:: Pond-ering ::

blossom lake

It’s not ours yet, but walking around the pond and dreaming of what the best place for a small vegetable garden will be, makes me happy. So many possibilities. The owner planted a lot of holly, and while a few bushes are beautiful and nice for the birds, I will probably get rid of the most of them. I cannot wait to dive into the world of berries and maybe some fruit, and have the space to experiment.

pond trees Canadian geese


It’s so idyllic. There were two ducks, and six Canadian geese. They are beautiful, but there’s more to it. I know at least one couple of them tends to breed on the island in the pond (the little bridge is submerged in winter, so it’s not easily accessible at the moment) and I’m not sure yet how they wille behave when there are littles. They tend to be rather aggressive then. They’re an exotic species here in Belgium and invasive. We know they will not let the ducks make a nest, even if there’s enough space for the two to live together. And they poop. A lot. Over a pound per goose per day. If the six of them I saw today decide to stay, we’ll have to clean a lot. And it does not do any good to the soil (or the pond for that matter). So, we’ll see about them.


I’ve also been dreaming up the kids rooms. See what they need new and see what furniture they can take. I’m all for recycle and reuse, but their bedrooms have quite a different layout compared to what they have now, so we’ll have to buy some things new. They also had to negotiate who would take which room, as they’re not the same size. Their decision came as a surprise to me, but I’ll make it work for them, and I’m proud they figured it out. Today I ordered a new bed for our daughter. She doesn’t know it yet, but it’s a semi-high one, so there will be a lovely little nook to play and read in underneath. She’ll be so happy and most of all: it was one of the only beds I found that exactly fit the space I had in mind for it. And of course there will be pink walls. That was a promise that stood already long before the decision to move. I cannot wait to put her room together when we have the keys.

Frugal fail: the nettle episode

I like the beginning of a month. First of all: all money is in, possibilities are lurking. Strangely enough, this motivates me more to be frugal than when money is tight at the end of a month.

One thing I’ve always wanted to try, was to use nettle in the kitchen. As it is still rather early in spring, my husband has not yet completely taken over the garden and dug out all the weeds, so I had spotted some fresh, young, tasty looking species. Hurray!

nettle_picking_SoH

Once picked (wearing gloves, of course), I rinced them in luke-warm water, thinking most of the sting would be out of it. No, it was not. Luckily, I remembered that vinegar helps with the itching. Learned that the hard way when I was a kid, lol.

I completely forgot about the nettles in the colander, focusing on making a delicious red dahl with rice (recipe to be found here, for those who understand Dutch or just want to be tempted by the gorgeous photography). The dahl was only a success for me. Little Boy had a taste, decided he liked it but started to beg for chocolate eggs. Meal time turned into a mess and when he tasted again thirty minutes later, he spitted it out. Husband, I already knew, would eat it politely and then decide to ditch the rest of his plate once he decided to have swallowed enough healthiness. Oh well, the more for me for lunch tomorrow.

A few hours later I remembered the nettles. Doing a quick search on the web, I let them sit, once more, for ten minutes in warm water (really warm this time), and then blanched them for a few minutes in boiling water. Smelt like fish?! Hmm.

I drained and cooled the green leaves, and got only a cubic inch of it left. Uh-oh. Then had a taste. More uh-oh. Frankly, it didn’t taste like anything. I had the feeling I could run out, repeat the process with any green leaf in my garden (let’s say our hedge, or the camelia plant my mother gaves of for Easter). Subtle taste? Try bland. Try grass. Try “I’m playing in my mud kitchen, want some?“.

So I chopped the whole bunch (oh yeah), and mixed it with a few spoons of cream cheese, to which I added lots of pureed garlic, pepper and salt.  Looks good. Tastes like garlic. Maybe I’ll fill a few little onions with it tomorrow. Or just put it on a cracker. Remembering it must be very healthy. Glad I didn’t go for nettle soup.

nettle_cheese_SoH

But it’s weekend and my husband will be home and gardening.
I’m quite sure there won’t be a nettle left.
Amen.

