Just when you thought that it was safe to go back out into the garden

It was only last week that I thought that we had finally finished with the tomato crop, but surprise surprise. 2 more baskets full. and now all that remains are a few stragglers that will be fine over the next few weeks for salads or fried up for brekkie. The last 8 jars have taken us up towards 90 jars! A lifetime record for us.

This is definitely the last batch for this year. A new project will be to find extra ways of cooking with tomato passata that we haven’t tried yet. If you have a favourite recipe, please contact me.

The saffron crop keeps on coming, bit by bit. An extra crocus flower opens each day and we carefully pick the stamens out and dry them on a paper towel in the kitchen.

We wont be retiring on this new crop anytime soon, but we are looking forward to making one dish of saffron rice when we have the whole crop harvested.

Over the weekend we were busy in the garden and yard. Janine decided to burn off the pile of hardwood stumps that we generated from all the clearing along the new fence line. I’m pleased to report that we have had no more deer inside the garden since the fence went up. However, we have seen fresh scats outside, and along the fence line. So for the time being, the fence is working. Now to deal with the pile of stumps.

Janine worked very hard, all day, both days, patrolling along the fence line and taking out the small trees that had been pushed over and out of the way of the fence. Using her electric chain saw, she could move anywhere along the line and chop up the trees, then drag them back to the bonfire pile. In this way, she kept it going all day.

I helped out intermittently with the toy tractor, moving heavier pieces, but I was also busy.

I made two trips to the sand and gravel yard in Mittagong, a 50 km round trip, to buy a couple of cubic meters of mushroom compost. I ploughed over the English cottage garden and also along the front of the new pottery shed, spread the compost, chicken manure and lime, then re-tilled the mix into the soil with the cultivator. A few packets of English Cottage Garden seed mix, and a few punnets of seedlings later, and the new spring garden is underway.

It doesn’t look much just now, but in a couple of months it will come to life, once all the seeds germinate and come into flower. Below is how it used to look.

The strip along the driveway is a new venture, to try and give a bit of a colourful lift to the front of the pottery. I hope that there will be a bit of a splash of colour in time for the mid year ‘Pop-Up’ studio sale on 10, 11 and 12th of June. Save the date. Certainly it will be in full bloom for the December studio sale.

Once I got the gardening done. I was back to help Janine with the bonfire. There was a big pile of huge pine logs left over from the bush fire that burnt everything here. When we milled all the burnt pine trees into slabs and planks to line the pottery, there were a few difficult logs left over. I had thought that I might cut up these last few logs for kiln fuel. But as it has taken me 3 1/2 years to get my act together on this job, it is far too late, I’ve been sitting on my lazy arse too much and these pine logs have all started to go rotten. A shame, but what can you do? I tried splitting them, but they were mostly pithy and full of mush.

I sorted out the better ones and split those and got another half a stack of hob wood logs for the kiln. Better than nothing. But they won’t add many calories to the kiln firing, maybe just a little extra ash?

All the rest were just too big, too heavy, too rotten or too branched and knotty to do anything with. So as we had the fire still burning on the Sunday, I added them all to the bonfire and got rid of the ugly, difficult mess.

I’m getting old now, so I can’t man-handle those big, heavy rounds of pine like I used to. I don’t want to do myself so sort of damage wrestling with them. Those logs are 670 mm long and 600 mm dia. and probably the best part of 100kgs. Just too big for me now.

However the little tractor is the best investment that I have made in a long while. I bought it for myself when I turned 60. I traded up to a new model with a front-end 4 in 1 bucket. So much more useful than the old one, that was just a glorified mower and rotary hoe. I was able to push, roll and cajole those big logs onto the pile and keep them all up close together all day as they slowly burnt away. As the big logs burn, they get smaller and slowly move away from each other, then the fire can dawdle and start to go out. It is necessary to keep pushing the lumps closer together, to keep them burning fiercely.

The site looks so much better now and will be lovely after I get in there and scrape it all smooth, then keep it mowed and clear. That pile of huge lumps of wood were just too much work to chop up, so being able to burn them away was the right solution to get the site clean again. It’s taken me 3 1/2 years to getting around to dealing with them, but it is almost done now. Another job ticked off the list.

This is all that remains on Monday morning. it will be all gone by tonight.