Tag Archive | A dishwasher liquid using soapnuts

The Kitchen Garden Harvest & An Old Holly Tree

This week has been wet and miserable outside with a distinct lack of sun, dispite it being July!  Never the less the garden is still growing well, though my butternut squash, outdoor cucmbers and greenhouse melons really need the weather to be a bit hotter as they are sitting sulking at the moment and not growing at all.

I have started to reap the benefits of my small kitchen garden and for a small amount of work I am harvesting some lovely vegetables and there are some lovely flowers for the bees and beneficial insects:

SAM_1476 SAM_1493 SAM_1488 SAM_1478

This week in my new kitchen garden:

My potatoes are beautiful this year with hardly a slug hole in sight at the moment (though this wet weather may change that).  These potatoes are a variety called ‘Marfona’ which are a second early and they are absolutely delicious and have grown to a good size:

SAM_1434

The lettuces are continuing to feed us well, together with the first spring onions I sowed in modules back in March.  My greenhouse cucumber plant has produced its first two cucumbers as well, though the remaining fruits are a long way from being ready yet.

Also we are now eating tomatoes from the one greenhouse plant that I brought from the nursery….(the other plants I grew from seed).  I bought this one plant in the hope I could spread out my harvest as I was a bit behind sowing my greenhouse tomatoes, so the plan was this plant would give me fruit until my others were ready….and the plan seems to be working.

SAM_1435

I have picked my first onions this week and they were also really good and tasty.  There was no sign of the allium leaf miner because I was very careful to cover them in environmesh.  You can read about the damage the allium leaf miner does here.

SAM_1446

I also had my first cut of curly kale.  It has grown really quickly since I sowed it on 22nd April and it looked too tasty to leave, so we had it for dinner last night:

SAM_1481 SAM_1470

I also picked some parsley from my garden this week and I made a lovely parsley sauce to go with some fish that I bought:

SAM_1471 SAM_1472

And not forgetting the courgettes that are coming thick and fast:

SAM_1415

And I picked some fruit this week too.  There isn’t loads of it as my fruit bushes are young yet, but it’s not bad for a first year.  I picked a few more gooseberries, some black currants and white currants and a few blueberries:

IMG_2551 IMG_2553

I always think that the currants look like ‘jewels’ when you first pick them.

One thing my family were happy about this week, was I picked my first kohl rabi of the year.  I think it is a strange looking vegetable but it tastes lovely.  You can cook it like a turnip, or grate it raw into a salad, but I just chop the skin off and serve it raw as a snack with a dollap of salad cream and it dissappears in seconds in the ‘Thrift’ house:

IMG_2549 SAM_1469

.

I have noticed a few things in my new kitchen garden will soon be ready:

My french beans and runnerbeans are growing well…

SAM_1479 SAM_1480

My red and white cabbages are starting to bulb up in the centre:

SAM_1483 SAM_1482

And in row of beetroot there are some I will be picking and cooking in the next few days:

SAM_1486 SAM_1487

And my outdoor tomatoes just need some good sunny days to ripen:

SAM_1494

I also noticed that my swedes are growing nicely too, though these will be a while yet until they are ready.  I sowed these in newspaper pots on the 23rd April and then transplanted them when they were a decent size.  I always think this protects them from the slugs and snails as they are big enough to cope with a bit of damage when I plant them out:

SAM_1485

.

So amazingly the kitchen garden is doing really well in it’s first year.

I absolutely love the ability to pick something and cook it / eat it straight away.  This is one luxury I didn’t have with my allotment and I can honestly say I didn’t realise how lovely freshly picked lettuces tasted when you eat them immeadiately after picking them.

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

Homegrown potatoes, kale and parsley cooked within 45 minutes of picking

.

I have got to be honest I haven’t done a thing in my new kitchen garden this week, other than water my pots and harvest my fruit and vegetables…..I suppose this is the beauty of having a ‘small’ kitchen garden rather than an allotment, though I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative thing for me as I still really miss my allotment plots.

However, this has given me some time to start to think about the rest of my garden that I haven’t yet planned.  This is the area that Judy (our dog) runs around in and we sit in.

Unfortunately there was an old holly tree next to the fence that really had seen better days.  It only has a few red berries on each year for the birds to enjoy and what few leaves it has, it sheds daily during the summer on the ground below…….so we decided it was time to chop it down.

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

An old photo of the holly tree on the right hand side

We considered paying someone to chop the tree down, but it wasn’t really that big so we did it ourself by removing as many branches as possible first…..then while Mr thift sawed, I pulled the top of the tree in the direction we wanted it to fall, using our extendable dog lead as we didn’t have any rope!….yes you did read this right and yes ‘health and safety’ went out of the window for this job.

