Jelly time …

If you have been following Frog Pond Farm you may know that our property is undulating – ok hilly and that our raised veg beds were cleverly constructed on a north facing hillside built into the land, perfect for drainage, visually appealing and not too far from the house.

Truth is my back has been giving me a bit of grief lately and I’m not enjoying the hillside as much as I used to. It’s tough lugging buckets of produce or soil about, jumping on a broad fork or slipping on the slope after it has been raining (Auckland can rain!)

I’m not sure about you, but I’m one of those gardeners that wants to do everything at once and given my back this isn’t what one might call ‘sensible’. However, I have got a bit smarter as of late and can be seen from time to time actually kneeling on the ground while gardening and heaven forbid taking a particularly casual approach and sitting on my butt in the garden (flower bed mind you not the veg garden – that would never do).

blue and pink tones at sunrise

It’s autumn in NZ my favourite season and I’m in the throes of hauling out spent plants and replenishing beds with organic materials. I’m digging holes and burying kitchen food scraps, adding a planting mix of topsoil and compost, worm castings and then topping off the lasagna mix with pea straw which is great tucker for those garden worms and protects the soil over winter.

kelp on black sand

Needless to say, I have my eye on seaweed at the beach, which I’m going to bag and bring home so that this can also be chopped up and buried in my veg gardens or thrown on top as mulch. I’m getting excited just thinking about it, I’m sure the slugs won’t be!

Lone pine-1240476

I swore last year that I wouldn’t grow seedlings anymore – as much as I enjoy the process, it is so time consuming. Anyway as it transpired I succumbed and found myself sitting on the concrete one day poking seeds into trays with gay abandon and scribbling on plastic name tags.

basil and white butterfly and honey bee

As can be imagined, those seeds germinated and spent a few days enjoying the sunshine before it was time to move them into the confines of a metal frame draped with netting. Why you may ask?  Those white butterflies are tyrants at this time of year and love nothing more than to lay eggs on said seedlings. Well as it transpires, I did a rotten job at keeping those seedlings safe as I spotted a few holes in some leaves the other day.

So it’s time to plant these brassicas, beetroot and lettuce seedlings and poke in a winter flowers while I’m at it. I shall plant my brassicas within the confines of a cloche protected from those perilous white butterflies. Of course those bugs aren’t the only pests I shall be combating – winter for us means slugs and snails and for me, night patrols with my torch and a bucket of soapy water. Something which I actually don’t mind doing although I’m not thrilled about sharing the space with hissing possums.

Do you ever wonder why we go to all this trouble? Surely buying from a supermarket is less irksome. But nowhere near as much fun! And at least while my vegetables may be sporting the odd hole in the leaves, they have been grown organically and should be nutrient dense.

orpington bottom

I haven’t mentioned my chooks in ages have I? They are still devoid of a man in their lives although they don’t really seem to mind (smart girls). Egg production has dropped severely with a maximum of 2 eggs per day. Oh the joys of moulting and a reduction in daylight hours.

crabapple jelly

Did I tell you that I have been making jellies and preserving? Bill has inspired me. As we had a massive haul of crab apples this year probably in the vicinity of 15 kg, I have made a crab apple jelly and put some aside for vodka. I have pickled more chillies over the weekend and made an outrageous chilli sauce that had me coughing and spluttering while cooking …

crabapple jelly-1240574

By the time of posting .. you will be happy to know that my brassicas are safe and sound in the ground 😀

home grown organic quince

Do you remember me saying that I had no quince? Really Julie! And yes, I made my first ever quince jelly and it is absolutely divine …

surfers at Muriwai beach

Not everything is about the garden


Happy gardening


98 thoughts

  1. I have a few comments for you!
    1. Lovely photographs!
    2. You finally appeared on my reader!
    3. Do not ignore your back. My wife ignored hers, and now she is not allowed forward bends for a year.. Never ignore the warning signs

  2. Hi Julie, wonderful post. I am sorry to hear your back is grieving you. Give it some rest – I can imagine that’s difficult for you, but it will pay off in the long run. Those white butterflies are a nuisance. I tend to let them have their way and then pick the eggs or caterpillars off the plant. It is usually not a problem because the plant has plenty of time to mature in our cool weather long after the butterflies are gone. Of course, it could be very different in New Zealand. When I was a kid, every now and again, a bug used to make it to the dinner table cooked in with the broccoli or cauliflower. We were always disgusted. My father used to laugh and say, “Whats the matter, don’t you like a little meat with your vegetables?” Lovely photographs! They are different in some way that I can’t put my finger one. Is it a new lens or maybe just a different mood. I hope you don’t mind this comment. Love, love the picture of the beach and people with surf boards. There is nothing like the power of moving water. Take care. Bob

