Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mystery plant identified!

After a bit of research on the good old internet, I found out that the mystery plant is a Shoo-Fly plant, or Nicandra physalodes, native to Peru.

See this link for more info and this one for a little bit about it's value as a companion plant.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mystery plant and a treat for the pigs

Does anyone know what this plant is please? It was given to me (as well as some seeds) but the plant name was unknown.
Apparently it attracts insects that would otherwise be munching on veg plants! It has purple/mauve flowers and they then turn into papery 'lanterns' which contain the seeds.

The pigs are enjoying some lovely creamy milk that G was given by a friendly farmer. Rather a lot of milk actually...this tank holds 1000 litres!
Our 2 pigs are drinking about 20L a day, on top of food scraps and crab apples. They also get the odd handful of pig 'tucker' (pellets).

In the garden I've done a bit of much needed weeding, plus shifted several (approx 40) strawberry plants into a nicely prepared bed - loads more to do. Also have purchased some lavender plants for a hedge. Although these are tiny plants now, I hope they do well in the spot I've got planned for them. They will be on a north-facing slop, bordering a pathway.
We also have the first of our new seasons fruit trees to plant. There are 5 peaches, another apple and 3 more mandarin/satsumas. These will be going in the ground ASAP.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, I still have lots of citrus to deal to - lemons, limes (from our trees), oranges and tangelos. I'm planning on making some marmalade and lemon honey, but also want to make some lemon pickle. I've made lemonade, and also have a batch of citrus cleaner brewing.

Busy, busy, busy, but all good down on the farm!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Banana cake recipes

I'm posting these recipes today because Laura over at Our Wee Farm has lots of lovely homegrown bananas to use up.

My favourite banana cake recipe is one by Jo Seagar (from her book Jo Seagar's NZ Country Cookbook).

125g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
2 cups SR flour
1/4 tsp salt

Mix butter and sugar, add vanilla, eggs, bananas and milk. Mix well, add flour and salt. Spoon into well-greased and lined ring tin. Bake 180deg C for about 35 mins. (if using a different shaped tin, i.e. square, the cake might take a bit longer to cook).

If you like, ice with lemon frosting: 2 cups icing sugar, 100g softened butter, grated zest of 2 lemons and a little hot water (about 2-3 Tbsp).

Also there is a fantastic recipe here for banana and coconut cake. Be aware though, it does make a very large cake, so you'll need a big tin. I used my ring tin and a loaf tin, and made 2 (one went in the freezer). I didn't make the frosting as I didn't have any cream cheese but would imagine it would be an excellent addition, especially for a special occasion.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kaipara bush and beach scenes

Native palm 'Nikau'

Kauri tree

Bush scene

Detail of Kauri bark

D exploring a local beach
We dodged the showers the other day and headed out and about for a bit of walk and exploration. We found a nice bushwalk about 15 mins away from home, and saw some lovely trees. D had a great time collecting things from the forest floor.

After the bush walk we stopped by a local beach. It was lovely to get out in the fresh air, despite it being a bit chilly!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Update at last and a nice cake recipe

I'm finally better! We've all had a nasty virus but at last things are starting to get back to 'normality'. I had to have last weekend off work (can't risk spreading any bugs in a rest home, but in any case I was too ill to go). But the good news is my back seems to have got much better in the time I've been ill. After weeks and weeks of seeing an osteopath, and then doing some exercises from a great book called "Treat your own back" by Robin McKenzie, it seems to be a lot less stiff and painful. Hooray!

So anyway, time for a bit of an update here at Cabbage Tree Farm.

We're experiencing some very windy weather at present as a storm rolls across from the southwest. There was a hail shower about 1/2 hr ago and it's pretty cold out there. Because we've been sick, we haven't been able to progress very much with the jobs that need doing outside. One of these is planting trees to continue landscaping our land. We have managed to get a small number of native trees in, but have lots more to go. We also have more fruit trees on order which should be arriving very soon. Yes we already have loads of fruit trees in the orchard but figure you can't have too many when you keep pigs.. besides we just love eating all those juicy peaches and plums come summertime!

We also have a whole lot of shelter trees on order so we can continue with our boundary planting. G will need to fence these trees off once they are planted as we are putting them where our 6 cows graze from time to time! and we know what short work cows can make of trees...

Here are some of the girls:

So in a few weeks time we will be very busy planting trees!

In the citrus orchard the rangpur limes are doing well again. They are really quite hardy compared to most other citrus (from my limited experience anyway!). One of the little trees (less than 1m high) is covered in fruit, I would estimate about 2kgs or more. I picked some and made a nice Lime and Yoghurt Loaf, using a recipe from the NZ Gardener magazine which I subscribe to (thanks D!).

Here's the recipe:

1 cup unsweetened plain yoghurt
1/3 cup oil (I used sunflower)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lime
juice of 3 limes
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line a large loaf tin. Beat together the yoghurt, oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then beat for 2 mins. Add lime zest and juice. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold in until combined, pour into tin. Bake for 30-45 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin, then turn out onto wire rack. Dust with icing sugar if liked.

This was the first time I've made this and it turned out quite well. A very light and spongy cake with a lovely citrus flavour. Will be making it again!

In the vege garden things are doing OK considering the weather and lack of attention. Please ignore the weeds in these photos..

Amazingly I'm still getting chillies from my 'Asian Fire' chilli!

The broccoli is heading up now,  but the caulis look a long way off!

The garlic is about 10cm high (some of these 'weeds' I'm leaving as they are Californian poppies and Calendula)

The carrots are growing at a snails pace though! I have loads of coriander! The broad beans are tiny but growing.

I have not made very much progress with planting out the bank with flowers. What has been planted is coming away nicely but there are still things to go in the ground to fill the gaps. Eventually there will be a retaining wall at the bottom to hold it all together! I'll post more photos as and when, hopefully this will look a lot prettier in the spring!

I also have not yet planted out my tulip bulbs..these will be going into pots. However I have had them in the fridge to give them an artificial winter! Hopefully they will do OK if I get on to it and put them in pots soon!

Last but by no means least, the piggies are growing well. They love 2 main things so far as I can tell... FOOD! (of course) and MUD..(of which there is no shortage..!):

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Normal transmission will resume shortly...

sorry folks have been under the weather with a nasty bug, will be back soon...