Getting moving!

Mid-afternoon it hit me, OMG I haven’t planted any seeds for summer crops! I’d like to blame it on any manner of distractions, including re-planting the front garden (going pretty well), but I’ve clearly been drifting along these past few weeks.

Wahlenberia, aka 'Native' Bluebell, an established clump enjoying the new soil in the front garden
Wahlenberia, aka ‘Native’ Bluebell, an established clump enjoying the new soil in the front garden

Luckily we have boxes, I do mean it, of seeds so I pulled out some trays and pots and got stuck in. Peas and beans are at the top of the list. Purple Podded Peas, Snow Peas and Lazy Housewife Beansand some White Eggplants. All of theses seeds have come from our own plants so they are well adapted to our garden.

I also planted some Sweetcorn Honey Bicolour that was such a success last year but #### I just checked and confirmed my suspicion that this variety is a hybrid so the seeds will either be sterile or revert to one of the parent stock. So I’ll have to get out some other corns seeds instead. 

Plant labels from old plastic milk cartons
Plant labels from old plastic milk cartons

I made labels for the pots from an old milk container, but couldn’t get my pencil or marker to stay put. I ended up covering the end with masking tape and writing on that. As I worked I settled in to the rhythym of the afternoon, not too hot and a pleasant breeze. I could see House Sparrows moving around the old kale plants, a sure sign that the plants are failing and as they do so attracting insects to their decaying leaves. I also noticed that my Alpine Strawberry already had some fruit – which disappeared shortly after this photo was taken!

Alpine Strawberry with fruit.
Alpine Strawberry with fruit.

I checked out the regular strawberries and found my first ripe fruit of the season there as well. Time to feed the chooks their afternoon scratch and toss the chicks some green weeds to tear apart with their voracious little bills.

Time too to pick young broadbean pods and asparagus from the garden which are joining an eggplant for a Japanese inspired dinner this evening.

Dinner is on the way.
Dinner is on the way.

Happy spring seed raising to you.

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Hot pods!

Selfie with snow peas, the first of the year. Straight into tonight’s dinner.

First pods of spring
First pods of spring

Just remember to keep picking your snowpeas. The more you pick, the more they flower, the longer you get pods to eat. I think that’s a ‘virtuous circle’.

And just because I can. Here is a shot of my rose’s leaves last week. They look like they have been beaded with crystals.

Roses with dew beads - just beautiful.
Roses with dew beads – just beautiful.

Weather

Another day of icy Antarctic blasts after that tempting warm spell late last week. Today we had 37 mms of rain in the gauge so that at least is a positive. The long term forecast is for an El Nino this year so we can expect above average temperatures and a lot less rain. So any soil moisture we can get now, along with run-off into the dams is welcome. On the negative side – the strong winds have torn several holes in the polyhouse roof which will need fixing quite quickly.

Fixing a hole where the rain gets in ...
Fixing a hole where the rain gets in …

Luckily the only seedlings I have in there are tough old brassicas, Kailan (sometimes spelled kailaan), or Chinese Broccoli, which will be able to stand the cold for a while.

Small but tough Kailan seedlings
Small but tough Kailan seedlings

Walking around the garden after the rain I spot some self sown seedlings. Two brassicas, one Red Russian Kale and this Red Mustard – a favourite in salads.

Self sown Red Mustard
Self sown Red Mustard

Saving the best until last, another one of the hen’s started laying today. Which just puts the pressure on the last one to get a move on. Hooray fresh eggs again!

Waking up from my summer torpor

The somewhat shorter and cooler days of Autumn have finally seeped into my brain. Time to stop lying around, avoiding the garden, it’s time to dig in the garden! The change is almost as obvious to me as the impact that those lengthening spring days have. First job, as always, is clearing away the last seasons crops.

At the outset, what's left of the last season's plantings
At the outset, what’s left of the last season’s plantings

There can be no hiding here. There is the only beetroot that survived when I forgot to water the beetroot seedlings on a particularly hot day. The Scarlet Emperor beans have reverted to their normal habit of not re-growing. A lanky stem of Calabrese cabbage is lurking with the odd tuft of leaves at the top. The corn was a success and as for the rest, the flat leafed parley has taken over in the absence of any other crops.

At least the soil is good and easy to turn over. All the spent crops and weeds, barring the parsley, are tossed to ‘the girls’. If you ever doubted the dinosaur origin of these animals just stop one day to watch them use those strong legs to tear into a potential food source!

The girls get stuck into the weeds
The girls get stuck into the weeds

While the girls were cleaning up the weeds I was leveling the garden bed and broadcasting carrot seeds all over. The only plants I left behind were the solo beetroot and the Calabrese cabbage which had several new shoots sprouting from its base. I’ll keep and eye on it and decide whether to keep it or remove it, depending on how those shoots grow.

Cleared and ready to go
Cleared and ready to go

Every year we collect seed from our carrot crop. Over the years the distinct yellow, red and white forms have interbred and produced a vaguely yellow, often white and white tinged with rose coloured roots. And for the record, we never sow our carrots in rows nor do we thin our carrots out. The only time we thin carrots is when we pull them out to eat, starting with baby carrots as long as a little finger. This way we enjoy a massive crop of carrots over several months. The carrots are quite content to keep themselves fresh and tasty in the ground without any help from us. It saves a lot of work!

