Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I've been somewhat distracted..........

by a new arrival - meet Roxy the labrador cross.

Isn't she a cutie? Of course being a puppy she is requiring a lot of attention right now, just like having a new baby really! Consequently getting time to spend on to most of the gardening jobs is a little difficult. But I'm not complaining, we're having a lot of fun!

I have however planted my garlic and am finalising plans for planting out the new walled garden.

I'm steadily making more and more compost, and preparing new beds for planting by digging in lots of kitchen scraps (since we no longer have pigs - yes they are now bacon, ham and pork in the freezer). I then lay wet cardboard on top and put mulch on top of that to keep the moisture in and the weeds under control.

I'm also applying mulch as and when to the fruit trees, and onto the existing beds in our original vegetable garden. This is going to be more of a herb and flower garden this coming season. It is on a slope and quite exposed to the wind, and gets quite dry in the summer, so it's never been really suited to growing vegetables. The herbs and flowers on the other hand are doing well there, and I've got lots of plants self-seeding all over the garden. Looking forward to seeing the flowers in bloom come spring-time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Big carrot and a few photos from around the farm


We are so lucky living here. Especially at this time of the year which is "officially" winter (although the winter solstice is on 22nd).  I say lucky because this morning I have been sitting outside in a T shirt (and pants!!) enjoying my morning coffee. The sun is out and it is so nice - calm and warm.

Just sharing a photo of a huge carrot I dug up the other day as I was clearing the carrot bed. I had no idea this biggy was lurking there! D found it very amusing!

It will probably be turned into carrot soup. I picked up some kaffir limes the other day (I do have a tree but no limes on it at the moment), so I am feeling a Thai inspired soup would work well, with some coconut,  lemongrass, ginger, garlic and chilli. Mmmmm.

Talking of citrus, the mandarins as I mentioned in my last post are producing super well right now:

We're having no trouble at all eating these and they also keep relatively well (although we don't need them to keep!).

 Here is the soap I made recently. I'm really pleased with how it came out, and it's lovely and creamy, lathers up well too.

Lastly, here's Polly the goat enjoying the sunshine. D took this photo and I think it's really good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A very long time away from the blog...

Hello everyone!

A post as last. Gee it has been a very long time since I did any blogging, sorry about that chaps.

We've had a busy time here with G being pretty unwell - he was in hospital for a week and then laid up at home for a while with me running round playing nurse. He's now back at work (on blood thinners), not 100% better but improving gradually. Makes one realise truely how much we should live for the moment and I'm trying hard to remember that it's all about the NOW - not dwelling on what's been or what's to come. I'm thankful for every happy moment on this earth.

Following on from that we had school holidays and the busyness of that. D pretty much commandeering  the computer full time for Minecraft...! Oh how he loves Minecraft. He creates some amazing things in that virtual world that's for sure.

On top of all that there have been the seemingly never-ending jobs to do around the farm! So I've been busy busy busy and to be honest I've not had the energy for blogging at all.

But, I realise it's been over 2 months now so time for a general roundup of happenings here (other than the above!).

I did a LOT of bottling this year, after all the delicious peaches came lots of feijoas so I bottled up loads of these as requested by G. They are quite delicious done like this. Now he's getting to eat them all as I've gone on a no (or as close to) sugar diet for a bit! Ha ha! I know you can bottle in water but that doesn't sound very tasty to me, and honey is another alternative, but for my purposes I'm avoiding the sweet aspect regardless of how 'healthy' that sugar is.

We had quite a good crop of apples too, but I didn't end up preserving any of these this year. We ate a lot fresh of the trees, so delicious, crunchy and sweet. Each variety a different taste. I particularly liked the Cox's orange, but also the Golden Delicious and a Japanese one called 'Akane'. G likes the Braeburn. Also the French biggies 'Reinette du Canada' which double as both dessert and cooking apples. And of course the cooking apples Bramley Seeding, which cook up to a lovely fluffy pulp. We gave quite a lot of apples away at a community group we attend 'Crop Circle'. At this group local folk meet up to swap produce and seeds etc, have a chat about growing food. It's a nice social environment and the kids enjoy meeting up to play while the adults talk food (and other subjects!). Some of the dessert apples we wrapped in paper and have tucked away in a box, we will see if they store OK like this. I've heard of people storing them in a chest of drawers but we don't have the space for that right now.

We also got a small amount of Chilean guavas, which although they are tiny, have a really nice flavour. I used them in pancakes (instead of blueberries) which we enjoyed for brunch.

Now we're enjoying the citrus, and have already harvested a heap of mandarins (Satsuma) from our trees, one in particular had a whole lot of ripe fruit. Not bad for such young trees (these only went in a couple of years ago). We had to pick most off as the little silvereye birds were pecking at the fruit. I think they've done so well because of the location they are in, it's north-facing and nicely sheltered from the winds.

I have been busy applying citrus fertliser while we are getting regular rainfall lately, and both G and I are working away steadily at the very large piles of mulch ('post peelings') we had delivered recently, putting round all the fruit trees and along the driveway hedges - edible along one length (feijoa) and ornamental along another (Griselinia littoralis). Since our Summers get so dry it is really essential to have mulch down and we've been a bit neglectful of doing this properly so I'm really pleased it's happening now. Once our feijoa hedging has filled out it should provide the much needed shelter for our rather wind exposed lemon orchard.

We've also got a huge pile of sawdust which will go on the vege garden. We prefer to use the sawdust (untreated of course) on the garden because the post peelings are quite dry and spiky. The sawdust is good both on the garden beds and on paths. I will be putting down a lot of wet cardboard first to suppress the weeds.

I'm still getting quite a bit out of the garden, beetroot, kale, Swiss chard, spring onions, plus all the usual herbs, and my Asian ingredients - lemongrass, coriander, chillies, galangal.

Indoors I've been making soap again. This time using the tallowate we prepared back in January. I used the recipe from Suburban Jubilee (see here) making half the amount at a time. The soap came out well and we are using it now, it lathers up well and is nice and creamy. Only one slight thing I used a different lavender oil which was cosmetic grade and the smell did not last! Not really a problem but next time I will go for the more expensive essential oil, obviously cosmetic grade is no good for soap! I also bought a nice silicone mould from GoNative and one of their soap cutters which made the job of slicing the soap a whole lot easier than using a knife.

I'm wanting to try out making salt soap bars too, using pink Himalayan salt. This will be happening soon as I need to build up our stock of soap. We ran out recently and I had to buy it. The soap I bought was very pretty and smelled great, but did not last very long at all (plus it was expensive!). A little reminder that home made soap is best, and cheaper too.

Will post some more photos soon.