Sunday, 18 March 2012

Jamming it up!

At a time when the garden looks tired and energy-spent, I relish in the sight of colour thrown up by some hardier flower specimens, these below included.  Not sure of their name, but a flower is a flower, is food for the soul.
I dug up some largish bulbs which I discovered buried in
my garden, replanted them along the fence and forgot about them
till these lovely ladies came up, with the most intoxicating scent!

We have slim pickings in the vegetable department at the moment, but the peaches that have not already rotted from too much rain and insufficient sun, cling tenaciously to their branches of the two seed-sown trees, providing us with fruit to snack on, to freeze for later chutney-making, and some to jam-it-up!

5 bottles of wild peach jam.  The taste in mid-winter brings tears
to the eyes, reminding one of the balmy last days of summer.
Still in the kitchen, when breadcrumbs are required to thicken stews, bakes and pies, I avoid store-bought varieties, with all their nasty additives.  A very economical and practical use for stale home-made bread is to slice it up, bang it into the blender, pop it into the oven on low temperature for about an hour, allow to cool and bottle.  I always store it with 2-3 bay leaves tucked into the heart of the crumbs, to stop nasty little wildlife inhabiting and snacking on it.  Best non-toxic additive I know!


Bake!  Voila!
In the garden, much of my time is spent cleaning up, removing dead tomato plants, storing the canes away for next spring, cutting down and chucking all my garden leftovers into the compost, where Mike turns it and the mini micro-organisms like psychrophilic, mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria (just trying to sound very knowledgeable after studying up on a module on composting!!) set to work to turn it into deep, rich, dark, sweet-smelling earthy compost!
I sowed some winter-growing, spring-harvesting vegetables last month and incubated them in the hothouse.  Many have been born already and I eagerly water them each day, awaiting the day that I plant them out into the empty cleaned up vegetable beds.  Most are hardy cold-loving specimens, with a few flower species thrown in to brighten up a potentially dull garden over winter.
Mike had our chimney swept this last week, in anticipation of roasty-toasty fires, and ordered our firewood which will be delivered in 3 weeks time.  We also have a bit of smaller kindling-type wood which we have stored and kept from our own garden.  What we don't mulch (anything over 4cm diameter) is cut up and dried for winter fires.
The little green heads of my new babies poke up expectantly
out of their little cradles.  So exciting........

One of the last of the brave tomato plants still holding out.
I have planted some tomatoes in the hothouse, hoping to extend
our picking time.  Last year, an early unexpected frost killed them
even in the hothouse!
A very exciting time last week was the harvest of our first experimental potatoes grown in a recycled kiwifruit bin.  Needless to say, they were the tastiest potatoes we have had for a while!  Still more to harvest as we need them.  Along with our leeks, I think a Leek and Potato soup might be the order of the day very soon!  I am going to order some heritage potato tubers this week online from the Koanga Institute.  I fancy having me some coloured potatoes!  I usually grow urenika (purple Maori potatoes) and Kowiniwini (purple potato with white saucer-shaped spots) but I lost my Kowiniwini stock last year.  I have to remember to keep seed stock and not eat them all!!  I have also recently read that the little green tomato-like balls on the top of the potato plant hold seed inside, which one can grow.  Apparently interesting tubers result from them and one can cultivate one's own cultivars in this way!  I might just try that out!  Then I will get to name them too!!
Agria potatoes, with a few tiny purple Kowiniwini
It is said, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  Well, as a vegetarian, I'm not about to teach fishing techniques, but my son recently asked me to take his jeans in on the legs to create "skinny jeans".  I said I was too busy, but that I could teach him how to use my sewing machine...............  Okay, it wasn't the quickest route to skinny jeans, but I admired his dedication to the cause.  The sewing line was a little zaggety, and I had to re-sew another straight line, lest it look like he was smuggling walnuts down his legs, but he tried and persevered!  Top marks for trying!  I am sure he won't become the designer clothes maker, but he certainly will know how to sew a waggely line if he ever needs to again!

The look of concentration......
We have an ex-helpexchanger returned home to help us out for a week.  It is lovely to reconnect with people who have shared your home and lives previously.  Larson, from Minnesota, has been weeding, burning signs for me (pyrography) and generally lending a helping hand to whatever task I set him to.  We have also been jamming it up, him on guitar, me on ukulele!  I do wish that one day I can grow up my instrument to a guitar - it has such a gutsy full sound compared to the little toy uke!!
Our last helpers left us this quirky little card, showing two adults, clothes-free, leaping into the air with joy!  I laughed when I saw it and jokingly asked them what prompted them to give us this particular card.  The answer:  "It just reminded us of you and Mike!"   "What???  No clothes on?" I asked incredulously.  "You guys are just so free!" 
We love the card, Jan and Jasmijn!  I have it up on my storage cupboard in the kitchen to remind us of the joie d' vivre of Life well lived.  

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