Saturday, February 28, 2009

Planting by the Moon

Are you aware that by cutting your hair or mowing your lawn certain days could mean you could cut/mow less often?

The moon has four phases, each lasting roughly seven days. The first two quarters between the new and the full moon are called the waxing moon when the light increases. The last two quarters after the full moon are called the waning when the light is decreasing.

The moon controls ocean tides, influences the groundwater tables beneath our feet and the movement of fluids in plants and animals.The tides are highest at the time of the new and the full moon, when sun and moon are lined up with earth. As the moon pulls the tides in the oceans, it also pulls other bodies of water, causing moisture to rise, which encourages growth. The highest amount of moisture is in the soil at this time, and tests have proven that seeds will absorb the most water at the time of the full moon.

The Lunar Month

The lunar month starts with the new moon, also called "the dark of the moon”.
From the new moon to the first quarter and from the first quarter to the full moon, the moon appears to grow from nothing to a crescent and then to a full circle at mid-month. These are the increasing or waxing phases.

Increasing Light -- New moon to full moon
Sap flows more strongly, filling plants with vitality and energy. This is the time to plant and harvest crops that mature above ground. At the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst.

1. Sow seeds of plants that grow above ground lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and grain crops, beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
2. Fertilise
3. Graft fruit trees
4. Plant evergreen and deciduous trees
5. Mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth
6. Don't get your hair cut if you want it to grow quickly!

Decreasing Light -- Full moon to dark of the moon
After the full moon, as the moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. A time to prune plants, as the water table is lessening and less sap will flow out of the cut ends. In the third quarter the gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots, making this a favourable time for planting, transplanting and harvesting root crops in general.

In the fourth quarter there is a decreasing gravitational pull and moonlight, and it is considered a resting period. This is also the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.

1. Plant crops that grow below the ground, such as carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, and peanuts.
2. The 4th quarter is the most dormant period and is good for dreaded chores like weeding.
3. Plant biennials and perennials to encourage strong roots
4. Get rid of snails and slugs
5. Prune shrubs in the third quarter
6. Mow lawns in the third or fourth quarter to retard growth.
7. Get your hair cut if you don't want it to grow quickly!

You might like to check the phases of the moon by becoming a 'Follower' of this blog and by bookmarking us for future reference.

'For the present let the moon shine brightly and the breezes of the spring blow gently, dying away from the gale of the day, and let the earth, who brings increase, bring peace.'
E.M. Forster

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Pleasures of Summertime Farm

Do you like our new banner? It's the view down the lane leading to Summertime Farm where we have been staying for the past two months and is the home of my daughter and her partner.

The joy of living as gypsies (as we do) is that you have the benefit and pleasure but none of the responsibilities of sharing other peoples gardens and animals for a while--although we agreed to look after the chickens during our stay.
What a joy that has been! One of the Featherfoot Bantams was broody when we arrived and she hatched five of her eight eggs to disclose these little beauties. It's been such fun watching them grow and learn...she is the most fantastic mother although I just went to turf them out of the tractor shed where machinery was being moved around them!

Another pleasure is the vegetable garden. I picked these little beauties yesterday, smoothed and gently rolled them in a luscious blend of olive oil, basil, oregano and garlic. I placed the in a baking tray, sprinkled them with salt flakes and coarsely ground black pepper and ....

took them out of the oven when they were beginning to split and turn colour.
I also cooked mushrooms over a fierce heat and when they were brown I gave them a good slurp (technical term!) of soya sauce and sizzled them for a minute or two.

These, with grilled beef patties (tell me if you want the recipe), and homemade tomato sauce, were both part of my now-almost-famous Turkish Burgers that we had for dinner. The blokes here weren't used to being offered burgers for dinner and looked dismayed but minutes later, with sauce and mayonnaise running down their chins, they were moaning gently with pleasure and checking up if there would be 'seconds'. very pleasing for the cook :-)
There was one beef patty and a few of the tomatoes and mushrooms left over so today I fried a chopped onion, added a healthy slurp (that word again!) of red wine and the toms and mushies with their rich juices. I chopped up the beef pattie and added this with some spicy tomato sauce, simmered for a minute or two and...dinner for tonight with pasta.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New beginnings

Our house has been in chaos for the last few weeks and there is no sign of it changing any time soon.