    • Hey Bob .. truth is my back has been playing up for years. Poor old girl … LOL Damned white butterflies. They nail me every time. You are right though – the plant always comes back and the holes seem to disappear. I loved the story of your Dad .. hilarious, meat with your veg. He had a great sense of humour. I’m pleased you like the pics and you have caught me out ( LOL) I was trying different presets! You have such a great eye. To be honest, most of them were ordinary so they needed some help! I don’t mind your investigative comment at all. I love that pic of the surfers too .. ah the water, how good is it? Thanks so much for comment and stopping by to see me! Yay

  3. Well, you have been busy. Lovely scenery and photography as usual.

    Sorry to hear about your back. Have you considered installing a miniature railway? Practical and fun at once. 🙂

    • Mr Draco how nice to see you. And I see you have been visiting me in the land of Instagram too! I feel most privileged. Glad you like the pics. I just wish I could get out like you do and click away in cafes or restaurants or just outdoors. And then show us all your fabulous b&w work. Love love … Ah the back is ok, it has been giving me grief for ages on and off. I’m just being a shook. Oh I love the idea of a miniature railway!!! Imagine all the photos .. what a sensational idea! LOL 😀

  4. Well pore old girl with your back. You should take your wallet out of your back pocket it’s all that money weighing you down! Yes to all the people that follow you the slopes are pretty steep, over the years I have been there they seem as I’ve got older a lot steeper. Very good photos as usual, the jelly looks just great nice and clear. Julie I think you will have to rethink where the raised beds are and move them to the top back garden, then you will be able to tend them in your wheel chair! Well it’s not improved here weather wise still to early to plant out because the winds are coming from the Artic and they are cold. Spring flowers still blooming and look like lasting for a while yet. I decided to plant a lot of herbs in pots just out side the back door so easier to reach. Any way just take care of that back and take it easier. Lots love to you both Bill xx

    • Oh you are bad! No sympathy … You know me, that back does what it wants to, I just need to look after it a bit more. Ah, wheel chair you say – right that is a double load of sand in your bed! No way will I move those beds to the back yard – oh imagine! Sorry to hear about your cruddy weather. It is starting to chill here now, we had our first fire last night. I shall save some quince jelly for you, damn it is good! Hugs and love back at you

  5. Now about the sand just be careful you don’t put your back out carrying in buckets from the beach! You will have to get some crampons on your boots to help you on those slopes or get Andrew to dig out some steps to aid you and your walking stick. Hope the lamb is good it looked great when Andrew showed me how’s the mint sauce? Big hugs back Bill.

  6. Hi Julie,
    You have my sympathy with your back. I too have had a bad back for years. Have you tried Pilates? I have found it has really helped to strengthen core muscles which then support the back much better. It sounds like you are really busy though and would find it difficult to make time? I love the tree photo with the sun shining on the bark.

    • Hey Annette .. what is it about bad backs? My father had one and so do I .. I adore Pilates and also Yoga and find both helpful. A regular visit to the Oesteo also helps 🙂 It sure is about core muscles – I just forget to turn them on when I’m out in the garden. Glad you liked the tree pic (me too :D)

      • I think mine was poor posture and three babies. Wish I had done Pilates years ago – did it even exist then? I used to visit an Osteo, but have since found a wonderful sport’s therapist (bit like a physio) who achieves the same result without any pain.

  7. Ditto on the back thing! 😀 Resorted to sitting in the beds too or kneeling while the chooks help.Then going for a walk around the garden ensuring my spine is straight (and arnica cream really does help!) Happy gardening…

    • Hi … good someone else that sits in beds – kneeling is good too 🙂 You are right though – it is so important to go for that walk and straighten out that spine! I think I do have some arnica cream floating about .. .thanks for the reminder. Happy gardening 🙂

  8. I adore quince jelly too and am very lucky to have a mature quince tree which is bending over under its load in autumn. By the way, the jelly tastes good with chili too and goes well with cheese etc. As for the back – gives me trouble as well from time to time but a lot less since I’ve started Pilates many years ago. Enjoy the lush and golden autumn days, Julie 🙂

