The Canny Gardener

how to be a smart gardener


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feeling summer

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I tried this winter to grow something but thanks to climate change, it was all very unpredictable.  I shall have to think of something to beat this chaotic weather for next year.  I am beginning on an exciting community garden project which I will report another time.

For now, I am using the summer harvest to good use in the chilly winter.  This is my chilli oil.  The ingredients consisted of a base of a neutral oil (I used 100 litres of organic sesame seed oil) which I heated for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Then I added four birds eye chillies, two sprigs of rosemary, a few sage leaves and four peppercorns.  You can adjust the chilli according to your needs- my children seemed to love the chilli taste.  Then leave to infuse in a jar for at least two weeks before using.

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Summer abundance chutney

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I returned from a three week holiday to find that there had been storms in the UK and my little garden was a little wrecked.  My prized crop of italian plum tomatoes which had not ripened were on the deck and there were raspberries which needed to be eaten, otherwise they’d go off. Well, we ate as many raspberries we could and then I thought about making a chutney with the rest.  Chutneys which originate from India are an accompaniment to a main meal, eaten at the end.  In the West, chutneys are eaten with crisp breads, cheese, salad and meats- just about anything.

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This is an easy recipe which can be adjusted to any amount of fruit lying around (which is what you see in the second photo of unripe tomatoes and raspberries).  I used a tablespoon of sunflower oil and put it on medium heat.  When the oil was ready, I threw in a pinch each of cumin and fenugreek seeds; and two birds’eyes chillies until the cumin seeds ‘swelled up’. Then I put the cut tomatoes and whole raspberries in.  When they softened, I added molasses- one and half tablespoon.  Molasses are a good alternative to white sugar as they contain fibres, minerals and iron and more, see link below-

http://greenlitebites.com/2010/11/11/sweetener-comparisons-honey-agave-molasses-sugar-maple-syrup/

Molasses are used in traditional Indian cooking, sugar being an unknown ingredient.  I also added a pinch of turmeric.  After less than 15 minutes, the chutney was ready. With a bit of zing- this is a delicious chutney!

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watering plants

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Plants need watering the summer. I have been using my bathwater (cooled down) for watering and this is economical and eco-friendly. I use bio-degradable and organic soaps so I am guessing that the water should not harm the plants in any way. In fact, soapy water kills off certain bugs and pests so this is a double benefit.  Here is a wiki article-

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Soapy-Water-Garden-Spray

Street plants need water too although their roots absorb a lot of water from underground.  In the summer, the watering pipes stuck into the soil help the local council to water trees as the soil may be very dry.  However, lately I have been finding people putting rubbish into these pipes- sweet wrappers, paper, cans and here in this photo, a plastic bag full of dog poo.   This is so silly and selfish.  If you see anyone doing this, please explain the reason why the pipe is there- they may not know.  Already plastic is choking our seas and killing animals, now we are choking plants with plastic too.