Rosemary and Lemon Sugar Scrub

Rosemary and Lemon Sugar Scrub

You’ve all been there. You’ve had a great day out in the garden, and then you take off your gloves (if you wear them…) and somehow the dirt and smell from the soil and compost has made its way to your hands. The worst is the compost smell! And that really likes to linger. So my new favorite thing to use after after a day in the garden is my homemade Rosemary and Lemon Sugar Scrub (made with homegrown lemons and rosemary!).

Homemade Rosemary and Lemon Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

Method:

  1. Chop the rosemary and lemon zest, and then put all the ingredients in a bowl. I used chopped lemon zest, rather than grated lemon zest, but you can grate it if you prefer!
  2. Mix all the ingredients together, until combined and the rosemary and lemon is spread evenly throughout.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a jar or other container. I like to keep mine in the fridge!
  4. Β Then use the scrub on your hands, and rinse off after exfoliating.This scrub is my new favorite thing. The lemon smells amazing, and helps to clean your hands. The rosemary also smells wonderful, helps to improve circulation and helps to kill bacteria (perfect for post gardening!). The olive oil helps to moisturize and relieve itchy skin. And the sugar, is a great exfoliator!

I love that I know what is in the scrub, and that it makes my hands smell and feel amazing! Β If you have any other post gardening tips for keeping your hands looking and smelling nice, I would love to know!

Hanging Pictures with Bulldog Clips

Hanging Pictures with Bulldog Clips

Our home office is pretty much our “man cave” in our house. My husband is freelancing at the moment, so the home office is pretty much just his domain. Over the past few years, he has collected different flash prints that he didn’t want framed or damaged with pins, but he wanted hung. So we hung them using bulldog clips, which created a really cool look which tied in really well with the rest of the “modern man cave” look.

Tools needed

  • A hammer
  • Small nails
  • Bulldog clips
  • Blu-tak (or equivalent)
  • A pencil
  • A tape measure/ruler
  • Prints to hang

Heres how we did it:

1. Plan out where you want to put the prints by sticking them on the wall using your Blu-tak.Β This is the best time to play around with positioning. We didn’t want it to look perfect, just nicely balanced.

2. Mark out where you will put your nails.Β Once you have the positioning of your prints sorted, measure the distance between the hole for the nail in the bulldog clip, and the end of the bulldog clip. Then measure this distance up from the top, middle of your print, so that you get the spot where you will put your nail.

3. Hammer in your nails.Β Just do it. You’ve planned it out, you’ve measured it out. Now commit. I used small nails that weren’t super garish, and then banged them into the wall until their was about 5mm (or less) between the head of the nail and the wall. You don’t need the nail to poke out too much, but leave some space for the clip.

4. Hang up your prints.Β Clip the bulldog clip in the middle of the print, or on either side (if you are using two clips per print), and then hang up the bulldog clip on the nail. I adjusted ours a little bit once they were up so that they hung straight. And then stand back, and take in your masterpiece. πŸ™‚

Growing Vegetables from Seeds

Growing Vegetables from Seeds

Growing vegetables from seeds is a super cost effective, and rewarding way to create your own garden. You have full control, right from the get go, of how your plants are nurtured. And it is so fun to watch your little guys start to sprout. It can be intimidating growing plants from seeds, but it totally doesn’t have to be, and it is really simple. There is something so amazing about eating fruit or vegetables from a plant that you know started as a small seed that you planted and helped nurture as it germinated and then started to grow!

How to grow your own vegetables from seeds

Things you will need:

  • Seeds (something in season)
  • Seed trays (preferably something biodegradable like egg cartons, lemon halves with the flesh removed, or jiffy trays like pictured)
  • Potting mix (I use a seed raising mix whichΒ specifically feed seeds and encourage germination, but you can use normal potting mix if you like)
  • A container (I use an empty ice-cream container)
  • Paper and a pen (for writing down what is planted where)
  • Water (to moisten the soil)
  • Gloves (to keep your hands clean-ish)

5 Easy Steps to Being A Master Seed Grower

1. Write down which seeds you are planting where, because if you are planting a few things, you wanna remember what you have planted! Keeping track of what you have planted makes it easier to also plan space and companion planting in your garden, rather than having a lucky dip!

