Monday, December 3, 2012

Tunnel Vision

 To start with irrelevance, only a blogger knows the idle pleasure of dreaming up silly titles. No, it's a foible of newspaper editors also and with apologies to hairdressers, Salon names must also share the prize for nonsense.

To the task in hand, the tunnel house is being built at odd moments, after tea mostly; that's a benefit of the long evenings in the South and a reflection of the busyness of this time of year.  Some neighbours gave us the pipes with the as-yet hollow-promise of baking  still fresh in their memory no doubt, it had escaped mine until now.

The tunnel house is built to the existing concrete remnants of the glasshouse, which ought to have some passive solar benefit and certainly lend strength because the concrete has iron uprights embedded in it. We have decided to use Agthene to cover it and estimate 10 metres.
Watched a few tunnel houses go up on You tube in all of about 20 minutes.We have our own reality check unfolding slowly,  part of it is the challenge of integrating  recycled materials.

I couldn't wait and have already planted it out which has called for nimble side stepping. It has been cold and all the  warmth lovers are growing very slowly. In truth I am embarrassed to put up a photo until they look better but that's no way to edit a garden or record a life for that matter.  Will address that in the next post. Adios.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chicken a la King

The chickens on order are gals not blokes; the royal title 'King' refers to the quality of their new abode; it's a palace.
 All this space for three birds who want an upgrade to the good life, not The Good Life with Tom and Barbara in which programme they would probably get eaten.

We are back in the city and we know it. The boys have vague memories of seeing birds wrung, beheaded, plucked and trussed en masse and I well remember the fabulous flavour. You knew you were eating real meat. However, in this instance we would know we were eating our pets...

Let me talk you through the many features:
  • The rooves both  lift off 
  • The enclosed coop detatches . It can be positioned on either side of the covered run. 
  • The nesting box projects to the front with lift up lid for easy access.  
  • There is a perch inside for sleeping comfort.
  • A little door on the right enables us to easily reach in and out.
  • The intention is that the house can be moved along the jungle strip until it is cleared. After that I suspect it will stay put.

From the back, you can just  see it is in front of the raspberries so they will gain some welcome shelter from the wind.

Moving along, a quick before and after, the site of the new tunnel house. We have the flexi curves, whatever they are called, and three of the four standards are left from the old glasshouse to attach things to. Tomatoes are growing relentlessly so march on, march on. 

One of the shortages with a new garden is soil suitable for planting rootcrops. I've begun with beetroot, carrot and parsnip in a borderline spot.Today the prevailing menace has been caught on camera - Katie cat scratching out seedlings  or napping on top of any newly weeded area. Have to start spiking key areas of the garden.

Do we all have a good recipe for carrot cake? Someone asked me for this one the other day. It  is fool proof, not oily or too sweet and makes two loaves if you want to have it that way.

Carrot Cake

1 C oil
1/3 C water
3 C wholemeal flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
4 eggs
2 t baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 heaped cups grated carrot

50 g soft butter
100g cream cheese
rind of 1 lemon
1 1/2 C icing sugar

  1. Beat eggs, oil, water together. 
  2. Add to remaining ingredients.
  3. Bake about 1 hr at 160 C as loaves. Possibly a bit longer as a large cake. 
  4. Icing. Beat everything together and spread on cooled cake. Have used chopped dried apricot, peel, and pumpkin seeds on top.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'Build it and they will come'

It was easy enough to start a few pottles of seed off inside and move them about to catch the sun but once I potted them on there was always going to be a problem...

Bill came home from sailing to find the problem, and then build a solution down in the garage. The trusses fit onto a compost frame. It is lightweight and easy to lift off.

I covered the current compost heap which was still warmish, with a wheelbarrow of grass clippings and a layer of cardboard. Cardboard also around the sides to keep out the wind. The plastic has steamed up a little with this cold weather; a good sign. I'm hardly going to start growing pineapples but it will boost the plants a little.

I have Siberia and Galina, those two that you thought would be good for Dunedin Mum, and Moneymaker and a black cherry tomato: feeling optimistic there. A little like Field of Dreams , 'plant the seeds and the tunnel house will come.'