The top section cam down well and then Mr Thrift sawed the bottom two sections off easily.

I have since read that old folk law tells you never to cut a holly tree down as it brings bad luck…I am not superstitious but if we do have any bad luck from now on, at least we have something to blame it on!

IMG_2542 IMG_2545 IMG_2546

This will free up another growing area for me, though I’m not sure yet if it will be ornamental or not.

.

In the home this week:

.

This week it is a year since my father-in-law passed away and I decided to make a flower arrangement for his grave side.  I bought some yellow and white flowers to use as these are the colours he loved.  I used bay from my garden which reminds us of the wonderful greek kababs he used to cook us and I used roses to make a cross as they were his favourite flowers and the cross symbolised the church that he loved so dearly.  I hope he looks down and likes the arrangement and knows we still miss him so much:

IMG_2541

.

This week I decided to make a victoria sandwich (using my ‘chuck-it-all in method) as I have been fancying one all week and it was lovely.  I also made my usual bread rolls (white and brown) for the week and froze them so they are fresh each day for lunch and then I made some more dishwasher liquid out of soap nuts, as I had run out:

SAM_1463 SAM_1466 SAM_1467 SAM_1461 SAM_1495

.

My daughter has been cooking again this week (I love it when she cooks).  She used some of the homegrown vegetables to make a risotto and served it with a homegrown salad and some ‘whoopsied’ garlic bread…..a very tasty, frugal meal!

SAM_1448

My daughter and her friend also made some dolly mixtures at home this week using ready made coloured icing.  I thought they look brilliant!

They stuck the colours together by just wetting the surface:

SAM_1436 SAM_1445

They put them in a bag made of cellophane and tied them with a ribbon and they looked great….they would make a really good gift:

SAM_1444

.

Finally this week I was about to hoover our bedroom carpet when I decided there wasn’t enough carpet left to hoover!   This carpet was left in the house when we first moved here and it wasn’t up to much then……it now had more holes in it than actual carpet.  I decided it was rediculous to keep it any longer, (especially as we kept falling over the edges where the holes were), but I knew we couldn’t afford a new carpet in this room yet.

I pulled some of the carpet up and found some lovely floorboards underneath.  There were no gripper rods either to hold the carpet down.   So being impulsive as I am, I shouted Mr Thrift and together we pulled up the whole carpet and underlay and took it down to the tip.  There was dust everywhere as the underlay and carpet had disintegrated in lots of places and it took me ages to hoover it all up.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the old, horrible carpet with the massive holes, but I did take a photo of the floor boards that we uncovered and they look great.

SAM_1497

I will sand down and re-varnish / paint the boards another time, but until then they look loads better than the old carpet.

.

Finally this week, Wilkinsons had a sale with lots of gardening equipment and seeds.  I bought some seeds that I knew I needed for next year and I also treated myself to a sign for my garden that was reduced to £1.75.  I placed it on our outhouse door that sits directly outside my kitchen window, so I can read it everyday as it sums up ‘my world’ perfectly:

SAM_1449

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Removing A Conifer And Planting Onions & Garlic

I thought I would start by mentioning that my usual monthly blog post which covers ‘What to do in the kitchen garden in April’ can be found here if anyone is interested.  It covers what weather to expect in a  typical April, which vegetables and salads to harvest, which seeds to sow and what to plant and also jobs that need to be carried out this month.

So it’s well worth a read to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

.

October 2014

October 2014

Last weekend we began chopping down the conifer on the left hand side of the photograph above.  This was a small conifer I bought approximately 14 years ago when it was about 30cm high.  The label said it was a slow growing conifer that should grow no more than a meter high!

Obviously I wasn’t expecting it to grow as tall as it did and it was totally unsuitable for the place I had planted it in…. I had to tie the tree to our wall to stop it leaning over, as there wasn’t enough soil for the roots to keep it stable.

So we spent a happy morning chopping it down and poor Mr Thrift nearly wore himself out sawing the trunk across:

IMG_2311 IMG_2316

But we eventually managed it and I rebuilt part of the dry stone wall that the previous owner of the house built and I replaced some of the compost.

I have decided this year to plant some sweetpeas to climb up the wall and I will be planting a few wild flower seeds underneath.

SAM_0674

.

It’s been a real wet and windy week here in the Midlands and all the rain reminded me that I still hadn’t set up my two water butts that I brought from my old allotments.