2. Put some potting mix in the container, and mix a small amount of water in to the soil. Not too much, but just enough to make the soil slightly wet.

3. Fill your container about 3/4 of the way up with the moist soil and then place a seed gently on top the soil. If they are big seeds like pumpkin or squash seeds, I only do one seed, but if they are small like tomato seeds I will normally do a couple (just in case).

4. Sprinkle on top the seeds a little bit more of the moist soil. You really only need a very small layer of soil on top, as you want like sprouted seed to be able to break out of the soil and get to the sunlight.

5. Β Place the seed tray in a spot that gets good morning sunshine, as well as some shade in the hottest part of the day. This means that the seeds will grow well, and the soil won’t dry out. Make sure that you water the seeds everyday, but that the seed tray doesn’t flood, or that the water doesn’t pool, as this can damage the seed. I like to use a misting bottle to gently water the germinating seeds. If your seedlings start to grow mold on the soil, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the soil to help get rid of the mold, Β and if possible, move your seed tray somewhere with better air circulation (or place a fan nearby on a low setting).

If you follow these instructions, you should have some lovely little green plants starting to sprout after one or two weeks.Β It is still important to ensure they are getting morning sunshine, and adequate water. Once the seedlings are well established, and their true leaves have grown they can be transferred to the main garden (true leaves are the leaves that grow after the initially sprouted leaves – pictured below). If you did plant a couple of seeds per cell in your tray, once the true leaves have sprouted, cut one of the plants at the base of the stem, so you just have one seedling per tray as if you try to pull the sprout out you can damage the roots of both plants.

