Posted on January 29, 2019 by Anne Layton-Bennett - Blog
At least not when the temperatures are as warm as they’ve been this summer, and there’s a lot of harvesting to be done. I’m rather over getting up at 5.30 every morning to walk Della dog, and then start the picking.
Breakfast has become a hasty meal for the duration, fitted in somewhere along the line before it gets too hot.
We had an abundance of boysenberries this year – which is excellent as I love them but they are a pain to pick. Literally. The raspberries are chugging along quite steadily and will continue to do so for at least another four months due to the different varieties we have growing, one of which is an autumn produce. All very yummy and delicious but picking them is also a pain so for these two berry varieties long sleeves are essential and in the weather we’ve been enjoying this is not comfortable. Hence starting as early as possible.
Despite removing some of the thornless blackberry vines last year we still have one, and of course there are plenty of berries on it which are just ripening nicely. At least I can strip off to short-sleeves when picking them.
And the plums have started as well so it’s all on to beat the birds although we did cover the greengage tree after the parrots decided to breakfast on these plums a few days ago. This is the first year we’ve had fruit, and they are prolific – as are the plums that pollinate the greengage – the Prune D’Argan which according to the book we have is the oldest known plum tree in the world.
Last but not least are the tomatoes, which are a bit late getting underway but have now started, and there are loads, so the kitchen bench is currently full of bowls of assorted produce that I shall have to work up enthusiasm to do something with.
So where is John in all of this? Well, he’s not been slouching around. All the watering is down to him – which includes all those native trees and bushes he’s been nurturing so carefully, which he’s grown from seed or cuttings, as well as the rest of the garden. For some it’s a hand watering job with buckets of water.
So as I swelter over picking produce I keep reminding myself I will appreciate all this bounty in the winter months when I go to the freezer(s) and from the selection that’s there, pick out a container of some of this home-grown produce to make those winter-warming casseroles and crumbles.
Posted on January 14, 2019 by Anne Layton-Bennett - Blog
Now we have two (at least) green and gold frogs in the sunken bath tub. Although both are a similar size neither is the bright green of a mature frog, so we’re assuming they’ve still a bit of growing up to do. One of them especially was quite timid to begin with when it saw us approaching, hopping off the rim into the safety of the water, but they both now seem to have realised we pose no threat, and are content to sit and bask while watching us, the chooks, the garden, and Della the dog until the heat becomes too much for them.
A bit of research has also shown the bath tub could well be a nursery to more green and golds than just these two since it’s a species that takes longer than some to develop from tadpole to frog. Green and golds can stick around the bottom of ponds, dams – or our bath tub – for around 12 months while they slowly mature, so we could well have a few more lurking at the bottom and not quite ready to face the world.
Time will tell, but hoping these two will decide to stick around while they grow into the bright green of a fully mature frog, and maybe pass the time of day on a pumpkin or two, like these two in the photograph.
Posted on January 2, 2019 by Anne Layton-Bennett - Blog
We’ve always had frogs on the property, both where we are now, and at our previous place a few kilometres away. Initially though we didn’t realise the large green frogs that we regularly spotted basking in the spring and summer sunshine were becoming increasingly rare. The first inkling these frogs weren’t commonly seen was when our vet – who had something of a thing about reptiles and amphibians – showed great excitement when we casually mentioned this bizarre (to us) sunbathing habit during the course of our then-dog’s annual health check.
Paul’s eyes lit up and he immediately asked if he could come down and frog hunt on our property one weekend. Naturally we agreed, rather intrigued that he thought we were home to a creature clearly rather special.
While we learned from Paul that green and gold frogs (Litoris raniformis) were quite rare, it was several years later, and during the pulp mill campaign, that I learned the species was listed nationally as ‘vulnerable’ due to rapidly declining numbers. The cause was a likely combination of habitat loss, and the fatal chytrid fungus disease that has decimated frog populations globally. It seems our East Tamar community is home to a reasonably large and healthy population of green and golds – a status that proved of significant environmental importance in stopping the pulp mill. As one of several listed wildlife species whose habitat would be destroyed or disturbed by the pulp mill, pressure to up the ante to ensure the frogs’ protection provided another environmental complication for Gunns Limited during the long years of the fight to stop it.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot more about green and golds, one of three frog species found in this area. Their growling call can be heard throughout spring and summer and although like all frogs they need to be near water, it was exciting to learn we had a long-term resident last year who decided to make its home in an old bath tub filled with rain water that is adjacent to the small potting shed.
We’d inherited this trough when we bought the house, and as it’s partially covered with a wide-spaced wire mesh then possibly several generations of green and golds have called it home over the years. Last year’s tenant hopped off at some point during autumn, but a week or so back we noticed a new one has moved in.
Hopefully he – or she – will decided to hang around for a while.