Honey has been on my mind, lately, as I was interviewing an expert on Beekeeping, in my job as a reporter, for a community magazine.
I can now tell you loads about the complexities of a bee colony, what threats they face, how they are heavily regulated by themselves and the bees and the process of making honey.
Whilst beekeeping can turn into an obsession, I am more obsessed with honey and its use as food. I sourced a wonderfully tasty Immune boosted raw Honey from the Beekeeper himself. This honey has all sorts of health benefits as the bees graze from a wide variety of food sources.
Apart from having one teaspoon of this delicious food from the Gods, each day, I made some Honey and Oat Biscuits, (or Honey and Oat Cookies if you are American), using a favourite recipe of mine, that I will share here:
Honey and Oat Cookies (Biscuits) Recipe
1 cup Self Raising Flour, (or all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons Baking powder)
3 tablespoons custard powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (125 g) or softened butter
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup wheatgerm or bran
Blitz the flour and custard powder
Add sugar and oats and blitz again
Add butter through the chute as processing til blended
Add honey and process till well combined
Roll teaspoonfuls of the mix into balls and toss lightly in the wheatgerm/bran
Place on baking tray and flatten lightly with the back of a fork
Cook for 10 – 12 minutes in a moderate over 180 degrees C (350 F)
I do enjoy drinking a lovely cuppa at mid-morning. To savour that cuppa with other enthusiastic bloggers at Su’s Virtual Tea Party, is an extra treat.
The Thirteenth day of November in the calamitous year of 2020, is auspicious, but I am not superstitious. I do wonder how many extra lotto tickets will be sold today.
Having once worked in a Newsagency, I can vouch for the increase in sales on days like these.
Meanwhile November has been busy. There always seems to be something happening at the Home by the Sea.
Melbourne cup day without the racing crowds continued in our neighbourhood and one of our wonderful neighbours dressed up as a bookie running a sweep or two.
I have been joining in with Qi Gong exercise every day that I can through the week, however turned awkwardly this morning and have pulled a muscle in my back. Ouch…. Getting old sucks. Really.
Schnauzer November News
The dogs have not been forgotten and had a fantastic run at the fenced off leash area and the doggie beach. First time off leash for the pup and she loved running with the chocolate labradors and then having a hydrobath afterwards. They rested well afterwards.
The doggies were spoilt a bit with early Christmas presents from Pupsnaps anti – anxiety beds. Since these arrived, several of my friends have had theirs delivered. Pupsnaps must be so pleased with the business from the Schnauzers. The dogs almost need to recieve a commission.
The Koala Rescue group have been making Christmas garlands, complete with koalas. We threaded up all of these one weekend. I hope they sell well at the markets as the funds all go towards running the Rescue operation.
At least one koala is killed or wounded every night in breeding season. Staggering statistics.
During a fierce thunderstorm and amidst a global pandemic, a female political leader, has made a mark on history winning a historic third term as the state’s leader in the election.
And her words I particularly like – she is keen to get back to work as soon as possible.
“There’s nothing more important than the dignity of work.”
My wonderful daughter strongly believes and supports female representation in politics. For many years, female suffrage was not tenable to the authorities. Some women died for the right to vote. My daughter takes her constitiutional right very seriously. She requested a political sign for our garden. After all, we make up a little more than half the population, she reasons.
Women’s Right to Vote
New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in, but not to stand for, parliamentary elections in 1893.
The colony of South Australia allowed women to vote and stand for election in 1894. In Sweden, conditional women’s suffrage was granted during the age of liberty between 1718 and 1772. But it wasn’t until the year 1919 that equality was achieved, where women’s votes were valued the same as a man’s.
Equity in something my countrymen and women feel strongly about but might hardly be aware that they do. Generally speaking Australia does not have many traditions, we can all our own, but for Australian society is mostly classless and everyone here is entitled, to use the vernacular: a ‘fair go’. Australia has developed, comparatively speaking a more egalitarian and economically mobile society, perhaps stemming somewhat from a lack of historic tribal associations. (generally speaking)
However, this is not to dismiss the extreme prejudice and terrible injustices wrought against the indigenous folk of Australia and the White Australia Policy. This racist policy of preferencing white migrants was a mid-twentieth century policy based on the irrational fear of becoming populated by migrants from Asia.