Composting

Composting the garden is something that all gardeners do at some stage. however, making your own compost is something that many people steer clear of. Not because it is difficult or hard to do, but more that it takes patience and a little bit of a recipe. Composting is such a key part of gardening. It is so cool, and so important to return back to the garden, what has come from the garden. Its kinda like the circle of gardening life! If you need any more convincing about why you should compost then think about things like you’re recycling, you’re putting back into the earth what your plants have eaten up (nutrients), its free (once you have a container), it is rewarding and the thing that makes me so convinced composting is a good idea, is that you know exactly what is going into your garden! You decide what chemicals are going into your food, and I like to choose no chemicals! So I see composting as a win-win for all parties involved (me, the garden and my family).
Composting the garden is so important! Adding nutrients back into the soil is essential!
So how do you compost?! Well you have probably all seen the classic composting bins. The big, black plastic things? I have one of those! I didn’t buy it, but it was just left at our property and had been used as a rubbish bin. Yummy. Not! So I converted this back into a compost bin. You can go out and buy one of these bins to make your compost in, or you can make your own compost bin, simply by creating four waist height walls to make a little box. This can be made out of recycled wood, corrugated iron, or anything else that you can think of that will make your very own compost bin. Just make sure that you will be able to manage the compost, as you will be turning it. Make sure that your compost bin is on bare earth, or straight on soil, as this way, the compost ingredients will be able to break down.
My compost bin!
Now you know what you can compost in, you need to know exactly what you can and CAN’T compost. As often this is what trips some people up.
There are two essential ingredients to compost and you want to balance these 50/50. Green ingredients and brown ingredients. Or nitrogen and carbon. Or kitchen or garden ingredients. Simple? Still kinda confusing huh?
But I’ll make it easier to understand, as once you know, its so easy!
Brown ingredients, or kitchen ingredients include things like:
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Egg cartons
  • Shredded toilet paper rolls or cardboard that does not have any ink or dye in them
You can collect these “ingredients” in a bucket with a lid that you keep in your kitchen, until the the bucket is full. The lid is super important as this helps stop the stink.
Green ingredients, or garden ingredients!
The second part of composting is,
Green ingredients, or garden ingredients and this includes things such as:
  • Lawn clippings
  • Weeds that haven’t flowered
  • Any plants that have been thinned out when sown in groups
  • Dead leaves
  • Wood chips and saw dust from untreated timber
  • Seaweed
  • Pruned leaves
Other things that can be added, but aren’t essential are:
  • Manure (cow, horse, sheep, chicken)
  • Garden lime (limestone)
  • Drier lint (natural fibres preferably)
  • Soil
But don’t include:
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Bones
  • Dog or cat waste (as there can be worms)
These will attract rats or other nasty things to your compost due to the smell, or won’t break down as quickly as the other ingredients.
Unfortunately, composting isn’t as simple as chucking everything in a bin and hoping it’ll decompose. There are a few tricks that are super easy to learn though, that will ensure your compost works well!
So here are my simple steps to creating your compost:
1. Ensure your compost bin is in the place that you want it to be (a sunny spot, but away from a living area because it may smell a little)
2. If you have any sticks or straw, lay this down first, as it will help with air circulation and drainage.
3. Try to alternate layers of green and brown, or kitchen and garden. As this will help with moisture control. However, if you aren’t adding enough to create a “layer”, just make sure that you are adding roughly 50/50 of each type of ingredient at each time.
4. Keep the compost moist. Rain will help to do this, but if it doesn’t rain, you may want to give it a bit of water. Just keep an eye on the moisture content as you don’t want it to get dry.
5. Keep your compost covered. This will help to keep the moisture in, and prevent it from getting tooΒ wet. If you have a compost bin like I do, the lid is perfect, however if you have made your own compost bin, using a sheet of roofing iron, or a tarpaulin, or even old carpet would work!
6. The final important tip is turn your compost! This really helps to encourage the compost to break down as it mixes everything together and exposes oxygen to the compost. And oxygen is super important in helping the compost to break down. This only needs to be done every week, but you can turn it more if you would like. Its such a good work out! And sometimes I get my hubby to do it as my arms get too tired! Hehe (:
Turn the compost once a week to expose the ingredients to oxygen
In six to eight weeksΒ you should have a beautiful compost that can be added back into the garden! You might find worms in your compost and this is a good thing! It shows that your compost is nutritious!
Just give composting a go! Please! Once you start you will find it so simple and easy to do! If you have any questions just ask away (:
Happy composting!!!

