Dig

Gardening - Recipes - Crafts  - Nature - House

WEEK 10

Solar fountains for the garden

A wonderful addition to your garden this year could be a solar fountain.  By simply placing one in a large bowl, or bird bath, it works by the power of the sun instantly.  No battery is required and it is eco friendly and makes a satisfying gentle sound plus giving garden birds a refreshing drink.  

They can be bought on Amazon, Ebay and other online retailers. 

WEEK 9

Feverfew and Garlic

FEVERFEW & GARLIC

There is an amazing man called Mark who we know. He lives in the most beautiful, chocolate box  cottage and his garden is full of weird and wonderful herbs and plants. He is extremely knowledgeable about the properties of each and every one and how some can be used to help fight illnesses and various complaints. He recently told us about a lovely little herb/plant called Feverfew and how it can help migraine sufferers.

Feverfew

Feverfew Folklore. ... In Medieval Europe, especially during plague years, the feverfew flower was an essential part of cottage gardens. Local lore said that planting feverfew flowers by the house, especially near the door, would help protect those inside from the disease.

Some migraine sufferers choose to eat the leaves as a preventative treatment. I’ve known of instances where gardeners with chronic migraines like to eat a few leaves every day, disguised in a sandwich or salad to mask their bitter flavour.

To dry them out you can use a dehydrator or oven set at 140°F.

Using a low heat will help to preserve the essential oils – you want the leaves to be dry and crumbly before you store them, but not so dry that they fall apart when you pick them up!

Once dried, remove leaves and flowers from the stalks and store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dark pantry. Use the dried leaves and flowers to make a tea to prevent headaches.

The tea can also be cooled and applied to the skin as an insect repellent, or used on pets as a natural flea rinse – provided, of course, that you’re not allergic or sensitive to it. Always test on a small area of your skin before use, and consult with a medical professional if you’re in any doubt that it’s safe for you to use.

Add about a quarter of a cup of fresh leaves and blooms – or 2 tablespoons dried – to a cup of boiling water, allow to steep for five minutes, then strain and cool.

Flying insects generally hate the pungent smell of the growing plant, so if you’re plagued by MOSQUITOES  try planting in pots on your patio – even the cut flower stems in a vase can deter flies.

WARNING! DO NOT TAKE FEVERFEW IF:

If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, you must consult your doctor before taking feverfew. Feverfew may cause the uterus to contract and increase the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.

People who are allergic to members of the daisy family, chamomile, ragweed or yarrow should not take feverfew, since they are more likely to be allergic to feverfew as well.

Inform your doctor about any other medications or supplements you take before taking feverfew, it may affect the way your other treatments react in your body.


GROWING GARLIC FROM A BULB 

Here at The Violet Cottage, we have recently planted garlic from bulbs that we have bought from the local greengrocers.  It’s really easy and it grows quickly. Proudly showing its green shoots within about two weeks. We used a pot of around 15” square and planted 5 or 6 bulbs. Plant individual cloves so the tips are 2.5cm (1in) below the soil surface. Space 15cm (6in) apart and in rows 30cm (12in) apart. HARVESTING Green leaves can be gathered green and used as a garnish or in salads, but the bulbs are harvested once the leaves have turned yellow.

Carefully lift them with a fork.

Lay out the bulbs to dry in an airy place. When rustling dry, they can be stored in dry place at 5-10oC (41-50F) until you're ready to use them. 

WEEK 8

New Beginnings

This week I thought I would write about new beginnings.  Spring is a new beginning, sort of.  With every passing year we emerge from the depths of winter like a butterfly escaping from its cocoon, into the newest season, spring. A time of rebirth, a time of awakening, rethinking, renewing and shaking off the darkness and stepping into lighter evenings and hopefully, warmer days.  I myself, don’t actually mind winter as my favourite time of year has always been Christmas.  I love candle light, cosy jumpers, fireside stories, hot chocolate and snow.  However, spring is a beautiful time of year and I welcome it with open arms and a fresh energy for all things new.  This particular spring is even more significant as all of our children have now left home (see Blog 7’s article - The Pain of letting go - Joie de Vivre).  Tim and I find ourselves sort of reassessing our home life, our home, our surroundings and our garden. We are not people to stand still and we are quite proactive and believe that although we miss the children terribly, we have to get on with things and accept change, embrace it for what it is and keep busy. We have recently sold our little caravan which stood proudly in one corner of our garden but obviously now there is a rather large brown patch of grass under it. However, the plan now is to rethink the garden, design it to maximum effect and ‘re do it’, make it over if you will.

With that in mind we are thinking of adding a pergola, and a hot tub.  Whoop, whoop, I cannot wait for that.  (See Health section in Blog 6 about the benefits of owning a hot tub)

At the Violet Cottage shop we are also selling some gorgeous garden items, such as ceramic bird baths, flower pots, wind chimes, up cycled bird feeders, plant stakes and much more.  If you haven’t visited our little shop lately, I think you might be pleasantly surprised to see how much it has grown and what beautiful home and garden things we have for sale. The shop has really taken off and today I am attempting to pack up to 80 orders!

You can check it out here!

I hope you are raring to go, full of ideas and can’t wait to get planting, mowing, designing and creating your little haven of newness. Enjoy

WEEK 7 

Let's Go Outside

Last week we looked at how to change your garden on a budget.  This week I bring you some of the new products that can also transform your outdoor space.  From budget buys to the more expensive, there is really something for every one.  

Now the clocks have gone forward and we can look to the coming months of spring and summer with hope that things are and will improve, what better time than to start getting your garden or patio ready.  From 29th March, we'll be able to invite guests into our gardens for a socially-distanced gathering of six or a meet of two households.  This is great news but also can ensue panic into the hearts of some as to how their outside space might be looking.  The long, hard winter always leaves its mark outside and so now is perhaps the time to think about freshening it up a bit.  Below are some hints and tips on making your alfresco area look fabulous. 

Sit on it!

A comfortable seating area is really important as this should be a space to relax in as well as entertain guests. The space and budget you have will really determine what is available to you, so it’s worth shopping around for the best buys.  Think of this area as a little snug or nook part of the garden where you can sit and chat, entertain guests or just put your feet up and relax. If storage in the winter is a problem, then it is best to go for a more hardwearing metal style set.  Once you add some comfy cushions, it will look amazing.



Bridgman's quality all-weather furniture is the height of luxury.  Although it is more expensive, you really do get what you pay for.  If you are short of space and need to leave it out all year, then this company is worth looking at. 


Burn It!

If you buy one thing for the garden this year, buy a fire pit. With many of us not being able to socialise inside, a fire pit is the garden accessory of 2021.  To gather around a fire is one of the social pleasures we can do with friends and family.  Simply put, buy one, but buy one quickly as they are literally flying off the shelves.

Best budget - Ebay

Mid price range - Crocus

Luxury range - Fire Pit UK


Light It Up!

To make your garden look aesthetically pretty, magical and welcoming to your guests, invest in some twinkly lights.  Draped anywhere, in trees, along borders and your garden fence they can really make a difference to the whole look of your outside space.  Solar lights add a soft ambience to the garden and you could choose electric lights to sit on your table or at the side of the house. 

Lights4fun - Budget - 15 Drop Bulb Solar Festoon Lights  £27.99

Lights4fun - Mid - Porto Solar Lantern Bundle - £49.99

Lights4fun - Luxury - Ingenious Connect 10 Squirrel Cage Bulb Festoon Light Bundle - £145

Week 6

How To Change a Garden On a Budget?

Not everyone has the time or disposable income to invest in expensive furniture and landscape design for their garden – but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful and inviting outdoor space, that functions for you and your household.

Whether it’s through using recycled materials such as pallets, repurposing household items, or painting your existing garden accessories to give them a new lease of life, there are lots of DIY and inexpensive ways to turn your garden from dreary to fabulous with just a few simple steps. 

Below is a collection of cheap and simple ideas to help you make some changes, give you inspiration and create the outdoor oasis you’ve dreamed of. 

Repaint old furniture with weatherproof exterior paint and use it outside.

Make your own plant pots from tin cans.

Source free or cheap wood pallets, to create garden seating or plant stands.

Build your own fire pit from old bricks and paving slabs.

Look for second-hand garden furniture in charity shops, and on online marketplaces, such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.

Buy plants and compost from your local farm shop.  Find people who are selling plants and cuttings outside their houses, swap cuttings with friends or family.

Choose a few small accessories, such as outdoor cushions or an outdoor rug, to easily and affordably transform your space.

Build a pergola yourself by buying wood from a local timber merchants instead of expensive online ready made ones.

Pallet furniture

Making a garden sofa out of pallets can be as simple as stacking pallets horizontally in a row or L-shape, with more pallets placed vertically behind to form a backrest. You may wish to sand them down and treat with a wood stain first. Once you’ve built your pallet furniture, make it cosy with outdoor cushions and blankets – you can also make a coffee table.  You can source free pallets from businesses that receive a lot of deliveries, or ask people who may have thrown some a way in a skip. 

Make your own feature fire pit

There are several ways you could do this, but one of the easiest is probably to build a surround for your fire pit using bricks or concrete blocks, leaving a couple of gaps for oxygen flow. Lay paving stones or sand in the centre, as a base for your fire. They make a wonderful feature in the garden, especially in the evening with a few friends, a few beers and a guitar.

