The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Your garden as part of your pantry.

It was really thanks to Patsy at A Working Pantry that I came to realize everything in the pantry, store cupboards, fridge, freezer, shed and garden is ALL part of my pantry and preparedness. It is true. When we go to make a meal without running to the shops and using just what we have the garden is a part of it. And the things we can pick and use add freshness, nutrition and flavor to our meals.  If the shops were closed this freshness would be a great boost to our stored foods.

The US girls are planting their gardens as it is spring and we are getting ready for winter. So we are all in different situations and climates. And some of us may have no garden at all or a tiny space. But we can all grow a few things. And it's a money saver. Herbs are available to buy in many forms, fresh bunches, semi dried, dried... and they all cost a few dollars a bunch or packet. For the same few dollars you can buy several tiny plants and get them going for future use. Once you have some of them they go on forever and others seed like my Parsley that is now over a hundred baby plants! Some we can get going for free if a friend has rosemary or mint, for instance, you can usually pull up a little bit and you have a plant ready to go.

Only the other day I showed how I stacked four pots to form a herb garden in a small space. This grows a surprising amount of food. The bottom layer is a half wine barrel and will grow quite big things. But smaller pots will still give you a supply of your favourite herbs. If you are growing parsley you need a really tall deep pot. I could not ever grow it well until I found this out.

Grow what you love and use if it is suitable for your climate. The local nursery will help you with this.
I grow and use chives, garlic chives, oregano, two types of parsley... one is Italian the other I don't know! Also rosemary, thyme, chili, capsicums, tomatoes, limes and recently we planted an apple tree.

For a while there I thought my garden was quite full. Then when I had so many parsley seedings I started to look for spots to plant them and suddenly every small space was fair game. Now that I have done this I can see I can keep going and I have room for lots more herbs. It means my garden will look increasingly English Cottage Garden (which I love) rather than neat manicured garden which we inhertied when we moved in. So now I am gardening in the gaps!

Along the front fence I have three rosemary bushes. I cut this all the time and use when I am roasting lamb as it goes beautifully. It is so fragrant and I love it.

The front has roses which are lovely and I would never remove. But I have a lot of space underneath and between them that I think is fair game for more herbs.

Out the back I have my herb pots near the back door and a bit planter full of sage and parsley.

Mimi and Hilde taught me to make sage and burnt butter . Yum.

My basil is almost finished so not at it's best but I have had wheel barrow loads of it! 

I don't know much about herbs but am trying to improve. Glenda is helping me with that. And my philossphy is to grow the things that I am successful with and in big quantities. I am happy to grow much more than I can use as then I have bunches to give away. Once I took a basket of rosemary and bunches of parsley into our local cafe which has a market garden theme and lots of fresh produce. I got to know the people in there. They gave me free coffees after that! But anyone who cooks will love a fresh bunch of herbs. The basil smells just beautfiul. 

Plenty of chopped parsley goes into my chicken soup and I serve it chopped over spahetti sauce and as an addition to lots of meals. I use this most.  The chives I sprinkle over potatoes and sour cream potato salad, in savoury muffins, with eggs and tomato (the addition of chives makes Andy like anything).
Basil, I make pesto and a simple basil and tomato summer salad that is lovely. I add fresh oregano chopped over spaghetti sauce, this is delicious. Last night we had lamb with baked feta and sprinkled with thyme and it was lovely. I know I do use something from the garden nearly every day. And I have been able to give away and also do some trading. I wonder what this all would cost me per week to buy? I would guess if I bought several bunches of fresh herbs per week it would mount up pretty quickly. Or I just wouldn't use so many because of the expense. So the abundance I have makes a difference!

Mum has the hugest Bay Leaf tree that she planted about thirty years ago. We all use the leaves from this lovely tree. She also has rosemary and lots of lavender.

Now to look at what to add and make the most of my spaces. It is wet here now and there are things I could plant. I am not too worried about frost as open spaces get it but not so much in more protected spots and it is not winter yet anyway.

Pa grew comfrey and used it to make a tea that was a liquid fertiliser for the garden. So comfrey is something I will look to add.  I could probably add ten more things...

What do you grow? Do you have somewhere you could add a little more? I thought if I could learn more about different herbs I could further expand my pantry this way.

