Weekend Reading

3 December 2021

Another good fall of rain this week with over 220mm in the gauge. I say "over" because the rain gauge was overflowing again when I emptied it. It feels wonderful having an abundance of fresh water.

We finally got a neurologist appointment for Hanno. Our GP pushed for him to be seen urgently, the next appointment was in March! We still have over a week to wait and in the meantime he's moving around with the help of a walker and only goes from the bedroom to the living room, and back again at night. 


The Sustain issue of Taproot arrived today with the article on four of us simple living folk - Heather, Alyson, Farai and myself. 



We made the decision to give the chickens away. We've kept chickens for nearly 40 years and it will seem strange not having them clucking in the backyard and having the opportunity to go out and collect fresh eggs.  For everything there is a season.

Another change will be that this will be my last blog post of the year because I'm having trouble keeping up with the work I have to do now. I'm sure you understand. I'll keep in touch with you on Instagram.


I'm getting ready to bake our Christmas cake.  Dried fruit wallowing in French brandy - it should be a good one.


Donna and I had another great online catchup today. I love talking to her face-to-face. We really get each other so the conversation flows and we have a laugh.

Thanks for your visits this year. I hope you enjoy the holidays and have a chance to relax and unwind.  Don't forget, I'll make sporadic posts on Instagram to keep in touch over the holidays.

 🎄♥️🎄♥️🎄 

Weekend Reading - home cooking and cleaning

26 November 2021
It's been a busy week, a mix of doctors, decisions and housework. Hanno is still unwell and now we're waiting to hear about another appointment with another specialist. I don't want to go into it here and please don't email or message me about it, when we have a solid diagnosis, I'll let you know.


This rose is called The Fairy. It's an old miniature rose that grows well in a pot or in the ground.

The thing that lifted my spirits during the week was rain. We had 200mm/7.8 inches of rain in three days and another 40mm/1.5 inches last night. I always feel safe and secure when it rains and just the  thought of rain soaking into the garden out the back makes me smile.


I cleaned my utensils bucket out and "edited" a number of items. Amazingly, I use everything in the bucket now.

Meals during the week included pork chops, red cabbage and potatoes, ham salad and the day we went for Hanno's MRI in Caloundra, we came home with fish and chips. I made biscuits and a tropical cheesecake for morning teas and desserts and some lemon cordial.




The rest of my time has been spent cleaning, doing the washing and clipping Gracie. I hope to wash her in the coming days. I'm also starting to organise my summer sewing which I hope to start next week.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I hope you enjoy this special day.  And to everyone, slow down, sit and think and glide into the holiday season.  I send love across the miles.  xx

Weekend Reading

Comfrey liquid fertiliser

24 November 2021
This photo of our comfrey clump was taken a couple of days ago.

Comfrey is one of the easiest herbs to grow and is also one of the most helpful herbs in the garden.  If you have a chance, particularly if someone offers you a comfrey root cutting, take it and grow your own clump. You won't have to buy fertiliser again.  

Comfrey sends down a tap root and that mines the soil for minerals and makes them available in the leaves. Using those leaves in a fertiliser will give you minerals such as Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E, as well as boron, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. And comfrey nutrients are immediately available to your plants, unlike pellets and granules, blood and bone etc which have to break down for a a couple of weeks before they become available to the plants.


But that's not the only reason to grow comfrey. I use it here to mulch tomatoes and potatoes when I plant them.  I scrunch up the leaves to begin the breakdown of the leaves and over the following week, when I water the plants, the comfrey mulch will start fertilising your plants as well as add organic matter to the soil. Comfrey is an excellent source of nitrogen, potash, phosphorus (NPK) and calcium so if you're growing green leaves such as lettuces, silverbeet or cabbages, comfrey will help you grow magnificent vegetables.  Are you growing flowering fruits and vegetables?  Then comfrey is your go-to fertilising liquid - tomatoes, potatoes, egg plant, any of the melons, stone fruit, citrus trees, passionfruit, beans, peas, chillies, capsicum/peppers, herbs and a whole lot more.

