Autumn Harvests

I seem to have gone right through summer with only one or two posts, I apologise for my absence at the busiest time of the year for a garden blog – it’s just been crazy busy here. Most of my computer time is taken up with the Freeconomy Facebook page these days and I feel it’s important to keep up with that.

While the bottom vege garden is being put to sleep for winter the fruit trees and bushes have been giving us a huge amount of fruit – we have peaches, figs and all sorts of berries coming in bucket loads. I am freezing most of this, have made jams but no bottling of fruit this year – though I have made a batch of peach wine (I will post the recipe for this when I find out if it’s ok)

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This is what my benches look like every couple of days!

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We have harvested around 4 kgs of honey from the hives but have left heaps there for the bees for winter. I found an easy way to extract, covering an oven tray with aluminium mesh, cutting all the honey and comb out of the screen and placing on the mesh, put in the oven on around 50 deg C (barely warm) and the honey melts into the pan leaving the wax behind.

The herb garden is nearly empty and much of it sitting dried in boxes or hanging on two old clothes airers – what the lady of the houses uses when hubby is too busy to make a rack for her!

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The green hedges around the front have all grown up now creating the privacy we wanted.

DSC02214What else we have been doing: Roger is enjoying being back building and is doing an adult apprenticeship (did I mention that?) so he has been studying. He has also had some great scores from stuff that has been headed for dumps – a huge amount of school library shelving came home and has been shared out amongst his mates. He has lined his basement workshop with it and it’s now very orderly and tidy! He also got a great pile of insulation that was going to be thrown out and he has put it both underfloor and topped up the attic with it. He has been working on the water feature and finally got it standing, it was too heavy to lift on his own.

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With leftover concrete he made this on an old beehive tray I scavenged two years ago. In January we went to a family reunion at the site of the old homestead his mother was raised in and he took an old piece of barbed wire and a piece of chimney rock, they are in the middle here.

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Our truck has broken down so I am sort of stranded at home during the weeks, unable to work because I can’t get there. I can’t get to the markets either though my sister kindly offered to sell stuff for me at her market up North. Also all my products are now in our community office which sells local crafts. I have been doing the garden, preserving all the food (we have two large full freezers for winter) making sauces, chutneys and jams. Making a heap of soaps etc and trying to declutter by giving stuff to Freeconomy. All my soaps and creams are generally left downstairs which is a pain so I converted a little desk with it’s drawers and cupboards to a little store of things closer to hand. ???????????????????????????????

We are still intending on having a shop here so are moving in that direction…when all the food stops coming in and only the front garden producing again it gives more time for other things.

So, that’s what we are up to, I haven’t disappeared…still around 🙂 I hope those of you going in to Spring are enjoying the warmer weather and those of you heading towards winter have your firewood at the ready!

Autumn and the Herb Garden

I cannot believe it’s the first week of Autumn here, summer seems to gone so fast! We have had a very dry summer, officially reaching drought conditions a month ago and there have been fires in our area this summer for the first time in quite a few years. With Autumn comes the dying off of the garden and I have been busy preserving all the herbs as they also reach their end. This year we extended the herb garden with our last ornamental garden pulled out and planted. I LOVE the herb gardens and learning more about their uses – love cooking with them, using them in soaps and herbal creams and skincare….I still have much to learn but I really enjoy it! This year we have had Mint, Soapwort, Parsley, Feverfew, Nasturtiums, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Peppermint, Comfrey, Basil, Lemon Verbena, Echinacea, Rosemary, Tarragon, Calendula, Thymes, Oregano, Don Quai, Sage and Chives and I have also been collecting wild plants and weeds like Borage, Dandelion, California Poppy, Plantain etc. I don’t grow Lavender yet but I will next year. With a friend down the road with a lavender hedge and a sister with a lavender farm there seems little need right now to grow it.

French Tarragon

French Tarragon

I love using these fresh but need them throughout the year so I have been drying them all, the kitchen herbs are in jars in the pantry, the ones I use for soaps etc stored in many paper bags and boxes.

Chamomile

Chamomile

Last week while out picking Sage and Rosemary I had the great? idea of trying smudge sticks (I am all fingers and thumbs so found these a little fiddly to begin with) A quick look on-line gave me the instructions and these are my first attempts. One thing worth noting if you ever decide to try them – they shrink ALOT. Don’t tie off your ends of string as you will probably need to re-tie them but these are lovely to make and smell gorgeous.

Smudge

Smudge

What can be made from the herb garden excites me and if you have ever thought you would like to grow and experiment with them I urge you to do it – I read about them for years but never really did much about it, they are beautiful to use.

