A new challenge!

Yesterday was a productive day at maison Frogdancer. Evan15 tried out another thermomix recipe and made a sponge cake. When he went looking for the icing sugar he found a packet of citric acid, consequently we now have a sponge cake topped with ‘Wizzfizz’ icing. (Fizzy sherbet, for those not in the know.) It’s not really my cup of tea but the boys seem to like it.

I decided to experiment with the solar oven by drying some basil on top of it while it was drying apples. All of this basil was cut from one plant in a wicking bed. My basil is going gangbusters at the moment.


After a while it dawned on me that the holidays are running out so I’d better start looking at drying some herbs for herbal teas in the winter. I cut the branches from my original lemon verbena plant and put them between two cake coolers on top of a dark pizza tray, then slid it in between the solar kettle and oven. It seems to be working really well and with sunny days forecast I should be able to get a few batches done.

After an hour or so the basil was definitely wilted but they need more time to finish, so I’ll be putting them out today.

Continuing on with the wicking beds tour: here is the other 3m long wicking bed beside the garage. This bed gets no direct sun in winter but gets afternoon sun in summer.
I pulled out the pea plants that were filling the trellis at the back just before I took this photo. They were grown from whole dried peas I bought at the supermarket and the plants produced many small pods, just right for nibbling on while doing the morning watering.

This bed has my shade loving plants in it; strawberries on the right and lettuce on the left, with a few other things like beetroot, a mini cabbage, some silver beet, basil and cosmos mixed in. This was the bed where I planted the Purple King beans at the outside edge, then trained them on strings over the bed (to create shade) before letting them run riot over the trellis at the back. This was put on hold when I had to dismantle the bed due to the ph10 compost in it. Beans hate being disturbed and for a long while after I put them back into this bed they did nothing but sit and brood like emo teenagers. Some have never recovered, but others have:

This clump is shading the strawberries. It works! The strawberries, by the way, were the only plants who didn’t seem to care about the horrific ph. They were surviving happily in the original soil and are now going nuts in the new beds. Nearly every morning I’m harvesting a handful of the most delicious berries you could imagine. Sometimes I even offer them to the kids.

You have to go looking for them…

SO much tastier than the monster ones in the shops.

They’re starting to produce runners now. I bought two plants last year from Bunnings. They didn’t produce much fruit at all, but they DID produce runners. I had them in a pot on the front porch among my herbs, so before I knew it the runners had jumped from pot to pot. I ended up with 17 new plants which have produced splendidly for me this year. Delayed gratification at work!


The strongest beans have already made it across the string and up to the top of the trellis. I’m starting to train them back down and across to fill up the spaces where the weaker beans will probably not reach.

And almost last but not least, here are some Cos lettuces from Ceres which have gone to seed. They were never very happy with the planting, uprooting, planting, uprooting again and then the final planting so their leaves were fairly bitter. I’m letting these go to seed and will probably just let the seeds fall into the bed for next season.

Finally, I was reading Sharon Astyk’s blog this morning and found that she’s thinking of resurrecting the Independence Days challenge. Here’s the link to the very first post she wrote about this, where she sets out what’s involved. I’ve been reading about it for a couple of years but never officially signed up before, thinking, “Oh that’s a good idea,” but never really going further. I’m thinking that this year, which looks like being the busiest one ever, it’d be a good thing to have a challenge like this to keep me organised. As Sharon says, it focusses on what you HAVE managed to get done, not all of those things that didn’t. (I don’t know about you, but I’m always beating myself up about the jobs/tasks I didn’t do. This might be a good way to notice things I have done and to also motivate myself to do things so I can include them on my list each week. *ahem!succession planting..guess who doesn’t have any new lettuce coming along? ahem!*)

I’m thinking that on Saturdays I’ll post an update as to how I’ve done during the week on this. After all, Saturdays are when I feel the most independent, with a whole weekend stretching before me in all its untrammelled beauty. I’m looking forward to doing this. Anyone else interested?

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This entry was posted in balance, cooking, dehydrating food, gardening, Independence Days challenge, Quality of life, solar cooking, thermomix, vegetables, wicking beds. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A new challenge!

  1. avital says:

    I’ve had really good success freezing my basil. We had so much this past year and I was too busy to make pesto. I just stripped the leaves and put it in ziplock sandwich bags in portion sizes for making pasta. We just open a bag and toss it right in, it thaws quick and tastes fresh.

  2. Liz says:

    Oh now I want to eat whizz fizz….and strawberries….not to mention cake.

  3. Joh says:

    I can’t believe you could beat yourself up about what you don’t achieve. You are such an inspiration! I read your blog with admiration at all you achieve. I wish you could see yourself in my eyes. The reading and articulate writing, patchwork, the soap, the amazing garden, the cooking, the fantastic sons (should come first really, but hey!), the wit and the great joy you bring to your students. Take a moment to see how great you are. I do:)

  4. river says:

    I decide I need to get my a*** in gear and lose twenty pounds this year, then I come here and the first thing I see is sponge cake with fizzy icing…..

    I like the purple green vines of Purple King beans much more than I like the actual beans.
    You’re well on the way to total self-sustainability, all you need is a cow for milk.

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