    • Hey Annette … oh quince jelly – yummo! And to think at the start of the season I thought we were devoid of quince! I made crabapple jelly last night with chilli – nice! I think that smothered on crackers with cheese would be divine too! I love Pilates and Yoga – don’t know what I would do without them .. be particularly grumpy I suspect 😀 Loving Autumn, you enjoy your spring. 😀

  9. Gorgeous images, Julie!!! I was wowing out loud over the lone bee you caught. Awesome! Speaking of bees you are a busy one! Really! Take care of that back and please do find a good chiropractor. I have back issues, dear friend, and when I garden some of my positions look downright silly but they save my back. That doesn’t mean gardening is still not “back breaking work” because it is, simple as that. I’ve devised a technique I call Garden Yoga LOL in order to get down to the ground. Beautiful post and please do not ignore your back. Promise me, Julie! <3

    • Hey Amy … I like that image too. I was so surprised when I snapped it. Was actually trying to shoot the white butterfly. Such a lovely bonus … I have a good oesteo whom I visit on a regular basis, but I was finding for a few weeks, that my back had got really bad. Not sure why but it has settled again. You are so right about odd positions in the garden. 😀 I find it really important to straighten up and take a breather! Oh garden Yoga perfect! And don’t you worry Miss – I shan’t ignore my back 😀 Promise …

      • Thank you, Julie. I’ve had back issues for over 22 years and believe me it is miserable at times to live like this. If I could turn time back I would never had the two back surgeries I did. They made me worse. Much Love to you!! <3

  10. Such a delightful series of images to go with a delightful post describing my favorite season of the year 😃 and you must know Jack Henry and Hubble wish they lived closer- they would be helping you as “tasters” for all those delightful concoctions you are making! It all sounds wonderful and rewarding!

    • Hey Miss … thank you! My fav season too. Getting ready for those boots, scarves and jackets. yay! Wish your pooches lived closer too … be nice to get out with you and our iPhones and get snapping. You could also give me lessons on Stackables 😀

  11. You are so lucky to be able to take seaweed from the beach, it is illegal here in Australia. Your photos are brilliant as usual, but I love the one of the butterfly and bee together.

  12. Lovely photos, Julie! I keep forgetting your are heading towards winter there where you are.

    Sorry to hear your back is troubling you. With all the heavy work I do around here, I end up at the chiropractor once a month for a “tune up”. Wishing you some good rest and relaxation now that the season is slowing down for you.

    • Hello Lavinia … the back plays up from time to time. It was giving me grief but has settled. Old age I reckon! 🙂 I’m also keen on the monthly tune ups! Yes the season is slowing down for us … I just have to get those winter beds planted. Thanks for stopping by

  13. Seeing the beauty of your work I never wondered why you didn’t purchase vegetables in the market but instead why I am not doing my own gardening (time)
    Thank you Julie. I hope your back improves with attention to it, thanks for share your piece of paradise. ^-^

    • The back is good again Francis. Yoga, Pilates and an Oesteo to the rescue. Don’t you worry – I will never stop gardening, too much fun. You should think about having one yourself. Now that’s a good idea 🙂 Glad to share our piece of paradise with you.

      • I do a bit of yoga myself, so happy to know you are better. I know, it’s clear you put your heart in your garden and we can’t forget what we love. ^_^ I’ll work in make a garden in the little ground I have. Thank you Julie. 🙂

  14. Another breathtaking shot of your beach, but then that pine tree in the glow of the afternoon, and then the butterfly and be the post just kept building up and getting more gorgeous, then the jelly! Wow. Lovely Julie.

    • Hi Rita … thank you so pleased you liked the pics. That recipe I got from the internet. It is the first time I have made it and was so pleased at the outcome. You can find the recipe here …

  15. Your jelly is a glorious colour. Imagine if you bought all your fruit and veg from the supermarket – think of the time you’d have on your hands instead of weeding and dragging seaweed back from the beach. Hope your back is recovering.

