Green and Thrifty

This week I have been participating in a harvest merry-go-round. I worked in my friend Sandra's garden and she gave me lemons and figs from her trees. Mum brought me beautiful Cox's Orange Pippins from her apple tree and I gave her figs. I took lemons to my neighbour and he gave me eggs. I worked in my friend Monique's garden and she gave me lemongrass stems to plant. I identified one of her unknown plants as a tomatillo, and she gave me a bucketful for my American tomatillo-loving friends Karlin and Ed, who have been hunting for a tomatillo plant. Karlin and Ed were able to give tomatillo recipe instructions to Monique, which I will deliver with some beetroot and parsnip seeds.. this is the gift economy in action, an eternal, life-giving round of sharing excess, which helps to foster bonds of friendship and the realisation that we are all knit together in community. Plus, no food miles. Everyone wins.

Elsewhere in green and thrifty news I made another batch of passata last weekend. Paul turned up just in time to help with the bottling.

I ran out of odd bottles of left-over cleaning spray, so I am experimenting with making my own. This is the recipe I am currently trialling. It seems to be perfectly acceptable. I am also using it as pre-wash stain removal, which it seems to be holding its own with as well.

I have been foraging for walnuts this week as I have been walking the dog, and have been doing it on just the right week. Look at my walnut harvest! There is more since I took this photo. The nuts are so fresh they are still milky, so I will keep them a few weeks until they harden up before I gobble them down.

I made all our bread this week. Ok, I made one loaf which is all our bread this week! Also cooked all our meals, well, except for the ones the girls cooked, and sent a packed lunch off to school with the girls each day. Some of which they ate..

When I moved into this house, almost two years ago now, there was a large hole in the top of our wheelie bin. It looked like the previous owners had dropped a heavy chunk of concrete on it from a height. It is very annoying as it lets rainwater into the bin and I keep having to drain it. I could have ordered a new bin but I would be charged for it. Also, what happens to old bins? Are they recycled? No idea. So I did nothing except stick a terracotta plant pot saucer over the hole and complain when it didn't work. Today I had a sudden brainwave, and made a patch out of an old ice-cream container lid and duct tape. I am amazed and impressed with myself, and rather surprised that it took me two years to think of this..

Baby lettuce plants!

Eating from the garden this week: potatoes, tomatoes, lemons, capsicum, rhubarb, parsley, tarragon, rosemary.

Tell me about your green and thrifty week..


Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

I can't believe that you have already been in the cute little house for almost 2 years. Your bin lid does look so neat and tidy now; nice job. Your lettuce is bigger than mine and I'll bet they were planted about the same time. Mine is temporarily under snow, though. We shall see who is ahead in a month!

I am assuming that those beautiful walnuts are English (Persian)? We have lots of indigenous black walnut trees here, but only the squirrels, with their jackhammer teeth, can get into them. Seriously, the bits of "meat" that we can get out just aren't worth it.

Sigh. Being out away from town the only people that I have time to have dealings with - mostly, anyway - as far as trading produce are my neighbors and - here they are are, in the country, with land - and none of them grow gardens. You have done a fantastic job of making friends and networking.

Anonymous said…
Clever work with the wheelie bin, Jo - it's so often the simplest solution that is most satisfying - even if it takes two years to come up with it!
We have a good neighbour with a monster rhubarb plant, and often do swaps with her. Usually it is kumquat marmalade, or I bake her a cake. Which reminds me, we will need to frost-spray our kumquat tree soon, as it's definitely autumn here, and there's a good crop of fruit to protect. We love marmalade, but it seems that hardly anyone makes it at home any more. Maybe it's gone out of fashion - and what would I know about that!

Linda in NZ

Pam in Virginia said…

I was just pondering my scummy bathtub and I remembered that I forgot to look at the Miracle Spray that you had a link to. I have all those ingredients!

Jo said…
Pam, I expect you will win in the lettuce stakes eventually as mine will slow down with the cold, and hopefully your snow will be just a temporary lettuce setback.. I imagine that all the walnut trees here would be the English (Persian) variety. They fall out of their husks onto the ground as nuts, which the American ones do not do, I believe. I have heard stories of the terrible trouble it is to get a walnut out of its husk from a black walnut tree!
I have just learnt that walnut husks can be used for making ink. So many things to try!
I think we are quite old-fashioned here in Tasmania in that many people, especially anyone with land, would likely have vegie gardens and fruit trees, and generally some knowledge of how to preserve it. Or maybe I just know people like that! Good neighbours are like gold!