Repurpose old furniture or baths

If you have any old furniture, sinks or baths at home that is looking a bit old then maybe it might look better in your garden. Consider using an old desk as a potting table, or a chest of drawers could be used as a unique plant stand, and a disused dining or coffee table makes a great garden table.


Paint your fence

 One of the simplest and most effective ways to cheaply transform the look of your garden is to paint your fence or walls. If you paint it in a light colour such as white, off white, sage green or light blue, it will instantly make the garden seem larger. If you choose white, it will reflect the sun and if you paint it yellow or a bold orange it will create a more mediterranean vibe. 

String up some lights

To give your garden a mystical and magical appearance, why not add some affordable lighting. Simple solar lights hung in a tree or across a fence will give your garden a cosy glow.


Paint old tin cans and use for plant pots

This is a great idea to get the kids involved with. Take a simple baked bean type can, wash it, dry it and make sure there are no sharp edges. Paint the can in a bright colour by either using a brush or maybe spray paint.  Allow to dry then add spots or a pattern of your choice. Punch two holes near the top edge and one at the bottom of the can for drainage. Thread the top with string.  Fill with the plant of your choice and hang them up. They can look amazing grouped together or standing on a window sill. Voila. 

With any garden it is essential to plan a layout first.  Try and separate it into sections such as: space to entertain/relax, borders, kids area, veg patch etc. 

If space is really limited, think up. Think vertical garden. You could attach planters to your fence or exterior walls, plant climbing vines, or suspend hanging flower baskets and plant pots from fence posts or overhead beams.

WEEK 5

Miniml waste

 Eco products - miniml

I’m very big on trying to use as many eco and planet friendly products in the house as I can.  I believe it is so important that we should all try and do our bit for the environment, especially for the sake of future generations to come.  I came across Miniml while scrolling through Instagram and wanted to find out more about this company.  Based in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and housed in what they call ‘The Soap Factory’ (love that) their products are made using water supplied from The Yorkshire Moors.  Founded by Emma and Scott who started developing recipes in their garage, Miniml have set out to change the way people consume cleaning products and think about their waste. They now have over 500 stockists for their products and continue to go from strength to strength.  Another thing I really like is the fact that all of the ingredients used are sourced as locally as possible to ensure we all leave ‘miniml’ impact on our planet. 

They operate a completely closed loop zero waste solution to all cleaning, laundry and personal care products, encouraging people to refill their bottle over and over again and they do the same with their refills to create zero waste.

They are completely Vegan and cruelty free and don't use any animal derived ingredients in any of the products or test on any animals. A big win win for me. 

Now for the best bit - the products!  I must be getting old to get excited over a Tropical coconut fabric conditioner and a Spearmint and peppermint toilet cleaner, but just writing about them makes me want to smell and use them NOW! (When does lockdown end?) 

Their products include 

Cleaning, 

Personal 

Laundry

Accessories 

and what I really like is you can buy a bundle.

For a full sample kit for just £13.50 you get 14 x 100ml bottles of almost all of their products. Amazing. 

Click here!

I like the fact that the company is young, fun, 'minimalist' and has the environment and zero waste at the forefront of  its ultimate goal for us all.

Why not give them a try and do your bit for the planet?

Emma and Scott say, “We are not just another natural cleaning brand; we are a movement to do more with less” and that is really what we should all be trying to do.

You can order direct from Miniml here.

"We don't want to leave our mark on the world, in fact, we will keep working to leave no trace that we were ever here at all" - Scott & Emma

WEEK 4 

How to Grow Your Own Fruit and Veg and a Recipe for Vegetarian Glamorgan sausages

Grow Your Own - Free Garden Planner Download

There are literally hundreds of different varieties and types of vegetables to choose from when growing your own, so where on earth do you start?  Due to Brexit and Covid 19, rumour has it that we may be a little short on various types of food this year.  Although this is probably just another scaremongering fact, it is a good idea to try and grow your own if you are lucky enough to have a garden, balcony or even just a window sill. 

The best way to begin is at the kitchen table.  Armed with a pencil, calendar and a guide, you can work your way through the year to ensure a diverse and manageable harvest of veggies direct from your garden.  If you think that might be a little like hard work or, if you are only just starting out growing your own, then fortunately I have included a free download of what to plant every month courtesy of Allotment heaven.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Make Tasty Glamorgan Vegetarian Sausages

These sausages were recently made on the Celebrity best home cook programme and I thought they looked delicious, wasn’t disappointed. They are a welsh recipe and apparently were made in abundance during World War 2 due to meat rationing. 

A simple and easy to make dish perfect for a midweek or anytime supper.  Enjoy!


Ingredients

25g/1oz butter 

115g/4oz leeks trimmed, finely sliced (prepared weight)

175g/6oz fresh white breadcrumbs 

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme 

150g/5oz Caerphilly cheese or Welsh cheddar, finely grated

2 free-range eggs  separated

1 tsp English mustard 

½ tsp flaked sea salt

5 tbsp sunflower oil 

freshly ground black pepper 


Method

Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the leek gently for 8-10minutes, or until very soft but not coloured.

Put 100g/3½oz of the breadcrumbs, the parsley, thyme and cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Beat the egg yolks with the mustard, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a separate bowl.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and tip the leeks into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and mix together well with a large wooden spoon until well combined. Divide the leek mixture into eight portions and roll into sausage shapes. Place the sausages onto a tray lined with clingfilm.

Whisk the egg whites lightly in a bowl with a large metal whisk until just frothy. Sprinkle 40g/1½oz breadcrumbs over a large plate. Dip the sausages one at a time into the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated, then place on the baking tray. Chill the sausages in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil into a large non-stick frying pan and fry the sausages over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning regularly until golden-brown and crisp. Serve the sausages with a good spoonful of chilli and onion relish and some thinly sliced runner beans.

WEEK 3

WHAT A LITTLE GEM THE CUCUMBER IS!

Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the fizzy drink and pick up a  cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminium to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5.  Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a 

 Few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realise that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10.Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and  place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finished a business lunch and realise you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.



WEEK 2

Live Animal Webcams and an Easy Stuffing/Nut Roast Recipe

WATCH FREE LIVE ANIMAL WEBCAMS

Last time on Dig, we shared an article on how to make a bird feeder from a simple pinecone.  It proved to be very successful.  I have made three since, one with peanut butter and seeds and the other two with the lard and seeds.  As we have had so much cold weather, the birds have literally flocked to our garden and devoured each one. It has been lovely to watch them.  Blackbirds, blue tits, crows, starlings and robins. 

As part of DIG is about nature and the natural world and the fact that I am including things to cheer us all up this week, I wanted to tell you about these wonderful Live Animal webcams we can all watch online for FREE.  They include, sheep, pandas, elephants, seals, barn owls and more.  All of these are so wonderful and beautiful to watch and can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home. Enjoy. 


FOLLY FARM -  Watch the adorable sheep, goats and newborn lambs as they go about their daily life in the barn


EDINBURGH ZOO - see Panda cam, Koala cam, Penguin cam and Lion cam 


SAN DIEGO ZOO - with over 12 live cams including Polar bears, Tigers, Giraffes, Koalas and more


WILDLIFE TRUST CUMBRIA - watch the lives of the only Grey seal colony in Cumbria


SIMPLE STUFFING/NUT ROAST RECIPE

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, stringed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
15g dried apricots roughly chopped
75g peeled chestnuts
75g almonds
100g wholemeal bread , crusts removed and roughly torn (about 6 slices)
Large bunch parsley, chopped
Large pinch dried sage
1 egg


Method

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 

Gently heat the oil in a shallow saucepan then add the onion, celery and garlic. 

Keep everything sizzling on a medium heat for 15 mins until soft. 

Tip into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients, except the egg, plus a small pinch of salt, if you like. Pulse until everything is chopped, then add the egg and pulse until combined. 

Use wet hands to roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, or make into a long sausage type shape then place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until golden and hot through. 

Will freeze for up to three months; defrost fully before reheating.

WEEK 1

Winter Cooking and Crafts for 2021

PINECONE BIRD FEEDER

As the weather is so cold at the moment, let’s give back to nature and feed our garden birds. Below is an easy way to make your own bird feeder and if you have children, they will love helping, especially the messy bit.


You Will Need:
Pine Cones
String for hanging
Bird feed (from the pet shop)
Peanut Butter (or use lard as a great substitute)


Method:
1. Tie your string onto the top of the pinecone 
2. Spread peanut butter or lard on to the pinecone (it can be messy but also great fun especially for kids)
3. Roll the pine cone onto the seed mixture, make sure its nice and compact and full of seeds
4. Find a suitable place to hang your finished bird feeder.

SWEET POTATO AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH LEMON AND GARLIC TOAST

Ingredients

For the Soup
500g sweet potatoes peeled and diced
1 butternut squash peeled, deseeded and diced
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp olive oil plus a drizzle
2 onions roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves crushed
1L vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
100ml double cream

For the Toast
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic gloves crushed
100g butter at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp snipped chives
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 ciabatta loaves, cut into slices


Method


STEP 1 
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Put the sweet potato and butternut squash on a baking tray and add the honey and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 40-45 mins until soft and starting to caramelise at the edges, stirring occasionally.

