Autumn vegetables and homemaking

3 May 2019
After a couple of weeks of rain, we now have sunshine and the gentle heat of late autumn. The strawberries are growing well, raspberries and Youngberries are developing their canes for fruiting later in the year and we have tomatoes, lettuce, French beans, silverbeet, spinach and Welsh onions almost bursting out of their boxes. The cayenne chilli bush in the old sandpit is so full and heavy, it keeps snapping off side branches and I've been giving away chillies to who ever will take them.

Strawberries in hanging baskets this year.  It's part of our way of easier gardening.
Afternoon sun on the back verandah and box garden.  French beans below.


When sunlight falls on the back verandah in the afternoon now it's soft light and it brightens up the backyard without scalding the plants and sending all sensible humans and Scottie dogs inside. I'd like to have six months of autumn, three months of spring and three months of winter. Weather like this creates a tranquil and relaxed environment for sustainable living that I think it would entice a few more people to this way of life.

And speaking of winter, yesterday was the day I changed the bed linen from summer's cotton to winter's flannel. However, due to the warm weather, we have a flannel bottom sheet with a cotton top sheet, as well as a doona and a quilt.  I always look forward to the day I change the linen. It seems like such a non-event to most people but it's a marker for me that we're moving into cozy nights, soups, casseroles, warm rice pudding, hot showers, cardigans and slippers. Surely that's worth a small celebration.





This week we've been eating warm homemade milk bread, beef, barley and vegetable soup, sweet potato soup, meatballs, chicken curry and kartoffel puffers. I'm making bread again today and yesterday I made another batch of dried apricot jam. It must be the easiest jam I've ever made. There's no peeling or chopping and you end up with an intensely flavoured jam that tastes more like apricots than sugar.  My ingredients cost about $13 and I got one large jar and five smaller jars. That would have cost me about $28 had I bought the usual apricot jam from the shop.  But there is another thing I love about this jam - I can store it in the cupboard to use during the rest of the year and I know exactly what is in it and how it was made. That's priceless.

 
This week I've enjoyed reading the new Treloar Roses catalogue and Homespun Mom Becomes Unravelled by Shannon Hayes (of Radical Homemakers fame).

And the message today is above.

I'm going to do two workshops here at my home on 25 and 26 May. On 25 May I'll have a blogging for beginners workshop. You can bring along your laptop, or just take notes, and I'll help you either create a blog or revive an existing one.  The following day there'll be a writers workshop.  This is for people who are already writing and who hope to have their work published. I have a lot of experience to share - I've been blogging for 12 years, written books and have been a columnist for the AustralianWoman's Weekly and Burke's Backyard. We'll be talking about writing and how to write as well as how to get published, contracts and what you can expect to be paid.  I'll take only six people in each workshop. Each workshop is $175, tea, coffee and water will be supplied all day but you should bring your own lunch along.  You'll pay your deposit of $80 when you make your booking. I'll write another post about the courses over the weekend. Please email me if you need more information now.

I hope things are good were you are. 💕

23 comments

  1. Hi Rhonda - lovely post. Can relate to the warm glow of the sun at this time of year. From Durban, South Africa

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    1. Hello Tanya, yes, I imagine it would be the same in Durban. I just love this time of year.

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  2. Tarryn SchoonraadMay 03, 2019 11:22 am

    I absolutely LOVE your Winter quilt! Did you make it? It’s truly beautiful. I love the cozy months too, especially the comforting meals.

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    1. Hi Tarryn, I didn't make this quilt. We bought it at Ikea about 5 or 6 years ago.

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  3. Autumn here in Armidale is absolutely sublime, I am enjoying every minute. The winter planting is complete and we have warm soil and warm days speeding things along. The only thing missing is rain! We are now on level 3 water restrictions so I am getting a workout with the watering can!

    Rhonda, I am wondering if your homemade washing liquid and powder are suitable for grey water use on the garden.


    Madeleine

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    1. Hi Madeleine, I hope you get some rain soon. I wouldn't use grey water with homemade washing liquid or powder. It contains borax, which changes into boron in the soil and if it builds up, that is not good for your plants or the soil.

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    2. Thanks Rhonda :-)

      Madeleine

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  4. Sorry for the beginner question, but how do you have your strawberries potted inside the hanging pots. Do you have a plastic pot sitting inside the coir? Or soil directly in the coir?

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    1. Hi Jamie, the plants are growing in potting mix in the coir basket.

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  5. Tarryn SchoonraadMay 03, 2019 12:30 pm

    Hi Tanya. I’m from Cape Town. Living in the USA for 9 years now. Just thought I’d say hi to a fellow South African. 😊

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  6. Hi Rhonda, That jam sounds delicious. I have apricots on my tree right now. They should be ripe and sweet by next month. Your strawberries in the hanging basket look lovely. I tried that one summer and mine were scorched and brown a day later...ugh. We have very hot summers here, too. Enjoy all of that healthy and nourishing food. I love cooking in the cold weather, too.