SAM_0675

I decided to catch the water from my house with the first water butt and so I bought a ‘Rain water diverter’ to fix onto my drainpipe.

I have got to admit I have never done anything like this before, but I thought I would have a go.  Thankfully it wasn’t too difficult and I managed it on my own.

SAM_0680

I tested it to make sure it worked by asking my daughter to pour water out of her bedroom window into the drainpipe (not very technical) and I am pleased to say it worked.

The rain water diverter should channel rain water into the waterbutt until it’s full and then it will go down the drain as normal.  The plan is that I will add another waterbutt at this stage though.

SAM_0678

It rained the following night and it did capture some of the rain and I was very proud until the morning when I noticed that the seal around the tap was now leaking….I must have caused some damage transporting the water butt from my allotment back home.

I had to empty the water butt again to repair the seal and it will now take a couple of days to dry so I am still unable to use the waterbutt.

.

Next week I am hoping to set up my second water butt to capture the water from my greenhouse.

.

This week I tried desparately to plant my onions and garlic which I started off at the beginning of March in my cold greenhouse (I was a bit late planting my garlic, but I thought I may as well give it a go).  Every time I started to plant them, it rained so I had to stop. Finally we had a lovely day yesterday and I managed to complete planting them.

SAM_0676 SAM_0677

Both the onions and garlic had grown well in my newspaper pots and I had prepared the grown where I planted them a couple of weeks earlier by raking in some blood, fish and bone and covering the area with clear plastic to warm the soil up.

I decided to plant the onions 10cm apart and each of the rows just 10cm apart too (usually I plant each row 30cm apart).  If you plant onions closer together you will get smaller onions, but there is method behind my madness……as my kitchen garden is so small, I have decided to harvest the rows in between and eat the onions when they are ‘spring onion’ size in salads etc.

I have planted 66 onions altogether and I am hoping that this way I will have more to harvest over a longer period and the remaining onions can then grow to a good size (this is the plan…I hope it works).

SAM_0688

I also made two ridges using my draw hoe and planted the garlic into the ridges.  Garlic tends to rot in very wet soil and I was very conscious of how wet the soil in my garden was.

(I am keeping my fingers crossed that I have got away with planting my garlic so late):

IMG_2321

.

On the ground next to my garlic I have used some old grocery boxes (that I brought home from my allotment), to warm the soil ready to sow some beetroot seeds next week.  The boxes are great as it’s easy to rest glass on top of them and they have a small area just under the glass which lets the air circulate too:

IMG_2322

.

Dispite all the wind this week, my broadbeans seem to be doing well, though I do still need to provide some support for them, to stop them from falling over when they are bigger.

IMG_2323

At the moment they are still looking quite perfect and I am not used to this, as usually at this time of year on my old allotment, I would always see the tell tale sign of the ‘pea and bean weevil’….. maybe because I am away from the allotment I may not suffer so much?

  You can see in the photograph below, that my broadbeans last year had little notches in the edges of the leaves.  This is the work of the ‘Pea and Bean weevil’.

SAM_8667

The adults are beetles that are approximately 4-5mm long, but they are very hard to find as they drop to the ground when they are disturbed.  Their larvea eat the root nodules of the plant in the soil.

I have never yet lost any plants due to the Pea and bean weevil as most broad beans seem to tolerate the damage, but in theory a bad attack could kill your plants.  I make sure that when I overwinter my plants, they are healthy by giving them a feed in the Spring with a general purpose fertiliser (I use blood, fish and bone) and if the weather is dry then I water them.  This way I ensure my plants can cope with an attack without the need to use chemical sprays.

.

Elsewhere in my kitchen garden my autumn raspberries are now starting to grow.  I am very relieved as the soil was very cold and wet when I brought them home from my allotment:

IMG_2326

My chives will soon be ready to pick if them keep growing at this speed:

IMG_2327

And the daffodills that I planted a few weeks ago are still producing a lovely display, together with a pot of bulbs that I planted two years ago:

IMG_2324 IMG_2325

So all in all the new kitchen garden is starting to come to life.

.

At home this week:

.

This week I have been making my laundry liquid again.  I get a real buzz when I think about how much money I have saved by using it over the last few years and it is so quick to make.

You can find the recipe for laundry liquid here.

SAM_0681 SAM_0682 SAM_0683

I also made some more dishwasher liquid using soapnuts, as this also saves money and washes our pots and pans well.  Again it is quick and easy to make.

You can see how I make the dishwasher liquid here if you are interested.

SAM_0684 SAM_0685 SAM_0686

.

.