STEP 2 
Meanwhile, fry the onions in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft, then add the garlic, chicken stock, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 mins.

STEP 3 
Remove the sweet potatoes and butternut squash from the oven and add to the pan with the stock. Blend everything until smooth using a stick blender. Stir in most of the cream and bring back to a gentle simmer, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

STEP 4 
To make the lemon & garlic toasts, gently warm the olive oil and garlic in a pan over a low heat for a few mins; the garlic should be softened but not browned. Remove from the heat and mix in the butter and lemon zest until smooth. Leave to cool, then stir in the chives and thyme.

STEP 5 
Toast the ciabatta slices, and top each with a spoonful of garlic butter. Serve with the soup, drizzled with the remaining cream, and some black pepper.

CHRISTMAS WEEK

MAKE CHRISTMAS BROWNIES

BROWNIES BY The Danish pastry chef - METTE BLOMSTERBERG


Ingredients

250 g butter
125 g brown sugar
250 g syrup
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. crushed cardamom
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
50g slipped almonds, finely chopped
1 tsp. finely grated organic orange peel
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. warm water
½ kg of flour


Method

Put butter, brown sugar and syrup in a saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Gently bring it up to the boiling point and remove the pan from the heat. Stir cloves, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, almonds and orange peel into the sugar mass.

Dissolve the potash in a little lukewarm water and stir it into the sugar mass. Add flour and stir until the dough is glossy. Let it cool a bit and roll it into thick sausages. Wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them until the next day (or for a few weeks if you are in good time).

Take the dough directly from the freezer and cut it into thin slices. Bake brownies on a baking sheet with parchment paper at 200 ° for 5-7 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool on the baking sheet.

Enjoy!

WEEK 21

MAKE A CHRISTMAS LANTERN 

This weeks craft idea is really easy!  By using an old baked bean or similar tin can you can make a festive tea light holder/lantern to give to your friends or keep yourself.  

Here’s how to do it. 
You will need:
An old tin can (beans, peas etc)
Some chalk paint
A serviette
PVA glue
Varnish
A hammer and a thin nail
Wire or garden twine.

Method

 Clean, wash and dry the can really well.

Take your chalk paint and carefully paint your can using a small brush, allow to dry.

Take your serviette and separate the two layers, leaving only the printed one.

Measure the circumference of the can.

Cut out the serviette to match the circumference.

Apply glue carefully all over the can

Gently press or roll the serviette around the can pressing lightly.

Allow to dry

When dry you can apply a light varnish to protect it and allow to dry completely.

Once dry, take a thin nail and your hammer and gently tap little holes into the can. You can do this in a pattern, letter or at random.

Tap two little holes at the top of the can if you intend to hang the lantern.  Add wire or string to make a handle.

Once finished, add a tea light and enjoy. 


If you don't want to make your own, you can buy them from a lovely lady on Etsy (see picture above) and follow the link to her shop DecoupageDays below:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DecoupageDays?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=890775381

WEEK 20

Recipes from Denmark and More Things to Make for Christmas

In my last post I mentioned we would be looking at different crafts I have been making for Christmas.  One of the things a lot of people are doing this year is making hampers for friends and family, full of homemade things to eat and drink.  In this weeks post, I have included two recipes from Denmark.  The second recipe is for Peppermint creams which anyone can make and they would look lovely wrapped in some Christmas tissue paper and presented in a vintage tin. 
Enjoy!

RECIPE FOR JUICY VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS WITH HERBS

For 4 people


Ingredients

1 celeriac
1 shallot
1 clove of garlic
4 eggs
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
30 g hazelnuts, chopped
1 bundle of tarragon
1 bunch of basil
½ dl oil, grape seeds or rapeseed
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Peel a celery, grate it and put it in a bowl.

Finely chop the shallots and garlic and add them  to the celery.

Add eggs, baking powder, chopped herbs (save a little to sprinkle over the parts at the end), and mix well together 

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and let the mince stand for a while and gather flavor. Heat a pan, add oil and form balls with a spoon.

Put them in the pan and fry them approx. 2-3 minutes on each side so they get a nice golden crust on both sides.

Take them off, put them up in a dish, and fry the rest 

Heat them in the oven just before eating. Serve them with an aubergine dip and a little extra herbs on top.

HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT LOZENGES WITH CHOCOLATE

Quantity: Approx. 75 pcs.


INGREDIENTS

1½ egg white (equivalent to a cup)

2 tsp. peppermint essence

450-500 g icing sugar

50 g dark chocolate for garnish

METHOD

Stir egg whites and peppermint essence well together, and add icing sugar a little at a time until the mass is relatively firm.

Roll the mass into small balls, press them flat on a piece of baking paper, and make a small depression in the center of each.

Melt the chocolate over a water bath, and garnish each lozenge with a little of the chocolate.

Let the lozenges stand and dry before serving or placing them in a box for storage.

WEEK 19

Crafts for Christmas 

I love Christmas, and this month DIG is going to feature items on making beautiful things to either sell, give away as gifts to family and friends or simply keep for yourself and decorate your home.

Old flower pots decorations. 

The Nordic look is very popular at this time of year.  The aesthetic is simple, Hygge and it always looks welcoming.  They decorate their homes with things made from natural resources such as metal, clay, felt, wood etc and the use of plastic is very rarely seen in their homes.  

This week I show you how to take a simple clay flower pot and turn it into a beautiful candle holder and a potted pine cone tree. 

For the candle holder you will need:

A small clay flower pot (preferably a bit rustic to enhance the look)

Some florists moss (can be bought on line or at a local florist)

A small piece of florists foam

Some string/twine

Some holly, ivy or eucalyptus

A pillar candle around 4-5” depending on the size of your pot


Method

Take your pot and clear away any dust or bits in the bottom.

Wet your florists foam with a little water (not too much) and cut a size to fit in the bottom of the pot so that it reaches about 1/3 of the way up and fits securely inside. Place inside the pot.

Take your candle and press down into the foam fitting it securely but not pressing too hard. 

Add the moss and begin to push down around the foam, adding bit by bit until the moss reaches the lip of the pot. 

You can now add any berries from holly, or other leaves you may have gathered and place occasionally in and on top of the moss.  

Take your string/twine and cut a length to fit around the lip of the pot and to make a bow. 

Make sure it fits around without slipping down, you may need someone to hold it with their finger while you tie it. 

And voila, that’s all there is to it.  You have made a simple, rustic yet gorgeous looking decoration for very little money and you can go on and use the moss, leaves and foam to make other things with them.  The same can be made using old jam jars or pretty containers you may have lying around the house.  


For the potted pine cone tree you will need:

A small clay flower pot like before

Some florists foam

A large pine cone

Some gold card

Some string/twine


Method

As before, make sure your pot is clean and free from any debris

Lightly wet the florists foam and fit securely in the pot.

Take your pinecone and press into the foam

Arrange the moss around the cone ( you don’t need as much as before)

Draw a star shape on the back of the gold or silver card and cut out

Tie the string around the pot as before and fasten with a bow

Gently attach the star to the top of the pinecone with a dab of glue. 

Extra - If you want to add another star or similar decoration to the front of the pot then simply glue it on as before. 

            If you want a snowy effect - spray the pinecone first with fake snow, or silver and gold spray. (Do this outside as its safer and less messy, allow to dry fully before using!)

More crafts next time. 

Let us know over on Instagram if you try any of these crafts!

Enjoy!

WEEK 18
HALLOWEEN GARDEN PARTY

Bring forth the raisins and the nuts

To-night All Hallows' Spectre struts

Along the moonlit way.

No time is this for tear or sob

Or other woes our joys to rob

But time for Pippin and for Bob

And Jack-o'-lantern gay.

Hallowe’en by John Kendrick Bangs

1862 - 1920

Don’t let the recent stipulations stop you and your children enjoying any Halloween celebrations this year.  Why not decorate your garden and have a small gathering there instead (weather permitting) If you live in close proximity to other houses, why not suggest you each decorate the front of your house and hold a street fest (similar to the one we had for the May VE day celebrations).  If we all stick to our own front gardens or drives, then we can still have fun and give the children a real treat (or trick).

Below are some cooky ideas to do just that:

The most obvious one is a pumpkin or pumpkins.  Get a couple, carve them out into ghoulish faces, stick a candle in them and leave them near your door or on the lawn.

Take 3 very long piece of string, join 3 ends together, attach to front of house and use it to create a giant spiders web.  You can then place various fake black spiders on it and even thread some little fairy lights around it. 

Take a jam jar, place a battery operated candle in it, cover it with some white bandages and stick or draw 2 eyes or a face on it.  If you make a few and place them in a line, this looks much more affective. 

Get a ball (around the size of an average football) and drop some flowing white material over it so that it hands down about 1/2 m below the ball. Using pins carefully attach the fabric to the ball or stick with glue.  Rag the ends of the fabric and draw a scary face on it. Hang from a hook or a plant stake in the garden by poking a hole in the top of the material.

Take some white tights, using the leg sections only, so cut off the pant section, get some little water balloons, fill with water and add a glow stick, hang upside down in groups of about 6.  They look amazing. 

Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves, keep safe, and eat lots of sweets! 

