We're having the wettest 'wet season' summer in many years, and some things in the garden have thrived, and others have just wasted away. The trees are very happy, their roots have gone deep and their branches spread far and wide - especially our beautiful three -year-old Poinciana.
From a tiny little plant, it now covers half the backyard, gives shade to back of our house, and is home to hundreds of birds. Through much of summer it's lovely, almost fern-like branches and leaves, have sheltered the four raised garden beds in the scorching heat of the afternoon sun, and allowed my roses to bloom and bloom, filling many vases each week.
You can see it in the background below, towering over everything else in the garden.
And just so you can see how much it has grown, the photo below shows how it was three years ago! Tiny huh?!
Unfortunately with all the rain we've had, and the intermittent scorching days, my roses eventually took a battering, so I pruned them right back (in the tropics you can prune roses at any time of the year because we don't get an actual winter), fed them with good rose food, and will leave them to revive as we move into cooler, drier days around late April or early May.
Two of our raised garden beds, the ones hubby built in 2020 from wooden palettes, have rotted away from being almost constantly rain-soaked, so we've pulled them apart (well, he did!) and removed the rich worm-filled soil to the new tall raised bed up near the pool. I'll show you that in another blog post.
The smaller beds near that demolished one hold lots of pots at the moment, as Harry-dog can't destroy them as easily, but that's not from want of trying. He's very much enjoying the soft soil to dig in, where the demolished bed once was.
Harry is over 6 months old now, handsome, bright, and quite a handful - but in a couple more years he may just slow down a week bit. In the meantime, we have been prompted into making new plans for the winter growing season, plans which will hopefully keep him from destroying fruit and vegetables.
I'm finally getting him to understand that the birds in our garden are welcome...but he needs a reminder at least twice a day.
A number of trees have been removed over summer, the kind that took up space, yet gave no return with regards to food production.
The area in front of the bird feeder will house a high raised bed soon, like the one hubby has just finished up near the pool.
We had to remove the guava tree, sadly, as it was very old, diseased, and offered only a handful of edible fruit. We shall work that soil well, and eventually plant different fruit trees.
The lemon and lime trees are loaded with a bounty of fruit again this season, and I think that means more jars of preserved lemons to add to the pantry supplies, and I'll have a go at making lime marmalade.
I had to empty some small garden troughs where I'd been growing basil and sweet potatoes, because of too much rain, but I was able to harvest some of both first. The basil was set to become pesto and the sweet potatoes are to be roasted and served the way we'd normally serve loaded potatoes. I love sweet potatoes when they begin to caramelise in the oven!
Elsewhere in the back garden I'm just trying to keep as much going as possible - mostly some flowers and the herbs, but by growing the ginger in large pots I've been able to move them in and out of cover during the days of heavy rain (they hate wet feet) and it looks as though they're almost ready for harvest. We eat a lot of ginger and this was my first year growing it successfully.
Five HUGE pumpkins are growing in the front garden and will be ready to harvest come autumn, though my husband doesn't like pumpkin (or sweet potato)...but Blossom does, so we shall enjoy the bounty together.
Once the weather cools a bit, we're going to plant out a lot of Australian natives (bush tucker food), which we're excited about, especially the Burdekin plum tree, and the native apple tree.
Inside the house I've been repotting a lot of indoor plants. We have almost 50 indoor plants, and they normally do very well, regardless of the season, but with this wet season the moisture content and warm (hot) humidity knocked a few of them around so I spent a day recently giving them all a freshen up. Some needed larger pots, others needed to be separated into two or three plants, but all are doing well now.
And in the midst of trying to keep the garden alive, and playing nurse to many of the plants I love, bread is regularly being baked. You might remember last year I bought a wonderful grain mill, and was grinding my own grain to bake with most days of the week. Unfortunately, I have been unable to buy wheat grain for the past couple of months, and we cannot afford the cost of spelt (four times the price of organic wheat grains!), so for now I'm baking white bread as regular bread flour is easy to source.
If you like to bake your own bread, this is a fail-safe recipe, and quite delicious.
In a bowl, or bread machine, add the ingredients in this order:
280 ml water
3 teaspoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
525g white bread flour
4 teaspoons of bread improver
1½ teaspoons of instant dry yeast
Knead by hand or in your bread machine (on the dough setting).
After the first rise, spread some olive oil over your kitchen benchtop and knead again by hand. Fold into a bread shape and place in a parchment lined bread tin. Loosely cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. Meanwhile heat the oven to 190 C (375 F)
Score the top of the raised bread dough and bake in the oven for 29 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to cool before slicing.
Well, that's a long blog post, so I'd best sign off so you can get on with your day or evening. It's just after 8pm here, and I'm going to settle down with some hand stitching. You can have a peek at what I'm working on HERE on my Instagram page. Rosie and I are making a quilt each from the same pattern and I am so excited because they are going to be lovely. I'll show you some progress pics next week.
