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Newsletter – February 2018

Newsletter – February 2018

Wow! We’re in the last (official) month of summer already, and the gardens are full of produce and flowers. This month’s newsletter focuses on my top 10 herb flowers for use in food, medicine or cosmetics. Perfect time to harvest these beauties! NewsletterFeb2018 Also the…

Do-It-Yourself: Seedling Soil

Do-It-Yourself: Seedling Soil

I’ve been making a lot of my own seedling soil and cutting mix for a few years now. It’s super easy to make, and you can control exactly what goes into your mix. I’m not convinced it saves money unless you make a lot over…

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes – How To

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes – How To

The cherry tomatoes are dripping fruit… and it’s a race to get to them before the birds do! But what to do with all of them once they are picked? I’ve done dehydrator “sundried” cherry tomatoes, and of course, we snack on them constantly, but still I had more than 3kg picked the other day!

Then I found Pickled Cherry Tomatoes, and I’m in love – I enjoy almost any kind of pickle in any way, and it really looked like the most beautiful way to preserve a harvest of mixed cherry tomatoes! So this is what I’ve done, and having tried one a few days after the initial bottling, can say that I’m super happy I gave this somewhat unconventional way of preserving tomatoes, a go – delicious!

Easy peasy too!

The recipe below made about 7 (400ml) jars


  • 2kg ripe cherry tomatoes, washed and pricked with a toothpick *
  • 5 cups of cider vinegar
  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (can be more if you like it sweeter)
  • 5 tsp Kosher salt **
  • 2ml peppercorns per bottle/jar
  • 1 clove garlic per bottle/jar
  • chillies (optional)
  • basil leaves (optional)


  1. To make the brine, heat the cider, water, salt and sugar in a pot until all the granules have dissolved.
  2. Put half a teaspoon (about 2ml) of black peppercorns and a clove of garlic in each sterilised jar.
  3. Pack in the washed and pricked cherry tomatoes.
  4. Pour over the brine.
  5. Let cool slightly, tapping the sides so all the air bubbles can escape, seal and store in the refrigerator.

According tot he original recipe, this will keep for about 2 months in the fridge, or if you go ahead and can it properly with a waterbath, may last a couple of years.

How to use your pickled tomatoes

Once I posted this on social media, people were intrigued about how to use it – I’d say they are best just liek that as a snack out the jar! Or tossed into salads in winter when fresh tomatoes are too expensive! Halve them and add them to pastas with olives and garlic and herbs… or as a side for a cheese plate…

* This helps the flavour permeate the cherry tomato, and helps them sink into the brine too.

** I only had pink Himalayan salt, and it worked beautifully for taste, but did cloud up the pickles a bit.

Week in Retrospect : 8 JAN 2018 – 14 JAN 2018

Week in Retrospect : 8 JAN 2018 – 14 JAN 2018

While I know this is supposed to be a retrospective post, I feel it will be remiss if I don’t add that today, 15 January, officially marks the opening of MeadowSweet Herbs & Flowers for 2018.  🙂 If you’ve missed the news – I’ll be…

Lunar Gardening

Moon calendar planting is often scoffed at, and on the other hand sometimes even given magical credence… and I’ve been asked about it often. Here’s a few FAQ’s around it… DO I GARDEN BY THE MOON? Yes, I do follow the moon calendar for planting.…

Week in Retrospect : 1 Jan 2018 – 7 Jan 2018

Week in Retrospect : 1 Jan 2018 – 7 Jan 2018

And just like that, it is a new year! 2018 marks the 5th year that I’ve lived in New Zealand, the golden year of immigration adjustment, if sources are to be believed. I’ve always loved being a Kiwi, but let’s hope this year will indeed prove to be an easier one!

As with all new years, there is a bit of anticipation, and hope, and simple belief – let 2018 be all you wish and need.

What a first few days to 2018 though! A lovely storm hit most of the country and drenched my very parched garden (and filled our tank!). Luckily everything outside survived the wind gusts and downpours, except for one branch on my new rose, Christophe (but I’m putting that one down to “natural pruning” and will see how it comes away again), and one branch of my Loquat, but it wasn’t the main trunk, so all good there too. After righting some fallen over pots and sweeping away some debris from trees around us, it’s all fresh and lovely. With the hottest days still coming, as is normal for January, I do hope that the rain doesn’t stay away that long again…

I didn’t get up to any sowing and growing this week, even though it was still prime sowing and cutting time till Full Moon (2 January)… I did however get my seed box sorted, and recorded all the seed I’ve got! What a wonderful thing my seedbox is – it is really a treasure for me – so full of promise and potential. I adore going through my seeds… and getting new seeds… and saving seeds…


