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Possum proof plants for bees

We’ve been discussing our future here and what we’d like to do. We are in a great rental and we have decided we would like to sit down with our landlord and make a 5 year plan to ensure we are safe to establish things and build infrastructure.

Now we have bees we really want more bee friendly flowers but as we only have the netted orchard area at this stage and we are using that to grow food and herbs it means space for ornamentals is limited due to the rampaging local wildlife.

I’ve been trying to think of ways around this and in my googling ‘plants that possums don’t eat’ I found some results through a PDF file from town and country gardens called ‘Possum proof plants’

Some of the plants listed are already thriving in our garden but not all are safe for bees.

The Rhododendrons are a worry as the flowers can create ‘mad honey’ once used in wars to take down enemies through poison and hallucinations but from what I read the bees tend to avoid it when they have other options and we should be safe (stay tuned!)

White Lillies, lilacs, Iris and daffodils are some ornamental thriving in our garden but what else could we add?

After going through the list and checking which of the mentioned plants are safe for bees these are the ones I’ve chosen for our garden.

My only concern is that some are not safe for any future livestock. I’m not worried about the poultry as they avoid most of the poisonous plants here already naturally (They even eat the foxgloves leaves a little for self worming!).

If we do get goats in the future they won’t be in the areas the ornamentals are so hopefully everyone will be safe!

After we’ve spoken to our landlord we’ll start making a plan for a ornamental garden surrounding the house.

Bergenia cordifolia

Perennial growing approx 30cm high and spreads to 1m. White or pink flowers in winter, it is
excellent as a ground cover, rock garden or border plant. It is easy to grow, and will tolerate a wide
range of conditions, however it prefers semi-shade and moist, rich humus soil.

Acanthus mollis (Bears breech, Tasmanian angel)

Evergreen, soft wooded perennial which grows in an upright clump to approx 1m x 1m. The dark
green, glossy leaves are lobed and toothed. Purple and white flowers appear on tall, erect spikes
from November to January. This plant has weed potential, so should be planted where it can
spread. A great ‘filler’ in a large garden.

Viburnum opulus (snowball tree, cramp bark, Dog berry, guelder rose, )

Viburnum opulus is European cranberry bush. This viburnum shrub grows roughly 10 feet tall and wide. Like many viburnum shrubs, it grows well in full sun or part shade and adapts to many different kinds of soil. Viburnum opulus grows even in consistently moist or wet soils. Once established, this viburnum also shows good resistance to drought, heat and pollution.

Multi-season interest is a hallmark of Viburnum opulus. White flowers up to 3 inches across appear in late spring and early summer and resemble lacecap hydrangea blooms. The blossoms fade to form pendulous berry clusters that ripen from green to bright cherry red by late summer. Typically berries remain on the shrubs through fall and winter until birds eat them the following spring. Green leaves turn shades of gold and red-purple in fall.

Hydrangea

The most commonly grown hydrangeas are a must have shrub for shade – planted in the ground or
pots. Flowers are mainly blue, pink or white and are ball shaped or lacecap form. You can change
the colour of the flowers by altering the pH – pink in alkaline soil, blue in acidic. Pinks and blues can
be intensified using chemicals resulting in mauve, purple and red blooms. They like a fair amount of water

Chaenomeles speciosa (japonica, flowing quince) we already have these here so will propagate them from cuttings

This drought tolerant deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub grows 8 – 10ft with equal or greater spread.
The ‘Flowering Quince’ has a very dense jumble of spiny branches and has white, pink or red
flowers in late winter / early spring. They make a good bonsai specimen. These are the first flowers to bloom after winter and provide food for the bees.

Snow in summer

Great in hanging baskets, this evergreen, drought tolerant, fast growing ground cover spreads to 60cm
in a sunny well drained position. It has furry silver green leaves with masses of white flowers living up
to the common name ‘snow in summer’. Grows well under roses, and looks great planted with
succulents.

Crataegus laevigata ‘Pauls Scarlet’

Image result for Crataegus Paul’s Scarlet tasmania

Deciduous tree, 5-20 ft (4.5-6 m), low branching, rounded top, dense thorny (to 2.5 cm long) branches.  Leaves alternate, simple, glossy green, rounded 3-5 lobed, serrulate, of variable size.  Flowers double, scarlet with a tinge of rose, very showy

I’ll add more as I come across them but that’s all for now 🐝

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Homemade crumpets

The weather has turned and now we are out of town we need to be more motivated to have creative breakfasts ready for the morning.

For years I’ve been attempting to perfect crumpets at home and have tried a variety of recipes that always ended up more like English muffins until I found this recipe from Marj Conners in Tennant Creek NT in a old issue of grassroots magazine.

I swapped out the store bought yeast for sourdough starter and combined the sourdough starter and flour the night before and added the rest of the ingredients the following morning. I’ve found the best way to cook them is in butter and they do take some patience but once cooked they can be stored in the fridge or frozen and reheated in the toaster.

