Thursday, December 15, 2011



Technically it's summer here now in Oz but it still feels like Spring. The days are in the mid 20s and we are still having lovely rain showers. All my new summer veggies are flowering away. I have some Eggplants (Long Purple) that have survived winter and have loads of those delicate lilac flowers promising delicious aubergines. Yum! I love these just sliced, sprayed with a little oil and baked in the oven. They are so versatile. I recently made a bruschetta style dip at one of my cooking classes and everyone loved it. I can post the recipe if anyone is interested. All the fruit trees in the orchard are loving the cooler weather and wet conditions and are bursting with ripening fruit.
Royal Gala
 The birds get to a lot of the top fruits but there is usually enough to go around except for my figs so I net this tree. And by the look of them I need to do this soon.
I've posted a link to this really great gardening blog you may want to check out. It's one of my favourites.
Scarecrow's Garden

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rubbish Day Curry

OK, on rubbish day I often give my fridge a good clean out and throw, compost or use any veggies that are looking less than salad fresh. I seem to have extra this week as I've been teaching these healthy cooking classes and whilst I give away as many leftovers as I can, I end up with bits and pieces. Older veggies like these just need to be picked over a bit and peeled. So, this is how I make a good curry you can use with any lonely pieces of veg from your fridge:
Get 1/2 cup of water going on the stove and start preparing the veggies and dropping them in as you go. Harder ones first, I had a parsnip (so ugly it's trying to hide behind that plastic bag of mint!), pumpkin and celery to begin with. Meanwhile I dry roasted aromatic seeds - about 1 tsp each cumin, corriander, mustard, 1/2 tsp of fenegreek and about 10 cardamon pods. Put a lid on as they want to pop right out of the frypan. Give them a shake nown and again - I only takes a few minutes, Now, if you have a mortar and pestle great, otherwise bash them about a bit with whatever you have. Chop some onion (I always seem to have 1/2 an onion lurking around and some wrinkly spring onions) and soften with 1 tsp oil, then add lots of chopped garlic and plonk all this into your simmering veggies. I had some over-ripe tomatoes - in! Some leftover pasta sauce - in! Some bunching onions from the garden (I never know what to do with them) - in! Some fresh chilli is best but, hey anything hot you have hanging around. In fact if you have some curry paste you might want to skip the whole roasting seeds thing BUT it won't be as nice. Check out what herbs you have, really anything goes. In my case I used corriander, parsley and mint because it was all there in front of me. Chop about a cupful, throw it in and give it all a good mix through. Now simmer all this for about 15min and then leave it for the flavours to infuse, all day or until the next day is ideal. When I reheat it tonight for dinner, I will add more delicate veggies. I have a few broccoli flowerettes, beans and spinache. Along with these I'll put in more herbs to give it a nice fresh note.
Personally, I like to make my curries hot so I serve them with yoghurt. I might add some mint to this as I have so much and this cools it down nicely as I eat.
This process only took 20 mins this morning (it took longer to clean the fridge!) It's yummy, healthy and not wasteful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chilli Jelly

I have been wanting to make some Chilli Jelly ever since I bought my Jelly Bag, which incidently was really hard to track down. I used a regular apple jelly base (750g chopped cooking apples including cores and skins, 500mls apple cider vinegar, 700 mls water) and added 5 chopped chillies. Boil for an hour and you should end up with about 1 litre of liquid after draining for a few hours. Do not squeeze it out or you'll have cloudy jelly!
Make it as you would jam by adding 500g sugar per 600ml of juice and boiling for about 30mins. I'm really happy with the taste (just the right amount of heat), consistency ( a little runnier than jam) and colour. Aaaaaw so pretty.....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Orange for a Reason

When I dug up all the remaining carrots I did a taste test on the red, orange and yellow carrots. There's a lot of hype surrounding 'heirloom' varieties of veg at the moment BUT my tastebuds tell me that carrots nowadays are all orange for good reason!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Silverbeet Pie

