Friday, 11 April 2008

Autumn approaches the garden

Lets start with a few images of the Autumnal leaves around our garden.

We have had the first frost (although the readers in Ottawa and Oslo might not regard a brief whitening of the lawn as a frost) and it is time to get on to a different form of gardening. It is certainly a lot nicer working in the yard at 20 degrees C than 35!

One of my small tasks was to pick the last of our grapes. I took a photo to celbrate the fact that we managed to get a fair crop this year, largely as a result of the good advice from (and work by) the Ey family, and Frances efforts in sewing up the netting to keep the birds out. Now that we know it can be done, next year we will do something about getting some water in there occasionally to boost production.

The photo to the left is a fractal half-cabbage. A splendid vegetable by any standard, but especially so since it is the first time we have succesfully grown cabbage. It tasted nice also but the purple coloration gave rise to some interesting after effects (which you don't want to know about).
Having mentioned the apples in the past here is a shot of some (about 20%) of the picked fruit .

We had been thinking that a really huge task would be planting the 650 daffodil bulbs which Frances had acquired. The task became more daunting when she sprained her ankle the day before we planned to start this epic task. In fact, as a result of several hours preparing the beds it was all done in a day. The image shows the lady in question about to get stuck into the major bed.
Tulips are slated to happen soon.

A further Autumnal flavour for this bed was spending about an hour raking up leaves from our willows (plus a few pine needles and some eucalypt trash) to mulch this area. Hopefully this will retain water etc and give us a good splash (perhaps a tsunami) of colour in about 6 months time.

I haven't photographed the removal of the tomatoes, but we do have about a peck of them ripening off here and there, including some entire plants with a few fruit on them hanging in Frances potting shed/glasshouse and my tool shed. I think it will be a few weeks before we buy any love apples.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Noos of the Booze

Since my last report on suds production ( I think in the only really interesting thing was the addition of a small amount of blackberry to a couple of samples of a brew of Coopers Draught I compiled in early March. The idea was to use it as the carbohydrate to stimulate secondary fermentation and give a lambic taste and feel.

The two bottles in question have now been tasted and were definitely a bit different to the normal brew. In terms of taste I couldn't really say they had a blackberry flavour - but then I have trouble picking the chocolate, melon and guano (sic) tones identified by poncey wine writers. It was more that these bottles seemed to have a crisper taste than those with the standard sugar based secondary (of course they all used sugar of some form for the primary fermentation).

in terms of 'feel' there were some chewy bits in the final glass out of the bottle, but they were big enough to remove with a delicately poised pinky. Not seen as a problem.

All in all I rate the operation a success and will undertake some further research into home lambic production in time for next blackberry season. Apparently one of the risks is that some of the wild yeasts get into corners of the kit so that every brew from then on tastes of the fruit substrate.

Getting back to conventional matters I have also done a serve of Morgans Ironbark Stout (quite conventional) and a Yukon Smoked Brown Ale. Purely inthe spirit of research I purchased a really up market (ie costs 20% more) brew of Molloy's Stout: one of the Morgan's Chairman's Selection range. It will be interesting to see if it tastes 20% better than the Ironbark - although how the heck one measures that will pose a challenge.

At the commercial end of business the liquor outlet for Coles (Liquorland) was selling Belgian brewed and bottled Maes Pilsner for $14 per six pack. Very tasty and good value: the value got even better when I found that a case only cost $40 - or $10 per six pack: this is very little more than the cheapest light beer in the shop.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin?

With apologies to Charles Schultz (and Linus). Unlike Godot, the (relatively) Great Pumpkin has arrived in Carwoola. It also brought some relatives of various sizes and complexions,with it. The images below show the assembled mass.

We waited for the first frost before harvesting. This did not actually appear on our purchased thermometer, which is sheltered under the verandah, but was very evident from the reaction of our basil plants (RIP) .

The sizes can be best ascertained from the one below in which my stomach is offered as a metric. Note also the nice Autumn colours (or indeed Fall colors) on the pin-oak!

Just Folking about

The following are a bunch of images from the National Folk Festival, held over the Easter holiday weekend. They show, in order:

  1. Pacific Curls (excellent)

  2. Genticorum (i) flute player imitating Ian Anderson and (ii) all three members;

  3. Peggy Seeger (tended to preach too much);

  4. Rory McLeod (good singer, basically a comedian);

  5. Mike Compton (excellent mandolin player from Nashville)