Old windows and raspberries

This weekend I bought an old window and frame at the tip shop for $10. I’ve seen similar windows for sale at recycled renovation places for $160 – $200. The tip is awesome, thanks for the suggestion Jackie. Thomas and I walked arm and arm between the old rusty baths, broken toilets and pieces of interesting junk. As you can guess it was rather romantic.

The window is going to be turned into a mini cold greenhouse. A cold greenhouse is one that isn’t intended for use in winter and therefore doesn’t need to be heated. Apparently the ideal conditions for a greenhouse are between 0°C – 37.7°C with ventilation equivalent to 17% of floor area.   I think I need something that will automatically report back the temperature to me via my phone. I’m going to paint it and stencil flowers on the wood (because I can).

In other garden news I’ve planted two different types of raspberries. It amused me greatly to plant the southern variety at the southern end of our property. I’ve also started zucchini and leek seeds off and put my seed potatoes in the sun. I planted rhubarb too but Thomas is more excited about that than I am :-)

Today we started on a retaining wall for a walkway area to the front garden. I’m glad we got the outdoor bath in early because I’m really looking forward to getting in the bath with a beer as soon as we finish.

The soil detective

 I performed the following test* on about 2 teaspoons of slightly damp soil to find out what sort of soil we have.

  1. Begin by forming a ball, if it stays together, then proceed to the next shape. If it does not form a ball, then you have a sandy soil.
  2. If you can flatten the ball without it breaking up, then you have a silty sand or a loamy sand.
  3. If you can roll the flattened ball into a thick sausage shape, then you have loam
  4. A soil that can be rolled into a think sausage is a clay loam
  5. if you can bend the soil into a horseshoe or ring shape, then you have clay soil.

My soil got to stage 3. It nearly managed stage 4.

Which means I have loam. Loams are a mixture of sand, silt and clay. You can have either a light or heavy loam. Getting to stage 3 would be a light loam and getting to stage 4 would mean a heavy loam. Since I got to stage 3.5 I believe I have a medium loam. Medium loams can be a really good soil mixture, they have the advantages of light and heavy soils without the disadvantage of either.  Yay.

* Thanks to "The Organic Gardener" by Christine and Michael Lavelle.

Cement, dirt and chocolate

The weekend was a hard one for clothes. Assorted clothes were rolled around in dirt, smothered in concrete and smeared with chocolate. I did get a veggie garden, a pole for a privacy screen and beautiful filled chocolate out of it.

My garden obsession is growing. I want to grow every single vegetable that I like (as well as peas and beans because they are pretty). So far I have seeds, seedling and plants for:

  • Capsicum
  • Tomato
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin
  • Strawberries
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon thyme
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Chives
  • Nasturtiums
  • Lemons

I really want to add:

  • Potato
  • Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichoke

I’m trying to be an organic gardener and work with companion planting and non toxic sprays.  My mint has a fungi infection which apparently shouldn’t stop you eating it but does hurt the plant in the long run. After chatting to the garden centre lady and using the Google I have found that the best way to tackle the problem is with a spray of one part trim milk to nine parts water. I’m deeply suspicious of remedies that don’t have research behind them so was reassured after reading a research paper on the use on trim milk/water spray on commercial melon growing operations in NZ. We’ll see how my lovely Mojito producing Mint survives.

Here is a picture of my pumpkin seedlings. I love the way the seeds sit on top like hats.

Sprouting pumpkins

  • I’ve keeping an eye out on Trademe for a nice old window to turn into a seedling glasshouse on our front deck.
  • I’ve been watching "At Home with Jamie Oliver". He has a most amazing garden (also a gardener) and I quite enjoy watching/listening to him cook as well. He even cooks at least one or two vegetarian items per show.
  • I’ve also been watching "An edible garden" which is also British and is extremely entertaining. 

I think my worms are happier now. The instructions for my worm garden hadn’t mentioned requiring wet paper or carpet over the food which may be why my worms looked a little sad. I’ve added carpet with a little handle to make food applying easier so hopefully they will breed like crazy soon so they can take most of our kitchen scraps.

Worm farming

The tiger worms moved in to their new home on Tuesday. I got given worms from a guy at work that has been worm farming for 20 years. He was wonderfully keen to make sure I knew what the worms liked to eat. Apparently they enjoy a line of milk powder about once a month*  and they particularly like egg shells.

I’m already quite fond of the worms in an impersonal kind of way. Really looking forward to getting worm juice to put on the garden.

* but be careful not to put it everywhere because it tickles their bellies!!

Tabouli Recipe

My favourite Tabouli recipe.

1 cups cracked wheat (bulghur)
1 cups very hot water
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, (4) sliced
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

Dressing:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When it’s ready, drain any excess water, if necessary, and squeeze dry.

Meantime, prepare the vegetables for the salad and mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

Stir the prepared wheat, other salad ingredients, and dressing together in a medium bowl.

Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 4 cups, 6 to 8 servings.

Thanks to http://www.greatpartyrecipes.com/tabouli-recipe.html (their recipe serves 12 to 16 – great for a party)

Cron experiments

I’ve been doing an introduction to Cron for three months now. During the introductory phase the main idea is to stop eating empty calories (low nutrient/high calorie) and start focusing on high nutrient/low calorie food.

I just went to my Drs for a check up.

During those three months I have:

·         Lost 5kgs

·         Bought my blood pressure back into healthy range

My Dr is really awesome. Quite supportive of me taking control of my own health while still wanting to help me monitor things and make sure I’m not doing anything silly. I think she likes the idea of working towards optimal health rather than just fixing illnesses.

I’m about to go slightly more hardcore with Cron so she has ordered me a bunch of blood tests which we can use as a health baseline. We will repeat again in 3 months time to see how I’m going.

For anyone who is interested in Cron these are the tests I’m getting done.

·         Renal – Creatinine

·         Renal – Uric Acid

·         Renal – Electrolytes

·         Lipids – Lipids Fasting

·         Thyroid – T.S.H

·         Glucose – Hb (HbA 1c)

·         Liver/Enzymes – Liver Function

·         Renal – Calcium/Phosphate

·         Full Blood Count

·         Ferritin

I’m looking forward to getting these results back. I did quite a few of them about a year ago when the Dr was trying to find out if my high blood pressure was being caused by another obvious problem. Hopefully the comparison is positive.

I really wish I could be part of this study but since I’m not in the States I’m doing it on my own.

Also, I feel great :-)

Two shakes

Watermelon shake

Take a watermelon. Remove pips. Put in blender with a tray of ice. Blend. 

OMG yum. 

One watermelon normally makes two blenders full. 

watermelon-smoothie
Hint: How to get pips out of watermelons

Use two bowls and a sieve. Scoop out the watermelon flesh into one of the bowls, then use your hands to grab out bits of flesh. The pips will come off easily. Use the sieve to collect the watermelon water at the bottom of the bowl while avoiding the pips. 

Spinach, orange and apple shake

1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
2 oranges
1 apple, peeled
1 cup chilled water
4 cubes of ice

Spinach, apple and orange smoothie

Peel and chop the apple and orange. Put all ingredients in the blender and blend! So fresh and energizing. Spinach love!

This is a sweet green drink with a slightly tart/bitter undertone. Very nice. Beware of the green moustache! 
 
Got spinach?

Kim with green "got spinach?" moustache