Kitchen Garden: Nature’s buzzing along Dairy Road | The Canberra Times

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This week the kitchen garden meets nature. First stop Jerrabomberra Wetlands (hat, boots and water bottle recommended). From the car park walk into the first bird hide called Ardea (a genus of herons). It is dark and quiet and we watch a pair of ducks bobbing their heads as they swim (spring flirting) and a pair of masked lapwings on an islet in Kelly’s Swamp. From the next hide a couple with binoculars point out shoveler ducks with three ducklings. A quad of pelicans do a fly past. The sound of church bells is drowned out in the sunken frog-watch area where water is a centimetre below metal gratings. Something is splashing around in this reach of the Molonglo, an Australian water rat, a carp or maybe a platypus. The area where you walk between reeds as high as your shoulders is particularly alluring. Driving along Dairy Road there is a burst of colour. Canberra City Farm is a partner with Floriade: Reimagained and vibrant poppies, tulips and pansies, well mulched, line the fence. Christine Vincent was the Floriade team leader from CCF with four female assistants for the planting plus two males who did bed preparation and mowing. From the gates of the City Farm you can compare Canberra red clay soil with beds black with compost. Broad beans are surrounded by a rosemary hedge and bright orange calendulas. One plot is filled with huge artichoke plants and massed borage, hundreds of bees buzzing its blue flowers. People can walk in through the wetland gateways but, because of COVID restrictions, twice weekly opportunities have been set up for interested people to visit on supervised tours. You can book on [email protected] for a one-hour tour on Monday or Thursday mornings. The President of CCF, Dr Fiona Tito Wheatland, says there are 55 allotments, half 40 sq metres and half 20 sq metres. The age range covers 60 years with many younger people accessing the plots in the last round of offers. This year two beds reserved for refugee families, nominated by Canberra Refugee Support, have been taken up. In the heart of the farm is a row of espaliered fruit trees planted by long time committee member Keith Colls with help from other volunteers. It is now being tended by Vanessa Goss. Keith says the idea is to demonstrate how backyard gardeners can grow fruit trees in a small space. These trees are on dwarfing stock so are planted close together and will never grow above three metres tall for easy netting to control pests and also to pick the fruit. Half are quinces and half eating apples except one which is a Yarlington Mill cider apple. To the north are five varieties of hazelnut trees. Fiona Tito Wheatland says warm weather and regular rain means most of the crops are thriving. Winter bitter greens, kale, coriander, silverbeet and beetroot are being followed by chicory, Warrigal greens, broad beans, garlic and

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White House spokesperson evades answering when Trump last tested negative 6 times in 1 interview

The White House really doesn’t want to reveal last time President Trump tested negative for COVID-19.

While the White House insists Trump first tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago, late on Oct. 1, that test only came after he had reportedly been showing symptoms of the virus. Reporters have since been trying and failing to get an answer on just when Trump last tested negative, including MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson, who pressed White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern six times for an answer on Friday.

When Jackson first asked for the date of Trump’s last test, Morgenstern first insisted he didn’t know, to which Jackson questioned if he’d even asked for an answer. Jackson then reminded him there is public health value to this question, as knowing when Trump was last testing negative could help pinpoint when he was infected and who he could’ve spread it to. And when Jackson asked if Trump had at least tested negative for the virus before debating Democratic nominee Joe Biden last week, Morgenstern echoed Trump’s doctor Sean Conley in telling Jackson she was “very focused in looking backwards.” After her final attempt, when Morgenstern implored Jackson to talk about something else, she shut the interview down.

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Power Up: A VP debate for the times: Pence and Harris face off as White House coronavirus outbreak expands

All this makes the stakes especially high for Vice President Pence, 61, and Sen. Kamala Harris, 55, who will face off tonight for the first time to defend the policies and records of their candidates. These are some key measures of success for both sides, according to sources close to both campaigns: 

Can Pence spin the White House coronavirus outbreak that infected at least 18 people in contact with Trump? 

