Wow, look what we found this morning. A Marbled Gecko, (Phyllodactylus mamoratus) actually two of them. The first was spotted as we packed up all the bottles and cans collected on our walks to go to the recycling depot. The geckos appear to be living in a large stack of bricks, next to where we stash our bottles and cans for recycling.
This gecko must have been inside one of the cans we picked up.
Thankfully, we found it in the bottom of this plastic bag at the depot and it got safely taken home and released where it came from. This is a new species for our garden. We have seen Stone Geckos (Diplodactylus vittatus) several times on the brickwork around the house.
Yesterday I went with one of my friends foraging for mushrooms in the local pine forests**. We found our first Saffron Milkcap mushrooms for the year. It looks like their season are just starting so we will go back again soon to see how they are progressing.
Saffron Milkcap mushrooms showing their characteristic orange ‘milk’ where they have been cut on the stems.
Slippery Jack mushrooms were everywhere. While these mushrooms aren’t generally considered to be the greatest fresh eating mushroom around, I find it worthwhile collecting and de-hydrating them to be added to soups and stews through the winter months to round out their flavour.
The super gelatinous top gives Slippery Jacks their name. You can also see the spongy yellow underneath of the cap.
We split our haul so there was only enough Saffron Milkcaps for one meal. I found a good selection of recipes at the website of the Forager Chef, aka Alan Bergo. I decided to go with his Catalan style Saffron Milkcaps with chorizo. It was also good that apart from the chorizo, the other key ingredients tomato, garlic and parsley all came from our garden.
Catalan style Saffron Milkcaps with chorizo, tomato, garlic and parsley.
**Please do not go foraging for mushrooms unless you have had suitable training in identifying edible species. In the recent years several people in Canberra have died due to eating mis-identified mushrooms.
It would be fair to say that this year has seen our worst corn harvest since we started growing it.
In the front garden we planted Painted Mountain corn, named for the almost unbelievably brilliant colours of it’s kernels.
Only one plant made it to knee height, the rest barely made it out of the ground. I recorded in the garden diary that in December the plants came under attack from snails. There is no doubt that the primary culprit was our run of 4 days over 40 degrees in January. No amount of water could make up for the shock and while we only had another one or two days around the 40° mark, January 2019 was recorded as being the hottest on record going back to 1910. Despite this pretty awful result I did harvest enough kernels to have another go next year.
Out in the back garden things were marginally better. At least our popping corn, Ontos Oval, did manage to get above the 1 metre high mark. However it suffered from irregular watering. We didn’t notice that our automatic watering system had stopped working due to a flat battery in the timing system.
You can see from the photos that the cobs of this variety are a bit oval-ish in shape.
The kernels themselves are pointed like teardrops. This is the first year that we have grown this variety. I haven’t tried popping these yet. I might just do a side by side test with our regular Strawberry Popping corn
This self-sown Lazy Housewife Bean plant, pretty much looked after itself over summer. It grew 230gms of dried beans (minus all the ones I ate fresh off the plant). If only all my plants performed so well.
At the end of summer it’s now time to pull this worker out. Thankyou bean plant.
It is quite late for our first tomatoes to be picked. Often we pick in January, but not this year. You can see these have growing scars from the combination of very hot weather then torrential downpours. It’s been very hard to keep a steady watering regime.
If you live in Australia then you will probably be experiencing the challenges that have come from our record high January temperatures.
Our corn has taken a beating. The plants got to knee high and started flowering! Some cobs are forming at the base of the plants.
It’s pretty tragic, but if nothing else shows their determination for germination. I can’t imagine that the result will be much good.
On the other hand one of our annual crops, Kang Kong, (Ipomea aquatica), or water spinach, seems to be coping just fine. A native of tropical northern Australia and South East Asia, it’s a great addition to stir fries.
Our plant was grown from a stem of some kang kong we bought to eat. We grew in water and it took root extremely quickly.
There is an added bonus to this plant, it has beautiful simple white flowers.