Frugal seedlings and bulky butter

Caron from the Waikato has a great gardening tip to share, “Last Spring I bought an unusual yellow heritage tomato plant at a Farmer’s market. It grew very well and produced the most wonderful large bright yellow, delicious fruit. I cut a thick slice from the last one, placed it on a paper towel and let it completely dry out on a windowsill. Then I stored it in a labelled envelope in the hot water cupboard over winter. A month ago I filled an empty margarine tub with seed raising mix (pierce some drainage holes first). I put the piece of paper towel and seeds on top then I sprinkled more seed raising mix to lightly cover. I kept it moist but not too wet and it took more than 2 weeks in a sunny windowsill to germinate but every seed did! I have just potted up 25 plants to share with my friends & family.”

It’s amazing how easy things are to grow from seed. We know lots of young and not so young oily raggers have been inspired by New World’s Little Garden promotion and found their window sills transformed into greenhouses. We know some have gone a little potty and extended their growing activities from the kitchen to the dining area, lounge, bathrooms, bedrooms – in fact anywhere that gets direct sunlight. And what a great thing that is. Thank you to New World for a great initiative. While talking about New World, we like what they are going to do to eliminate plastic bags – especially as they plan to give away more permanent bags to replace them. Those bags are much more convenient and easier to carry – the only issue is remembering to take them with you when you go shopping!

We think a gardening revolution is taking place as more people question where their food is coming from – and whether its spray free. More people are also recognising the savings. In the last year, vegetable prices have gone up 6.5 percent and fruit 4.4 percent. Saving money and healthy eating: what better reason for starting your own garden?

And it seems you do not even need to own a backyard to grow your own vegetables. There was an interesting article in the Bay of Plenty Times recently about a community group that rents garden spaces in Tauranga. The Good Neighbour’s community garden said they had noticed more interest from people wanting to rent space in their shared gardens. They said about 70 percent of their 42 garden spaces were allocated to renters who paid $15 a month for a plot. The rest was used to grow food for the general community and charity initiatives. We think that’s a great idea – a real win-win.

JS of Auckland has written asking for tips to bulk out butter, which is timely given the price of butter has risen 60 percent in the last year! JS asks, “I remember hearing of an old WW2 recipe to bulk out butter to make it go further. Does anyone have a copy of that recipe to share? It would be very handy as the price of butter is now getting out of hand.”

Lillian has responded to say that there were quite a few ways of making butter go further by adding water, milk, and even cornflour. These days, the simplest way is to “combine warm water and butter in equal parts by putting the butter into a mixer on low speed and slowly adding warm water until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Store it in the usual way – it will get as firm as regular butter.”

Dee from Whangarei mixes equal parts of butter and olive oil to make a spreadable olive oil butter, which is even better if you happen to press your own olive oil!

An oily ragger wrote to us the other day about the benefits of shopping around. It’s an obvious thing to do but they put some numbers to it. They said they had to replace a water pump for their domestic water supply. The first supplier they went to had a number of options available, ranging from $1,200 to $2,000. After a bit of a grumble, our shopper tried another supplier and was able to source a machine for $700, but better than that they said they would be able to repair the broken pump for about $100. As you can imagine our oily ragger water pump buyer was pretty pleased with the second company – so pleased that whenever idle conversation happens to get onto the topic of good service and water pumps they sing like a canary about the good deed done!