I don’t always have a lot of every seed listed, and most of the vegetables I grow, I don’t save seed from again (e.g. pumpkins, brassicas etc.), but if you want to have a look what I’ve got, this is what I could potentially grow for my nursery – Seed List Jan 2018

New Year’s resolutions for me, as far as my business goes, includes “getting back to herbs”, and focusing my efforts on the growing and use, promoting and education of herbs (as opposed to my side-tracked efforts of growing common vegetables at some point last year…). See my newsletter for more updates on the business. I am also going to endeavor to make it a more homemade year – to actually use as much of my herbs and other produce as I can in my daily life – for food, medicine, cleaning and beauty products. Hopefully lots of experimentation and lots of lovely recipes to follow!

In the garden, my summer produce is going strong – I harvested a lot of fresh food from the garden – tomatoes are ripening furiously, and I get a lovely fresh cucumber almost every second day. The cocozelle zucchini is still going insane, and I’m on the hunt for a zucchini relish to try my hand at. Some chillies are starting to ripen one by one, but so much fruit is forming – it is going to be a year of plenty for my capsicums for sure!







All the culinary herbs are also at a prime for picking – fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, chives, basil, chervil, coriander, parsley… they make it into almost every dish I put out. Blueberries are coming in bowl-by-bowl, at least the ones that survive my impromptu snacking as I pass the bushes every day! And I’ve put some good looking tomatillos to the side too for making salsa later on.

Chamomile are also flowering now, as my annual German chamomile is ending its flowering, the perennial Roman one seems to pick up. This ensures I have baskets full of flowers waiting to into my dehydrator at any point in time. I find the Roman “lawn” chamomile somewhat bitter, but tempered with some lemon balm or lemon verbena, I’m sure it will taste great, and still have it’s beneficial calming effects.

Speaking of flowers…


In flower in the garden this week

This is only a selection of some of the pretties in summer:


What did I make with my herbs and produce this week?

Chamomile Tea

Harvest flowers and dry, either in a dehydrator, or in a dry, ventilated spot in the house. When fully dry, store in an airtight container. Here’s how to – Chamomile Tea

Rose Petal Jam

Before the storm came, I decided to pick a few of my roses, and then thought I should really make something from them rather than having them in a vase… nothing against flowers for the home, especially if they come from your own garden, but I just felt their fragrance had to be captured somehow or another… and so I decided to make rose petal jam.

Recipe in the January 2018 newsletter, or here.


Jamie Oliver’s Pasta Salad

This is one of my favourite side dishes to a BBQ, and it makes a lovely, light and fresh lunch or dinner on its own too. Recipe is on Jamie Oliver’s site. It really is a great way to use the fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and chives that are available now.








Herb Mix for Homemade Hamburgers

Fried onions and garlic get a sprinkling of cumin seeds and fresh chopped rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme before being cooled down and mixed with beef and pork mince for homemade hamburgers.






Chocolate Ice Cream with Fennel Seeds & Orange Zest

I followed the recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Ice Cream, substituting chicken eggs with our quail eggs, and I served it with crushed fennel seeds (and fennel flowers and fronds to show off ;-)) and grated lemon zest. The flavour combination is sublime!




Rose Petal Jam – How To

Rose Petal Jam – How To

When life gives you rose petals… make rose petal jam (or jelly)! Every day that my Westerland climbing rose is in flower and I walk up to, or out of my front door, where the scent from it is strongest, I long to capture that…

Chamomile Tea – How To

Their white and yellow daisy heads nod on their stems above the fresh apple-scented ferny leaves as bumblebees and bees flit to and fro. Summertime is chamomile time. Take the time to harvest and dry some of your own chamomile for a year’s worth of…

Newsletter – January 2018

Newsletter – January 2018

A brand new year! Happy New Year!

This edition of the newsletter is a bit longer than normal, but simply because I’ve got some business news to share. Other than these updates on the running of MeadowSweet, it is full of what is happening in the summer garden, how to be water savvy, what to harvest, etc.

It features Hops (Humulus lupulus) as the Herb of the Month (it is also the International Herb of the Year for 2018, as well as some thoughts on zucchini (featured vegetable) and scabiosa (featured flower). I’m introducing a Kids’ Gardening Corner from this edition onward, and end off with a few recipes to share.

Enjoy, share freely, and remember that I always appreciate some feedback – and ideas on what you’d like to see featured!

Newsletter January 2018

Newsletter – November 2017

Newsletter – November 2017

It is mid Spring, and although some days are still terribly cold, it is a very exciting time in the garden! Herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruit are all starting to grow and flourish and promises of upcoming summer harvests are plentiful! This newsletter focuses on…