Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rainwater Calculator

It's always a great time to get yourself a rainwater tank to beat the rising costs of water from the tap. It can be difficult to know what size you need for your property and roof catchment.

Check out this great online rainwater calculator from Stratco that assesses suburb by suburb for each areas unique rainfall, Australia wide.

Click here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rocket Pizza


I had a request this week from our local school to share how we can use our beautiful crop of Rocket Leaves in a recipe that kids will love to eat.

Rocket leaves are quite peppery so using them in a salad can be a bit harsh on young palettes or the uninitiated like my dear old Mum.

The leaf shape can vary according to rocket variety.
Wild Rocket is more verigated, while the common garden variety looks similar to baby spinach leaves. Their taste is very similar. Our local school is growing the common garden variety.

Rocket goes so well on pizzas because the pepperiness works so well with the combination of flavours and textures.

Basil is also a common extra. It goes great with Rocket!
Also try black olives and capsicum (sweet bell peppers).

Here are some recipes I like to use.
Remember you can add whatever flavourings you like, these are just simplified recipes that can be easily adapted.



Prosciutto, Tomato and Rocket Pizza


Makes: 2

Ingredients

150g Buffalo Mozzarella or Greek Feta cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
25g Parmesan cheese, grated
8 slices Proscuitto, torn (alternative: thinly sliced Ham, torn)
10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2 cups Rocket Leaves

Pizza Dough

250g Water, warm
350g Strong Bakers Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Castor Sugar
7g packet Dry Instant Yeast
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Salt

Method
  1. Create pizza dough first - alternatively use a pita bread or pre-made pizza base.
    To create the dough, place 1 Tablespoon of flour in a bowl with the castor sugar and yeast. Add 3 Tablespoons of warm water, stir to combine. Allow to stand for 10 minutes or until large bubbles appear on the surface.
  2. Sift the remaining flour into a larger bowl, add the combined yeast mixture, olive oil and remaining warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the mixture together with your hands and turn out onto a lightly floured surface to be kneaded for 5 minutes. Then place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
  3. Preheat oven to 200C
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knock the air out of the dough with your fists and divide dough into two. Knead each ball until smooth. Dust rolling pin and roll each ball out to fit pizza tray each. Use your hands to press the dough to fit to edges.
  5. Slice the buffalo cheese into slices. Then lay slices onto a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture. If you are using feta cheese instead, also ensure that it is dried a little. Feta can be sliced, cubed or crumbled as desired.
  6. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the pizza bases and then add the buffalo or feta and parmesan cheese over the top. Then add the prosciutto or ham, tomato slices.
  7. Rocket can be added now or later depending on the look you desire. Placing rocket on early may cause discolouration but adds flavour. For presentation, can be added at the end of cooking.
  8. Place in oven for 7 minutes, or until the base is golden and cheese can melted.
  9. Remove from oven. Garnish and sprinkle with a little extra olive oil to finish.


Salami and Rocket Pizza


Makes: 2

Ingredients

2 pizza bases - 26cm in diameter
2/3 cup Tomato Pasta Sauce (Optional extra: 1 Tablespoon of Tomato Paste)
250g Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
125g thinly sliced Salami
50g Rocket Leaves


Method
  1. Preheat oven to 250C (Very Hot Oven)
  2. Place bases on tray. Spread over sauces on the bases and add toppings.
  3. Rocket can be  added now or later depending on the look you desire. Placing rocket on early may cause discolouration but adds flavour. For presentation, can be added at the end of cooking.
  4. Bake for around 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and base is golden.



And here's one that is more for the adult palette. My favourite...


Rocket Pane Di Casa Open Grill


Ingredients

Pane di casa bread loaf, slices (from Baker's Delight)
Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
Thinly sliced Ham
Thinly sliced Tomato or halved Cherry Tomatoes
Rocket, torn
Basil, torn
Cheddar, Pepato Romano, Parmesan or Swiss Cheese, sliced or grated


Method
  1. On slices of Pane Di Casa bread, drizzle over a little olive oil and then cut one end off of the garlic clove and rub it over the oiled bread. Discard garlic clove.
  2. Add topping. (TIP: I hide my leaves under the cheese to prevent them from burning)
    Go lightly on the cheese. If slicing, use a single slice.
  3. Grill until cheese has melted and golden.


Nutritional Facts about Rocket Leaves


Very low in calories: 100g fresh leaves are only 25 Calories
Rocket is a rich source or Iron and Vitamins A and C.

