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Harvesting Calendula, Lavender, Chamomile, and Catnip

Hello friends,

It's a very busy time in the garden with lots of harvesting to do, and last week I finally got around to harvesting chamomile, lavender, calendula, and catnip.

It was a bit of a battle to work around the many honey bees, bumble bees, and native bees who were all doing some harvesting of their own, but I finally got the flowers harvested.

The calendula and chamomile went straight into the dehydrator, but I had to chop the lavender stems back to make the lavender flowers fit inside. My dehydrator now lives in the garage, as the scented air flow sets off my asthma.

Once that was done, it was time to harvest the catnip. I grow our catnip in the berry cage, as it's the only way of getting a harvest for our indoor cats, Missy and Rosie, without the neighbourhood cats destroying it first. The catnip plants however had grown like weeds, and were far too large to fit inside the dehydrator.

After giving the branches a trim, luckily there was enough space inside the glasshouse walkway to fit them all in, so I laid the catnip out flat to dry. I put an old mesh door over the glasshouse during the day to stop the birds eating my tomatoes, but it also handily fends off the neighbourhood cats too.

Now that all the plants are dry, they go into storage for later on in the year. I plan to use the chamomile, calendula, and lavender in soap making once I have the time and space to do it. And the catnip will go into the cat's stash of catnip I keep all year for them.

Do you spoil your fur babies with their very own catnip? I find homegrown catnap is much more potent than store bought.

Have a wonderful day.


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

Carrot Forest Sampler Cross Stitch Project Framing

Hello friends,

Last year I finished the Carrot Forest Sampler cross stitch project from Owl Forest Embroidery (if you want to see more information about this project, please check out the original blog post here), and one of my tasks over the Christmas holiday break was to finally get around to framing it, and then getting it up on the wall in my craft room.

The size of the project was a little weird, so it took me a couple of months to track down a frame that would fit it. I ended up finding an old wooden picture frame at one of our local second hand stores, but it wasn't in a colour that I wanted. So the first task was to sand the picture frame down, and then paint it using some white chalk-based paint.

After a quick sand down, it was time to paint the frame with an undercoat. I unfortunately, however, chose an undercoat that took 5 hours of drying and curing, so I had to wait until the next day before I could paint it with two coats of the white chalk paint.

And finally when the paint was dried and cured, it was time to frame my cross stitch project using my pretty newly painted frame. I used the same framing method that I used for the Christmas Cross Stitch project last year, and you can find the information to do that here.

And now that it's done, I'm really happy with the finished project. The carrots in the Carrot Forest Sampler really pop against the black aida and the white picture frame, and the white rabbits make a cute feature.

And now my Carrot Cross Stitch Sampler hangs on the wall beside my beloved Mushroom Sampler by CutePatternsByMaria on Etsy. One day I'll share with you about my Mushroom Sampler, as it really is a beautiful project to work on, and to have on your wall afterward.

The next couple of weeks are busy for me, as I am in the middle of renovating my craft room (and moving my office into it when finished), painting our woodshed before autumn, and my parents will be staying with us when my dad goes into hospital for knee replacement surgery next week. I hope to keep to weekly blog posts, but if that doesn't happen, I will get back to it as soon as possible.

Have a wonderful day.


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

Our Weather Station, and Our 2023 Weather Data

Hello friends,

With it now being the new year, I can now share the 2023 weather data from our home weather station. I like to track the weather each year, so I'm aware of trends like first and last frost date, snow, and also how much rainfall we're getting.

Up until March last year, I had been using nearby weather stations for our data, but when the two closest weather stations shut down, it was time to once again invest in a weather station of our own. We had a weather station when we lived in Wellington, but my husband accidentally smashed it when he chopped down a tree on our property (I did suggest before he chopped the tree down that we should move the weather station out of the way, but he said it would be fine...).

After much research last year we chose the Ecowitt GW1101 WIFI weather station, which has a 7-in-1 Outdoor Sensor Array: (wind vane, wind cups, UV / solar
radiation sensor, thermo-hygrometer sensor, and rain gauge), and a USB Wi-Fi Gateway. The WIFI gateway lets you import your weather data in a number of ways, and we chose to import the data onto our local server, and hubby made a local web interface for looking at the data. We also chose to add on a number of other sensors to the WIFI gateway, so we also have four soil water sensors, and a PM 2.5 air quality sensor. We currently have one soil sensor in our glasshouse, and the other three under each citrus tree we have. The air quality sensor is installed between us and our neighbour who has a very smoky woodburner. We have also just purchased two water leak detection sensors to add to our system, as we got a leak in our roof space last week, and had water coming down from our garage ceiling. We're going to place the sensors near our old hot water cylinder, and also near the garage in the roof space as an early warning system for the future.

We positioned our weather station in one of our vegetable garden beds, as it was away from lots of heat sinks like the house and concrete paving, and we reused the pole from our old TV aerial to mount it in place.

In this blog post, I will be sharing the general weather data that was collected during the 2023 year.

