Category: Diary


In March 2014 I wrote an article about the health of our waterways, & had entered a piece of fibre art into the Nelson Fibre Art exhibition called ‘Downstream.’ I’ve just been reading an article in the Listener about a scientist called Mike Joy who is taking a stand for the wellbeing of New Zealands fresh water resources, here is the link:    http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/ecologic/river-stance/

Our Creek Millstream

I’m interested in the study of species found in the water that act as indicators of water health or otherwise. I’m going to do some research of my own & report back what I find out. At the moment I can’t even identify many species so shall have to get familiar with those creatures we may hope to find in our own creek & other waterways. I have noticed that there seem to be few koura or freshwater crayfish around at the moment & this is unusual as we often see dozens in one spot. We also continue to have large rafts of algae in the slower running places, which block the stream & exacerbate growth of duckweed etc which further blocks the flow, hard to tell if this is a result of upstream pollution or simply that one of the large willows fell down & there is more sunlight warming the water & feeding the algae.The link below is informative on the process of checking the invertebrates in a given water supply. (benthic means at the lowest level, eg. the bottom of a stream bed, including silt.

Now it’s April, I have had one foray into the creek with a net & bucket, but alas also with leaky gumboots, which dampened my enthusiasm. The leaky boots also hindered my attempts to find critters to identify since I am a total sook about cold water. I took a few photos, & identified a couple of things,(I have meantime lost the piece of paper with their names on,) so on the whole it was not a hugely successful outing. We have some intrepid friends visiting this weekend & shall have a more thorough go at finding  some creatures & identifying them. Hopefully I can add some more useful info after that.

Critters from creek march2016 005 (Copy)

http://cber.bio.waikato.ac.nz/images/Macroinvertebrates_and_water_quality.pdf

Farewell to Rifkin

Our old dog Rifkin died peacefully last weekend. She was a beardie, bearded collie, 14 plus years old.

It’s a long time to share one’s life & I just wanted to put a wee tribute to her here.

DSCF2186 (shrunk) jan 2011 kaiya 023 (shrunk) DSCF1574 (shrunk)

Rifkin was the third beardie we have owned, & we still have  Didgit, (#4) to keep us company. Finding Rif was one of those wonderful, serendipitous occasions: we had been looking for a beardie pup for sometime. The night before we were due to go to Palmerston North to see someone off at the airport, I had a dream. I dreamt that we found a puppy, & I was carrying her, soft & warm, with her head resting on my shoulder.

te onepu postcard 048 (shrunk) te onepu postcard 065 (shrunk) Blog 14 10 008 (shrunk)

When we were in Palmy, tired of shopping, we decided to visit a pet shop on the outskirts of town. It was a place we used to go to with our daughter, when she was a student. As we arrived in the carpark I suddenly recalled my dream, & said to Geoff ‘I should warn you, I think we’ll find a beardie pup here.’ And so it was… what a special beginning. Rifkin was named after much deliberation & argument, after a gaffer or some such on a Michael Palin doco. She was frequently referred to as ‘Whatamess’ because her long fur & large hairy feet seemed to collect all manner of garden debris & spread it about the house.

Didgit 8 months DSCF2189 (shrunk) book pics 040 (shrunk)

She was a most gentle & patient soul, sitting for ages while I’d clip clumps of mud from between her toes, or cut tangles out of her coat. Rif was also very smart, in later years she learnt to play soccer, using her nose & front legs to dribble a ball, & also to bounce a ball back to you with her nose. I’ve written about her recovery from a tumour nearly 3 years ago, after that she always barked like a hoarse seal, which was just as well since Didgit has such a loud bark it makes our ears ring & the windows rattle.

In the Winter one of our favourite games was kitchen soccer, a rowdy, mad game with much scrabbling & barking, as a tennis ball was rebounded off the side walls of the kitchen & both dogs would try to get it. Rif learnt to hold the ball in her mouth, tip her head up & bounce the ball, so she could catch it again. In more recent months she got a bit cautious of playing with Didge, who would get so excited she’d send Rif’s legs out from under her.

Last week two amazing things happened, that kind of close the circle. I had a distance healing with Chakra Dance Vicky, she told me she got a message about loving animals but letting them go when the time was right. Because it seemed obscure, she didn’t tell me until after Rif had died. In the meantime my Aunt rang me with a poem from a dog to it’s owner, saying goodbye. It felt very special to receive such clear messages that Rif was ready to go, & for us to let her. She died at home, peacefully, with our arms around her, in her favourite sunny spot. We feel so blessed to have had her company, love & loyalty, her trust & joy de vivre.

