Garden, Soaps and Councils!

Things have been a little bit hectic around here and I have been popping in to have very quick reads of other blogs but I fear I am not keeping up to date, either with reading or posting.

The garden:

Is running riot and doing very nicely with not alot of help. Everything is planted but weeds at present are getting a little out of hand. Generally I do the front and Roger does the big garden but he has been so busy he hasn’t had time so this weekend hopefully we can catch up. The weather has been warm but really gusty, this time of year in our area it blows for a couple of months. The herbs are growing quickly and today I brought out the dehydrator for the first time of the season to dry some to keep them contained. The raspberries are ripening and about to be covered to protect from the birds. Everything else has fruited and it’s interesting to see the difference having the bees has made, we have fruit on trees that haven’t fruited before!

Look at the size of these broccolli!

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This afternoon I am going to pick what looks to be hundreds of broad (fava) beans, pod and freeze them. Everything else is fruiting and flowering despite us :)

We took trays out of the beehive last week absolutely full of honey but have no idea how we are going to harvest the honey. Roger tried to make a homemade spinny thing but it didn’t work so we froze the trays after googling to see if we could. You can see it here going into the contraption, and spinning but it didn’t have enough speed.IMG_4221IMG_4222

I did do one slowly in the oven and got 500 g but some was wasted so I think we will hire an extractor from the local beekeepers club.

Soaps etc:

I did my first market two weeks ago and really enjoyed it. My friend came too and also my granddaughter came to help.

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That is me squinting into the sun while my sun took a photo, it’s awful :) I have been busy making more to be ready before Christmas but they still have at least two weeks to cure. We were supposed to go again tomorrow but rain is forecast. A problem with being 28 km away from the market and reliant on Roger taking tables in for me in the truck means I can’t get there every week because he has other things going on. We had alot of fun but you need to get there at 6 am to get a space, it was a long morning by 12.30.

Councils!

I don’t think I have ever mentioned we have very poor drinking water here. We drink it from the tap during summer if no rain but in winter it is filthy, we need to go to the school and fill up bottles. It’s disgusting. The government have passed a law to say everywhere in NZ must have safe water systems in place by 2016 so our council are now required to do something about it. Roger was asked if he would go on the town representative committee to assist the council in coming up with a decent option for us, he said yes and has been run off his feet the last 2 months as they put together an application for a government subsidy to help “us” pay for it. It seems the council expect the town ratepayers to pay a large amount of the cost for whatever system we end up though they will loan the town the money at 7% interest over 20 years. So, if we get the subsidy we can expect to pay an extra $700 a year on top of the $800 it already costs us for our water rates, if we don’t it will cost everyone an extra $56 a week for drinkable water. We will be drinking the most expensive water in the country someone said.

There is no way the community will accept that happily (including us) so I really don’t know what will happen over the next year or so except it is taking up an awful lot of Roger’s time. I don’t know what happens in other small towns but I think it’s shocking. Our town rates 8.5 on a deprivation scale (out of 10) for the country, there is no money here. There’s alot of concern from everyone, alot of anger expressed at the last town meeting, it’s all quite yuk.

Other than that life is OK and plodding racing away :)

I ran a sneaky Giveaway on my last post and there’s a winner

There is a wonderful group of ladies (fellow bloggers) on here who always comment on my posts and always offer their support and encouragement. ALWAYS. I wanted to thank you all and you know who you are :) I really do value our online friendships and thank you for all the support you show Roger and I.

When I posted last week about the shop I decided to run a sneaky giveaway – anyone who commented would have their names thrown in a bowl to draw a winner for some soaps….or whatever. I knew those who really cared would comment and you all did :)

These photos are appalling because it is 11.30 at night and I didn’t check they had turned out before I drew a winner :) I would’ve been rapt to see any one of you win, but this name made me giggle and she will know why.

I need to show these crappy photos to show I did it all above board.

IMG_4198Not put into a bowl but dropped onto the rug with my eyes closed

IMG_4201And the name I drew out….

IMG_4203And I doubt anyone can read that! but it’s ROBBIE :)

Robbie, please go onto my site www.tumbledowns.co.nz – choose 3 products and contact me via there to let me know what you would like.

TumbleDowns is on-line!