I will end up replanting about 75% of the front bank I think. Am leaving in some of the taller hebes to shelter new plants,  quite a few of which are peices or cuttings of the old ones.Notice how nice and clear the path is. It became so overgrown that you had to brush through plants to get to the front door (no fun in the rain) or worse, visitors tripped on the overgrowth.

The dwarf NZ Toe Toes ( new plants below) died off in the centre but threw out lots of vigourous side shoots first. It figures that any successful plant must have a back-up plan.  They were also easy to pull out which secures their future.  I will put in one or two again. I've managed to 'gift' most of the rest of these away. The remaining debris is on a long-term compost heap.

Here's the  little nursery of cuttings. Some of these are  hebes that didn't survive so I'm pleased I can start again with them, for free. Others are cuttings from the cemetery. I didn't think there would be any ownership issues and the plants there generally have to thrive on neglect.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cut and Come Again

The most  relevant question for any gardener must be,

 'What is in the garden at the moment?' 

or even better, 

'What are you eating from the garden at the moment?'

This is something that non-gardeners don't know: it is one thing to grow it, another to eat it and you are always looking to bring the two together as perfectly as possible.
I planted  purple sprouting brocolli in late summer for the first time and when it started to throw out these spindly shoots I wondered if I would bother with it again. Cancel that thought.

Run over the plants with a sharp knife, or snap the shoots off,  and harvest the lot. Maybe about 5 days later do the same again and on and on and on  it goes, throwing out new shoots from nowhere. And in the meantime, the price of brocolli and cauliflower in the supermarket are just about equal to a small chicken. Timing perfect.
 I chop bunches into three even lengths to make it easy to eat, steam it, add a little butter, s & p. Children eat it; the highest recommendation.
The purple goes to a grey green as it cooks; not as bright green as brocolli. It is strange that any cooking water that is drained off is purple.


Pickings are lean in the garden otherwise, in case you are imagining a self-satisfied smile, although I am beginning to remember all the fairly edibles I haven't documented, like the 'Onion Weed Experiment': Failed. That's something to look forward to hearing about...
Meanwhile, parsely, chives, mint and thyme are the most useful remnants, and the rhubarb. I would take photos but the camera's batteries have just fainted on me so that's all for next time and I will also put up an after shot of the hebe massacre below.

I think this front garden was about 10 years old this year.  In that time the cabbage trees left their neighbours in the dust,  the hebes grew old and lost their vigour and some plants like the miniature toi-toi died and threw out new shoots. I have dug out this hebe stump  in the foreground, although remarkably it did come away, and replaced it with something size appropriate that won't need annual pruning to keep it in check. Of course I thought I was doing that the first time. 
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 22, 2012

the roast with the most

Welcome family to the blog, just stretching my blog muscles and dipping my toe back in the water. There were a few technical problems to overcome, and computer access - breaching the teenager shield, will be an ongoing challenge.

As you can see we took the coffee nook with us and set it up in the kitchen corner, business as usual.
I've put the kitchen cupboard on parade for the minute because a surprising number of people walk into the kitchen and throw open the cupboard doors for a look.

I am  starting this garden from scratch in many ways, which will make for an interesting journey and next post I'll put in some overview and then begin to document progress.  Meantime here is one of those garden treasures that waited for us five years, and flourished, almost becoming a garden nuisance... horseradish.

Like all rootcrops, it is a great one to dig in Autumn. The tops die down over winter and come away in Spring. I imagine it might be like an overwintered carrot about now, tough and hairy.

I've peeled and  grated it finely with the foodprocessor because it is fiery; think lung-stripper. Then cover it with white vinegar to sit happily in the fridge for months. Horseradish becomes the secret ingredient in mayonaise, a good spoonful, and the not secret  ingredient in 'Horseradish Sauce'.
Now that we are in town I get a meat pack about every three weeks which always includes a roast of beef, hence the interest in horseradish sauce. 
So the recipe? I hear you ask.

Horseradish Sauce

2-3 T grated horseradish
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 T grainy mustard
2 T mayonnaise

and that makes enough for 6 people around  one roast.