I grow vegetables to feed us, make natural ingredient creams, lotion and shampoo, cook all meals from scratch and detest E numbers. I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand

Oh it has been a long time since I have posted. I could come up with excuses I guess but I haven’t really had much to write about. But I plan on making an effort now and try to post something regularly.

In September last (2013), our landlord decided to sell the house we were renting. This really upset my gardening as I had seedlings ready to be planted out at the end of that month. But, we had to move my the 1st week in October, so that meant packing frantically and finding somewhere else to live in s hurry. Luckily I found a lovely little 3 bedroom house on the edge of town. It is in a very quiet part of town, beside a walkway along what is known as Saltwater Creek. The views are stunning over the valleys south of Timaru and around to the Southern Alps. We have so many birds, lots of bees and butterflies and hear the ducks and geese on the creek at night.

I have good neighbours, who like me, also have a few hens (and some roosters) as well as dogs and cats. One neighbour has a rooster with no sense of time. He crows several times between midnight and 3am. No, he doesn’t wake me up, but I often giggle at him if I am still awake.

My garden….. Oh dear… That is a sad story.

I had to leave my wonderful raised vegetable gardens behind, and this summer, it was a ‘make do’ situation. There were no vege gardens here, so I had to make do with what I could and where I could. I only managed to get two small 1.2m x 1.2m gardens assembled and filled and even then it was just before Christmas when they got planted. I also made use of part of the front garden for tomatoes, peppers and beans. But the soil here is very poor and needs a lot of compost and humus added. It will get done over winter when we construct new raised gardens to accommodate a full vege garden next spring.

Tomatoes were planted in buckets and stood against the fence and the house. I used 10l plastic buckets, and unless I had individual dripper irrigation into every bucket, I would not do this again. They got so hot and dry in the buckets, that many just curled up their toes and died off prematurely. The ones what had other plants in front of them did better though, as the buckets were shaded from the heat and the roots did not get so hot. I would certainly advise either digging the buckets in the ground or putting a thick layer mulch or straw around and up the outside of the buckets to help keep them cooler and prevent water loss through the plastic. What fruit I did get, was wonderfully sweet. I do love my heirloom tomatoes.

I did have a very good crop of dwarf beans despite our dismal sunless summer months. My sweetcorn is still struggling to fill out but I had a bumper crop of root beets, red and yellow ones. The yellow ones are quite deceptive. They taste just the same as the red, but are less mess as they do not stain everything red/pink like the red ones do. I will definitely be growing them again next spring. I have winter cabbages, broccoli and cauliflowers of different colours (green, white, orange, violet), both red and green Brussels Sprouts, red and white carrots and leeks growing for winter fare. Alas only one measly parsnip survived the blackbird onslaught. By the time I discovered this, it was too late to plant more.

Health wise it has been an up and down few months. I have only just become free of pain from the shingles I had in May. My fibromyalgia just keeps on keeping on and I continue to cope and do what I can, when I can. Summer was a disappointment to us all. We had a humid, damp summer, with very little sunshine and very little productive rain. We did not have the usual dry heat we normally have for 3 or so months and even March is not our usual ‘Indian summer’. Alas it is very autumnal already and we are noticing the leaves changing colour, we have had two snow falls in the mountains and been very, very close to a frost twice already. We have even lit the fire on 3 occasions. That does not bode well for our winter. We have firewood and an electric heater so should survive.

I have gone back to being wheat free again. With moving and all the disruption from it, alas our meals became lazy and grab on the run variety. Sandwiches were the easiest, although my stomach complained viciously. I tried making standard sour dough bread, and had great success at that, but never felt ‘right’ so I decided it was time to make the change again and for good. I have been developing a Sour dough Gluten free bread. I have succeeded and have a wonderful no knead recipe, that I will share with you including photos.  It is incredibly simple to make and really tastes good so watch this space !!!!

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