Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Letters from Wetville - new blog

It seems time for a spruce up, a tighter focus. Or something. I feel like my blog has become a bit like parts of my garden. Sprawled out with weeds everywhere. No longer with a clear function. So this is my attempt at a slightly altered direction.

Letters from Wetville

Either over on the new blog, or here, I would really appreciate any feedback, any thoughts on what you would like to see and/or what you think could be improved.

Thank you :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

rose nursery

The April edition of New Zealand Gardener features a useful guide to propogating your own roses from cuttings. I decided to try it, using several shortcuts from their version as I know that if I put the cuttings into a pot or propogator tray, the garden murderer will kill them for certain.

The garden murderer went to sleep soon after 4.30pm, sleeping off days of toddler partying. So the gardening began...

I've decided to turn the garden along the back of the house into a rose potager with garlic and other vegetables and herbs around them. Roses climbing up a brick wall which gets full sun almost all day seems a gorgeous plan to me. So I weeded the next section (I've got my first rose cutting growing well along here already, plus raddiccio, rocket, broccoli, welsh bunching onions and florence fennel) adn then tipped a 40 litre bag of sheep poo over the top. I've had this bag decomposing for about six months. Then I tipped a 40 litre bag of potting mix over the top. It would have seemed wildly extravagant to go and buy these especially for the job, but as I've had them a while and it is improving and building up the soil no matter what goes in after the rose cuttings, I thought it was worthwhile.

I trimmed the big branches of roses poking through the fence from our neighbour's place. Shirley is a very keen rose gardener who grows as many roses as she can possibly squeeze into her small section and shows the best blooms locally and at shows throughout the South Island.

I made eight cuttings, all with four leaf nodes on them. I trimmed the bottom leaf node off, scraped down the sides of the bottom 4 centimetres and cut the leaves back to just two on each of the top three branches. Then I pushed each one into the soil, making a bed of eight cuttings in a space about 100 x 70 cm. If they all 'take', then I will transplant six out. There is room to have two growing there long term though. I watered the area thoroughly, mulched with pea straw and watered again. I will be watching with interest. If even one of them turns into a flourishing rose bush, then it has created beauty without the expenditure of nearly $20 per rose bush.

While I had the gardening window, I also weeded and watered and mulched around my youngest cavolo nero plants and planted daffodil and freesia bulbs. I admired the pretty pink flowers coming out now from some bulbs gifted by a friend in early summer. Not completely sure, but I think they might be autumn crocuses (croci?).

Friday, April 3, 2009

bread and Maori potatoes day

It's been a hectic week, made more intense by waking up with flea bites on Wednesday morning. That would be the return of fleas after treatment which was guaranteed for two months then. I turned into a laundry zealot and washed all the sheets, the wool underlay, the duvet covers and the duvets themselves. I got my super-sucker Dyson out and vacuumed the mattress and the pillows and put the dehumidifer on in the early evening to help be sure that the duvets were properly dry.

I also rang Piner the Pest Man who arranged to visit the next morning. That night, in our super clean bed and bedroom, I slept well and woke with no new flea bites. But I was too freaked and itchy to be leaving it to chance. On Thursday Mr Piner nuked the bedroom with even stronger chemicals than last time and goodness what things I could find on google to freak me out about the gas he put on.

But I haven't been bitten since.

Tonight I dug the first of our Maori potatoes. They look beautiful and tasted lovely, cooked up with my home grown zucchinis, cauliflower, thyme, garlic, chives, parsley and eggs. Only the onion came from elsewhere.

This afternoon I made some rye bread. I missed a few beats on the cooking temperature front, due mostly to the rather unsuccessful combination of tired Sandra, tired two year old and tired six year old. I guess most of you know that motherhood isn't always easy to recommend. So it is in plastic bags now because I am not supposed to cut it until tomorrow. Whereas earlier attempts were too dry, this one is possibly too wet, based on Whitley's troubleshooting guide and the sunken top.

I've also started some pumpernickel bread. The kibbled rye (finally getting used) is soaking overnight, as is the sourdough fermenting. I notice the pumpernickel should be cooked very slowly and gently and I'm wandering about using the slow cooker. No luck finding this option on google so far, but I'd appreciate hearing from any other pumpernickel makers.

On my baking plans for the next few days: crispbreads (now that I own semolina flour) and hot cross buns. Should be able to fit that in around planning for May Day. I'm not in the garden much because my garden murderer is possibly at the peak of her powers.