Herbal toner

Herbal toner

 

Dandelion & Calendula

Dandelion & Calendula

I am sorry to see the end of the herb growing season and have been rushing to dry everything….the poor garden is looking rather empty now….tomorrow I will be taking all the basil and making pesto to freeze. I also like to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays, rosemary, basil and oregano are nice done this way. I had plans to make some seasoned salts too but they are at least dried and I can do this later in the season when not so busy. It’s also a time of seed saving though early days yet.

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

The front porch seat where things are put to dry

Mid January we went away for the weekend and passed through the city where the lovely Gallivanta lives (a fellow blogger) She had told me to drop in if we were down that way as she had a book for me. She had two as it happened and they are lovely ones too 🙂 I very much appreciated them and though I haven’t had time to sit and read too much I know through Autumn and winter I will have my nose stuck in these!

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AND, though I really didn’t need the extra work and had to think long and hard about it I started another blog two days ago to be added to my shop site when I can figure out how to do that. On this blog I have always kept to more frugal ideas and recipes but this new one has the recipes for what I sell. Two reasons for doing this…they are nice! and they also show the work and expense that goes into making nice products for sale. Though not exactly cheap to make many use flowers, herbs, weeds and wildflowers so if you are interested in making your own skincare and home products I invite you to follow me here https://www.tumbleweedsnaturals.wordpress.com/  – It is VERY new and you will recognise a couple of recipes I have shared here at quarteracre.

 

 

Home and Garden….

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The garden: 

The back yard is just a muddy mess and Roger has been clearing out dead plants and started pruning. Something that desperately needed doing is a huge macrocapa (a type of cedar) hedge than runs the length of the property down one side. It’s just got higher and higher over the years and has got to the stage where it truly needed to be reined in, it’s keeping way too much sun of both house and garden. It’s just a big job worthy of a great deal of procrastination but he bit the bullet and started.

At the beginning

At the beginning

Out of the second story bedroom window

Out of the second story bedroom window

  The raised garden out the front, the only garden we can grow in over winterIMG_3678

What most of the property is looking like, straggly and on it’s way to bareIMG_3683

I took this at 7 am yesterday morning off the front porch… a most beautiful sky before a dismal day.IMG_3674

The kitchen: Very little going on here apart from meals but I have been busy elsewhere. We grew out of our small kitchen summer of last year and Roger fitted out an old unused laundry on the middle floor for a larder. That has become too small too, once we put all the shelves for jars and 2 freezers in there was little room for anything else. There were all sorts of things that needed storing somewhere else.large selection of jars, brewing stuff, appliances…. so, I have emptied a small bedroom (actually our junk room) as far as possible and put everything in there. Several trips to thrift shops and the dump later we are organised!

House: Honestly, we seem to do everything the hard waysometimes ! We have hideous carpet. It’s 40 years old, stained, full of holes and getting worse, and regularly needs shampooing. We have mats everywhere. For 2 years we have been trying to find second-hand carpet but our lounge is longer than many and we have a staircase as well. Nothing would fit. We thought of used rimu floorboards but they are expensive and don’t come up often – this would’ve meant years of hoarding it somewhere to eventually get enough.

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It doesn’t look bad in this photo but this is a good area, it’s had it. Before we painted the lounge we considering buying new carpet but then decided to just put up with what we have. So lounge painted, everything put back in and up and NOW we decide we will buy new. A local firm has 18 months interest free and good reduced prices so, in 3 weeks we have to empty out the lounge and dining room and put all downstairs for one day while they lay it.

One of our best buys ever – curtains:

When we moved here our lounge  had stippled ceilings, pink and silver floral wallpaper and chocolate brown worn curtains – they were so worn one fell apart in my hands when I was pulling them one day. Large curtains are terribly expensive and we needed 3 large sets including a full length pair that goes most of the way across the front of our room. It took us almost a year of waiting but some came up on our national internet auction site in the next town. Sometimes people will just have a Buy Now option and if you keep an eye out (and get in quick) you get a bargain.We got a houselot of curtains and steel rails for $50. They wouldn’t have been anywhere near our first choice if buying new but a whole lot better than what we had.

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We had curtains in the other rooms so we just needed the living areas to fit…put them up and we are happy with how they look now, in fact the colours in our curtains lend themselves to the more traditional type of stuff that we like.IMG_3695

We thought we would put all the other curtains and rails on the same auction site to get rid of them. They all ended up selling for nearly $200.

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I bring up the curtains now because I have a really weird thing going on about having to buy new carpet!! I don’t want to spend money each week for 18 months to pay for it. I am not being miserly about it (or am I? lol) about it but hoped for better options, sometimes they just don’t present themselves!

