Friday, December 19, 2014

Browning off and heating up

I have been somewhat remiss and it has been a few months since there's been a garden update. Mostly because I've done little more than water, and because I've been round the back working on The Great Wall of Drummonds. Which is almost finished.

After a wonderfully wet winter we are now well and truly into the drier months. Yeah I know lots of people don't have that same fondness for the wet stuff as we do here, but when it only rains a few days within a four month period and then there's no precipitation whatsoever (aside from maybe a thunderstorm or two in January) for a full eight months, you do tend to get happy when you see it. Especially if you're a gardener.

As I've said before, rainwater on the garden has special growth properties that can't be replicated, and as the clouds disappear, the winds start to blow and the sun starts getting pretty intensive, the plants bolt to seed and shuffle off their mortal coil. But this year I've collected lots of seeds.

Last year I just spread the lettuce seedheads all over the garden, which is why I had such a bumper crop this year. I've been a little less profligate this year, opting to collect and save seed and only sprinkle a few seeds around the garden in a more thoughtful manner. It's still pretty haphazard - I just can't get OCD with the vege patch, somehow it just won't let me.

well I may have been a bit happy with the rocket seeds

The basil I planted in the top of the grapefruit pot has been growing really well, but I noticed that the southerly winds were drying and stressing them. So a little piece of shade cloth, a couple of cable ties and string, and I've made a windguard. Just made a big batch of pesto yesterday...

The new bean seedlings are also getting quite a walloping, with a fair bit of premature deaths and a few stragglers hanging in there.

I removed the styrofoam boxes and just infilled directly with soil. I'm yet to decide what to put in there.

Recently I purchased a new passionfruit vine, this one grown from seed and sourced locally from Julie's permaculture nursery. Ones grown from grafted root stock just die and the rootstock takes over, hopefully this one will be different. I've popped it in a different bed and given it copious amounts of compost to help it along. Cross fingers...

I popped a grapevine in the spot where the last passionfruit vine was (the one that lasted less than a year). I'm not sure whether that's a good idea, but so far so good...

My attempts at growing plants from seed have been a bit hit and miss this year. Mostly miss. The zucchini and cucumbers didn't make it, and almost all the tomato plants have carked it as well.

that out of focus stalk in the foreground used to be a tomato plant...

The self seeded vines turned out to be rockmelons, that just rotted on the vine, however one fruited and is ready for eating. Tiny, but perfect size for one.

Of all my okra seedlings, only one is still hanging in there. One got accidentally trodden on when I was putting up the shade sails, another died when I forgot to water for 48 hours. Sigh...

One eggplant seedling is struggling along...

Jack's pumpkin plant died, RIP. I never had great faith in it from the start. For some reason that particular spot seems to be toxic to plants and everything I put there dies. Not that Jack knew that when he lovingly planted those seeds...

These are rocket seedlings, probably too hot now for them, but you can but try.

Not sure what these are, could be rockmelon, cucumber, watermelon or zucchini. I really do need to keep notes...

The dragon fruit has decided to flower again. That's it's second time this year. The day these photos were taken there were five flowers on the vine at once. Thrilled to think I'll be eating dragon fruit some time in January or February (bugger, I'm going to be away in Feb!).

I've heaps of papaya fruit, though all green so far. A couple have fallen down so I add them to a roast (tenderises the meat) or cook them up in a curry. Green papaya has little taste of its own so it tends to take on the flavour of the stock or sauce used. No point wasting it! I also enjoy a good green papaya salad from time to time (with lots of chilli of course), but am looking forward to eating some ripe ones. No idea how long that will take...

Having massacred the mulberry tree in the back yard it was time to plant a replacement. I took cuttings maybe 2 years ago and these have been growing into nice little plants. Only two are vigorous plants, the others are still a bit weedy, so I gave one away to a friend, and the other has now been planted where the lime used to be.

