Weekend Reading

9 April 2021
The gift this week brought us was rain and it was so badly needed. It meant we stayed in the house, or at least on the verandahs, for three days but it was beyond wonderful to watch it fall, to see the green landscape return and to sleep as it fell on the metal roof. Simple things give so much. And now we have all that moisture back in the soil, it's the ideal time to do some weeding, relocate plants and get a better idea of what needs to be done to get the cottage garden up and running again.  In years to come, the garden will take care of itself for the most part, with just some weeding and watering from me so it's important at this stage to get everything in the right place, have taller plants that create shade for tender ones and not only get the colours right, but the structure too. Gardening and just being in the garden plays a big part in my mental wellbeing. I wonder if it's like that for you too. Maybe I should write about that. Hmmmm.🤔


Ginger, picked in the back garden just minutes before this photo.




It's the first time I'm trying this way of sterilising jars. I saw a lot of Korean homemakers use this method and if it works well, it will be easier to do small batches this way.

Both Hanno and Sunny have suffered with sore throats and coughs lately so I made up my throat tonic for them. The recipe is here for you to try.  

Ginger and Lemon Throat Tonic

  • a piece of ginger about 3 - 4 inches long
  • 2 lemons thinly sliced
  • 1 litre water
  • ½ cup raw honey
Add the water, ginger and lemons to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the saucepan and let it sit for two hours. Then add the honey, stir until it's completely dissolved and pour into a sterilised bottle.  

You might go through this fast if there's a harsh winter but if not, you'll need the sterilised bottle to keep the tonic safe and able to be used much later.

I keep the ginger and lemon and  recycle it, going through the above process again. The flavour won't be as strong, but it's definitely worth getting two batches.

To make up the tonic for use, make hot tea with it by adding boiling water to 2 tablespoons of syrup, add it to black tea using the same amount or make it into a cold drink.


I keep a small amount of ginger and lemon in the tonic to keep up the intense flavour until it's used. 

I'm waiting for elderberries to ripen at the moment, they should be ripe next week, so I can make up a winter tonic too. You can freeze the berries as you pick them if you don't have enough with one picking. The berries and the flowers are still very useable after they've been frozen.  I'll write about the winter tonic when I make up the batch.

If you're looking for a small backyard tree, I'd like to recommend an elder tree. It's a tree that grows fast, it's a great shade tree, it will give you (and the wildlife) flowers and berries, it's easy to look after and you can easily keep it to the shape and height you want by cutting it back. It's a soft wood so it's not difficult to keep it tidy. The downside is that if it's in a really good position, it will send out shoots for new trees, but these are easily snapped off to keep it under control. You might have to look around for a sapling, I've never seen them at regular plant nurseries. I bought mine at the Maleny Co-op. Oh! I was just looking for unusual salvias online and found a place selling organic elderberry saplings for $5.50 each.  Great timing. 😃

I'm really enjoying the slow transition to colder weather. I hope you appreciate the change of seasons too. The Covid situation is settling down here again although we're waiting too long for our vaccinations. Hanno and I are eligible for our jab now but no one has any vaccines and it looks like it will be May before any working clinics will be up and running.  I hope you're well and staying safe.

Thank you for visiting me here today. I love your feedback and comments and although I don't always have time to answer them, I read them all and often think about them again during the day.  Have a great week.  xx

🐝   🐝  🐝

  • Cafe Vienna coffee mix - this won't do for coffee drinkers who must have a certain brew made at a certain place but for those of us who just want a cup of coffee, this is a good mix to have on the shelf

32 comments

  1. I was never an avid gardener but did have a small front flower garden and grew herbs in the back. Getting divorced a few years ago at an older age I moved into a unit/flat and I really can't believe how much I miss having the garden to potter around in. You are right about it being good for mental health. I am saving for somewhere else, ideally with a balcony.
    J

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello J. I hope you get another flat with a balcony. I've found it doesn't matter what you do out there, what matters is you're there in the open air and able to connect with the plants - even if it's just moving them from A to B. It clears the mind and makes a difference.

      Delete
  2. Yes, pottering in our garden or in my small veggie patch is definitely a stress release for me after working in an office all week. To have our 2 dogs for company, and to be able to hear the bees buzzing and the songs of the birds is delightful. Also gardening connects me to my Dad, as he was a keen gardener too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the weekend reading again Rhonda - always look forward to the gems you have found each week. I have two elderberry trees, we get plenty of flowers but never get any berries. So, I would be interested to know if you can make your tonic from the flowers only. Would appreciated any guidance. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's your climate like there, Gail? And how old are your trees? My trees produced flowers in the second year but it took another few years for the berries to arrive. You can make cordial, champagne and elderflower ice cream with the flowers.

      Delete
  4. Hi Rhonda,
    We get frosts here so don't attempt to grow ginger, but I audibly gasped and thought a harsh word when I bought a piece of ginger last weekend and it was 89.99 per kilogram!
    Treasure your crop!
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good grief!! That's incredible. If I wasn't growing ginger, Kate, I'd probably use good quality dried ginger powder.

      Delete
    2. Hello Kate,

      I live in Armidale with temps as low as minus 13 and heavy frosts and this year I have successfully grown ginger! A friend told me to grow it in a pot, started in spring, and just move the pot to your warmest most protected area before the first frost. I'll be bringing mine onto the verandah. The ginger took quite a while to sprout but the plants are now big and thriving.

      Also new to me is the fact that ginger freezes well. It saves a lot of money and wastage. I just grate it frozen on the microplane grater, it's very easy.

