Category: Garden

Well I must have been tempting fate a bit last weekend with my “it’s been mild” statement. Friday was up to the high 30’s and Saturday came in with a top of 42 in our area! It was harsh. The air conditioner was going most of the day, the dogs napped inside and the poultry got their coop watered more than once. Trying to convince my dear Muscovy Panda to leave her nest while broody was an exercise in futility, but the trust levels are so high that I don’t get nibbled at these days – just a bit of huffing and squeaking (Muscovies don’t adhere to the ‘quacks like a duck’ adage).

Anyway, on to the veggies! I’ve been checking the garden semi regularly and while there seem to be several green tomatoes coming along nicely I’m still without ripe red ones to make myself a Greek salad. A friend from work is taking in some from his father’s garden tomorrow and I’ll be taking some zucchinis as a trade.

As you can see, I had another few hundred grams of Thai chillies. My tiny erstwhile compatriot and garden companion, weary of merely being a fetch and carry assistant, took it upon herself to select a few not quite ripe and blatantly green chillies. She only opens the fridge to get milk out so I’m sure she hasn’t noticed the storage issues I’m currently having!

Jalapeños! These are fairly small and reddened quite early. My plants seem to be producing small jalapeños which I’ll use for pickling and probably some jalapeño jam soon. Bread and butter jalapeños are almost a condiment in this house at the moment, and every jalapeño we grow will be supplemented with stock from a Riverland family that travel to our local market every Sunday.

Here are the first habaneros of the season. The picking of the green ones is a similar story to the Thai chillies, however instead of standing on a strawbale and reaching over, this time Olivia pulled the chicken wire up and pulled off a small branch!

Cucumbers. I was so sad that I didn’t have any a few weeks ago and now I’m wondering what to do with them all. Four plants like the zucchinis, but you know, climbier. It’s getting a bit foresty out there.

What can you really say about zucchinis? They’re crafty, throwing their spiky leaves up to shield their fruit so you only notice a flipping giant specimen because that shady patch looks a little..too..shady? I’ve been pruning their leaves to make locating fruit easier and the chickens have been pleased for the extra greens.

Speaking of spiky! Eggplants! I popped some in the barbeque the other day when Pete was using it, hopefully I can make some baba ghanoush with them. He was smoking with mesquite so I’ll have to see how much flavour they’ve taken on.

And finally, my little plums. I picked these to see how they’re going (apparently still quite tart). Not that it’s stopped Olivia sampling them!

 

Harvest Monday – Welcome back, Summer!

“This time of year in suburban South Australia is generally pretty warm” is a pretty big understatement. We’re normally watching the long range forecasts in the first few weeks of December trying to figure out contingency plans for Christmas Day, working out who’s got a pool or the best air-conditioning and enough space to host a family get together. New Year’s Eve is a similar affair, and a lot of people generally celebrate at the beach.

This last December has felt a lot milder than previous years, which I think is evidenced by the fact I’ve only seen a handful of ripe tomatoes from a now deceased self seeded Sweet Bite (Konrad has a lot to answer for).

Right now, the Thai chillies are winding up;

This took a while to collect and involved co opting Olivia and her toy bucket to help me. I taught her how to use the front of her shirt to carry things and she stole and ate two underripe plums from the tree. It was pretty cute!

I picked these eggplants (but had a little accident and also cut off a branch with NINE flowers blossoming);

And these zucchinis, after a bumpy start with my flowers mostly being female and hand pollinating for a while;

We’re still getting quite a few eggs, and Panda, our Muscovy, is back on the lay so I’ve been giving Pete’s mum eggs to salt for his dad lately too. As soon as Panda starts making that high pitched nesting Muscovy cheep, the chickens know she’s looking for trouble!

I’m going to get to bed now and don’t have time to try and figure out why my images are displaying sideways.

What have you got going on at the moment? Lots in the garden?

Here it is!

It’s been a long time coming. The plants with smaller fruit have been providing little bits here and there, but the bigger guys have been biding their time.