Ah yes, the lime. Well it just up and died didn't it. This soil really does kick you in the teeth on a regular basis, and just when you think you have your summer Mojito supply sorted, WHAM!! Dead lime tree. I've just recently bought another and am contemplating where to put it. I'm thinking it might be the first addition to the back yard garden. We'll see...

this died :(

Guess what! I've got chooks! They are rescued hens from the local egg farm, missing lots of feathers and they have taken a while to get used to the freedom of free range. They aren't exactly producing many eggs yet, but I'm hoping with some nutrition, fresh water and a happy place to roam that will pick up. It took them 2 weeks to find and explore the nesting box and start laying, though not all of them have made their way in there yet. They are fairly friendly too, a couple of them follow me around and are fairly easy to catch and handle, though one of them is getting a hard time from the others. I just love watching their antics.

So that's it from me for 2014. The shade sails are all up but there's still lots of little jobs yet to do to try and keep what I've got alive through the next few months.

Have a Merry Xmas and safe holiday season y'all.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ski Goddess fitness challenge, part 3

It's December already! Two more months till I'm skiing pow in Japan and I'm yet to get my sorry arse into a fitness regime.

I did get the rear tyre on the treadly replaced, albeit by a visiting couch surfer (yeah I'm a slack arse OK?).

Sunday I went for a lovely 45 minute bike ride then did some squats and lunges.

The next morning I discovered I had a puncture in the new tyre. I had no repair glue, or spare tubes. I just did some lunges and squats instead.

Tuesday I went and got 2 new spare tubes, and some glue, but took till the weekend to fix it.

I continued doing daily lunges and squats though, only with a difference.

I'm doing all my exercises on wobbly bits of equipment.

Air filled rubber discs and balls that force me to really work my core muscles and push me to keep my balance whilst performing said lunges and squats.

This is because skiing is a dynamic sport with lots of latent instability (it's slippery stuff and very uneven) and because a little niggling knee problem of mine seems to have got quite a bit worse.

Back in 2009 I hurt my left knee skiing. I remember when it happened, it was on Magnum in Powder Bowl at TC, on a powder day, in a lesson with Lara. It was a landing twisting injury and I experienced quite a bit of pain, but managed to get up and ski down the hill. I was sore for the next few days, but not enough to stop skiing completely, and the knee continued to be stiff for months afterwards, sometimes causing me excruciating pain if put into certain positions. I couldn't fully flex the knee and sit on my haunches because it hurt too much. Finally, I saw a physiotherapist who couldn't find anything wrong except a bit of minor laxity in the ACL, and gave me some exercises to do which fixed the problem and the pain went away and I had full movement again.

Still, the knee wasn't quite right, and probably explains, along with the broken arm in 2010, why I developed a lot of fear when skiing, which I hadn't had prior to the knee injury. Only with more exercise and some psychological approaches did I conquer that fear, and my skiing improved exponentially. But a couple of times, when my knee was in certain positions it sort of clunked out, and I had to fully straighten the knee for it to clunk back in again. And ski away...

Well that instability has got worse, such that it's now possible for me to reproduce it whenever I sit back on my haunches, and another trip to the physio now reveals my ACL is indeed somewhat deficient. But I'm not yet ready to go off and see a surgeon, so am working crazily on my functional stability and investigating the pros and cons of a knee brace.

It explains why the left leg has been my weaker side and I've had so much trouble weighting onto it on my turns, though Klaus' trick of getting me to unweight my right leg solved that one. You see the ACL carries important nerve fibres for position sense to the brain, and without this feedback the leg can feel unstable. Not that it's actually unstable in anything but extreme positions, but skiing can be pretty unpredictable!

It means I have to retrain those nerves. The knee isn't exactly popping out all over the place, it's what's called ACL deficient. Most surgically repaired knees are also considered ACL deficient due to the damage to the nerve fibres. I reckon I've still got quite a few firing away though but they need a bit of re-education. With wobbly discs and gym balls!

At least it's given me the motivation to get exercising. Not happy but!

And now the bike tyre has been fixed tomorrow I'm off riding again.