Having sown the carrot seed we cover it with hessian to keep the seed moist while it germinates
Having sown the carrot seed we cover it with hessian to keep the seed moist while it germinates

The trickiest thing with carrots is to keep the soil moist while they germinate. Over the years we’ve settled on putting some hessian over the top and then making sure we keep the hessian watered until the seed shoots. Here we are a week later and already the seed is sprouting!

carrots3
New carrot seeds sprouting

We’ll keep the seeds moist over the next few weeks, gently lifting the hessian so it continues to act as a sun shelter until the plants really start to take off.

 

At last, my corn has come along! not to mention the tomatoes

It seems an age but our corn is ready to pick and darn yummy with it. Due to our trip in October/November our spring planting was delayed and I had to resort to buying corn seedlings (will I ever be able to live with myself), to get a crop in. Now here it is in all its fully grown splendour, Sweet Honey Bi-colour corn. This is the first time that we’ve grown this variety, (we usually grow Golden Bantam) and I’ve been quite impressed with how it has grown. We have had much better pollination and far fewer gaps in the cobs that we’ve previously experienced. The plants themselves are shorter, but they are still producing plenty of cobs. I’d be happy to go with this variety again next year.

Our Sweet Honey Bi-colour corn, ready for a quick steam and then into our stomachs!
Our Sweet Honey Bi-colour corn, ready for a quick steam and then into our stomachs!

The day I planted the corn seedlings I also planted out tomato seedlings from our friend M. They have also finally started to ripen, although with the rain we’ve been having we are getting quite a bit of blossom end rot – that nasty black patch on the tomatoes’ bottom – you will note that I have carefully designed the photo not to show that bit!.

Ripened tomatoes at last!
Ripened tomatoes at last!

Thankfully our eggplants and zucchini are producing steadily and at least one of our chickens has started laying again. Ah summer bliss.

Grow Your Own #40

Nate and Annie have just posted the collection of Grow Your Own#40 check out the recipes, and Nate’s wonderful composite photo at:
http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/05/grow-your-own-40.html

Now that the southern hemisphere is in autumn the bulk of the entries are coming from the US. However it’s still good to see the Aussies hanging in there! The recipes are great and as varied as ever. I think I’ll be trying out Annie’s Belacan Fried Chicken myself!

Grow Your Own February

The February Grow Your Own entries have now been posted over at the House of Annie. Check out Annie’s Spicy Pork with Curry leaves – that’s one recipe I’ll be trying out.

Nate and Annie will be hosting the March roundup as well, so if you have a dish using homegrown or foraged ingredients, that you’ve posted about this month, they’d love to have you participate. Stay tuned for the announcement!

Simple Saturday Pasta

While not everyone has a big veggie garden most of us, at this time of the year, will have plenty of tomatoes ripening. Here is a simple recipe for using up some of those less than perfect tomatoes, a Simple Saturday Pasta with tomato sauce. You can see from the photo that the ingredients are few and basic. All the produce I needed for this dish came from our garden. No amounts will be given, you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself, this version was for two people and it was a medium sized serve (about 140gms of spiral pasta)

Chop up your onions and garlic and soften in some olive oil, let it cook while you chop your basil and tomatoes (TB says my version could have used a LOT more basil – so feel free to bump the amount up). Add the tomato and basil to the saucepan and grind in pepper and salt to your taste. Now put your pasta water on and once it comes to the boil cook your pasta. By the time the pasta has cooked your sauce should be right to go.

Feel free to embellish this recipe by adding any other veggies or herbs that you have to hand. Buono appetito!

I’ve entered this recipe for Grow Your Own #39 competition, hosted by Annie and Nate at the House of Annie, and sponsored by Andreas Recipes. This is a regular event that recognises those who are blogging out there about growing, foraging or hunting and gathering their own food. Go for it, put in an entry, one per blog.

PastaingredTomato_pasta

Grow your own results are in

The results of grow your own # 38 have been posted. Nate says that with 61 entries, this may be a record for participation! To check out all the contributions pop over to http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/02/grow-your-own-roundup-38.html
The team at Chez Annie will be back again for the February competition – you blog, you can participate. The next time you post about cooking something you’ve raised / grown / harvested / foraged, remember to submit it to the GYO roundup. Keep an eye out on either the House of Annie site or Andrea’s Recipes for the next GYO announcement.

Happy Blogaversary!

Well I’m excited. Three months of blogging and I’m still going!

Thanks to Variegated’s suggestion (http://variegated.posterous.com/) I’ve entered the Grow Your Own competition, sponsored by Andreas Recipes, http://www.andreasrecipes.com/gyo/, and for January 2010 hosted by Annie and Nate at the House of Annie, http://chezannies.blogspot.com/. This is a regular event that recognises those who are blogging out there about growing, foraging or hunting and gathering their own food. Stay tuned and I’ll give you an update when I find out the results in a few days time.

We had a great day on Australia Day, after going out picking blackberries in the morning (more of this in a separate post) we came home and had a great time preparing a fantastic meal for dinner. We picked so many types of veggies that I’ve taken two photos to get them all in. The first photo includes our Warrigal Greens, peas, both Green Feast and Sugar Snap, radishes and Blackberries waiting to go into a pie. The second shows zucchinis, carrots onions and garlic. Don’t you just love the brilliant colour on the inside of those purple carrots. Finally they got turned into roasted veggies, creamed Warrigal Greens (recipe from Tukka: Real Australian Food by Jean-Paul Bruneteau, Angus & Robertson 1996), steamed peas and a Turkey Roll stuffed with lots of things including pepitas. TB had the good sense to buy up and freeze all that turkey the shops were selling off after Christmas.

PS I even managed to make jam from the 70gms of strawberries that the snails and slaters didn’t beat me to!

Vegs1_janVegs_janCarrotsAusday_feastStrawjam