Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Harvest Monday, December 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Harvested, took photos, went on Christmas holidays, forgot to post. Posting now!

Capsicum (sweet peppers):
Capsicum

Two small capsicums. These went into a chilli dish I made whilst in the outback over Christmas.

Blueberries:
Blueberries

Soybean seeds, blue butterfly peas, and purple tomatillos planted in November didn’t survive me going away. Purple “sapphire” seed potatoes and “midnight specials” potatoes have sprouted greenery. The greenery has (sort of) survived some 40 + degree days (104 F). It has been hot.

I have harvested one full warre box of honey, about 6 frames (6/8) from a second box. This is probably about 20kg worth of honey, unknown amount of beeswax.

Look at them apples:
Apples

I have had an incredible amount of pollination this year on my columnar (ballerina) apple trees. I shouldn’t have over 20 apples growing from a pot. I think because of the drought this year, there has been less in flower/less of a nectar flow elsewhere & since these are well watered I got A LOT of pollination.

We are now in “stage 2” water restrictions, with the main dams for Sydney at just of 40% capacity & a lot of bushfires going on (which needs water to fight them). Sydney is basically surrounded by a burning ring of fire. These water restrictions mean that now I can only water my plants with a bucket. Which is ridiculous because it is less targeted than a hose. I’ve had crop swap friends observe that they are actually using MORE WATER with bucket watering than they were with a hose. Surely, me growing plants that help keep the area cool & the bees & birds fed, as well as reducing food miles is a more useful deployment of water than someone washing their car (also with a bucket)? Makes me so angry. I got a few more unglazed terracotta pots & installed them as ollas in my raised garden beds.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? Do you have any tips for keeping plants going through water restrictions?

Harvest Monday, 4 November 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Super busy. Harvested a few snack-y type things, took photos, forgot to post.

Garlic

Garlic

Probably harvested too early. But I’m about to go away, and the last time I left them in the ground over November (although technically I’m supposed to wait until the summer solstice), my garlic rotted. No seed garlic, I think it was a “rose” variety of garlic that I bought at a market stall.

Honey. About 12kg. I don’t remember harvesting in October before, it looks like there’s a bit of a honey flow going on.

More blueberries (Sunshine Blue), growing in a pot.

Planted more soybean seeds (endamame). I think I’ve planted about 30, and so far only 3 look to have germinated. Fingers crossed they survive!

Also planted some blue butterfly pea seeds and purple tomatillos. I think blue/purple is my colour of the year.

I left it too long with the purple “sapphire” seed potatoes, and the slaters have started to eat them. I’ve had more luck with the “midnight specials” which have at least started to sprout.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? Is your also garden dying from lack of attention?

Harvest Monday, 30 September 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

I’ve taken a bit of a break with the harvest posts, mainly because the plastic free July is a bit draining, and, well, work.

Springtime asparagus
Asparagus

Very tasty. Not enough crop. I think the crowns are at least 4 years old? Probably more. I’m not sure on the cultivar, but I think Mary Washington.

A few Alpine Strawberries.

Taste like bubblegum. Very sweet. Very delicate. Can’t harvest and eat later, if you harvest you gotta eat straight away.

A couple of blueberries (Sunshine Blue), growing in a pot. Delicious!

Grapefruit:
Grapefruit

Not mine. I knocked at the neighbour’s door and harvested theirs. Different to the last lot who didn’t realise that fruit grows on trees, these people just don’t eat grapefruit. I took most of these to a crop swap, and got some slow fermented saurkraut, blueberry tomato and “black cherry” tomatoes in return. The rest… kind of rotted. Fruit fly had got them already.

I haven’t done much in the garden apart from dig up bindis. I tried sprouting some soybean seeds so that I could harvest endamame this year, but the pods just rotted. Better try again.

I got some purple “sapphire” seed potatoes.
Purple potatoes
Hopefully (once I plant), I will get a good crop! I swapped out three at the crop swap, saving two. I do hope that’s enough.

I also bought some heritage raspberry canes. Should probably plant ’em.

So dear reader, what have you harvested from your garden recently? What have you intended to plant, but not quite gotten around to?

Harvest Monday, 10 June 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Guava season has started. I have recently found out that my variety of guava is the hawaiian guava.

I pruned the tree back quite hard after the harvest in Winter 2018, so the crop this year is not bending the tree in half. It has also been a really warm autumn, so my laziness in not bagging the fruit this year means I have had some fruit fly.

This is 1-2 days worth of crop:
guavas 2019

I don’t have the quite the quantities I have had in the past to make such amazing swaps as I did in 2017, and the crop is compromised by the fruit fly. Any takers must be “willing to cut the bad bits out”. The smell is so heady and intense though, and the edible bits of fruit are still quite delicious.

I have recently acquired another dehydrator after my last one went on permanent holiday to a friend’s place (reluctantly!).

So this year, I thought I would try dehydrating the unswappable guavas to a “fruit leather”. I remember reading somewhere that guavas need to be blended with another fruit to make successful fruit leather, so I sort-of-but-not-really-followed this recipe from thorseby cottage, except with apple instead of pear and no thermomix. Oh, and I didn’t measure my ingredients.

