Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Did Not Know This - And I Really Should Have

- and so should everyone.

We all know - or think we know - the classic symptoms of a heart attack, don't we. We've been told that there is pain and/or heaviness spreading from the centre of the chest and down one or both arms and the pain is likely to feel crushing rather than sharp and stabbing. We might even know that the pain can extend along the jaw and that you can be short of breath or break out in a cold sweat.

All this is fair enough as far as it goes but as I recently found out that, while these symptoms are common to both men and women, more than 40% of women having a heart attack do not experience chest pain so do not recognise they are having a heart attack.

So I urge you to have a look at these links:
General heart attack symptoms are here and more specific symptoms for women are here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Vegie Patching

I've just been out watering and doing the regular morning harvest. It's a little light on at the moment due to the heat which, despite shade cloth covers, wiped out the lettuce, fennel, the cucumbers and many of the butternut squash and badly damaged the grapes, capsicums, beetroot and eggplants. In spite of this I'm still finding enough cherry and full size tomatoes, capsicums and zucchini to feed us. There are plenty of spring onions, too, and basil, parsley, chives and nasturtiums (which have surprised me by surviving in shady places and the leaves of which  make a nice addition to a salad).

I've had a few unexpected problems as well. An infestation of black spider mite decimated the silver beet and rainbow chard - surprising because they are usually so tough that all I have to worry about is the odd snail. Nothing I did would shift the little beasties and in the end I had to pull them out. The cherry tomatoes are looking pretty ragged, too. I'm not sure why but they have started to die back as have the beans. Oh and then there are the rats which I've seen coming over the fence from next door. They have taken every one of the Cape gooseberry fruit and are now nibbling at the grapes, the squash and the eggplant. We've reluctantly had to resort to baiting, something I hate doing but if we don't they'll destroy the garden and it's a them or us situation really.

As a result of all this - and since we've had a few days of relatively cooler weather (yesterday's max was 27°C which is a great improvement on the high thirties/low forties we'd been having) - I've planted some seedlings so in a few weeks we should again have silver beet, a new crop of cherry tomatoes, more sweet corn and cucumbers along with the existing plantings of snake beans (which are just starting to flower) and the sweet corn which is plumping up nicely. With luck - and if the slaters don't ringbark them - we'll also have a  new crop of beans. I plant them in newspaper seedling containers and this lot should be ready to plant out in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sorry for the Hiatus

I've been unwell and now I'm struggling with time management as I try to catch up. The fact that we've been dealing with extremely hot weather since Christmas -  over 40° C not being uncommon - and that our air conditioner died immediately after Christmas hasn't helped.

Really though I have little to complain about when I look at what has been happening in the south west of the state where bushfires have been and still are ravaging the countryside.The fire season had already started badly when in November lightning strikes ignited bush in the Esperance area on the south coast causing four deaths and destroying buildings and crops. It just went on from there. At one point fires were burning at various points all around the city of Perth. Things settled again with only minor fires breaking out - some caused by stupidity and a few due to fire bugs (there are always a handful of these, sadly).

Then on 8 January a huge fire (started again by lightning in a reserve) roared through a vast area south of Perth, killing two men, destroying the small historic town of Yarloop and leaving a huge clean up bill with fencing and crops wiped out and animals injured. The fire was so immense that at one stage it created its own weather system. The fire is now contained but some major roads are still closed due to fire damage.

There are still smaller fires happening all the time, of course - this is Australia in summer after all - but now Nature has compounded the problem with a violent storm causing flash flooding and wreaking havoc with crops in the lower south west. 

So a dramatic start to the year and one that is going to have serious on-going effects because the south west is where most of our fruit, vegetables and dairy comes from and it's going to take a long time for the region to recover.

My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones or had their livelihoods destroyed and if anyone is so inclined you can make a donation here to help those affected.