There are times like during floods where our garden might no longer be a help to us. If you are in a flood prone area some pots up higher with your herbs might be better. And there are those who have tons of room that can go way further with lots of fruit trees and vegies.  I know Cath grows a great crop of pumpkins in her back yard. The thing is to use the space we have, even if it is a balcony or tiny courtyard, to grow what we can. The first time you go out and snip herbs to go with dinner they have paid for themselves. They are always there to add freshness to your meals and goodness in your cooking. I know, at least, I am not relying on the shops for this part of my pantry.

I am sure I can expand on this in my garden and also use more herbs in cooking and dry, freeze and preserve reserves. I am just learning. All tips and recipes will be appreciated!
My bit is to encourage us all to include some things from our garden into our supplies and reserves. We will be so glad we added what we could. 

I hope you are having a good week! Hoping to have god news to report soon! xxx


  1. First visit to your blog...I love it...great tips and the cheesecake. I also grow lots of herbs in the garden...your front yard is lovely..rosemary and roses must smell amazing.

    1. Thank you Suzie! Now I am reading your blog! (give me a few days to comment as my daughter is just having a baby).
      I love the name of your blog. I also have a friend in Emerald!
      Thank you so

  2. I love the phrase 'gardening in the gaps', even though we have a lot of room today, my herb garden fills up and seems to close in and I am experimenting in the big garden this year with 'high density planting'. and seeing how that goes. Herbs are something that is fascinating and I too am learning and planting another here and there...
    Aside from the money savings which can be significant in a garden, it is hard to put a value on the satisfaction of planting, nurturing and growing, then using the produce, it is a very good feeling!

    1. Thanks Kathy. Yes at first we have spaces then we see them as potential growing spaces for more good things!
      I was thinking also that my herbs I know have had no chemicals and sprays so as I add them to things I dont even have to think about that. Another advantage! xxx

  3. Hi Annabel,
    Another benefit to planting bits and pieces in amongst your other plants can be the benefits of companion planting. garlic between the roses is supposed to keep aphids at bay.

    1. Barb Garlic! Yes! I had heard this and forgotten. I also have aphids quite often and we love our garlic. So I will do this. Great suggestion. And as you say will only do the roses good. Thank you! xxx

  4. Lovely post thank you Annabel
    When I moved into this house I had no garden at all. Out the back was barren and empty with no soil just layers of gravel and small rocks. I have built one garden but due to ill health I have been unable to finish it. I am saving for an orange tree and a mandarin tree to go in there this Autumn if I can save enough up for it.

    I am also looking at ways to get more pots up and going full of things such as lettuce and maybe even Asian greens. These are certainly things I use. I have Rosemary and am also putting some cuttings to root so that I can give some to my daughter. A friend brought me over some Cycads this afternoon seven in fact so they will also be going out into the garden this weekend, not something I can eat but it is something I can sell when they are a little larger.

    I have planted a passion fruit vine and after the citrus fruits are in I am looking at small vegetable patches ready for planting next Spring.

    God Bless and have a good week.

    1. Mel I have some very pretty succulents if you would like some. Also my Aunt has Agaves which are lovely, stylish and good to fill difficult spots. They are $100 plus for big ones in shops I notice! If you would like any just let me know. I see you have rosemary... but I will keep my eyes out for herbs and pretty things when I can grab a cutting or divide some.
      Boxes are good for growing greens... or even baskets lined with some moss. You might find some creative containers that will work.
      Some time ago Mimi was saying how her daughter was potting up plants to sell. If you have a supply of anything there sure is money in plants. The prices are crazy! On that note I can give you a box of baby succulents anytime...
      Have a lovely day. I am keeping busy... xxx

  5. No bub yet by the sounds of it, Annabel! Not too long to wait now though I am sure. The waiting is the hardest part. My girl was 10 days overdue with her little one born in December.

    Yes, the garlic would be good to add to your garden. Comfrey gets frosted here and it is already dying down for winter but is well worth growing because of all its benefits.

    1. Any minute Nanna Chel. I am keeping busy...
      I was ten days over with my first baby. In a heat wave. Longest ten days of my life!
      Yes I am going with garlic and comfrey for sure plus I have more room which is part sun part shade. The ground is quite wet and still some sunny days so I will get some things in.
      Loved your photos of your time

  6. I still have 2 small areas to 'fill in the gaps' before I'm through garden planting for this season. Both of those are 'flower beds' that nestle up close to our front porch. I've been looking at it and thinking that that area has a lot of wasted space. I'm still in the deciding phase as to what herbs to plant there ... I have decided that it will be herbs. I hope to get this completed in the next couple of weeks. Love this post, it goes right along with what I've been thinking in my head!

