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Flower Seed Buying And My Seed Database

Hello friends,

It's that time of the year again in New Zealand, when seed companies send you tempting emails showing you the new flower seeds they have available for sale. This year two of my favorite specialist flower seed companies sent me emails in late May, so I had no choice but to peruse their wares.

The first temptation was from Susie Ripley Gardening, where I purchased Cosmos and Larkspur varieties.

I have a soft spot for cosmos, and really fell in love with the cupcake and fizzy varieties. I can't wait to see them floating in the breeze this coming summer.

I also love how Larkspur brings some height to garden borders, so I got some purple and white varieties of that also.

Next up was Crawford Road Gardens, where I picked up a number of seeds including aster, celosia, stock, larkspur, foxglove, scabiosa, lavender, and strawflower. My plan is to increase my garden borders in the back yard, so I picked colours that matched the seeds I bought from Susie Ripley Gardening.

Once I had the seeds in my hot little hands, it was time to enter them into my seed database. I have a seed database set up on Libre Office, one sheet each for flower, herb, vegetable, and native seeds.

The columns are set up for seed type, supplier, sow by date, whether a seed needs to be stratified, if they've been sowed in the current year, and then which months of the year they can be sowed in.

In the rows, I have sections for each flower type e.g. Allium, Cosmos, and underneath the varieties are in alphabetical order. If the variety is greyed out, it means that I don't have that seed in stock right now. If the row is highlighted in the 2024 column, it means the seed has been sown. Cells marked in green show which months the seed can be sown in.

I really love this set up as it means that I can quickly see which seeds I need to sow, if they are still within their use by date, and if I need to reorder any seeds. I recently updated the seed database for spring 2024, so I can now see which varieties I may need to buy when the Kings Seed catalogue comes out this month. I may decide not to repurchase some seed varieties, but at least I will know which ones I've had in the past.

I have separate sheets set up for all my seed types, and it really makes seed sowing that much easier. It means that I can come up with a plan each month for seed sowing, and it also means I can purchase seed sowing mix ahead of when I need it.

It's so exciting to know that spring will soon be here, I'm already loving the return of daylight earlier and later each day. I can't wait until August when it's time to sow tomatoes and chillies.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

May Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club

Hello friends,

Today I'd like to share with you my May Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club subscription, and how it looks now all spun up.

May's Handmaiden Fibre club, in autumnal shades of white, brown, orange and red, arrived all prettily wrapped up in tissue paper, and contained 100 grams of 80% machine-washable wool/20% nylon, a small plastic sock stitch marker, and a pattern for making Tinker Bell slippers. I decided to spin it up fine so I could make socks, so I broke the fibre braid in half to make a 2-ply, and then pulled out my trusty rimu drop spindle and got to work.

I love spinning with my drop spindle, because it's the easiest way to spin up super fine yarn for making socks, and it also increases the spinning time, which I find very relaxing. It took me a couple of weeks to spin up the two fine singles, and I loved the slow changing autumnal colours on my drop spindle as I spun.

I transferred the singles of yarn off the drop spindle and onto two spinning wheel bobbins for plying. Once that was done it didn't take very long at all to ply up the resulting 2 ply yarn on my Majacraft Suzie Pro spinning wheel. I prefer plying on my spinning wheel, as my drop spindle can't handle large amounts of plied yarn.

The plied yarn was in general fingering weight, and the autumnal colours were very pretty. After the plied yarn rested for a couple of days, I set the yarn by washing it in luke-warm soapy water.

The yarn is now all dry, and waiting to be knitted up. The final yarn is 2 ply, and is 265.5 m long.

Once a couple of other knitting projects are completed, I will be knitting up this hand spun yarn into socks.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Gathering Acorns Cross Stitch Project

Hello friends,

I had an autumn cross stitch start and a finish!

After completing the Tonight We Ride cross stitch project in early autumn, I pulled out the Gathering Acorns cross stitch pattern from Cottage Garden Samplings, which I've had in storage for a while. I decided to use a fat quarter of 18 count Aida in the colour Antique White from Stitch NZ I also had lying around. Stitch NZ are my favorite cross stitch supplier in NZ, as they have a large range of fabric in many sizes. I also bought Gentle Arts Sampler Thread in the colour of Maple Syrup from them, which was the main background colour for the squirrel. The rest of the thread colours used in the project were DMC that I had in stash.

The stitch count for the project was only 100 stitches wide by 130 stitches tall, so it didn't take very long at all to stitch up 2x1. I started in the middle, which was in the lower part of the squirrel, and worked my way out. I managed to finish stitching Gathering Acorns a couple of days before winter started on the 1st of June.

