A tale of two squash

There is just no telling what plants will and will not grow and thrive in your garden. Take these two squash plants.


Both were grown from the same batch of seeds, planted at the same time, in the same seedling mix and transplanted into the garden bed on the same day. Who knows why this happens? The one on the left is constantly under attack by snails and slugs and the other one has suffered no where near the same amount of damage.

BIG OOPS hereWe have subsequently found out that the fruit shown below are NOT ‘Wrinkled from friuli’  as I had thought, but some odd ‘changeling’ squash which has originated from heavens knows where

 Out in the back garden, in yet another bed, plants from the same batch of seedlings are galloping away, as only squash can.


We’ve already started picking the fruit of these plants. These fruits are very young and we’ve been treating them like young zucchini.


The real ‘Wrinkled from Friuli’ (Zuchetta rugosa friulana) seed can be purchased from the Italian Gardener. It looks just like this, just like the packet said it would.


Drink it all in

Homemade brews are frequently considered suss, but there is no need to be embarassed in making and serving drinks these drinks made from your garden.

This year I’ve had lots of red roses flowering so I’m  making Sally Wise’s Sparkling Rose Petal drink, from her book A Year in a Bottle. Nothing challenging about it really – apart from finding 300gms of rose petals, but if there aren’t enough petals I just make up the amounts proportional to the petals I have available. Here is how it looks when its being made, sugar dissolved in hot water, two lemons cut up and the rose petals along with two tablespoons of vinegar and some more cold water:


This is the day its made, all waiting to go. Two days later after steeping at room temperature under the cover of a clean tea towel the mix is ready to be strained and bottled.


Yes the pink colour of the roses does stay in the finished drink. A few days of fermentation (PET bottles are recommended to avoid unpleasant explosions) and you are ready to go.

I made the sparkling rose with lemons from our friend’s tree. Given that I still had another bag of lemons left I thought I’d have a go at making some lemonade. Of course Sally has a recipe for that as well. Just before the lemonade recipe in the book is one for Minted Lemon Syrup, so putting the two together I’ve now made minted lemonade which is just fantastic. I added two cups worth of chopped mint to Sally’s recipe – no other changes necessary.

Here’s cheers!


Changes at Gardening Australia

I know it must be true ’cause I read it in the newspaper (and I did check on the ABC website), that Costa Georgiadis (Costa’s Garden Odessey SBS ) is on the move and he’s moving to host Gardening Australia on the ABC!

That should be a bit of a shock for Aunty. From what I’ve read in the Sydney Morning Herald there is some speculation that some of Costa’s more interesting segments, such as ‘Pimp my Plant’ and ‘Zen Shed’ may make the transition as well.Hm, we’ll wait and see.

The two drawbacks I can see from this are: there will be one less good gardening show on our airwaves; and the new series of Gardening Australia won’t start until 24 March 2012!

Sunday Lunch

At this time of the year there are plenty of ‘social’ events happening out there, but to my mind catching up with family and close friends is the best. This weekend my cousins’ family came over for lunch.

TB wanted to concentrate on using our own garden produce so with that in mind we started looking at what was to hand. At first it seemed that there wasn’t much to offer (unless you wanted to eat broad beans!), so TB started on different veggie ideas. We also took into account what was in our freezer so a blackberry pie using the last of this year’s crop was an easy choice.

The freezer also yielded spinach for creamed spinach and some horseradish.The latter was used, along with some cooked apple to make a tasty sauce for our corned meat, which had come from my sister’s beef cattle.

We had garlic that was picked during the week so that went into the roasting pan.


We were thinking about other sides to go with the meat and and with a quick ‘bandicoot’ into some of our styrofoam boxes we came up with some new season Dutch Creams and Pink Eyes.


Rather than roast them we decided to make a potato salad with wilted sorrel, just about my favourite easy salad recipe courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. TB also made an onion tart, using up the last of our Yondover goats cheese as part of an entree platter.


However his greatest stroke of genius came when he remembered all those zucchinis flowering away in the back garden.


Stuffed with some mince and herbs and then deep-fried they made a great contribution to the platter for starters.


Well as you might imagine we were all rather full by the time we ate all of of this. While the adults rested with a drink in the shady part of the garden, the youngest family member found some yummy raspberries to eat and was distracted by looking around the garden to find where the cat was sleeping.

All in all an excellent day was had by us all – and we didn’t need to eat for a long time afterwards!


Garden re-boot

It’s harvest time at Chez Fork. The past week has been devoted to picking what’s left of our current crop of peas, beans and garlic.

The purple podded peas are all dried out, way beyond being eaten fresh, so I’ve harvested them to use in soup next winter.


This photo was taken just half way through the podding so I was pleased to ultimately get about 400gms of dried peas. A much better harvest than when I grew them last year.

The broad beans which have been so productive again this year are now in.


The fresher beans, the ones in the right-hand bowl and the right-hand side of the trug will be podded, then blanched and frozen for use throughout the rest of the year. The ones that have already started to dry have been podded and place on racks to dry – again for soup and casseroles.


As you can see from the picture TB has also started harvesting the garlic, which is looking very good.

Well now that the initial rush of spring produce has just about petered out we are contemplating what comes next. Being away those few crucial weeks in October and November meant that we didn’t get our planting continuity happening. So, (oh the shame of it!), we went and bought some seedlings to get our next crops underway. In this case it is Blue Lake climbing beans, next to the stakes and bush beans further along the row.


We were also given a lovely egg-plant plant (if that makes sense) by one of our friends to go with  purchased Lebanese egg-plant seedlings. I did get some seeds underway at the same time I bought the seedlings and it looks like they are catching up already.


On the left are Soldacki Clinbing Tomatoes (Lost Seed Company), a Polish variety which reportedly has a shorter time to fruiting than other tomatoes – and yes I also was tempted as I had never heard of climbing tomatoes before. On the right are Purple Amethyst Climbing Beans (Vilmorin). I bought these seeds while I was in Tassie and they are new varities for me. Now I just need to find that perfect spot to put them.

Having pulled out the broad beans there should be a place for the egg plants and tomatoes at least. Those beans might just find a home where our now very tough and leggy celery plants are being pulled out.