WEEK 17

NEW AUTUMN RECIPES

Check out these great new recipes we’ve found from various supermarkets this autumn. 


For Bonfire Night

Sticky sausage & bean stew

Preparation time 5 minutes -  Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6


Ingredients

350g prepared diced butternut squash
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
275g pack fresh Waitrose Baby Plum Tomatoes (or use 1 can chopped tomatoes, drained)
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 x 400g packs Waitrose British Free Range Pork Sausages
2 tbsp light olive oil
150ml chicken stock
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
400g can essential Waitrose cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the squash, celery, onion, garlic, half the tomatoes and all the rosemary into a large roasting tin. Arrange the sausages on top and drizzle over the oil. Roast for 20 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and add the remaining tomatoes, stock, honey, vinegar and beans to the tin. Toss well and roast for a further 15-20 minutes.

TRY IN THE SLOW COOKER: Heat 1 tbsp oil (you only need 1 tbsp for this method) in a frying pan and brown the sausages. Add the squash, celery, onion, garlic, tomatoes and rosemary to the slow cooker. Lay the sausages on top and add the stock, honey and vinegar. Cook for 3 hours on the highest setting, adding the beans for the last hour.



Toffee Apple Tarte Tatin

Vegetarian

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 6-8


Ingredients

1 pack 2 x 320g Jus-Rol Puff Pastry Sheets
25g Country Life Butter
25g Tate & Lyle Dark Muscovado Sugar (selected stores)
1 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 Golden Delicious apples, cored and sliced
Zest of 1 lemon


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Base line a 22cm round tin.

2. Lay 1 sheet of the puff pastry on a floured surface and cut out a circle the same size as the tin.

3. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a small saucepan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour into the base of the tin. Top with the apples, then sprinkle over the lemon zest.

4. Place the pastry circle on top, tucking the edges inside the tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool slightly before inverting onto a serving plate.



MEATLESS MINCE AND LENTIL STEW


Ingredients

200g Meatless Farm Meat Free Mince

1 onion, diced

1 tin of tinned tomatoes

2 tsp garlic paste

4 tbsp olive oil

20g parsley, finely chopped

10g fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

250g of cooked black puy lentils


Method

Remove the Meatless Farm Meat Free Mince from the packaging and fry off according to pack instructions, until golden brown all over – usually 10-12 mins. Top tip, use chopsticks to gently break it up.

Finely dice onion and sauté in oil and a pinch of salt until caramelised

Add garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Next add a tin of tomatoes and half a tin of water.

Reduce for 5-6 minutes before adding the lentils.

Add the finely chopped parsley and mint.

Add the balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar and two tbsp of the olive oil (Or a generous amount)

Cook for another 5-10 mins, adding water depending on the consistency you like.

Finally add in the mince and stir through.

Serve with roasted shallots, or finely sliced beetroot and dill, along with a crusty toasted sourdough loaf.


ALDI

Blackberry and Cherry Harvest Crumble


Ingredients

200g pack cherries

150g pack blackberries

1 x 270g jar apple sauce

80g butter at room temperature

30g ground almonds

60g plain flour

60g caster sugar

40g oats

1 x heaped teaspoon ground ginger


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6

2. Stone the cherries and cut in half

3. Put into an ovenproof shallow dish along with the blackberries and apple sauce and mix together

4. In a mixing bowl add the flour, almonds, oats, ginger and sugar

5. Cut the butter into bits and add to the mixture and rub in with your fingers

6. Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit

7. Bake in the oven for 20/25 mins – till the top is golden brown

8. Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream


I hope you enjoy making some or all of these!

WEEK 16

GO BONKERS FOR CONKERS

Searching for conkers reminds me so much of my childhood autumns.  As children, like so many others,  we would scour the county lanes hunting for the biggest, shiniest conker.  They were like little spiky presents, normally slightly open with the chocolate brown gift within staring up at us.  Who could get the best one was always the winner even before preparing them for the game of conkers.  I would take my haul back to my dad who would carefully drill a hole through the best ones, poke some string through and securely tie a knot.  And that was it, we were ready for battle.  This normally took place in the playground after the weekend of preparation.  It was great fun comparing who had managed to get the biggest one and who was going to play first.  i normally got knocked out early on, only because I didn’t like getting my hands battered if they missed the conker and whacked me instead, yes I was a bit of a wimp but hey ho, it was great fun.  It’s probably not allowed anymore, in fact, I think I read somewhere it wasn’t due to the little darlings might get hurt or, it wasn’t PC or something stupid like that.  So, if you can’t play conkers anymore, why bother to collect them? What else can you do with them?

Well, quite a lot actually.  I’ve gathered together some interesting things we can do with these beautiful brown jewels.

  • Make Christmas decorations with them by adding glitter or even sequins to them. Drill a hole and hang them on the tree or make a string of them and hang them above the fireplace as an autumn decoration.  I suppose you could even spray them silver or gold too. 

  • Keep spiders away. Conkers release a handy chemical that spiders seem to hate. A few strategically placed bowls should do the trick now that they’re attempting to make their way in for the winter.

  • Throw them on the bonfire, they explode due to a build up of steam.  If you pierce them the steam is released more easily. Kids will find that very amusing.
     
  • Make a good luck charm. Wearing a conker on a necklace is said to bring good luck to the wearer.

  • Make them a feature. Fill a tall glass with them and leave them on a windowsill or dinner table for an instant autumn injection                     

    If you have any other ideas for using conkers let us know by emailing us at : thevioletcottage@outlook.com!

WEEK 15

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Bottles

Instead of chucking them in the bottle bank, why not spray wine bottles with mat black paint and use them as candle holders. They can make a dramatic display on your fireplace or dinner table. They look amazing with orange or pink candles in them. (see our wide range of candles in our Etsy store) 

Jars

When you have finished with your jam jars, use them as tea light holders.  The ones with the red and white lids are especially nice to use and can also be great for storing dried fruits and nuts. 

Metal funnels

These are not something everyone has but if you can find one at a flea market or maybe a car boot sale then they can easily be turned into a taper candle holder.  Just by turning it upside down and placing the candle in the hold.  They look so original and also make great presents. 

Watering can with fairy lights

This idea is amazing and looks so pretty.  I have added the link on how to do it below. It’s so clever as it looks like the lights are actually waiting the plants.  Please note:  you must use really small, in fact tiny little lights in order to get it throw the shower head of the watering can.  Children especially like this project as it looks so magical. 

https://www.smartschoolhouse.com/diy-crafts/glowing-watering-can-with-fairy-lights

Driftwood container

Collect some hollowed out driftwood off the beach or a piece of wood from a woodland walk or forest and use it to make a succulent planter. 

No special tools are needed just: wood, moss or soil, succulents of your choice and any other decorations you may wish to add. 

Take the piece of wood, fill it with whichever soil or medium you have chosen your plants to grow in.  Arrange the plants as you wish, planting them in the soil they came in and add decorations afterwards.  As succulents are very hardy and don’t need watering very often, this is a good project for those who aren’t naturally gifted with ‘Green fingers’ i.e. ME!


Have fun and do send us some of your photos if you try any of these DIY's!

WEEK 14

Soup is the Song of the Hearth and the Home

This week we're paying homage to soup.  As some of you may have been growing your own vegetables this year, especially during the lockdown, what better way to use them up by making our own autumn soup to satisfy our hunger and keep out the cold.  As the nights get darker why not experiment with some of the recipes below. Served with some lovely chunky bread, what could be better than to start practicing Hygge: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. 


ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
By James Martin


Ingredients

  • 70g pack cubetti di pancetta
  • 1 butternut squash peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 150ml white wine
  • 100ml double cream
  •   juice of 1 lemon
  • 25g toasted pine nuts

Method

  • STEP 1 Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the pancetta in a frying pan and fry until crispy. Set aside. Put the squash, onion and garlic in a large roasting tin. Add the honey and rosemary, then roast for about 30 mins, turning squash halfway through, until cooked, tender and golden brown.

  • STEP 2 Remove tin from the oven, take out the rosemary and discard. Transfer contents of tin to a food processor with the stock, wine, cream and lemon juice. Season, then blend until smooth.

  • STEP 3 Transfer mixture to a large saucepan and reheat. Divide soup between individual bowls and top with a sprinkle of pine nuts and pancetta. 

******************

MUSHROOM SOUP 
By Tarilang

Ingredients

  • 90g butter
  • 2 medium onions roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 500g mushrooms finely chopped (chestnut or button mushrooms work well)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1l hot chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • small handful flat leaf parsley roughly chopped, to serve (optional)

Method

  • STEP 1 Heat the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until soft but not browned, about 8-10 mins.

  • STEP 2  Add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat for another 3 mins until softened. Sprinkle over the flour and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken stock, bring the mixture to the boil, then add the bay leaf and simmer for another 10 mins.

  • STEP 3  Remove and discard the bay leaf then remove the mushroom mixture from the heat and blitz using a hand blender until smooth. Gently reheat the soup and stir through the cream (or, you could freeze the soup at this stage – simply stir through the cream when heating). Scatter over the parsley, if you like, and serve.

