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7 reasons why you should mulch your garden.

17sugarcanemulch

Mulching is such a simple thing to do, so easy and so rewarding. In fact there are only benefits to mulching your gardens. But when I drive through the country side and look at all the bare farm land, I wonder why those farmers don’t bother protecting their soil from the elements.

Mulching protects the soil from the damaging effects of wind, sun and water. Mulches have so many function and a lot of benefits. Let’s have a look at some of these;

  1. They prevent evaporation of the moisture in your soil. Especially helpful in summer.
  2. They absorb water on the surface and hold it there until it has time to be absorbed.
  3. Mulches reduce erosion from gravity, wind and water.
  4. they keep your soil warm in winter and cool in the extreme summer heat.
  5. They suppress weeds, which also robs the soil of water.
  6. Mulches supply nutrients and organic matter to soils.
  7. Mulches are one way of using up your garden surplus. (lawn clippings, newspaper)

I sometimes use sugar cane mulch, which is a fantastic product. But because I have chickens I use the lucerne hay they have been pooping on for weeks and I scoop the whole thing onto my patch. Full of nutrients for my garden.

At the moment I am in the process of growing the Lucerne grass in my chicken pen, because not only do my chickens love it, it also can be cut and used as mulch and when I grow it myself it’s free. Who doesn’t love that?

So, go out into your patch and give a bit off dress up. Your vegetables will love it!

 

 

 

Delicious Brussel Sprout Recipe

brussle-sprouts

As a kid I did not like Brussel Sprouts. My mother would boil them (to death)and serve them to us with potatoes and meatballs,  it really wasn’t a culinary experience, to say the least.

Knowing that this vegetable protects us from cancer and protects our DNA, I have persisted in preparing them. As an adult I have discovered many different ways of preparing these healthy sprouts and boiling is the worst way of doing it. It is bland and boring and simply doesn’t enhance the taste of this vegetable.

This is what I do and my kids like them too.

  •  2-3 tbsp butter
  • 500gr Brussel Sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Tbsp seeded mustard
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a heavy bottomed fry pan slowly melt the butter. (It needs to cover the whole pan and the onions and garlic need to swim in it.)
  2. Saute onion and garlic
  3. Add the mustard and stir
  4. Add the brussel sprouts
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. On low let this simmer until the brussel sprouts are soft. Probably 10-15 min.

You can add in some ham, mushrooms and cream as well. So good!

 

3 secrets to growing seeds successfully

Today, we are planting seedlings that we grew ourselves from seed. They have grown large enough to be transplanted in our large bed and it is the right time of the month to do it.

 

seedlings

Most people would say it’s very difficult to grow plants from seed and in all honesty, it can be a challenge. But once you have worked out how to do it, it is actually really easy and very economical.

What you need are good quality seeds. Not the hybrid kind from Bunnings or any other big company. You want Heirloom seeds from places like Eden Seeds or Diggers.

Secondly, very important is that we plant those seeds in a good quality vegetable mix, not a seed raising mix. I have not had any success with growing a viable seedling in seed raising mix, EVER! Seed raising mix does not have enough nutrients to sustain the growing plant. My friend Kathryn from The Homegrown Country Life got me onto growing seeds in normal soil. Great success!

Thirdly, you should plant according to the cycles of the moon. It makes a huge difference in how your seeds turn out. I bought my Moon Planting Calendar from Diggers.

Once the seeds are sown you need to make sure the soil is damp. I use a spray bottle to water. Once the plants are a bit bigger I will use a regular watering can to water them. You have to make sure not to drown them with water. Using a large pot is helpful because it retains the moisture but also drains the water nicely to the bottom away from the roots.  The small black containers in which you would buy seedlings from Bunnings are not that great as they can be overwatered. So, I now use a large orange pot and I am very happy with the results.

Once your seedlings have developed their second set of leaves you can transpant them into your garden bed.

seedlings1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the new seedlings are in their bed make sure you give them a sprinkle of water and very importantly, cover the soil with mulch. This retains the moisture in the soil.

There you go, I hope this may make your seed sowing adventure a successful one too!

An update on my veggie patch

photo8 weeks ago I installed my vegetable garden and filled it up with the most luscious of winter vegetables. Can you believe we are already eating from it?  I tell you what, it is so worth it to plant a few things as there is nothing more enjoyable than picking your breakfast fresh out of your garden. My silverbeet and eggs come straight out of my backyard and in the morning I saute my greens and poach my eggs. The other week we picked up half a trailer load of mushroom compost from my friends house and dumped it in our garden beds at the front of the house. The funny thing is that mushrooms still grow in it! So after collecting the eggs and picking off some fresh silverbeet leaves, I walk out the front and pick some fresh mushrooms. Breakfast done!

