Thursday, June 18, 2015

Doing well in winter

Just an update on this recent post about growing coriander and chervil from supermarket sprouts. It's working!

Forgive me while I bang on yet again about this topic, but winter is the ideal time to grow both coriander and chervil. Plant them in autumn, they thrive all through winter, and will only start to fade once it warms up in spring.

Lovely chervil, with a mild aniseed flavour, called a "delicate"
herb by some, but I think the people who call it delicate add it
too early to dishes. It's a great herb to add right at the end of
cooking, or just before serving. 

Coriander in amongst some baby spring onion shoots (and
yes, some dreaded onion weed) with lettuce and New Guinea
impatiens to complete the scene. One of the tricks with
coriander in winter is to actually use it. We cut off leaves
with scissors, just like trimming hedges, and it grows back
thick and lush quite readily.
So there you go, fresh delicious herbs all through winter, one of the many nice things about gardening here in mild, temperate Sydney.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ain't nature wonderful – part #89778965

Here's the nature-loving equivalent of a *spoiler alert* ... warning to arachnophobes, this post is about spiders...

They've all gone? Good, on with the show.

The good news is that he or she is back. Our net-casting spider. Pammy spotted the tell-tale web this morning, in exactly, precisely the same spot as last year, and the year before, etc etc. These spiders know their real estate. The net-caster loves the spot just in front of our murraya hedge, just to the left of the big wooden post which holds up our front verandah. If you're a net-caster, this is prime position.

A small but perfectly formed little net, a bit over an inch (2-3cm)
across. It'd be a nice food cover for a couple of peas.
It goes without saying that all spider webs are marvels of
nature. Somewhere within each net-casting spider's little brain
is all the software it needs to design and build this web.

Now here's the scary bit for arachnophobes: an actual spider
at work, trying to catch a very tiny human. No, I tell a lie, it
actually catches insects... but how it does it is remarkable.
Unlike other spiders, the net-caster holds its web in its "hands"
as an old-style fisherman holds a net, then throws it over the
first insect wandering by, wrapping it up in its net. Nifty, eh?

To give you an idea of the scale we are dealing with here, this
is an ordinary biro.
The other excellent thing about net-casting spiders is that they are surviving and coming back each year. I like to think that having an organic gardening policy plays its own tiny part in creating an environment where everything from worms in the ground to net-casting spiders up in our murraya hedges have a healthy, natural, pesticide-free place in which to go about being wonderful in the way that nature intended.

*end of spoiler alert* 
Want to read more about them? The Australian Museum, as always, has an excellent page on them.