Friday, 4 October 2013

Home Holidays

Rosemary framing the sun plaque

There is just one thing that I enjoy next to Tropical Holidays - that's Home Holidays!!  Time out of a busy routine to get stuff done!  What kinda stuff?  Anything and everything!  There is a ticking clock inside of me - one that wants to make time stand still, and in the absence of these magical powers, to make the most of every minute of my waking hours.  The lack of routines, getting dressed, to work on time, deadlines, general weekday business seems to shift and change gears.  I vacillate between making, creating, reading, fixing, planting, tending, contemplating and drinking endless cups of tea, dandelion and coffee!  Pure bliss!  And it is made all the more exciting when you can cross off the lists (yes, I am a listy-kinda-gal) and view all that you have achieved at the end of a busy but productively relaxed kind of day! And being a geeky list gal, I even add things onto a list, that weren' on the list, but that I achieved anyway at the end of the day and feel smug with myself!   Bet I am not making much sense to the sane ones reading this............ it's just that I have an awful lot of things I wish to do and achieve before I die.  Holidays are good times to catch up on those things!

The first up:  a whack of hand and body balms.  I have been running skinny on this since I finished my last one a few weeks before the end of the school term - and no time to make any up till now.
Simple body balm ingredients:  about 2 TBspn beeswax, cup of cold-pressed sesame seed oil and olive oil and essential oils of choice.  Lip balm is also another option to make with the same ingredients, just use more beeswax to oils, and use "edible essential oils like peppermint.   Easy peasy, and I make enough to keep me going for a good few months, and some extras to give away.
Ingredients for hand and body balm

Finished tins of hand and body balms.  Great for tucking one in a handbag,
one next to the bed and one on the windowsill in front of the washing up sink!
Using recycled mint tins.

A quick jar refill of Gardeners hand and foot scrub: add 6 TBspn organic sugar to a jar, mix in 2 TBspn olive oil and some peppermint essential oil.  A teaspoon of this can be used to exfoliate hands or feet to produce the softest of skin - the key to romantic back massages from a gardener!
Hand and Foot Scrub
Last weekend, I pulled out some berries left over from my smoothie making expeditions, and combined gooseberries with strawberries to make a mixed berry jam.  Looks yum, haven't tried it yet but no reason why it shouldn't taste as good as it looks!  Jam is sooo easy to make - I use 1kg fruit to 750g sugar (organic golden).  Boil it up till it gives the setting test (actually, I don't bother too much about this - some of my jams don't set as well as domestic goddesses would have you strive for, but it still passes the taste test.  This is mostly due to the fact that I like to use less sugar than conventional jam-making would advise).  

Frozen berries

Gooseberry/Strawberry jam
And whilst the jam is bubbling like a witch's cauldron of spider legs and frog spawn, a spin of the blender produces some damn fine parsley pesto - I'm hooked!  The time has arrived in that gardening calender, when we can go into the garden and start picking our salad ingredients: small kale and silver beet leaves, nasturtium flowers and leaves, parsley, calendula flowers, lettuces are growing nicely....... add a few sun-dried tomatoes, olives and home-made pickles and pesto in the salad dressing............ yay!  Summer living is the way to go!  I know it's still spring, but knowing that summer is beginning to peek around the corner is thrilling!
Parsley pesto

Home-grown salad
The garden is definitely awakening, seedlings are popping up out of their soil substrate and flowers are brightening up the corners of the garden.  The last week and a half has brought the infamous spring equinox weather - evil spiteful winds and whipping rain showers.  But when the clouds part and the sun shines through, there is hope.  I am amazed that the garden has not been damaged ... seems everything has withstood the battering and ramming weather bomb and come out without too much bruising.  We did have to take our garden chimes down, as they were keeping us awake all night through the wind storms!  Clang, clang, clang - like living in a Buddhist monastery where they are constantly banging the lunch-time gong!

Beautiful baby sunflowers

The colour of these un-named flowers brings a smile to me!
Seed saving:  I have collected many seeds for spring/summer planting.  Pumpkins, kamo kamo, beans, coriander, dill, corn, nz perpetual spinach etc.  Many of my seeds are 5th or 6th generation GreeNZ seeds.  Meaning, I have been collecting them each year, from the same original parent seeds.  If you keep on doing this, the theory is that the plants become stronger for your growing conditions that they have been acclimatised to.

Saving seeds.  My daughter looking over my shoulder has insisted I
add that she cleaned and sorted these ones in such a lovely way!
(It was worth it for the kiss I just got as thanks!)
Holiday Gardening To Do List:

  • Mulch blueberry bed with untreated cedar sawdust.  Check.   Done.  No weeds to pull for a few months.

Sawdust-mulched blueberry bed

  • Pip fruits collared and pheromone-trapped.  Check.  Done 2 weekends ago.  Hopefully catch those buggery coddling moths!
Pear tree with cardboard collar to lure coddling moth ladies
Pheromone trap for coddling moth guys

Another cardboard collar to lure female coddling moths to lay their
eggs in here instead of the apple blossoms

  • Set up tomato trellis for planting time.  Check.  Quite a good sturdy system even I say myself.
Trellised bed for tomatoes.

Seedlings hardening off outside.

  • Plant out and protect salad garden.  Check.  All collared with anti-slug and snail deterrents and Quash bait.
Outdoor salad bed with lettuces, mibuna, rocket and brassicas.

Old catering size tins make great wind breaks, as well as snail deterrents.
The snail bait, Quash, is organic copper-based and non-toxic.

Lettuces in the hothouse.

  • Mulch and suppress garlic bed.  Check.  Found some old wool fleece left over from building.  I think the garlic is cosy, warm and happy.
Snugly bedded garlic crop

Not sure why I added the frame, just like the sculptural effect.

  • Sow seeds.  Check.  Have tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, beans, chillies and kale, cabbages and caulis all waiting to be planted out.  Next round coming up soon.  Just direct-planted my beetroot today.

  • Get mike onto bamboo harvesting for stakes and support structures.  Check.  He did that with our German Helpxchange a little while back and they are ready to use.
Bamboo supply for garden structures

What now?  A good holiday read perhaps.  Lucky me!

Fatcat Shanti sun-bathing in the spring sunshine


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