 full boxes and starting on the third. Such a lot of work but fun. We lost about 50 bees who drowned in honey when the comb I was lifting feel breaking open into the box. I shook them onto a cloth, smoked and brushed a lot of them but finally around 7pm they had all gone in!

Batbox bees, rehomed

Phew. Glad that’s over. From this family of bees, I’ve had the original batbox colony (this lot), the inadvertant hive split from when I first tried to convert the batbox to warre, and <a href="http://” target=”_blank”>the swarm from when I was too lazy to actually do any thing about them. Aww, I’m getting the warm fuzzies.

Bat box conversion to Warre

I meant to write about this last week (a year ago). Then… the bees actually swarmed, putting my conversion plans off for a little bit. Then life happened, and this post is gathering dust.

In the warre beekeeping system, you “nadir” by adding extra space in the form of extra warre boxes below the currently occupied beehive box. This mimics what bees do in the wild: they find a tree hollow, and start building a home and the comb by connecting it to the top of the hollow of the tree, and building the comb downwards. This contrasts with the langstroth style in which the beekeeper “supers”, by adding the extra boxes on top of the existing occupied beehive box. So a langstroth style beekeeper makes the bees go upwards, and the warre style beekeeper lets the bees go downwards.

Here’s the bat box:

batbox

As you can see, the roof is hinged, and it slopes. The floor is flat, but the back of the bat box sticks out a bit, so it is not flush with the rest of the floor. This helps with mounting the batbox on a tree (or a post), but is not so good for me. The batbox itself is actually a smaller footprint than the warre box.

My original thought had been to nadir the batbox: that is, stick the smaller footprint batbox on top of a warre box, and let the bees move downwards. But the screws holding the floor up look like they had been painted in.

Then the second thought had been to super the batbox; supposedly this would be easier because there is already a removable lid. But then this would create more challenges, because I would need to work out some way to “hold up” the larger warre box. Would I then be creating yet another rod for my back by first asking the bees to move upwards, and then a month or two later asking them to move downwards? I also had a another problem with how to create a new “temporary” entrance, in between the batbox and the new warre box, once the bees had moved upstairs, but in such a way that I could use the one way bee escape.

So it’s back to the downward path we go.

We unscrewed and then levered off the base of the batbox. It was actually surprisingly easy. I made an adapter board by getting some marine grade plywood, painting one coat of white paint over it, and then drilling two access holes with a circle drill bit.

We then placed the the batbox atop this adaptor board, and then atop a warre beehive and a baseboard. I taped up the circular entrance to force the girls to use the entry downstairs.

Batbox to warre conversion

It took me a week to work out that they were so attached to upstairs, they were using this attachment screwhole as an entry. That got tapped up too, and finally they were using the proper downstairs entrance.

About six weeks later, I put in the excluder between the adaptor board and the warre box. By now, Queenie should be downstairs and laying in the new white honeycomb. The next day, I pulled off the batbox, put it to oneside, and put on a quilt box and gabled roof.

Hurray, we are now at 100% Warre!

100% Warre

Being the lazy something or other, I left the bat box hanging around in the backyard for the next week, rather than tossing it out like any other sensible person.

This was a sight that I didn’t want to see:

New tenants?

Oh dear. Either a swarm has moved into this nice, recently up for lease batbox home, or brood which was left behind has started to hatch.

I can’t just throw these girls into the bin to make the problem ‘go away’ (for me) and cause a headache for the garbageman. They’re my little fighters!

What would you have done?

Sculpture by the Sea 2016

This year I planned ahead, and booked a day off months in advance to visit the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. We picked a day just after the exhibition had opened to try and avoid the queues. This is very unusual for me. Unfortunately, it also appeared to be the day that all the school groups had chosen to do the work, so the crowds were approaching weekend levels.

The view over Tamarama:

Sculpture by the Sea 2016

104 – Fair Dinkum Offshore Processing (Bronek Kozka):

Fair Dinkum Offshore Processing

Kind of poignant with the ‘tourist’ crowd outside the fence looking in, and this other woman walking away. I’m sure that the placement of this installation on the end of a concrete ramp, closest to the water was a deliberate statement.

100 – Buried Rhino (Gillie and Marc Schattner):

Fwd: Buried Rhino

Against the rules, I tapped the sculpture. I thought it was made of plastic; but no, it’s fibreglass, steel, bronze. Small children really seemed to like playing in the sand mound above the rhino’s “belly”. I suspect this will get the people’s choice award.

87 – Reality TV (Anne Levitch):
Reality TV

This is part of the detail of the reality tv ‘cube’. The detail in the cutting of the steel is amazing. I suspect that a laser cutting machine was used.

84 – Fluid (Norton Flavel):
Fluid//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This one is interesting. If you approach from the Tamarama end, it looks like a big drop of water, particularly as you can see the ocean beyond as you walk up the stairs. If you approach from Bondi, it looks like a big bunch of rusty drums.

82 – Chronic Series No. 1, I(L), 2(L), 8+ 5(L) (Zheng Yuan Lu):

Chronic Series

Upon approach, it looks like a bag of rubbish. Then you see the form taking shape in front of your eyes – oh my god, it looks like a body bag! If you’re at the right angle, you too can spot a photographer tourist, taking a photo of an adjacent sculpture, and posing in the same fashion as the ‘body bag’ in front of you!

67 – Naturally Volatile (Elaine Clocherty)

Naturally Volatile

This was a work in progress as we walked past, made out of a swirly pile of dirt, and a selection of Australian nuts and seed things.

66 – Three vessels – Amphora, Pug and Torpedo (Andrew Burton)

Amphora, Pug, Torpedo

This one is Amphora. It looks like these were made in ‘sections’, and then bolted together. It looks very labour intensive with all those little bricks, and piled here and there, mini chimneys. I like it.

60 – After Party (Sean Cordeiro & Claire Healy)
Fwd: After Party

I now work in projects where earth movers are a little more common. This one made me laugh with the disco ball in the cabin and the bling in the bucket.

57 – Big Intentions (Mikaela Castledine)

Big Intentions

I have done some weaving, and made a teeny tiny basket. Enough to know that this is very labour intensive artwork. Not to say that the others aren’t labour intensive, but I have more of an understanding with this one. There were quite a lot of sculptures this year which had weaving as a theme.

27 – Place of our Dreams – (The Bankstown Koori Elders Group Inc)

Place of our Dreams

This was quite neat, a “portable” version of the cave art and dreamtime storylines that are scattered over the Australian landscape if only you knew where to look, or had been told the stories.

10 – Weave the Reef, Love the Reef (Marion Gamers)

Weave the Reef, Love the Reef

This was a collection of net, wire, beach & urban rubbish; used to reveal a threat to The Great Barrier Reef. This was placed quite pleasing to the eye, making you feel like you are under water on a reef. There were a lot of turtles. These had been crocheted and woven from found materials. Then, opposite, was the very essence of what this artist was protesting about. Plastic rubbish from a ‘temporary’ installation of bright yellow flags and warning tape along the hand rail.

9 – Adaptation (Niharika Hukku):

Adaptation

Glows in the dark! Also in with the ocean theme, but also a little like bleached coral…?

2 – Many Many III (Stephen King):

Many Many III

Many Many IIIb

There were quite a lot of tourists and sightseers having photos taken with themselves at the ‘front’ or face end of this sculpture. Did any of them pause for more than the time to take the photo to actually look at the faces?

The sculpture by the sea outdoor exhibition runs along the Coogee to Bondi coast walk for 20 October – 6 November 2016; and in Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia for 3 to 20 March 2017.