Saturday, 15 February 2014

Show Girl

Well the results are in from the 123rd Gundagai Agricultural Show. This is the first time I have entered this show, last year I was just an observer. I entered produce into Section S - Jams and Jellies.

I entered Class 10 - Peach Jam, any flavour. I put in two jars into this class mostly because I have a peach glut to deal with.   My Peppered peach and Rosemary Jam was awarded Second Prize.

Me of little faith - I though this unusual flavour combo might be a little too odd for the Judges!

I also entered Class 13 - Tomato Jam, any flavour. I submitted a jar of the Tomato and Chilli Jam I got a second with last year at the Adelong Show and also got a Second Prize.Yay!

I had hoped to have some produce for submission to Section P - Vegetables but the last week long heatwave destroyed that idea. I had particularly wanted to enter Classes 26 and 27 - Three zucchinis under 18cm (Green and Yellow).  I think you will agree that these items are not fit for submission...

I don't know about you but the moment that the temperature goes into the mid to high 30s my zucchinis fail to fertilize. Perhaps the bees all die or at least are too hot to be bothered collecting pollen.

And I had also hoped to submit entries into Class 28 - A Bunch of Chillies.  My chilli plants have been some of the toughest survivors of the 4 week long heat waves we suffered this year, I was feeling confident, but the fruit proved less resilient. Most chillies simultaneously dried and turned red on the bush.

It's been a tough summer, still despite these failures we pick enough to keep us fed - we hardly buy any vegetables at all.

Today there is the hope that the summer is over. Today we have had our first rain for a good while and it is cool and misty. Perhaps the cooler weather will mean I have some vegetable produce in a fit state for the Palindrome (Tumut) and Adelong Shows.

May your vegetables be fit for submission and my your jars be full of jam.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Harvest Monday - 10 Feb '14

It's been a peach of a week -  not weather wise but produce wise.

The weather has been hot and horrible ( hopefully the last heatwave of the year...) but the peaches have started to ripen in earnest and the hot weather means the scent of ripening peaches fills the air.

There have been peaches for breakfast and lunch. There has been the making of peach jam- this one is a savoury jam with rosemary and black pepper.  We've sampled it already with some of our home raised lamb -  it's very good with lamb! I'm planning on  entering a jar in this week's Gundagai Agricultural Show. It might be a little weird though?

I'm also scanning the peach trees to try to find three beautiful peaches for the Fruit section of the Gundagai Show.  If I can get three that look like this one, I'll possibly enter them.

There have also been Peach Tomatoes. These are a yellow fruit with a furry skin. The flavour is quite mild but the best thing about them is that they have been good performers in the hot weather - perhaps the fury outside protects the skin of the tomato.

The other tomatoes are producing too. The pear shaped tomatoes have been particularly productive, as have the Jaune Flamme, Cherokee Purple and Verna Orange all seeds generously provided by Yvonne.

Most nights we eat a tomato salad with yellow long capsicums with our meal.

This is this morning's pick...

again peaches and tomatoes with a few small ( but very crunchy!) cucumbers, zucchini and small green capsicums. The grapes are a generous gift from our neighbours who cut all their grapes this morning and had their glut to share! Thank you folk of the river flats!

That's the Harvest for the week. I'm contributing this to Daphne's Harvest Monday. Pop over to hers to see OPP (other people's produce).

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

So many reasons...

Finally, after an extremely hot week, there is a cool breeze. Actually, it's not really a breeze, its much more forceful than that, nevertheless is is refreshing... finally!

It's been a long week of relentless sun which was finally broken last night by this wind. As a consequence I woke this morning at about 2am and sat bolt upright seemly smelling bushfire smoke thru my sleep. I immediately checked the Facebook of the Rural Fire Service who handily posted that smoke from the Cooma fire was all over our valleys but there was nothing to worry about.

Phew, somewhat relieved but now wide awake I lay on top of the bed, for the first time in days with a sheet and a blanket and watched with awe and trepidation the night sky light up with dry lightening strikes - just the sort that start fires around here.

There have been so many reasons why I haven't blogged but the heat has been the biggest one. That combined with the fact that my very old lap top even on a cold day emits a tremendous amount of heat has made blogging not just unattractive but downright foolish and possibly life threatening, or at least leg burning.

It's also hard to get inspired about blogging when after three massive heat waves your produce looks like this!

It may be hard to recognise these items as vegetables... let me run you thru  the items you see...

Rocket - sun burnt leaves.
Pear shaped tomatoes - yep, they are pear-shaped with sun scald!
Speckled Roman tomato -  terrible blossom end rot. For some reason this variety is particularly sensitive to this affliction caused in part by irregular watering.
Chilli -  semi dried on the bush shortly after turning red.
Purple Cherokee tomato - just shrivelled!
Zucchini -  failure to fertilise - I find that this happens when it's too hot.  Perhaps all the bees have expired? I can see now that I will not be able to manage an entry in the Gundagai Show in the category of three zucchinis under 18cms.

You will notice there are no beans in the shot - that's because they have failed completely in the heat.

I have been successful with a few things. Isn't it amazing that something so watery and fleshy as a cucumber produces so well in the heat? And I have been able to pick the off zucchini, yellow pepper and eggplant. There have also been hauls of tomatoes and peaches, peaches, peaches - that is the ones that the wallaby doesn't eat.

There have been upsides to the heat. It has inspired me to build a garden more appropriate to the climate - a desert garden. It's not finished yet, I need to collect some rocks from the mini quarry on our property but it's been too hot to lug large pieces of rocks around!

Oh well, some things have been enjoying the heat! Here is my garden companion - gargoyle perhaps? This lizard lives in Fortress Wallaby. He looks very wise doesn't he? As if this lizard knows not to try gardening in such a horrid summer climate!


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