dinsdag 4 juni 2013

Baby eggplants!

My eggplant is growing new fruit! I'm so proud, because I was really worried for a while. The flowers kept turning brown and no new fruit would appear. I did buy it with some fruit already on it, so I could be sure I was getting some eggplants for my trouble, but it's so nice to see that with a few sunny warm days it's starting to grow fruit. The climate isn't perfect for them here, but the other eggplants are growing, so I'm sure these will too. But for now they're just so cute! I just wanna eat them up! Oh no, wait...

maandag 3 juni 2013

Garden update!

I've had some good luck in the garden and some bad luck, let's start with the bad stuff first and then I'll show you the pictures of the good stuff!

First of all, I haven't made the garden bed out of the pallet yet. I got started with it, but I just can't bring myself to finish it. I am procrastinating like crazy on it, even though I know it should be easy.
Second of all, I planted some rapini seeds (broccoli rape, 'raapstelen' in Dutch), and although the seeds sprouted well enough, after that they withered and died quite quickly. I read just now that they should be kept relatively dry, so I think that's where I went wrong. I still have some more seeds, maybe I'll try again soon.
Third of all, I have snail damage on my strawberry plant. They completely ate some leaves, but it hasn't been getting worse, so I guess they left again. Or something, I don't know. Maybe the damage will show up on the picture, we'll see later.
And lastly, there was a hail storm here two weeks ago, and I had some hail damage on my plants. I didn't know what it was at first and I was afraid it was something bad, but I showed it to some organic farmers working on the garden at the school where I work and they said it was fine, just some hail damage. So that was a relieve!

And now on to the pictures! I made some changes to my terrace, I got some fencing because I wanted to protect my plants from the elements, the fencing provides at least a little bit of shade and some protection from the wind. And also it keeps me from seeing my horrible neighbor every time I sit outside. He literally threatened to kill my dog if I keep him off the leash one more time, even though my dog doesn't harm anyone or anything. The bad side of living on a shared terrace, I guess. There's always someone that you don't get along with. (But god, I hate that guy.)
Anyway! Here are some pictures of my garden, first you'll see the flowers for the bees that are really starting to grow, the bees are all over my lavender plants right now, and once these flowers start to bloom they'll have even more reason to visit my garden!

The next pictures are of my Indian cress and of the chives that are in bloom. I didn't know chives got these pretty purple flowers! 

And here's some pictures of my tomato plants, the one in the orange pot are cherry tomatoes, in the white pot I put roma tomatoes. It's fun to me to see how different in shape the two plants are becoming! The cherry tomato is getting much higher, while the roma tomato is growing a little wider, not even reaching the top of the bamboo stick I put next to it.

 And lastly, my strawberries! They're really doing well. My terrace gets a lot of sunlight and the temperature there is always some degrees higher than the actual temperature. In the summer it gets really hot, but for now the strawberries are loving it! Some of them are already turning red, I bet if the weather keeps up I can harvest some next week or the week after. The first (actual!) fruit of my labor, I'm so excited! These pictures are actually two days old, and already they have more color than on these pictures. It's great!

How is your garden doing?

Organic veggies from city farm Caetshage

For the past two weeks I've tried out the weekly organic veggie box from our city's farm, Caetshage. We don't call it CSA in the Netherlands, but I guess that's what it is. I've been eating the same vegetables over and over again, and while there's nothing wrong with tomatoes and zucchini and red peppers because they're yummy and my favorite, as a vegetarian I should have more diversity in my diet. So that's where the veggie box comes in!
Last week I had lettuce, snow peas and fresh garlic (such great flavor, I just stir-fried it with some pasta), this week I have carrots, Belgian endive and bok choy. So far I'm loving having to make a meal out of the stuff I have, it tastes great and I haven't had to buy extra vegetables from the supermarket yet.
I actually got the box for 6 weeks as a birthday present from my friends, but so far I think I'll keep it on after that!
How about you, do you get vegetables in season from the farmer's market, or do you have a CSA like me? Or do you still buy them in the supermarket? Let me know!

Later today I'll try to write an update about my garden, so you can see how my plants are doing!

zaterdag 13 april 2013

Getting started

This is basically going to be a big photodump of my progress so far.