Last week we just finished eating all the bok choy and have already allocated that space to a whole 2 rows of broccoli. Planning your vegetable garden properly, beats going to the shops.

vegepatch

At the front you can see the parsley has taken off, together with the kale and silverbeet. Behind the parsley are 3 rows of endive which will be eaten over the next few weeks in salads, juices and cooked meals. Right at the end is more kale, a huge coriander plant and some mint. The empty spaces have been filled with recently transplanted seedlings of more kale, broccoli and silverbeet. Next fortnight I will add seedlings of fennel and beetroot. All of these vegetables I chose because I love juicing with them to and of course kale has some amazing amounts of nutrients. For example; per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk (90 grams per serving) and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy. So there you go, hale the kale!

Want an easy start to your veggie patch?

If you want to start your own veggie patch, just keep it simple. Get some untreated wood or hardwood from your local timber mill and build a box with it. 6 x 1 mtr is a great size to start with. Of course you can build longer if you have the space, but wider can pose problems as reaching in to plant or harvest can become challenging.

Make sure to fill your box with some excellent quality veggie mix from your local garden centre. Buying a tonne at the time is much cheaper than buying bags.  And believe me a tonne doesn’t really go all that far.

If you want to plant straight away you can buy seedlings from your local garden centre and plant them right away. Make sure to water them in nicely and cover the soil well with some sugar cane mulch. This allows the water to be retained in the soil and the mulch also supplies nutrients to the soil.

Now go and have some fun!!

 

 

Moroccan Spice

I have a lovely husband, who loves making meatballs in tomato sauce. It is a very simple recipe, but the spices make it taste so amazing. Moroccan Spice is a delicious mix of different spices which you can use in several recipes, such as meatballs, soup or a Moroccan Lamb stew.

I premix them and always have a jar on hand in my pantry, so my husband never has an excuse not to cook his delicious meatballs!

In a glass jar shake together these spices:

  • 4tsp Ginger
  • 4tsp Coriander
  • 4tsp Cumin
  • 4tsp Paprika
  • 2tsp Pepper
  • 2tsp Cinnamon
  • 2tsp Turmeric
  • 1tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1tsp Nutmeg

 

Staple #9……..Pizza sauce or tomato puree.

There is nothing better than a freshly baked home made pizza. It definitely is a favourite in our house. We make the crust grain free now with the help of The Healthy Home Economist, but before that we made it the old fashioned way, with flour, water and yeast.

Again, making your own crust is certainly cheaper and a whole lot healthier than the store bought variety, which is full of questionable ingredients. In my opinion those ingredients should stay in a science lab and not in the foods on our supermarket shelves!

When making sauce, I usually make enough for the pizzas we will have that night and enough to freeze for future pizzas. I figured, if I am cooking any way,I may as well make more. It is handy to have some on hand when unexpected visitors drop in.

At Costco you can buy these massive tins of tomatoes, which are extra handy when making this sauce. Or if you have an over supply of tomatoes from the back yard, then this recipe is a fabulous way to preserve those delicious tomatoes.

This recipe for pizza sauce is real easy:

Pizza sauce

  • 1 can of tomatoes from Costco (big one) or 4 normal sized ones
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Italian herbs, such as Oregano, Basil, Parsley and Rosemary
  • Red wine (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • you may also add a tablespoon of vegetable concentrate to give a richer flavour. Omit salt if you do.

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and blend till smooth with your stick blender. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until the sauce is reduced. It must be thick enough to spread onto your pizza base.

Cover your pizza with the sauce and add you favourite toppings.

Sooooo good!

 

Pantry Item#8………Pantry staples from scratch

This very popular food is for some strange reason incredibly expensive in our country. I have written a post about it a while ago, but felt like including it in this post, since it is something most of us eat daily.

Of course I am talking about yoghurt! If you were able to make this yourself, which is by the way, not hard at all, you will save yourself a tonne. Instead of paying $5 dollars a kilo, you will only pay $1.25.

You can find the recipe here

PS: Technically this is not a “pantry staple”, please put it in the fridge 🙂

 

 

 

Pantry item #7……..Pantry staples from scratch

realstock

 

I have previously posted an article about making vegetable stock concentrate at home. Vegetable stock concentrate is an item I use in a lot of my dishes to give it an extra boost of flavour. Especially in soups and casseroles it is a welcome addition. Previously I bought vegetable stock cubes, which were not too bad, since I always suss out the best and least chemically laden ones available. But as we all know, this comes with a rather large price tag. Instead of buying expensive stock cubes now, I make my own.

There are all sorts of different recipe combinations possible to make these. Therefore it is a brilliant way to use up fresh produce which has nearly died in the fridge. I am sure the celery really appreciates it that you did not throw her out into the trash, but instead put her to good use 😉

If you click here you will be able to read the recipe and start making your own stock. It is very rewarding, I promise.