Rifkin (shrunk) may, giles 015 (shrunk)

We still think we see her or hear her around the place & it will take time to get used to her absence.

January in the garden.

Today we have rain, what bliss. Our poor gardens have been hanging in there, the borders have only been getting enough water to keep them from complete wilting. It looks like we’ll have several days of relief, & even if there is not enough rain to really water the ground the plants & us get some respite. I went out early this morning and took some photos, I could just about hear the gardens sighing with relief!

a storm comingasparagus ferns 1happy frog in rain 1Tree Dahlia stem gathering water 1

It’s been a busy month, we have had a combined family exhibition at the Hastings Community Arts Centre. Nine family members, ranging in age from 12 to 87. It feels  very special to share this with my Mum & Aunt  & I hope when I’m in my eighties I could be part of such a venture. When we made plans for this, of course, it was in the Winter when we had spare time, & the reality was that we were all pretty busy & it was so hot we could barely move. Luckily we found a supply of iced coffees to sustain us through the setting up.

millstream poster 

The vege gardens are thriving, we have used quite a bit of mushroom compost this year to mulch areas, & we found details of a way to plant tomato plants, which although a bit more complicated at the time, seems to be having good results. We’ve also beeen brewing up elder leaves as an insecticide to keep the psyllids at bay, so far it looks promising. Of all the veges we grow, tomatoes are probably our mainstay, & if we can freeze a whole lot for the Winter we will be very happy

.tomato crop 1 Summer Garden 1

The herb garden has been a mixed bag, our Arnica crop has been amazing, loads & loads of flowers. We’ve learnt that they need to be split up & replanted at least every second year, but preferably every Spring. Meanwhile our new planting of St John’s Wort has been a failure, from what I can find out, we have a fungal problem called anthracnose, which kills the stems at ground level, so that whole stems of fine looking plant die off over night, it’s very worrisome.  In the last few years, it seems we have more problems in the gardens, the psyllids/ virus on tomatoes & spuds, anthracnose, moulds on the alliums, raiding birds eating half ripe fruit: it’s a fraught business being a gardener.

Unripe Elderberries 1Amazing Arnica crop1

Luckily the positives far outway the negatives, & just stepping barefoot out the door, into the herbs & flowers never fails to lift my heart, what a privilege it is to live this way. I think back to my childhood in England, where our outdoor area was a square of concrete, with room for dustbins & coal bunkers, & the plants growing there grew in the cracks in the walls, I feel so very blessed

.Tui by deck

Turn of the wheel

The wheel has turned, & we are resolutely looking at Spring. My wishful dreams that we would be all tidy in the gardens with time to spare have evaporated! Suddenly everything is growing, weeds, blossoms, tiny bulbs, lambs, catkins, willow leaves, that awesome sense of shift & hidden movement as sap rises & life returns.

English Violets Magnolia stellata

Primroses Swallows return

We tidied our boxes of seeds the other day & put all the really old ones in a bag, which I shook out around the edges of the gardens. Many of these were Aquilegias from the days we ran the nursery, Nora Barlow, Nora’s Sister, Little Warwick, Red Star, doubles, singles & clematiflora types, if only 1% germinate we will have some treasures.

This is the time to get seeds sown, we spent a happy couple of hours sowing seeds in the greenhouse today, & we are even in phase with our moon calender, which says from now to the 7th Sept is good for plants above ground. We have sown punnets & pots of tomatoes, peppers, curcubits, & other veges, plus some herbs like Burdock, Valerian & Cardoon, plus some odd packets of very old seeds we hope might grow.

It’s also the time to start seed potatoes sprouting, (see chitting potatoes in blog) this makes sturdy sprouts, ready to grow fast once they are planted in about 6 weeks time.

We had our first, modest feed of Asparagus this week, early in the season, & so delicious with butter & black pepper. Our ratbag sheep got into the gardens & stripped all our beautiful brassicas bare, so now we have stumps where once there were heads of broccoli & cabbages forming. Very depressing after such a good start. We might get a few late heads of Broccoli from them. We had the last word  with the sheep, two wethers, which are now in the freezer! We are getting tough!!

unruly flock Brassica stumps

This year we are altering our vege growing, no pumpkins, we never eat enough to use what we grow. Only early spuds to avoid/minimise the psyllid problem, & a new super feed system for our tomatoes, which includes fish heads, aspirin, bone meal & worm castings, fingers crossed.