Linda, who wants to know about fashion if it means no home made marmalade! I make lemon marmalade, which is my favourite, but kumquat sounds delicious. How do you frost-spray a tree? Is it a particular product?

Pam, that was exactly why I chose the miracle spray recipe to try - I had all the ingredients! Good luck!
Hazel said…
Thanks for the link to the cleaning spray. My usual spray is just detergent, water and vinegar, sometimes with essential oils (I like using seasonal ones, so cinnamon/clove/orange at christmas, lemon/bergamot for spring, geranium/lavender for summer etc) and sometimes with citrus vinegar but I like the idea of added oomph from the washing soda and I have all the ingredients so I'll be making a bottle of that.

I made your Gumption-style bathroom cleaner in the week which has been brilliant. I had cut up a large bar of bright pink carbolic soap we bought ages ago from a living history museum because my husband found it nostalgic. I dissolved the crumbs in water to make the paste so it's turned a delicate shade of coral- one of the children hoped it was edible. Until they smelt it...

My biggest green and thrifty win would be collecting the uneaten snacktime fruit and trimmings from the preschool where I work ("I don't like apple!") for my chickens but of course that's not allowed under UK DEFRA rules (you're only permitted to feed fruits and vegetables straight from the garden in case of possible meat contamination) so of course I didn't do that.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

I am in awe of your community building skills! Good stuff. A $10 box of figs from the Queen Vic Market was recently converted into about seven jars of fig jam and it is delicious. We finished our last batch of passata this evening! Yay! Between you and me, I'm considering getting a huge lot of Fowlers Vacola #20 jars which can be had for not much second hand for the passata next year. They hold 600ml and use the existing stainless steel lids #3 and clips that we already have. The glass in the old Fowlers stuff is superbly made for the long haul and really thick. For fruit we use the #27 jars which hold 1 litre, I believe, but use the same lids and clips.

Awesome work with the walnuts. Yummo!

Anonymous said…
Hi Jo
The frost spray is just called Organic Liquid Frost Cloth, and we buy it online in NZ. You dilute it with water and spray it on, and it is effective for up to six weeks. Of course, you have to watch for new leaf growth and repeat as necessary. We do use ordinary frost cloth on some things, but the liquid is great for small trees like my kumquat.
We love lemon marmalade too. It was my first attempt at any sort of preserving, more years ago than I care to count!

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Hazel, I love your idea of seasonal cleaning spray fragrances! Just wait until the cleaning industry cottons on to that.. and I am very excited about pink bathroom paste. Mmm, I bet it looks delicious. Good on you for (not at all) saving the kinder fruit trimmings for the chickies. There is so much waste in schools! At one time when I worked in junior classes at school we collected the fruit trimmings for the compost bin for the school vegie garden, but that certainly was not a universal practice..

Chris, congratulations on finishing your passata project! Does that mean the end of the tomato harvest? I have a bit more to go.Yes, those old Fowlers jars are brilliant. I should put them on my list of things to look out for at op-shops. You can never have too many!

Linda, thanks for that info, I will look it up. Fascinating!
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Thanks. Yah, preserving of tomatoes is now done. The plants will continue to ripen the fruit until late April - early May. Between now and then, the fruit is for fresh eating and tomato wine, which is a cooking wine and is also very nice and tastes like an inoffensive white wine and is much less acidic than the store bought stuff.

Hey, with the Fowlers bottles, they are just so good. The thing is you probably need to track down the stainless steel lids rather than the tin lids. And I'd purchase new too. The tin lids corrode from what I've seen and you'll get plenty of years out of them, but sooner or later you will lose a batch of preserved tastiness! I reuse the rings too and they seem pretty hardy, but I also keep a good stock of them on hand as they also tend to crack after many years of use.

Jo said…
Chris, hmm, stainless steel lids, will look into that. Do you buy yours locally or on-line? I have used the tin lids for some years with my smallish stock of jars, but stainless stell should last forever. I have never heard of tomato wine! Is there anything that you don't turn into wine??

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