Some light in the winter dark

We may have passed the shortest day of the year, but here in Canberra we still have quite a bit of winter still to live through. Like my garden I’m slowly coming to life again.

On the weekend we read in the Sydney papers that now was the time to start tomato seeds. In Canberra tomato seeds would be facing this prospect with all the ‘excitement’ of a small child being forced into a cold swimming pool. Here it’s not going to happen unless you have a warm space inside to protect your seeds.

On the other hand our broad beans, which were planted very late this season have now stuck their leaves up out of the ground.

Young broadbeans making an appearance
Young broadbeans making an appearance

My friend M who was far better organised this year actually has pods on her broadbeans!

The new front garden has survived, to some degree the vicissitudes of the people doing the guttering and roof repairs, but the ongoing frosts have really had a big impact on my smaller plants. Just how bad the damage is can’t be fully assessed for another two months when chances of frost have passed, when I can see what will re-shoot and what will need pulling out.

TB’s wasabi plants are growing away quite happily and the citrus trees will shortly be having a new lot of potting mix in their pots ready for growing away into spring.

Wasabi is growing well in our cold climate, under the protection of the tree canopy
Wasabi is growing well in our cold climate, under the protection of the tree canopy

My first hellebore flower has opened.

My first Hellebore flower (well the plant did it really!)
My first Hellebore flower (well the plant did it really!)

But best and most promising of all, our boss hen has started laying eggs again. So far we’ve had one every second day. Let’s hope the other two hens get the message soon!

There is no such thing as a gratuitous chicken photo!
There is no such thing as a gratuitous chicken photo!
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Everything Green Soup

You may recall in my recent diatribe against radishes that I mentioned Radish Leaf Soup, well I actually made some last week (see the picture). The recipe I had was a dead ringer for my favourite sorrel soup recipe. Dice some potatoes and cook them in stock until tender slice up the sorrel [leave it raw] and stick in the blender, pour over the cooked potatoes and stock and give it a whiz. Reheat to bring eating temperature. Well I can’t say that it was a revelation. It was a good soup, but to my mind lacked the zing I expected from the leaves of radishes. It had none of that peppery bite I anticipated, although a bit came through when we re-heated the left-overs the next day.
Yesterday we decided on even more green soup (as an aid to remedy New Year’s indulgences), but this time we added as many green things we could find in the garden into the mix. Several small zucchinis, sorrel, radish leaves, radishes, komatsu, parsley, basil and a few milk thistle leaves made up the green base along with an onion. The only difference was that in our everything green soup we sauteed an onion and the sliced radish leaves together, before doing the blender move. The mix had a few strings (don’t forget to cut the ribs out of the sorrel) so it was sieved before some milk was added to thin it out. Then TB had a great idea – he served the soup and then added a dob of wasabi. We used purewasabi from New Zealand, not the lurid green paste you generally get, www.coppersfolly.co.nz [possibly bought at Edelweiss Woden but can’t be sure]. The company offers direct mail order, including shipping than is cheaper than the local purchase price. That hit the spot. Of course you can add a little wasabi, or none at all depending on how much heat you like.
Speaking of green things I’ve included a photo I took this morning of the leaves of our Trombone Marrow, a freebie from the seed company along with part of our order that couldn’t be filled earlier in the year. Just check out the string of water beads around the edge of the leaf.

RadsoupEverygreenTrom