So all in all it’s been another busy week and I am looking forward to a rest over the Easter holiday….but I’m not very good at sitting still when there is so much to do.

IMG_2308

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today, I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great Easter and a good week!

Back To Basics & Making My Own Cleaning Products.

This weekend I spent a happy hour checking our finances were in order.  I regularly make sure that I have entered every little purchase to make sure we know exactly where every penny has gone to.  This helps us to save money in the long term as we can see if there are any problem areas that we need to concentrate on.

Unfortunately we are not perfect and one thing I noticed this time, is we are starting to visit the shops more and more often.  Each time is for something I have forgotten to buy on my ‘big’ shop at the beginning of the month.  This wouldn’t be quite so bad if we just bought what I needed, but the supermarkets are clever and we nearly always come out with an extra something that we don’t really need and it uses up more of our food budget.

Recently, I have been working so hard on my allotment (due to being poorly in Autumn) that I have started to take shortcuts when I come home and I have been making ‘easier’ meals and not sticking to my meal plans.  So I know this is at the root of the problem and this has got to stop and it’s back to strictly keeping to a meal plan for us.  Luckily I have just about ‘caught up’ with my winter jobs at my allotment, so hopefully I can get back to normal now.

SAM_8557.

Regular visitors to my blog will know that one thing I do regularly to save money, is to make laundry liquid.  On Saturday I ran out of my last batch of liquid, so I made some more.

I prefer to wash our clothes using homemade laundry liquid, as I know what goes into it….I suffer quite badly with excema and I used to find that shop-bought powers and liquids always made my excema worse.  My homemade laundry liquid doesn’t seem to affect me all, which is great and it is really really easy to make.

The laundry liquid only takes 10-15 minutes to make and it lasts for weeks.  It is great for every day washing and the last time I worked it out a few months ago, it cost me approximately £1.75 to make and I managed to get 71 washes out of it.  This works out at a staggering 2.5p per wash….the supermarkets can’t beat that!

The recipe for the liquid is here.

SAM_8627

I use old ‘pop’ bottles to store the liquid in, which I label and keep under my sink.

.

This weekend I also made some more dishwasher liquid using ‘soapnuts’:

I know there will be people reading my blog today who use them regularly for washing clothes, but unfortunately I didn’t think they washed our clothes very well even though I followed the instructions to the letter and I did try using them various times before I decided to give up.

So my soap nuts sat unused for ages, but I couldn’t bare to throw them away as I had paid good money for them.

Picture 030

In January I discovered that you can use soapnuts to make a dishwasher liquid and this is something I have been trialing since January and I have found it works really well.  When my stash of soap nuts finally run out, I will definately buy some more.

SAM_8028

  I find that if I use the liquid in my dishwasher every wash, then grease builds up inside my dishwasher, so I have found that it works best if I use it for two washes and then wash once with a shop-bought dishwasher tablet once and then use the dishwasher liquid twice etc.  This way it still saves me quite a bit of money.

You can find how to make it here.

My Dishwasher Liquid

My Dishwasher Liquid

.

Incidentally,  I also topped up the rinse aid compartment in my dishwasher this week.  Again I don’t buy a shop-bought rinse aid, I use white distilled vinegar which is very cheap to buy from your local supermarket and works just as well.

SAM_2526

.

Another thing I did at the weekend was to make some more ‘multi-purpose vinegar spray’.  I use this to clean down my work surfaces in my kitchen, our table mats, my cooker hob etc.  Again it is really cheap to make and it lasts ages, but more importantly I know what goes into it.

All it is made of is distilled white vinegar (which most supermarkets sell), with a few drops of ‘Tea Tree Oil’ (which I buy from Wilkinsons).

Distilled white vinegar is great as it’s cheap to buy and cuts through grease and dirt and is antibacterial too, so it kills most germs.  It does smell when you first spray it, but the smell doesn’t linger and no one will know you have used it.  White vinegar is milder than malt vinegar and dries odourless.

I mix the vinegar with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil which has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties too.

This makes a fantastic natural multi-purpose cleaner and it lasts for ages:

SAM_8631

.

I use a lot of ‘old fashioned’ cleaning methods as I like the thought of not using chemicals and saving money at the same time.  I wrote about all the ‘old fashioned cleaning methods’ I could think of here if anyone is interested.

I find that I feel rather smug now when I see people with expensive chemical cleaners and washing powders in their trollies, knowing that I wash and clean for a faction of what they are paying.

My cleaning cupboard consists of only a few things that clean eveything in my house…and that’s the way I like it..

SAM_2503.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at my usual time.