9 days till Spring!!

Winter is nearly over and in 9 days time it will officially be Spring. In past years I have disliked winter intensely but this year I have loved it…there has been much to do inside. I have also been working quite alot which wasn’t expected but welcome for the extra money. 

Garden: 

We are just gearing up for the garden now. Seed raising potatoes are laid out in the basement and the first lot will go in tomorrow…then will start the morning and evening rituals of covering to protect from frosts then removing during the day. Potatoes need to go in early here because once the weather gets a bit warmer we have a bug that chews the new shoots and does something to the starch content preventing them from growing. Carrots and beetroot have been planted as well as broccoli and cabbage seedlings. Tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers etc will all be started off in the wee greenhouse. Roger bought a dismantled second hand greenhouse as a second one for the bottom garden but is a bit befuddled as to how to put it back together right now 🙂 We are still harvesting leeks, silverbeet, spinach, lettuce, beetroot, carrots, oinions and broccoli from the winter garden and garlic has been planted. All the fruit and berries were pruned over winter and are ready to go!

Kitchen:

We still have a good supply of stored produce. The pumpkins have started to shows signs of deterioration so have been been picking those out and cutting up to freeze. We still have a large amount of stored food and have had smoothies made with berries and frozen fruit throughout winter, lots of soups and stews made with both frozen and fresh vegetables, have loved being able to have heaps of salads with fresh vegetables from the garden and spiced beetroot, pickled cucumbers and onions, peppers in olive oil etc. We didn’t have extras for many months but have noticed the past month we have desired more so have made crumbles with bottled peaches, apricots and plums and berry clafouti, our favourite. We are still using dried herbs from last summer.

Pauline aka The Contented Crafter kindly sent me some milk and water kefir grains and some kombucha so I have been using those and am hoping not to kill these ones. Thanks Pauline, right now they are still very healthy!

Neither the kitchen or the garden have been exciting enough to photograph at any time this month 🙂

Home:

I bought these lovely things at a garage sale for only 50 cents each. The bowls are a little irregular which I really liked, the plate is handpainted…all very cute!

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I have gone crazy soap making which needs a post of it’s own I will do tomorrow. I have been trying different recipes and am hoping to get good enough to sell some at the local market for Christmas. Time will tell……! I clearly need to find an outlet for what has become an obsession.

Roger comes home home ever so often with a big grin on face saying he found something today…he works on a farm which has alot of history and finds old draughthorse shoes, old bottles etc….treasures. He came home last week and told me to guess what he found. 

“A bird’s nest? A horse shoe?…..” “Nope, nope” he says “it starts with a B and you will never guess!!” No, I couldn’t, so he proudly produces it.

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My husband was standing in our lounge with this – it’s a BOMB! Hadn’t had it checked, assumed it would be fine and brought it home as another collectible. It’s gone now! Taken by the police to check it and I very much doubt we will ever see it again unfortunately. It’s an old training one from WW2. He didn’t trust that I was right in saying it needed to be checked so called a mate down – who admired it quickly then backed off even quicker saying it’s something? was still in tact and it needed to be checked!

This is Mittens standing at his access to the house, the kitchen window. The front door is often open but he likes to enter this way and will pull all sorts of desperate faces while he waits…next to the open door.

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And this is both Syd and Mittens blissed out in the evenings taking up all the furniture 🙂

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I hope those of you ending summer are enjoying some beautiful weather and plentiful harvests and those of you in the Southern hemisphere are enjoying your planning…and warmer days!

Garden and Simple Sprays, Preserving Autumn Foods…Pets

Garden:This week has been super busy with all sorts, neither of us has barely stepped into the garden except for feeding chooks, turning hoses on etc. Last weekend Roger cut down many of the boundary trees, left a few others thinned so today he is tidying up all of this, chopping larger wood for firewood, smaller wood for kindling. The rest will be put in a large pile till the leaves fall off for the garden. Then, in the middle of winter he will burn the rest in the middle of the yard and spread the ash. This photo is deceptive, it’ a mess and there is a ton of tree material to dispose of.

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Two simple sprays we use in the garden are milk for moulds on zucchini, cucumbers etc and garlic spray for aphids and other pests.

The milk spray for mould is 1 cup of milk, 2 tsps baking soda and one litre of water, shake and use use as spray. This is very effective

The garlic spray for pests is generally older garlic left over from the previous season. Peel garlic cloves and put in blender with water. Strain well, pour into bottle and add a wee squirt of dish washing liquid. Top with water. There must be enough garlic to be pungent. This is brown in the photo as we added worm tea as other bugs don’t like the smell of worm tea. This also acts as a foliage feed.Image

Today I will be picking blackberries, zucchini, apple cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, broccoli, the remainder of the cranberries and harvesting carrots and beetroot. The figs are nearly ready, yippee, except we get simply hundreds and they will need to be bottled but these are nearly our favourite crop and we eat them all ways.

