Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Soap, strawberries and beans

Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Firstly here are the blocks of soap photos that you requested.

These bars of soap I made in a metal container lined with cling film. I made the top look like Cadbury Flake type bars. I am making soaps for a themed basket.

The soap is called Oatmeal and Lemon Scrub Bar. Its a 'wake you up bar with a scrubby texture and a fresh perfume' Medium soft with medium bubbles.

The above is the big block which was moulded in a ice-cream tub.

And here are the finished bars of soap ready to be wrapped up in a towel and stored for six weeks to cure.

This is the second batch I have made - the first was the St Clements soap which has now cured and I have just started using it.

Now a change of subject - Up the allotment

My total time spent up the allotment this season to date is 134¾ hours and under gardener has spent 39 hours (not all of his was working though!)

Today looked promising – rain and sunshine, so I put on lots of layers for all weathers – which was just as well as I got rained on, sunshine and a freezing wind. It proved to be a good day weather wise for working. So work I did.

The Norfolk Lasses had produced another four eggs!!! So I have a glut of eggs again!

They spent over four hours in the meadow today and they are doing a good job of weeding my flower borders. It is very tempting to let them out on the veggie patch – if only I could train them to eat the weeds and slugs and not touch the veggies!

From the left, KoKKo, Ginger and Adelaide tucking into some green grapes that I took them.

I didn’t know where to start today. I had decided to weed the carrot and parsnip rows of seedlings – but only the carrots have germinated and that is in the past few days. The ground was so sodden and soft that I decided I would do more harm than good so stayed off that area.

Weeding the edging was then the order of the day then. So I started along the strawberry bed – but got sidetracked. I looked at my four rows of what should be strawberries and there were more weeds than plants. And there were not a lot of weeds either! So once I finished edging that part I decided to weed between the strawberry plants – then decided that was silly, it was quicker to just dig up the survivors and plant them elsewhere – then to dig over the whole area when I am up to doing it.

So I went and got the wheel barrow and all the tools I needed and dug them up – then I had to decide where to put them. The plot was like a quagmire so I dare not tread on the earth – I only trod on the straberry patch to get the strawberry plants out because I am going to dig it over and then put grass seed down to extend the narrow pathway next to that bed and the gooseberries.

The only place they could go, was in the last raised bed next to the fruit cage. I hadn’t done anything to it this year as it still had some sorrel and spinach which I was giving to the chooks but it had now all gone to seed. The bed was also full of weeds and raspberry canes that had either self seeded in it or the runners had gone under the wooden pallet fence, under three feet of black plastic that I used as a path way and up inside the raised bed.

Under gardener had been promising to weed it for me and dig up the big docks that have appeared in the pathways – but he hasn’t done it yet. There was nothing else for it but to do it myself.

The raised bed had fallen to bits anyway – well the wooden sides had. So I just pulled them aside and got stuck in. It literally took a couple of hours to clear it, digging everything out so that I got the roots too.

Then I barrowed over 4 barrows full of pig and horse manure mix – very well rotted – and I dug that in. Then I planted the strawberry plants, and the last job was to build the raised bed sides. Again it was done Heath Robinson fashion with odd bits of wood I had to hand (the other bits had rotted). But I did it in the end. I wished that I had taken before and after photos – I only thought of it when I had almost finished the weeding.

But I am very proud of that I have done – and I am hoping that now I have saved the strawberry plants lives, they will reward me with some fruit this year.

After that it was time to go home – I can tell the time by when I need to take more painkillers he he. So I just had to lock the girls safely into their run and enclosure.

Then as I was walking back I got side tracked again. This time by the broad beans. I did an inspection for black fly – of which there were none, but I pinched the tops out as a precaution. I looked at the down trodden broad bean stalks and noticed that they had pods on them. In my mind, broad bean plants are plants with attitude. They survive the most inhospitable conditions, have the prettiest of cream and dark purple flowers, and their pods stick up to the sky instead on hanging down towards terra firma. I can’t think of anything else that does that. Not peas or dwarf beans, or tomatoes.

Anyway, before I digress yet again, I decided to taste one of the small ones raw. I have never eaten one raw, and usually I am not too keen on broad beans but only grow them for the under gardener as he loves them.

I got a real surprise as they tasted wonderful. So I picked a couple of pounds of them, and we had some for lunch. (The ones in the photo above are the raw ones).

I have vacuum packed some for later.


  1. Sounds like you did great work saving the strawberries!
    How long do the vaccuum packed things last? It looks interesting.
    All the best, Mike

  2. If you vacuum pack food and freeze it then it lasts 2 - 3 years and takes up a lot less room and you can actually see what is in the bag! The same foods not vacuum packed last 6 - 8 months.

    In the fridge - cheese lasts 4 - 8 months instead of a couple of weeks.

    Lettuce 2 weeks instead of a couple of days - but I pick and eat mine fresh.

    Wine 2 - 4 months if you use their stopper which I do.

    Strawberries in a bag or canister 2 weeks.

    Remember my post where I vacuum packed a couple of loaves when I first bought the machine?

    So don't vacuum pack anything with air bubbles in it - like my cakes.

    But it seals bags too, so I use it to seal everything now instead of using those annoying little metal ties.

    I even freeze eggs in sealed bags then vacuum pack a batch of how very many bags I do, with the date on a card slipped inside.

    I use to every day. That, and the food drier are the best 'gadgets' I have ever bought and get used all the time.

  3. hey girl you soap looks like candy in the picture. i have never tasted broad beans . had to look on the net to see what they were. wonder if they are like our cow peas we have a pea we call cow peas because the farmers long ago grew them to feed cattle. you can eat them like green beans or dryed. you pictures are great as usual.

  4. The soap looks great Lottie! Do you eat the broadbeans whole at that size or will you shell them? I'm not that fond of broadbeans but when they're young and small they are tastier.

  5. denise t1:23 am

    the soap looks great! i was wondering when we were going to get an update on that new project of yours...i figured you would have this indoor time while you are ill at times, to use for cooking, preserving, and making soap! i am wondering when you will start to make bonsai trees as a hobby...hee,hee,hee...
    the soap does look luscious!

  6. Funny you should mention bonsai trees Denise......

    Have a look tomorrow on here!

    Hi Jesse

    I steamed the broad beans whole. It was the first time I had tried them like that - and I actually like them. They are the size of a French climbing bean. I really do not like broad beans themselves and use them for stews and casseroles in the winter to 'pad' them out a bit.

    But they taste totally different eaten raw and cooked this small. Logically it should also mean that the plant will produce bigger bean pods as the energy will be used on far less pods.

    I will let you know if that is the case.

    Off to make some bread

    Thanks on and all for your comments


Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is very much appreciated. Your comment will appear after moderation.