I have been loving having so much silverbeet. With the last leaves I'd stripped, before pulling out the bolting plants, I made this frittery, pastryless pie:
Roughly chop and wash loads (a sinkful!)of silverbeet. Put it all into a deep, non-stick frypan until you can hardly close the lid. I used a 30cm x 7cm deep Scanpan. And cook on low heat for about 3 mins. Turn every min or so. You want it to just starting to break down - this gives you a lovely texture that you just don't get with boxed, frozen spinach.
Put it aside and in the same pan, saute a tablespoon of oil with some chopped spring onion and any other bits of vege you have leftover in the fridge e.g. that 1/4 red capsicum, those few florets of broccoli. Throw in some garlic at the end to soften--this is where my garlic/parsely/lemon mix that I often have kicking around my fridge, comes in handy.
Meanwhile beat with a fork 4 eggs, heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard, 250g ricotta, 100g crumbled feta, 100g grated cheddar. I used all low-fat.
Mix all this together with a handful of whatever herbs you have around, I used 6-8 sprigs of thyme. I usually use 1/2 cup parsely but I'm in between crops at the mo.
Pour into a pie dish and bake 170C for about 30 mins. Don't overcook it, as like omlette, it can be a little soft inside and the leftovers reheat so much better!

Late Spring

The Spring veggies have nearly finished except for artichokes and broccoli
which just keeps on coming.....

Into the old veggie garden the few remaining leeks have gone to seed and producing the most beautiful flower buds which will explode into the large, lilac-coloured, flower heads typical of all alliums.

I have put in here 8 each of yellow acorn squash, green zucchini and Lebanese cucumbers.

The new raised beds are taking so much filling! Everytime I plant a new crop I layer in another load of soil improver, peastraw and sheep poo (or rather hubby does!). A few weeks ago I planted into one some capsicum and tomatoes with basil in between. These are flourishing with the help of a weekly watering of *Harvest.
Today I planted the other raised beds with silverbeet, bok joi, bok choy (bok meaning green) and more beans. The latest bushes of beans are nearly ready to start picking. The 4 wine barrel halves (ex-'spud-off') have been moved, filled, reticulated and planted with herbs, strawbs and a dwarf pod pea. I've put a few bamboo stakes in there to keep those happy just in case they need a little support.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beautiful Brown

Anything brown in the garden adds a lovely subtle element. Look at these fabulous fungi growing on the trunk of my white lilac tree.

And these etherial bearded iris under the canopy of golden maples.

What a beautiful time of year here in southwest Western Australia. Hubby is finishing off the drippers to the raised veggie beds today and I am rearranging the old wine barrels I used for the spuds so that they can be connected to the water pipes as well...I'm thinking runner beans in those for now. I have some 'teepees' given to me last year that I havn't even used, so I'll see if they fit.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I made artichokes this way last week and was so impressed I decided to make it again with the last on my plants. I got the idea from a simple little book, "Food from an Italian Garden" by Judith Barrett. There are no photos of the dishes at all just charming black and white sketches of the vegetables.
Artichokes Roman Style: Firstly prepare the artichokes by snapping off all the tough outer leaves (how many depends on how developed each one is) and cut off the top third of all leaves with a serrated knife. Have a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon in it to dunk them in as you go - this helps prevent discolouration. Trip the stem back to the height of your pot and pare away the outer 'skin'. Drop the whole thing into your lemon water and move along until they are all done.
Prepare a mix of garlic, parsley, a little salt and a good glub of olive oil, muched up well with a food processor if you have one. I make extra of this to keep in the fridge as it is so handy to shove on anything, like the salmon fillets I am baking for our dinner tonight.
Press the artichokes down firmly on your benchtop to splay out the leaves slightly and rub some of this garlicy mix down between some of the leaves.
Pack them into a pot snuggly so they stand upright. I nestled an upturned little bowl in the centre but they still fall over a bit - this isn't a biggy really. Tip in a cup of olive oil and top up with water until the level is at the heart/stem junction. Bring to the boil and simmer, with the lid slightly askew until they are done. I like them well done and the smallest ones were ready in 25min.
Remove these little beauties and allow to drain and come to room temperature before you devour these with a glass or two of your favourite wine. In my case Pinot Grigio!
With regards to the 'hairy choke', I pick it out if its large BUT as these are so young, fresh and tender I won't worry about removing it.
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Finished Atrichokes