Kitchen:

A friend gave me a small box of pears so most of them were bottled. I don’t have a canning kit so we use the overflow method as is most common in NZ with fruits. Image

I had to buy tomatoes as well this year. I have enough for sauces etc but not enough to freeze for tomato puree for pasta sauces and cooking. As we don’t know what sprays have been used I also wash in a sink of water with vinegar added to clean off any chemicals. Sauce tomatoes are cheap in summer and I got these for $1 a kilo.

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I have made around 20 of these packets for the freezer with more needed still. The fruit just chopped roughly, boiled in a pan till quite

concentrated then processed briefly in whiz so still a little chunky.

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Preserving pepper / capsicums. We did not grow these 🙂 Our green ones are coming on slowly (summer was not a great one) and I will be freezing them as they come for stuffing later in year. These coloured ones generally sell for around $1.30 each in late summer but I have been on the look out for cheaper. A town vege shop had them for sale for $1.29 for bags of three assorted colours. Also soaked before using .

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The recipe for peppers in olive oil can be found here, thank you Backyard Farmer! They are simple but require a bit of time to slice. Quickly bring to boil in a mixture of boiling water, vinegar and seasoning, drain and pack in jars with olive oil.

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A bonus is lots of seeds to dry and plant next year.IMG_3411

A dessert we have often is Berry Claffouti. Berries placed in a dish, sugar sprinkled over and a light but yummy batter poured over and baked. This is a favourite here and much enjoyed by quests. If making it just for us I will use yogurt but for visitors it is made a little more richer by the use of homemade ricotta using strained yogurt (or bought cream cheese if short on time)Image

Another bottle of berry liqueur was made, this time a mix of blackberries, raspberries and cranberries. No photo taken 🙂

Home:

This week we had to have our old dog put to sleep. Bob was 19 and was sick and had dementia.This photo was taken 6 years ago when we got him. Bob was then called Clyde and his owner was going into a hospice and needed to find other owners for him quickly. Friends of ours mentioned we would probably take him and though I wasn’t too convinced I wanted him he sat on my knee and gave me a big cuddle when we visited them….yep, we were sold 🙂IMG_0870

I had never much cared for Foxy’s but Bob was a character and endeared himself quickly. He was a great companion and is now buried in the garden along with Basil, my 15 year old “baby”.

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 When Basil died we got another dog from the SPCA. “Bree”. She had to be put down 4 months later as she had cancer. She was a beautiful dog, one that had been mistreated but was so lovable it was devastating to lose her. Didn’t even get a photo of her, she was silver and cream and a staffy cross.

So, we still have Syd, a hulking great farm dog who sleeps on the couch and gives huge bear-like cuddles. He is the cuddliest dog you could ever meet, I am sure.IMG_3178

I have virtually always had a dog and always will, there is no greater love and loyalty than that of a dog 🙂

And we now have mittens who is happier to be able to come upstairs now the demented, geriatric who used to chase him away has now gone!IMG_3130

A week of all sorts :)

Last week we inherited a cat (from one of the kids) meet 1 year old Mittens -seen here in a photo on his second day looking rather worried about one of our dogs. He has settled in nicely and has become a garden cat, he would rather play out there all day than be inside.

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This week I have had my 7 year old granddaughter visiting. On her first day we went to watch sheep being shorn at the farm Roger works at. This was really interesting and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. A friend of mine is about to start classes in spinning so hopefully we can go and see her doing this at some stage as another step in the process. The second day we went to this beach to throw a message in a bottle into the water. This beach is down the back roads of our town about 10 minutes away and this is how many people generally use it – none. I take the dogs here often and am alone virtually every time.

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We did this last summer also, and yes, I do feel guilty because as she said “Basically we are littering aren’t we Nana?”

She wanted to do it again as last year it was found a week later 20 minutes drive from where it was thrown in and I received a text to say so. We found the tiniest glass jar we could, about 2″ high and she wrote her message, threw it in the water and it disappeared. We have a rule here, if she wants to do this we have to go along and pick up all the rubbish on the beach first as a price to pay.

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This is her this morning, retrieving her message from the lady whose husband found it – in the next beach down the shore, amongst seaweed while he was looking for starfish or something. They were as excited as we were and also took photos. It was alot of fun but I don’t know my conscience can stand to do it again, I am so pleased it was found! This couple was lovely and wanted to meet her, the lady wrote a message on the back for her and popped it back in the jar. A really nice experience for all really.

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This week I have been drying vegetables for homemade soup mix to add to fresh in winter. We purchased 1.5 metres of aluminium fly screen netting to cover our oven racks. I had a misadventure with my dehydrator a few week back so it will be a wee while before it’s back in service.

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These are Worcester berries we found out last year while watching River Cottage. It was supposed to be a gooseberry bush when we bought it! This is our first harvest off them and they are not so nice but apparently beautiful cooked with apples so they have been frozen for doing just that.

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Huge field mushrooms picked mid-summer!!Image

Last weekend Roger went garage-saleing and found these for me which I love. They are very heavy metal but I have no idea what metal they are. They were $5 for the set.Image

And because I don’t think I have ever shown a photo of me, this is one taken recently 🙂

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