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A couple of you have expressed interest in seeing this so here is the link http://www.tumbledowns.co.nz/  It is not quite finished as I still have items to list but it’s up and running :)

I am very fortunate to have a most lovely niece and her hubby who did this all for their most hopelessly computer illiterate Aunty who has had them redoing everything she has tried to do herself. Gem and Dave, if you are reading, huge hugs and thanks for your most generous giving of time and skills…and never-ending patience xx

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California Poppy and a Salve Recipe

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As each new plant springs back to life in the garden, or our surrounding area, I have been researching it to check it’s possible use in soaps….my latest one in California Poppy and I have found some interesting information I thought I would share here plus a recipe I have used it in, a wound balm. I have been using it on a skin irritation I have had for ages and it’s very soothing and gentle, far more so than the lemon balm one which is quite rich.

I am not a herbalist so any info comes from the knowledge of others, this I found on ChineseHerbs.org  “The chemical structure of California poppy allows the plant to influence neurotransmitters in the human brain without depressing the central nervous system. The plant is a mild sedative, and although it is a relative of Opium poppy, it is not an opiate; thus, it does not cause dependence. Such action of the plant makes it safe to be used even in children. Along with the improvements in the physical and psychological state of a patient, California poppy has also antimicrobial properties, which explains its use as a topical remedy in the treatment of various skin conditions. It is said to be very helpful in cases of mild muscle spasms, cramps, pain of different origin, headaches, anxiety, irritability, nervousness and insomnia, may improve intellectual capacity, memory, and concentration, especially in the elderly. Topical poultices of the plant’s leaves serve as effective means to heal cuts and scrapes. The fresh root applied directly to the tooth soothes toothache”

I also found this on drschwaderer.wordpress.com which has some really nice information on it including ” ….California poppy stabilizes the golden light of the heart, encouraging more self-responsibility and quiet inner development”

Now this sounds like something I could use so I am going to start drinking it as tea (in fact I added some to my smoothie this morning)….who knows I could just end up with a lighter heart, better memory and concentration, be less irritable and have improved intellectual capacity!! I need all those things. I haven’t found any contraindications for myself but anyone who does want to try this needs to research for themselves.

I find it useful to know what different herbs and flowers do, it makes sense to me to try what Nature has provided, rather than over the counter drug and I always get a sense of wellbeing when preparing and using herbs, flowers and weeds for different ailments.

Wound healing Balm:

Last year I made a Lemon Balm and Calendula Balm from a recipe I found At Ecocrazymum but her site no longer exists so I can’t give a link of source. I adapted it and used Comfrey, California Poppy and Calendula. Any 1 of these is a wound healing plant and would be fine on it’s own but I had all 3 on hand. Comfrey promotes fast healing, California Poppy is an analgesic and the lovely Calendula soothes, calms and heals.

First the olive oil needs to be infused with the qualities of the plants and this can either been done by heating gently in a double boiler or slow cooker for an hour  then leaving to cool, or by combining both in a jar and leaving on a windowsill in the sun for two weeks…I already had the oils made up. Strain through a strainer then once again through fine cloth to filter any finer particles.

2 cups of plant infused oil (made from 2 cups olive oil, 3/4 cup dried plant)

1/2 cup of beeswax

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbspn shea butter

5 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender oil

Melt the oils and beeswax together gently until just melted. Add the essential oils and pour into clean tins/jars to set. This will last up to 2 years and make around 3 cups.

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The Spring garden and Roger’s new job!

It’s been two weeks since Roger left his job. The day after he handed in his notice of two week I was rung by a friend to ask if Roger would be interested in doing a job for her in his spare time, putting in a new hot water cupboard and a concrete base for her wood stove to be shifted onto in her kitchen. Yes, she could wait two weeks, so that’s what Roger did the first week.

When we decided he should give up his job we felt ok about it, trusted that everything would be ok and he would find something sooner or later, ideally 3 days a week so he would have time here to do what is needed. We trusted but we did have periods of anxiety because that’s not really the practical thing to do nowadays, job security is important. Anyway – while he was doing this work for my friend he wasn’t entirely sure of something so rung an old building workmate for some advice. The guy was off work after an op so called around and while there mentioned Roger’s old boss is always asking him “what’s Roger doing now?” and saying he was a damn good worker. So Roger rung him, they had a discussion and it’s turns out they are building a concrete precast yard in our little town, to build a new winery. Roger spent several years building concrete wineries, this guy said they could really use him, Roger told him he only wanted to work 3 days a week at present, the guy said that is fine and his hourly wage will be 50% higher than it was on the farm! He starts Monday. WE ARE OK, we are better than ok! Serendipidity :)

I found this on the net and it seems appropriate and I shall try to remember it.

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He has had a great week getting projects done but I can’t (won’t) show photos right now as he has also created a huge amount of mess everywhere and I have my pride! He has been using some of the scavenged timber to fence off the vegetable garden from the dog. It looks great but the whole back yard is a building site truly representative of Roger’s tendency to create chaos.