Trump’s No. 2 – and head of the White House coronavirus task force – will almost certainly be forced to address the outbreak that’s ensnared the president, along with the administration’s handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 210,000 people in the United States. “Pence’s challenge is to explain what happened in the last few days and defend it,a Trump campaign source told Power Up.

  • You wonder why [Trump’s] numbers with seniors are hurting? You have to show you care,” the source said. “There’s probably a way to get them back because they probably don’t want to vote for Biden but they want Trump to acknowledge that he gets it.”
  • Still, some questions could be nearly impossible for Pence to answer – namely, the potential exposure of Trump’s supporters: “I can basically defend anything about the White House and coronavirus except for them allowing Trump to go to Bedminster – I’m sorry but there is no good spin on that specific point,” the source added.
  • Trump mingled with more than 200 people at his New Jersey golf club last Thursday, hours before he tested positive – and after knowing he was exposed to the virus.

Will Pence – and the Trump team – take more safety precautions at the debate this time? 

Trump’s family was criticized for taking off their masks at least week’s presidential debate. Now that six of the eight members of Trump’s debate prep team have tested positive so far, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and campaign manager Bill Stepien, a public show of masks and distancing could go a long way to show the White House takes the virus seriously. 

  • Yet Pence’s team fought hard against the wall of plexiglass that will divide the candidates on the Salt Lake City debate stage – and traveled to the debate yesterday with his spokeswoman Katie Miller whose husband, top White House aide Stephen Miller, tested positive for coronavirus last night.

Making things more complicated: Questions about whether Pence himself is at risk are already taking center stage. Pence’s doctor released a statement that the vice president’s coronavirus PCR test came out negative yesterday afternoon and therefore is “encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine.” 

Pence’s clean up of Trump’s coronavirus messaging could be critical on the campaign trail: Trump’s advisers, staffers, and allies see the president’s response to his own diagnosis “as a missed opportunity,” our colleagues Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “Some had hoped that he would emerge from his hospital stay slightly

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White House is not tracing contacts of guests and staff at Rose Garden event 10 days ago: New York Times

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The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at a Rose Garden event 10 days ago for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including President Donald Trump, may have been infected, the New York Times reported, citing a White House official familiar with the plans. Instead, it is limiting efforts to notifying people who came into close contact with Trump the two days before he tested positive on Thursday evening, the paper reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has had a contact tracing team ready, has been cut out of the process. The White House official said the White House is following CDC guidelines that recommend focusing on contacts within a two-day window from diagnosis. But health experts said it was irresponsible to ignore the earlier event. “You cannot argue against the fact that five or six people who attended that event all got infected, unless you argue that that was all random chance,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an epidemiologist and contact tracing expert told the Times. “There were a lot of people working at that event, and so they need to be contact tracing that whole event.” Health experts have lamented the U.S. failure to conduct the contact tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures that have helped some countries and regions contain the spread of the deadly illness.

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Kitchen Garden: When life gives you lemons | The Canberra Times