Here they are ready to enjoy with some lovely wine I swap with a local winery when they sell my little paintings in their gallery.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I can't believe what an incredible mess the new reticulation process made of the garden. A trench like this one weaved its way all around the garden. Luckily, I didn't have to dig any of it! Now that its all in place (except for the drippers to the raised veggie beds) its wonderful. It practically looks like Versailles out the back when those six 'water cannons' come on under such pressure. A gardeners nirvana.
The workers were clever enough to remove clods of lawn as they went so that these could be put back like a jigsaw after the trenches were filled in. We are hoping that our water will be used much more effectively than the old 'mist' sprinklers and we use less in the long run.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Anna Olivier

This is one of my favourite tea roses - Anna Olivier. She and all the teas are doing brilliantly at the moment. The rain and overcast conditions suit them perfectly. She's there with a couple of girlfriends leaning comfortably on a timber support. We trim them back to the height of the little fence in summer with the electric hedger. Then, come Autumn, they are simply covered again in blooms. The fragrance is fresh and fruity and the nodding heads look georgous hanging over a simple milk jug in the kitchen.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011


The Romanesco broccoli are developing up nicely. Seven months! from seed to table. You wouldn't want to be in a hurry. I have about 10 plants and they are all doing their own thing. One is showing signs of purple sprouting brocccoli. But this one looks almost too perfect to eat. I decided it was worthy of admiration for a couple of days before eating.
I have had loads of silverbeet and spinach so I've made a couple of spinach and feta pies lately. I use leeks and lots of parsley from the garden too. Last night we had friends round and I made gnocchi with my potatoes. It was very good and we reckon the best I've made.
Lots of the winter vege are finishing off now-had some lovely cabbages. I made an asian style salad with one. Here's what I did, just collecting things from the garden and what I had to hand:
Soak rice stick noodles in boiling water for 5 mins while you prepare your veggies
Shredded cabbage
Sugarsnap peas, halved lengthways
Grated carrot
Spring or red onion
Lots of chopped corriander, mint and parsley
Rinse the noodles in cold water, drain well and toss in oil to prevent sticking. Then make the dressing: 1tbls rice bran oil, 1 tsp seasame oil, 3 tbls lime juice, 2 tblsp fish sauce, 1 tblsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp palm sugar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 tsp minced chilli.
I topped off the salad with a lovely fillet of locally smoked salmon, in chunks. If you didn't use fish or chicken I think some roasted peanuts or almonds would give a good contrast.
Last weekend I planted out my first summer bed. Layered the bin back up to the top with sheep poo, bought soil mulch, pea straw and cardboard. Then planted 6 different tomato plants, basil and capsicums.
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Potato Harvest

It has been lovely to be back in the garden, particularly my new, raised-bed vegie garden. My potao plants died back while I was away (much to the horror of my house-sitter) as they should. I had harvested a few new ones before I left and have had a couple of goes this week. Now I will upend the whole lot, harden the crop off for a few days, then store them in bags.
I don't actually eat a lot of spuds - fried too fattening and otherwise 'dead' calories BUT I will have to make an exception here... Boil them first to half cooked then shallow fry until crisp. I made them this way with drinks when my Mum and Dad came over last week. As you can see in the background, Glen's are still active. What a difference a few weeks make.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm back after a fantastic month in Spain. Madrid was a beautiful, friendly city with plenty of trees and parks and no noticable pollution. This photo was taken in Denia on the Costa Sol, an old fishing village full of interesting little lanes. We stayed on Formentaria Is, saw Barcellona (but stayed in Sitges), and caught up with friends in Marbella. A world-wind of a trip with plenty of tappas, sangria and walking.
Now I'm back home and suddenly it's Spring! My house-sitters kept to the bargain and the garden was mown and weeded. I was thrilled to see peas starting to 'pea' and lots of baby beetroot and carrots. Can't wait to get my summer vegies started as soon as this cold spell is over. It was a bit of a shock to come home to daily max temperatures of 12 after having 31 every day in Spain.
I'm very inspired to get into the studio after so much wonderful inspiration....
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Off to Spain...

