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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Animal Repellant, Wool Wash

Just another day at the office..

The Office - Matakohe Quarry

Derek found this great office shack on his work travels - love it! I can't imagine there would be a lot of high tech in there.

Repel those pesky animals from your garden
Quite some time back I posted here about Wormwood that I had planted, with the fact that it was supposed to repel rabbits, possums, deer etc.



This year I broke off some huge branches and hung them in the peach and apple trees. If you have followed my blog, you will know that last year possums ate nearly all the fruit on our peach tree. I don't know if it was coincidence, but they didn't get one peach this year, and they only ate the apples that had fallen on the ground. As a disclaimer, we had also trapped a lot of possums, and I did put a wire netting deterrent around the base of the peach tree (but not around the apple). I feel like the wormwood may have helped too. 

Wool wash mix
I'm always on the look out for things that I can make so that I won't need to buy another plastic bottle. When my wool wash ran out a while back I went searching in some of the vintage householding books from my grandmother's era. Here's one that I found and it works just fine.

The cloudy one, I shook before using


Whisk together:
2 cups of grated soap (I used Sunlight)
4 cups of boiling water
Add 1 Tablespoon of eucalyptus oil 
1/2 cup of methylated spirits
Whisk again.

Use 1 Tablespoon in warm water to handwash woollens. Leaving them to soak for about 10 minutes, before gently rinsing twice. It is recommended that you turn garments inside out before washing, to protect the outer surface, roll them in a towel to remove water and lay them flat to dry.

About the methylated spirits - it turns out that this is an environmentally friendly product (apart from the plastic bottle), distilled from natural substances rather than being a petroleum product. We already had some of this so I didn't need to buy it,  as I am trying to not buy more plastic.
I think the methylated spirits is in the mix to boost the cleaning power. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Guavas and Guava Jelly

Over a year ago I posted about tropical guavas, but I didn't mention the guavas that are more common here in the north. Other places might know them as a pineapple guava or strawberry guava. 

Guavas ripening


They are a small, tangy tasting fruit with seeds inside that you just swallow. 



Guavas are a fruit loved by our native wood pigeons (Kukupa, Kereru), they can get quite drunk on them. I don't mind sharing anything with woodpigeons.

NZ native wood pigeon Photo credit


This year we are starting to get enough of a crop that I was able to make that old childhood favourite - guava jelly. I wasn't going to bother, remembering how my mother used to make it by hanging a bag of the cooked fruit and letting the liquid drain into a bowl, before adding sugar to it and reboiling - it seemed like a bother. I remember her telling me not to squeeze the bag because it would make the jelly cloudy.
Well I just squashed the pulp in a strainer using a masher - and it turned out perfectly fine. It probably wouldn't win a prize at the Womens' Institute, but it looks good enough.
So this is how I did it:-



Guava Jelly
Trim the guavas and cut them in half. Add enough water to cook them, but not covering them. Cook until stewed and soft, then push the juice out of them using a masher and sieve (or a hanging muslin or calico jelly bag if you want to be correct about it). Discard the pulp.
For each cup of juice add a cup of sugar and boil gently until a blob on a saucer wrinkles when pushed (about 25 minutes).
Bottle into sterilized jam jars.
If you are too snappy and it doesn't set, just reboil it and get to to wrinkle stage (Wrinkles are good here).

Back to the Turmeric Bomb/ Gummy saga
For anyone who read my post on turmeric bombs for inflammation and wants to know how they worked? Well after finding that I was unable to take much of them due to their laxative-like effect, I tried making turmeric gummies, using gelatin, however they still require some coconut oil in the mix to get the turmeric to work efficiently, and I have found they give me the same digestive problem, with no greatly noticeable result. They may work better for other people.
Turmeric gummies

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Bags to Market

Last weekend was the first foray into the Grower's Market for our group who are working on (hopefully) having plastic shopping bags phased out of the market.


Whangarei Growers Market  Photo courtesy of nz farmers markets.co.nz

We set up with signs at both ends of the market explaining our aim, alongside which we gave away reusable shopping bags. The bags were a combination of recycled, handmade and new ones, donated by the local council, with "Whangarei, Love It Here" printed on them.
The market was thronging with people. We were curious to know what the response to us would be. 
Whangarei Growers  Market   photo courtesy of farmers weekly.co.nz


I was heartened to notice that probably 70%+ of people brought their own bags anyway. Remaining people were mostly pleased to be offered a bag. We did ask for a koha (donation), or that people return the bags next time when they have their own. We received a few donations, which are being used to fund more bags.
We ran out of bags far too quickly, so this week I have been trying to source more and make more. 
To speed up the construction process, I decided webbing handles were the way to go, so have been buying webbing belts from the charity shops to cut up.


Bags made with the donated material from the curtain shop

Two things we noticed were that people still ended up with plastic bags - even though they had a market bag, due to stallholders automatically putting items into bags before handing them over, and people buying more than their one bag could hold.

We have work to do, changing peoples' habits. It will be interesting to see how well we fare. We plan to do this every week for several months yet before we can hopefully ask stall holders to stop using plastic bags altogether.