Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A dandelion Story

The Dandelion Story

One day a little girl wandered here and there, in fields and forest, in gardens to find the flower she would love the most.

As she hurried to her search, she stumbled upon a field of fuzzy balls on hollow green stems.

There were hundreds and hundreds of them. So, she asked them a question: Where would you like to live the most?

'Oh', cried the Dandelions...'I want to live wherever the children will find me as they walk and romp and play in the field.'

'I want to live by the road side, in the meadows, push up in between pavements and stones, to make everyone happy with my bright beautiful colours and to give early salad greens for food to people'

'You are the flower that I like', said the little girl. She bend down to pick the puffy head on the green stem and blew a kiss on this sweet humble bloom.

With that, she said: 'You shall bloom everywhere from spring till autumn and be the children's favourite flower.'

Thus the Dandelion comes very early every year to push her head up in fields, hedges, crevices and had such a sweet long life. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Preserving harvest by Fermentation - leafy green recipe

Dear Family & Friends

While we are at the stage of planning intensive gardening for the purpose of growing our own organic food, we also have to start thinking how to keep and preserve our harvest excess. The food we grow last us all year around. One way of keeping seasonal harvest is by fermentation.

Some of the earliest crops that will arrive from the garden
Fermenting greens alters their nutritional value in several ways. In a sense, fermentation moves our leafy green harvest up the food pyramid chart. Fermentation introduces bacteria to our food. (Don't be afraid of bacteria...our bodies are full of it and so with our living environment no matter how clean we think we keep them) After the bacteria have had their fill, there is less energy, or calories, remaining in the veggies as many of the nutrients are pre-digested, making it easier to be absorbed in our intestinal tract. Fibrous cell walls are softened, making their contents more readily available to our digestive enzymes.

While some vitamin C and beta-carotene is lost, the levels of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B-1 and B-2, are often increased. Protein quality is also enhanced as the bacterial enzymes alter the vegetable’s amino acid profile. Fermentation also can break down some of the compounds that inhibit nutrient absorption. It's all good for us, but I must admit that a taste of fermented leaf vegetables is an acquired thing.

eat your greens

Now and again, I will be writing and keeping lacto fermented food recipe here for our record and hopefully you will profit from them too. Would you like to journey with me on this? Let's have a go:)

We have quite a lot of argula/rocket leaves that have over wintered, they will be my first bottle to do this year. Mustard green is also another good candidate.

  • 2 or more bunches shredded leafy greens, enough to fill a quart jar
  • 1-3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  1. In a large bowl combine greens and salt. Massage the leaves with the salt and let rest 10 minutes so that the juices come out of them.
  2. Add half of the greens to a quart jar. Throw in the garlic cloves and pack the rest of the greens tightly on top, pushing them down so that the juices cover them.
  3. Cover tightly and ferment 3 days or until they are bubbly and tangy to your liking. Transfer to cold storage.
Opening a jar of greens is always handy specially when you had a busy day yet still need greens with your meal.

Enjoy and make the most of your day today.



Saturday, March 14, 2015

How I Grow My Sweet Potato Slips

Dear Family & Friends

In countries where we get a share of  winter season, growing sweet potato is not as straight forward as in the tropics. Our family enjoys eating sweet potato, but it is not common stuff in the market and a bit pricey in the supermarket. So, growing your own has become my goal.

My sweet potato buried in moist compost for the purpose of growing 'slips' to plant out.

Sweet potatoes are started from slips (rooted stem). You can purchase slips or start your own. Starting slips using sweet potato bought from grocery store may be problematic. There may be varieties that do not grow well in your area, and/or the roots may have been treated with sprouting inhibitors unless they're grown organically.

Sweet Potato sitting in the water inside a bottle cloche to grow some slips

At first, I was so anxious about the process of growing sweet potato slips, that my husband went and found a distributor in the UK who sells ready slips for £2/slip!  No, I'm not paying that!! I insist on growing my own and refuse to be defeated!  I did had my share of failure in the past. I tried placing the sweet potato in a bottle of water to start with...but after a few days, I've noticed it starts getting moldy...so I quickly changed my tactic and half buried it in a tub of moist compost...and gave it a lot of tender loving observation, and kept it warmth by placing it inside the warmest room, even sat the tub in a heated paving stone placed on top of the log burner at night. In 3 weeks time, I got my success! It's still growing more slips... so far, with two sweet potato I can see 10 slips...£20!! Ha! Ha! I can just see pound sterling!!
Another half buried sweet potato growing it's first two slips...more to come!

If you want to grow your own slips, start 6-8 weeks before planting time. Select 1 1/2 inch diametre sweet potatoes. Soak the sweet potatoes in water for two hours, then place them in a flat or pot half filled with soil or screened compost. Cover with 2 inches of lose soil. Keep the soil consistently moist in a warm and sunny spot indoors. When you are ready to plant, cut your slips an inch away from the  "mother sweet potato" to avoid transferring any plant diseases. Slips should be 8-10 inches long when pulled.

