Tuesday, November 29, 2011


" There didn't seem to be any foul play," Ms Mova said with the straightest of faces. She was recounting the sad demise of our remaining white chicken who literally seemed to have fallen off her perch. Irreverent thoughts of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch came into Ms Tagalong's mind. Sort of a slight hysteria when faced with sad news.

Yes, dear gardeners, old whitey, our first donated oldie, is now pushing up daisies, actually, no, she has been buried to help the elderflower bush, written about last week, bloom, blossom and fruit to its utmost.

Talking about Ms Tagalong's waxing eloquent about elderflower cordial, she received a comment from a friend in England who seems to think that elderflower cordial is best served with some gin! Ms Tagalong was trying to maintain a family feel to the post, a thought that was obviously lost on my friend!

Too hot this week to do much in the garden but I am sure that Ms Mova will be happy for some mulch turning and compost turning assistance early this Saturday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cordially invited!

Frothy masses of creamy white florets on the elder in the garden got Ms Tagalong musing nostalgically and reminiscing. Warm, balmy evenings sat outside in the deepening twilight sipping elderflower cordial and thinkging of that endless summer! Of course it might not have been quite like that. Not too many balmy evenings in Old Blighty really and Ms Tagalong only ever made elderflower cordial once. But,undeterred, she looked in her old recipe file and sure enough found a recipe which a friend's mother had given her.

Ms Glamourpuss and Ms Tagalong harvested some frothy blooms this weekend. Actually Ms Tagalong is not sure why Ms Mova was so keen on the elder. Possibly she was hoping for a good show of elderberries to make some elderberry wine; perhaps the cordial will curtail her plans somewhat.

But, following the recipe and proportionally changing the ingredients, a whole litre bottle of elderflower cordial is now in the fridge awaiting fellow gardeners' approval at our next get together. Served chilled with a twist of lemon or lime it really will be refreshing on one of those dog day afternoons we seem to have had recently.

1.5 kg granulated sugar
1 litre water
15 elderflower heads
2 lemons
2 limes (I used all lemons)
2 teaspoons of tartaric acid (I used cream of tartar)

Put sugar and water in a large saucepan and dissolve sugar.
Bring the liquid to the boil
Drop in the flower heads and bring back to the boil
Put the fruit slices in a bowl with the tartaric acid and pour on the syrup and flowers.
Stir well, cover loosely and steep for 24 hours.

This will keep for 2-3 months or longer if refrigerated.

Talk about cordially uninvited, this evening Ms Tagalong was inspecting the alarming proliferation of yellow and black ladybirds on the zucchini. Ms Renovator joined her and together they collected some in a jar. "We don't want them to eat all the eggplant like those other ones did last year," said Ms Renovator and Ms Tagalong tried vainly to feed them to the ladies. They looked curiously at them crawling over the jar lid but were not in a bit interested. Ms Tagalong vowed to look them up and see what organic methods there were of control. Ha! She will now have to go and let them out of the bottle onto the plants again.

The yellow spotted ladybird is actually a kind predator, feeding on fungus. Looking at the amount of powdery mildew on the zucchini this is actually their dinner, breakfast and lunch. So fellow waterers, just beware watering leaves in the evening and hopefully this will reduce thanks to the wonderful ministrations of both the adult and larva stage of this pretty ladybird. If however, you see one of those pale orange 26 or 28 spotted ones you will need no permission to squash it without ceremony. They will eat the plants and destroy our eggplants!

And if you think that no post is complete without a mention of the ladies, you would be right! This week Ms Mova was sent a link by a friend to a 'chook cam'. Mr Ideasman, somewhat cynically Ms Tagalong felt, said that this could be anywhere, the real chickens who produce the eggs are in a huge shed! Check it out and see what you think! Mmm maybe a webcam for our chicken coop?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rhubarb, rhubarb again!

If you have been a faithful reader of this blog and even if you are a faithless one you might have noticed Ms Tagalong's obsession with rhubarb.

It is that time of year; the crowns of rhubarb in the garden are sprouting very large, very healthy looking leaves. Unfortunately the stalks don't live up to the promise, being short, stumpy ones with very little rhubarb colour. Luckily Ms Tagalong spied some rhubarb in the greengrocer's and managed to make some rhubarb and ginger crumble. With the addition of chopped fresh ginger and brown sugar it looked delicious ready to be covered with crumble. The lack of oats did not deter Ms Tagalong and she improvised with some muesli. If only she had checked the oven temperature! Alerted by the charcoal aroma, Ms Tagalong managed to scrape off the black peanuts and raisins off the top and it was really still rather respectable.

