In the Mix

You’d probably think that with the onset of winter we would be settling down inside our warm house with some interesting garden reading – but TB isn’t having a bar of that! Last weekend it was out with the wheelbarrow and rake and off for a short walk to a nearby park to collect leaves for our compost heap.

Canberra’s urban parks provide an almost endless bounty of fallen leaves, and often as an added bonus piles of grass cuttings, that are there just waiting to be collected. Think of it as a community service! Several large bags of leaves later we returned home ready to employ that most useful pieces of garden equipment, the lawn mower, to cut our leaves and a big pile of dead plants and weeds into smaller pieces suitable for compost pile building. We also added lots of veggie scraps from the work kitchen (which produces 5-6 kilos of compost each week), some pelletised chook poo, blood and bone and potash. When completed we had a pile of just over a cubic metre. Just what we need to get some good compost ready for the spring garden.

While TB was building the pile I was busy cleaning up and harvesting some water chestnuts. Eash year we grow these plants as an annual saving some corms each winter and storing them over winter (in water in a container in our fridge).

The first step is to turn out the large plastic tub they grow in.


Then slowly pick through the soil and pick out all the little corms.


Our harvest this year was no where near as agood as last years. We think this is due in part to the overall cooler summer temperatures and to some degree of not feeding them regularly (TB was much better about this last year).

I also picked through our styrofoam boxes of potatoes, almost our last to be harvested, and came up with quite a decent amount.


With such fresh potatoes to play with we decided to have some sorrel and potato salad with our dinner. Having planted two small pots of sorrel when we first started the garden we now have a year round supply. Its slight lemony flavour is great in soups and with scrambled eggs. As it is a perennial plant you need to place it where it can grow happily away without being distrubed.

This recipe came from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and is dead simple. Scrub your potatoes, cut them to your preferred eating size, then cook them (steam or boil it doesn’t really matter). In the mean time rinse your sorrel leaves to remove grit and anything else from the garden, cut out the central rib, which can be very stringy, and cut the remaining leaves into broad ribbons. When the potatoes are cooked drain the water and return the potatoes to the hot saucepan, add several knobs of butter and the sorrel leaves. Put the lid back on the saucepan and swirl everything around to mix. Leave it for about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper and serve.


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