Not much to blog about this month :)

I have little to report on the garden, except that it’s muddy as anything. The weather has been cold and wet, Roger has been pruning back fruiting trees and bushes and pulling out very dead plants. There are piles of spent plants everywhere.

I turned on my camera this morning to take a few photos but it’s flat – so, a short post!

We have just harvested our pumpkins but haven’t counted or weighed them yet. We have around 30 which is less than we were hoping but enough. There are still carrots, silverbeet, leeks, beetroot, broccoli, beans, lettuce etc growing. We have just had the last of the zucchini.

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We have been keeping a journal of harvests from the garden this year including weights etc. We have just reached 6 months and so far have well over 600 kg of food recorded from the garden, that includes eggs. We have had some great harvests this year but also some flop crops. Potatoes failed to do anything, from all that we planted with high hopes something happened to them and we only got 16 kg. Peppers and Chilli didn’t do great but I think Roger’s mammoth tomato plant prevented them from reaching their potential greatly 😦 Peanuts were planted and just disappeared.

We are still harvesting feijoa and figs. Did you know you can freeze figs whole? Just top and tail and freeze on a tray then bag. These will not keep there shape or texture but as we use them mostly in smoothies these are fine.

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I bottled the apple cider vinegar. This time I had a most wonderful “Mother” on top. I haven’t taken the time to find out what I can do with this but if anyone has any ideas please do let me know. I had a quick look and understand I can use it to make more vinegar but no-one really said HOW? so it’s sitting in some of the vinegar still waiting to become something new.Image

I bought a large box and a supermarket bag of walnuts for $30 from a friend.Image

I have been making soups galore. I could live on soups though Roger does not like them, my son loves them too so pots of it get dropped off to him. This one Pumpkin and Bacon.Image

Home:

After we finished painting the lounge we painted the porch which sorely needed it. To replace the large heart on the wall Roger made me a rusty barbed wire one mounted on a piece of recycled wood. I just love it but unfortunately can’t get a photo today. I also changed the little cupboard I was painting. I used to do alot of folk art but have discovered my hands shake too much now (I turned 55 on Saturday, I guess that’s just where age is getting this woman!) I was really unhappy with it so have decoupaged it. It’s very cute but no photo of that either today. I made my own Mod Podge as it’s $20 for a small jar of it here – how on earth do people afford that??!!

I am also making some velvet patchwork cushions, hand sewing them because my friend has borrowed my machine. I searched the op shops for old velvet and beaded clothes… and acquired some great ones but have just started them so I don’t imagine there will be any photos of them for a lonnnggg while 🙂 I am really enjoying having the time to just sit by the fire and listen to music and do something else other than food! I have also still been working but that will be ending shortly, winter at home is sounding truly good.

A photo of my shabby sideboard for Pauline (as requested) Image

And finally, I took some photo of Roger with Syd the other day without them realising – I thought I would share one on here because I love it (*whispers* don’t tell Roger!) Man and his best mate.

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 I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day!!!

Home, lavender products and the absolute best of market finds!

After 2 weeks of cold and rain we have a most beautiful autumn day here so I popped out and took some photos of the “hood” 🙂

This photo shows our wee valley, we are in the first row of houses opposite the vineyard and amongst trees.

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New Zealand, home to 4 million people and over 30 million sheep 🙂

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Winter is creeping up.

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We managed to finish our lounge but haven’t finished putting everything back or all the pictures back up. This is it though, it’s actually a pale coffee colour which isn’t showing very well. We are really happy with it. It ended up costing around $290 to de-stipple the ceilings, replaster and finish/paint, put in downlights and paint the walls, windows etc. A big job for Roger but I did help with the painting and the shifting of way too much “stuff”

Before:

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After:

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Last weekend we had to go to Nelson for Roger to attend an apt and got there early to have a look around the markets. It was only 30 minutes before they were due to pack up and I asked one woman how much she was asking for some cake tins and a retro dinner set  – just being nosy really as I thought they would be too expensive. “Fill a bag for $1, I don’t want to take this stuff home” she said handing me a pile of supermarket bags. After a brief discussion with me clarifying she actually DID want people to take this stuff for so little…she then put the cake tins inside each other so we could fit more in a bag, we ended up with all this for $4.

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 And some shameless advertising for my sister 🙂 Jan owns a lavender farm in Carterton and have offered to put an ad here for her for any Kiwis interested in purchasing lavender oils or products from her directly. She sells oils. soaps, hand creams and lavender pillows and can be found at lavenderabbey. Look at her gorgeous dog Rene!

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There is very little going on in the garden right now, but Feijoas and Figs still coming thick and fast. Job today!

