Friday, January 23, 2015

Succulents and other plants in pots

Recently I've been re-potting some of my succulents (and aloes). I'm also slowly getting around to finding out their different names (I was given them some time ago).

Look at the amazing orange flower on this aloe. I don't know the name of it however, any idea?

Planted around it I have Gasterias. I'm not convinced I will keep them in this old copper planter. They are an unusual shape, and I think might look better in a different planter.

The pot on the right contains what I think are some Haworthias. They have amazingly long flower stalks!

Not sure about the wee succulent one in the small pot. Some kind of Echeveria? It's quite a 'fleshy' type of rosette succulent.

In the photo above, the pot at the back has more Haworthias. Not sure about the curly one in front. Can you help identify it?

The pot on the left has an Echeveria glauca. The terracotta pot in front has more Haworthias, Gasterias, Echeverias (on the left) - not sure what variety - and a small jade plant cutting.

The blue pot on the right doesn't have succulents in it, those are Japanese lillies coming up (self-seeded) around a Dracaena marginata. Once the lillies have flowered I'll be taking them out of the pot to free up space for the Dracaena!

I really have no idea what this one is though. Has a fantastic flower spike! Does anyone know?

Unknown succulent with amazing flower spike!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


This summer I grew the Indian cucumber Poona Kheera and it is doing really well for us, producing a lot of crisp cucumbers. Here are some I harvested yesterday, in a basket together with some Italian zucchini (Florence/Lunga di Toscana) and some (tiny) celery. My celery is so very thin! What is the trick to growing fatter celery stalks I wonder...? More water? More fertiliser?

I'm enjoying the cucumbers sliced thinly in sandwiches, shown below with a cup of my current favourite tea variety - 'Grey De Luxe' by Madame Flavour - with lemon myrtle and lavender. Delicious! (Note - the link is just FYI, and my personal opinion only - I'm not affiliated with the Madame Flavour in any way).

I also make raita with the cucumbers to go with an Indian curry. Easy to make - it's just yoghurt (I use Greek), grated cucumber, a little cumin and chilli powder, salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Summer BBQs

Just sharing a photo of the food we ate last night. 99% of it was produced here on CTF.

Rump steak from a cow raised here on CTF, salad with our own cucumber and tomatoes, Italian zucchini (lovely when grilled on the BBQ), and strawberries. G fried some of the strawberries on the hot plate. They are absolutely delicious done this way and made a nice accompaniment to the steak, well we thought so anyway.

Only the lettuce in the salad was purchased, because I've been a bit slack about growing lettuces this summer, mainly because I didn't have somewhere partly shaded to grow them. This has now been remedied though as I now have 2 long planters at the side of our garage which gets afternoon shade, plus I've covered them both with a hooped shade cover. Now all I have to do is remember to water them..ehem!

Hope you are enjoying the Summer produce from your garden too (those of you in the Southern Hemisphere that is!).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 is starting in a holiday mood

Wishing you all a very belated Happy New Year!

Well after all the rush that always precedes Xmas we have been relaxing and enjoying the summer weather, which has been very hot and dry for the last couple of weeks.

We've mainly been chilling out around the farm, not working too hard on anything in particular. We've been heading down to the local beach for a swim (the above photo is taken at low tide when beach is flat and muddy!), or catching up with family in Auckland (and going to the lovely beaches there too!). This photo taken at Army Bay, Whangaparaoa -

All in all it's been very relaxing and nice.

We have been doing just a few jobs around the farm however. Yesterday it was tallow making time. Usually we wouldn't pick a super hot day to do this but needs must and since one of our freezers decided it's time was up (it was a very old 'family heirloom'!) we had a fair quantity of beef fat to deal with.

So G fired up the copper boiler and over a few hours we melted the fat (in some water). Once melted and the fire was out (too hot to get near the boiler for any length of time when it was going!) I scooped out the fat and drained it through a muslin- lined sieve to strain out the 'gunk'.

Result is several containers of nice clear beef tallow, ready for the next lot of soap making. I think I will go for the 2 recipes I have tried before as I know they were successful - see this previous post. plus I'm interested in trying one with a bit of oomph for removing grease for the man of the house! Will keep you posted on that soon.