Value Adding

Today I’ve made some more Tomato Chilli pickles. I think this makes better use of my tomatoes than turning them into passata. Not that they wouldn’t make good passata, but I’m really growing them to eat fresh and then use the remainder of our crop for other tasty treats. To make a reasonable amount of passata I need a much bigger crop than we currently grow. Besides which we can readily buy large quantities of saucing tomatoes at the fruit markets relatively cheaply.

Like any home gardeners we’ve are finding out by trial and error what we can reasonably achieve with what we grow in our garden. While we grow some staples such as potatoes and onions, (do zucchinis count?), we don’t grow enough to last us all year. In fact I’ve just about used up our current crop of onions making sauces.

The biggest ‘gap’ in our current production regime is fruit. We grow soft fruit like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but the plants are small. I’m currently picking and freezing all the fruit from these plants (and they are very small crops) so that we will hopefully have enough to make something with them at the end of the season. (My goal is one decent size jar of strawberry jam). We have planted apple trees but they are struggling just to stay alive in the past two dry summers. So this is one area where we do lots of stocking up on at the Southside Farmers Market. Last Sunday I bought some great plums from one of my favourite suppliers. Each year during the season they bring in variety after variety of plum. As each variety finishes another takes its place. My Sunday selection was rich green Kelsey plums, and Ophir blood plums.

I’ve planted some more bush peas Massey and broad beans Aqua Dulce this week to keep up the momentum on getting our winter crops underway. Our broccoli and purple sprouting broccoli seeds are up and will soon be ready to transplant into bigger pots and then into the garden. We find that our best crops over winter are the brassicas, such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Leafy greens like spinaches and silverbeets, rocket, sorrel and mustard greens provide good side dishes and make tasty bases or additions to soups.

It seems odd to be getting on with winter plantings when the days are sunny and warm but apart from us officially moving into Autumn this week I’d already had advanced warning when all my spring-flowering bulbs which started poking their leaves through the soil several weeks ago.

If you didn’t get to visit the Strizaker Open Garden several weekends ago you may be interested in catching up with an interview on Bush Telegraph with Richard Stirzaker. As is often the case I don’t think that there was enough time given in the interview for Richard to explore any of the themes of his work. This was in part due to the fact that they opened the interview up for calls and then suggested that Richard could answer all sorts of garden questions. Well Richard was somewhat nonplussed when someone rang up and said she didn’t have any luck success growing rhubarb and what could he suggest! Oh well I suppose that’s one of the peril’s of live radio. I think the interviewer realised their mistake and they did suggest a further interview more focussed on the water and land management issues Richard discusses in his book. I would be interested to hear that interview. At least I’ll be able to read his book – that is when it comes back from TB’s side of the bed!

Plums

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