Travel diaries- Paris

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I have spent the last 4 days in bed sick with the flu, and I’m feeling pretty awful right now. So i really haven’t felt up to blogging.

But thought that it might be a good time to share some photos from my trip to Paris with you!

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No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip to Laduree. This macaroon was to die for….i was tempted to order another. This was a raspberry macaroon with rosewater cream and fresh raspberries inside.

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The cafes in Paris were just beautiful!! If only i had these cafes in Zurich. I love all the pastries, cakes and baguettes. Swiss don’t do baguettes unfortunately!

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How to store spring bulbs

Wait at least six weeks after flowering before cutting back or mowing dead bulb foliage when it is yellow and straw-like.

Don’t tie or knot bulb leaves, this reduces air flow and encourages fungal disease.

While the foliage is still green, feed and water the bulbs to bulk them up for next year. Apply a general-purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore (1 oz per square yard), to bulb borders if not done earlier. In containers, apply high-potassium liquid feed.

Remove spent flower heads to prevent bulbs spending energy on seed production (unless you want seed).

Only lift and store bulbs where practical. Those in grass, or coming up through shrubs or perennials may be left in the garden or pots while dormant.

Once foliage has died down, lift and clean bulbs. Trim back roots and the outer layers of flaking covering. Discard damaged bulbs.

Lay the bulbs on a tray to dry for 24 hours and then dust lightly with sulphur (from garden centres) to help prevent fungal rots developing. Put bulbs in labelled paper bags or nets and store them in a dry, cool place.

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My tasty breakfast loaf

Okay, okay, so its not exactly MY breakfast loaf even though i like to think of it like that. I make it so often, it actually don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore!

It really is one of my favourite things to bake. It is by one of my favourite Aussie chefs – Bill Granger.

This loaf is really very simple and can be made on a weekend to be used for the week ahead. I sometimes bake it and cut a few slices for the next few days and then freeze the rest. It freezes amazingly well.

I eat it lightly toasted with cream cheese (or ricotta) and a drizzle of honey.

Ingredients 

– 50g rolled oats

– 300ml milk

– 240g self raising flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 125g dried cherries (at times i can have problems getting these, so i replace them with dried cranberries)

– 50g sliced dried apples

– 75g soft brown sugar

– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1 egg, lightly beaten

– 3 tablespoons honey

– 3 tablespoons roughly chopped almonds

 

Method 

Put the oats in a bowl, pour the milk over them and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

Lightly grease and line a 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) loaf tin with baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the rolled oats, dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon, honey, egg and almonds. Mix together well.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top and sprinkle with the extra almonds. Bake the loaf for 45 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and cooked through.

Leave it to cool a little in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Toast and serve with ricotta and honey.

 

Please excuse my not so fantastic photos. The light is not great in my apartment and these were only snapped with my iPhone!!

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photo 1  photo 3

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How to pot and divide orchids

Repotting a cymbidium orchid

Best time to divide and re-pot orchids is when the they begin to crowd out of their pot and quality of the flower show drops.

Southern Hemisphere- October/November is an ideal time to divide.

Northern Hemisphere- April/May is an ideal time to divide.

This is not a difficult task:

1. Remove the orchid from the pot and inspect the root ball

2. If the roots are thick and matted you may wish to trim the bottom of the root ball

3. Living, healthy roots should be left alone. They are white in appearance with yellow/green almost translucent growing tips.

4. Remove the dead brown coloured roots. Cutting should be kept to a minimum- one long, clean, sharp cut is best.

5. Back bulbs (the dry looking bulbs at the back of the plant) are usually removed. Simply screw them out with a quick twist. If you wish you can replant these bulbs, and they may produce one more plant before they die.

6. Re-pot into a pot only slightly larger then the existing one. There should be only a 25mm gap between the edge of the rootball and the edge of the pot. Most growers recommend plastic pots over terracotta as plastic holds more moisture.

7. Fill the gap with a good quality orchid potting mix.

8. Water the plant well.

 

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Dividing a cymbidium orchid

If dividing as well as repotting your orchid:

1. Examine the plant carefully, its usually quite obvious where to divide the root ball. A minimum of three bulbs per new plant.

2. Break the plant into the desired sections. Cutting a small amount of the root ball may make this process easier.

3. Remove back bulbs and dead or damaged roots.

4. Plant each division in a new pot with the area where the back bulbs were removed against the inside of the pot (this is because orchids grow in one direction)

5. Fill the pot with good quality orchid potting mix, bark and water well.

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Orchid potting mix

A good orchid potting mix is essential to the plants well being. It requires excellent drainage and good air movement. The basics of a good potting mix are:

1. Free flowing with good air movement around the roots.

2. Free draining. Orchids won’t tolerate water sitting around the root ball

3. Fine enough to prevent the leaching of nutrients

4. Coarse potting mixes dont retain as much moisture as fine ones, so a delicate balance between the two is required.

5. The potting medium mix must also act to anchor and support for the plant and its roots.

6. Popular ingredients in orchid mix include: pine bark, peat, coarse sand and polystyrene.

7. Good quality potting mix are available at all good nurseries. Make sure you use them!

 

What to do in the garden this month – August

Southern Hemisphere

1. Sow capsicums and chillis

2. Sow snapdragons

3. August is an important month for fertilising before Spring arrives. You can feed each species of plant specifically but a feeding of Blood and Bone or Dynamic Lifter is also great for your garden. Citrus will particularly love a feed of Dynamic Lifter.

4. Finish rose pruning. Cut back Camellias and trim ornamental grass clumps.

5. Watch out for aphids on new growth. To keep them under control you can use Pest Oil or for an organic approach then soapy water works well.

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Northern Hemisphere

1. August is usually the hottest month of the year (although here in Zurich its been raining a lot over the past few weeks – depressing!) But if its hot where you are then make sure your plants are getting enough water.

2. Prune Wisteria

3. Deadhead flowers often

4. Fertilise your annuals

5. Stay on top of the weeds

6. Now is a good time to refresh your strawberry beds. The plants are forming the buds that will be next year’s strawberries. It is best to till around the plants to create a row of plants about a foot wide. Do this by digging out the runners on the sides.

Delicious strawberries ripening on the plant at an organic strawberry farm