100g of fresh rocket leaves contain:
1424 mcg of beta carotene
2373 IU of Vitamin A
97 mg or 24% of daily recommended intact of Folic Acid (Folate)
90% daily recommended intact of Vitamin K

Great salad green for your brain, skin and immunity!


Dig For Victory WWII Campaign




During the Second World War, getting the most from your little plot of land was crucial. This film, produced by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1941 explains how to prepare an area of ground for growing for growing your veg and for not having any excuses.


End of Winter Rotation


It's nearly the end of winter and this is when it all gets a little more exciting in the garden.

Broad beans and snow peas will be coming into pod.
Leeks, cabbages, lettuces, in fact all manner of leafy greens are ready to eat in abundance.
Peas are on their way.
Garlic has some time to go yet, but do check them for pests or diseases, right now.

Many of the vegetable crops should be nearing their end so that the garden beds can be turned over and prepared for the Spring sowing.

The soil towards the end of winter starts to warm up a little more which is great news for planting carrots, tomatoes and sweet corn amongst many others. Many plants need a soil temperature of 18C or more to start their germination.


Crop Rotation


Nitrogen

An example of crop rotation is never plant carrots where peas have grown as the last crop. The reason is that peas and beans put great nitrogen back into the soil. Too much nitrogen will cause carrots to fork; you know, those cute little legs and carrots that look like they are in an intertwined embrace. Cute but really tricky to peel and chop.

Health

Rotating crops also ensures that your crops stay healthy as pests and diseases can build up within the soil which can decrease your crops yield and health. By simply planting a different plant group in another season can help balance the soil and manage the soil's needs.

Very Small or Container Gardening

If crop rotation is not an option for your garden due to size, do not fear. Simply remove the top layer of soil and add so more potting mix and dig through. Set the removed top layer aside to sit for a season, preferably directly on the ground so that earth worms and other bug life can turn it over to help keep it healthy until it can be used again next season. The removed soil can also be added to the compost bin as the heat of composting can assist is killing off any issues within the soil.



Fruit Trees


The last month of winter is the best time to check your fruit trees' health.

Check citrus trees leaves for signs of paleness or yellowing.

Iron Deficiency

Leaves are pale with veins remaining green. Stems are green.
Treat with an application of Iron Chelate.
Fruit Tree Application: 45g per 10 litres - which is 9 spoons of 5g of Iron Chelate

Magnesium Deficiency

Stems yellow or pale first, older leaves yellow and show their veins, but new growth is green.
Magnesium is also important for sweetness of fruit.
Treat with Magnesium in the form of Epsom Salts.
Fruit Tree Application: 2 teaspoons per litre of water

Always water in well at the time of application.


Start gathering your seed packets! It's soon time to plant for the new season♥


Friday, August 17, 2012

Potted Citrus JigSaw

Here's today's gardening jigsaw.

Click on the image below to start.
If you exit the jigsaw at any time it will automatically save where you are up to.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My August Garden 2012


Digging over my raised garden beds
Hi everyone!
I've had lots of requests to reveal how my late winter vegetable garden is growing here in South Australia.

I blog for a Temperate/Mediterranean climate.

We’ve had a lot of rain this year in the Southern suburbs. I really think we must be in the foothills because if Adelaide is going to get any rain, we’re usually the suburb that receives it! Not to mention the fog! That’s just magical. If you have ever driven along Majors Road, O’Holloran Hill you will know exactly what type of fog I’m talking about.

We’ve only received one frost this winter in my suburb. Keep in mind that Adelaide is really a series of micro-climates. I have lived in so many different places throughout Adelaide, and my growing challenges really test my data base of knowledge.

My late winter garden - August 2012

I am currently growing:
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Leeks
Dwarf Curly Kale
Tuscan Nero Curly Kale
Savoy Cabbage
Capsicums
Snow Peas
Peas
Radishes
Dill
Fennel
Baby Spinach
English Spinach
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
Coriander
Oregano
Thyme
Potatoes
Garlic
Celery
Chilies (all dying due to excessive rain)
Dwarf Broad Beans (that are anything BUT dwarf! WOW!)


My garden update - or what's alive and what's not survived...




