Weekend reading

20 April 2018
My birthday flowers were sitting right at the front door to welcome everyone who visited.

Thank you all for the birthday greetings you sent this week.  I have to tell you, I don't feel like a 70 year old lady but I'm enjoying getting used to the feel of it.  It's a good age. I feel like I've earned my stripes. 😊

Setting up your garden in pots

17 April 2018
April, week 3 in The Simple Home

By now you have probably had enough time to think about what you want to plant and where it will grow and hopefully you've gathered a few containers and some growing mix. Depending on what you're hoping to grow, you might also have a trellis or bamboo and string and you might have thought about fertiliser and a few tools.  I hope you find second hand items and can keep your setup costs as low as possible because gardening can become expensive and it doesn't have to be.

Containers and potting mix

Types of containers
Look around your home, garden and garage, as well as your local recycle centre, to see if you have any suitable containers. Most of them need to be big. If you restrict the root growth of what you’re growing, it will also restrict your crops, so large containers are better than small ones. Of course you can grow a few herbs in small containers, or plant then around the edge of larger containers.  Look for old rubber tubs, an old slightly rusty wheelbarrow, boxes made from untreated wood, polystyrene troughs or metal containers. Most of the recycled containers won’t last a long time because they’ll be sitting in the sun all year long. But that doesn’t matter. You can change containers when you change seasons and start planting again. Keep that in mind and as you go through the year keep an open eye for follow-up containers.  And if you have any good ideas for containers that you're using at home, share them with us here.


Another decade milestone

16 April 2018
Hello everyone. There will be no Simple Home post today but I'll have it up tomorrow.  I had a computer-free weekend while I celebrated my 70th birthday. We had a wonderful time yesterday with the family here for afternoon tea. When I was asked a few weeks ago what I wanted to do, my immediate reply was: no gifts and I don't want to go out to dinner. I wanted to be at home with my family. So that is what we did and when they all arrived they brought strawberry sponge cake, cucumber sandwiches, chicken pieces and a bottle of champagne. I made some little sausage rolls and a blood orange cheese cake. So we ate well, enjoyed each other's company and when everyone went home, I had a very contented feeling that it was exactly the right thing for me. It's good when that happens.

Weekend reading

13 April 2018
Gracie has a new toy - a pink pig called Vivienne (Westwood). She took great care with Vivienne the first couple of days she had her but now she's slowly removing the ears and legs.  Poor Viv.




Thanks for dropping by this week. It's good to see so many names I recognise from past years.  I know most readers eventually move on but it's endearing and comforting to have many of you return year after year. I hope you have a great weekend and to those of you who are preparing gardens and containers for vegetables, herbs and fruit, I wish you the best with your endeavours. I hope we all have bountiful harvests in a few months. xx

Our pictorial week

11 April 2018
It's been a busy week so far. We're still painting, although not every day, and we probably have another couple of days of work with it. I've taken the opportunity to go through all my old magazines - some of my British Country Living mags are 20 years old! I've thrown out all of them and just kept a few pages of recipes and gardening information. We looked after Jamie for a few days while he's on school holidays and planted up garlic and sweet potatoes bought at Green Harvest and the seedings we bought at the market last weekend. Even after a week, the garden is looking good.  

For all the Gracie fans, here is a photo I took a day ago as she was enjoying a rest in the afternoon sun on her homemade tartan blanket.

Setting up your garden - the first plants

9 April 2018
April, week 2 in The Simple Home

For all our new gardeners, there are two things I want you to decide on this week - what you're going to grow and where you'll grow it.  I hope you've found some big containers, if not, you'll need to get on to that this week too.  If you're not sure what to plant, grow what you eat, not what's in fashion or what you want to taste for the first time. Your garden should be full of what you eat and that will probably be the common vegetables like tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, beans, cabbages etc. I'll write about two commonly grown back yard vegetables - potatoes and tomatoes.  Planting larger plants first will give your container garden a feeling of being anchored and then you can fill in with your smaller vegies and herbs. If you don't want to grow potatoes or tomatoes, it could be anything that needs a trellis, such as cucumbers, peas or beans, or a couple of fruit trees in large pots.

Hanno and I were going to plant up our two potato containers yesterday but we were both exhausted after planting and fertilising the rest of the garden so we came inside early and rested. I chose the location for the potatoes last week but yesterday morning, sitting on the verandah listening to the radio, I realised the orange tree would shade them most of the morning, so I moved the empty containers to a sunnier space on the other side of the garden.

Weekend reading

6 April 2018
After a night with yoghurt draining over a bowl in the fridge, I finished off my yoghurt cheese this morning. I added salt and pepper and some chopped green onions. The whey was saved and will be used tomorrow to make a batch of scones. Waste not, want not.




Trying a new yoghurt maker - success!

5 April 2018
I've made yoghurt in my kitchen for more years than I care to remember. I started making it using live cultures in fresh yoghurt and moved on to live powdered cultures about five years ago. When the yoghurt was made, I loaded the warm yogurt into a warm jar, wrapped the jar in warm towels and placed it in a pre-warmed oven.  Most of the time, the residual heat was enough to set the yoghurt.
Last week my new sponsor, Valerie at Green Living, sent me a yoghurt maker to try. I made my first batch yesterday and even though I thought there wouldn't be much difference, there was. Mixing the milk with the cultures was the same but instead of trying to keep it warm with a variety of measures, I poured the mix into the yoghurt maker, turned it on and walked away. Eight hours later I had a very nice firm yoghurt. The yoghurt maker heats up slightly to provide a consistently warm temperature at exactly the right temperature.


April, it's time to plant

2 April 2018
April, week 1 in The Simple Home

Growing your own food
When you’re starting out on your simple life journey, or if you move to a home with a bit of land attached, some people will recommend you start growing your own fruit and vegetables. It’s a good option for experienced gardeners because a large productive garden will add value and strength to your home and increase the opportunities you have to eat well and store away food that can be eaten later in the year. However, if you've never grown anything before and have to start building garden beds and fences, enrich virgin soil or buy soil, seeds and seedlings, as well as the tools to work the land, often it doesn't make financial sense. You’ll probably know before you start such a big project that you’ll spend much more money on setting up than you could save on vegetables. When you spread the setup costs out over a few years, it makes more sense but if you can’t afford the set up costs of garden beds, what are the alternatives?

This is our main garden with a potted bay tree growing nicely on the corner.

Container gardening
Containers! Why containers? If you have never grown food before, if you're time poor, if you have limited water, if you have no land or room other than a back step, a sunny window sill or a small courtyard, for many reasons, containers will be your simple answer.