Tag Archive | Laundry liquid

Tomato Blight & A Cake Sale

My small garden is continuing to produce crops.

This week I have been picking cucumbers (both indoor and outdoor ones), raspberries, runner beans courgettes, patty pans and I dug up the rest of my early potatoes (marfona) and a few of my main crop potatoes (desiree):

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I also picked my first kohl rabi of the season – which my daughters love to eat raw, dipped in salad cream, hopefully there will be more soon:

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I have also continued to pick tomatoes from my greenhouse and chery tomatoes from my outdoor hanging baskets:

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However, I spotted the dreaded ‘blight’ on my outdoor tomatoes.  I grow a variety called ‘outdoor girl’ which usually give me a good crop each year before blight strikes, however this year they didn’t grow as quickly as usual due to a colder start in late Spring and so all the tomatoes were still green.

Tomato blight:

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“Tomato blight is caused by the same fungus as potato blight.  It is called ‘Phytophthora infestans’, but it is more commonly known as ‘late blight’.  It is a windblown fungus that can travel long distances.  It spreads when the temperature is above 10C and the humidity is above 75% for two consecutive days, known as a ‘Smith Period’.   In the UK outbreaks can occur from June onwards and apparently it is usually seen in the south west first.

The disease is common on outdoor tomatoes – tomatoes grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse have a bit of protection from it, as the spores have to enter through doors and vents.

The early stages of blight can be easily missed and not all plants are affected at the same time, however it will spread rapidly”

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For some strange reason, the tomatoes next to my shed and my cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets haven’t yet succumbed to the dreaded blight, though I am checking them daily, together with my greenhouse tomatoes:

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However the cherry tomatoes that are growing in pots, began to show blight symptoms a couple of days after blight was first spotted in my garden:

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What to do if you spot blight on your plants:

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“If you catch blight early you can strip the tomatoes from the plant and ripen them on a windowsill.  Be careful to check them every day as some of them may already be affected.

If you have caught it really early, you can use the green tomatoes to make chutney, as provided they haven’t turned brown, the tomatoes are safe to eat.

Take up your blighted tomato plants straight away and dispose of them, so you don’t help to spread the spores to your neighbour’s plots.

 According to ‘Garden Organic’ the stems and leaves of affected plants can be added to your compost heap, as the spores won’t survive on dead plant material, but do not compost any blighted fruit (the tomatoes) as the spores survive in the seeds inside”

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My tomatoes are now on trays waiting to ripen….I always pick them off the plants when I first spot blight and this way I manage to save approx 75% of the tomatoes…provided blight is spotted early enough:

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I’ve been busy in the garden this week, summer pruning and cutting back overgrown plants.

I started with the pyracantha that was trying to escape over the fence into next doors garden.  The trunk was quite thick at the top so I had to ‘saw’ the top off.  Unfortunately I did lose most of the berries that would have ripened in autumn, but it needed to be done before it upset the neighbours:

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I then removed the sweet peas that were growing in a pot…they have given a wonderful display, but they sadly succumbed to mildew and were hardly producing any more flowers:

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 I also removed the sweet peas that were growing over the arch I made, again they gave a wonderful display but they also succumbed to mildew and had stopped producing flowers.

At the end of May I had also planted two pumpkin plants (that produce small pumpkins) alongside the sweet peas……these are growing nicely now and I made sure they tied onto the arch for support:

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I also gave my bay tree a summer prune and it smelt lovely as I was cutting the leaves.  It looks much neater now:

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One final job this week was to remove the lettuces that I tried to grow in guttering.  Unfortunately they didn’t do very well at all.  When I first planted them it was very wet and as they were so close to the fence…. I thought that they would stay really dry, however this was not the case and they were too wet and I suspect the roots began to rot.  This was followed by really hot weather and  the compost was really really dry even though I watered them every day.

So I removed the compost and drilled drainage holes along the guttering so the new compost wouldn’t become water logged in bad weather:

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I then thought about how I could keep the compost from drying out too much and came to the conclusion I should use water retaining granules…but I didn’t have any.  Then I remembered that in a gardening program once, Christine Walkden said she used old sponges that she cut up…..so this is what I did:

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I then mixed the sponge with compost and put it in the guttering……

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…..and then I sowed some more lettuce seed.

Unfortunately the local squirrel came along then and buried some monkey nuts in a couple of places, so I had to put some wire over the guttering too:

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I will let you know if this now works.

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This week in the home:

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This week has been a baking week.  My youngest daughter did a cake sale with her ‘NCS’ friends to raise money for ‘Wishes 4 kids’ and my eldest daughter and I helped by making some little cakes for her.  I also made a chcolate cake to raffle off and altogether they raised £120, which is incredible.

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However an hour after starting the sale they were beginning to run out of cakes and I quickly made some more.  I made 28 chocolate chip fairy cakes, 12 double chocolate muffins and a massive tray of cereal cakes and I defrosted some cheesy courgette scones from my freezer (which defrost quickly).  I somehow managed to deliver them all in the car within 65 minutes…..I didn’t know I could bake that quickly, but it helped that I knew the recipes off by heart.  Unfortunately when I got back home the kitchen was in a right mess with pots and bowls everywhere, but at least they raised some more money at the cake sale.