      Madeleine

      Delete
  5. Hi Rhonda,

    your lemon-ginger syrup looks delicious. In Croatia the traditional remedy for sore throats is sage tea. You can drink the tea with honey but it is also good to make a strong cup of tea and gargle with it.

    I'm thrilled that you've had rain!!

    Madeleine.xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sage tea! I haven't tried that but I have fresh sage growing so I will. Thanks Madeleine. xx

      Delete
  6. Hi Rhonda, yes please for the importance of gardens post. I just wanted to say how lovely it is on a Friday when I remember there will probably be a blog post from you. Such a a good read with a cup of coffee first thing. Thank you for making so much effort, and for all your posts over the years. We’ve had our first vaccinations now, so I hope that you have yours very soon, although I do realise the urgency in the U.K. is slightly different to Australia. Enjoy your weekend. PennyL in Dorset x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Penny. It's good to know you've had your vaccinations, hopefully ours are not far away. xx

      Delete
  7. Hi Rhonda,
    I love the idea of having tonics on hand to help our immune systems along when we’re not feeling well. I may give your ginger and lemon one a go during these school holidays.

    Please do write a post about how gardening benefits your mental health. It is definitely a non negotiable part of my life and essential to my wellbeing. I’ll be picking some beetroot tomorrow and attempt to pickle them for the first time!

    Enjoy the cooler weather. We’re definitely enjoying the cooler weather here in Melbourne. It may be time to light the first fire soon! Take care, Jade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'll write something on the wellbeing that gardening brings. I love the idea of having a fire when it's cold. This is one thing Hanno and I disagree on. He is dead against open fire because of the pollution and I love them. Such is life. Good luck with your pickling - beetroots are one of the easy ones so you're starting at the right place.

      Delete
  8. Hi Rhonda - Just a quick message of Thanks. About a month ago I had a little Strawberry Tart at a trendy little cafe. The little Strawberry Tarts were decorated with the cutest little edible flowers. The search then began and I was really tempted to email you for advice if you knew what the little flower was. Well I can’t stop smiling - I’m almost sure that it is the little Elderflower and not only that but you kindly provided the link to purchase one! Yay! Thankyou so much. All of your recipes, books, advice, Photos, Insta etc are truely appreciated. Kindest regards - Very Happy Girl - Jo 😁🙏

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well that's good, Jo! Elder trees are lovely and they grow fast. I'm glad I could help you solve your mystery. xx

      Delete
  9. It's been a while since I've visited, but it was so nice to come back and read the posts. It was a nice to be reminded that I don't have to have a magazine perfect home and that taking care of my family is more important. As our family of 5 is in the midst of COVID, I took a minute while reading your posts to remember that taking care of myself is just as important as being the family caretaker. It felt like such a weight off my shoulders to see your photos and hear about the plants and garden. For that I thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back, Esther. You're probably the one who steers the ship and therefore your family really need you and your abilities, especially during Covid. Take time out for yourself, it will make you and your home life stronger and more resilient.

      Delete
  10. Hi Rhonda,
    I am living in France and we are complaining about the very slow vaccination campaign.
    Unfortunately, I can see that the situation in Australia is worse than ours.
    Thank you for all your shares about simple life.
    Have a great week-end.
    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, I'm the same way, Rhonda. My place isn't as manicured as yours but it does my heart & soul good to be outside, digging in the earth with my hands. Enjoy your time outside. We are kindred spirits and I will be thinking of you as I'm outside too. :) ~Andrea xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andrea. It's good to be surrounded by fellow gardeners. Enjoy your gardening. xx

      Delete
  12. I would love to have an elderberry tree. I wonder if they would grow here in California? It's much dryer than your area. Your tonic sounds very healing. I make a winter tea with ginger, lemon, honey, and garlic. It works so well. The daffodils and tulips are in bloom, and they make my heart sing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The American elderberry is the wild species often found growing in old fields and meadows. It grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.

      Delete
  13. Hi Rhonda, it was great to see how your garden has changed over the years...changing with your needs for different stages of your lives.
    We are emptynesters and don't grow too much on our very small urban block, just enough.
    I have just harvested some pumpkins and planted winter vegetables.
    Whatever grows and comes to fruition gives me lots of joy!

    ReplyDelete
  14. We were going to plant some but have deer in the area. Here in the USA Northwest we are told this is poison to deer and we have many visit us year round. Do you have concerns for mammal wildlife there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have plenty of native animals visiting us at night - possums, bandicoots etc, but they don't cause us any problems. I don't know about animals eating the elder, I haven't seen any sick animals around.

      Delete
  15. Good morning Rhonda, Hanno and Gracie. I didn't realise that cane toads were in your area but I guess they're slowly moving south. So relieved Gracie is recovered from her encounter! Before we were built in here snakes were always a worry with our dogs, the joys of living on the edge of rural Australia! Our weather went from 30deg one day to 17deg the next, followed by 12 deg with hail,gail force winds and rain. It's never boring. Brought out the flannelette pajamas and soup! Have a great week gardening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Freezing here too this morning, Jenny. Gracie and I went outside at 5 am but we were soon back inside with a hot cuppa.

      Delete
  16. Thank you for sharing this recipe! Should the tonic be kept in the refrigerator?

    ReplyDelete
  17. We planted our cool weather crops on the weekend--peas, greens and herbs of all sorts, potatoes. I felt so recharged by working my fingers in the earth. It has been a long winter, I guess, even if we didn't get much snow. My northern heart swoons at the thought of backyard ginger! I have clipped your recipe though and will put it to use the next time our throats are bringing us down. Its sounds so bright and yummy, in addition to healthful and soothing.

    ReplyDelete

EMAIL ADDRESSES, LINKS OR BUSINESS INFORMATION WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED.

Thank you for your comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.