My dwarf broad beans have been amazing this year. They are a dwarf variety but I was recommended to try Power Feed for Veggies (from Seasol). They are not only tall but heavily laden with flowers with pods setting. The bees have been delighted. And I can see why. The perfume aroma in my garden is all thanks to the broad beans. Yes, wow! It's heavenly♥

On of my failures this year are my chilies which are are all dying. I do believe that it is due to the excessive rains this year. I have drained the planters numerous times and seen to their feeding needs to no help. I confess that I am a learner grower when it comes to chilies. I am much more experienced with growing super sweet capsicums.

My capsicum plants are on their last legs this month but they are producing the most intensely beautiful fruits even though they are so small. I am so very happy to keep them for as long as they will last before they need to come out.


The savoy cabbages were a hit and miss crop. At least I can plant carrots in those planters next as crop rotation requires. We made homemade Chiko Rolls (a great Australian icon!!!) which were GREAT!


The potatoes in sacks are growing amazingly fast. They have received several top ups of soil already, which requires the bags to be rolled up higher.


My pea crop is a late starter as I had a little problem earlier on in the season which I thought was only a slug and snail issue. Turns out that it was a family of rats coming from a neighbouring property. Changing my bait soon sorted all that out. Now they are finally bouncing back and looking wonderful.


The snow peas are bearing already but I can see signs of rust on a couple of the leaves. That's my next job.

Dwarf Navelina Orange Tree
Winter 2012 has been my citrus fruit tree year.
New additions to my garden include a dwarf Meyer Lemon, dwarf Emperor Mandarin and my brand new addition this week is a dwarf Navelina Orange which I will tell you all about very soon.

I have some very exciting plans for winter 2013. Stick around for more details.


Gardening TO DO List for August (Winter)

  • With the finer days (in a row) now is the time to spray for bindi weeds in the lawn.
  • Dig over the empty garden beds and renew them with a mix of Blood & Bone, Dolomite Lime and Compost.
  • Dig in manures for the nitrogen hungry plants you are planning to sow.
    (Not for carrots or they will fork or ‘grow legs’)
  • If you grow sweet corn, think about how you will be watering them. Install drip lines now. Remember that sweet corn like a lot of water. Letting the soil dry out will cause crop failure.
  • This is your last chance to clear sour sob weeds.
    They will have already gone to flower which means that the new bulbs are developing. Pull as much as you can around the plants you want to keep and spray the rest to stop bulb development.
  • The winter rains reveal where you have poor drainage. Now is the time to spot mossy or muddy areas. Add the needed compost, water saving granules (e.g. Wetta Soil), gypsum or pebbles.
  • Rain and removal of previous crops can affect the soil pH levels. Invest in a soil pH test kit or pH meter from your local hardware store. To ‘sweeten’ the soil up (neutralise) simply sprinkle over some Dolomite Lime.
  • Flowers that are self-seeding may need to be dug up and moved to barer spots in the garden.
  • Buy a Rain Water Tank. Any rain water harvesting you can do now before the harsh dry summer arrives will see your garden through.
  • Dig out old roots while the ground is still damp. Inspect your fence line especially to minimise future fence damage.
  • Sow a crop of Green Manure to increase the nitrogen in the soil. When tall enough, snip off tops, allow to rot down on top of the soil and dig through.
  • Last month to buy Fruit Trees, especially the deciduous varieties and berry bushes.
  • Inspect plants for signs of rust and mites. Spray with Yates Lime Sulfur.


Garden bed preparation time for Spring sowing 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DIY Spoonflower Tea Towels

My very first fabric order from Spoonflower♥

Kitchen Craft!
Great winter craft time activity when the garden needs little tending to.


If you ask anyone in my family what I have been trying to achieve in craft for the past year and a half they will all say IMAGE TRANSFER. In fact, I think I've managed to make them a little crazy with all of my different image transfer techniques. I am forever coming home with some new application.

You name it, I've tried it.
Any thing from Ink Jet to Laser printing at home, t-shirt iron-on transfers, photocopies with a gel medium, DeSolv, ink stamping, melted wax, Inkodye, to a Porcelaine 250 Pen or Sharpie and a very hot oven!

I've been a mad woman on an equally mad mission to just attach words to fabric.

Then by the serendipity of Pinterest I came across an amazing blog from a website called Spoonflower.

The blog in question was about creating tea towels from old recipes. I had just the book and it was exactly the sort of image transfer that I had been dreaming about.



I ordered my fabric in Linen-Cotton Canvas which is ideal for use around the kitchen.