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Following reference to a peach tree grown from a seed by Betty Cornhill and still producing a good crop of peaches in the Canberra Organic Growers’ Society garden now named after her in Curtin, Sue McCarthy of O’Connor said the photo of the tree by Minh Chu (Kitchen Garden, September 22) “resonates with me because, just like Betty Cornhill, all of us gardeners have limited time to leave a more lasting impact. Trees do that.” In a local nursery recently a young man from Downer was consulting a book while looking at trees for sale. His choice was between the tulip tree (liriodendron tulipifera) and the sugar maple (acer saccharum). Both need extra water in Canberra and tulip trees suffer from hot winds. There is a sugar maple forest at the National Arboretum planted in 2009. The sap from mature trees is used for making Canadian maple syrup. Original property owners in this district often planted bunya pines (araucaria bidwillii) near their homesteads. There is also a bunya forest at the Arboretum, historic trees at Lanyon homestead, one on the corner of Kings Avenue, another in Weston Park’s English Garden. In March, below a tree near the gates to the Australian National Botanic Gardens was a fallen cone with its edible seeds. On September 23 in a letter to The Canberra Times, a woman from Belconnen wrote, “What blissful rain washing the stench of our flowering plum trees out of the air. A pity we missed the hail, it might have knocked their flowers off as well. Why do we continue to plant these trees which smell of rotting fish in so many Canberra streets?” Do flowering plum trees have an unpleasant smell? I have not noticed it. The blossoms have been described as having a “fantasy floral note with a fruity nuance”. Jo Malone London created a scent called plum blossom, “a floral, woody, musk fragrance for women”. However I have been guilty of saying white blossoms of the double row of Manchurian pears beside Lake Burley Griffin smell like “fox’s urine”. Ridiculous because I have never smelt urine from a fox. It reminds me of a Canberra woman who says the pinot I drink “tastes like cat’s piss” . Last year I read The Overstorey (2018) by Richard Powers which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is a novel about nine people in America and their experiences with specific trees. It led me to a grove of the western yellow pine (pinus ponderosa), in a heritage forestry/CSIRO precinct in Yarralumla, just to smell the bark. In four seasons on sunny days there was a warm kitchen scent of butterscotch and vanilla. The tree has “plates” of bark which are beautiful and aromatic. In America the fragrant resin of P. ponderosa has been used in perfume, candles and soap. For home gardeners the most often planted tree with edible fruit must be the lemon. This winter has

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6 Times You Should Not DIY a Home Improvement Project

HGTV makes everyone feel as if they’re only a couple of power tools away from being home renovation masters. But don’t be fooled. There’s a reason building and construction trades are considered skilled jobs.



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Tackling a home renovation project requires more than an eye for design and the ability to match colors. You also need to understand how the various parts of a structure fit together, and you may even have to (gasp) do some math.

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What’s more, a home improvement project done wrong can be expensive to fix, or even dangerous. Before you end up with a DIY disaster, here are six times when you should probably call in a pro.

It’s not the usual blah, blah, blah. Click here to sign up for our free newsletter.

1. You don’t understand what you’re doing

Yes, this seems so obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, some people try to do projects when they don’t understand the mechanics. Perhaps they mistakenly think it will all simply fall into place once they get a bit further into the project.

Don’t assume project instructions will make sense later. Know what you’re doing right from the start. Otherwise, you won’t be able to identify potential problems as they arise. Or worse, you could get halfway through and find you can’t finish.

The same thing goes for tools, especially power tools. If you don’t know how to use something, maybe you shouldn’t be using it.

Failing to heed this advice could result in shoddy work or personal injury. Neither is a good outcome for a DIY project.

2. Someone knowledgeable advises you to get a pro

Maybe you go to the hardware store, explain the project, and the workers raise their eyebrows and say, “Really?”

When someone familiar with the project says you’re crazy for attempting it, it’s a cue to reconsider. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Has this person done such a project themselves?
  • Have they heard from multiple people who have tried such a project?
  • Do they have a vested interest in discouraging you from doing the project?

Gallery: 9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value (Money Talks News)

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Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

While families across the United States this summer were on edge about the coming school year, top White House officials were pressuring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to play down the risk of sending children back to school, according to documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

The effort included an attempt to find alternate data showing that the coronavirus pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children — a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic.

A member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff said she was repeatedly asked by Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, to get the C.D.C. to produce more reports and charts showing a decline in coronavirus cases among young people.

Mr. Short dispatched junior members of the vice president’s staff to circumvent the C.D.C. in search of data he thought may better support the White House’s position, said Olivia Troye, the aide, who has since resigned.

In another instance, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, pushed the C.D.C. to incorporate a document from a mental health agency inside the Department of Health and Human Services that warned school closures would have a long-term effect on the mental health of children and that asymptomatic children were unlikely to spread the virus.

Scientists at the C.D.C. pointed out numerous errors in the document and raised concerns that it appeared to minimize the risk of the coronavirus to school-age children, according to an edited version of the document obtained by The New York Times.

