Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunshine soap and seeds in the sun

While I know the weather could change tomorrow and remind me that we live in Cape Town (who changes her weather on a moments notice) these last few days have held the promise of spring. Mornings and evenings are chilly - enough to warrant a fire at night - but the days are warming and it is enough to make me feel the stirrings of garden activity in my fingers.

This week we got the majority of our seeds planted. The children made the newspaper pots, Superman fetched beer boxes from the store, my eldest filled the pots with soil and then it was my time. Sitting outside yesterday afternoon, determined to be ORGANISED this time I devised a little system.

I have a simple garden plan now that we only have the two areas which means that it is a limited number of seeds that I actually need, but I always plant about 10 more seeds than is needed according to the plan. This is because some seeds do not germinate or my over eager waterer waters the seeds away and by sowing extra I will have enough seedlings for the garden, any extras I give away.

On the garden planner I have it shows when to sow the seeds (but I do know this already), the number I need and expected harvest times. I quickly cross referenced this to the seed pack and made up markers with the details on them...

The marker shows the plant, the date of sowing, the first circle indicates the germination time and the second shows the days to harvest. I also recorded it on the planner.

Yesterday we sowed:

Cucumber - Bushcrop
Tomatoes - Roma, Beefsteak, Cherry
Courgettes (Zucchini) - Golden, Italian striped and Black Beauty
Peppers - Hungarian Hot Wax, Orange Sweet, Sante Fe and Red Cherry

Next week we will prepare more pots to sow about 100 corn seeds.

I placed the boxes on a bench on the sun and as I watch them soaking up the rays from the sun and the nutrition from the soil, I can't help but feel a bubble of expectation rise again.

I am also sadly behind in soap making. Before the renovation I made two big batches to see us through until about now...and considering that soap needs 5 weeks to cure, I should have done this at least 3 weeks ago. Our soap store should see us through for another 2 weeks but it was enough to make me put a move on.

I decided to try a new recipe which has yielded a very soft soap, this means that we will go through it too quickly and I will have to make more this week, I will choose a harder soap recipe. This is what I did:

340g coconut oil
340g rice bran oil
227g palm oil
149g caustic soda
404g spring water
1t turmeric
1 cup dried calendula petals - saved from last summer
5ml wheat germ oil

Add the water to the caustic soda outdoors and gently stir.

Add oils to pot and melt.

Check temperatures to match at 54 Deg C.

Add water solution to the oils and stir until trace. Add Turmeric and petals and wheat germ oil. continue to stir vigorously until firm trace is reached. Pour into moulds and cover overnight with towels. In the morning I popped them out of the moulds and place them into a sealed container to mature for 5 weeks.

I had hoped that the soap would retain this bright yellow, but it didn't and rather mellowed to the pale colour below. It is still pretty and I am sure we will enjoy the soap just as well.

 Do you also feel the change of season where you live?


Lois Evensen said...

Hi, Your soap is lovely. I bet it is wonderful to use, too.

Yes, we feel the change of seasons. ATM we are in Port Canaveral and will be at sea for another 8 weeks. We look forward to going home to some pretty crisp Fall weather. :)

Sunday hugs from Port Canaveral,

Ruwen Niklas Gierls said...

How nice to see spring is around the corner, despite the incredible cold you guys have at the Cape... Here in the northern hemisphere summer is over,but we still have a great amount of veggies and fruits to harvest - a very productive season! Your post about the soap reminded me that we need to make more to capture the summer in it for the grey months following now...
Great post, as always!

Cath said...

I have slacked off with the soap making. Yours looks so pretty. I am pretty envious of all your garden harvests too.