... in very small quantities. My friend Pete Hawkes who is an Entomologist who works on ants has sent me a bunch of sample bottles with preserving alcohol (do not drink this). Ant size of course. From South Africa. It got opened by Australian customs, before being sent on (there is a sticker on the envelope). So I am now probably listed as highly suspicious and dubious person, if I wasn't before. Pete didn't even put a note in the envelope, to explain why he was sending 10 little jars - like 3 ml in each, and a bunch of sealing plastic envelopes. Must have puzzled the customs officer no end. I think I might try a note in the ant-return (they're for specimens of the various local ants - particularly big (maybe 3/4") solitary seeming things.) Of course it has turned icy - wind off the snow on Tassie I reckon so not an ant to be seen. Or maybe it was me sneezing at them. The snot will not GO AWAY.
On the garden front - I finally gave up and pulled out the cucumber plants - we got 4 cucumbers (accidents) and a couple of jars of gerkins (what I had hoped to get off them). Not bad for planting in mid-January though. Tomatoes should be dead... but I got 3 more little coctail ones which will be welcome. This year tinned tomato is kind of 'allowed' as really we only got here after the season. But we're being sparing on it. Reality allows the Zucchini a few more days tops and they too will go to the compost - one of them just flowered and 3 of 5 have little Zucchini. And hold thumbs - 4 jalapeno chilis FINALLY going red. Veg is slowing down though. I still have sliverbeet (swiss chard), carrots, fennel, beetroot, leeks, spring onions, a little lettuce, very very peppery chinese cabbage, some parsnips, snow peas, feeble spinach (curses) and broccoli. And potatoes and broad beans -- the last two not looking anything like ready yet. I think I'd better harvest some thyme and parsley (the parsley just LOVES this place - thyme - which I use a lot of less so. We will politely avoid mentioning mint as it has all DIED. What kind of gardner can't grow mint? And I have a severe lack of rosemary, a situation only forgivable by the price of lamb here.
Is it possible to grow herbs inside at your place? I think that all the herbs you mentioned can be grown on a south facing window sill. We've finally got our back room to the point where we're going to try this winter using it's big window and hanging pots. I don;t think basil works well indoors because of the length of light time it requires...but surely mint should.ReplyDelete
There are windowsill herb gardens - and even inserts to turn your window in to small greenhouse.ReplyDelete
But, fyi, I happened to have this bookmarked for myself, and thought, perhaps, you'd be interested in a do it yourself backyard greenhouse for not much money.
Quilly, you know I hadn't even thought of that. Duh - I can be a bit slow. Good idea. We're not desperately cold here - nothing compared to you guys - with apparently a few days frost a year (we're maybe 25 feet above sea level in the middle of a fricking great big thermo-regulator that doesn't get below 14 C - but the wind off the snow in Tassie can be pretty cold.)ReplyDelete
But the inability with mint comes down to it being a cool-damp conditions plant. I grew some from seed, and then transplanted it into the 'herb bed' - on the South side of the house - the cool side here, where the parsley and thyme are doing well, but only on the sunny edges. So I thought -win - mint will grow in the shady bit. Um. Parsley and thyme like sandy soils, and are mediteranian plants. They do fine in quite dry conditions. This bed has absolely zero water-holding capacity, and mint likes rich wet soils. So I know what I have to do. But I don't use it much (it's a big number in turkish and morrocan cooking, neither of which I like much), and so it's been a back-burner number.
Lin W - when we did the garden tour, it included the shredded polytunnels. Commercial poly, specially designed for high wind. It often blows very, very hard here, so I think I will need something like a cucumber frame :-)ReplyDelete
Have you considered underground farming? There's a whole thing here in Japan with asparagus, especially, that's grown in tunnels underground, with minimal light. They were showing almost one meter tall white asparagus growths -- thick growth, but very ghostly! You could avoid the winds that way... although digging tunnels with the water table that close might not be a good idea.ReplyDelete
Mike - maybe when we buy a place of own... here the water table can't be more than 3 metres down. Weird idea though!ReplyDelete
When it comes to soil, a trick my uncle used to do was to dig a hole, put a largish clay pot in it, bank the soil around the outside so just the rim was showing, and put the augmented/amended soil in *that* -- and then plant whatever it was he wanted in that spot. Larger plants need larger pots, obviously. But instead of having to, say, mulch and add stuff to the wole plot, you only had to mess with the one pot. He also used to make little frames to go over the basement window wells to turn them into little green houses -- but that pre-supposes a basement that I don't think you have :-)ReplyDelete
I think that's sort of the key to container gardening. You get to give each plant it's own micro-environment. Wetty marshlike for mint and dry crumbly for Parsley and Thyme.ReplyDelete
You know, I think I read a book about an interstellar space ship that was composed of beads of micro-environments. Pretty clever the fellow that wrote that.
ROFL! Life imitates art? I hope like hell this is flyboy bead or even the sort of Amish bead...ReplyDelete
I planted my silverbeet last October, along with a whole lot of other stuff. Between my puppy and the drought, the silverbeet is the only thing left growing. And it keeps on coming.ReplyDelete
Good thing I like it - and the puppy doesn't. She ate all my broccoli, just before it was ready to start picking.
Sigh. Now I've learned why I keep killing mint, too. And everyone tells me it's a weed and will take over!ReplyDelete
Mike, that's really weird! But, you know, asparagus has to have a summer of sunshine to grow its feathery tops in, to build up the rootstocks for next spring. Maybe they turn on the sunlamps after the harvest?ReplyDelete
Got bees! you can see my first very inexpert examination of them at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDspcUlGglA
Obviously, if I can do it, anyone can. And really they take very little time - half an hour to go through the hive, and half of that is suiting up and starting the smoker. They're such alien little creatures, and so mysterious doing all their stuff inside that opaque box, that I want to go in and look every day, which would disturb them no end. Trying to ration myself to once a week.
Barbs' squid is ... words fail me! That's obviously the inspiration for The Great Old One. Are its tentacles the ones stuffed in your picture?
There seems to be an unlimited supply of squid off the Whitemark jetty?
Kesalemma if I had a choice between brocolli and a puppy I'd choose the puppy. :-)If he is a labrador this will not change.ReplyDelete
Silverbeet is one of the more habitat-dependent flavours of plant. In the mountains of SA I really didn't like it much as it tasted of rusty iron. Here it hasjust a faint saltiness to it, and is even nice as a salad ingredient.
Blloonatic - there's bought mint (which does die) and ol'scraggly backyard mint handed around from neighbour to neighbour. Unless you're doing fancy stuff with it, good enough. It does best next to a drippy tap :-).ReplyDelete
Abigal heh :-) have you considered an ant farm to distract you from messing with the bees? We'll definitely get there...ReplyDelete
The tentacles are solid - those are small squid tubes. Squid are mollusks - like snails - and actually are fecund and fast growing so they're a good target. Whitemark - our biggest town - is still very tiny, with about 20 square km of shallow sea-grass for the squid to live and breed in. Most of the time it's only B and I fishing for them and we only do so about 4 evenings a month when high tide and sundown co-incide, so they're not under much pressure. As is so often the case of coastal communities a lot of people just don't bother. That's fine by me ;-)
The squid catch looks good, and in fact last time we got 5 and were only out of the house an hour and a half, but I think I only caught one in that time. Dave says two, but I think he was just being kind, and, of course, mine WAS the biggest. But we have gone down and only got one, so we are not depleting the stocks too much.ReplyDelete