Wanted: raspberry recipes

I remember a summer holiday in France with my parents. In the field next to our little rental house, there was a magnificent raspberry bush. From that moment on, I knew I wanted raspberries if I ever owned a garden. So here we are, in our very own house and our very own garden and one of the first things I put in were two raspberry bushes. A yellow one and a classic red one. The yellow one never really took, but the red one did. We had some nice berries of it. Then we had to replant it somewhere else, and I was quite afraid to lose it. Especially since my husband really trimmed it down to zero after the growing season. Guess what: it’s back. Boy, did it come back! It’s a big and lush and huge bush that takes all the space it can claim (and that we have to trim every now and then, just to get at our front door).

raspberries

 

It looks so promising that I promised myself not to let go  to waste a single raspberry this year.

And here’s where you come in.
Do you have/use/know a fabulous raspberry recipe without which my life just isn’t complete? Please do leave a link (or more). I promise you to check them out, and I’ll pin them all to my raspberry recipe board!

 

Linking up with


Natasha @ Say G’day Saturday

Five Thoughts on Square Foot Gardening for Beginners

Whoot whoot! I finally have my veggie garden getting up and growing!

I might have mentioned already that my husband didn’t share my enthusiasm for another try on my wildest projects of growing most of our own produce. He remembers all too well the gazillion of times that I was taking on a veggie garden and then neglecting it, even if there was good stuff to harvest. The good thing is that I do almost everything in pots, so it’s fairly easy to clean up. And this year I can add to the list…

blog60 - square foot gardening

a real square foot garden! One of my closest friends (she just grew into that role as we met each other – or husbands are childhood friends and now we all live in the same street. Or children are, by mere coincidence, only ten days apart!) had heard me tell about the principles of squarefoot gardening and when she saw an offer a few weeks later, they just bought it for me. And came to hand it over as a very early birthday present.

So my husband couldn’t sputter anymore and luckily he didn’t. He chose me a spot close to the house (watering the plants in mind, clever as he is), removed the grass around that he couldn’t reach with his mower anyway, and created an extra spot for some more pots that way.

I love the ideas of square foot- and container gardening. From my experience, it has some serious pros, especially for the beginning gardener, so I’ll share with you my

 

Five Thoughts on Square Foot Gardening for Beginners

 

1. You don’t need lots of space and tons of supplies. My first try at growing food took place in a very small garden of a rental house. It was 1,50 meter by 5 meters, ending in a point. And my husband put in a lawn (that’s a story on its own). I had a small line of 80 cm by 2m available where I could experiment. And each and every day I was surprised about how much that space could give me. I bought some plastic pots, an uncle made me a large crate of old scrap wood, I bought some soil and some seeds. That’s it. You can start as small as you like and work from there.

2. You don’t need to care about the soil of your garden or being sad of not having one. I have always used all-round potting soil, even for sowing. And it works just fine. Maybe it’s not perfection, but as a beginning gardener, you shouldn’t care about perfection. Everything that works is pure win. I must admit that the potting soil my husband brought me this year wasn’t the best for my seeds. Many of them didn’t come up, and I guess it’s because the soil was to ‘rough’ and lumpy, with pieces of half-gone wood in it.

3. If you don’t have the patience for seedlings or a place to protect them from the cold or the snails or husbands that don’t know about plants and think it’s just weeds, throwing the whole thing in the compost bin… it might be a good idea to start with little plants that someone else has started for you. Ask more experienced gardeners, or people who by accident are in the possession of 250 tomato plants. Or buy them. It’s not the cheapest solution, but it takes care of the hardest part. And you could build up gradually as your experience grows.

4. If you consider at least a little the climate you live in, you can have success with almost any crop. Here in Belgium there’s little chance I’ll successfully grow melons without a greenhouse (and even then… they need lots of sunlight). But tomatoes work just fine if you put them in a sunny spot. Don’t listen to people who claim you cannot grow zucchini in a pot without having an extra big one and watering them ALL THE TIME. It has been one of my easiest things to grow, even if it was in a normal plastic container, only 35 cm wide and I have not always been the best at watering. By the way: one plant produces a lot of zucchini, even in a pot. If you’re overly enthusiastic and put in four plants, you’ll end up with VERY MANY zucchini. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other easy crops are snow peas, spring onions and rocket. They say radishes are great too, but I never grew a decent one. Which is OK, because I don’t like them anyway.

5. Plant things you would want to eat. It’s a sad thing to have tons of green beans while not liking them. And if you have to make hard choices: grow the things that are the most expensive in the grocery store. It will be an extra boost to your motivation knowing that your hard work saved you some money. You could even brag about it. A little.