    • Hey Anne … LOL I couldn’t do it, too much time, I would drive myself and hubby mad. That jelly is the best colour – I made some more last night with chilli. Yum! The back is better thanks Miss … nails me when I least expect it

  16. Amazing photos of your farm, Julie! Sorry to hear about your back. Gardening is very much fun and rewarding. Love the chicken photo.
    We used to have a small vegetable garden, grew more than we could consume daily. We had to give it up due to the drought the past three years or so. We were allowed to water once a week… I, too, save kitchen scraps. Hubby digs holes and bury them, it’s good for the soil. I also save kitchen water for flower beds.
    Take care of your back and take easy, Julie. 🙂

    • Hi Amy … thanks Miss glad you like the pics. The back plays up from time to time, but is good again. I just need to take it a bit ‘easier’ in the garden. I love burying my food scraps – glad you do too! Oh boy, I couldn’t imagine being able to only water once a week – that wouldn’t do. Thankfully we get water from our duckpond. You take care too 🙂

  17. I love using seaweed as mulch. I am not sure if you grow asparagus – if you do they REALLY like seaweed mulch. I also spent the weekend planting out seeds, and writing out labels – just sooo much fun.

    • I really enjoy using seaweed as mulch such great stuff – the slugs aren’t as enamoured though. And yes those asparagus absolutely love it! Apparently they are like me – they enjoy salt! Seeds and labels .. too much fun indeed! 😀 Thanks for stopping by

  18. Another fabulous post Julie. Everything looks so lovely as always but and I adore the butterfly pic. It is stunning. Beautiful dog too! It’s so hard to take animal shots but you are ace~ even the rear end of chicken~ ! Take care of your back though ( maybe don’t work so hard!) love <3 <3

    • Hi Gill .. hope you are good. 🙂 Pleased you like the butterfly pic (me too). I do like taking animal and chicken pics – shame our dog Dan doesn’t like posing. I will look after that back .. thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment as always

  19. Well I’d just love to have a chat with you for days about this beautiful post. Fantastic!!
    So sorry your back is playing up again. Do take care and no heavy lifting! Hugs xx

  20. Wonderful that you’ve been making jellies! So good that Bill inspired you. Hope he’s well, by the way. And back to the jellies: I make apple and red currant jelly, but quince must be divine, both the taste and the fragrance. I walked into the garden of a French-style manoir in Europe one evening, and almost swooned at the fragrance of ripe quince on the trees.

  21. Lovely pictures! I couldn’t help but stare at the butterfly and bee photo. It’s stunning and perfectly timed.

    Nice to meet you, Julie! Following you. 🙂

  22. Dogs, beach, surfing, gardening, home grown – living the dream. So, so sorry to hear about the bad back. Do you have any time left for yoga? A good instructor can make a HUGE difference. Oh, and great post.

    • We are so lucky! Yes the back is a nuisance but it has been on and off for ages. I absolutely love yoga, and have just found a fabulous new instructor. You are so right – they make a huge difference! Glad you enjoyed the post ..

  23. Hi lovely lady..I thought I’d never get ro the end of comments. (: I can see you doing a write up in a local newspaper..Julie’s Frogpond News… I too have back issues Being the old hen that I am, I don’t do pilates..but maybe not too! My hubby calls the butterflies, Cabbage butterflies…You are ever busy, but a good busy.Take care!

    • Hello Roberta 🙂 I write for Ponsonby News which I love .. so a few Kiwis get to hear about our endeavours on the property. What is it about bad backs? We harvested olives this weekend – big job and the back wasn’t loving that either! Ah, you should give pilates a go – great fun! They sure are cabbage butterflies and not one of my pals either. Take care Miss, great to see you here.

  24. Amazing pictures, love your work! Keep it up!
    Hope to see you on my blog as well since I just reactivated it after travelling for seven months and there is loads of new content going to come up soon!

  25. Julie – such a beautiful blog, gorgeous photos and great writing. Really lovely glimpse into life in the country! Love those chickens! 🙂

  26. I’ve been 6 times to the chiropractor in the past two weeks because my lower back (which has been a problem for years) began to really ache when I woke up in the morning. Also neck issues for years. Anyway, the chiro has helped quite a bit. Lovely photos…especially the surfers! I think you’re busier than I am!!

    • I wish I did have some hawthorne berries .. I even put some chilli in my last lot of crabapple jelly. I do try and take care of my back – I’m way better than I used to be. Thanks for stopping by

  27. Love the jellies … came across a chefs tip the other day to rub hands with (olive) oil after handling chillies, then wash – the oil holds the chilly better.

    • Hello .. I’ve missed you!!! I think that would work well with the olive oil. And it just so happens we harvested our own olives this past weekend. LOL Hope you are good … I’m loving our jellies 🙂

      • Thanks Julie – life’s a bit more settled now. I tried yoga for back pain – helps to know exactly what’s wrong first, tho.

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