    1. Dear Patsy,
      I dont have chickens currently but mostly I have grown so many herbs that the chooks would get some everyday. And also I had extra spinach so they got some of that most days as well. Then my choice of flowers included sunflowers as they are so cheerful but at the end the chooks get them as food and they have a great time with them. So even flowers can still feed somebody! Also I have violets and pansies which look lovely on cakes so they are kind of handy too!
      I love seeing your garden pictures! xxx

  7. Thinking outside the box here because we need to do major works to the yard before I am comfortable planting anything in it, even pots at this stage given the ferocity of the water that passed through here just under a fortnight ago.

    I have an 'L' shaped veranda which is up high enough for me to place planters on that hang over the edge so they do not take up any space on the veranda so am going to look in to them - I think they would work out well as mini herb gardens or just planted with some flowers.

    We are heading into winter so I am thinking it would be great to plan now and buy the pots and brackets and then set them up as we head into warmer weather. Hopefully by then we will have the old shed gone and I can look at my outdoors clothes line space along with some pots for a lemon tree and????

    I am thinking that somethings that I know will not grow in our sandy soil will no doubt grow in pots so will be giving some of them a try. I love cottage garden plants, some of which may do well on the veranda in pots.


    1. Its good that you have experienced the seasons in your yard and now you know what to expect, rather than having spent and lot of work and money planting it and losing it to so much water. It sounds like your veranda would be perfect for pots and also it would look lovely. I truly find my herbs being near the back door to water and to grab some when cooking is really helpful. Also I take water out as I have it ie water leftover from cooking, the tea pot, run off from the tap and I only have a few steps to walk to do it.
      I love lemon trees so that would be one of my choices too! xxx

  8. Hi Annabel,

    You may already know, but comfrey can be quite invasive and has deep roots - it can be very difficult to get rid of if you decide you no longer want it in your garden. You may want to plant it a pot to keep it contained. :)

    We had our first 'serious' vegetable garden this year and managed to grow a year's worth of garlic, and enough vegetables that we didn't need to buy any for about 6 weeks over the summer. I don't have anything much happening there now as I had my fourth baby in March and I've just been too busy! My husband set up our first beehive this Spring and we harvested about 13 litres of honey over the summer - not a huge amount, but we were happy with that for our first season!

    We just bought our first home and will be moving at the end of July I'm looking forward to planting out our new garden and getting in as many fruit trees as possible! At least I can take my collection of potted herbs with me - there's nothing like being able to cut fresh herbs from my veranda!

    1. Grace thank you, I didnt know yet about Comfrey being invasive. Will consider an area to confine it to.
      I think 13 litres of honey is really impressive! It is expensive now too so that is worth a lot too. But more than that you know it is real and raw honey. Some now isnt even real honey and imported... and all these kinds of things. I think it is very healthy and useful in lots of things. My gingerbread takes quite a bit of honey and it is gorgeous. One of my best recipes.
      Fruit trees planned and herbs... and all that garlic and all those vegies! It sounds wonderful Grace. And to do so much with four children I think how wonderful.
      Congratulations on your first home! What an exciting time. Thank you so much for the comfrey info.xx

  9. Your roses are beautiful! And all those herbs...such wonderful tastes for cooking with.
    Lori from LL Farm

    1. Thank you Lori! I am getting better at using herbs in more and more cooking. I am loving it! xx

  10. Great post Annabel.

    I grow most of my herbs in pots, as our soil is so sandy and thirsty that they don't do too well in the ground. I have planted out garlic this year, and most of it has come up, so I am happy. I have chives in one of our garden bath beds too, they are easy to get growing. My weeds are also growing abundantly, and I believe they all can benefit the garden as well. They make a great liquid tea, or just pull up and when they have died back dig straight into the ground to add goodness to the soil, or use for mulch. My mum grows garlic with her roses. She grows flowers, herbs and veggies together in the front yard.


    1. I am going to take a leaf out of your Mum's book Tania. I think garlic makes sense between the roses and I think it looks nice too.
      You mentioned you have stinging nettles. On Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, in a recent post about tea she uses it as an ingredient in a herbal tea.Also the other night on Masterchef they cooked with it so there should be recipes on the Masterchef site I think. Interesting! xxx


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