Finally I just want to say what amazing big skies we have here, they are stunning, here are a couple of pics to inspire you.

skies Aug14 019 (shrink) skies Aug14 004 (shrink)

We had a big frost last week, & went out to take some photos. Rugged up against the cold, in thick jacket, hat & gloves it was possible to appreciate the delicate beauty of the early morning. Giles had discovered some photos online of frozen bubbles, so we spent some time playing with that idea, & blowing bubbles onto the roof of the car. Most pop quite fast, but the ones that stay very slowly freeze, with those lovely fern-like patterns that frost makes. As gardeners we are happy to get some good frosts to help clean the garden of nasty bugs & also to provide the chilling that many of the plants we grow, need, to  anchor them into their seasonal cycle. Most of our garden & herb garden is planted in deciduous plants, trees & shrubs, which all enjoy a good frost & a rest over the colder months.

Bubbles & Frost

Frosty MorningSoft Morning Light

Our plants might be resting but we are not. We are re-organising our herb garden in a major way. The central bed had become totally overgrown by a tenacious mix of St. John’s Wort, Solomon’s Seal & Couch grass. Geoff has dug this out & we have sifted through the soil to pick out any roots left behind. We’ve planted a new bed of St. John’s Wort, where it is surrounded by lawn , so hopefully it will be contained.  We’ll plant annual herbs & vegetables in the old bed, so we can dig out any Couch etc that shows up. We’ve also doubled the size of our Arnica bed, so we should have a good crop this year. Next on the list is to clean up the Meadowsweet bed & split the plants up, as they are very congested & not producing many flowers. That area is also rife in Couch Grass, so we shall have a good dig around & mulch were we can. Mulching certainly seems to help keep the Couch under control, as it comes up to the surface, under the mulch, & is easy to pull out. We use old cardboard boxes or thick layers of newspaper, & cover these with leaf mulch or similar, heavy cover.

Couch roots under pavers Equisetum hyemale Cleared beds Couch & Taro

Our bath pond is also in need of a good sort out, it has a variety of Horsetail in it, E. hyemale,whichalthough not as rampant as E. arvense, still spreads & has nearly filled the bath. We shall have to dispose of the unwanted roots very carefully, probably on top of a bonfire heap. We are hoping our frogs will return in the Spring & be delighted to find a bit more space in their pool.

New St. John's Wort bed Tidy Herb Garden

Wintertime

Winter is here, after dragging it’s heels for some weeks. It has arrived in earnest.

We have filled our woodsheds with a mix of Willow, Robinia & Apple wood, which is a good combination for hot fires. Our routines change, we dawdle in house in the mornings, thinking of tasks that just have to be done beside the fire. Porridge has appeared on the breakfast menu, or tea & toast on an especially slow start. I have remembered last years soup recipes & made big pots of Pea & Ham soup, & our ‘Oxtail without the Tail Soup’, putting pots into the freezer for later. Casseroles & stews , lasagnes, Shepherd’s Pie & curries are in our thoughts, & on our plates. We have a great system at present, where Geoff, Giles & I take turns to cook, & we each cook enough for two nights, so we only cook once a week each, plus a fry up or freezer meal for the odd day, I love it. I’m starting to try out some new recipes, instead of just cooking in a rush as I often do.Frosted Garden Gingko after Frost

There’s nothing nicer than finishing work & coming home to a cosy fire & warm house, with maybe the option of a hot bath, courtesy of the coalrange. The cat has taken up residence under our old Fire Nymph, & we let our old dog Rif sleep indoors at night. They are both about 14 & getting a bit frail. Young Didgit gets put in the kennel, & wakes me in the mornings with her big, wet, cold nose thrust into my face.

Rif asleep Tripper under the Fire Nymph

The frosts have knocked back everything that dies down or simply dies with the cold, & at present there are drooping, wilted frost burnt leaves strewn about the gardens, looking rather depressing. The trees however look lovely, & golden leaves float down from them with every whisper of breeze. Despite the Winter chill, we are needing water, our rain tanks, which filled so well in April with over 200ml of rain, are getting low as we’ve only had 20 ml this month so far, the weather forecast always says rain later in the week, but when we get there, it has moved on again.

Mice & rats are a bit of a pest now, they gnaw at night sounding like they will eat through the timbers that hold the walls up, or that they are rolling heavy balls up & down, or maybe chewing through our wiring. I pretend to myself it just very noisy mice, but I am afraid that it’s rats in the walls. We have set traps & laid bait, neither of which we like to do, but it’s us or them.

