Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tracking weather

I generally like to know what the weather is about to get up to. As I am effectively a small scale farmer, the weather forecast, and rain forecast in particular, is valuable information. However the Brisbane forecast is for a large region, complicated by all the mountainous/hilly areas and the impacts from the coast. For the most part, I am interested in what is happening around the Maculata Grove property, not so much about what is happening in the Brisbane CBD or other locations.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has a fantastic web page which shows output from the Mt. Stapylton Radar site. This includes information about current rain and even wind. If there is rain forecast and I need to do an outside activity which is best not done in the rain, then I will visit the following web page:

The above link is for the 64km range from the radar site and has a number of map features enabled. The 64 km range from the Mt. Stapylton Radar site gives me greater detail than the 128 or 256 km web pages. The enabled map features allows me to better see where the property is located and also allows me to see the impacts of things like the D'Aguilar Range on rain.

There is also a link for the Doppler wind data. I have not used this link much as I only recently realised it existed. However the next time we get a strong westerly I will make a point of having a look. This link is for a 128 km range from the radar site (I am not sure how I can change the range) with the same map features enabled:

Hopefully this information will be of value to those living in the SEQ region. For those living in other areas of Australia, you will find that the additional map feature information in the link address (i.e. ?looping=1&reloaded=0&topography=true&locations=true&range=true&waterways=true&roads=true&rail=true) will work for other radar stations. You can disable map features by changing the true to false, or removing the "&=true|false" completely from the link.

Monday, 21 December 2009

First taste of home grown bananas

After close to 8 months since the first banana bunch started to appear, I have been able to taste some ripe fruit. The winter months obviously caused such a long time from flower to ripe fruit. Since the weather has warmed up, the bananas have been filling out quite quickly. But I was not sure that I would even get any fruit after the Blue Java plant collapsed due to the weight of the bunch.

Interestingly the first banana to become ripe was one in the middle of the bunch. Normally they ripen from the top of the bunch down to the bottom. Blue Java bananas are small and plump, similar in size to Lady Finger bananas. Nicely snack sized for small children.

This is the first time I have ever tasted a Blue Java banana. It is described as the ice cream banana as it is supposed to have a slight vanilla taste. However I was not able to discern that flavour. I found it to be a very pleasant sweet and creamy banana, although the centre of the banana was a bit hard. This is where seeds would have been produced prior to bananas becoming sterile. The hardness in the centre might have been due to the bunch having to be cut from the plant sooner than it should have. I had planned to allow the bananas to ripen on the plant, before the plant fell over.

I will try various recipes with this banana, assuming that my daughter Felicity allows me to have any more (she loves bananas). Banana smoothies with cinnamon, banana sorbet, frozen banana covered in desiccated coconut, and various baked banana recipes are in store. We'll see how the Blue Java banana holds up to the relentless tasting.

Meanwhile there are four other banana bunches coming on; another Blue Java bunch and three Lady Finger bunches. Two of the plants have been propped up. The other two seem to be holding their own for now. Hopefully this is the start of self-sufficiency in bananas or, at the very least, seasonal self-sufficiency.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Google Earth/Maps Imagery Update

After about 3 years of no updates, including requests by government, Google has finally updated the imagery in the great Brisbane for Google Earth and Google Maps. So now instead of seeing shipping containers where our veggie garden is, you actually see the veggie garden.

The big white shed can still be clearly seen to south of the property. At the south eastern side of the shed, the new off-white rainwater tank is now visible. The veggie garden, banana pit, and possible makings of the chook house are also visible to the east of the shed.

To the north west of the shed, the citrus grove can just been seen bordered by other trees to the south and north. One can also see that some of the grass to the west is a bit brown. This is because it has been allowed to go wild. Although the grass in the north eastern paddock was cut by a neighbour.

The pond is not present in this photo, nor is the swale. I also think that the chook house was not completed at this stage. So I figure that the picture was taken around the mid June to July timeframe (EDIT: as it turns out it was taken on 2009-07-27).

Hopefully we will not have to wait another few years until we can see an aerial view of the pond.