Yearly Weather Totals:

Lowest Temperature of the Year:
The lowest temperature for the year was -6.8˚C, which happened on the 8th of June 2023. This temperature occurred during a week of heavy frosts, we had 7 days of no wind and clear nights. This temperature happened on the third day of frosts in that week. This frost was responsible for killing one tree, as all the leaf buds had been heavily damaged. This cold weather led to very high PM2.5 air quality readings in all of Mosgiel, and we had to have two air filters running inside the house to keep the air clean.

Highest Temperature of the Year:
The highest temperature for the year was 34.5˚C, and this happened on the 2nd of February 2023. This happened on a summer day where we had strong North Westerly Foehn winds. This NWer Foehn wind set up is common in Dunedin before a Southerly arrives, and this can happen at any time of the year. NWers are common in winter just before a winter snow storm from Antarctica, so the temperature change can be quite drastic within a day.

Rainfall for the Year: This year we had a rainfall total of 931.4 mm rain. March was unexpectedly rainy, it's usually one of the driest months of the year in mid autumn. January 2023 was particularly sunny and dry, and we were on water restrictions until March.

Frost Days: Here in Dunedin it's cold in winter, and we get a large number of frosts, which is good for killing off pathogens in the garden, and helping fruiting in trees and bushes like apricots, cherries, and blackcurrants. We had 38 frost days in 2023. The first frost was on 22 May 2023 and was -0.8˚C, and the last frost was on 10th November 2023 and was -1.1˚C. The last frost date was particularly terrible, as it was well past the date where it is assumed plants growing in the vegetable garden would be safe, and I lost many vegetable plants including beans and pumpkins. My grandad always told me it was safe to plant vegetable plants outside from Labour day weekend, and that's the date I use in planting frost tender plants. You can find an in depth blog post on the November frost here.

I've included other Frost Days in the years since we moved into our home. As you can see in general, the first frost is usually in May, and the last one in October. The last frost in November 2023 is an outlier.

As another way of visualising the frosts in 2023, I've graphed out each instance of frost against time for 2023. There are distinct clumps of frost occurring throughout the year, and they usually happen after a southerly front has gone through.

Snow Days: I count snow days as days that we have snow falling outside our home at our height above sea level (30 m), whether or not it may settle. Snow means that a big southerly storm has gone through, and this will lead to frosts afterward. In 2023, we had three snow days, two in July, and one in October. The one in October was very out of character, as usually we get snow events between July and September.

These are the most important factors I look at in interpreting the weather data, but there is much more I could look at, for example comparing frost and snow days verses days that NWers come in before a Southerly storm. 2024 will be the first year I will collect data on NW days.

Do you collect your own weather data for the year? I found it's very useful for in planning in the garden. There's lots of amateur weather stations available online to collect your own weather data, but if you're a big weather geek like me, it doesn't take long before deciding to get a weather station of your own.

Have a wonderful day.


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

Spinning Ashford Avacado Merino/Silk Fibre

Hello friends,

Over the summer holidays I caught up with a few crafting projects that in the last few months have been left languishing on the to do pile because of the busy Christmas season for work. When I'm not gardening, crafting, reading, or writing this blog, I have my own online Felt store, Hearth & Oak, selling textile products that I make.

The first crafting project I got to do over the holidays, was to finish spinning 200 grams of Ashford Avacado merino/silk blend I've had for over a year. I love the colours that Ashford use in their colour ways, and their merino/silk blends are always very easy to spin.

I learned to spin when I lived in Wellington, and was first taught to spin on a drop spindle by Frances Stachl at a workshop at Holland Road Yarn Company in Petone. I bought my rimu drop spindle off Frances at the workshop, and my drop spindle is my pride and joy, and I'm glad I got one of hers before she stopped woodworking. It is light and perfectly balanced, and spins like a dream.

When I started this project last year, I had begun spinning it on my drop spindle, but when I started again in the holidays, I switched to my spinning wheel, which is a New Zealand made Majacraft Suzie Professional spinning wheel. I bought this wheel when I lived in Wellington, and I love the weighted wheel and double treadles, which makes it easy to spin for a long period of time without any issues. In general I just spin for the fun of it, and then decide what to make with the yarn later, and that's what I did this time. I know some people will have conniptions about this, but sometimes I just like to spin for the fun of it.

It didn't take long to spin up the 200 grams of fibre into two 100 grams singles.

After letting the bobbins rest for a day, I set up my spinning wheel for plying, and it didn't take long at all to ply the yarn in the "Z" twist direction.

And after letting the plied yarn rest on the bobbin for a couple of days, I wound it into a skein, and then washed it to set the twist. And now my Ashford Avacado merino silk yarn is now ready to be turned into something new, my plan at the moment is to weave it into a scarf, but that will happen later on in the year.

Did you get up to much over the Christmas break? I love to use that time to do stuff I've been wanting to do for a while.

Have a wonderful day.


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

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