Sweet peas

First sweet peas of the season!


vintage steam juicer

after picking at least 10 kilos

the rhubarb is going a little crazy in my garden. i took this photo today after i picked about ten kilos. and you can't even tell i've picked any. i believe i can safely tell you that horse poo is a fantastic fertilizer. i've been making a couple of rhubarb crumbles a week and i've made a couple of batches of cordial (rhubarb and ginger). it's such a gorgeous salmony pink and so refreshingly tart - we definitely want to lay in a supply of it for next winter.

making rhubarb - vanilla juice

today, i decided to try this wonderful vintage juicer that husband got me for christmas. it works on a steam principle. you place water in the bottom pan. in the top one, which is a strainer, you place your fruit and your sugar, then you let it boil and it steams all of the goodness from the fruit into the middle plan at the same time as it cooks the juice with your sugar, so you can decant the hot liquid directly into your prepared bottles. quite ingenius. i got 3 liters of rhubarb-vanilla juice today and had quite a lot of fun playing with it.  it's more a juice than a cordial and i'm not sure how long it's going to keep, as i think it maybe should have had a bit more sugar than the directions said. i actually have the original little folder of directions and i followed them this first time, to get a feel for it.

i think that next time, will add more sugar and make it more like my other cordials. it's a great method and it enables you to get more out of your fruit than you can get just cooking it up and straining it through a sieve with cheesecloth. i think i got nearly a liter more of juice doing it this way - and that's pretty significant!

can't wait to try it on the elderflowers. i suspect it's going to distill them very nicely!


moving our greenhouse

if you recall, last year at about this time, we put up a temporary greenhouse. temporary as in we used plastic instead of glass and made it of a rather light construction. well, today, we decided to move that greenhouse to another spot - on more of a foundation.

we thought it would be a matter of loosening it, picking it up and moving it, but it turned out to be a little bit more complicated than that. and one branch of the mirabella tree was sacrificed. because that thing was a whole lot heavier than we thought.

husband got to use all of his inner engineering skills and we were thankful that the big girls were here this weekend, because we definitely needed some extra muscles.

we only moved it about 10-12 meters, but we had to go precisely between the mirabella and the currant bushes before we could turn it onto the new foundation. as you can see, some of the plastic didn't fare that well over the winter, but we've got a couple of new rolls, so we'll get that on in the next few days.

for the new foundation, husband repurposed some bricks from a wall we no longer want to have. i love when he does stuff like that. it feels a little bit modern-day little house on the prairie - making do with what you have.

we had tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants in the greenhouse last year, but it felt a little bit like it never really got going. i think the dirt we got to fill into the boxes wasn't that great (it can be hit or miss down at the dirt guy) and we didn't fertilize it enough.

it also felt surprisingly cramped for being 5 meters long and 3 meters wide. we hope having it up on a foundation helps that - it already feels more spacious.

eventually, we are still going to be building a "real" greenhouse - brick foundation, glass windows. and when that comes, this one will become the cucumber greenhouse. another thing we learned last year was that tomatoes and cucumbers don't really like the same climate, so neither one did stunningly well, tho' we had both cucumbers and tomatoes - they never really came on properly and really produced. i don't know if moving it will help that, but it will help when we get the real greenhouse built.

we got a load of really good, rich compost soil from our local recycling station and we hope that it helps to have better soil this year. we're going to configure the beds a bit differently, to make it easier to weed and get to the plants.

this gardening thing is a process. and i don't always know what to learn from it, but it feels positive to be tweaking what we did and trying to improve it. i want to utilize the greenhouse longer into the autumn and early winter this year for salads and such. that i didn't try at all last year - it seemed like it was so hard to keep it going that i gave up rather early. i'll keep you posted.


Jenna Spevack

Just found the most amazing art-exhibition. Yes, an art-exhibition about growing greens. The ideas behind this concept and the exhibition are made by Jenna Spevack. The easiest to explain all of this is to show you a video.

If you would like to know more about the project or about the artist than you just click here.