Preserving Carrots and Parsnips for ROASTING

Β I love carrots!! They are a simply wonderful vegetable that can often test your patience, but they are so worth it! Its hard growing something that you can’t look at and see its progress, and so when one carrot is ready, I get so excited and pick them all. (If you wanna know more about growing carrots, check out my previous post about carrots!) This week, I picked some carrots that I had (sorta) forgotten about and some parsnips I had definitely forgotten about! It was so exciting!! See!! Look at me with some of my babies!
They were huge and such random shapes! But because I picked all these carrots and a few parsnips, I had to do something with them. What you might know if you have had a few garden harvests, is that generally home picked vegetables don’t stay fresh as long as supermarket vegetables. So within a few days, the veggies would go bendy and floppy. Sad face!
My carrots with a 30cm ruler
And I love roasts. Roast chicken, roast pork, roast lamb, roast beef. YUM! But the best thing is not just the meat, but the vegetables! Oh my gosh! Roast potato, roast carrot, parsnip and onion! YUM! So instead of just boiling the carrots and then eating them straight away, or steaming them, putting them in fried rice, I DON’T KNOW! Whatever you want! I decided that I would save my carrots for a roasting day. Hehe. Get it! So here is how to preserve your carrots and parsnips for future roasting! GENIUS! If I do say so myself πŸ˜€
To begin, wash your carrots and parsnips really well. They tend to be more gnarly than shop bought carrots, so lots of dirt gets trapped. Then peel them and wash them well again to remove the last of the dirt. After they are peeled, cut off any long bits that are super thin, as these will cook a lot faster than the rest. You won’t want to use these bits but save them for something else like stock or soup!
Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil. And salt well. While you are waiting for the water to boil cut the carrots and parsnips into even sized pieces so that the cooking time is the same for the different pieces. One the water has boiled, put a few at a time (I did like 5 or 6 at a time) in the pot. Allow them to cook for 4 or 5 minutes.
After cooking, immediately remove the carrots and run under cold water, or place in an ice water bath. Either way is fine. This is just to stop the cooking process, as even when the carrot is out of the water, it would continue to cook.
Continue the process with the remaining carrot and parsnip until all the veggies are cooked and cooled. Then you need to thoroughly dry the vegetables and place on a baking sheet with baking paper or parchment paper down. Make sure that none of the veggies are touching. Transfer this tray to the freezer for a couple of hours, or until the vegetables have started to freeze. They can then be moved to a plastic ziplock bag, or a plastic container, and stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
When you are ready to roast, it is so easy! Just preheat your oven to 190C or 380F, and then put as many carrots or parsnips on a tray as you like. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for around 30 – 45 minutes, or until the carrots are golden and heated through. They can be cooked with other veggies too, if you are roasting heaps of veggies together.
Also, if you don’t want to roast your veggies, steaming them works perfectly well too! Just get your steamer ready and pop them in the steamer for about 5 – 7 minutes or until they are soft and well heated through! And an added bonus, they can be easily microwaved! Just place them in a microwave proof dish, cover with a paper towel and microwave in 30 second intervals until the veggies are steamed and heated through.
Homemade carrots are so sweet and tasty! What better way to savor them, than to preserve them for roasting at a later date! I hope you enjoy your delicious carrots!

How to build a TERRARIUM

Terrariums are such a cool way to to bring plants inside, but also get people who might not be so keen on gardening, doing a little gardening! The terrarium trend is really sweeping florists at the moment, but you could pay a lot for something that is so much fun and so easy to make! They make great gifts and cool weekend projects. So here is my guide on how to make a terrarium!
To create your terrarium masterpiece, you will need:
-a glass bowl or container (can have a lid or be open)
-potting mix
-stones
-sand (if using a closed container)
-moss (can be sheet moss but I used sphagnum moss)
-small plants or succulents
-little plastic toys or decorative things
Having little plants is an important part of growing a terrarium. Plants can be trimmed and pruned while growing, but you don’t want to have like a normal sized house plant being crammed into your small terrarium! You should be able to find small plants at your local garden centre or you can use succulents. But collect a variety of different colors and shapes. Having around two or three plants will be the most striking in your terrarium, but if you have a bigger one, then go crazy!
To begin with, make sure your container is clean and dry. You can use a recycled or repurposed container. But ensure it is cleaned with a mild soap and warm water first. Put a small layer of stones at the bottom. This will help with drainage, but also looks really nice. You can use any kind of stones that you like! Then on top of the stones, put your mixture of damp soil and sand (if you are using sand) and pat down gently.
Put the soil in carefully so as to keep the glass clean and not to mess up your pretty stones! Once your soil is in, just like as you do in the big garden create a small hole to put your plants in. Terrariums are about being creative, so just make it look however you want to! Once the plants are in pat the soil down firmly around the plant bases. I found that I needed to add a bit more soil, but you don’t need to if you don’t think you need to!
Once the your plants are in, put the moss down around the plants. This helps to maintain the moisture in the soil. As your terrarium grows the plants should be misted with water, rather than typical old fashioned water-can watering. If you terrarium has a lid, condensation will form on the sides of the glass. This creates a humid environment for the plants to grow in. If you are using succulents however, you may want to have an open terrarium as the conditions are better when they are open and the plants will have better lives! Sphagnum moss starts out browner when it is bought, but as it is kept moist, it changes to a green color which looks great in the environment.
The final stage of terrarium creation is putting in decorations. This stage can be skipped, but really anything can be put in. Shells, toys, beach glass. Whatever you like! We used dinosaurs, as this is the only way I could convince my husband to mini garden with me!