I could imagine an apron made from this same fabric. It is such beautiful quality.

Leaving the stained old page look in my fabric was a deliberate choice which I think is a real eye-catcher.

The best part are the prices, which are simply wonderful.

My only problem was the waiting! Postage to Australia is around 3-4 weeks, but Spoonflower inform me that they are looking into address the postage time. So worth the wait.

To learn how to make you own one-of-a-kind fabric, check out the Spoonflower blog.



These beautiful old recipe pages come from my Nanna's old handwritten recipe book. I have since sent two of these tea towels to my Dad, which he is simply blown away by - to have such a lovely memory of his mother.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The difference between Garden Lime and Dolomite Lime



I've always called it the ‘soil sweetener’.

I’m not kidding, it really has produced some of the best crops in my garden. I get tremendous feedback about how tasty my roots vegetables always turn out. I will give a lot of the credit to Gardening Australia teaching me about always applying a handful of Lime to every garden bed.

A lot of other keen to learn gardeners have asked me to explain what all the different Limes do, so that's my topic today.


So what is Lime?


Garden Lime and Dolomite Lime are both used to correct soil acidity, making it more alkaline.

They both come in the form of (crushed rock) white powder; the finer the lime is the better it is for the soil to absorb.

A favourite pH stabilizer for most gardens has always been Dolomite Lime. Dolomite has a neutral pH of 7 and will never go above pH 7.

  • Dolomite Lime contains both calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg).
  • Garden Lime or Agricultural Lime contains more calcium (Ca).


Garden Lime is faster acting than Dolomite Lime and therefore costs a little more.

One thing Lime does not prevent is toxic salt build-up caused by fertiliser build-up or impure water.

Builders Lime is NOT the same as Dolomite or Garden Lime and is therefore not safe for the garden. Builders lime is hydrated lime, made from limestone, from 'burnt lime' which is heated to make it more concentrated and then hydrated with water, very reactive and likely to cause root burn if you are not careful. Dolomite and Garden Lime are safe to the touch.


Why do we need to use Lime?


Most soils that are regularly fertilised will become more acid over time and this may affect plant growth. The acidity of the soil controls the availability of valuable nutrients to the growing crops.

If the soil is the wrong pH for the plant it will not be able to absorb all the nutrients to promote growth, no matter how much fertiliser is applied. Acid soils reduce plant growth by inhibiting the intake of major plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).

Acid soils (low pH) have less calcium whereas high pH soils normally have more.


What affects the soil pH to change?


Rainfall affects soil pH. As water runs through the soil leaches basic elements such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K). These are generally replaced by acid elements of aluminium (Al) and hydrogen (H).

Crop removal can also contribute to the change in soil pH. That is why Lime is added prior to new crops being sown.

Different soil types react differently to soil pH levels.
For example, clay soils are harder to work the more acid they are.
Clay soils usually become acid quicker than sandy soils and the amount of organic matter has an effect. Clay soils may also react slower to the addition of lime.

pH meter

How do I know if my soil needs Lime?


One of two ways
  • Soil Test Kit
  • pH Meter


When should I add Lime to my garden bed?


The best time is when you are digging over your garden bed (around 1 month prior to planting). Sprinkling handfuls liberally over the bed and digging through is all that is needed. Combining this with handfuls of Blood and Bone and well-rotted manure is a great way to replenish any garden bed.

Handful per square metre is ideal.

My only warning is not to add Lime when you have produce already in the ground as it may damage the harvest. It’s really hard to ever over use Lime, otherwise. Your garden will thank you for it.


Lime is definitely going to be your new best friend in the garden♥


Sunday, August 12, 2012

How To Eat A Rose

Did you know that you can eat roses?

Anything from Rose Petal Jam (such as Beerenberg), Rose Water that can be used in cake flavouring and for Turkish Delight and even rose flavoured icecream. There are so many more uses.

But do you know which ones to use for the best flavour?

Jim from Long Creek Herbs explains how.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Click Beetle Studio Clothing


Guinea Pig Eating Pizza - yellow- T-shirt $20

Amy and Garth of Arroyo Grande, California are a husband and wife screen printing duo who create just the most quirky and cute t-shirts for both kids and adults. They look so fun to wear!

At this point I must issue a big "Watch out nephews and nieces, Aunty is planning!" Tee, hee!