*******************

LENTIL SOUP


Ingredients

  • 2 Litres of vegetable stock
  • 150g red lentils
  • 6 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 medium leeks sliced 
  • Chopped parsley to serve

Method

  • STEP 1 Heat the stock in a large pan and add the lentils. Bring to the boil and allow the lentils to soften for a few minutes.
  • STEP 2 Add the carrots and leeks and season (don't add salt if you use ham stock as it will make it too salty). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45-60 mins until the lentils have broken down. Scatter over the parsley and serve with buttered bread, if you like.

WEEK 13 

LOVE THE SKIN YOU'RE IN

This week in Dig we are looking at how to make natural skincare products out of fruit, vegetables and other things you may find in your kitchen.

I recently purchased an amazing book called RADIANT: Recipes to heal from within by Hannah Sillitoe. Because I have been suffering with sensitive skin recently I thought I would take a closer look at my diet.  The author of this book has suffered for years with eczema, psoriasis and acne but after changing her diet to what she calls skin food, her skin has cleared up and she suffers no more with any of those complaints.  She writes how incredible it is and has been, that by just omitting certain food groups from her daily diet her skin has completely healed.  She now has thousands of followers who swear by her advice and have seen a vast improvement in their own skin and bodies.  I throughly recommend this book if, like me, you have experienced any sort of problems with your skin. 

BANANA AND SODA FACE MASK

The mask is brilliant for combating wrinkles, spots and brightening the complexion.  Bananas protect the skin from free radicals which help delay the ageing process.  They also help combat dry skin by hydrating skin cells.  By adding bicarbonate of soda it helps to break down grime and dirt remove excess oil. 

1 ripe banana

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. 

Method

Peel and mash the banana until it is completely lump free.

Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix throughly adding water if the mixture is too thick. 

Apply to face and leave for 10-15 minutes. 

Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat dry. 

Use once a week or whenever your face feels particularly dry. 


NATURAL ALL SPICE BRONZER

Who knew you could make your own bronzer instead of paying pounds for shop bought ones!  So simple to make and it smells wonderful.  By adjusting the proportions of spice you can tone it to your own skin colour and throughout the seasons.  Cinnamon is really skin-friendly as it helps to prevent and fight skin infections and improves the overall quality, texture and complexion of your skin.

2 tablespoons of cornflour

1 teaspoon of group cloves

1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

Put the cornflour into a mixing bowl and begin to add the group spices a little at a time, stirring everything together.  Cornflour naturally lighters the powder and nutmeg adds the darker tones. 

Once you have the right colour and combination for your skin, store it in a pot with a screw on lid and apply using a bronzer brush. 


SOOTHING DEAD SEA SALT EXFOLIANT

Egyptians used the geranium oil in this recipe for centuries as it can treat acne, reduce inflammation, alleviate anxiety and balance hormones. Patchouli oil as been shown to assist in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and sores.  Combined with Dead Sea salt, the oils make for a sweet smelling and relaxing body scrub.

300g find Dead Sea salt

150ml almond oil

6 drops geranium oil

6 drops patchouli oil

Method

Put the salt in a clean, dry bowl, add the almond oil and mix with a wooden spoon.  Mix in the geranium and patchouli oils.  

Store in a sterilised glass jar and use once a week as a soothing, relaxing scrub.  Use within a few weeks and if you have a lot over, why not give some to your friends as a gift.


I hope you enjoy making these! It's so nice to have something that isn’t full of chemicals to put on our skin.

WEEK 12

The Southwold Flower Company

(all pictures by Poppy Marriott)

The other day we visited The Southwold Flower Company in Reydon, Suffolk as we needed to do a photo shoot for an advert. 

 Set in 4 acres of land and growing and selling British grown flowers which is their absolute passion, owners Liz and Roger Mobbs began their journey in March 2013 at a much smaller 1/4 acre site with a second hand greenhouse.  Since then it has continued to grow into the successful business it is today, providing flowers for all sorts of occasions, photo shoots and weddings. The farm itself,  incorporates a huge variety of around 100 different crops, including annuals, perennials and herbs.  They specialise in growing the traditional English country garden varieties - flowers that would look and feel right at home in the traditional long border. 

From their barn on the farm, you can buy an exciting range of hand picked fresh flowers, as well as a range of carefully selected gifts, house plants, garden plants, cacti and succulents.  

During this month, the barn is full of the most beautiful dried flowers hanging from every rafter.  Autumnal golds, red, orange and pinks are everywhere. It was like walking into a magazine shoot. Every detail, from the colour of the walls to the props displaying the flowers and plants has been arranged with their obvious love and passion for flowers.  They hold workshops throughout the year teaching flower craft such as wreath making, table decorations and other displays.  

I honestly could have bought the whole shop. 

If you fancy having a go at drying your own flowers, here’s how you can do it. 

The best time to pick your flowers is in the morning after the dew has gone.

Ideally, pick the flowers when they are half way through their blooming cycle. 
They will continue to open slightly as they dry so it’s important they have some growth left to avoid the petals falling or drooping.

Simply combine your flowers into small bunches, removing all foliage from the main stems, tie the base of the stems with a length of string and hang the flowers upside down in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks.  (Best for: Lavender, roses, cornflower, hydrangea and most foliage.)

Once they are dried you can decorate your home with them anywhere but they look especially good in the kitchen and bathroom. 

If you fancy treating yourself some of the most beautiful flowers, plants or gifts, visit thesouthwoldflowercompany.co.uk and see for yourself. 

WEEK 11

UNDERSTANDING AUTUMN

Just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is all aglow.

As you know, I wrote about how much I love Autumn last week. How I love the changing season, the leaves turning a multitude of golden, copper and red colours.  How I love donning my boots and wooly jumpers. Lighting the fire and candles and preparing for a snuggly time. It is, I believe, a sort of cleansing season, as if the earth is taking a large exhalation before it rests for the winter. 

One of the myths that surround this season is that of Demeter who is known as the Goddess of the harvest. She presides over nature's cycles of life and death and over grains, the harvest and the fertility of the earth. 

Her virgin daughter Persephone was abducted and taken away to the underworld by Hades.  Demeter was, as you would expect beside herself and searched relentlessly for her beloved daughter. Demeter asked Zeus, a brother of Hades to return Persephone to her.  But Zeus refused, so Demeter withheld the harvest from man until Zeus relented.  Eventually Zeus agreed to return her daughter if she had not eaten with Hades.  However, since Persephone had eaten 6 pomegranate seeds in the underworld, Zeus decided that Persephone would live with her mother for six months and with Hades for six months.

Hence the mythic origin of the six months (spring and summer) when Persephone walks the earth with her mother who welcomes her back by making all of the flowers bloom and renews the earth and the six months of autumn and winter and her sadness at having to return her daughter to the underworld to live with Hades, thus giving us our four seasons.  The pomegranate is still today and for many, a symbol of death and renewal.

CATCH A FALLING LEAF.

A lovely old superstition or old wive’s tale is if you can catch a falling leaf as it falls off a tree then you are in for a month of good luck,.

Perhaps we should all try and catch twelve to make next year a better year!


WEEK 10

HOORAY IT'S AUTUMN!

Hooray it’s Autumn!

By the time you read this, it will be the start of Autumn in the UK. I love this season.  I love the colours, the crispness of opening the kitchen door in the morning to let the animals out and feeling that cool air on my face.  Am I weird?  Am I the only one who likes this change of season?  I know most people love summer and I do, especially when I can go on holiday, but I don’t like being too hot.  It feels uncomfortable. (Maybe that’s one of my Doshas being out of balance - see Health section this week).

Being born in the summer, it is odd that I love Autumn and Winter. I love the run up to Christmas.  My family say I am a bigger kid than our children!  It is a different time, a different type of existence.  Autumn brings a feeling of getting ready.  Getting ready for hunkering down, storing food, preparing, getting cosy, lighting fires, lighting candles (we have some on our Etsy at the moment!

Maybe you have tried pickling or preserving vegetables (see week 7 Dig).  Going blackberry picking round country lanes. Making crumbles again, I love a crumble.  Am I getting too excited about this? Is it just me or do any of you love this time of year? We’d love to hear of your favourite things to do in Autumn.
 Drop us an email at thevioletcottage@outlook.com.

MAKE A CRUMBLE


Any sort of crumble always fills your kitchen with the most delicious smell on earth and by adding sweetened spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg it enhances the aroma even more. 

Now is the season to get crumbling. If you have a glut of plums, apples, peaches, damsons or other then why not try out Nigel Slater’s new recipe. See below. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/chefs/nigel_slater


Ingredients

1kg/2lb 3½oz Bramley apples

pinch sugar, to taste

1 tbsp water or apple juice

100g/3½oz plain flour

75g/2½oz butter

50g/2oz rolled oats

100g/3½oz demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Wipe the apples and cut them into quarters, then remove the cores and slice each piece in two. Put them into a pan, taste a slice for sweetness and add a sprinkling of sugar accordingly. Add a tablespoon of water or apple juice and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes, until the apples start to soften.

Transfer the apple mixture to a shallow ovenproof pie dish.

Blend the flour and butter in a food processor for a few seconds, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the oats and the brown sugar and sprinkle over the cooked apples in the pie dish. Transfer to the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden-brown on top.

YUM!

