Junior Rambles enjoys checking and turning the compost. I am so glad that he seems as interested and fascinated as I am at how our ‘waste’ turns into new soil for the garden.
I love the idea of of reducing the waste I put in the rubbish bin by putting kitchen scaps into a compost bin instead, but I have tried and failed many times with compost over the years. Open piles or sealed bins just didn’t break down their contents, but they were successful in being smelly. I tried again about three years ago when I found a discarded compost bin in the hedge of our property. I read up on the internet and borrowed library books to search for advice. I tried a layering technique, mixing dry carbon (leaves, twigs etc.) with grass cuttings/kitchen scraps. It was my first success, but it was over a year before the contents had broken down enough to vaguely resemble ‘compost’. Even then I was finding bits that hadn’t broken down; corn cobs, avacado skins, etc.
Last year I noticed my council were offering a free composting course that I could go on, called The Art of Composting and Worms. I have to admit I was slightly skeptical, not sure how much I was likely to learn on a free council course, but thought I had nothing to lose so decided to sign up and go along.
I was wrong. I learnt a lot. Of course, I couldn’t see the ‘scraps’ breaking down into compost during the course, I only had their word for it that if I followed the techiniques I had been taught it would work. Less than a year later I have managed to produce several bins worth of kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost! It takes me a matter of weeks now, instead of months/years!
I will keep you in suspense for now, but I promise to write soon about what I learnt and how I do it!
We live near the shores of beautiful Pittwater and until recently only enjoyed the beaches and the views but we had never been on the water. For years we had watched people stand up paddling on Pittwater and thought it looked fun. We finally got round to having a go last year when I bought Mr Rambles a voucher for a stand up paddle lesson for his birthday. The lesson was with Tony Henry of Avalon Stand Up Paddle at Pittwater’s Clareville Beach.
Since arriving in Australia almost ten years ago, I have longed to have some backyard chickens. After several house moves, including across the country, and renovations on our current home, which turned the garden into a builders dumping yard, we finally felt ready and took the plunge last September.
I grew up on a farm in England, and we always had chickens running around, so I think the Rambles boys were all thinking I must be a chicken expert. The real truth is I remember having fun playing with the chickens and I enjoyed collecting and eating their eggs. I only occasionally fed them, and I wasn’t the one who managed their health, cleaned them out, got up early to let them out in the mornings, and shut them up at dusk every night before the fox came. That was mainly all done by my mother. I told Master and Junior Rambles that we were all going to be responsible for looking after the chickens, but in reality history soon repeated itself!
Of course one of the main reasons that we, and anyone, keeps chickens, is the eggs. How great to have a pet that supplies us with food. We weren’t expecting them to start laying until December but they surprised us in late October with our first (tiny) egg. We think it was laid by Billy, she looked as amazed as we did! The other two followed soon after, and all have been good layers ever since.
- Wrap half a medium sized pumpkin, with the seeds removed, and about 6 cloves of garlic (all skin on) in foil to make a parcel.
- Put in a hot oven for an hour, remove and allow to cool. Open the parcel and remove the pumpkin skin.
- Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add one or two chopped onions, cook gently until transparent. Squeeze the garlic out of their skins into the onions and add the pumpkin along with some chopped rosemary.
- Add 750ml of vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blitz and pass through a fine sieve.? Check seasoning.
- Serve hot with a dash of balsamic vinegar, a swirl of soured cream and a sprinkling of lemon zest.
Delicious with crusty home made bread.
These biscuits are a firm family favourite, good for the school ‘morning tea’ box or a snack at the beach. They are quick and easy to make and always popular when shared with friends!
- Beat 125g of butter with 80g of brown sugar until creamy and add 1tsp of vanilla essence
- Mix in 50g of self-raising and 50g of plain flour (wholemeal).
- Add 2 tbsp of milk and, when mixed, a further 65g of self-raising flour and 50g of plain flour
- Mix into a dough.
- Make balls of the dough (about 24) and place on a non-stick baking tray.
- Press the back of a fork onto the balls to squash them into biscuit shapes.
- Cook at 160C for about 20 mins (longer makes them crispier).
Cool on a rack and enjoy with a cup of tea.