There will always be bad eggs in any society, just as there will be good eggs. I do believe that the worst of any prejudice is behind our country and trust my daughter will grow old in a country where each individual is taken for his or herself, with open-mindedness and in good faith.
Having a home by the sea has many advantages, however, one disadvantage, is the poor quality of the soils for gardens and the difficulty in growing plants that thrive in coastal areas.
Coastal soils are often sandy and have poor water retention ability but might also be heavy, salty and highly alkaline. This means their PH level is about 7 or above, which makes growing plants quite tricky.
If I wanted to grow Azaleas, Camellias, Magnolias or my favourite flowering shrub: Gardenias, for example, the coastal soils would need organic and chemical* help.
*Please note growing azaleas, camellias, magnolia and gardenias will require a specific fertilizer or may wither or develop yellowing leaves, without the right conditions.
As some of my garden had already been established, adding large quantities of peat moss, compost or organic matter wasn’t going to be a viable option, so in order to change the PH of the soil, I needed to look at other options.
It’s always best to test the soil’s pH level and follow instructions to the “T” when using anything to change soil pH.
If your soil is highly alkaline, adding sulphur, peat moss, sawdust, or aluminium sulfate can help neutralize it.
The first warning sign that the plants in my garden were suffering from a high Ph level was leaves turning yellow with a green midvein, evident firstly with the alkaline sensitive Gardenias and later, the Murraya, or Mock Orange, and some of the small Cupheas bordering the garden.
My next step in remediation was to stabilize the Gardenia, in situ, with an appropriate chemical fertilizer suitable for the sensitive likes of those plants and plant out more alkaline-tolerant species, as well as add organic matter where possible.
Within a few weeks of applying the fertilizer, the Gardenias and Magnolia had shiny new green growth. I applied a general fertilizer to the Murraya and the Cupheas and although slower, they are responding with new buds.
Growing Lavender in Coastal Areas
Lavender plants are a sound choice for coastal areas as they relish well-drained sandy soils and don’t mind wind. The ones I planted thrived in soil that had an upper layer of very sandy alkaline loam with an underlying, also alkaline, clay. They are especially beautiful now, in full bloom. No fertilizer needed, or signs of alkaline damage, so far.
Lavender plants make spectacular borders and vary in height: Lavender dentata, for example, grows to a height of 60 cm and can be pruned to a ball shape lightly after flowering.
Growing Your Own Lavender Plants
Lavender blossoms make excellent cut flowers,or can be used in dried flowers arrangements or potpourri. After flowering, I remove the lavender flowers from the stems and pot up the trimmed down leaf tips and place them in potting mix after first dipping the ends in rooting powder and then seal them with a plastic bag for several months. After that, you should have some established new Lavender plants.
It’s really a plant that keep on giving.
Lavender is known for its therapeutic properties.
Growing Olive Trees in Coastal Areas
Contrary to popular belief, Olive trees do not really have troublesome root systems, and as they do like coastal conditions they can also tolerate alkaline soil, well, provided it is free draining. A great choice for a coastal garden particularly with their grey-green foliage.
Olive trees take about 7 years to produce fruit. Sadly, we had to leave a beautiful olive tree at our former location, when we moved to the ‘Home by the sea,’ one that was close to flowering and producing olives.
The tree was about five years old and about 3 metres tall. It was not in a position of full sun, but we do live in the sub-tropics, so the sun is stronger here. Olive trees seem resilient to pests, so are a great choice for coastal and Mediterranean-style climates.
Plants suitable for Alkaline soils:
Some other plants that cope well in Alkaline soil types are listed below.
Herbs/Vegetables for Alkaline Soils
Sweet Potato – my plants are thriving. Just pop them in and watch them grow.
Parsley can be used as an edible border plant as it is a splash of greenery and handy for use in making Tabouli or salads in the kitchen. It is a herb that does like alkaline soils.
Shrubs and Treesfor Alkaline Soils
Olive Trees – as long as the soil is free draining.