For the last few years, my partner has escaped the south west winter and headed to Indonesia. He has a great love for all things Indo, especially food and returns with new recipes, vanilla pods, candlenuts and wonderful curry pastes for me to play with.

I thought a new Indonesian cookbook would be a great present, inspiring him to cook on the days I am not here. It was to become a little more involved than that. A fabulous chapter on how to make tempeh sent him to the computer. Within days he had ordered the innoculant, checking first with customs that it was alright to import little packets of white powder from overseas.

Within weeks, an old freezer has been converted to heat rather than cool, organic, non GM soybeans have been sourced and a stall booked at the next growers market. A whirlwind of activity that included nervous 4 am checks on the beans, debates over the best type of bags, weights and labels to use. Experimenting with new recipes, we eat tempeh at nearly every meal while discussing transport and costings. He wakes early and lies in bed inventing a tempeh factory.

I should tell you that my man is a cabinet maker by trade. Food has always been my department. This has not stopped him wholeheartedly diving in head first to some thing new with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

It is this childlike curiosity in us that allows us to discover new horizons, that takes us beyond the boundaries of who we are and what we think we can achieve. It is this courage to go ahead and risk failure that results in something new. It is a sense of wonder and discovery we would all do well to remember.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


The Gardener's Rest
'Potions to Pesto' is a celebration of the creative inpulse in us all.

We are two women (considered eccentric by many) who have been friends for more than thirty years and have shared many experiences together. We have run restaurants, dug gardens, created a skincare business, admired each others grandchildren, swapped ideas and skills and have even fought occasionally.

We all crave the healthiest, happiest and most beautiful environment we can afford for ourselves and our loved ones but with the hard financial times that are upon us we may be wise to return to the skills of earlier times and by using them in combination with the amazing technology and information resources we can easily access today, create an even better and more fulfilling life than ever before.

From the garden to the kitchen, bathroom to bedroom, we have fed, treated and experimented on our families, friends and animals with healthy produce, luscious skincare, sensual perfumes and healing remedies.

Making a lotion

We have discovered that the easiest and often the cheapest way to source
the perfect item is to
make it yourself and to this end we are creating a range of e-books that can be found on our website From Potions to Pesto

Here is a recipe from our 'Easy' 150 recipes for one or two pot cooking book.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

Serves 2

This breakfast (or lunch) dish will keep you feeling full and happy until the next meal.You can use a jar of ready made salsa if you don’t want to make the sauce.

1 tsp vegetable oil
½ finely chopped onion
¼ C chopped red capsicum (optional)
2 tsp bottled crushed garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
420 g can diced tomatoes
Slurp of chilli sauce
Left over Mexican beans (optional)
2 tortillas
2 eggs
Grated cheese

1 Heat the oil in a small pan, add the chopped onion and capsicum and cook for a couple of minutes.
2 Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, and chilli sauce.Once the sauce is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened. Add the beans (if using) and reheat.
3 Drop the eggs into the sauce (and beans), put the lid on the pan and turn the heat off. A couple of minutes or so will be enough to poach them.
4 Heat a frypan with a small splash of oil added and, in turn, fry two tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side, remove and keep warm in foil.
5 Spoon the eggs and sauce onto each tortilla, sprinkle grated cheese on top.

We take the greatest pleasure in the concept of lifelong learning especially in a hands-on, practical way. 'Making your own' is a way of life that can help us to save money, recycle more, learn new skills and improve our quality of life.

Nirala at 'work'!
We'd love to share with you some of the excitement we feel, the recipes we use and the useful places we visit on the web and also to hear what you are doing too.