Someone might tell you that comfrey spreads and you have to be careful, but that's not quite right. It doesn't spread out like bamboo does but if you plant comfrey in a hole, it will slowly increase the clump but it will take many years before it outgrows it's spot. Comfrey likes water but we've been in drought here for the past ten years and our comfrey is still growing strongly. Make sure the space you choose is where you want it to grow for a long time because if you try to dig it out later, leaving only the slightest piece of root behind will make it grow again. The best spot is either at the edge of your garden or near the compost heap because it won't get in the way of your regular plantings and if you have an excess of comfrey leaves, you can throw them onto the compost heap and they will accelerate  decomposition and add nutrients to the heap. 




HOW TO MAKE COMFREY LIQUID FEED

  • Cut the leaves from the comfrey plant and put them into a bucket that has a lid. Half fill the bucket with leaves and put a brick on top of them to stop them floating. Fill the bucket with water and put the lid on.
  • It will smell ... a lot. 
  • Stir it every couple of days and in two or three weeks you'll have a dark brown liquid that is an excellent feed for your plants. 
  • When the comfrey fertiliser is ready, strain the leaves out of the mixture and put them in the compost - it will help your compost decompose faster. 
  • The ratio to use is one part comfrey concentrate to 10 parts water. It will make up a liquid that looks like black tea. If you make a weaker mix you can use it more frequently.
  • It's equally effective poured over leaves and around the root ball on a weekly basis.
  • If you have an excess of comfrey liquid, store it in plastic milk bottles in a dark place.


COMFREY ROOT CUTTINGS

When you want to give root cuttings to your family and friends, and I encourage you to do that - the less chemical fertilisers in the world, the better - choose a spot at the edge of the clump and with a spade, dig into the clump as far down as you can go.  Hopefully, when you pull the spade back you'll hear a "snap" and you can pull up the cutting with your spade and hand.

There are about 30 species of comfrey and  they grow in zones 4 - 9.  It will produce leaves all year but start to die down in winter. Depending on your climate, the leaves will die back completely and over a couple of weeks, with watering, will regrow when the weather starts to heat up.  During that regrowth, it will form white, pink or mauve insignificant, bell-shaped flowers.


Weekend Reading and returning to "normal"

19 November 2021
Hello everyone, I hope you've had a good week.  

I got the all clear from my doctor on Monday and my arm is slowly healing. It still looks terrible and it's swollen and peeling but the areas of redness are clearing.


I bought this Finish Arabia porcelain vase for my mother during the 1960s. When mum died it went to my sister and she returned it to me on her last visit. It was very modern when I bought it and I'm not entirely sure it was to mum's taste, but she kept it and used it. I remember her roses sitting in it.

Today's lunch will be spinach and feta ravioli, frozen - I'm not quite back to full scratch cooking yet, with homemade tomato sauce. I'll make a cinnamon tea cake this afternoon for our morning and afternoon teas. We're running low on fruit at the moment but I don't want to go grocery shopping till Monday so we'll eat our one fresh mango and have some tinned fruit after that.  I'm happy that I had enough food here to keep us going while I was sick.  What are you eating today?


Making zucchini fritters for lunch during the week. 


Cleaning the kitchen and sink, below.


I'll be talking to Grandma Donna later today which I'm looking forward to very much. We both have a similar view on life and simple homes but we express our views in different ways. It's always interesting talking to her and seeing her in her home.


Folding wash cloths and tea towels in front of the fan at my desk.  🙂

Of course, cleaning my home is never-ending with laundry taking up a fair amount of time. I'm lucky to have a good washer and dryer as well as an outdoor washing line, an under cover washing line and a bamboo clothes airer. No matter what the weather, if I wash it, I can dry it too.


The garden is very overgrown and during the past couple of weeks, the only time I went out there was to take these photos yesterday. The rain has pushed the Queen Anne's Lace flat, you can see some on top of the snapdragons at the front. When I start gardening again, that's the first thing I'll pull out.  There are plenty of seeds in the ground now, it's been dropping them for a couple of months. I have no doubt it will regrow as soon as there is space, water and sunshine.


I hope you've had a good week and that things are going well at your place.  Soon it will be either hot or cold, depending on where you live, but for us it will be HOT. It's not my favourite time of year, I prefer cold weather. Still, I enjoy the flowers the hot weather brings. What are you doing at home now? If you celebrate Christmas, have you started preparing yet? I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.  xx


WEEKEND READING