Last weekend we got woken up at 5.30am by bangs & booms, it turned out to be duck shooters in the paddock behind our house. They were shooting Paradise Ducks, & over the day I think they wiped out the whole lot. I know they are a pest, & there were lots of them, but I do miss them. I have been in the habit of sitting in bed in the morning with a cuppa & watching them go about their duck business. Occasionally a hawk would fly over & the whole lot would rise into the air, & do that magic thing where they turn, flashing from black to white & black again. Now the paddock looks forlorn & bare. I guess it won’t be long before some other parries find the spot & move in.

Paradise Duck Decoy Brimfull woodshed

Our Feijoas are prolific & big this year, next on my ‘to do’ list is to cook some up & freeze, we’ve made Chutney & Feijoa Farmhouse Cake from an old Listener recipe, & of course we give them away to anyone who can be persuaded to take them. Luckily they are quite a bit later than most people’s crops so we can find takers. Giles has plans to make wine, to add to the growing collection wired onto our top shelf. This includes the Peach Parfait, Beetroot & Carrot with Lemon Balm.

Feijoas still on tree Autumn Bonfire

It’s both the bliss & burden of a ‘lifestyle’ block, the satisfaction & stress of using up, storing or giving away our harvests. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m happy to have time to do these things in amongst ‘work’, & really it all becomes one & the same, & I would never give this up for a huge salary, commuting to work & all the stresses that go with that.

Geoff & I have just spent a glorious couple of days, staying in a friends bach at Mangakuri Beach. It’s one of my most favourite places, with long sweeping stretches of polished, wet sand, which reflects the varying shades of  the sky.  There is hardly ever more than a few people there, if we go out of the busy season, a fact I never take for granted, having grown up on the Kentish coast, where you were lucky to squeeze onto a piece of sand the size of your beach towel, between the crowds also guarding their space.

Mangakuri at Low Tide

Ever since those early days, living by the sea I have had a love & fascination for the myriad forms of life that inhabit the rock pools & environs. So, despite it being an official ‘holiday’ for us, I got up early, & with Geoff & Didgit in tow,  headed off to explore the rocks at low tide. It’s some years since we have stayed at Mangakuri, & it has weathered severe floods in that time. We were dismayed to find, or rather ‘not find’ many of the creatures we were expecting to be living in the pools & under rocks. We did find quite a few Kina, & young Paua, plus their kin the Shield Shells, there were plenty of those little dark green crabs, with one claw bigger than the other, there were Limpits,Chitons, Cat’s Eyes & Barnacles, & a few Whelks. We saw two large purple starfish, a Sea Centipede & a few worms. What we didn’t see were any Hermit Crabs, usually abundant over most of the pools, no Sea Anemones, no Cushion Stars or their delicate relations the Brittle Stars. Where are the Seaweed Crabs & the little Octopus?

Mangakuri Rock Pools

Does anyone know why this beautiful beach & others nearby are so depleted in wildlife? Is it the ongoing effects of the floods, perhaps mud or sand being re-distributed? Is it the various effluents & chemicals getting washed down stream from farms much further away? Whatever it is, it is cause for concern, what was once a richly varied & teeming environment is now much poorer & depleted. I would really appreciate to hear from anyone who can perhaps shed some light on this situation.

I was talking to my Grandson about Hermit Crabs just the other day, & asked him if he’d ever seen one. when he replied that he hadn’t, I had airily said that we would take him to the beach & show him some….I hope we haven’t missed our chance.

Didgit meets a wave

Autumn Harvests

It’s a busy time of year for those of us with a strong ‘Inner Squirrel’. The last of our peaches have been picked, many given away, eaten, some cooked & frozen for the Winter, & some made (hopefully) into Peach Parfait Wine.Which we anticipate being a Rose Dessert Wine at some stage in the future. Of course there is a long way between the process & the imbibing & it can be a perilous journey! I’ll put the recipe & some pics in the Winemaking section.