Glen and are are off to Spain tomorrow.When I return in a month it will be Spring and time for some serious vegetable gardening.I have decided not to open the garden to the public this November, however my housesitter is also a gardener and has agreed to some gardening for cash while we're away. It will be lovely to come back home to a neat (well neater than if she'd done nothing) and fresh Spring garden.

The only planting of note has been a few more vege seedlings last week into the newly filled raised bed: Bok Choy, broccoli, lettuce, spinach and drwaf beans. And amonst the roses: annuals such as pansies, cornflowers and salvia.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prawn Pad Di

I had 300g of prawns in the freezer when I fancied some Pad Thai. I didn't have the proper fat noodles so I improvised with Rice Vermicelli. I walked about the garden and gathered a stick of lemon grass and lots of herbs to go with some brocolli, a few carrots and some bok choy leaves (still bolting even in the middle of winter!).
I dug out my small grinder attachment for my Stick Mixer and
1. Roughly chopped a handful of unsalted roasted peants, put aside
2. Finely minced the lemon grass, 4 cloves garlic and thumb-sized knob of ginger all chopped roughly first. Meanwhile:
3. Soak the noodles in Boiling water till just flexible (5-10 mins). Cut up into manageable lengths
4. Make a sauce with 1 tlbs hot chilli sauce, 2 tlbs sweet chilli sauce, 1 tbls tamarind puree, 1 tlbs fish sauce and 1 tsp brown sugar
5. Stirfry Prawns, brocolli and carrot with 2/3 of the garlic/ginger/lemongrass mixture until nearly done.
Add drained noodles, roughly chopped bok choy and all the sauce. Toss about well for a few minutes and
6: The last 1/3 of garlic mix and about a cup of herbs - I used corriander, mint and garlic chives. Toss in all through till nice and hot. Serve into a deep bowl and top with the reserved chopped peanuts.
This was delicous and made all the easier as Glen stirfried while I chopped and poured the wine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mr G Caterpillar

I was not really suprised by my new visitors, Mr Green Caterpillar and his many green friends. They seem to appear where ever brassicas thrive. Can you see him there (on the top right) with his many dark green prodigy(eggs below left)? Unparalleled satisfaction is to be had by squishing these fellas between your fingers. I've read of some squeemish gardeners who baulk at this practice, so you can always drop them onto the ground and well, ground them to mush.
Trick is to get onto them quickly before they are in plague proportions, which seems to happen almost overnight. Check them each day if you can, as they are very good at hidding and the babies are hard to spot. Dipel is the only organic, safe spray I know of for this pest. It's expensive and I can't help but wonder if it harms Mrs Brown Earthworm.
My patch is quite a managable size for manual removal so I persevere with this method. I have picked a few large brocolli heads but want the plants to remain healthy for the side shoots that are already starting to appear.

Also picking beautifully now are these baby carrots...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spot the Difference

I hate to crow about the 'potato-off' but look at the difference in these specimens. Need I point out that mine are at the back!
I have been giving them plenty of TLC in the form of liquid 'Harvest', a top up of a little manure and a layer of the left over soil conditioner. I haven't been watering them though and we really havn't had any rain to speak of. I just hope they aren't all about the foliage.
Funny, if after all this, there are no actual potatoes.
I planted some sugar-snap peas and sweet peas a couple of weeks ago. There is no sign of them yet. We finally had some rain last night so maybe they will be along shortly...
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Orange Mushrooms

I have these gorgeous mushrooms growing out on my front driveway. It is such a lovely time of year. The Autumn colour is splendiferous! Topped up my potato barrels today with some more soil condtioner. They are doing well. Sadly, Glen's don't seem to have moved at all. I guess I'm winning...
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Potato Progress

Here are the results of the potatoes a few weeks on. Those are mine on the left and Glen's on the right!
Glen's were going moldy because of all the pea straw on top of them I guess, so he made the decision to tip the whole lot out and replant them.
I don't think they liked that much as they are struggling now. Just a few stray shoots wondering which way is up...

