Saturday, January 26, 2013

How does my garden grow?

It's the end of January, so here's an update on the awesome delicacies growing in my patch at the moment. I've been blown away by the way a bit a lot of TLC makes growing veg here in summer a productive pastime. Even with those blistering southerlies we've had in the last few weeks. I love shade cloth!!
eggplant stirfry, yum!

Eggplants have been a big part of my diet for the last month. Being creative with the cooking options is the only way to prevent boredom. Thai curried eggplant is a bit of a favourite, then there's a big bake up with pumpkin, carrots, tomato, onions and garlic, and lots of herbs. When the new batch of tahini arrives I'll be whipping up some baba ganough, and then there's my absolute favourite middle eastern dish called "The priest fainted" (but they mean imam not priest duh!): baked stuffed eggplant with cinnamon and sultanas. This dish converts any hardened meat eater or aubergine sceptic without fail! Manna from heaven.

There are a few beasties in the eggplant patch. Caterpillars have pillaged the lettuce seedlings and are munching their way through many of the egg fruits. I have a live and let live policy in my garden, as long as the blighters leave enough for me to eat, they can share the bounty. Meanwhile, I have oodles of wonderful birds visiting, who quite like munching on big fat juicy caterpillars thank you. I'm so used to all my bird visitors I only really notice their great abundance when my friends point it out. And when they decide to wander into the house from the verandah.....

okra seedling amongst the eggies
I collected a lot of lettuce seed from my last crop, and threw the rest of the seed stalks all around the garden, so I've huge patches of lettuce seedlings sprouting everywhere. Which is why I'm not fussed about the decimation in the eggplant patch. I'm harvesting the larger seedlings for my salad lunches as a way of thinning out the sheer abundance. I've also learnt that growing spinach any time but winter isn't possible. It really does need cold weather, not just shade, water and TLC! I've heaps of seed left, so I'll start sowing again in March or April.

I have chillies ripening in abundance. I've made curry paste, sweet chilli sauce, and the freezer is full of big bags of them waiting for my next recipe. I'd love to give some away, but it appears most people I know don't quite have my obsession to heat!
lotsa lettuce!
The cucumber plants are giving me a semi regular supply of juicy crunch, and I shall probably sow a few more seeds this weekend to get some new plants going. I've just transplanted a couple of zucchini seedlings and okra plants this week so I'm looking forward to harvesting them in a month or two.
cucumber plants heading skyward
Tomatoes are now fruiting, and the pumpkin plants are going mad with new growth, though I haven't seen any new fruit as yet. Just the greenery is such a lovely calming sight in the garden anyway, along with those happy yellow flowers and the bees buzzing around.
lotsa greenery, where's the fruit?
The passionfruit and grape vines seem to have put on a bit of a growth spurt, so they need tying up to the support so they can one day cover the vege pergola. Every gardener needs to practice patience...

The watermelon plants are growing happily, pushing out these quite cute little flowers, but no fruit buds yet. Again, patience...
self seeded cherry toms, my favourite!
The citrus are all heavily infested with curling leaf miner, which is proving a little difficult to control. A lot of leaf removal is about all I can do at the moment, because spraying with oil when the temperatures are so high will prevent leaf respiration, and I'm not about to kill my plants in the process! Yes I know it looks like I'm not practicing the live and let live policy here, but I tried that and they bloody took advantage so it's now time to redress the balance. You don't mess with me, little bugs....
capsicum, zucchini, okra, carrot, cucumber, parsley, lettuce, chives, and a lemon tree!
My TLC has resulted in the lime actually producing fruit this year, or rather, not ending up with fruit drop. I think when the first fruit is ready for picking I shall just have to force myself to make a Mojito to celebrate! And of course I'll use home grown mint..
this one's got mojito written all over it!
The kangkung continues to grow in its tub, and is regularly harvested for yummy stir fries. George (one of my neighbours) brought over a dollop of frog spawn last week and now I have hundreds of little tadpoles chomping away on the mosquito wrigglers. I've stuck a bit of wood in the tub so they have a way to escape when they get around to growing legs and lungs. Hopefully by then I'll have a real pond.

I've a few papaya seedlings growing away in the tropical patch up the north side of the house, where I've a had a pretty big failure with planting some kiwi vines. The male plant still seems to be alive, but the female looks dead. I kinda knew I was pushing shit uphill on that one in this climate...

Win some, lose some, that's the gardener's lot

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