Meanwhile the next onslaught is walnuts, & I am just as obsessive about gathering & hoarding those. Didgit the dog is a great help, merrily crunching or insisting that I throw the useless black nuts for her to chase. At the moment I am laying the nuts to dry on sheets of old frost cloth, in the garden caravan. When that is full I shall have to get myself organised & tidy the greenhouse so I can fill the benches. Once they are dried we store them in onion sacks until needed. We only crack enough to fill a jar or so at a time, or in a rush when in the middle of making bread or biscuits, & we realise the jar is empty. After the Walnuts come Feijoas, & then the pressure is off. No I lie, I have just been out playing ball with the dogs & realised that the Chestnuts are just starting to drop. The edible ones are the Sweet Chestnuts which are incredibly prickly, Horse Chestnuts (Conkers) are more like spiky helmets, the conkers are a beautiful rich brown, with swirls & lines on them, not edible but do have some medicinal uses, mainly in a tincture to treat varicose veins.

  

In the vege garden the Brassica that we planted some weeks ago, under netting, have thrived & look very promising. The Fennel plants are bulbing up nicely & the Leeks are plumping up, so our plans for Winter veges are on track. We have started weeding & clearing debris from various parts of the garden, as things finish up. We’ve plonked the mobile compost heap in the middle & heap piles of weeds & sheep poo into it. Luckily over a couple of days it compacts & we can fit more in. We’ve just been given two tiers of a worm farm & have started some tiger & red worms in it. It seems there is a bit of trial & error involved in keeping it going, so hopefully our new friends will thrive.

 

I cut back the Basil plants the other day, & experimented making Basil Oil. It has worked really well, & if you want to make your own it’s very simple, & also a great way to use up the flower heads. It needs no extra care to keep fresh & I think it will be brilliant for cooking with & adding to salad dressings, especially Tomato salads.

Basil Oil: Take all the trimmings & cram into a 1 litre Agee jar, fill with oil (I used Rice Bran, any mild oil will do) to within 2cm of top. This takes a whiles as the oil settles through the compacted leaves. In a smallish saucepan, put something in the bottom to keep the jar out of contact with the pan bottom. I used an Indian mesh ring that usually goes on the gas hob to spread the heat, this sagged a bit in the middle, so I put a tea caddy spoon in the centre. Sit the jar on this gadget & put in cold water up to about 2/3 way up the jar. Simmer on low heat for an hour or so, poking with a chop stick from time to time. Remember to keep the water topped up, using hot water. Strain when done & store in a glass jar or bottle in the dark, ready for creating amazing taste sensations.

 

Next experiment is Chilli Oil, using the same method, I shall report back later.

We are feeling very pleased with ourselves! Yesterday we planted out seedlings of Broccoli & Italian Broccoli, Cabbage, Fennel & Leeks. In a clever bit of planning, & in tune with a correct forecast,(unusual I know) we ordered some bundles of seedlings from Awapuni Nurseries, & the weather conditions are perfect for planting, being cool & damp.

We have been experimenting with various ways to keep the Cabbage Whites off of the Brassicas, this year we have made a big, temporary frame, using short posts & twine, & have covered it over with bird netting. This is not 100% butterfly proof, but close to it, so we will use Derris Dust only if we need to. All the cabbage family are gross feeders, that doesn’t mean that they eat disgusting things, rather that they like a goodly amount of compost. We walk on the plot too, to firm the soil so that their roots stay firmly anchored. Later on we’ll scatter some wood ash around them.

This is early in the year for us to get winter veges planted, but after having a bumper early spud crop, the main crop succumbed to psyllid  or some other nasty & showed no sign of producing any potatoes at all, so we pulled them out. Next year we’ll grow just early spuds & have a break from main crop, hopefully that will break the cycle. The plus side is that we had a lovely clear space waiting to be filled.

We have a number of wooden frames around the place, the one we filled with compost & grew beetroot in, has been a great success, the old strawberry frame has Florence Fennel seedlings in it, covered with netting because the birds were pulling them out. I’ll sow some rows of carrot seeds in here to. According to our Moon calender, we are spot on for leafy plants, but will need to hold off on root crops until the 17th & 18th Feb.

We’ve planted 2 bundles of Leeks, probably about 100 plants, they are one of our favourite Winter vege, & we start eating them when they are quite small otherwise at the end of Winter they go to seed & are tough to eat.

Beans, Yams & Brassica cage Eggplants,  Calendula, Mullein & mad Scallopini

We are still harvesting vast amounts of scallopini, they seem to be much more prolific than Zucchini, having several stems that grow in different directions, the Bumpy Beans have slowed down & we have put up another frame & sown more seeds, so hope to continue picking for an extended time. The Melon plants grew in a rush then died, but have left us with maybe 20 small, ripe fruit which are delicious. We got seeds of a small fruiting variety that ripens quickly,called ‘Venice’ (King’s Seeds) & we’re delighted with the results.