WEEK 9

GARDEN STYLE ON A BUDGET AND GOOSEBERRY GIN

With a lot of people losing their jobs, on furlough or just plain unemployed (me) it has given us more time to do jobs around the house and garden.  This week we look at recycling and reusing various items and turning them into quirky planters, garden furniture, bug hotels and compost bins.

Old butler style sinks make excellent planters and you can pick them up fairly cheaply but beware, they are very heavy. I have even seen old dressing tables turned into pretty containers for flowers and vegetables. Use an old metal bed to make, quite literally, a flower bed. On your travels, if you come across a old wire birdhouse, this could be filled with overhanging plants and hung in the garden.

Pallets are one of the most recycled objects as they are really versatile and, most of the time they are free.  You just have to ask (don’t be afraid).

They can be turned on their side, fastened to a wall and made in to shelves for plant pots. 

They can be made into garden sofas and chairs or benches.  Once painted they look amazing.

We all probably eat something out of a can (from soup and baked beans),now and again, so why not  wash them out, paint them, fill with bird seed, and hang in the garden for your own homemade bird feeder.

Another lovely idea is to use a smaller tin can, paint or decorate it as you want to, turn it so the inside is facing you and drill a hole at the top.  You can then add some string, place a little tea light in the base (possibly a fake one if indoors) and hang it up.  If you make more than one, they can look enchanting altogether. 

Lovely old wooden ladders can be used for holding  pots overflowing with many different varieties of flowers. 

Old wellies look quirky and fun when used as planters. 

Wind chimes make a garden magical and can be made easily by getting a piece of drift wood or other wood about 10” long, drilling some holes in it about every 2’, threading string through them and securing with a knot.  Beads or bells etc can then be threaded on to the strings and voila!

Wooden wind chimes create a relaxing atmosphere as they induce a feeling of calm in your garden.  Just recently, in our Etsy store, we have introduced some fabulous wooden chimes made in Bali.  They are made from bamboo and coconut shell and once hung up they sound so lovely.  The beauty of our chimes is that they are all Fair trade, eco-friendly and ethical, for which we ensure that, as a minimum, workers are paid good wages, work in a safe environment, do not experience discrimination, and ensure there is no child labour or forced labour.  Check them out https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/857277165/bamboo-wind-chime-natural-bamboo-coconut?ref=shop_home_active_3

These can also be pre ordered and for just £9.99 they make a lovely gift for you or your family and friends. 

HALCYON'S GOOSEBERRY GIN 

My friend Halcyon recently told me about how she has made the most delicious tasting gin, using gooseberries from her garden. Intrigued, I asked her for the recipe and she has very kindly agreed to share it with us all.  If we make it now, it should be ready for Christmas!

Recipe

1 litre of gin (any) 

450g of gooseberries

225g sugar. 

Method
Top and tail gooseberries and then freeze

Place the frozen gooseberries (freezing them means you won’t have to prick them with a needle) in a large sterilised preserving jar. 

Leave to defrost

Add sugar and gin  and store in a dark or shady spot

Gently turn or shake the jar every day until the sugar has dissolved.  (Around 1 week)

Leave the gooseberries in the gin for approx 8 week

When ready, bottle the whole lot and enjoy!
Halcyon says she is going to use the gooseberries to make the most amazing crumble, what a great idea.

Thank you Halcyon!

Week Eight

Keep Um' Clean, Garden Progress and Banana Bread!

KEEP UM' CLEAN!

If you like gardening or anything where your hands get dirty it is sometimes difficult to wash them if you aren’t near a sink.  In our Etsy store this week we are selling these amazing little pocket sized hand sanitisers for just £3.50 each with free postage.  The beauty of these if that they are a spray rather than a gel, so you don’t get that sticky feeling.  Your hands actually feel cleaner.  Also, they are refillable, Vegan, Cruelty free and recycled.  You can choose between different designs and are also great for children to take to school. Follow the link and treat yourself and your family to one of the cutest and most versatile hand sanitisers on sale today. x https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/840217538/pocket-refillable-hand-sanitiser-rainbow?ref=shop_home_active_1&frs=1

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW!

In week one we wrote about how to grow vegetable from scraps.  I am amazed how they have all grown and we are now reaping the benefit of being able to pick our own. (so to speak)

BANANA BREAD WITH A DIFFERENCE

I know everyone has made, made, or is always making banana bread.  It seems it was the recipe to go for especially during the first part of the pandemic. But, have you considered adding any tempting toppings to it? It can make a plain old loaf look like something they would serve at The Ritz.  To add some eye candy to this wonderful staple loaf, start by looking in your cupboards for things like, nuts, fruit or even some chocolate chips. You could even slice a banana thinly and lay that on the top for some added oh la la.  Below is a recipe taken from the Etsy Journal by a woman called by Aravis Moore. Aravis even uses figs and walnuts on hers and if the picture is anything to go by, I’m off to make my own. 

.  I have to say it looks gorgeous and if you like bananas, LET’S DO IT!


INGREDIENTS


Makes  1 loaf

You will need:


  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 medium, ripe bananas (optional: reserve one banana for topping)
  • 60ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 170g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup walnut halves (optional)
  • 4 fresh figs (optional)
  • 1 standard 8½ x 4x½ loaf pan


TO MAKE


1.Measure out your ingredients and preheat the oven to 180c. Grease your loaf pan.

2.Peel 3-4 medium-sized, ripe bananas. Mash with a fork if you prefer bigger bites of fruit, or puree for a more uniform texture. Set aside

3.In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the oil and sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and mix to blend. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the mashed bananas. 

4 Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon.

5 Arrange your pre-selected toppings in a pretty pattern on top of the batter, pressing them down lightly. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.

6 Bake for 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let the banana bread cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before turning out. Slice, butter, and serve on a pretty board. 

Week Seven
PRESERVING VEG


Fewer and fewer families are passing down the practice of preserving vegetables and fruit.  We don’t necessarily have to anymore it because fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, often shipped long distances, are available in supermarkets and greengrocers all year round no matter the season. It’s a privilege many of us take for granted.  BUT, what if, due to the recent pandemic, we might need to in the future?  What if all that food suddenly becomes unavailable?  Now, I’m not trying to scare anybody, but it is a possibility, especially with the coming winter.  If we see another spike, what then?  We recently saw how people panicked and splurged the supermarkets and local shops of toilet roll, pasta, rice etc etc. We were lucky, however, to not run short of fresh food and veg but I think it is always a good thing to (as the Scouts say) BE PREPARED.  

So, this week, I have been looking at how to preserve various foods. It is something my grandmother and her mother and her mother would have done and I find it quite fascinating and a little bit exciting (what is wrong with me?)  Anyway, let’s have a look at how to do it.


PICKLING

Take any vegetable and slice about 1/8 of an inch thick

Take 2 large jars and layer the slices in to the jars.

To make the brine take a medium saucepan, and put

 2 cups of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.  

4 tsps of sugar

4 tbsp of coarse salt

4 cups of water

1/2 tsp of mustard seeds

1/2 tsp of celery seeds

1/8 tsp of turmeric

Stir and bring to a boil.

Once its boiling its ready to pour over the cucumber

Transfer the boiling water into a jug to make it easier to cover the cucumber. Cover them completely.

Once cooled completely, put them in the fridge. They will last for around 2 months, so whenever you want to eat them calculate when you prepare them.  So for example, if you wanted them for Christmas time, make them in October. 

You can do the same with many other vegetables such as, onions, carrots, cauliflower.  You can also add herbs and garlic to the pickles to add more flavour.

Best herbs to add to 

Cucumber is garlic and dill

Onions - add Thyme and peppercorns

Cauliflower - Turmeric and coriander

Carrots - Bayleaves and Tarragon

What to do with them once they are ready below are some ideas of how to use them. 

Put them on salads and sandwiches

Put them on dips

Put them as an appetiser on a cheese board

Top grilled meat with them


FREEZING

Freezing is a great way to fill up the freezer especially if you have surplus amounts of fruit growing in your garden.   However, the process of freezing and thawing can damage softer fruits like strawberries.  This can change their texture completely. It’s also worth remembering that freezing doesn’t kill all bacteria, any become dormant until defrosted.

If you decide to freeze your fruits and vegetables, it’s usually best to freeze them first on a metal tray. Once they’re completely hard, transfer them to sterile, airtight freezer bags. If you’re freezing starchy vegetables such as potatoes, blanch them in iced water before placing them in the freezer. And if you’re storing fruits that can turn brown, such as apples, treat them with ascorbic acid first


If you love Christmas, as I do then I am going to hand you over to the Women’s Institute’s amazing recipe for making Cranberry and Red Onion Relish.  Follow this link to their page for this and many other amazing recipes. https://www.thewi.org.uk/life-at-the-wi/food-and-cookery/recipes/recipes/jams,-preserves-and-pickles/cranberry-and-red-onion-relish 


ENJOY!

Week Six
THE MAGIC OF TREES

When you were a child, did you climb trees?  Did you love running around a forest pretending you were a fairy or a pixie? Did you go scrumping apples from someone’s tree?  or make a rope swing, or just sit under the shade of a big oak tree and read a book?