The gist of the mental health agency’s position — stressing the potential risks of children not attending school — became the introductory text of the final C.D.C. policy, leaving some officials there dismayed.

Credit…Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times

In the 10 months since a mysterious pneumonia began striking residents of Wuhan, China, Covid-19 has killed more than one million people worldwide as of Monday — an agonizing toll compiled from official counts, yet one that far understates how many have really died.

The coronavirus may already have overtaken tuberculosis and hepatitis as the world’s deadliest infectious disease. And unlike all the other contenders, it is still growing fast.

Like nothing seen in more than century, the virus has infiltrated every populated patch of the globe, sowing terror and poverty, infecting millions of people in some nations and paralyzing entire economies.

But as attention focuses on the devastation caused

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Trump, WH blend denials, justifications in reaction to New York Times story on taxes

While President Donald Trump’s initial reaction to the New York Times’ bombshell report that he paid little to no federal income taxes over nearly two decades was to dismiss it outright as “totally fake news,” his defense has since evolved into defense of tax-avoidance practices.



a man wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a news conference inside the James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington.


© Ken Cedeno/Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a news conference inside the James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington.

In a series of tweets Monday morning, the president attacked the Times for “bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information” and argued he was “entitled” to what he claimed.

“I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” Trump tweeted, defending how much he has paid in taxes without directly challenging the specific numbers raised by the Times.

But he did not answer reporters’ shouted questions at a Rose Garden event Monday afternoon.

The paper denies Trump’s tax information was obtained illegally. ABC News has not independently verified the Times’ account.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks on COVID-19 testing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 28, 2020.


© Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks on COVID-19 testing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 28, 2020.

In a story published Sunday, the newspaper reported that the president paid just $750 in federal income tax the year he was elected and that same amount during his first year in office. The Times also found that he paid no federal income tax at all in 11 of the 18 years of information they examined.

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Trump is the only president in modern history not to release his tax returns and could resolve the lingering questions about his taxes once and for all by simply releasing the information voluntarily. But instead, Trump has claimed that an ongoing audit prevents him from doing so.

While it’s not true that an audit prevents the president from releasing the information, as even his own IRS commissioner has confirmed, it is the case that the president is undergoing a decade-long audit battle over a $72.9 million tax refund, the Times report found.

Beyond the intricacies of the Times’ reporting, the story paints a damning portrait of a president who was elected on his image as a wealthy and successful businessman but whose records tell a story of a deeply indebted and struggling business empire stretched beyond its means.

MORE:The Note: Stagnant race, battleground deficits highlight Trump debate-season challenges

The president’s evolving defense to the report followed a “Fox and Friends” appearance by his son and business partner Donald Trump Jr., who similarly attacked the report without disputing its key claims and defended the use of maneuvers by the president to lower his tax bill.

“It’s ridiculous. My father has paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes, if he does things where you get depreciation, where you get historical write-offs like we did when we took on the risk of building the Old Post Office in

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My grandson has given me back my garden | The Canberra Times

