Alex ([personal profile] alexbayleaf) wrote2017-02-20 10:30 pm

Elderberries don’t smell of anything much, actually

Originally published at Spinster's Bayley. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m trying to get going again so I’ll just dive right in.

It’s been a slow, cool summer. Tomatoes hardly ripening (just a few handfuls, mostly cherries) and I wonder whether I’ll have any to preserve this year?  Despite the cool weather, things are slowly coming along including the corn my neighbour is growing for both of us (I’m responsible for pumpkins), enough zucchini (but not too much), and self-seeded greens starting to sprout.  Thanks to the cool weather I also had a crop of mushrooms off a compost delivery, which quickly made it into several meals.

I set up a weighing station by the back door, inspired by hearing of a Melbourne acquaintance who grew 350kg of food on her 1/14th acre block, but I have to admit I’ve only weighed in a couple of kilos in these first two months of 2017.

Corn in my neighbour’s backyard
A cool summer
Weighing station by the back door

Pasta with pesto genovese, zucchini and mushrooms.

A friend left me a basketful of plums, which got made into plum mead. There’s a funny story involving condoms as airlocks – check my instagram.  Just recently, I’ve been picking with a group who are starting a project called the Hidden Orchard, which aims to harvest fruit from unloved fruit trees in people’s backyards, as well as pruning and maintaining the trees throughout the year.  I’ve also been picking elderberries, to make elderberry syrup and perhaps elderberry mead.  I posted an elderberry recipe on my Tinyletter – check the archives.

Plums and op shop books from Carla
Elderberries don’t smell of anything, despite what Monty Python say
Hidden Orchard harvest is donated to community groups


A month or so back I moved into the smallest bedroom of the house – really very small, just enough room for a single bed and a chest of drawers – just to see how I felt about it.  Conclusion: I like being in a small room, like curling up in a nest, with nothing else in there but my personal effects. It is very important to keep it tidy, though, as there’s no room for a “floordrobe” or any other clutter to pile up.

I’ve also been making salves from calendula oil (calendula harvested and dried in spring, then infused in olive oil) and beeswax left over from candles. I made two kinds, one very thick that I use on my cracked heels, any small scratches, or even as a lip balm; the second is less waxy and I use it just as a general moisturiser.

My nest
Keeping things tidy, konmari style
Calendula balms

Visiting Jonai Farms’ happy pigs
Touring Yonke’s property as part of the PDC

Finally, I’ve been out and about. A few weeks ago I paid a visit to my friends Tammi and Stuart at Jonai Farms, then on to Daylesford where I spent a great day with Patrick, Meg and Woody of Artist as Family. It was so interesting I didn’t even take any photos, but they gave me heaps of great info and reassurance about living car-free in smaller country towns, and they have a house that’s very similar in style to what I want!  More recently I’ve been doing a Permaculture Design Course with the local permaculture guild, which means regular treks out to a friend’s farm where most of the course is held, plus additional site visits to other properties.  Everywhere I go now, I think about how I’d get there by bike. Next month, I hope, I’ll have the opportunity to try it!

transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)

[personal profile] transcendancing 2017-02-20 01:24 pm (UTC)(link)
*loves* I love your posts like this <3
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[personal profile] were_duck 2017-02-20 05:28 pm (UTC)(link)
:D this is all very lovely! The calendula balm especially sounds nice. I hear you on liking a smaller room.
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[personal profile] vass 2017-02-20 08:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Small world. One of my old uni friends, who's moved to Castlemaine, gets her meat from Jonai Farms.

Sorry to hear about your tomato crop, but glad it's not just me and my black thumb. I've had a bigger crop of them than ever before, but that's because my biggest crop before this year was two tomatoes, and this year it's five and counting and blossom end rot.
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[personal profile] sporky_rat 2017-02-20 08:16 pm (UTC)(link)
It has been a very warm winter. I think we hit freezing once. Unusual, even for this area.
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[personal profile] lilacsigil 2017-02-21 03:44 am (UTC)(link)
I haven't had any ripe tomatoes at all yet! I've got one orange-ish one that might soon be ready, but the rest are greenish-yellow at best. Hidden Orchard sounds really cool.