And voila! Your terrarium is complete! Keep an eye out for yellowing leaves, as this will mean something is wrong in your terrarium environment. If you have a closed terrarium, you won’t need to water the plants as frequently, but the terrarium will occasionally need to be aired out. Water plants gently with a mister or spray bottle and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Why you should love basil! (and preserving pesto)

I love basil. And I grew a lot of basil over summer. And when I say a lot, I mean I had six huge basil plants growing. I love basil on pizza, in pasta, with sun-dried tomatoes, and I definitely LOVE basil pesto! I love it on crackers, on pasta, with chicken, and in pastry scrolls with cheese. Oh golly. Yes, I love basil.
And you should love basil too. Basil is such a great herb to grow in your garden. Planting it around tomato plants (I did this), called companion planting, helps to give the tomatoes more flavor as they grow. It looks so beautiful as well, if you are planting it in a herb garden, or even in your kitchen garden. Its very simple to grow as well. I bought seedlings and then transferred these to my garden. I dug holes deeper than needed, and then filled these holes with some soil that has special nutrients in it that helps herbs to grow well. I then put the seedling in the hole and covered the roots, and then watered it.
As basil grows, it does have the tendency to grow up rather than fill out, and the ideal basil plant, is not tall with sparing leaves, but rather any height and full of leaves. This can be done by pruning the plant! It sounds scary, and don’t stop reading now, cos this is beyond simple. All you need to do to get big, luscious plants is to:
1. Find the main stem of the basil plant (the one that goes down into the ground)
2. Find the spot where there are two smaller branches out of this main stem that are opposite one another
3. Pinch off the stem above these leaves
The two minor branches that you found, will now turn into main stems, and encourage more growth outwards rather than upwards. You can continue to do this as you feel your plant is getting too tall.
At the end of summer, I had a lot of basil that I hadn’t used, and I was getting my garden ready for the new seasons planting, I decided to pull the basil out of the garden. I had a lot. And so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat it all by scattering a few leaves here and then. So pesto was my best option for savoring my basil. And I knew that I would have to preserve some of it, and I don’t like the idea of putting it in jars. And then it hit me, I could freeze individual pesto servings!
This actually turned out to be a thing already, and I found that many people had had problems where they were thawing their pesto, and the basil turned brown. The solution: blanch the basil first! Blanching is where you emerge a vegetable into boiling hot water for a short amount of time (in this case, for the basil, like 5 seconds, or until it wilts slightly). I used a sieve to help me do this, because it is only in the water for a short time, it is easier than fishing around with a slotted spoon, but use that if you need to! And very importantly, do it in batches, as this means the cooking is more even!
After putting it in the boiling water, the basil is quickly transferred to ice cold water. Doing this almost brightens the green color of the basil, and helps to lock it in. I found that it intensified the basil flavor too!
After blanching the basil, I removed it from the ice cold water, and gently patted the leaves dry. I put these in a blender, and then added a little bit of oil. As the blender combined the basil and the oil, I added oil slowly so that it became more of a paste, than slightly oily little basil leaves. This is such a simple recipe, that you don’t need measurements. Just add oil, until the pesto looks like it is starting to come along. After I had the right consistency, I poured it (very messily) into ice cube trays and then put these in the freezer.
After spending the night in the freezer I removed the pesto cubes from the ice tray and put them in an air tight container which I keep in the freezer. This is so handy because whenever I need a little bit of pesto, I just take out a cube, and let it thaw. Because it is just basil and oil, you can add your own seasonings depending on what meal you are having. Some delicious flavors to add are garlic or parmesan! Yum yum yum!
I love this pesto with pasta! Its such an easy quick meal! Just cook the pasta, and then drain the water, saving a little of the water. Put the pasta back in the pot, add the pesto cubes, and add a little bit of water, and heat through! Add lots of pepper and lots of parmesan! So good!