I really love the autumnal colours of the squirrel and the pie dish, and the pattern was very easy to follow.

I'm really happy with how the project looks, and I hope to frame it soon, along with the Tonight We Ride project. In the mean time I'm moved onto a winter cross stitch project, which is a Dimensions Gold Collection kit called Aurora Cabin. I had previously started this a couple of years ago, and I like to pull it out of storage each winter to work on it.

Hubby and I will be on holiday next week, so there won't be a blog post out. I'll see you all in July.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime Soup Recipe

Hello friends,

Happy winter solstice, soon the days will become much lighter again!

We're heading into the coldest time of the year, so I thought I'd share with you my favorite soup recipe, which is Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime soup. The ingredient list is pretty small, and most years I've grown my own tomatoes, lime, garlic, onion, and chilli for the recipe. I've had a bad run of growing my own capsicums, so I buy frozen capsicums from Frozen Direct for the recipe, as it's much cheaper and it comes pre-chopped.

In this recipe you can choose whichever stock you want, we usually use a salt reduced chicken stock, or if you want a vegetarian option, go for a vegetable stock.


Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 large Onion

1 clove of Crushed Garlic

1L Chicken Stock (Vegetable stock works great also)

4 Red Capsicums deseeded and chopped, OR 600 grams frozen Red Capsicums

1 small red Chilli or ½ teaspoon Chilli powder (this is approx, it depends on what heat level you like)

3 tins of tinned 400 gram tomatoes OR one 2L ice cream container of frozen homegrown tomatoes

1 Tablespoon of tomato puree (This is purely optional. It depends on how tasty the tomatoes are in the recipe. My advice is to do the recipe up to step 4 without the tomato puree, and do a taste test, and if it’s not tomatoey enough, then try adding tomato puree by the tablespoon)

1 Lime – Juice + Zest

Salt and Pepper to taste


Recipe

(1) Cook chopped onion and garlic gently in olive oil in a covered pot for approximately 5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.

(2) Stir in chopped capsicum, chilli, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

(3) Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth.

(4) Do a taste test once the soup is at a smooth consistency, to see if tomato puree needs to be added. Add the juice and zest of the lime.

(5) Simmer for 10 minutes, and then do a taste test to see if salt and pepper is needed. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes.

(6) Enjoy the soup straight away, or freeze if you have any excess. This recipe gives approximately 4 - 6 serves depending on how big your soup bowl is.

This soup recipe, is my favorite of all time, and I look forward to eating it each autumn and winter. We usually have it with toasted ciabatta and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, but it is wonderful just on it's own. I usually also make a double batch, so that we have plenty of this soup over winter whenever I have a hankering for it. I hope you give this wonderful soup a go, and please let me know what you think of the recipe...

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Making Citrus Frost Cloth Covers

Hello friends,

After buying a frost cloth cover from one of our local garden centres back in May, I wanted to make bigger versions for my three citrus plants before winter arrived.

Luckily I had some very thick frost cloth in storage from last year, so I tracked it down and then got to work. The frost cloth was 2 metres wide and many metres long, so I used the width of the frost cloth as the height for each frost cover. I wrapped the frost cloth length around each citrus plant, added extra space for wiggle room to fit it over the citrus plants, and then marked it out on the frost cloth. I decided that adding a zip was just extra work, and more expensive, so I didn't bother with it.

Once I had measured each plant, I went up to my craft room and cut off a length of frost cloth for each frost cloth cover. I then folded each section of frost cloth width wise, so that the width of the frost cloth formed the sides of the frost cover. The length of frost cloth that was folded in half then formed the top and bottom of the frost cover. With this done, I sowed along the top and the side of the frost cover. The bottom of the frost cover was left open for making the casing for the pull string, and to pull over the citrus plants when the frost cover was finished. I used a normal straight stitch on the sewing machine, and made sure the ends were well tacked down.

The next step was to sew a casing in the bottom of the frost cover, leaving a small opening so I could insert some nylon rope in a circle around the bottom. I purchased some general purpose nylon rope from Mitre 10, and some cord pullers from Spotlight.

After sewing the casing, it was time to unwind the general purpose rope, and insert it into the casing. This was when Rosie cat came to assist me, and she helped me add the rope and the cord pullers to all three citrus frost covers.

After making sure the cord pullers all worked, and tying the ends of the rope tight together, the frost covers were ready. After trying on each frost cover to the corresponding citrus plant, I labelled each one with a permanent marker.

It's now winter, and we've had multiple frosts now. The frost covers have been such an asset to have, as they are so easy to pull on and off. It's really been so much easier to protect my precious citrus plants from frost and snow. And to make the frost covers myself, it was just a crafty bonus.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

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