31 July, 2011

One month and counting........

............until SPRING! I'm so excited because.....this year I have a plan. A master plan. A plan to provide my husband and I with fresh healthy produce throughout spring and summer and also preserve enough so that we do not need to purchase as much tinned foods throughout winter next year. I have been mulling over my plan for some time and have a few steps already in place..

I have my garden beds in place. I am planting green manure crops into two of my garden beds in order to boost the organic content of the soil. I also have my eye on a compact small greenhouse to get a head start with my spring vegetables.

The Plan

To grow as much of my own produce as possible and preserve or dry it for the coming year. This has a dual purpose - firstly to save money and secondly to reduce the chemicals we are eating.

  • Plant green manure crops into empty garden beds.
  • Plant out raspberries and new plants from garden show into large pots.
  • Purchase small greenhouse.
  • Finish harvesting winter vegetables.
  • Plant out beetroot and lettuce seedlings.
  • Plant another polystyrene box with carrot seeds.
  • Plant the following seeds in seed raising mix in the greenhouse and keep protected until after the last frost: amaranth, artichoke, basil, beans, beetroot, burdock, capsicum, carrots, celeriac, celery, chilli, chives, coriander, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, kohlrabi, kale, lettuce, yam, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, rocket, rockmelon, rosella, shallots, silverbeet, spring onion, squash, sunflower, corn, tomato, watermelon (always wanted to try growing these babies) and zucchini. (According to the Gardening Australia vege guide, some of these can be planted out during August...so I'll see how I go).
  • Deepen the front gardens gradually and add Magic Mix to plant vegetables in amoungst the flowers. Leave the gardens with the sweet peas as they are for the time being.

  • Dig green manure crop into garden beds
  • After last frost, transfer seedlings to home garden beds or to gardens at the community garden.
  • Set up compost bin.
  • Organise a storage area for preserves and jams.
  • Replant seeds a month after the ones planted in August to ensure continued produce.
Other jobs:
  • Take regular photos
  • blog about the progress and process
  • keep track of produce and make sure to find recipes to use all fresh produce.
  • take surplus which can't be preserved or dried to the Roma Farmer's and Artisans Market to swap at the Community Garden Stall.
  • Summer: purchase stone fruits from Farmer's market and Sam the vegie man to preserve for throughout the year.
To be continued.....

23 July, 2011

Preserving - Valarie's Yummy Pasta Sauce

ing Australia Website (here). This website is well worth the look if you are at all in to growing your own food and storing it. Valarie provides a great wealth of information including books and kits for purchase. I recently purchased a preserving starter kit from her which included a jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, preserving book and an assortment of new lids for jars I have collected. Green Living Australia also sells kits to make your own cheese (not brave enough for that one yet).

I bought a box of tomatoes from the vege man yesterday and am about to use this recipe a second time. I particularly like this recipe because it produces a rich red sauce. The recipe I used back in February from my Thrifty Cook Book is lovely but has a lot of butter in it and it is more of an orangey colour. This sauce is my favourite so far, however when unable to get capsicums I would use the previous recipe.

Valarie's Pasta Sauce

5kg tomatoes
5 medium onions
4 medium capsicums
1 tbs Basil
1 tbs salt
1 tbs oregano
4 tbs sugar

1. Chop tomatoes, onions, capsicums and place in a large pot.

2. Bring to the boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer.

4. Add salt, basil and oregano.

5. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, stir and wait 15 minutes.

6. Cook 2 - 3 hours.

When cooked pour into hot sterilised jars, put  lids on and preserve in a boiling water bath (in boiling water in a vacola unit) for 20 minutes. Allow jars to cool in the water, a vacuum will be created as the water and contents of the jars cool.

I will take some pics as I make it and load them later!!

Emily xoxo

01 July, 2011


I have been on school holidays for nearly a week now and am enjoying the simple pleasures of being at home to get the normal jobs done. Jobs that often go un-done during term time. Yesterday I cleaned out the chicken coop and put down fresh straw and lifted the nesting box up off the ground so I don't need to kneel in chicken poop to collect the eggs.

 Amidst my enjoyment of the simple things I received some very sad news, an 8 year old darling that I taught 18 months ago and who I was looking forward to teaching again when she reached year 4, passed away. For those of you who don't know, I teach children with disabilities. This particular child was devine, there are no other words. She was deprived of oxygen at birth due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck and was diagnosed with cerabal palsy. Her gorgeous family always ensured that she was included, loved and cherished by all those around her. In the last week of term she was rushed to hospital with a serious chest infection, but she fought hard and it seemed she was recovering well and we assumed she would be back at school next term. On Wednesday she took a turn for the worst and early yesterday this beautiful child lost her fight for survival. A thing such as this, a child passing away so young, rocked me to my core. My heart goes out to her family and friends and I feel spoilt by all the blessings in my life.

Yesterday the news of her passing marred the beauty of the day, the precious hours I spent with my dear friend and I lost the pleasure I'd found during the morning. Today it occurs to me that the celebration should be that she lived, that I had the opportunity to teach and learn from her and that I should be living each day to its fullest, not hiding away. Yes I can be sad for her family, sad that we won't see that lovely face at school, but I know that she is at peace and I can celebrate the impact she has had on me as a person and as a teacher.

Emily xoxo