Friday, 25 July 2014

Laundry Liquid

Today I made another batch of laundry liquid and thought it prudent for me to take some photos of the process and do a tutorial for you to follow.

I have been using this homemade laundry liquid for over 2 years now and find it very easy to do, extremely economical, and it has a remarkable cleaning ability - even on Roger's work clothes.  The following recipe makes 20 litres of washing liquid and I use 1 cup (250ml) in my top loading washing machine or reduce it to 1/2 cup (125ml) in a front loader.

 300gms pure soap flakes
300gms washing soda
100gms "Vanish" oxypowder
20 litres water

20 litre bucket with lid/cover
 stir stick (long enough for your bucket)
measuring cup
saucepan and wooden spoon (can be just one out of the kitchen)

My large 20 litre bucket I purchased from "Bunnings".  It came with a lid but was very hard to put on and off so Roger made me a wooden MDF cover with a handle which works well.  (it doesn't need to be airtight you just need to keep the dust out)


Place the soap flakes in the saucepan with about 1 litre of cold water.  Gently heat on the stove, stirring constantly, until the flakes have dissolved completely.

Make sure you stir continuously otherwise the soap will stick but don't stir too vigorously or you will end up with a pot full of bubbles.  Remove from the heat when all the soap flakes
have dissolved.

Pour the dissolved soap flakes into the 20 litre bucket and half fill it with hot water.  Stir in the washing soda and oxywash powder.  Now gently fill the bucket with more hot water.  Give it a stir and you are finished until tomorrow morning.  The brew just needs to be left overnight to cool and thicken.

Leave the lid off overnight.

In the morning your cold liquid will be a lot thicker.  Give it a good stir and decant some into smaller containers to store in the laundry.  (I keep my 20 litre bucket in the garage)

The washing liquid does tend to separate in the container when left for any period of time.  Don't worry....just give it a good shake before you use it.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Getting Ready to Plant Seeds

Propagating seedlings from seed is a very rewarding practice.  I still get very excited on the mornings I walk out to the potting shed and discover little green shoots pushing their heads through the soil.  Knowing, with some love and attention, that these new, fragile seedlings will one day grow into nutritious vegetables for my family dinner table.

I purchase my seeds from :
All of these suppliers offer organic, open-pollinated, heirloom seeds at a very reasonable price, posted straight to my door.  The majority of my seeds I get from Green Harvest.  They are located in the South East Queensland hinterland as is my property.  The seeds from them, are of course then,  fully acclimatised to my area - making them stronger and more suited to my environmental conditions.

A good quality "seed raising mix" is essential for good germination and although there are many recipes out there to make your own I still purchase SEARLES  in larger quantity bags which I find extremely economical.

Seeds can be planted in any containers that you have on hand.  Egg cartons, old butter or yoghurt containers, the bottom of cardboard milk cartons, anything really that you can puncture some drain holes in the bottom of and that will hold the seed raising mix.   A "Yates" propagating tray and lid is another piece of equipment that I use all the time as well.  The lid reduces airflow and allows the soil to retain moisture until the seeds germinate.  Many other recycled objects, such as softdrink bottles and other plastic containers, can be used for this purpose but if you are going to be germinating a lot of seeds, investing in a proper set up is well worth the money. 

I do, however, use an old softdrink bottle as my watering device.  I have used a very small drill bit and drilled holes in the lid.  This allows a very fine shower of water to moisten the potting soil very gently without disturbing the newly planted seed.  

Once you have gathered all the necessary equipment you are now ready to start planting. 

Monday, 14 July 2014


We are lucky here in Queensland to be able to grow basil nearly all year round.  It grows best in warm to hot climates as it is very sensitive to cold and frost.  However, in the height of Summer it is best grown in some shade as the leaves can burn in the extreme sun.

The warm weather sees basil plants literally flourish.  Regular water and the occasional feed with liquid fertiliser helps with this.  Keeping the centres pinched out will also inhibit flowering and promote a bushier plant.  Basil is a popular companion plant in the garden as well - planting it next to tomatoes and capsicum will improve their growth and helps repel some fruit fly and other pests.

Fresh leaves can be picked at any time and are great added to salads and dips.  They can also be cooked with vegetables, especially tomatoes, to make sauces, curries, as well as pizza and pasta dishes.  The leaves can also be used to flavour herb vinegars and oils.

With such a prolific growth rate it is also beneficial to harvest and store some of the leaves, for use at a later date, before the plant flowers and dies off.  The leaves can be preserved in olive oil in the freezer or dried in the dehydrator and then stored in an airtight container.

My favourite storage method is to make BASIL PESTO - its so easy to do and very, very tasty.

Pesto has many uses - It can be :
  • Used as a pasta sauce
  • Spread over toasted Turkish bread
  • As a dip, on its own, for crackers or chips
  • Used as a sauce for steamed vegetables 
  • Added to soups and stews
These are just a few ideas and the fresh pesto can be stored for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Remaining batches of pesto can be then frozen.  A convenient method is to freeze in ice cube trays overnight and then place the cubes in a freezer bag for storage when frozen.  The appropriate number of cubes can then be defrosted for use.

Another recipe which uses basil, fresh or frozen is TOMATO BASIL SOUP from "The Prudent Homemaker Blog".  This has quickly become a family favourite in my house - great for cold nights in Winter with some warm, freshly baked sourdough bread ........Yum

Saturday, 12 July 2014

July in the Garden

July is such a pleasingly, productive time in my garden.  With very cool, crisp mornings warming up to sunny 19 to 21 degree days means perfect weather for vege growing.  Everything looks lush and green and the "False Nutmeg" bush has burst into flower making the front garden a spectacular sight.

The cabbages have all started to heart and the broccoli and cauliflower have all produced a head that grows larger each day.  The potatoes and beans are thriving as is the kale and snow peas.  For some reason this year I am not having a problem with white cabbage moth.  Occasionally, I notice them flitting around the garden but as yet only 1 cabbage has been attacked.  Still spraying with "Dipel" once a week - just in case.

I am still harvesting quite a bit of silverbeet, chinese cabbage, kale, lettuce and shallots.  In the first week of the month I planted a second run of snow pea, silverbeet and beetroot, hopefully this will extend the season a little longer.  A couple of nasturtiums were added too for a jump start on some Spring colour. 

The basi plants have flowered and are just about spent so I will cut the remainder and make some pesto for the freezer.  It's such a great time of the year as well for full size tomatoes.  Not a fruit fly in sight - so the Roma tomatoes are looking good and hopefully will start to show some colour soon.

 The test planting of carrots this season also seems to be progressing well.  The mixture of river sand with potting mix, in raised tubs, seems to be the answer to the soil issues we have had in the past.  I am hoping for an abundant crop .......maybe.

All the herbs are doing tremendously well and I will, over the next couple of weeks, start to preserve them.  As well as using the dehydrator I aim to try freezing some in olive oil iceblocks and making herb butters.  Denice passed on her recipes for oil and vinegar infusions so I will hunt out some fancy bottles and have a go at them too.