I think I probably did all of the above.  As children our imaginations are at their peak, we are at our most creative.  We see the magic and mystery in lots of things.  We are excited about life, we are free from the pressures of adulthood, such as bills, work and responsibilities.  One of my childhood memories was going for picnic’s in a beautiful old wood called Hanbury Woods also known as Dodderhill Common. https://www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/pipers-hill-dodderhill-commons It is now run by Worcestershire Wildlife trust and is a pasture reserve containing some of the oldest trees in the county.  Today the nature reserve has over 240 veteran trees some of the oldest in the county which have grown over several hundred years.  These old trees support a huge range of wildlife as well as being historically and culturally significant in their own right. But, what I remember the most is the feeling that the wood was magical.  It was as if the trees could talk and when you listened carefully you could hear them whispering to each other.  Maybe I had just read too many of Enid Blyton’s Faraway tree stories which conjured up images of the strange folk that lived in the enchanted forest,  Moonface, Dame slap, Saucepan man and Silky.  The tree was so enormous that it seemed to reach into the clouds and, when the children climbed it, they gained access to many magical lands – The Land of Birthdays, The Land of Do-As-You-Please – inhabited by strange and amusing characters.

The tree, I believe, was an Oak tree and one that had been growing for hundreds of years. 

The Celts believed trees had consciousness.  The Druid priesthood is said to have met in forest groves to conduct rituals and meetings.  Woodhenges, which are the wooden equivalent of Stongehenge can often be found all over England and Ireland.  They are a ring of wooden beams or trees used as sanctuary for ancient peoples.

The many trees that the Celtic people honoured and even worshiped were:

  Alder, ash, apple, aspen, birch, blackthorn, elder, gorse, hawthorn, hazel, heather, holly, ivy, mistletoe, oak, reed, rowan, scots pine, vine, willow, and yew tree.  All of these trees have different magical properties attached to them.  


Below are just a few:

Oak: ancestry, fertility, health, luck, prosperity, protection, strength, success, wisdom

Holly: courage, death, divinity, healing, luck, protection, rebirth, unity

Pine: abundance, emotions, fertility, good luck, healing, immortality, love, prosperity, protection, purification, regeneration

Rowan: blessings, centering, expression, fertility, grounding, healing, luck, music, protection, strength, writing

Yew: ancestry, death, divination, flexibility, immortality, rebirth, strength

Willow: birth, fertility, flexibility, grieving, healing, intuition, knowledge, motherhood, protection, relationships, wisdom, wishes

Elder: blessings, creativity, fairies, good fortune, healing, magic, prosperity, protection, sleep, transition

Apple: underworld, love, healing, goddess, garden, immortality


I love these tree sayings.

To predict summer weather:

Ash before Oak, we're in for a soak
Oak before Ash, we're in for a splash

To keep healthy:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

To be granted a wish!

Mini whirlwinds of leaves, are said to be evidence of a "Fairy Dance". The tiniest of Fairies are believed to ride on falling leaves. If a leaf is caught in the air, before it has touched the ground, the Fairy must grant the "catcher" a wish.

 Our trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world's wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter so it is so important to take care of them as they take care of us

If you are feeling a bit low, stressed or depressed then what better way to boost your mood than to go climb, sit, or just stare in wonder at our beautiful God given trees. 

Week Five
NEW AGE GARDENING

Is it time for better living through chemistry?

In our first week we looked at growing vegetables and plants by just using scraps. This is called propagating. We took, for example, the base of some broccoli and placed it in a small bowl with about a few inches of water.  We placed it on the kitchen window to get some sunshine and watched what happened.  After a few days little roots started to appear at the base of the broccoli.  Having never done this before, we were fascinated.  As the weeks went by, more and more roots appeared and then it was time to plant it in the garden where it took root (excuse the pun) and we now have our own supply of broccoli.  

The reason for this recap is the fact that HYDROPONICS works on a similar basis to propagation but instead of moving the plant once the roots are established,  it stays in the water.

Hydroponics, quite simply, is the process of growing plants without soil. In most systems the roots are directly suspended in nutrient-rich and perfectly pH-balanced water.

You can grow a variety of plants in a hydroponic system, such as greens, vining plants, root crops, fruits, herbs and even flowers.

For those without gardens it allows you to grow food all year round without any mess.  Hydrophonic plants grow 30 percent faster and normally produce a much higher yield.  You don’t need to worry about over or under watering them and you can grow seasonal plants such as tomatoes and strawberries all year round.  

I think it is becoming much more popular in urban areas and with people who may not necessarily have a garden or outdoor space.  Obviously the plants need light and there are specific ones you can buy but you have to do the research. 

Personally, we prefer to grow plants and vegetables in soil as we believe that is how nature intended it to be but hey, who are we to knock it. If you fancy having a go, then why not start small and try growing some flowers.  At The Violet Cottage we can provide these beautiful laboratory pots that make vases and tabletop displays of flowers, fronds and stems.  Made of recycled metal, glass and wood they will be an amazing addition to any home, kitchen, bedroom or office, email us at thevioletcottage@outlook.com for further details.


SHED OF THE YEAR

DO YOU HAVE A SHED?


Do you have a shed at the bottom of your garden? Be it old and run down or modern and urban.  Well, whatever you have I bet they are nothing like the ones being entered into SHED OF THE YEAR.

This competition has been has been running for quite a few years now with the imaginative title ‘Shed of the Year”

Its founder, Andrew Wilcox started it 14 years ago and its grown immensely popular over the years.  Celebrating the great British shed in all its forms - from the miniature to the massive, the modern to the traditional, the cosy to the minimal and everything in between, this year it is being sponsored by Cuprinol.  Each year there are different categories.  This year some are PUB, UNIQUE, LOCKDOWN, CABIN and UNEXPECTED. 

The creativity of the people who enter is incredible. One of the finalists sheds is based on the Bauhaus School movement, another on a bar, a seaside arcade, an arts centre and many others that blow your mind.  

So if you are harbouring something unique at the bottom of your garden, why not have a go.

Anyone can vote this year and if you fancy entering for 2021  just go to http://www.readersheds.co.uk/


Week Four
LET'S ALL BUZZ OFF AND BUILD A BEE HOUSE

 The lockdown has made many people think differently about the way we live. We haven’t been able to do everything that we could do before.  Things have not been ‘on tap’ for us.

People have had to be more resourceful and as I have said in previous blog posts, it’s a been a bit like going back in time. But, some people have told me, they actually have enjoyed the process of having to MAKE DO AND MEND, COOKING MEALS FROM SCRATCH, REPAIRING THINGS INSTEAD OF THROWING THEM AWAY (back to THE REPAIR SHOP) husband’s favourite programme) and GROWING OUR OWN. Gardening has become a lot of people’s new passion and as the weather gets warmer, what better way than to spend time with our families in whatever space we have outside. 

It is becoming much more apparent to so many of us that we need to educate ourselves and our children about how to care and look after this beautiful planet of ours.  Lots of our children are lucky enough to be have been taught about sustainability, recycling, ecology, the natural environment and ethical consumerism yet as adults, we maybe still a little in the dark. This week we are talking BEES. 

Now the children have broken up from school, (if indeed they have been back to school at all due to lockdown), we look for ways to keep them entertained during the summer holidays.

One of the great things about this time is getting outside.  Picnicking in the park, going to the beach, bike rides around country lane or just having fun in the garden.  

There are so many things we can do in our gardens and I always find that children are fascinated by bugs.  What better time than to introduce them to the humble bumble bee. As we know bees are severely in decline and we must try and do our bit to stop this happening even further.  Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in the future of our economy, wellbeing, and the fight against climate and nature breakdown.


The following information from Friends of the Earth is extremely worrying.

13 bee species have become extinct in the UK since 1900 and a further 35 are on the threatened species list. The changes in seasonal weather are causing problems for bees in finding food and places to nest.

Three reasons Britain's bees need your help today:

97% of our vital grasslands have been lost in the past 60 years meaning bees have lost some of their most precious habitat.

Bees pollinate 75% of our main food crops worldwide, including some of our favourite produce like apples, strawberries and tomatoes.

Scientists estimate that it'd cost over £1.8 billion every single year to pollinate UK crops by hand.

SO HOW CAN WE HELP? 


We can start by creating a haven for the little buzzers. Even if you have very little space you can offer certain bee friendly flowers and plants on patios, balconies or your garden. 

WHAT  SORT OF PLANTS DO BEES LIKE? 

HONEYSUCKLE

LAVENDER

ABELIA 

HAWTHORN

WHAT ABOUT HERBS?

MINT

ROSEMARY

SUNFLOWERS

FENNEL

SAGE 

LEMON BALM


MOWING THE LAWN

It is best to try and mow the lawn less often if you can. When you do mow cut  less closely as this will help give pollinators places to feed and shelter among the grass.

 This leaves some of the dandelions standing proudly which the bees absolutely love. 

MAKE A SMALL WOOD PILE

Another cheap way to provide habitat is with a small wood pile in a corner where bugs can nest and feed. . This micro-habitat will decay over time and give a natural look.