Weather is unpredictable.. started some direct seed sowing last week, but this week, it's snow building fun!

Our next process would be the planting side of it. I will post again later on once the weather warms up for us to get things going in the garden.

Hope you have a happy gardening day today too:)



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gardening is way way of life

Dear Family & Friends

I don't know what to classify myself when meeting people. I'm not retired, laid off, unemployed or between jobs. I'm just simply no longer part of that accepted routine that many knows as 9-5 to 65 merry go round! It started years ago when we had our first born daughter.

Nothing beats a homegrown sweet corn.

Since we moved to Bulgaria, I became more conscious of becoming sufficient and fancied a simply way of living...more homegrown sort of stuff. It suits us well. After all,  I'm homeschooling our two girls too. With the privacy of a walled garden, I try and test my gardening skills...and no one is really at my back as unwanted supervisor:) I've learned through trial and error...and enjoyed what I'm doing. The whole family benefited:) 

Fruit trees just yield year after year once established

We grow a lot of food for our year's consumption, never had the need for those things from supermarket since! Forsook frivolous amenities, battering with neighbours and mastering the art of re-purposing. We live without air conditioning, TV and much of everything else modern society deems essential. This is not life of deprivation. It's just mean that it doesn't include relying on government aid or charity. Instead, we focus on and build for ourselves what we truly want from life.

Daily harvest - a bit of everything, depending on what the season brings

Life at home is busy...wonderful kind of busy. As you can see, one cannot afford to be lazy. Yes, I'm not working...but I've got a list of jobs to tackle and tick each day:) Gardening is just one of them.



Friday, February 27, 2015

Employ Tools Minimally

Dear Family & Friends

My husband have a few garden tools stored in the barn.... the shovel, the fork, the pick ax  etc...and I notice it is expanding by the year too!

Garden Tools Maintain
Every morning when I head to work (in the garden, of course!)...I just carry with me 3 things: my fashionable handbag, I mean a bucket...and inside - a hand trowel, an old pencil colour, and a scissor. Life is just that simple!

The bucket handbag can hold the pulled weeds to take to the compost bin...or to hold some collection of harvest to take back to the kitchen for the day's use. That's actually what I call my 'pay' but I don't need a wallet for that, nor a lips-stick in my handbag for the matter ;P


My girl's old pencil colour is a good recycled tool for poking holes and lifting seedlings out of pots. The hand trowel is useful for digging bigger holes for planting, so finger nails don't get damaged, and for picking bugs you don't like to touch etc...

The scissors is also handy for opening new seed packets, specially the foiled secured packets where no nails or teeth can tear, and for harvesting veggies and flowers...or just snipping old death plants to tidy up a bit. When feeling cruel, to snip slugs before they escape! (now that's gross!...better to just let the chickens do the job ;) so, use the hand trowel...scoop it and toss in the air... be sure to have it land inside the chicken pen!

What tools do you carry to work each day? Any powerful weapons for a powerful job?

Happy gardening day!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet - Guide Reference

There's so much to get excited for the coming spring garden...First of all, the excitement of planning what to grow and the thoughts of harvesting homegrown good food for the family. 

Every year I want to do better than the last and I refer to my guides and notes of the past to aid me. 

Here is a concise vegetable growing cheat sheet than I find easy to follow at a glance and is keeping it for reference. The veggies listed are what we would grow, and I more or less adapt the vegetable sowing guide to suit our gardening conditions. I found it from this website: http://overgrowthesystem.com. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gardening in the Winter Season

Dear Family & Friends

There's not much you can do in the garden during winter time. Probably it's gardener's rest time, but I just have to do some growing even in the middle of winter! Even when our temperature can come down to as much as minus 20.

Five Rosemary cuttings propagation in a soda bottle cloche:)

In December, I did a few cuttings from our Rosemary plant in the garden. I filled soda bottles with compost and planted my cuttings in. My simple way of propagating this herb. I'm hoping to get more plants to use as garden hedging in Spring time. For the moment this bottle cloche sits by the kitchen window.

My first propagated scented geranium is doing well by the window sill.

Sometime ago, a lady in our village passed this plant stem with a few leaves. I did not know what plant that was, but the leaves are very aromatic. I was told to use them in my fruit compote making. Unfortunately, most of the fruits were eaten fresh by the two girls. So, I decided to place this plant stem in the water and determined to search it's identity on internet. It's scented geranium!! The stem took roots in the water, and I planted them in a yogurt pot afterwards. It's doing well by the kitchen window. I will plant them outside when weather warms up and would want to have more of this charming plant later on.

My DIY mini green house for seeds and seedlings.

We often have bright sunshine during winter. More soda bottle cloches were made, I filled them up with home made compost, and lined them by the window ledge to sunbathe. My intention is to warm up the soil and use them to sow some vegetable seeds. We have no greenhouse, so this is my DIY mini green house to get some head start for this year.

Gardening is fun:) Let's make garden.