He has also been working on the fountain he started around 9 months ago. Done in stone aggregate and hardwood corner trims, he has put two stone hearts in the front. Problem is now though it weighs over 200 kg and he can’t lift it into place on his own.IMG_4068

A few pictures of the front garden

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The vegetable garden is all planted we have (in different stages of growth) potatoes, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, silver beet, spinach, pumpkins, apple cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, chilli, brocolli, cabbage, carrots, leeks, garlic, onions, red onion, beetroot all in. Roger doesn’t bother growing peas anymore because they take up too much room and you don’t get enough food from them according to him and we don’t grow corn because we have it given to us by friends.

Fruit we have growing are strawberries, red and black currants, peaches, cranberries, figs, feijoas, blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries plums (we hope we’ll get some this year along with the apricots) lemon, two newly planted passionfruit, new blueberry and gooseberry plants

Herbs we have are parsley, rosemary, chives, calendula, lemon balm, soapwort, mint, chamomile, peppermint, thyme, comfrey, oregano and basil, sage, feverfew, nasturtium, plantain.  Last year we dug out one of two remaining rock gardens to put in a bigger herb garden and the other one is about to be dug out for more.

Flowers: I have been planting some flowers in gaps around that I want for soaps creams etc. A friend has given me violets and lily of the valley plants, I have been splitting up geranium, planting marigolds and more calendula and a whole lot of sunflowers are going to be planted…somewhere!? It’s California Poppy time and I have been down the riverbed and beaches picking it – did you know it’s very good in wound salves? I made some this afternoon and will share the recipe during the week, along with some information about the uses of California Poppy’s I have found….it’s a handy plant for the medicine cupboard.

This morning we were out and about and I took a wrong turn down a street and ended up outside a scrap metal place that has junk and rubbish everywhere. Sitting in a pile of rubbish was this crate, it had one end broken but the two sides has this stamped on them. I gather it’s a wine crate…anyway, we snatched it and made a quick getaway lol

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I think one side will go on the dining room wall and the other ? Neat though.

I mentioned a while ago I had started a Freeconomy group for our area on Facebook and there is nearly 100 members now. It had been slow for the last month or so but people have started sharing seeds and plants which is great and I spent a good portion of a day last week running around delivering strawberry plants and vegetable seeds. It was nice and it was good to meet so many young people just starting out growing for their families. One person asked for anything spare so she could grow food for her kids and others joined in, it was great to see such alot of sharing happening. I was proud to see my son give away a near new mountain bike he wasn’t using, he thought someone could give it to a kid for Christmas but it was taken very appreciatively by a guy who needed it to get to work. I remember we had a discussion here about the fact some people will take advantage of other’s generosity but it’s proving to be a really worthwhile thing.

Sorry if this has ended up too long!

Feverfew… a powerful anti-inflammatory

At the beginning of the year I did a post about making Feverfew Tincture for my migraines. I hadn’t had any all year and after I had made it I put it in the bathroom cupboard and never brought it out again until 3 days ago. I was having a most awful day with my Fibromyalgia, sore shoulder, jaw, hip, elbow – all my right side ached. I happened across an article about Feverfew being a good anti-inflammatory, especially good for not only migraines (it’s great!) but also for arthritis etc. I tried it, it’s not nice but certainly not revolting and it worked better than anything on the market I have ever taken. Within an hour after taking 2 tsp alot of my pain had subsided and it hasn’t come back nearly so badly after taking 6 tsp of the tincture a day (double the recommended) So, I thought I would share this again today with the instructions and find a bit more information to go with it.

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Method: Take 300 grams of feverfew plant and cover with vodka. Leave for two weeks shaking daily. After 2 weeks remove the Feverfew squeezing all the liquid out, cap and store in dark place. Take 3 tsp a day.

Feverfew can also be drunk as a tea of boiling water over fresh leaves or as I used to have it, in a salad sandwich. Feverfew capsules can be purchased from health stores but the plants are cheap to buy and self seed with abandon, our grows in all sorts of nooks and crannies. I used to take in for the terribles migraines I used to get every few days but they disappeared completely after many years.

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More can be found about Feverfew and it’s uses as a tonic for nervous complaints, migraines, arthritis, sore feet and as a pyrethrum rich insect repellent in this article at Altnature. Also here at Natural News. Feverfew should not be used by pregnant woman and I am not a qualified herbalist – and it nearly goes without saying of course any herb should be researched before use!