Green and Thrifty

This morning I have been 'renovating' all the pots in my miniscule front yard. Potted plants need lots of love, as they don't have a huge reservoir of nutrients like plants in the soil do. I pulled out spent plants, pruned the others, added blood and bone, pelletised chicken manure and a little white gardeners' lime, then topped up the pots with a local compost made from green waste and left-over whey from a dairy. It is amazing stuff! Now I am prospecting around the garden for flower seedlings to brighten up what is a rather bare and barren space. So far I have transplanted calendula, viola and granny's bonnet seedlings, and a couple of strawberries. I also added some lettuce and basil seedlings. A friend gave me some thyme a few weeks ago, and I just remembered it is still sitting in its pot in the vegie garden (that's how I make sure it gets watered on a regular basis), so that can go in as well. I took some cuttings of dianthus plants from my mum's yard last year, and they are just about to flower. Love free plants! My last job out here will be watering all the seedlings in with seaweed concentrate, which encourages root growth and reduces transplant shock.

This week I harvested the garlic. Last year I planted the garlic in pots as I was moving house. Garlic doesn't ever seem to really thrive in pots for me, so the bulbs are rather small. But what is worse than a small garlic harvest? No garlic harvest. I am happy to have a couple of months' worth of garlic stashed in the kitchen..

The Girl made lemon butter - this is what's left!

I made yoghurt! It's taken me a year or so of talking about it, but finally I bit the bullet when I found 2l of milk marked down to half price at my local whole foods shop. Then I had to make the yoghurt that afternoon before the milk went off! I used this thermal cooker recipe, but instead of making a small jar of yoghurt, I filled up the whole thermal cooker pan with milk. I left it overnight and in the morning it was a bit sloppy still, so I drained it in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Now it is a beautifully firm, quite mild yoghurt. I am very proud of myself, and the dog is getting whey with all his meals, so he is happy too. Honestly, after all this procrastination, it was ridiculously easy. There is no need for a yoghurt maker, or a thermal cooker or anything special. You can find recipes for making yoghurt in a slow cooker, or even leave it to set in a thermos.

Two big pots of yoghurt

Even better with lemon butter..

Rosy made muffins with some black bananas. Which makes me think - muffins with yoghurt and lemon butter? Mmm..

This week I have made sure to accomplish multiple errands on each trip out in the car. That must be helping the reduce the total driving hours... mustn't it? At least it is in the forefront of my mind. Mindful driving. Is that better than mindless driving? Rosy got her L2 license. She is so proud! Now fifty hours of driving are in my future. I will save up all my errands for her to drive me. One day last week she drove me on a round trip accomplishing four errands, culminating in filling the back of the car with bags of compost from the garden centre. She was so thrilled.

It is our summer holidays and they have been pretty cruisy so far. We have had picnics and family games nights (and days) and a trip to the beach. There is more beach tripping to come, maybe some camping, and definitely some blueberry picking in our future. Tonight we took the dog for a walk for an hour along the riverbank.

However, the dreaded back-to-school ordeal is just a few weeks away, and Posy's first year of high school will begin. Recently I made Posy try on all of Rosy's old school uniform, and I am pleased to say that we will only need to buy new school shoes and new socks this year. And maybe a school bag. I have asked The Girl to ask around her school friends to see if there is an old school bag languishing in the back of a cupboard somewhere that we could buy (Posy needs a 'proper' school-branded school bag). The socks, of course, can only be bought from the school uniform shop, although some very enterprising girls from The Boy's year did buy white socks and draw a blue line around the top themselves..

This week we have eaten lemons, garlic, beetroot, strawberries, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, peas, lettuce, rocket, spinach, warrigul greens, rhubarb and our very first potatoes from our garden:)

I planted lettuce, basil and zucchini seeds, and harvested last year's beetroot seeds.

First beetroot of the season. I also cooked up the leaves with garlic and butter.

Tell me about your green and thrifty week..


Anonymous said…
Hi Jo
It's so nice to see the fruits of your garden. Cold and snowy here and I get itchy garden fingers looking at your greens.
I don't grow a lot in pots as I find them very time consuming and in the the middle of summer it seems they need watering twice a day.
And of course it's a constant battle with the squirrels to keep them from tipping out the plants when they bury their hoard.
The area your pots are in looks shady, I might try a few in the shade.
GretchenJoanna said…
The yogurt looks so delish!! I made yogurt for many years, using various recipes and yogurt makers and no yogurt makers, but could never get the nice tart flavor I personally wanted. At least the yogurt didn't go to waste - everyone else was happy to eat it. But eventually I gave up on that project. We never did eat it with lemon butter - is that the same as lemon curd? It must not be what we call lemon butter, which is not sweet....

All of your vegetables are admirable as well - I love to watch your farming.
Anonymous said…
Spendthrifty week here. So not particularly green. Except Mr S and I have largely given up on tea bags and use loose leaf tea that is grown in Australia so that's kind of a green move here.

I love hearing your gardening tales. I have some pruning of hedges to do and should get a wriggle on.
Jo said…
Marieann - squirrels! I read this comment to the girls, and they were enchanted:) Years ago we travelled to the US for a few weeks, and the highlight of the whole trip for the children was squirrels and chipmunks.

So no, I do not have the problem of squirrels hiding acorns in my flowerpots:( much to the disappointment of the children. As you can see, this is a very narrow area that I am using for the pots - each side gets a few hours of sun per day, which is enough, but not so much that they dry out completely, which is a bonus. I find there are a few veg which thrive in pots - lettuce, strawberries, most herbs, bay tree, peas and beans, beetroot and other small greens, cherry tomatoes, and that's about it for me. But that's enough to keep up the extra work, because extra growing space is extra growing space:)

Gretchen Joanna, yes, lemon butter is the same thing as lemon curd here. Is lemon butter a different beast in the US? It is sweet and perfect on yoghurt. My yoghurt turned out very mild, with less 'bite' than the shop-bought kind. I did just work out that I only used about half the the starter than the recipe recommended - when scaling up my maths was a bit wonky. Still, it seemed to work!

Lucinda, I LOVE pruning hedges, and would offer to pop over and help... I am back to loose leaf tea as well. I spent last year hunting for the perfect tea strainer to brew rooibos tea - rooibos has tiny needles instead of leaves like normal tea. I finally found the perfect strainer at T2, and now I am brewing tea like a champion again. I love channelling my inner granny and making a pot as well, although my tea pot not as elegant as yours:)
Meg said…
Hi, Jo. your veg looks great. What will you make with your first potatoes? I'm getting some salad greens, zucchini and capsicum from my garden but heat up here in Qld been relentless some things suffering in heat. I have got my cherry toms in pots this year, they are doing well. I have on my list to make our own yoghurt, must follow your example and actually do it rather than just think about it. I made lemon butter this week too. Now just have to make the yoghurt to go with it as that would be lovely. Meg:)
Jo said…
Meg, potato wedges! And some vegie soup with chunky potato. Isn't that serendipity with the lemon butter. Clearly the universe is trying to tell you to make yoghurt:) I will get my first zucchini over the next few days, capsicums still tiny babies. All the best in the crazy heat, hope your garden pulls through..

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