I can’t remember which type they are because I gave the extra seedlings to Pete’s mum, but a couple of summer-weather days has helped a lot!

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Harvest Monday – January 2 2017

What a year 2016 was – as much as I wanted to be in the garden more, I had to learn to garden with a wee one in tow. It’s turned out as I hoped (chubby little hands stealing my tomatoes are the only ones I’ll tolerate) but it has been a learning process. A steep one, that’s included gardening with a certain person on my back, grabbing at plants and throwing me off balance sometimes, but it’s been fun just to see the way she makes a beeline for her favourite things, like pea pods and ripe red tomatoes.

This year, I’m going to try to record what I collect from the garden more diligently – I do know that by this time over the past few years, I was gifting people my excess tomatoes left, right and centre, but so far the season has been slow, and the vegetable patch is full of greenery and unripe fruit.

Sunday January 1

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  • 6 eggs (2 duck, 4 chicken)
  • 1x zucchini 517g
  • 1x bird’s eye chilli
  • 170g tomatoes (112g Sweet Bite, 58g Cherry)

Monday January 2

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  • 4 eggs (1 duck, 3 chicken)
  • 1x cucumber 213g
  • 1x capsicum 135g
  • 150g tomatoes (all Sweet Bite)
  • 1x bird’s eye chili
  • a handful of coriander

This is how I’m having to spot my Sweet Bite tomatoes at the moment – very carefully moving leaves and branches out of the way to look for the rosy red fruit. I only planted two of these plants, but they’re producing really well this year. I’m putting that down to sourcing my seedlings from a local nursery that grows their stock on site, so it’s all acclimated to my local area, as opposed to trucked in stock at the big green box. Next season hopefully I can start my own seeds – I normally have everything except tomatoes, eggplants and peppers from seed, but we weren’t organised enough last year!

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And what have I done with those tomatoes? Well, they’re a reliable snack for Olivia, so I hand them to her when I’m naking dinner. A bunch also wound up with some smoked chicken on pizzas for dinner tonight.

Wherever you are, I hope your garden is producing more heavily that mine!

 

 

 

 

Harvest Monday

Happy Harvest Monday! It’s taken a while, but we’re back in the game in the Southern Hemisphere – an unusually cold and wet Spring saw us only getting the occasional hot day, and I think it’s thrown off the whole garden’s timeframe for everything.

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Yep, this is it so far – about 700g of cucumbers, 200g of peas, and a tiny handful of tomatoes. The eggs are a year round gift from my ladies, who have been joined by a new face – a lovely little red chicken we named Felicia Lay. All names henceforth are to be character/famous lady puns, and since she has stunning red plumage, our newest flock member was named for Felicia Day. Pete commented that he wanted to eat the cucumbers whole, crunchy and fresh from the garden, but I might slice them up for pickle chips if we don’t have salad in the next couple of days. The peas will probably be going straight to Olivia – if I give her them intact she hands them back with some teeth marks after a few moments, but if I hand her the sweet little peas straight from the pod they disappear pretty quickly.

Interestingly, the cucumbers are the only items from the harvest that were from plants placed by me – the peas are from the incredible multitude of pea seedlings that sprang up after I mulched with pea straw (from my normal place, but they must not have threshed the straw properly before baling – it was astonishing! I was pulling out pea shoots by the armful for the girls, and I’ve still got pea tendrils everywhere!) and the tomatoes were from yet another volunteer plant that sprang up, this time in the old wine barrel that my apple tree lives in. That seems to be a handy arrangement, as the tomato is a vining type and I’ve been winding it around the apple’s little limbs.

Speaking of volunteers…

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What are you? I think that this may be a jalapeno, because of the leaves it’s set. As you can see, it’s likely from fruit that dropped from an overhanging limb onto the path between the garden beds. I’m glad I wasn’t being too gung-ho with my weeding or I might have fed this little one to the chickens!

