We have a new addition here at Mist Cottage. He is Fredrick, the Garden Shrew. Of course Fredrick may well be a Fredricka, but we will never know, so Fredrick it is.

When I first detected Fredrick’s presence, I panicked. He is a very small black furry streak of fur. I saw him scurrying from the hugelkultur to the garlic bed in the garden. My first thought was, “oh no, another competitor for our food supply!”

As time has gone on though, and the garden has been growing, Fredrick has taken no interest in our garden plants. To find out just what sort of creature Fredrick was, I consulted the internet. By the process of elimination, and increasing accurate description on my my part, I decided that Fredrick was indeed a Northern Short-tailed Shrew. And rather than a competitor for our food, he is here to assist us with maintaining a healthy, balanced garden. It eats “small quantities of subterranean fungi and seeds, though it is mostly carnivorous. It prefers insects, earthworms, voles, snails, and other shrews for the bulk of its diet, though salamanders and mice are also eaten.” Fredrick is however, venomous. We do not anticipate ever being bitten by him, he avoids us entirely. His venom would cause some swelling and discomfort, but it would not be life threatening to a human. It will however be quite effective on mice or voles.

Since Fredrick moved to Mist Cottage we have caught only one mouse, and Attila has been able to keep ahead of the insects that devour our beans, peas, and brassicas. The earthworms will, of course, be missed, but that is a small price to pay for such an ally in the garden.

I LOVE Kohlrabi. We grew it for the first time last year because we received a free packet of seeds without seed order. I cook it i the Instant Pot with the Potatoes, then mash as usual. The advantage of Kohlrabi is that it has a lot less starch in it, and a lot more roughage in it, than potatoes. What really won us over to mixing our Potatoes with Kohlrabi is the taste. We love the taste. The leaves however are the toughest leaves I’ve encountered in the garden. Last year I told Attila that we could use them to shingle the roof!

Kohlrabi plant, purple.
The earliest variety of Kohlrabi is ready for harvest. We eat the bulbs cooked and mashed like potatoes. They are delicious when combined with mashed potatoes. The leaves are tough customers, could be used for shingling the roof. The Instant Pot brought them round though, tender enough to eat!

Every year we become more self-sufficient. This year we have been experimenting with the leaves and stems of the Kohlrabi, so as not to waste all those edible greens. The Instant Pot came to the rescue, as it can with difficult cuts of meat, and difficult vegetables. We cooked the stems for five minutes, then added the leaves and cooked for another five minutes, then packaged and froze them. We had to try it though, in a few recipes, to see if it was at all palatable.

The first recipe tried was Mongolian Chicken with Rice. This is a heavily spiced rice dish prepared in the Instant Pot. Usually three cups of frozen mixed vegetables are added. This time one cup of our frozen Kohlrabi stems and leaves, chopped, and two cups of frozen mixed vegetables were added. We loved it! Somehow the Kohlrabi enhanced the sweetness of other vegetables, and intensified the spices that were added.

The second recipe tried was Tuna Noodle Casserole. This is prepared in the Instant Pot, and again, three cups of frozen mixed vegetables are usually added. As with the Mongolian Chicken dish, one cup of the frozen Kohlrabi was used. It seemed to make no difference at all to the taste of the dish. The Kohlrabi leaves were tender, but we decided that they needed to be chopped finer.

Thus far we have two dishes that we eat regularly through the winter months, that will allow inclusion of leafy greens. We will be eating the leafy greens that would otherwise have gone into our compost bin. This is another opportunity to stick to local produce during the winter months.

Monday we had a intense thunderstorm storm. The came came down in buckets, filling our rain tanks with 2000 liters of water, and watering the garden at the same time. The lightening flashed, the thunder roared, the wind howled. The rain was driven up under the roof of the porch, causing us to make a hasty retreat into the house. The electric power faltered once, then came back on and stayed on. That was the end of heat wave we had been experiencing. Today the temperature is cool, the skies are grey, and the breeze comes through our open windows. I love have the windows open.

Pandemic Thoughts

Last week I had a mild cold. The issue at present with having a cold, is that it could be a mild case of Covid-19. We wanted to be sure, so we were both tested, twice, and all tests were negative. The test is rather unpleasant, but it is fast and painless. We were quite relieved at the good outcome. I do not know where I could have picked up a cold though, seems unlikely, but there they were, the headache, runny nose, and sneezing.



Updated on Wed, Jul 7, 4:25 PM
17 °C
Wind 16 NE
km/h Humidity 68 %
Visibility 25 km
Sunrise 5:31 AM
Wind gust 24 km/h
Pressure 101.6 kPa
Ceiling 10000 m
Sunset 8:53 PM


“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.”
Dorothy Day
1897 – 1980

A woman after my own heart!

That is what I dislike about social media, you cannot SEE what people are actually doing, you are just taking their word for it.

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Will we get a photo of Fredrick? I think we have those here and I saw one once whilst sitting on the front porch.