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This week I have also been doing my usual baking…

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And I also made some cheesy courgette scones which I froze for another time (though most of them went to the cake sale in the end):

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I also made some laundry liquid as I had run out (I still love making this as it is so cheap and I really can’t understand why I brought expensive powders for so long when laundry liquid is so cheap and easy to make):

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And finally I made some homemade burgers to freeze for another time and some to have for tea.  Homemade burgers are delicious as they actually taste of beef (I never think shop brought ones do).

They are so easy to make……I mix good quality lean mince beef with a couple of grated onions and a chopped garlic clove and I then mix in an egg to bind it altogether.

You can mix in any herbs and spices too if you want….a teaspoon of chilli powder makes them taste delicious too.

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I then take a handful and roll it into a ball and then flatten it into a burger shape (make sure your burgers aren’t too thick or they won’t cook evenly).  At this stage you can freeze the burgers between pieces of greaseproof paper for another time, or you can fry them until they are cooked.

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I served ours inside homemade rolls with salad, mayonaise and a slice of cheese.  I also added a side portion of sweet potato wedges and they were a real treat!

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

Have a great week.

XXX

“Simple Living In The Modern Day”

This week I watched the first episode of the new series of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ (BBC Two on Tuesday Evenings).  I don’t watch many programs on TV, but I enjoyed the last series so I made a special effort to watch it.

For those who have never seen this program, the contestants bake the most amazing cakes, biscuits, breads and desserts that all look stunningly perfect and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood taste and judge their heavenly creations.

At the end of the program I made a comment to my youngest daughter that I would love to bake as well as the contestants on the program and she replied “you always bake a perfect chocolate cake”, which is not quite true but it made me feel nice and gave me a warm feeling inside.

I then began to think about ‘baking’ and ‘cooking from scratch’….

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‘Afternoon Tea’ at our house

I enjoy baking and cooking meals from scratch and I feel it is part of living a ‘simpler life’.  I love the contented feeling I have when I see my family happily eating the food I have produced for them.  The meals I cook are not always perfect and I sometimes have the odd burnt bits on top, or some cakes may slope to one side, but as long as the things I cook are within our budget, healthy, taste nice and fill empty stomachs, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

I know most people just do not have the time to cook meals from scratch or even ‘want’ to cook meals from scratch, but I enjoy it and love the challenge of feeding my family healthily on a tight budget, which is why I took on my allotments.  My allotments enable me to provide my family with organic fruit and vegetables, which we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford.  It took me a while to get into the swing of growing my own food, but now it is second nature and it is something I really enjoy.

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Between 1st January 2011 and 31st December 2011, when I was cultivating three plots (I have four plots now), I worked out how much money I saved by growing my own fruit and vegetables during the year.  When I picked any fruit or vegetables I weighed them the same day and worked out how much they would have cost me if I’d bought the ‘value’ (not organic) version  from my local supermarket and made a note of this on a spreadsheet.  I picked the cheapest priced fruit and vegetables to work the cost out, as this is what I would have to buy if I didn’t grow it myself, even though my vegetables were grown organically.

By the end of the year I had picked and used £1454.53 of fruit and vegetables and this didn’t include things which you just can’t buy from the supermarkets e.g. patty pans, kohl rabi and fresh gherkins.  So I decided it definitely pays to ‘grow your own’.

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By growing my own fruit and vegetables I know that no pesticides have been used to grow them and by using basic ingredients to cook from scratch, I nearly always know what my family are eating.

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Cooking from scratch is a skill I learnt over time, by reading cookery books, blogs and looking up recipes on the internet.  Years ago my friends used to call me the ‘packet mix queen’ as I never cooked anything myself.

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I learnt to cook because I had to, as money was so tight, but it’s something I really enjoy doing now.  All the recipes I use are not difficult and can be made easily.

When my confidence grew,  I followed this by learning how to preserve my fruit and vegetables, use leftovers and then I started to batch bake.  Finally I learnt to make my own laundry liquid here and clean using old fashioned cleaning methods, using lemons, olive oil and white vinegar, which avoids using harsh chemicals.

I have written about old fashioned cleaning methods here.

The above things all helped to save money.  I am still learning new things as I go along today.

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My blog title today is ‘Simple living in the modern day’:-

I think my generation have the best of both worlds, as in the past cooking from scratch and cleaning would take all day to do.  We now have the advantage of modern day appliances that make cooking and cleaning much easier.  We have bread makers, microwaves, washing machines etc.  which all make light work out of the things that would have taken our ancestors a long time to do, but we also have the benefit of their experience and knowledge too.

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Through reading blogs on the internet I have realised that there are a lot of people out there that want to live more simply in our modern day world and I’m hoping that simple living blogs like mine will help people to take their first steps towards this way of life, enabling them to leave empty ‘materialistic’ lives behind them.

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We started living this way because of necessity (we chose to live on one wage so I could stay at home with our children).  My children are now 15 and 13 years old and yes I could have gone back to work a long time ago, but we chose for our life to continue in the same ‘simple’ way, as we think this way of life is the best way of life for us.

The journey hasn’t always been easy, but now we can see and reap the rewards.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at 4pm.