BUILD A BEE HOTEL

What you will need:

2 litre used plastic bottle (or length of water pipe)

Sandpaper

Craft knife and cutting mat

Strong twine, about 1 metre long

Garden clippers or secateurs

Modelling clay (optional)

Instructions can be found at:

 https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/make-a-bee-house

**** FREEBIE ALERT, FREEBIE ALERT ****

GET A FREE BEE KIT FROM FRIENDS OF THE EARTH  

What you get in the kit
Wildflower seeds – grow bee food so your neighbourhood bees don't go hungry.
A garden planner – to help you create a bee-friendly garden all year round.
A bee spotter guide – so you can identify your new garden visitors.
Step by step guide – full of useful hints and tips for saving bees.
A bee postcard – to send to your loved ones.

Let’s all  create bee-friendly spaces where we live, we can start to replace and restore some of this lost habitat and help Britain bloom for BEES!

DO YOU HAVE FAIRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR GARDEN?


Cicely Mary Barker was an English illustrator best known for a series of fantasy illustrations depicting fairies and flowers. Born in 1895 with a frail disposition she spent most of her early life in bed reading and painting pictures.  Inspired by the likes of Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott.  In 1918 Cicely created a postcard series featuring elves and fairies and in 1923 sold images and verses to Blackie and Son, who published them as Flower Fairies of the Spring. Cicely’s family was deeply religious, and Cicely used art to express her own devout Christian beliefs. In her art, nature and her spiritual beliefs shaped much of her inspiration and the books, THE FLOWER FAIRIES, which we know and love today are still as popular as ever. 


Flower Fairies™ are tiny creatures (the biggest is only 20cm tall) that live in the tree tops, marshes, forest floor, wayside and gardens. Wherever and whenever a seed sprouts, a Flower Fairy baby is born. Each Flower Fairy lives and sleeps in their chosen flower, plant or tree, and as this grows the fairy grows too.

Each and every Flower Fairy is in charge of looking after their flower or plant; keeping it strong and healthy by making sure it has plenty of sunshine and water to drink, sweeping away dead leaves, and polishing flowers and stems.


The elder fairy

Elder trees have long been associated with Fairies, Witches, Daemons and Death (but not all in the order) and there is a lot of folklore and mythology around them.

Fairies have grown to fear and dislike humans because of our disregard for nature, so if you want to find them, apparently, the best time to try is on midsummers eve under an elder tree, where you may see a King and Queen riding a train!


The Pansy fairy

 Pansies have been called “Fairy Faced” flowers. Can you see a tiny face within its petals? Throughout history pansies have been linked with love. Puck, the fairy spirit from A Midsummer Night’s Dream used their juice to make “man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees.”


The Daisy fairy

The Daisy holds the meaning of bubbling over with happiness, having a positive outlook and celebrating and appreciating the simple things. The Daisy has long been a tool to know the feeling of another, as one says “he loves me… he love me not…” until all the petals are gone, then you get your answer. 


When I was a little girl my dad showed me how to make a fairy garden out of an old metal container. I remember it being a really exciting project and something that Dad and I had created together. If you have children, it is great fun to do and even if you don’t, there is no excuse not to have a go.  All you need is a container. It can be a large flower pot, an old washing up bowl, a large cooking pot that you no longer use, or even an old suitcase. Fill it with soil or compost.  Section off different little areas for flowers, maybe a little house, a pond, (you could use kitchen foil cut into a circle, place the foil at the bottom of a small bowl and press the bowl down into the soil.  You can then edge it with little stones. a swing etc. Shiny things. Fairies love shiny things so make sure you pop a few of them in your garden too. 


Below is a list of flowers that attract  ‘flying things’ eg: bees, birds, 'FAIRIES'  


 Violets are a sacred flower to fairies and planting them in your garden will please the fairies and show that you wish to grow plants that mean something to them. Fairies love to dance around bluebells. Planting them in your garden will call them to dance with you.

Lavender has blooms of tiny brilliant purple flowers with a sweet aroma perfect for fairy gardens.

Thyme is a herb that attracts fairies and is said to bring you money.

Daisies - are a symbol of loyalty and innocence. We all used to make daisy chains)

Heather flowers - thoughts to open the gate between the human and the fairy world,


For more inspiration click the link below:

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/lbcook1/fairy-garden-containers/

Week Three
Grow your own Butternut Squash, From Seeds

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GROWN FROM SEEDS


I was cutting up a butternut squash the other day for tea (not the easiest of things to slice open).  I was about to throw the peelings and seeds into the compost when I suddenly remembered my growing from scrap video I had seen on youtube.  So, I saved the seeds and decided to have a go at growing a butternut squash from them in a pot.  All I did was take about 5 seeds put them in a small container, covered them with compost and within about 5 days little shoots appeared.  They grow SO FAST and are not planted in the actual garden. The summer is a great time to grow them as the soil should be well warmed by the sun, approximately 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 C) at a 4-inch depth. Why not have a go. 

Week Two

FEVERFEW & GARLIC


There is an amazing man called Mark who we know. He lives in the most beautiful, chocolate box  cottage and his garden is full of weird and wonderful herbs and plants. He is extremely knowledgeable about the properties of each and every one and how some can be used to help fight illnesses and various complaints. He recently told us about a lovely little herb/plant called Feverfew and how it can help migraine sufferers.

Feverfew

Feverfew Folklore. ... In Medieval Europe, especially during plague years, the feverfew flower was an essential part of cottage gardens. Local lore said that planting feverfew flowers by the house, especially near the door, would help protect those inside from the disease.

Some migraine sufferers choose to eat the leaves as a preventative treatment. I’ve known of instances where gardeners with chronic migraines like to eat a few leaves every day, disguised in a sandwich or salad to mask their bitter flavour.

To dry them out you can use a dehydrator or oven set at 140°F.

Using a low heat will help to preserve the essential oils – you want the leaves to be dry and crumbly before you store them, but not so dry that they fall apart when you pick them up!

Once dried, remove leaves and flowers from the stalks and store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dark pantry. Use the dried leaves and flowers to make a tea to prevent headaches.

The tea can also be cooled and applied to the skin as an insect repellent, or used on pets as a natural flea rinse – provided, of course, that you’re not allergic or sensitive to it. Always test on a small area of your skin before use, and consult with a medical professional if you’re in any doubt that it’s safe for you to use.

Add about a quarter of a cup of fresh leaves and blooms – or 2 tablespoons dried – to a cup of boiling water, allow to steep for five minutes, then strain and cool.

Flying insects generally hate the pungent smell of the growing plant, so if you’re plagued by MOSQUITOES  try planting in pots on your patio – even the cut flower stems in a vase can deter flies.

WARNING……….DO NOT TAKE FEVERFEW IF………..

If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, you must consult your doctor before taking feverfew. Feverfew may cause the uterus to contract and increase the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.

People who are allergic to members of the daisy family, chamomile, ragweed or yarrow should not take feverfew, since they are more likely to be allergic to feverfew as well.

Inform your doctor about any other medications or supplements you take before taking feverfew, it may affect the way your other treatments react in your body.

GROWING GARLIC FROM A BULB - 

Here at The Violet Cottage, we have recently planted garlic from bulbs that we have bought from the local greengrocers.  It’s really easy and it grows quickly. Proudly showing its green shoots within about two weeks. We used a pot of around 15” square and planted 5 or 6 bulbs. Plant individual cloves so the tips are 2.5cm (1in) below the soil surface. Space 15cm (6in) apart and in rows 30cm (12in) apart. HARVESTING Green leaves can be gathered green and used as a garnish or in salads, but the bulbs are harvested once the leaves have turned yellow.

Carefully lift them with a fork.

Lay out the bulbs to dry in an airy place. When rustling dry, they can be stored in dry place at 5-10oC (41-50F) until you're ready to use them. 

LOOK AT OUR CELERY NOW....

Considering we grew it from scrape it's starting to take over the pot...........

Week 1
Growing Veg From Scraps

Growing tasty, healthy produce from clean kitchen scraps isn't garbage gardening. It can save money, cut down on food waste, and teach valuable lessons about nature and sustainability. From celery and onions to beets and ginger root, scraps often have plenty of life left. They just need a chance to avoid the compost pile.

Growing plants from "inedible" parts isn't that unusual. Gardeners routinely grow crops from pieces of plants. Garlic, for example, is grown from single cloves, and tomatoes and peppers can be started from salvaged seeds. Even new potatoes are grown from their sprouting "eyes."

To try your hand at this fun project, start with the following simple-to-grow scraps. You can also experiment with other vegetables by following the instructions for veggies that grow in the same or a similar way. Grow your new food indoors in decorative saucers or containers year-round, or move them outside to your garden in spring.

Head-Form, Leafy Veggies

Leafy vegetables that grow in heads, such as celery, romaine and bok choy, are some of the easiest scraps to grow. Just cut off the plant's base, which you normally wouldn't eat, so you have a piece about 1 inch tall. Place it cut side up in a shallow saucer, and then add 1/2 inch of water. Refresh the water regularly, and get ready for harvestable greens.

Leafy scraps will grow in water on a sunny indoor windowsill year-round. You can also transplant them from water into soil as soon as they show roots and new green growth. Use a decorative, soil-filled container or plant directly into warm garden soil. Plant your scrap so that soil covers the roots and base, but the top of the rooted scrap stays exposed..

BLOOM AND WILD

I had a birthday recently and received these gorgeous flowers from the fabulous bloomandwild.com

They are a fabulous company providing the most glorious flowers and plants delivered directly to your door. 

Use code: GH56SW on your first order for £10 credit!

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