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Among his many gifts, my grandson has given me back my garden. In past years I performed all those unskilled routines fit for an untutored Australian gardener. I swore at the cord on the lawnmower, burned piles of leaves in the gutter, prayed for a drop of rain, delighted in the early arrival of jonquils, and fretted about trees entangled with power lines. Time moves on. Now the family takes turns to chide me whenever I am tempted to climb ladders to clear gutters. Balancing on uneven ground on a rickety wooden stepladder, hanging on to the bough you are about to cut, that is a job best done without any family scrutiny. My knees and back shame me after a couple of hours’ weeding or planting. My purchases from nurseries sometimes thrive, but often wither and die. Rudimentary Latin studies never induced me to show off by reciting the botanical names of plants. I have been taught to prune, but my pruning nowadays resembles a search-and-destroy operation. Then my grandson, Theo, focused and charmed every facet of my work outside. From Virgil to Jamaica Kincaid runs a long tradition of soppily banal writing about gardening. Those authors insist that gardening is both vocation and recreation. Working in the garden is meant to be spiritually therapeutic, physically beneficial and mentally clarifying. However overblown, not all that advice is silly. During lockdown, staying in the open air, earning your keep, revelling in a light wind or gentle shower and seeing the results of your labour are all serious, stabilising defences against melancholy. Adding a grandson to the mix, however, gives every task zip and fun. I had never expected a young helper in the garden. I suspect that, if Millennials will not iron their clothes, they are also unlikely to weed the garden. Screen time is not compatible with attentively observing a flower bed. A 10-year-old, though, is still forming habits and working out what to love. MORE MARK THOMAS: Even if you are only 10, you can know exactly what you want. Instead of my few token bloomers near the front door, Theo lobbied for clumps of pansies mingled with the early jonquils. Under his direction, we have potted and trained raspberry canes. Purchases and placements of saltbush and kumquats have been matters for debate. I lose. A new worm farm is revelling in our kitchen refuse. A sweet pea has filled a gap at the front. Progress with each plant is meticulously monitored, first perused, then touched and smelled. In the process, any shortcomings in my care are politely noted and implicitly deplored. The garden responds. After drought, the hailstorm and bushfires, Theo has timed his entrance perfectly. He has brought rain. In addition, he comes with an intense eagerness to learn. Finally, I have someone to teach how deep and wide to dig a hole for a new plant. Skipping a generation, I have found a new gardener who aches

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Kitchen Garden: Sampling regional delights with dinner | The Canberra Times

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Lucky Canberrans must support our country producers within an arc from Yass to Collector to Braidwood. Bellchambers Produce in Fyshwick, established in 1948, is a place for the home gardener to browse. There are paper bags of chicken mash for your organic poultry, bins of black sunflower seeds and dog food. A bloke in a ute parked next to me had the tray filled with pea straw and six bags of Martin’s Premium Potting Mix. I purchased some of the latter – Martin’s Fertilizers are based in Yass. Hessian sacks of seed potatoes had lured me to Bellchambers. Six years ago I was given a seed potato (which had been “chitted” or allowed to develop one large eye) at an Italian cafe in Cronulla. My single spud, which the cafe people said was bintje, produced 14 new potatoes 10 weeks later (Kitchen Garden, February 11, 2015). This time I have planted the Dutch cream variety atop a 15cm layer of potting mix with a top layer of Who Flung Dung mulch and more potting mix. My potato looked like David Pope’s Canberra Times cartoon (September 17) of a Federal Minister’s head. If planting in the ground Bellchambers recommends a trench 20cm deep and when the potatoes have flowered you can bandicoot some baby new potatoes. They store better with a bit of dirt on them. The Heritage Nursery at Yarralumla has a printed sheet called Growing Potatoes in Canberra which includes tips such as “growing potatoes is a great way to break up heavy soils in new gardens”. They had bags with nine certified seed potatoes in three varieties but, as the nurseryman said a week ago, “sold out, COVID”. Tatey growing bags have an easy-to-harvest hatch if you are short of space. On September 20 clouds cleared to a blue sky and a group gathered in the stone walled garden at Helen Stephens Gallery in Collector for drinks and nibbles at the opening of “Insectarium”. The guest of honour was possibly Seamus, the wool-curled sheep over the wall who welcomed some nose stroking. The jewel-like art works of bees with honeycomb, beetles, bogong moths and butterflies will be on exhibition until October 25 (Fridays to Sundays 11am-4pm). Try Some Cafe just up the road for a bite to eat (check their opening times). Enjoy a tasting at Collector Wines where the spring pink 2019 Shoreline rose has “mandarin, cherry, rosewater and spice aromas”. We came away with six bottles. Outside, there are benches and tables beside raised beds of plants and rows of crab apples in pink and white bloom. The village creek is full and Lake George is blue with water. Cathy and Jenny, producers from Garlicious Grown in Braidwood, launched their black garlic in 2014 and it is used by leading chefs and shortlisted in the Food and Beverage Industry Awards this spring. They have shared a special recipe with us. The current season has been tough in

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