Two weeks ago I started with buying some basic necessities and some strawberry plants. They looked like this, then:

Still inside because of the cold.
They were doing very well in my bathroom window sill, where I never have the heating on so it wasn't too warm for them. I don't want them to get too used to warm temperatures here in Holland! This afternoon I put them outside, because the weather is getting nicer, finally.
Outside in the sun!
They have grown quite a bit! And they have a lot more flowers than before. I'm so proud of my babies! I put two plants in a crate that used to have beer in it.
More strawberry plants. Look at the flowers!
Last week I also put some seeds in containers, some for tea herbs and some for flowers that bees are attracted to, like corn daisies, phacelia, Indian cress, mallow and limnanthes aka poached egg plant. Last week they looked like this: 
Seeds in their container
A week has gone by, and now they look like this: 

I think this is mallow.

And like this:
Poached egg plant
I was so proud of myself for figuring out the phacelia is a plant that only sprouts in the dark (you can see it in the corner of the mallow pic and behind the poached egg plant). I put a lid on the container and it's doing really well right now! The Indian cress took the longest to sprout, but it's slowly coming. Now I'm worried about how I'm going to get them in their own pots when they're big enough, some of them don't like being moved. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there. 

And lastly, I went out today and bought some flowers to brighten up the terrace. It looks so nice now:

With my dog Cash (after Johnny, of course) in the middle picture, and our jungle cat Sam in the first one. I love all my terrible pots, like the one with the donkey and the tea pot that I put my chives in. I always look for the weird ones, I love that I have this assorted mix of pots. The donkey one has special meaning to me because I used to be a volunteer at a donkey sanctuary, but now this is the only donkey I take care of.

As long as my vegetables can't go outside yet, I think my terrace looks pretty good with just all these flowers!

zaterdag 6 april 2013

Indian red lentil fritters

I love red lentils. They are so versatile, so easy. You just throw 'em in a pot with some onions, broth and ras el hanout spice and you have a delicious Arabic soup. Serve with some lemon wedges, they really bring out the flavour.

Camera phone picture, sorry!

Or, you can make this recipe, by Cooks Joy, for healthy Masala Vadai, lentil fritters. I saw her recipe and had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try it. Instead of deep frying them, I just fried them in a normal frying pan, worked great too. And instead of fennel seeds, which I didn't have, I used some cumin to flavor it. I love cumin, and it tasted great. Next time I'll pair it with some raita or another dip, which should be extra delicious!

A home across the river: an introduction

Imagine this: a horse farm in the mountains in Spain, the morningsun peeking just over the mountaintops across the valley, making the frozen dew hanging from the stable roof sparkle. A girl, then 24, living with her newfound best friend in an rv on that farm, waking up to feed the horses, cats and dogs, cook her own meals, bake her own bread and take care of everything that needed doing on the farm.

This was me, 4 years ago, when I lived in the Alpujarra range in the south of Spain. It was a magical time, and I learned so much about myself, about who I want to be and what I want to do. It wasn't perfect, but it was the cleanest living I've ever done. We didn't have hot water or electricity, but we did have a gas stove and lots of blankets to keep us warm. Always having a cat in your lap or a dog next to you helped a lot too.

When I got back to the Netherlands, I started studying for my teaching degree and that took up basically all my time. It was very hard, almost nothing will bring your flaws and faults to the surface like teaching does. Standing in front of 30 students trying to teach them something they don't particularly want to learn is like standing in front of 30 mirrors, with very bad lighting. So I had to struggle to make it. But I did make it, and I'm so glad I did. Teaching is a lot of fun, and very fulfilling.
I don't want it to be my life, though. It's a passion, but it's not my only passion. When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, this is what I imagined as my dream life:
I would be a teacher 3 days of the week, and the rest of the week I would live on my own small ecological farm, growing my own vegetables, having some chickens for eggs. And a horse to ride on, of course. I don't feel like complete selfsufficiency can be a goal for me (yet), so that's where the money I make from teaching would come in. What I wouldn't be able to grow, I could buy.

And what has come of this dream so far? I do teach 3 days a week, and spend the other four taking care of horses, walking my dog and crafting. And watching tv shows, lots of them. But I'm trying to change that. This spring I am starting a garden on my terrace, I'm giving square foot gardening a go. Hopefully I can learn enough so that when I do finally get a house with a garden, I can grow more and realize my dreams.

This blog will be a way for me to keep a journal of my gardening, as well as a place to keep inspired, show what I've learned and what I still want to learn. You'll also find recipes and pictures of food here, as well as my crochet and other craft projects.

There's a life across the river that was meant for me, and I do intend to have it.