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Our Easter Weekend….Redecorating!

Roger has had 5 days off work over the Easter hols and most of it has been spent moving furniture then plastering, sanding, plastering and sanding till he’s happy with the finish….then installing down lights and now we are ready to start cleaning up to start painting. When we bought this place the lounge looked like this……Pink and silver embossed wallpaper, the most horrid stippled ceilings and classic early 80’s brass light fittings. Just awful, but not as bad as the rest of the house lol.Image

We redecorated all the other rooms over the first few years but it was 4 years before we got onto the lounge – actually Roger started it about 2 months before we got married – it never got finished! After he undercoated it I got home from work one night to find this on the wall. It was supposed to be painted over a few days later but we run out of time and had to put everything back for the wedding.

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So – lol, we have had that on our wall for 3 years, it’s the joke of everyone we know. We would have done all this sooner but our lounge is large, the finish on the previously stippled ceiling was awful and Roger is no plasterer but we just never have got the money together to pay for a professional. Since then of course we have had upteen thousand earthquakes which left a whole lot of cracking. It desperately needed doing so we just started (I say we, I moved everything I could out, Roger has done the rest) He’s done a great job, it’s all set to paint…he has gone over it and over it till he’s happy. And he installed the down lights which look really good.Image

The down lights he bought at a garage sale 6 months ago – $10 for 8, still in box. The plaster he bought last year also at a garage sale, a large bucket for nix. The wiring for the lights from his collection of materials he acquires/finds and hoards in the basement, ceiling paint left over from rest of house. Basically all we had to buy was the wall and window paint and a few new brushes, masking tape. I think we have spent about $280 to redo the lounge…. but a whole lot of time.

We also had to get a freezer into it’s rightful place. No small feat given it had to go downstairs and he only had me to “help”. I tell you something, I think I must be married to the most stubborn (he calls it tenacity) person I know. He wouldn’t bother anyone he knew to help move it down a flight of steps…or help him when we got it stuck in the doorway 🙂 We measured it, it would fit if the door came off. So, he removes the door, it would JUST fit. The doorway had a bow in it down the bottom, so….!

Roger giving me the thumps up “It’s ok, we’ll get do it!”

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After 15 minutes of stuckedness, with him on one side, me on the other insisting we get someone to help because we do have a large freezer stuck in a doorway, he came up with an idea because “It SHOULD fit!”. He climbs over, puts olive oil down each side of the doorway, pulls it back up toward him, shoves a trolley under it, wedges himself between it and the wall and pushes like crazy. I walked away because I just had visions of the freezer crashing to the ground.

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No accidents, just a freezer safely through the doorway and a beaming husband telling me I have little faith.

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All filled with food from the garden 🙂

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Anyways, that has been our Easter weekend, I hope you have all enjoyed yours 🙂

Feijoa season – Chutney, freezing, ice cream etc

There are plenty of feijoas coming off the trees this year. I understand in some countries these are called Pineapple Guavas, they are one of our favourite fruits.

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What we are doing with them!

A very good friend of mine, the very lovely Diane :), sent me this recipe for Feijoa Chutney. I had been going to try another recipe but used this as it has alot of dates rather than an awful lot of sugar for sweetening. Its delicious and comes from Digby Law.

1kg feijoas
500 g onions
300 g raisins
500 g pitted dates
500 g brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons salt
4 cups malt vinegar
Wipe the feijoas, trim ends and finely slice them by hand. Finely chop
the onions and coarsely chop the raisins and dates. Combine all the ingredients
in a large saucepan, bring to the boil and cook very gently for 11/2 – 2hrs, until
the chutney is thick. Make sure the chutney doesn’t catch on the bottom of the
saucepan.
Spoon into hot clean jars and seal.
Makes about 3 litres.
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Feijoas freeze really well, simply scoop pulp out and freeze, I freeze in 1 cup and 11/2 cup bags for use in smoothies or baking.
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Banana, Feijoa Ice Cream
Freeze 2 bananas and one cup of feijoa pulp till frozen. Remove and put in bowl of food processor. Leave 5 minutes to soften then add 3 tablespoons yogurt, 2 tablespoons cream (optional) and 1 tsp vanilla. Process till thick and ice-creamyish. This is so delicious I forgot to  take a photo before we ate it!
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Fejoa and ginger jam recipe here I made it last year but have not made it again yet. It’s very nice.
Feijoa Cake recipe I make which came from Joan Spiller, this is delicious and I heartily recommend it!
Last year we tried drying feijoas but didn’t much  like them ourselves so haven’t done them this year but they were nice additions to things like Homemade Muesli, with figs and walnuts