I love the look of large shoots surfacing. The energy it takes to break through the earth and emerge towards the sun. Especially, when as you can see, the soil I used isn't anywhere like potting mix. It has quite large chunks of wood in it.

Glen was handy to have around when he discovered 'white ants' were moving in on our wine barrels! He sprayed the ground beneath them with some low toxic insecticide (is there such a thing?) and put the barrels up on bricks.

It still isn't really raining here yet - so I just keep watering.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eating lots of Leaves!

The greenery is going OFF! Have absolutely heaps of salad happening at the mo. I just love the kale which feels like its doing you good as you eat it! I have it raw, shredded in salad and thrown into stir-fry or use where I would normally use spinach or silverbeet. I pick bits off along with beans and just eat them while I'm gardening. The cos in the other bed is most productive and I have started to give it away, but here you can see those French raddish in the forground and behind them the beetroots (Golden and Striped) I planted weeks ago. They are doing well and I have been thinning them as I go.

Last weekend I had another go with carrot seeds -- mixed variety from Cornucopia Seeds. Along with some Spring Onion seed tape sown into the last 'laying box'. I finally put the borax on all the beetroot so I'm expecting big, bulbous beets.


Now that it's finally raining and feeling more like Autumn, I have been lighting my kitchen woodstove (1962 Australian Everhot) and that means BREAD! So I dug around in the freezer and found my sourdough starter from April last year and tried to get it going again. It seemed to be going OK. It was origianlly a Rye starter from a sourdough class I did so I kept on with adding Rye and filtered water. Meanwhile I got a Spelt one going just in case.
I made a loaf using the rye starter and method I was taught by Yoke Mardweni . I made a mistake putting it in a loaf tin at the final stage, then changing my mind and tipping in onto the baking stone. It mustn't have liked this and the extreme heat of the wood oven becuase it came out like a rock.
So seeing that the Spelt starter was frothing a treat, I used that to make a sourdough recipe I found online that required NO Kneading. I've heard of this before so I gave it a go. You mix your cup starter, cup of water, 3 cups flour (I used Organic white bakers flour) and 2 tsp salt. Then wack it into a covered bowl (ceramic with a plate on top) into an oven you have preheated for 3 mins.
I went out for the day and then got talking on the phone so it was in too long and had dried out on top by 8 o'clock when it went in at 7am. But you then just tip it out onto a well floured bench and fold each 4 sides into the middle. Turn it over (raw edges down) and into an ovenproof preheated pot (I used an enamelled cast iron one) and cook for 20 mins with the lid on and without lid for 20 mins at about 225c.

You must preheat your oven up to 250c for 20mins or so to really get your pot and lid      HOT !       be fore hand.  Then turn it down to whatever is your usual oven bread cooking temp in my case 225c. I reckon it could have been cooked another 5-10mins.
I'm anxious to try again when I am home so I can keep an eye on the prooving by turning the oven on every now and then. Original recipe says to leave it overnight 8-12 hours but surely that depends on the ambient temp. It's getting cold here now so I think the idea of having it in a warm oven or near wood stove is great.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

