Friday, December 7, 2012

Garden notes, Dec 2012

One of the most enjoyable things about not working has been nurturing the vege garden, and eating the fruits of my labour. It's awesome being able to walk outside and pick what I'm having for each meal. Add eggs, or some chick peas or lentils and rice, and that's it. Sure I have to buy in dry goods groceries, but mostly, I'm eating out of the garden.

Let me show you around what's growing right now.

The eggplant (aubergine) plants are fruiting nicely. The other night I made a baked eggplant dish with onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, star anise, paprika and chickpeas. I quickly rushed outside to snip a capsicum off the bush to add a crunchy bit of greenery. Yummo!

I've quite a few self seeded pumpkin plants this year, due to my previous habit of throwing out the seeds in the compost. These days I dry fry the seeds with salt and spices for a very yummy snack, or add them to another dish: last night it was baked pumpkin with chickpeas and quite a bit of chilli. I've just seen a nice pumpkin and lentil curry soup recipe, so I think I'll make that this weekend.
 My love of asian food means I grow quite a few asian herbs, spices and veges. I'll take you on a bit of a tour:

This is kangkung, or water spinach. I bought some from the farmers markets, kept back a few stalks and planted them in a pot, which then sits in another tub full of water. Once the pond is up and running I'll pop it in there. There are a few mossie wrigglers in the tub at present, just waiting for a promised donation of a goldfish to turn up to decimate them!

I bought a mixed seedling pack of different chilli varieties a year or so ago, and some have done well, others not so. I've actually forgotten what's what, so my chilli dishes are often more, or less, hot than I'm expecting. Even with my usual chilli input of at least two per dish, I'm more often disappointed in the lack of heat than the other way around. My chilli palate is so far outside the realm of almost anyone I know that I usually only serve chillies on the side when I have guests. Anyway, with all those chillis in the garden I've got even more self seeding and new plants popping up all over the place.

Lemongrass is one of my favourite herbs, but must be foreign to Estonian house sitters, because all four plants had disappeared when I returned from New Zealand, I presume pulled out as weeds. Luckily, due to an ongoing divide and share policy with the lemongrass plant from next door, I now have a new plant thriving.

The Kaffir lime is putting on more leaves, but I've had to spray it for citrus leaf miner, which does dreadful damage if not kept under control. I found a biological oil to use rather than petroleum. No sign of fruiting yet though.

While we're on fruit, the dragon fruit plants are all thriving. I think next year should be my first year to expect fruit. Although the fruit look great, they don't really taste of much, which is a pity, but I love the plant itself for its architectural beauty regardless. I've got both red and white fruit plants growing, lets see which delivers first!

The mango is liking its spot in the front yard. It's a more practical position than up in the backyard because I can nurture and protect it from the winds and pests. It had a touch of scale which needed some removing and spraying too. New growth this week, so I'm happy.

The asparagus is over for the year. A small crop this season saw me having a few asparagus and chive omelettes for breakfast. Am hoping for a much bigger supply next year.

By the time I got back from NZ the spinach had all gone to seed, so I collected it, and planted out some. I plan to do successive plantings over the next few months and get some greenery for salads. If I grow it in the shadier spots, hopefully it will survive long enough.

I planted a few more carrots when I got home in September, but am still harvesting from a crop sown earlier this year. The quality and taste of home grown carrots is by far superior to anything you buy in a shop. And you get some pretty whacky shapes as well!!

I'm between tomato crops at present, with lots of new self seeded plants popping up here and there and being transplanted into position. I've a few older plants which have only green fruit at present, so I should be back in supplies in a couple of weeks.

I've one surviving zucchini plant, which is being a little slack at producing fruit, so I may need to get out the paintbrush and do some fertilising. Given the amount of insects in my garden it's surprising that I'd have to resort to this, but I do love a zucchini and mushroom quiche...

I've lettuce plants coming out my ears. Most have gone to seed, and I'll be deadheading and collecting seed this weekend. Again, successive seeding seems to be the best approach.

I'm trying cucumbers again. The growers at the market have advised me to only grow them in shade, apparently they just curl up in the sun. I've grown them before, but can't remember whether they were well shaded or not, so we'll see how they go, as my shade moves throughout the day.

Last week I planted watermelon seeds, and the little seedlings have emerged. They're a variety that produces small fruits that fit nicely in the fridge veg drawer, so I'm looking forward to them in a few months.
I've recently struck some mint cuttings, again from herbs bought at the market so, along with my myriad supplies of Italian parsley, I shall be eating Tabouli forever! I also have okra seeds, one of my favourite vegetables for adding to curries so they shall be sown this weekend also.

I've not yet resurrected the chook run to make it safe against fox attacks and get some new hens, so I'm still buying eggs. They're local free range eggs from up the road, so I'm at least doing the right thing ethically. But hopefully by this time next year I'll have chooks again, and my own eggs.

Anyway, it's lunchtime, time to go enjoy some home grown food! Bon appetit!!

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