Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Flower photos - garden and orchard

Just sharing a few photos taken around CTF. We are in mid Spring and things are blooming nicely.

Potager garden
 I need to remove the large overgrown lemongrass plant (in middle of photo), split it up and replant elsewhere!

Flowers on the bank
 The bank is looking a lot better, covered in flowers at this time of year. Plenty for the bees to feed on.

A bicoloured Californian poppy (self germinated)

The original Californian poppy
Californian poppies - self seeded
Unknown variety of rose
Apple blossom

Quince blossom

Quince tree in flower
Now for a question: does anyone know what this palm is? It was given to us but we don't know the variety.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September - nearly gone already!

and again I've been extremely slack in blogging what with one thing and another.! I'm just recovering from a cold and am feeling a bit run down right now.

It has been a very wet and windy start to Spring here. This week things are starting to (at last) dry out a bit and we can start to get on with the many jobs that need attention like mowing and weeding. Also a last minute rush on to get things planted/moved. I still have all the seed potatoes sitting round waiting to go into the ground, was hoping to have got this done by now. Oh well, everything is going to be a bit late this year but never mind, such is life and we are governed to such a large extent by the weather when it comes to gardening.

Indoors I have been a bit busier. Since being gifted another big box of lemons I made up some more lemon honey. I also tried making a batch of sugar-free lemon honey. In place of sugar I used 'Natvia' which is a stevia powder. Initially I thought it had turned out OK - tasted fine. But subsequently on cooling the texture went all wrong - the stevia powder crystallised so it had a definite crunch - not very nice! I tried heating some up and it seemed to get rid of the crunch, but it also made the lemon honey very runny. Not quite sure what to do with the remaining 2 jars I have. Loathed to just biff them out (pig food) seems a waste, maybe I can use as a (warm runny) topping on yoghurt or something similar. Any ideas?

I also bottled up several lemons in salt to preserve them. Really nice to have on hand for Moroccan flavoured dishes or in salads. Very easy to do, just wash and chop the lemons into quarters or sixths then pack into clean jars (I used Agee preserving jars) with a good handful of rock salt. On this occasion I also added some spices - star anise, mixed peppercorns and some cinnamon sticks. Keep packing in the lemon segments with more salt until you reach the top of the jar. Top off with some extra lemon juice then put the lid on. Give the jars a bit of a shake now and then. Keep at room temperature for about 3 weeks then store in the fridge. To use, scrape the flesh out and rinse off the salt before chopping up the (softened and preserved) lemon rinds. Yum!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Farewell Winter

Today is (officially at least) the last day of Winter here in NZ. It has been appropriately wet and windy for the last few days, so I hope when Spring finally does arrive it will bring more sunny days and some slightly warmer temperatures. Mostly though, I look forward to those still days when I don't have to battle the wind to get anything done outdoors! We are quite exposed to the winds here being located on a peninsula in the Kaipara harbour.

With the advent of Spring comes a busy time ahead in the garden.

I have been busy sorting out seeds for the vege garden this season and will be sowing those very soon, starting with the tomatoes of course.

We have trays of seed potatoes laying around 'chitting' - they will be going in the ground soon. This year we are growing Jersey Bennes (early), Rua, Agria and (a new one for us) Purple Passion.

Have planted the new strawberry beds and dug up nearly all the raspberry canes. The raspberries were taking over the garden by sending up runners everywhere, so are going to be moved to a new spot where they can't be too much of a nuisance.

Harvesting peas and snow peas, broccoli, spring onions, cabbages and herbs.

Thinking I might put in some more asparagus as only have 2 surviving plants in the bed I planted a couple of years ago. The bed has been heavily mulched so I hope the plants will better handle the dry of the summer. I think it will be still too early to harvest any spears though, I think they are meant to be at least 3 years old.

In the kitchen we're eating yummy bottled peaches, figs, feijoas and apple sauce. I've preserved a whole lot of lemons (in salt) - will post on that soon. Also made these sour gummies with lemon and lime juice:

They are sweetened with honey - found them while looking for cane sugar free recipes - and the recipe can be found here. I thought they would make a nice treat, but neither D or G liked them very much! Maybe I'll try them with stevia instead of honey. Not going to give up that easily!