We harvested a big basket of tomatoes which we have cooked up to make a basic tomato brew, which we use in casseroles & on Pizzas. The recipe we use came from Annabelle Langbeins book, ‘The Free Range Cook’ its particularly good, because the tomatoes get roasted in the oven with onion, garlic, red pepper, herbs, olive oil, tomato paste & brown sugar, which gives the brew a lovely rich, balanced flavour. www.annabellangbein.com/recipes/harvest-tomato-sauce/292 Once cooked they get whizzed up, then we freeze them in plastic cups. Once frozen they can be tipped out & stored in plastic bags. This batch we used Basil instead of Rosemary, the next lot we thought we’d add Indian curry spices to, ready to add to any curry we make.

Tomato Crop Frozen Tomato Sauce Young Tui

The bird in the above photo is a young Tui that has been living in our orchard for the past few weeks. It looks quite a lot larger than an adult Tui, being scruffy & largely fluff! This young bird is quite tame & lets us get close to it, also we can hear some odd noises from the orchard & think perhaps it is practising it’s songs. It feels very special to have such a visitor, & to know that the Tuis are obviously breeding somewhere close by.

When all the trees are in leaf & the wind blows, it feels & sounds a bit like being in a green sea, the trees sway like seaweed in the currents & our deck feels like the prow of a ship.

Wind Blown

The tail end of January already!

I can’t believe that we’re nearly at the end of January already, and as Geoff so helpfully points out, that’s nearly a twelfth of the year gone! Today as I write this, it is stormy, cold & windy, our maximum/minimum thermometer on the deck records a high of 36 C & a low of 6C for the last week, that’s a huge range of 30C difference, no wonder we don’t know whether we’re in Summer or Autumn. ( Looking back I see we had the same thing in 2011, & also had 100ml of rain, so there’s a chance we might get a good soaking)

Haymaking all around

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of activity all around us, as farmers cut, turn & bale hay, it seems to have been a bumper year, & the view from our window changes with each process. It’s lovely to be so connected to the seasonal cycles & to live among other people working the land, with the same awareness. There is a high number of conversations about rain at this time of year, & unlike many folk, we are all grateful for any drops that arrive, & carefully watch the forecasts to see if & when any more is coming, although what’s predicted is rarely what we get.

Luckily the gardens know where they’re at,despite the high & low temps & are doing exactly what they should be. Our Arnica plants are producing masses of flowers every day, which we are harvesting & putting into bottles of oil, ready to be turned into ointments later on. It seems most likely that we have a hybrid variety, a cross between A. montana & A. chamissonis, because we grew both plants in the same area. The variety we have is ideally suited to our conditions, handling both the cold Winters & hot Summers.We’ve finished picking Mullein flowers now, so we can leave the plants to look stately, the oil is used as an antispasmodic, for sore muscles, also a few drops can ease earache & it’s also used to treat eczema in the ear. The St John’s Wort, Chamomile & Meadowsweet are all harvested & either in jars of oil, or already processed & stored in the dark for use over the year. We have an ongoing supply of orange Calendula flowers, which we pick regularly & put in oil, it’s probably our most versatile & useful remedy.

Fragrant Lily  Hidden places at Millstream january 2014 027

We are mostly eating out of the garden now, loads of scallopini & zucchini, also Liz’s Bumpy Beans which crop enthusiastically & are so delicious we can eat them at every meal. We picked a Rock Melon yesterday, which was ripe & delicious, a huge achievement for us, as we hardly ever can grow Melons. We have tomatoes now & my beetroot are full grown, sweet & crisp. We’ve harvested all the garlic & onions now & they are drying in our garden caravan, along with Lavender flowers & some other herbs for the Winter.

In the rampant part of the garden, behind the Melons & Scallopini, we have a big tangle of pumpkins and gourds, it’s impenetrable, so we shan’t discover what has grown there until the frost comes.

Large Bell Froglet & small Whistling Tree Frog Set Free Young Bell Frogs

Our Tadpoles have all grown up & left home. I miss them. We let them loose as soon as they had four legs, just in case they got out & got dehydrated on the deck. They have disappeared into the pond without a trace, but we are optimistic that next Spring we shall hear the Whistling Tree Frogs in our garden, meantime Geoff spotted 6 adolescent frogs sitting on the edge of the bath/pond in the herb garden, so they obviously survived the goldfish & grew without any help from us.