Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bulb planting

My motherinlaw and I went to the Ellerslie Flower Show this year, for inspiration and were very enthused with lots of the stands and gardens we saw.

We managed to resist buying 500 daffodil bulbs, but we did by 80!  I also bought some specialist bulbs from a grower outside Geraldine late last year, which arrived in the post a week or so ago.  This weekend, we spent lots of time crawling around the garden and flowerbeds planting bulbs.  It's an exercise in patience, because we won't see them till Spring.  But such hope! that there will be a gorgeous display of beautiful bulbs to herald spring this year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Winter Seedlings ....it's almost time

For what it's worth, round here it's started to feel and look like Autumn.  We have still had some hot days, but the recent rain has greened up the paddock, loosened the soil in the vege garden and brought on a bit of Autum colour in the tree leaves.

Kale seeds, collected from plants gone to seed in summer, are just sprouting in a tray in the laundry.  I have collected peas for planting, and I have broad beans left over from last year which I am hoping will still be viable.

Any time soonish is time to put them in!

Other jobs going on in my garden -

  • I pulled out all raspberry canes that were sprouting everywhere, and cut out all the old canes leaving this year's canes ready for next years fruiting.
  • We pulled out all the corn stalks and fed them to the cows
  • I have harvested more aubergines and madeup and frozen some Bana Ganouj for dips during the winter.
  • I did a big weed session
  • I planted cabbage seedlings that had self sprouted in one part of the garden, and put them into tidy, spaced rows.  They were from a cabbage that went to seed, and those seeds have come up all by themselves.
  • I looked at the leeks that have seeded and wondered if I can plant the sprouted seeds that are in the flowerheads!  not sure on that one
  • I have prayed over my artichokes that Mark moved, and hoped they will be OK for next year
  • I have prepared myself for the big job of tidying, de-runnering, and clearing up the strawberry bed - not done anything yet tho

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rain + Warm Days = Mushrooms

I admit that Mushrooms are not everyone's cup of tea, but I love them.  Fried....on toast....as soup....mushroom sauce on steak.....mmmmmmm

Today I set out to my secret mushroom collecting spot and cut these beauties with my little knife.  A whole bucketful.  I have not weighed them, though that would be an interesting exercise. I'll do that in due course.

As for know, I have to set to cleaning the grass off and grading them into 'shrooms to be dried, and 'shrooms to be eaten straight away!

Guess what I am having for dinner :-)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Canning" our Autumn produce now

I have started the process of canning our extra veges for use over the winter.  This is not "preserving" a la NZ Kiwi (overflow method for fruit), but full-on pressure canning a la American style doomsday preppers!

Basically, the process of preparing the fruit/veges/meat is pretty much the same as for the overflow method.  Or you can cook your soup/meatballs/stews etc.  But from then on, rather than putting into hot jars and putting the lid on, and hoping like hell you don't get botulism, you pop them into a huge pressure cooker, rack up the pressure to the one specified for the type of food you are preparing, and keep it there for x many minutes.

Things that are great to make: meatballs in sauce, spagetti  in sauce, pasta sauces, pureed apple, tomatoes with garlic, soups etc.

The one thing you can't can is Pumpkin, which is a real shame because it is the one thing we often have heaps of.  It's puree and flesh is so dense that obtaining a high enough temperature is difficult, so it is not recommended.

So, the benefits are what?  - well, canned food keeps longer than frozen.  It does not require electricity to keep it ready to eat.  It is easier to heat up and use (there's no defrosting).  The only thing it is suseptible to is falling off the shelves during an earthquake.

STEP ONE: buy your canner.  It is just a big pressure cooker, with the addition of a pressure meter on the top.  You need the pressure meter, for different foods require different pressure.  I got mine off Amazon during a sale for US$65.00.

STEP TWO: prepare your fruit, make your soup, cut up your veges, following the instructions in the booklet that comes with the canner, or found online! (this is a useful link http://www.http://www.provident-living-today.com/Pressure-Cooking.html#ProcessingTimes)

STEP THREE: fill your AGEE jars up to 1 inch from the top, put on the lids and screw down to hand-tight.

STEP FOUR: heat up 2 inches of water in the canner.  Put in the rack, put the jars in and put the lid on.  Let steam come out the vent for 10 mins, then put on the weight.

STEP FIVE: bring up to required pressure (11lbs per square inch for pasta sauce)...keep it there for the times in your booklet.

STEP SIX: turn off the heat and let it cool completely till the valve goes down.  Then take off the lid and put the jars on the bench, being very careful not burn yourself on the jars, as the contents will still be boiling inside the jars.

This should bring all contents up to 240pressure, which is required to kill all bugs.

Your food will then keep well in the pantry.  Make sure you label and date!

Today I made Pasta Sauce with all the aubergines, courgettes, basil and tomatoes from our garden.