Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tis the season to be pickling....


Today I did some pickling....

I used Jane's Delicious Kitchen recipe book for two of the recipes...Hot Diggedy Chilli Jelly and Squash in Olive Oil.

The chilli jelly is nicely hot, not unbearable...

10 red chillies
2 sweet peppers
6 cups sugar
Tablespoon of lemon seeds (pectin rich)
1/3 cup lemon juice.

Blend chillies and sweet peppers, heat to boiling point. Add other ingredients then boil until set. Put into sterilized jars - it yielded 2 500ml jars.

The marrows were a little more complicated, and to be fair, buying the book is highly recommended. I have to harvest all our marrows small now as if I leave them on the plant they get stung.

Then I pickled the chillies we picked this morning in my simple mixture from last year.

The bigger chillies were picked a while back and are drying....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A new home for our olive tree

Way back in 2008 when we started on this adventure, one of the first things I did was plant a Black Mission Olive in a barrel. It has lived there quite happily for these 2.5 yrs. But it was beginning to get pot bound and needed a new home.

I have been looking for a space to plant it, but had not come up with a spot...the only place that has normal garden plants left is a narrow strip along the house under the bedroom windows. It's silly but I was sort of holding onto this patch...not sure why, but eventually my brain clicked over and we cleared it out.

The hole that was dug was double the width and depth of the barrel that the tree has been in. We then filled it 1/2 way up with fresh homemade compost - this soil is really nutrient deficient and the typical "Cape Flats" oily sand. We filled the hole twice with water and let it drain away.

Yesterday, the tree was moved from the barrel, unfortunetly a lot of the roots were broken, but it seems we got the bulk of them. Besides for the blustery wind that we are experiencing, making it quite difficult for the tree, it seems to have settled.

We even have a few olives on it! (they were there before the move!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things that go bump in the night!

This morning when I turned on my PC there was a Skype message waiting for me from a close friend saying that last night they were distrubed by a thumping in their passage.

It was a Western Cape Leopard Toad which occasionally visits them. Well, they had caught it for me....and "could I come collect it?"

Of course! I have been wanting one for our pond ecosystem, so before school began I popped down with my littlest one and fetched our new "pet".

He sat on the fold of the box and stared at the pond for a bit until I tipped him into the water and then he was gone, swimming laps around the pond.

We feel very honored to have him/her come and live with us.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finally "lost it"?

My children have voted and they say that I have "finally lost it!" although my oldest thought that I had when I served chilled cucumber soup last year...

But you see, tonight on the way home from my daughter's art lesson I saw some guys cutting the lawn outside a petrol station. I have been wanting some grass for my compost heap...and well...I pulled over the car and asked them for a few bags.

I thought I was a clever girl when I drove home with my 4 bags of gorgeous grass, but my daughter was cringing in the front seat.

And when I got home, the others announced that I have officially and finally "lost it"! Not sure what "it" is...but they are convinced!

What do you say, have I : yes :-( or no :-) ?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Changing seasons

Can summer be coming to an end so soon? In 8 days March starts which marks the beginning of autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere. We have noticed a weakening of the sun's rays and the setting of it at 7.30 now, when just a couple of weeks ago it was past 8pm.

I can see the shadows in my garden are also changing reminding me that soon I will loose about 1/3 of my growing space. The Stinkwood which towers over the coop and the original veggie garden is going to be dropping its leaves by the ton soon too. At least that allows the winter sun to get to the beds. This garden has been lying fallow for a few weeks with the odd last corn and tomato plants. The chickens are let out like escaping convicts into this area daily to clean it up and sandbath.

The sunflowers that I planted in September had to be harvested today as their heads were bowing heavily, fully laden with seeds.

The second planting at the pond are all open or about to open and I love watching the bees visiting them.

Around my bean and tomato beds and amongst the tomatoes are glorious dashes of orange where the Marigolds are in full bloom. These are companion plants and thus far my tomatoes are bug and pest free.

And often I just catch myself standing looking at the growth in the newest part and I still can't believe that in such a short time it has started to yield like it does. This will be our main growing area for winter as it is in full sun for the winter months, thankfully.

So as the seasons change I am thinking forward to things I didn't get to in summer - sewing, scrapbooking and knitting. I am looking forward to the rains (because I don't have to drag the hosepipe around!) and fires at night and of course winter puddings!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quick Pumpkin Curry

Our peppers are coming in fast and furious...

These home grown ingredients made a quick and simple curry...

Finely chop an onion and fry in some butter until soft. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, some garlic and about 4 cups of cubed pumpkin. Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.

Turn the stove right down to the lowest setting and allow to cook gently until the pumpkin is soft, not mushy. Season with salt and pepper, serve with Basmati rice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snapshots of our week....

Winter seeds arrived...

Hot rootis with bunny chow


Cucumbers at least 10....

Potatoes flowering....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting ready for the next season.

Well, I'm baaack! My PC is now working, but I must say that I have really enjoyed the time away from here, although I did miss posting. My back is still not better, and we have an MRI scheduled for the next month. That's a bit of a downer....however, lots has been going on so this is a quick update.

We have some new chickens! When we went away recently, I took the chooks to a friends farm for a holiday. We left behind 3 of the 4 and brought back 5 new ones and our older one. They are still quite young but should start laying in the next month. At the moment they are let out into the original vegetable garden for the day as there is just corn and some tomatoes there and lots of empty beds for them to scratch in.

We have also ordered our next season's seeds. I am trying heirloom's again and have ordered for our autumn and winter plantings. We can grow right through winter and these seeds need the last few months of autumn heat to get started. Cabbage (red and white), broccoli, cauliflower (white , Romanesco and purple), brussel sprouts, onions, curly kale, pak choi, peas, turnips and broad beans are going to be our main crops.

We also have planted our winter potato harvest and will grow carrots, beets, turnips and other soup vegetables and of course our salads.

We still had some cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli seeds from last season which are now sprouting in their newspaper cups.

Our garden is blooming...butternuts, marrow, patty pan, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans are still producing and there are lots of new flowers on the plants which should see us through autumn. Today we harvested this basket which will make up part of the vegetable portions of our meals this week.

On the homemaking front, I am thinking ahead to winter and the indoor handiwork which will keep us busy and to that end, my daughter and I have set up a sewing area where we can sow winter pj's in the next few weeks. I hope that having the things out and set up all the time will take away some of the procrastination! I am also determined to learn to knit socks this year.

Well, that's all for now, folks! How are you all doing?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I just want to leave a note here that even though we are home and homesteading-along, my PC has crashed and I am not able to put up my normal posts.

I hope it will soon be repaired and I will get back to regular posting.