There was another swarm of bees in the garden this weekend, this time of a two legged variety, diligently labouring away during the hot and sweaty day. Ms Nimblefingers, particularly, was galvanised into a frenzy; maybe fueled by the wonderful homemade pizzas Little Miss Pretty and friends had concocted for the pizza oven.

Others helped turn the composts, build another, sow plants and seeds and water the new seedlings which will need regular dampening if they are to survive the long hot summer. A stinking hot day of 38 degrees this week was fortunately followed by some cooler breezes culminating in some welcoming rain. No watering needed today and a replenishment of the tanks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tiny tots

Ms Tagalong thinks there is nothing more appealing than a cutely dressed toddler with a watering can in hand. They are pictures of concentration as they direct the water to the plant. Just look at these examples of loving attention to the silver beet.

Ms Tagalong can see, as always, there are a few tearaways racing around the path more interested in bicycles and speed than the slow growing plants. How lovely to think that this might be a regular occurrence and that our local youngsters could embark on some of the lovely projects that Ms Tagalong found on this website.

Ms Tagalong must have been a teacher in a former life because she was very attracted to several sites showing sowing varieties and other entertaining things to do with children.

So welcome our local Parents Group and long may your little sprouts be involved with sprouting!

And back to the wonderful pizza oven; its magical qualities have been the subject of many a conversation since its inaugural firing or is it the smell of the contents that entices?

When food is mentioned out comes the idea of the oven. Next book club will be served with pizza in the garden; working bees will utilise the oven; and of course the end of month cocktails now won't work unless pizzas are available and films to be shown!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It was a feast for the senses. Actually it was a real feast... Our inaugural pizza oven bake off was held last Friday night. Our end of month cocktails in the garden with a twist, not of lemon, but of difference.

Mr Ideasman sat happily in front of the oven at an early o clock to make sure that it was hot enough to cook all those expected pizzas. Ms Tagalong had panicked and told everyone to eat before they came...just in case. She needn't have worried. Although the thermometer didn't perhaps reach optimum pizza temperature it was certainly well on its way and with only a few additions of wood during the evening it managed to churn out many a pizza to the voracious hordes!

Birdspotter was in heaven. He stood there with his bird, glass in hand, pizza in the other and a tawny frogmouth oversseing the frivolity from the top of the bean tepee behind him. To top everything off, the evening that is, not the pizzas, a movie was shown. If you have never seen Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe let it be said that there were very few dry eyes at the end of it.

Ms Tagalong overheard Mr Ideasman the next day talking to Birdspotter. They were laughing. They were talking about the disappearance of difficult local neighbours and the early firing of the pizza oven. We haven't had any further problems they said! Ms Tagalong realises how obscure this remark is if you haven't seen the film but far be it from her to spoil the story!

So back to the pizzas. We cheated this time by using store bought bases but plans are afoot to make sure that a whole batch of pizza dough will be there for the next firing. It might just be at the next working bee the weekend after next, so make sure you are available.

It was such a successful night, Mr Ideasman proved that he is not just full of ideas, they are implemented, completed and on the whole are successful. Ms Tagalong had to put that in just in case he developed a big head!

Although the Throsby Big Brunch was not strictly limited to the Community Garden Members, indeed not limited to the Tighes Hill Community Group but to all the villages surrounding the creek Ms Tagalong feels it would be remiss not to mention it.

Two sunny hours of feasting, chatting, talking and laughing were abruptly curtailed by a huge downpour which sent all scurrying back home drenched but hopefully still smiling! What a success. This year was bigger and better. More people, more tables and definitely more food.
Ms Tagalong spotted a magnificent cake crowned with fresh flowers and filled with home-made lemon curd, breakfast pastries comprising eggs, bacon and worcestershire sauce lovingly baked in filo pastry, tasty gazpacho, mulberry and macadamia muffins and even heard about a honey and mulberry cake (tis the season, don't you know)which never made it to the feast due to the untimely shower.

It was a busy weekend!