Umbrella tomato stakes, Halloween cat, how to make your own soap.
Thursday 1 November 2012
I know I told you that I was cleaning out my compost bin weeks ago, but in reality I only got around to it at the weekend. Actually I didn’t do it, because I was too scared, so I got Paul to. Two years ago I was happily lifting buckets of the gorgeous stuff out of one of our two bins when a live rat ran up and out. Then last year I discovered a mummified rat. So this year, I spent the morning happily digging the main vege patch, while Paul kindly brought over buckets of gorgeous compost. It is such a fulfilling thing to see a year’s worth of vege scraps turn into rich, dark nutritious soil which will feed my plants. And refreshingly, this year I only found a silver teaspoon, unlike the usual array of potato peelers and plastic bags.
I have also planted out some tomatoes as you can see. This is the first year I haven’t grown them from seed but after blight got my whole crop last year I decided to bite the bullet and buy grafted ones from the garden centre, which means the tomato variety is grafted onto a much more sturdy and disease-resistant stock. I’ve also erected my trademark umbrella spines made from old sun umbrellas. I used one last year and trained a plant to grow across the top so that you get an open air canopy underneath. You can then climb in to collect tomatoes – the grandkids love doing that – and it also helps air circulate around the plants, hopefully stopping blight settling in. Last year the plant I trained onto the umbrella was the last to come down with blight, so I’m thinking it’s worth another try. It does look a bit silly at the moment but in months to come my four plants should cover it nicely. Wish me luck!
I promise not to ever share a cat video that really isn’t worth it’s weight in laughs. I’ve watched this three times, and each time I laugh even harder. This one isn’t cute, it’s hilarious. It’s Henry Chat Noir which is a French cat full of ennui and boredom. This is his take on Halloween.
It’s just as well Paul was so good with the compost this week because when I sat down to continue embroidering my white T-shirt which had been sitting on the table next to the couch I found two suspicious red spots which looked very much like red wine. I don’t drink red wine and as the table was next to Paul’s favourite spot on the couch he must have spilled a few drops onto it. So I’m treating it with my Lavelle Water today with not much success – I may have to get out the Wendyl-San and make a paste which usually works for red wine. stains. Is anyone else having a go at the T shirt embroidery out there? Let me know how you are getting on by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have to say that when I began I thought it would look quite vintage and chic but as I’ve got further along it’s become a bit Caroline Eve on it! So if I can’t get the stain out I might search for another project.
Chook Chow Email
Apologies for those trying to be in to win a 10kg bag of Chook Chow for your chickens last week. The gremlins interfered with the email so please try again. They have held the giveaway open for another week to give you all a chance to win. Just send an email to email@example.com with your name and address and they will select five lucky winners and send a bag out to each of you.
Broody Hen Solutions
Thank you so much for the hundreds of emails I received with broody hen tips. I am delighted to announce that Olive, after a week out the back being put in a cat cage with some wire on the floor at night so that she couldn’t hunker down, is back with her sisters out the front and behaving herself. In summary here are some marvellous tips I received:
- Separate the hen from the others during laying hours then pop her back in with the others with access to the nest box closed.
- Use a wire mesh freezer drawer – make a DIY lid and leave the hen in that on a cold surface, like bricks ,for three days and nights.
- Feed more protein – dog roll was suggested.
- Put an old oven rack over the nest box to stop her sitting in it.
- The earlier you get them the faster it is to fix them.
- Use an old rabbit hutch with a wire bottom – place it somewhere cool and leave in there with food and water for three to four days.
- Hang a wire cage (with food and water) from a tree where it is cool so that the breeze cools them down – I’m not sure about this one but lots of people recommended it. Takes three days.
- Wet the hen’s breast with water and then keep off the nest.
- Send for a sleepover to a friend who has chickens and she will be shocked out of it – not sure I like that one either.
- For non-townies get a randy rooster to shock her out of it.
- Make chicks by buying some fertilised eggs and popping them under her – I’ve done this and it’s a great way to increase your flock.
Not many people are aware of the fact that our government is supposed to be reviewing the labelling on our food products and while myself, Sue Kedgley and other groups are keen on traffic light food labelling, where you get a simple red/orange/green to guide you on your healthy food choices, it seems our government is not keen because food manufacturers, unsurprisingly, think consumers will be put off their unhealthy foods if they can easily understand what’s in them. Surely that’s our right? You can read all about the issue in this article written by Sue Kedgley. Our government meets with the Australian government (we share our food standards with them) in December but there is no mechanism for further public consulation on food labelling proposals. And Sue feels strongly that our government will simply side with the food industry and reject traffic light labelling. Once you’ve read Sue’s article, if you feel strongly about food labelling and want to have your say, email the Minister for Food Safety, Kate Wilkinson, and let her know your views: Kate.Wilkinson@parliament.govt.nz
The British Food Agency has just announced a new traffic light-based food labelling system which you can read about here, but the article also looks at a great system, in my opinion, which rates food on its foodness, which means how much of it is real food, nutrition, and welfare.
Time to stock up on peppermint paste this week
I received a great email from Diane who has had a huge ant problem. She said: “Two weeks ago I got to thinking why didn’t they crawl into the cupboard under the kitchen sink? Could it be because this is where I store all my ‘Wendyl’ home-made products & ingredients, all my lotions potions, oils and cleaners, even though it is also where the scrap bin is!! Knowing they don’t like peppermint I took the lid off the last lot of peppermint paste I had made and put it on the floor in a low cupboard where I had traced their entry too and hey presto I haven’t had an ant since. I am sooooooo delighted that something could be so simple if only I’d thought of it before. I know ants don’t like peppermint but just the oil by itself didn’t seem to be enough. If this can help anyone else ease their ant problem please feel free to share.”
I have had so many uses passed onto me for the peppermint paste, which is my version of a Jif-type cleaner. Some people wash their hair with it, others use it instead of Swarfega on their hands, and I use it for any hard to remove stains, especially permanent marker which the lady at my local op shop insists on putting on things when she is pricing them! It will also remove ink and even tidied up a bit of a spot on one of our cars! So this week I’m reviving the two for one special which I know you all love. Click here to buy now.
Make Your Own Soap
It’s so simple to make your own castile soap. Have a look at my recipe here.