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This is one of the lovely little flowers on a mustard green plant that has a main stalk as tall as I am. I had to gently creep around it earlier today, as the neighbourhood bees were visiting and I had Olivia on my back to get the gardening done. I didn’t manage to catch a decent photo of the little visitors, but they’re from a hive that my neighbours down the street have in their front garden. Hopefully we’ll be able to have bees soon too!

And that gardening I had to do?

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It was mostly trying to give my tomato plants some space. This bed isn’t as pea-infested as my others because I didn’t top-dress the bed with the pea straw, but it did have my over wintered spinach. That’s the whippy looking stuff in the midground of the picture – throwing up seed heads all over the place. I was also glad I put gloves on for once – not one but two large Huntsmen spiders were living in the spinach forest, one of them a female with an egg sac. Ordinarily, I’m the spider saver in this household, telling Pete not to over react when he sees a harmless Huntsman or little garden Orb Weaver, but this time, they gave me the proper heebie jeebies. The largest one galloped off to the side of the garden bed, and I popped the expectant mother on the back fence – as creeped out as they made me today, they have a part to play in my backyard as non-web weaving, pest controllers.

And if they act up, I’ll send for Felicia.

Check out Dave’s link up of Harvest Mondays over at Our Happy Acres!

 

 

Harvest Monday

My harvest this weekend was a bit of a downer – Konrad decided he’s interested in gardening again.

When he was younger, and only half grown, he developed an enjoyment of getting in to garden beds. At that stage, he’d do a bit of damage but he was mostly after eggs that the chickens had laid in clutches that they were hiding from him. Last Friday we had some appointments to go to and when we got home it was to find that one of our wicking beds had been attacked. Initially I thought it was just the wild weather, but seeing as though plants were pulled out roots and all, some just with snapped branches ..it doesn’t seem very likely. Hopefully they’ll be able to recover a bit before Spring rolls around so we don’t have to replace them. And it sure wasn’t our other dog, Sasha, because she can’t jump at all!

I’ll spend the next few days figuring out what to do with all of the chillies that came off of the plant, in addition to the other things we picked once the chilli plants were back in the ground. In addition to the food we picked, I’ve had a half of a huge Queensland Blue pumpkin that mum gave me – I made a curried pumpkin soup and got the filling ready for tortellini with some ricotta I made, as well as a roll filling, the last two with spinach from the garden as well! There are some dill pickles in the fridge for burger nights that I made from some cucumbers that I got from the local farmer’s market, but I haven’t quite got around to using the peaches mum passed on to me from their neighbour’s garden. I did manage to give the lavender a haircut the other day with Olivia’s supervision (she spent her time trying to eat lavender stalks), so I’ve got two jars full of blossoms to use..maybe in some soap.

One thing I will need to do soon – figure out how to use my Malabar Spinach! This one has almost overtaken the bed it’s in and I’m pretty sure I saw another one popping up nearby. We’re also considering a front garden plan now since we had a very fortuitous visit to the library over the weekend..but that’s a story for another day!

Check out Dave’s harvest at Our Happy Acres and then have a look at everyone else’s!

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Harvest Monday

I’m back! I’m finally kicking that nasty ear infection and I’m starting to feel a lot more like myself now. I saw a specialist who confirmed that I had an ear infection and needed antibiotics so I spent the last couple of weeks watching too much TV (Vikings and The Last Kingdom) and cuddling Olivia.

I spent a little bit of time in the garden over the weekend; I picked jalapenos that Pete smoked straight away, lots of cayenne peppers that I’ll dry soon, and checked out my basil forest. The eggplants and capsicums are still going and the greens are going into overdrive so I’ll need to find some hearty, warming recipes for the coming cold weather.

The okra pods I left to mature for more seeds are starting to dry out and a confused little tomato seedling has popped up at the base of my apple tree – Autumn is officially here!

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Harvest Monday

Happy Harvest! This is a little bit late on my part, my garden time has mostly been replaced by sick baby-cuddling time the last few days. Now Olivia appears to be on the mend (or is at least sleeping a little bit better) I got to duck outside to check on things.

