Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter definitely has come a-knocking… And with it, I’m already seeing an upsurge of colds and flu all around. Luckily, I’ve come into the season fully prepared – beating cold with hot! Ice with Fire! Fire Cider Tonic, to be exact.…
- 1 packet biscuits (I used Tennis Biscuits from South Africa, Coconut Based)
- 115g butter, melted
- 500g cream cheese (2 tubs)
- 100g caster sugar
- 100ml sour cream
- 1.5tbsp cake flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract with seeds
- 50ml cream
- 1/2 tsp lavender flowers
- 2 earl grey tea bags
- Bash the biscuits with a rolling pin (in the packet) until they come out crumbly and broken-up. You can also blitz them in the food processor, just make sure they’re crumbs, not dust.
- Mix in the melted butter
- Press down evenly into base of prepared tin
- Set aside.
- Infuse the cream with the tea leaves and lavender
- Heat infuse method: heat the cream on the stove top and add the herbs, let brew for a bit. Don’t boil the cream. Take off the heat and let cool. Strain, pressing the solids to extract as much flavour into the cream as possible.
- Cold infuse method: stir the herbs into cold cream, cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Strain, pressing the solids to extract as much flavour into the cream as possible.
- Heat oven to 160°C.
- Beat the cream cheese with the caster sugar until smooth.
- Add sour cream and flour, and continue beating.
- Add tea-infused cream, and continue beating.
- Add eggs (one at a time), vanilla seeds and vanilla extract while beating.
- Once everything is well mixed, pour your filling over the crumb base.
- Place your tin into a baking tray filled with boiling water in the bottom of the oven and bake for an hour.
- Switch the oven off, but leave the cheesecake inside to cool with the door slightly ajar.
- Add edible flowers if desired
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 a long time, but don’t think it is much more expensive either than pre-bagged stuff.
The more you get into your own propagation, the more interested you would be to add things that may promote root growth, or enhance seed germination, or other interesting bits, but at the very most basic, you don’t need more than compost, coir and sand.
While you can change the ingredient ratio around a bit, I have found that the following recipe works really well (I do increase the sand content when making cutting specific mix):
4 parts compost + 2 parts coir + 1 part washed sand; mix well
COMPOST (forms the bulk of the soil)
You don’t strictly need to sift your compost, nature sure doesn’t specifically go make “fine” soil for seeds to germinate into, but it does help the home gardener, especially if you have small seeds.
I made a compost sifting sieve by stapling 1cm square mesh into a wooden frame, and find that is good enough to get rid of the bigger bits of bark and debris from my compost.
You can use your own home-made compost for sure! Just be certain that it is well cured.
COIR (increases water holding and soil friability)
Coir is a by-product of the coconut industry, and is simply the fibre from the outer husk of the coconut. You can buy coir in condensed bricks in most garden centres or hardware stores, and soak it to reconstitute it.
SAND (increases drainage and creates air spaces for roots to grow)
I use washed play-pit sand, but you get specialized horticulturist sand too in different sizes.
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. But here is the qualifier: *as much as I can*. This means that I don’t only ever sow above-ground crops in the week or so following New Moon. Life sometimes have different plans, and maybe you can’t get to your seeds or garden when the calendar says you should, and I for one, don’t always want to wait another 4 weeks (for the next “fertile period”) to put my seeds in when I didn’t quite manage to do so in the moon allocated time.
WHY DO I GARDEN BY THE MOON?
It is a great tool for me to schedule tasks in my garden, and give me a routine to work with. Otherwise gardening can become a bit-of-this and bit-of-that affair without any real focus or strategy. If I block off certain times of a month for certain tasks, I find more gets done, and I feel calmer about it all too. And if I am going to schedule my to-do, then I may as well do it according to moon calendar.
DOES IT WORK?
The theory around moon gardening works on 2 main principles, as far as I understand it at least – the main one being water and the moon’s gravitational effect on it, and the other is light.
Now anyone who lives near the sea, understands and experiences first-hand, the pull that the moon has on the bodies of water on our planet (tides). So too, says the moon-calendar proponents, will it have an effect on the sap of the plant, the water molecules in the soil, and the water table.
The other is that light affects germination, and with the increase of light after New Moon (the dark period), seeds may germinate better (at least the ones that need light to germinate).
I have found that although seeds will germinate and grow almost anytime, sowing and planting according to the moon calendar gives me better germination rates, faster sprouting times, stronger seedlings and healthier plants. The difference isn’t a shocking or awe-inspiring one, but there definitely is a benefit to growing by the ideal moon phases.