Cooking down the fruit:

guavas cooking down
This might be 10-20 good bits of guava, with the seeds scooped out, and one apple. No additional sugar, but a little lime zest and some citric acid to assist preservation.

Ta da!
dehydrating guavas

Hmm. Not quite what I was after. This was dehydrated at 50 deg C for 12 hours. I spread the mixture thin-ish, but in a continuous sheet. I wanted a “leather”, but I didn’t want to have to dehydrate for longer than 12 hours. This clearly hasn’t worked.

Oh well. I have had some suggestions on facebook to blitz this to a powder, and then use as a muffin or icecream flavouring ingredient. I’m not sure. I may keep it as a “crisp” for now. Anyway, I have a little more mixture to play with – I’m going to add some more apple, and try again!

Harvest Monday, April 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

cherry tomatoes:
Cherry Tomatoes 2019

We had hot weather, then some cool, and then the first weekend in April was another warm one. APril in Autumn. I’m happy that my cherry tomatoes are still producing, but I just don’t have time to harvest them as they ripen right now (so busy!), so some are rotting on the vine or being eaten by snails. Oh dear. I got the plant via a crop swap.

I also am not eating them as fast as I am producing them. So I made oven dehydrated tomatoes:

Dehydrated tomatoes 2019

I haven’t yet decided if I should keep them whole, but I am leaning towards the idea of blitzing them into a powder. Then I can add a sprinkle of them whenever I need a hit of intense tomato flavour.

Apple:

Apple

This is a little on the small side, but I am partial to a small apple. This is from a ballerina columnar apple tree, either Waltz or Bolero. Waltz I think. These trees have done *so* much better since I dug them out of the heavy clay soil (shaded by banana palms) in spring 2018 and put them into pots facing the full western afternoon sun.

I have also harvested another warre box of honey/honeycomb from my first beehive. No photo, sorry. That’s about 36kg from that hive this season.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this autumn?

Harvest Monday, February 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Snakebeans and cherry tomatoes:
Snake beans, Cherry tomatoes

The snakebeans have been described as “cute”.

Bunya pine nuts:
Bunya Pine nuts

You know those pine nuts that you buy from the shop for about 90AUD per kilo? Well these are a giant version of these.

I didn’t grow them, I foraged them. The pine cones of Araucaria bidwillii can be the size of a football or larger, and I collected about 4.5 pine cones – approx weight 5kg. I then reduced this to 1.5kg worth of viable pods, and stripping out the outer layer, reduced it again to about 1kg of actual nut. Last year I only got about 4 viable nuts per bunya nut cone, this year it’s been about 15 per cone. These will be frozen for storage, and then turned into pesto or added to soups for bulk. Others have turned their harvest into a “milk”, or roasted for extra yumminess. Usually the bunya pine fruits every 3 years.

Eggplant:
Eggplant

Not grown, swapped. The other swapper was happy to give them away for free, but I didn’t feel that was fair. So I swapped four of my snakebeans and a small amount of honey. Once the other swapper saw the honey, she gave me some extra silveebeet and a ‘bottle gourd’ sample to try. I’m supposed to cook it like zucchini. I still feel like I came away with the better part of that deal.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?

Harvest Monday, January 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the January 2019 host of Monday harvests, please visit the From Seed to Table blog.

This sounds daft, but summer has been hot, hot, hot. We had a week of 35 deg C + temperatures, and not only that, but 15 of the hottest places were in Australia last week. So for that week, I got up stupid early to water the garden and hang up gauze cloth coverings over the most vulnerable plants.

Cherry Tomatoes:
Cherry tomatoes

I think I got the plant via a crop swap. My neighbour dislikes cherry tomatoes, too fiddly for her, but I like seeing these little jewels glowing amongst the greenery. This garden bed now has a Olla embedded within it, and the plants are looking really lush. I am filling this Olla about once every two days. Yes, I got the Olla via a swap.

Snake Beans
Snake beans

I planted some snake bean seeds, one germinated, and then I planted this seeding out. I went away, came back three weeks later, what is this plant? It’s snake beans! First time growing them, it’s amazing the growth that the beans can put on overnight. the vine itself is growing over the shadecloth framework.

Beetroot:
Beetroot

I bought these seedlings, didn’t realise it, but it looks like the beetroot itself is a striped variety. This got turned into a Sri Lankan beetroot curry, along with some leftover pumpkin from last years’ harvest and some curry leaves fresh from the garden.

Sri Lankan beetroot curry

It was quite an unusual curry to my palate – I haven’t really used fresh curry leaves before, but they do give an interesting taste to any dish.

Honeycomb:
Beatbox hive honey harvest

Harvested from the batbox hive. These ladies are on the cranky side, so as soon as we lifted the quilt off, the noise level “went up”. I think I’m going to have to put the callout for somebody to take over this slightly hot hive, because I cannot cope with having to hide in the house for the remainder of the weekend/week, just because I played with the bees on one day.

This crate is approximately 12kg worth of honey. I harvested 12kg in December 2018, and about 1kg in November (one frame: the reason why there is one bright white coloured frame in this box). That makes 25 kg this season.

Beeswax harvest is a little harder to calculate, as I have a big 20L bucket which contains (still) honeycomb waste from last season, as well as being topped up with honeycomb waste from this season. One advantage of this hot weather is having my solar wax extractor working perfectly.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?