Good Friends & A ‘Blackfly Brew’ Trial

Last weekend we invited some very good friends over for the evening and we had a wonderful time catching up, over homemade pizza’s and puddings.

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A long time ago we all met in a large office and became good friends very quickly as we shared the same sense of humour and fun outlook on life.  We went on lots of holidays together, days out and spent many evenings laughing until our bellys ached.

We all met our partners, but that didn’t stop us as the group just got bigger and even when we all left our work place we kept in touch…..but then children came along and sadly, as often happens, we did seem to drift apart – however, one person did keep in contact with each and everyone of us……my good friend Helen, who passed away two years ago.

We all met up again at her funeral and we have thankfully stayed in touch since…..it seems to me that this was a ‘parting gift’ to us all from our wonderful friend Helen.  So Helen if you are looking down on us, thank you for this.

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In My Kitchen Garden this week:

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I’m very proud to say that my kitchen garden is now producing crops.

Besides the lettuce, chives and radishes we have been picking for a while now, I have now started to pick mangetout daily:

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And my first peas are ready for picking….but unfortunately they didn’t make it to the table as it’s become a tradition in our house to eat the first peas straight out of the pod…..there really isn’t anything that tastes as lovely:

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I have also been picking broad beans, but unfortunately with my decorating last week some of them became a bit too large.  However, as I tend to cook them and puree them up for spag bogs, curries etc (as Mr Thrift doesn’t like them), it really won’t matter.

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I froze the broad beans by blanching them for two minutes before ‘open freezing’ on a tray:

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I also picked the first fruit from my small kitchen garden….a few blackcurrants and gooseberries which my daughter ate.  The plants are very young and I think it will be a while before they will give me a large crop, but I am pleased I got something this year:

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And yes, that time of year is finally upon us……courgette time!  As usual we all look forward to the first courgette and we always fry it up and use it in an omolette….(I know we will be fed up with them again soon like everyone else, but for the moment we will enjoy them).

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(By the way, there is a post I wrote here that talks about ways to use up hundreds of courgettes, if anyone is interested).

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A Blackfly Brew & Bird Damage:

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This week I have noticed a couple of pests in my small kitchen garden.  The first was ‘birds’.  I had covered my climbing peas in environmesh to stop the ‘pea moth’ and also the birds.  Birds were always a nuisence at my allotment eating most things.  As they particularly love the tops of pea shoots, I covered them without thinking.  However, I didn’t cover my dwarf peas and they seemed to be ok, so I became complacent, thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem in my back garden…

Yesterday I saw a bird fly off as I approached my kitchen garden and I then found bird damage on my lettuces, but luckily I had caught it early.  You can see the tears on the outside leaf in the photo below (which incidentally it looks different to slug damage):

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So I covered my lettuces so the birds can’t do any more damage:

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Another pest I found this week was blackfly on my courgettes:

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Now I’ve got to be honest, I don’t usually bother treating my courgettes for blackfly as they are usually big and strong enough to survive it without effecting the amount I harvest and also the ladybirds usually come to my rescue and have a feast…but I wanted to try something new out this year:

I had recently read about a home made ‘All Purpose Organic Pesticide’ that ‘Eco Snippets’ had published and I thought I would have a go.  You can find the orginal recipe here.

This is what the website says about it:

“It can be used on a variety of insects that live in the dirt or on the plants including worms, mites and other parasites.

This entire pesticide will eventually break down and be reduced to nothing, so it is OK to eat any herbs or vegetables that are growing. This is mainly intended for indoor use, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work outdoors as well”

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So this is how I made my ‘Black fly Brew:

(I halved the original recipe as it seemed to be a hugh amount to make in one go)

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Ingredients-

  • 2 ¼ litres of warm water
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small hot peppers (I couldn’t find jalapeno peppers)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (I used my ‘soap nut’ liquid as it’s natural)

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First I roughly chopped the onion, peppers and garlic and placed them in a bowl:

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I then used a stick blender to puree them into a thick paste:

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I added the puree to the warm water and left them to ‘stew’ for 20 minutes:

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I strained the brew through an old piece of material and I then gave the remaining paste a squeeze (with rubber gloves on) to remove all the juices:

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I then added the liquid soap and gave it a stir:

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I poured the liquid into a spray bottle and the remaining into a spare plastic bottle and labled them well:

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Apparently this liquid keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

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It says on their website to use the spray every 4-5 days and it takes about 3 or 4 treatments to work….so I went out and sprayed one of my two plants straight away.

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The ‘EcoSnippets’ website says:

“Try to get all over the plant including the stem and under the leaves. Spray the soil as well so that the top of it is wet.

What this liquid does is make every part of the plant that it touches unpalatable to the insect. The water evaporates and leaves behind the odor and flavor. It smells and tastes gross and they won’t eat it. When they won’t eat anymore, they eventually starve. The liquid will not kill the insects on contact, so do not get upset if you see increased activity after the application. They’re simply struggling to find something to eat”

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I will monitor both my courgette plants and report the results back to you in a couple of weeks.

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In My Home This Week:

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I have had a relatively quiet week in the house after all my decorating last week, but I did want to mention a couple of things.  After our friends visit at the weekend, we had half a tub of mascopone left over and my eldest daughter decided she would use it so it didn’t go to waste (she obviously takes after me).   So she made a pasta sauce using tomatoes and mascopone and fried some courgettes, mangetout, onion and garlic and added it to the sauce:

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She then served it with salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt and it was delicious!

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She also decided to make some biscuits for her teachers at school, to say thank you for helping her during her first year of ‘A’ levels.  She made shortbread biscuits and then covered a an old sweet tub to make it look pretty and this was the result:

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I think this present is far nicer than any shop bought present that you could give and as I always say:

“A homemade present is from the heart, not just from your bank account”

I was very proud of her and I think she now deserves her title of ‘Ms Thrift’.

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Also this week Judy (our rescue dog) has not had a good week and has gone backwards a little bit with her training, but I am working on this with Steven Havers, our trainer and I am hoping it is just a ‘blip’.  However, she is still doing well overall and fitting in our family nicely at home.

 

Judy asleep with her ball

Judy asleep with her ball

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That’s enough for now, I will be back again next Friday as usual.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you have a good week!

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14 thoughts on “Good Friends & A ‘Blackfly Brew’ Trial

  1. What a cute picture of Judy.
    Your daughter’s biscuits look delicious.
    I was interested to learn that you blanch your broad beans, I just pop mine in the freezer as they are.
    Really lovely post as usual Lisa.

    Best wishes,
    Angela (Devon)

    • Lol, Angela asked the same thing…..I only do it as they last longer when you blanch them and I am still using a bag from my allotment last year. I thought Judy looked cute too fast asleep next to her ball

  2. I really hope Judy will go forward after her setback – she is the most adorable thing! I enjoy your gardening tips – thank you.

  3. What a wonderful week you have had, so lovely to keep in touch with old friends. Your kitchen garden is amazing and producing so much, i have pulled the bolted beetroot, its a good lesson learnt to get the right seed. What a lovely meal your daughter made so clever. Do have a good week.
    Sue

    • I love picking peas and eating them straight from the pods lol….I even had my dad eating them last week while I was podding them and then my daughters walked in and started to eat them too….we can’t help it

  4. hello,
    it sounds after a lovely week.wow……your kitchen garden is very productive. the meal looks delicious and the gift was your daughter made for the teacher…just lovely!!!
    sweet judy!!!
    wish you a nice week,
    regina

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