You can find their store on Etsy at ClickBeetleStudio

Here's a few of my favourites in the Click Beetle Studio store.



Eat Real Food T-Shirt $20

Guinea Pig Eating Pizza - orange - T-Shirt $20

Adults - Eat Real Food T-shirt $20

Why yell it when you can wear it? I love it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Baby Fennel Recipes



These recipes for baby fennel are great for gardeners who have planted fennel for the first time and would like to try some fennel recipes. Simple recipes are not only classics but really allow you to taste your produce.


Braised Baby Fennel


Ingredients

12 Baby Fennel Bulbs, whole or halved
(or 4-6 Large Fennel Bulbs, quartered)
¼ cup Olive Oil
3 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
6 Anchovy Fillets, rinsed, drained & chopped
Cracked Black Pepper
Salt

Method
  1. Cut off the stems from the top and add baby fennel bulbs to a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium-low heat and add garlic, anchovies and pepper. Cook gently until the anchovies begin to dissolve and the garlic softens.
  3. Add the cooked fennel to the fry pan. Stir to coat the fennel with the oil.
  4. Season with salt and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve hot.



Roast Baby Fennel


Ingredients

4 – 6 Baby Fennel Bulbs
1 Onion
Olive Oil
Pepper
Salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 210°C/425°F.
  2. Cut off the stems of the fennel and slice the fennel bulbs into wedges.
  3. Cut onion into wedges also, slightly slimmer than the fennel.
  4. Toss the fennel and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Drizzle olive oil in a roasting pan, and add the fennel and onions.
  6. Cover over with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Cook uncovered for another 15-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and caramelised.




Did you know…

  • Every part of Fennel can be eaten. Green sprigs, bulbs and seeds.
  • Fennel goes well with chicken, fish, pork, eggs, oranges, tomatoes and in most Mediterranean dishes.
  • Has medicinal used for the intestines, eyes, blood, improving milk production, and reduces the severity of coughs.
  • Traditionally used in gripe water for infants with colic.
  • Can be made into an aromatic tea.

My beautiful fennel grown in a Grow Bag

Do you have any fab fennel recipes you'd love to share?

Friday, August 3, 2012

DIY Hypertufa Pots

via
Did you know that you can create your own beautiful plant pots by mixing only 4 simple ingredients?

Make them in your own design; individualise them or even sell them at your local market!

These pots are called 'Hypertufa' as it refers to something made of artificial stone.

They are not heavy, they don't break and they weather so well for years to come.

And the great news is that you can use practically any container around the house to create the style and size you want. Make use of those things destined for the recycle bin!

This great idea comes courtesy of Martha Stewart, that very crafty gal! And appeals to my two little crafty girls too who were very keen to give this one a try in our own backyard. It's just so easy!

Supplies you will need:
  • Gloves
  • Container or bucket for mixing
  • Garden Trowel
  • Containers you wish to use as the mold (TIP: make drainage holes in them first)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Sandpaper or brush
  • Piece of dowel or stick (for making drainage holes)

4 Ingredients:

  • Peat Moss
  • Perlite
  • Portland Cement (General Purpose)
  • Water

via

How to make Hypertufa Pots:


Place equal parts of the first three ingredients into your container. It will be a bit dusty, so just be prepared for that.

Add water, mixing through thoroughly.

We want to consistency to be like cottage cheese and hold together in a clump. Not too wet.

Spray the container you will use as for the molds with the Cooking Spray so that the pots will release when dry.

Place 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch at the bottom to start. (If very large, fill thicker - up to 2 inches.)

Once the bottom is firmly packed, start packing up the sides. Pack in tight to get rid of any air pockets.

Optional: Insert a smaller container to help hold the packed the sides. Weigh down with a little sand. Remove the middle container 24 hours later.


Using a piece of dowel, make the drainage holes at the bottom of the container.

Place inside a large plastic bag and allow to cure for two days.

Two days later: Turn up-side-down gently to release from the mold container. Mold may be slightly wet.

To give it a more rustic appearance, use a sponge, sandpaper or brush to rough up the exterior of your new pot.

Let sit for 2-3 weeks to completely dry.

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Must see for more information:


☻Check out Martha Stewart's video tutorial here: Martha Stewart's Hypertufa Pots

☻Visit 33 Shades of Green blog for helpful step-by-step pictures.


via
Here's another great video tutorial to learn how to make Hypertufa Pots...



Happy creating!