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Duck eggs from Panda – they’ve gone into some banana bread this week, a loaf for us and a loaf for my parents, because we had some bananas starting to get a bit too spotty for my liking.

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Jalapenos in the process of ripening, the plants are continuing to produce more flowers, as are a Carolina Reaper and a Poblano Ancho that I have in pots out the front.

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My Cayenne Peppers are coming along nicely now, but I’m a bit worried they’ll ripen at different times…

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New flowers on the Habaneros!

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Okra might produce some funny looking pods, but the flowers are absolutely gorgeous.

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Some little capsicums, lots of tomatoes from my old faithful feral plant, a couple of eggplants that mostly wound up in a veggie pasta sauce that became a pasta bake for Pete to take to work this week (and a couple were whole roasted so I can make some baba ghanoush) and a cute little lemon! The citrus don’t seem to be producing a lot of fruit, probably something to do with a certain German Shepherd who loves to run into things.

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On the left, Jalapeno Hot Sauce, on the right, Ginger Jalapeno Hot Sauce, made from fruit from our garden along with three kilograms (about six pounds) that Pete bought from the markets on Sunday. We’ve also smoked some to turn into chipotle powder and to make some chipotles in adobo ($4 for a tiny can from the shops or make our own and freeze…).

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Bacon and vegetable quiche from late last week..

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and a roasted sweet potato, feta and rosemary quiche from the same night. Making these wound up with me deciding I want to make a coconut condensed milk and almond tart, but I’m not quite there yet. I’m just focussing on getting a bit more sleep (a poor little baby who’s sick and teething isn’t the best sleeper) and giving as many mama cuddles as I can to help her feel a bit more rested.

What have you been up to? I’m linking up with Dave at Our Happy Acres

Tuesday Blues

Do you have those days where you can hardly keep your eyes open and you feel like you’re just treading water?

For some reason, I don’t know how, mine always seem to fall on Tuesdays. Olivia sleeps less on Monday nights, I try and get too many things done at once, and Pete is out of the house at work and school until after nine. Olivia won’t settle for her afternoon nap and hoots at me while she’s feeding and my eyes droop but there’s no chance of a nap.

For some reason I started making lasagne and quiche as though I’ve forgotten that I have a limited amount of time in the kitchen! And I started re-arranging the chicken coop this morning, lifting up and throwing pavers out of the girls’ way so they can investigate the possibility of a bug lunch.

Everything started, nothing finished, I’ll try again tomorrow, hopefully with a bit of sleep and a lot more common sense tucked under my belt.

Harvest Monday

It turns out I was completely wrong about the vegetable patch being done for the season – everything is going through what I can only assume is a final burst before the cold weather sets in;

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The feral tomato plant (which seems to be the third generation of a tomato I planted years ago to have come back) has probably been the most prolific bearer; not all at once like the big fist-sized Romas, but slow and steady every week. The jalapeno plants have still got more fruit on them and flowers as well, but I’m not sure they’ll amount to too much. The eggplants have slowed, and I’m going to try overwintering them – imagine the head start I’ll get if I’m not raising them from seed or tiny seedlings!

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Tiny little habaneros getting ready to change colour

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I think these are cayenne peppers – I’m letting them ripen, then I’ll try drying them.

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Neat little rows of chillies

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Okra and spinach ready for quiches and salads

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Late planted capsicums

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Sneaky greens!

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The feral plant – it sprouted in a corner of this bed at the start of summer and sprawled across the chicken wire. The last plant of this type that grew in the patch was a few beds over and I ended up with one vine that was about ten feet long by the time I pulled it out!

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The ridiculous boy, Konrad.

I’ve also got one broody hen, and two that aren’t providing a lot of eggs – so Panda, our Muscovy duck, has stepped up. I’ve had about 8 eggs from her recently, and five from the chickens – with no idea how best to use duck eggs. Can you substitute them in all recipes? Are they better for certain things? I’ve got no idea..

So, we’re not done quite yet! I’ve got to go through my phone pictures to get an idea of how much I’ve been collecting this last Summer, so I can measure it against next years. Soon!