Stairway to Heaven
Our last helpxchange girls, Simmi and Franzi from Germany, have definitely left their mark on our home and lives. Apart from helping to pick 3 bucket loads of olives (which I bottled this weekend), they also decorated our stairwell. It was looking a little tired, scuffed and in need of a paint job. But being on the stairs creates a logistical nightmare with placing of ladders and pots of paint. So I set them a challenge of over-brushing the existing paintwork with a darker yellow, and pasting these little Chinese shrine offering papers onto the wall. I love these little papers, which are printed onto hand-made paper and have gold-leaf pasted over them. I have had them for years and used them for so many decorating purposes and had only 7 left, so they were spaced intermittently on the stair wall, to great effect. A very artistic stairwell indeed! Love it!
|Shrine offering papers|
|The finished stairwell.|
|The artists with their finished masterpiece.|
|Voila, stairs with a difference.|
A couple of weekends ago, I set to cleaning up the carpet of weeds covering the ground around Josephine, our scarecrow. I planted at least 100 daffodil bulbs and then mulched it over with wood chip. I can't wait to see the daffodils when they bloom - it'll surely be bloomin' marvellous!
|New Daffodil bed surrounding Josephine|
The walkway is newly topped up with untreated sawdust
|Daffie bed before weeding! Over-run with weeds and nasturtiums|
Kale, glorious kale. Highly nutritious, but oh, so tough if slightly under-cooked! It's a popular European green leafy veg not all that well known in these parts. They are cold-hardy and quite prolific, they keep you in green leaves for a good part of 6-7 months! But one can have only so much kale and ours were growing into veritable trees and not being harvested much. I have made several batches of Kale Chips last year - very very delectable indeed! This year, I have been feeding the chooks with the leaves, so they were not going to waste, but I felt that I needed to use them for our benefit too. So I had a little brain-wave - hey, seeing as I made very successful Nettle Beer for my son, why not Kale Beer?? Highly nutritious, in fact, I call it Iron Brew as it's rich in iron! Harvested about a kilo or two, brewed it up and bottled it. Not too sure about this lot, no bubbles, so it may not have fermented enough. We shall have to see.... After 4 weeks Cam should be able to test it and give me the results. Watch this space....
|My kale tree|
|Brewing Kale Beer|
|The bottled beer. 4.5L|
Lighting fires in winter brings an added benefit to the garden - wood ash! Every second week we harvest a 5L pot of wood ash which can be added straight onto veg beds, or strewn onto the compost heap. It is in keeping with the idea of recycling waste back into the garden and provides potassium, phosphorus and calcium, boron and other trace elements plants need for growing healthily. As it is alkaline, it can be useful for balancing or raising the pH of the soil.
|Potash (Ashes in a pot) or Wood Ash|
Tis the season of chillies! I have 2 bags of about 1kg each, in the freezer. I harvested a whole mass of fresh chillies last weekend, and was able to make 1 big and 1 small bottle of Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce. This is one of our favourite accompaniments and goes well with just about anything! Indian dishes, bread and cheese, potato wedges, you name it.....
|Chillis, bananas and caspsicum harvest|
|Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce|
Olive bottling Fever! This weekend, I spent all of Saturday morning bottling olives! Tiresome toward the end, but thinking of biting into all those succulent little fleshy treats in 3-4 months time kept me going. Bottle after bottle after bottle. 24 in all, some 3L bottles, others just small 1/2L ones. A year's supply of olives. Mike figured out it is roughly $400 worth of olives if we had to buy the same weight in store-bought specimens!
|First box of olives|
|Our own olives - made one big jar and a smaller one.|
|The first batch hot off the press - the green ones.|
|Preparation for bottling|
Slices lemon, pepper, coriander, rosemary, bay leaves and garlic in the jars
|Green olives packed tightly into the jars and topped with brine and then |
olive oil to seal
|Black olives stacked and ready to be brined and sealed|
Aside from olive bottling, I nursed my cold which started on Thursday with a tickle in the throat, a slight irritating cough and snotty nose. A few cups of Indian Ayurvedic remedy and I am still standing and getting better and better each day! Want in on the not-so-secret recipe? This bright yellow drink is deceptively powerful and easy to drink, a cupful in the morning and one at night.