Monday, May 31, 2010


I've always had mixed feelings about Autumn. When I was younger - still at school - I disliked autumn because I knew that meant the rain was coming. We'd have to work outside on the farm in wet weather gear, we'd never be dry, and there'd always be mud. It would be like that until October usually.
I like summer, I don't like the searing heat of the really hot days but the milder days of summer are just right for me. Autumn has its own share of beautiful days but it means winter is coming. Shorter days, colder and (with luck) some rain. This year autumn has been like an Indian summer, the days have been warm and sometimes hot and the nights mild. We've had little rain until the last week or so.
For us it's also the time of the year when we can at last grow a decent garden. We only have a small rooftop area and so we plant in containers. The summer makes such an approach very inefficient in terms of water use so we have given up. Instead we focus on getting seeds and seedlings in as soon as the fiercest part of summer is over.
This year we're growing rocket, coriander, lettuce, cima di rapa, curly and flat leafed parsley, buok choy, cavolo nero, radichio, mint, basil and chives. I miss Italian winter vegetables, they're hard to get in the shops and they are closely connected with winter in my mind. So we're taking the opportunity to grow them for ourselves. It's pretty rewarding because the cima di rapa in particular is so fast growing. It germinates in a week and is ready to eat from about 40 days.
It also gives me a real feeling of satisfaction to wake up in the morning and to see the garden, the plants seeming to have grown overnight!
What's been particularly interesting is the lettuce. We planted mixed red and green lettuce. The green lettuce has been a pretty dismal failure but the red lettuce has really boomed away and we've had several lovely salads from it already.
Enough of the garden however. What's perhaps more interesting is that we have the winter parliamentary recess coming up and then sometime soon after that a general election. The incumbent government have done the impossible and despite their substantial majority and first term status it is a real possibility that they may lose the election.
The core issue for this government is performance - or a woeful lack of it to be exact. They're great at making announcements but they just can't carry through. They either try to deliver and completely stuff it up (the insulation program, the aboriginal intervention, the schools infrastructure program) or they simply fail to get off the ground - computers in schools anyone?
I think that part of the issue is that the Australian population is turned off by Kevin Rudd. He's shown himself as, by turns, querulous, ill-disciplined, incomprehensible and arrogant. Not a good mix I wouldn't have thought.
The question is: can we bring ourselves to vote for Tony Abbott? He is too right wing for many, he alienates women, he has the light of zealotry in his eyes and he just appears a little flakey across the board.
Still it will make for an interesting few months. That situation is made more interesting by a state election in Victoria due around the same time. So we have plenty of politics to keep us warm this winter.
Note: If you are interested in getting some Italian vegetable seeds then have a look at the Italian Gardener. They are the Australian agents for Franchi Sementi - a premier Italian seed producer. The range is excellent and the customer service is great. Give them a ring for great advice.

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