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  7. I do so love Autumn. Although it is a little different in this climate, it still marks a change to colder weather. I change the curtains, we bring in our firewood and stack it in the woodshed, the food changes from salads and grilled food to cassaroles, soup and pies. Candles are lit and more hot cocoa made as the temperatures drop below freezing. Love the naked trees and raking their leaves. A lovely time. Happy weekend to you all. Pam in Norway

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  8. Oh I do sooo love getting into my flannelet sheets.Also shutting the blinds and curtains to keep the cold out.Saying that the weather has been scarily mild but we did get some desperately needed rain this week with much more required in southern Victoria!

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  9. I love the coziness of winter. The idea of warm rice pudding, cardigans, soup and slippers...and later a hot cup of tea and a fluffy blanket..is wonderful!
    We are getting into summer here and due a weed here called Bindweed, I can't garden in the ground. It only took me 4 years and the wisdom of very experienced gardeners to work on me for the whole 4 years. Stubborn.
    I am looking into container gardening now too. I can't bend or kneel like I used to. Are the containers the green beans are in, old styrofoam coolers? I just tossed one out. Pots are too expensive so I am looking at alternatives.
    Thanks for the pictures of your apricot preserves, It made my mouth water.
    Peace be with you both,
    Dee

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    1. Yes Dee, they're styrofoam. We can get them here from the green grocer, chemist and sometimes the supermarket. They don't last long because they're weakened by the sun. We get two or three years out of ours. Don't forget to punch drainage holes in the bottom before you plant them and don't use garden soil. You'll need potting mix or potting mix and compost mixed together. GOod luck.

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    2. Interesting! Thanks for the tip on potting mix and punching a hole in the bottom.
      PS I just love your new pink glasses, I took the computer to show my husband.

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  10. Lovely post, Rhonda! Autumn is my favorite season for all of the reasons that you state. My favorite is the afternoon sunlight, the angle that it comes in. Such a cozy reminder of childhood home. My second favorite is the setting sun behind the mountains gives an orange glow to the sky and the leafless trees are silhouetted, making it look like a painting. That scene is out my kitchen window as I am cooking and baking...I can't wait for it...5 more months! LOL

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  11. Lovely post!I love this time of year too, Rhonda, and have the flannelette sheets ready to go on where the weather finally gets chilly. Living in Sydney, but originally from Scotland, my favourite days can be the rainy ones. Good for the garden and the spirit. : )

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  12. Hi Rhonda, I love how you are adapting your garden to suit your situation so that you can continue growing your own as long as possible. I think accepting and understanding our own limitations can help keep us active, instead of giving up when things become more difficult just find another way to do the things you enjoy. So wonderful that you share these things, it does help others so much. Kate (Tassie)

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  13. Ah yes, changing the bed linn iver from summer to winter sheets is always a marker for me too.
    And as you have found this year, things are different with the weather still summerish.
    Although I think that might end on Monday!
    I realised recently we haven't had a bad westerly wind winter for years and as much as I don't want to bring this upon us, my gut feeling is this is the year!

    I've been gardening in containers for several years myself due to a very bad back and now since xmas, only one functioning arm.
    There is a big (36m wide) roundabout between the buildings at my place, enough to drive a large truck around. It has a 3m wide boarder garden with curbing around the road edge and a 30m wide lawn in the middle. This is where most of my flowers and vegies grow these days.
    I did a count of outdoor chairs one day 4yrs ago and discovered I had over 30! So since most were damaged or old, I lined them all up around the inside of the boarder garden facing towards the centre of the roundabout, sat old short palings across their handles and put a cheap bright plastic 40-60lt container from bunnings on each chair. The containers look really different, make it so easy to access all the plants and are the right depth for both flowers and veg. I use 50/50 coir and best potting mix.
    The chairs were mostly dark metal so almost disappear into the flowering bushes that constitute the main plantings of the roundabout boarder.
    I'd previously laid a 3m wide cardboard strip to kill the lawn covered with a long life mulch right around the circle from the inner edge of the previous boarder garden. Now I have less grass to mow and no weeds come up under the chairs. On the ground at the front of some chairs I put another pot on bricks to give a layered effect.
    Its unique and just what I need. I've upcycled and saved from landfill over 40 chairs so far, along with giving a second life to shortish (1m long) pieces of treated palings from an old fence (more poisonous bulk saved from land fill).
    All good! :)

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  14. Hi Rhonda! Loved your post and couldn't agree more...fall is the most splendid season! Do you have your recipe for dried apricot jam on your blog? If not, can you post it? It looks divine and literally made my mouth water.

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    1. Just search in my search bar for dried apricot jam and there's a link there to the recipe.

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  15. How good does that apricot jam look? A perfect colour for Autumn. I must try your recipe one day Rhonda. I didn't get any apricots this year because the birds decided they liked them better then we did!

    I wish Autumn would stay around all year long, it is such a perfect time of year.

    Wishing you well,

    xTania


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