"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Autumn notes, a giveaway and replacement parts

Last Monday, 21st March was a Public Holiday and also an official planting day (for winter crops) in South Africa.

So, naturally, I had to join in...

I repotted some of the the gazillion lemon trees that I am growing from pips...

Thank goodness for all the milk bottles I am recycling into pots - I have counted over 75 lemon saplings which I have grown from pips, and ... yes, I still have more lemon pips (and a couple of limes!) sprouting on my kitchen windowsill LOL  Thank goodness for the 2 hectares of land on our smallholding - I am rapidly filling up the area...

This back patio is my nursery area - as well as the only area I can use my solar oven in winter.  The front of our house faces south, to capture the view of the bay, which is all well and good, but useless in winter for anything sun-related!

I also planted out the last of my garlic cloves, spinach, broad beans and peas.

Oh, and I also planted some carrots - a few rows of the normal Cape Market, which is a very good producer, and a few rows of Franchi Sementi yellow, white and orange carrots.  They did very well in the bath which I converted into a raised bed in August last year.  And the Magic Seeder, which you can see in the photo, is absolutely brilliant at sowing carrot seeds, as well as lettuce, etc.  In fact it will sow any seed less than 2mm in size.  It does take a bit of practice (over an empty ice cube tray LOL) but once you have the knack of it, it is invaluable.  I keep one in each seed packet - that way I don't have to empty the seeds out when I change from carrots, to lettuce, etc.  Merely pop of the lid, angle the gadget and away I go.

I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but...

...if anyone would like a Magic Seeder, please leave a comment below and RMan will randomly choose a name / winner on Sunday night.  I will send it to you, wherever you are in the world...

Yes - I am offering a Magic Seeder as a giveaway - I'm sure that someone in the southern or northern hemisphere will find it very useful - especially with your spring sowing season in full swing.  It should take about 2 weeks to arrive.

RMan had to visit a prospective client on the other side of town on Monday afternoon, so I went along for the ride.  On the way home we stopped at the Cape Quarter, a shopping centre in Cape Town, CBD.  There RMan spotted...

...a whistling kettle to replace the one that was stolen when our little farm house was invaded in January this year.  Don't ask the price - it was expensive, but I am ecstatic to have a kettle which reminds me I have switched it on.  I always seem to get side tracked as soon as I put the kettle on, as I can't bear just stand idly and do nothing for the 4 - 5 minutes it takes for the kettle to boil...  It is perfect for use on our gas stove or on the dover stove!

I'm now impatient for a winter visit to the farm to fire up the dover stove, make some bread in it (it's always so lovely and extra crunchy when it's baked in that oven) and enjoy that with some homemade plum jam and a cup of tea...
The dover stove makes the whole place so cosy and gemutlich and reminds me of years gone by in my grandmothers kitchen in Lincolnshire and her large Aga stove - okay, so my stove is about 1/6 of the size of hers, but it works, and that's the main thing.

I love the freedom of summer, but I adore the cooler weather of winter - that must be my English roots surfacing.  I find I have more energy in winter than in summer - the heat drains everything out of me.  I also find it easier to get warm in winter than to cool down in summer - well, I mean, who can spend their entire day in the pool?

So, I say, roll on winter and dover stove time...

One final thing - I was sitting at my 'puter last night, and down swooped a mozzie and bit me twice on the ankle.  Twice, I ask you.  After a couple of scratches, I remembered the banana skins I had placed in the freezer.  I popped one on the bite, gave it a bit of a rub, and, voila, no more itch!!!  It works a treat!  No chemicals, no mass production, no packaging, no energy consumption in the production of it - just a plain ol' banana skin does the trick!


  1. That is a very interesting stove. I have never seen one like it. Someday you have have an enormous amount of lemons. Would you use that many or would you sell some?

  2. Jane - the idea is to sell the lemons locally - but that will still take another 2- 3 years LOL. We will need to earn some income when we are on the farm.

    And then I have my special lemon trees too - but I still can't divulge anything about them yet...

  3. I love hearing about your lemon trees and think it is a fantastic idea to grow some for sale. We are doing the same thing with our currants as you are with your lemons except we are working towards selling the plants not the fruit. I love your choice for the giveaway but don't send me one as I already have a good one.:)

  4. Mr H - Iwas saying to RMan that perhaps I should go into lemon sapling sales also - they just grow and grow LOL And are a wicked price when one purchases a 2 or 3 year old plant.

    The luck of the draw I have no control over - t'is all in RMan's hands...

  5. Dani, don't consider me totally stupid, but what is a mozzie? I assume it is a mosquito, but I've never heard them called that here in the states.

    Sure looks like in a few years you'll will be in good shape as far as having extra $ coming in from the farm. I'd really like to farm my other 10 acres since it has very deep dirt. Unfortunately without a lot of work it wouldn't be good for other then desert plants though. It does have a lot of drainage going through it though so with the right work water from the rainy season would probably last all year. Up here its solid rock so any thing grown will likely have to be in pots.

  6. That's interesting about the banana skins! DD studied chemistry at Uni and one of the trivial, but useful, things she came across was that when you eat bananas the potassium in them attracts mosquitoes, so bananas help them discover you and you are bitten more as potassium makes you tastier to mosquitoes.
    Strange that the cause of the problem is also the cure!!

  7. David - yes, a mozzie is a mosquito LOL

    Have you thought of using pots? That way you'd just have to lug in some potting soil in bags, place the pots in the shady side of your RV and water them with your grey water...

    Our ground is also rock hard in summer, but when it does rain, and if one has a friendly digger / loader available, and you mix in some compost, it does help to break up the soil and make it more workable in the drier months. All depends on the digger loader though... :-) Don't they cost the earth to hire!?

    RobynK - I never knew that about banana's LOL What I have read in the past couple of days is that they are possibly going to be using dried crushed banana skins to clean heavy metal from water ( http://news.discovery.com/earth/banana-peels-water-purification-110323.html#mkcpgn=emnws1)

  8. I am very impressed that you grow lemon trees from pips. Do they not need to be grafted onto a root stock like so many other types of fruit trees? Does it take longer from them to bear fruit if grown from seed instead of grafting?

  9. Mad dags - I have no idea how long they will take to bear fruit, but I can wait... :-)


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