Crumpets

Ingredients

4 level teaspoons dry yeast (or a cup of sourdough starter)

1/2 Tsp Sugar

1/2 cup warm water

4 Cups plain flour

1 tbsp Bi carb soda

1 tablespoon Cream of Tartar (I used Baking powder)

1 Tsp Sugar

3 Cups water hot enough to make bicarb bubble
Method

Mix together instant Yeast , 1/2 tsp Sugar and warm water to activate yeast in a small bowl add flour

(If making sourdough do this part the night before with starter do the next part the following morning. If you are using instant yeast do the next part right away)

Add remaining ingredients and stir until it is pouring consistency.

Grease a heavy pan – I use butter and do not use egg rings as Marj suggested in her original recipe but it’s up to you .

Pour desired amount of batter into pan that is on high heat.

Wait for Crumpets to get a lot of holes on top and brown on the base then turn down heat until the top is mostly dry on top.

Now you can choose to flip them over but I prefer not too as it keeps them softer and more crumpet like.

remove to plate and start the next one.

They do take time so best to cook on a slow morning!

Enjoy!

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Autumns nearly over

It’s been a long long time between posts and honestly life has been full of change and challenges.

We decided not to move to the North East in Tasmania at this stage. It was a wonderful opportunity but we were unsure it would work out with us being able to invest financially as we had been told by banks even with a deposit we may not be able to borrow much if at all as Ds work is classed as seasonal and we have 2 (almost 3) dependants.

Another reason was we really feel connected to the Huon Valley area and have a good support system here so felt this is where we need to be to welcome our new baby. Although the Huon valley is highly expensive to buy we’ve been lucky enough to find a long term small farm rental where we can live comfortably and use the land until we can one day afford our own land.

We moved over Easter which was very challenging as young Banjo had broken his femur 3 weeks before the move and was in a hip spika cast. For those of you that don’t know what that is it’s a cast that goes over both legs and up his torso so he was completely immobile. It is also very heavy so being in my third trimester of pregnancy I was advised not to lift him and D had to leave work to help care for him.

He has now been out of the cast a few weeks and things are slowly improving he went from crawling around to standing supported and I saw now running, jumping and keeping us on edge.

We have the new challenge at this house with growing our vegetables as now we are closer to the bush we have hundreds of critters roaming about at night.

Our biggest wake up call was last night when after weeks of hard work repairing the orchard net and building veg beds for our winter seedlings we forgot to shut the gate after planting. This morning we rose to find all the seedlings ripped out chewed and fresh possum skat around. We both feel pretty silly and can only blame ourselves especially having first learnt to grow vegetables in the Blue mountains which was possum paradise!

The weather is definitely cooling down and we’ve been doing lots of baking and enjoying these last days as a family of four. Everyone is ready for the new baby and the next chapter of family life.

We don’t know what the future will bring but for now we are warm, safe and secure that feels pretty lucky in the current housing climate of Tasmania.

Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Summer 2018

Well once again the blog has fallen on the back burner and I apologise. I find it difficult these days with two small children ,homeschooling,  two little businesses and D working full time to keep up with everything and I’m probably most active on Instagram if you like to keep up to date with us.

Summer has been busy with lots of visitors from the mainland , lots of work and lots of delicious produce. We’ve not had the best luck with the garden this summer everything seems to be growing very slowly despite the good weather. There is a young wallaby hiding in the garden which we haven’t managed to flush out yet. I know its in there as I find its gigantic scats through the garden as well as my young cucumber seedlings being nibbled.

I think the garden can feel our energies shifting from it as we prepare to move. We haven’t found somewhere yet but with our lease ending two weeks after our new baby is due we are constantly searching for the right place. It is hard in the valley at the moment with long term pet friendly rentals scarce and cheap properties to buy even scarcer. This area has become really popular since we moved down and things get snapped up very quickly.

To keep myself distracted I’ve been enjoying all the delicious summer produce available locally. We have had a really amazing cherry season with local orchards having more than they can deal with and selling fill your own buckets for $5! The Stone fruit orchards had sun dribbling peaches and the blueberries are also abundant. A friend and I have started up a preserving group where women come together to preserve the harvest while the children play and form their own tribes.

The first meeting was small but we did peaches in bottles, Jam and wine. Next we will be buying local cucumbers and others will be bringing their own produce. I’ve decided not to preserve at the next one but instead I’ll be on hand to chop and help newbies. I’ve got lots frozen in the freezer now that plums have come into season and I will slowly be doing a preserve a day. Today was Plum and vanilla bean jam and Apricot Jam from our trees. Jam seems to be what we go through the most as the children love it with yogurt but I also need to get creative and replenish our sauce stocks. I am hoping we get a good crop of tomatoes and I long for the day I can have a polytunnel to increase our growing season.