All 4 Vegie Beds Going

We have finally finished filling the last two beds and have planted them out. About THREE WEEKS AGO I put in the larger seedlings (that come in a tray of 6 with a handle) - 6 broccoli, 6 caulies, 6 cabbage. Also some fennel that I hope will be the bulbing, Italian type (ssp. piperitum).
Wild fennel lacks the swollen base and must have been the variety I have grown before. Its leaves are used as a herb but I find the root is very invasive and even the smallest part left behind regrows with even more verosity. I am still confused with the naming of the three main different types, even after reading an explaination on I thought Florence fennel was the vegetable...but no, this is the wild type var. dulce (sweet).
Glen and I also started our potato growing competition. After much disagreement on the way to cover them we decided to have two half wine barrels each to grow our own. I lucked out from the outset as Glen decided to plant his out that day - I'd had them sitting in the dark shed for about a week or so. The eye-shoots were just starting and he chose his half (the best ones I'm sure LOL). Then covered them in cut up pea straw. He then arrange the barrels so that his recieve the most sun!
I have left mine until today to plant them out. I hope it helps that it is waxing moon, the best time to plant root veg. The shoots are about 1cm now and the spuds are starting to go soft. I put them in and covered them in a bag of soil conditioner and some trace elements. Soil is the traditional covering down here along with 'potato E' which I'm not using because I don't think its organic.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two weeks on...

Iv'e had some mixed results with the seeds I planted. The beetroot are up and looking good. Also the radish but who can't grow radish. The onions and carrots are hardly to be seen. It's been very hot and they've only been getting watered once a day. Could have dried out a little as the seeds are very small and very close to the surface. Or the seeds were a bit old even though they were in date. The other day I planted some seeds of French radish (these are an elongated kind with a mild flavour I have grown before) and two types of beetroots, both heirloom varieties from Cornucopia Seeds, Chioggia (white rings inside) and Golden. I also put into those little peat pots that you soak, Romanisc Broccoli (it looks cross between a cauli and a broccoli). I've eaten it and it tastes great... lets hope they come up

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

From Chook Yard to Vege Garden

Our latest project has been the creation of four raised vegetable beds in what was once the chook yard. I have long since given up on chooks as foxes and dogs
just kept managing to get in somehow. I have access to some lovely organic free range eggs here in town so I don't have to keep chooks for eggs. I do miss having the girls around though.
Their old house will make the perfect 'hobbit-sized' potting shed after we remove a few bits of roof and replace with clear plastic. Some serious cleaning and renovating will be going on in the next few weeks!
The garden bins (built by hubby) are very deep and have taken a lot of layers to complete. We have two finished so far and into them I have planted seedlings: dwarf beans (hope it's not too late), spring onions (Red Legs) and Cos lettuce. I also put in a few advance pots of basil and parsley as mine had all died of thirst while we have been away over summer.  Seeds direct sown: radish (Red Rubin), Carrot (Early Nantes), Spring onion (Straight Leaf), Beetroot (Detroit Red). All these seeds were on 'Seed Tapes' I had in my supplies and are still in date so I thought I'd use them up. In future I will prefer heirloom varieties as I order them. I must say though, it was very easy to plant them this way!
So I'll be giving them a light going over with some organic liquid fert and some Boron for the beetroot. Yum!

Getting Started!

I have decided to play with this blog as a way to document my gardening and artistic journey. We have opened the garden many times over the last ten years donating the money to various charities. Last Spring we supported Variety Club. I hope to show photos of my latest artworks and post successful recipes I have created. I'm no technohead when it comes to the computer (I mainly use it to play Bridge on BBO with people from all over the world) so this blog is a new challenge, especially since the boys have left home and I no longer have 'free I.T. support' in-house! But here it goes...
This is a photo of some Louisiana Iris I have growing in and around my pond. They flower in late October. I also have some white flowering ones too. They multiply up quite quickly if they are allowed to. I have seven goldfish that I introduced to the pond. Lots of native frogs come and go depending on the weather. I'm sure the iris love all the poo from these animals but mostly they enjoy the company
You can see little forget-me-not (myosotis) under the stone bench. These seed themselves very freely in shady corners all around my garden. Too freely in places where they form a thick carpet preventing more delicate annuals from access. In the background is the beautiful foliage of Japanese wind flower (Anemone hupehensis). These have ethereal, poppy-like, white flowers in late summer and autumn. They demand a shaded home and whilst they will survive dry conditions, they perform their best, when given a moist root run.
Thats my first post. I'm not sure how I got the photo part way down the text when I put it in first. But it actually looks better there. Smile/grin xD
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