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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Slowly Making Some Progress...

Being Saturday and the last day of August means that the Raymond Terrace Aldi store will open at 8.30 am with a broad selection of vegetable seedlings which are both well priced and well advanced. Having built up their reputation for supplying good seedlings it is important to arrive early to fight off the crowd of enthusiastic customers before all the goodies disappear. So we did arrive early and collected the few items that we have trouble germinating ourselves such as Eggplant and Capsicum and just because they looked so good picked up a few other things such as Dill, Basil and Lettuce and a couple of Tomatoes that weren't in our collection. There was a good crowd and lots of bustling to get to the Saturday specials but stocks were plentiful and no one disappointed.

Aldi Seedlings

This year the seedlings were very advanced which is OK for Tomatoes, Eggplant and Capsicum but makes things like Dill and basil a bit straggly. Still, all good fun.

This year our own seedling have been the best ever in terms of health and size. Could be the weather and possibly because they were potted up very early?

Our seedlings

The cosmic forces that govern the building of Tomato beds are obviously in a playful mood. Todays first disaster was the box trailer. It needs to be ready to haul some more silage and hay this coming week and it was noticed yesterday that the lights were inoperable. First eliminated the vehicle as the cause then dismantled the light fittings and cleaned all the connections - one loose bulb and one broken wire. Half the lights now working. Checked all the other fittings. This is all very difficult as the trailer lights are out of sight when working behind the vehicle. Mounted a vanity mirror on the ground. Aha the lights flicker when playing with the main connector. Stripped that down checked it all over and adjusted the connection points. Finally after an hour and a half all is functioning.

Now back to the planned job of the day i.e. Tomato bed. Spread a goodly amount of Dolomite to sweeten the bed and covered with a thick layer of mulch Hay - very thick. Hay bales come apart in different sized biscuits depending on the grass type and in this case woody long grasses resulted in biscuits well over 100mm thick. Fine that should keep weeds at bay for longer. The mulch hay was a special deal last year about a 120 bales at cost of production price of $2 from a friendly farmer. Enough to keep us in mulch hay for a  few years and at a price that means we can be generous with the application.

The next step 19 bales of mulch hay over 25 metres. The last 5 metres will be held back for succession planting.
This is what is left of a junior Red Belly Black snake near the old Tomato bed after a little slashing recently. Only just noticed it.
The mock Roquefort made most recently was done in two different ways. One lot received no pressing, was brine salted and not wrapped in foil. It came out creamy and soft after only a few weeks. The other had been pressed lightly and was rubbed with salt in two stages with the salt calculated on the current weight of each round. The rounds were pierced after the salt was absorbed and wrapped in special cheese foil. This has taken longer to mature. Although creamy it is firmer and closer to the mouth feel of real Roquefort but not that airy, granular look. But progress is being made.

Just before dark we noticed the Viburnum hedge looking a bit sad. Just a simple matter of turning on the automatic watering system? No such luck, no water coming through. After a quick investigation the culprit was the gate valve back at the pump. There are three valves splitting the watering system into three sections to simplify leak tracking. This one has broken in the off position. Fortunately we were able to patch in a hose from a working section to the Viburnum system and provide them with a  drink. The valve replacement can be tomorrows emergency repair.

The shut off valves have proven a worthwhile addition to the watering system

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