Until next time

Anne

Fermenting, Uncategorized

Cherries – Sour cherry cider recipe

We have been very spoilt this year with a wonderful cherry season. It wasn’t looking good at first as our ill positioned tree lost all its fruit to bad weather and birds but our neighbors trees, the wild trees and the local orchards are thriving. My friend and neighbour who’s fruit I regularly pilfer in return for preserves gave the call out for me to come help myself to Cherries. I picked as much as I could possibly close to 20kg but the trees were still laden!

D and I spent the next few nights painfully pitting them to freeze and use in preserves so I will slowly be sharing my recipes over the next few weeks. We have so far picked them, Fermented them in a Salsa and made a batch of jam. There will be even more cherries coming our way soon and with the frozen ones and these I plan to bottle cherry pie filling and do some experiments. I’ve also been doing some simple country ciders with the wild sour cherries we have been picking.

Sour Cherry Cider

This is a very simple recipe I make this up in a 5 litre food grade bucket with a muslin close and rubber band to secure it.

I used

500g sour cherries pits squeezed out and squished in the bucket

to this I added 4 Cups of sugar and 1 litre of boiling water. I stir until the sugar is dissolved then top up the bucket with luke warm water before adding the cider yeast. I add 2 tsp but it depends on the brand you are using so just follow the directions on your yeast packet.

I pop the Muslin cloth on and take it to my fermenting spot where I leave it for 3 days

after three days I scoop the cherries out and then leave it another week. Then I bottle it and leave it 2 days to carbonate before putting it in the fridge.

You can drink it whenever you wish but it’s best to leave it 6 months to a year to mature but if you are like me you won’t be able to wait! Luckily this time I’m pregnant so I won’t be enjoying any of this batch until next summer!

 

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Vanillekranse recipe and book review

I love recipe books especially when they are written by farmers and homesteaders. My most recent library borrow was local is lovely by Sophie Hansen who is a venison farmer in central west NSW. The book has lots of homely easy to follow recipes gathered from other farmers mostly from the central west nsw. There was a big sense of nostalgia reading this book as we lived in the area before moving to Tasmania and I recognised some of the local farms. 

We’ve been trying out lots of recipes from the book and so far the favourite has been Vanillekranse which the children really enjoyed making with the piping bag. The result is a buttery biscuit similar to shortbread. The recipe makes quite a lot so they would make wonderful Christmas gifts so snacks for days!

Baking, cake, Uncategorized

Himmelsleiter – Ladder to Heaven

The children and I bake every second day. It is something we enjoy doing together that both nourishes us and saves us money on our grocery bills.

Last week a friend shared a recipe with me for the Austrian pastry Himmelsleiter which translates to Ladder to Heaven. She had baked it on the first of November as it is traditionally baked for All Saints Day.

Himmelsleiter is a sweet yeasted pastry with the dough preparation closely resembling cinnamon scroll dough. The finished baked pastry taste similar to a brioche and was delicious dipped in tea the following day.

This is certainly a recipe I will come back too as it was easy to prepare and delcious to eat so I am sharing it here for you and for my own reference.

Ladder To Heaven – Himmelsleiter

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons warm milk
  • (25 g) sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons  active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup cream
  •  (40 g) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg  at room temperature
  • 4 ½ tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 cups Plain  flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Mix milk and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let it activate until it forms a creamy layer on top of the water, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add whipping cream, butter, vanilla, egg ,sour cream . Stir well.
  3. Add half the flour and stir with a sturdy cooking spoon until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rest of the flour. Make sure you mixed in the flour thoroughly and that there is no flour sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough is quite sticky and almost impossible to knead by hand. Refrain from adding more flour or the Himmelsleiter will get firm.
  5. Work your dough with the spoon for 5 minutes; try to fold the edges towards the center, while turning the bowl clockwise.
  6. Let the dough rise, covered at warm room temperature until almost doubled in volume (about 1 to 1.5 hours) or put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
  7. Place the dough onto a floured surface, lightly flour the top, and roll dough into a rectangular shape with one side 15 inch long and 1/2 inch thick. Flip and flour the dough while rolling to make sure it doesn’t stick to the counter.
  8. Cut the dough into stripes (15-inch x 1/2 inch). Roll each stripe into an S-shape, leaving about 6 inch unrolled (straight) in the middle part.
  9. Place the rolled pastries one next to each other onto a baking sheet, leaving about 3/4 inch space between them (the should “grow together” a bit, when baking).
  10. Cover the dough with a tea towel (sprinkle a little flour on top if they are sticking and distribute the flour with a brush) and leave to prove until puffy, about 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
  11. If you like, you can brush the pastries with egg wash right before baking, which makes them shiny and darker. I usually don’t since I dust them with confectioners’ sugar anyway later.
  12. Bake them in the preheated oven at 350 °F until they get yellowish/golden, about 15 minutes. Don’t let them brown too much.
  13. Let them cool on the baking sheet. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!