Archive for the 'seed-saving' Category

It’s always so sad to say goodbye

Even though hardly anyone reads this, I do feel like I should say goodbye on this blog, on the off chance someone finds it.

This is only a young blog, but I started it to record my gardening progress.  However, I feel that now I would like people to use it, to download freebies, to be inspired about gardening.  So I have moved it hook, line and sinker to  a new place called Out from under my hat.  This will mean that it is under the umbrella of my other blog and therefore will probably get more readers.  Which will make it feel less self-indulgent and more useful.

Saving Seeds

Seed Saving - What's it good for?

Seed Saving - What's it good for?

One of the very cool things about gardening is that you get so much, if you are kind to the earth, and thoughtful of your plants, keeping them out of harm’s way, praying for perfect gardening weather and in a place where they are happy.  Then, when they have served you well by producing so much that you have to give a lot away, and toil in the kitchen preserving for the winter (I used to preserve in Agee jars, now I freeze), they turn into seeds.

Because I like to save seeds, I make sure that the plants I am getting the seeds from were grown from heirloom seeds themselves.  Hybrid seeds, which usually come from the big seed producers, have been altered for their own purposes, and do not reproduce accurately as the heirloom seeds, which haven’t been cross-bred or anything, do.

Before the seeds are in the right state for saving, there is some “unsightlyness” in the garden that must be overlooked.  For summer crops, this usually happens at the end of the season, after the lettuce, silverbeet etc has bolted, the beans have gone stringy and the sunflowers have turned their heads down and drooped.  At this stage, non-seed-savers normally go around their garden and pull stuff out for their composts or green waste collection bins.  But not me, I look on gratefully as my vegetables carry out their final act of generosity.

Obviously, I do not have enough land to grow all the new seeds that I save.  I have oodles of them.  In the photo of the marigold seeds above, there are enough to grow a whole field of marigolds, or at least ring a large garden with  marigolds.  And those are just some.  In my last post, I put the call out to anyone wanting some.  Because, really, the humble marigold is very, very valuable.

I also have some silverbeet seed to give away (both the red and green stalked variety), some runner bean seeds, some asparagus (a perenial) and a small amount of lettuce.  I also have some delicious rocket.  And not to forget the sunflower seeds, but I am planning to try eating those (I bake a lot of bread, and like to make my own muesli, and organic sunflower seeds are quite pricey and goodness knows how far they travel).

So, with all the talk of a global recession, isn’t it nice to have a store of something  which will only increase by 1000% or more in this day and age.  And isn’t it great to know that if things get really bad, at least you’ve got some heirloom seeds to use to grow food.  And isn’t it just beautiful to have something this beneficial to share.

Life is good.

Post Script: The fonts I have used are my own.  “Marigold” is written in my own handwriting font, julesgirltalk (free for personal use) and my very newest font, JulesScribble, is used to write SAVING SEED.  Any feedback is gratefully accepted.

Purple potatoes and what to do with them.

What to do with purple potatoes

What to do with purple potatoes

I love to grow veges which are a bit different.  They delight us and our guests and give me a new riddle to solve – what to do with them.  Of course recipe books don’t cover the food I have, mostly grown from heirloom seeds, so I have to make up my own.  When I plant something new, half of the fun is thinking what to do with them.  I like plain cooking:

“Suppose you learn plain cooking. That’s a useful accomplishment, which no woman should be without,” said Mrs. March, laughing inaudibly at the recollection of Jo’s dinner party, for she had met Miss Crocker and heard her account of it.  Excerpt from Chapter 11, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

And what is plainer than mashed potatoes?  These beautiful Urenika purple potatoes are divine boiled (the water turns green) then mashed with butter and milk.  So creamy.  And the purple looks enticing on the plate alongside salad greens. 

I love to make Shepherds Pie.  It’s very easy.  In a bowl, I just mix together a bunch of freshly harvested, washed, chopped, leafy vegetables and some cooked ground beef with some chopped tomatoes (I used last season’s tomatoes which I froze in blocks of 400g, lightly thawed, then chopped in the food processor).  When this was mixed together, I put it some pretty oven proof dishes, and the mashed potato was put on the top, under some grated cheese. 

As for the vegetables to put in Shepherd’s Pie, whatever is green and in the garden will work.  At the moment there are a lot of silverbeet, leek, asparagus, celery, parsley.  Just think what vitamin and mineral goodies this combination of vegetables have in them!  Soon there will be beans (here in New Zealand).  So depending on what is available, this dish will always taste different.  And you don’t need to have ground beef.  My 13 year old daughter made up a beautiful recipe with tuna (same principle, but no longer called Shepherd’s Pie, she calls it Tuna Bake).  Or you can put beans in, or lentils.  Or sausages, or not have meat at all. 

This is cooking freestyle, kind of Plain Cooking.  Surprise me!

A new season

Today I dropped my parents (aged 81 and 93) back to the airport after a great week together.  On the way to the airport we stopped in at the Strickland Street Community Garden spring fair, where I spent $9 and got the following:

5 chamomile lawn seedlings (I have seeds but this is a kick start for my patch in front of the sitting area)

1 wonderlight tomato plant (a lightbulb shaped tomato)

1 tray of kohlrabi

1 tray of lettuce

Then after the airport, I called in at the Southern Seed Exchange seed swap, where I am a member.

I got the following seedlings:

curly lettuce, red orach, a variety of pumpkin which is like a gourd, raspberry, anjelica, freesias,

plus some seeds:

sunflower, crown pumpkin, dwarf beans, and I think a couple of others.

When I got home, I planted what I should, and put the rest in my glass cloche, with my vege seedlings.  It’s a bit too early in the season here in Christchurch to take the risk with my seedlings and baby plants just yet, so they can stay under the glass where it is sunny and warm. 

Unfortunately I have lost my gardening notebook from last year, where I recorded all my harvests, plantings etc.  It was a shabby wee thing anyway, so I have decided that this year, I will record things properly in a nice book, as well as writing this blog.  So I will have a page for harvests, plans, and this part of the blog will cover what I am doing generally.  Should I also have a wishlist for longer term plans?  After all that is how my garden got to be what it is today.

Spring is here, and although I still have silverbeet, asparagus, maori potatoes (urenika) from previous years still producing, today is the start of the new season now that I have officially planted stuff in the dirt.

Life is good.


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