Bless you heaps and remember, no matter the time, or the problem, or the lack of faith, God is there with you all the time and He has ears to hear, so hand everything to Him, okay? Why carry a burden alone? Offer it to Him.... xxx
Hi Jenny lovely post ,thankyou for your bread recipe ,your garden is looking lovely 🌹🤍🌹
Thanks for the garden tour :) Wow ! That tree sure did grow ! Are there days that you can enjoy sitting in the shade from such a tree ?
I do so enjoy good fresh crusty white bread ! Tastes great ! With all the fruit and veg we eat, why not :)
Mondaisy is almost finished :)
hugs, take care,
Hi Jennifer. Thanks for a wonderful post. And thanks for including the bread recipe. It looks easy enough that I may try it. Blessings to you and your family.
What a wonderful tour of your garden, the animals and birds, the plans for it ... everything, inside and out. Spring appears to be early here in Knoxville, but we can't count winter down and out yet. Still, today was 24ish, and tomorrow warmer before dropping down 18ish again. I'll take every day like those that I can get over snow and ice!
I liked seeing the plants indoors, too, and the bread recipe looks like just what I need, since I can only have white bread now. I was interested in hearing you can't get wheat to grind. If only I could share some of mine with you! Or all of it, since I'm not using it right now.
I've truly been humbled by the prayer requests. So many people carry burdens much heavier than mine, and it gave me a pause for gratitude, too. Thank you, Jennifer.
Thank you for your lovely post and the bread recipe. I just might have to try it, but wondering if I can just keep it in the bread machine till done - without removing and doing the end part by hand. It sounds like a lovely and easy recipe.
Really enjoyed seeing your yard and was amazed at your huge tree, after only three years, such beautiful shade. Seeing the different birds and your cute 'pup' is adorable.
Have a nice day, Jennifer!
Hi Jennifer, I was wondering what bread improver is..I thought maybe it was extra glutin? We have a high glutin flour from hard wheat here in Canada so maybe I will just give it a try.
Thank you for the garden update Jennifer. That tree is just amazing! How lovely to have all that shade and it has grown so quickly. How lovely to have such an abundance of lemons and limes - so useful and amazing that you are growing ginger, another thing my fridge is never without. Lovely to have so many houseplants. I am slowly adding to my collection. Definitely one of the more disappointing things about leaving France was having to leave all my plants behind - well we did sneak in a couple(shh)! xx
Hi Val :-)
Some info about bread improver -
"Bread improvers are manufactured for the many styles of dough making and mixing equipment in use today. Bread improvers rapidly modify the gluten structure in a dough, to produce a matrix so that the minimum amount of gas can be retained and hence assist the expansion or leavening of the dough."
Also, "Bread improver is an unflavoured acidic substance. You can substitute with citric acid, vinegar or even orange juice for bread improver."
Lovely lovely garden, my what a beautiful tree! And how amazing I would love to grow Ginger!!! Lovely Birds!! Thank you for such a lovely post! Lots of love Mary-Lou 😊❤️🐦💗
Beautiful photos and post. I loved seeing the laundry drying, the cute dog etc. Soon it will be spring here but right now there still is winter so your photos and talk are uplifting! Have a great day or night.
I'm going to substitute orange juice for the bread improver as you told another. I've never had luck with homemade bread although I dearly love it but your recipe sounds easy enough. I got rid of my bread machine years ago because it was a waste of my time trying to make bread.
That is amazing how fast your tree grew! Wonderful that it provides so much shade. You still have an abundance in your lovely nutured garden. I love roasting cubes of pumpkin to put in salads cold. Harry is soooo adorable.
So glad you added what to use in place of bread improver. Your garden did well. Wish we could grow limes and lemons.
Thank you for your beautiful, tropical garden tours and recipe! Here in Indiana we call those "Mimosa Trees", and it attracts so many hummingbirds when it blooms. Of course, ours is a little smaller due to our weather, but it's survived and thrived and we love it (but it is messy when the blooms drop). Regarding the bread...When I was about 12 years old an older woman from my church spent the day teaching me how to make home baked bread. She taught me to pray for those who will eat whatever I am baking! Years later, I became a professional baker and implemented her wise words in my baking. As I read your email and saw that you will be praying, and then saw your bread recipe, I thought I'd pass that treasured story to you! Blessings!
Wow what an amazing tree! I've never seen one before & can't believe how quickly its grown. Your garden is so productive & pretty too.
How lovely to have your own ginger & the lime & lemons too. My favourite drink is hot lemon, ginger & honey, I love it even in summer.
My bread machine is a bit dodgy at the moment so I'm going to use your recipe & make it by hand. It looks gorgeous and earing bread is my downfall. I've never seen bread improver but I'll look out for it at the shops.
Hope your family have all recovered from the bugs going around. The photos you posted are gorgeous, they've grown so quickly.
I so enjoy your garden tours. Thanks so much for sharing!
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