Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Harvest Monday, April 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

From my crops, you would be thinking that I’m coming out of winter, going into spring. Nope, I’ve just been such a lazy gardener, I haven’t actually harvested crops from last winter. Why the sudden rush to harvest (probably woody) crops? Because if I don’t get the garlic in the ground LIKE NOW, then I won’t get a good crop.

Last year I got out as many cloves of garlic as I planted. Sad.

Parsnips:
Parsnips

Poor things. My hard rocky ground (clay) meant that they grew up and out and sideways and all twisted. I think that this helps break up the clay, right?

Daikon:

Daikon

I planted about 5 seedlings, obtained via a crop swap. I have one daikon survive, and it’s about the size of a carrot. Hmm. The force is not strong with this one.

One spear asparagus.

Blue jasper tomatoes. Nearly the last of the season.

Cucuamelons

Still going. Every day is a surprise. I can see how you get ‘volunteers’ the following year, as I was getting little cucamelons dropping onto the ground that took me a while to spot. A cucamelon vine is not for one season, I think it’s for life.

Honey:

Honey Bucket

This is almost old news. I harvested yet another two boxes off of a warre hive. This was from the third hive (Lilli pilli hive), the most recent swarm cast – pretty sure from one of the other two hives in the yard. That makes five boxes (60kg approx) of honey in the last month, 72 kg in the current season. About five combs were chopped up to make 30 boxes of honeycomb. The bucket of honey shown above is pressed out of the other 11 frames. I think I need to downsize my apiary.

Rockmelon:
Rockmelon

Australia has just been rocked by a rockmelon scandal, where five people have died and nineteen people have been made sick. Lucky I grew my own teeny tiny rockmelon. About the size of an orange. 160g. I think the seedling/vine (obtained via crop swap) was planted a bit too late in the season, south facing, and competing with an adjoining cucamelon vine.

Fig:
Fig

I told you last month about looking after the neighbour’s fig tree because they can’t be bothered (or they don’t realise that real food grows on trees) . So this morning, when I was putting on extra fruit fly exclusion bags/netting around the figs… I collected one fig. Sweet sweet nectar.

So dear reader, what have you grown or harvested this month?

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Harvest Monday, March 2018

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. I’ve been a bit busy with life and work, and I have harvested many things over the summer months. I just haven’t had time to write about it. Not eating completely from the garden, but certainly supplementing what I buy from the shops.

Honey:

About 11kg harvested in February, from Hive no. 2 (Batbox hive). That one was cross-combed like you wouldn’t believe – every single bit of comb built had ignored the directions of the frames, and had been constructed 90 degrees to the frames. No wonder these bees had been bearding all throughout summer, they had built their comb “the warm way”, even though the frames were set up “the cool way”. Stubborn little things!

Honeyccomb March 2018

About 22kg from hive no. 1, harvested in March. This is/was the main hive, the original one – but a few generations along. I managed to harvest a full two warre boxes from this one, probably my first full harvest from this hive for at least two seasons. I had shifted this one away from hive no. 2, so there was a bigger distance between the two and less fighting.

Fwd: Honeycomb

This unfortunately means that this hive is in full shade for most of winter, so honey flow has been a bit slow. About 3 combs were retained to be sold as honeycomb in takeaway boxes (28 of them!), and the rest I crushed as honey.

Cucamelons:
Fwd: Cucamelons

I discovered this vegetable last year through the crop swap, and loved them. Also known as mexican sour gherkins, these are like bite sized cucumbers, and delicious as-is, or in a salad. I got two plants as a swap through the crop swap group, and its lovely to be able to wander around and pick a few when they reach the right size.

Perennial Basil:

Perennial basil

This basil ‘tree’ is about 5 years old. I don’t have the heart to rip out the plant, and the bees really do love the flowers. I notice that if I don’t trim the flower stems back, you get more leaf ‘shoots’ off the old flower stems. So I trim back sections of the basil flowering heads at a time.

Perilla:
Perilla

Also known as shiso or wild sesame. These add a nice flavour to a salad, or are tasty in a freshly wrapped rice paper roll. I used these leaves and the basil leaves to make pesto.

Tomatoes:

Blue Jasper cherry tomato

Blue Jasper. A nice large cherry tomato with a dark green ‘stripe’ on the skin. I have to remember to harvest these before they start to rot. I got the seedlings through the sydney crop swap. I have saved a few seeds for next year, because I do like them. I think I’ve had nearly 1kg worth of tomatoes from one plant.

Sourdough:

Sourdough

I got the sourdough starter through the crop swap group for a jar of honey, and then made a levain which ended up proving for 5 days because life got in the way. After finally making the bread round and proving it overnight, it did rise a little, and I baked it in the oven in my new wrought iron solidteknics pan. It was a nice dense crumb, an almost fruity taste – and hey, I didn’t bake a rock!

Pepino Melon:

Pepino melon

Also known as “tree melon”, the plant started off from a cutting harvested from a Permaculture open day. 18 months later, I have fruit! It is yellow with slight purple/brown stripes. I think the fruit is dependant upon being in sunshine, as an earlier fruit that started growing hasn’t gotten much bigger than a walnut. This one picture is about the size of a tomato or a small apple.

Strawberries:
Homegrown strawberries

There is no fruit as sweet as one picked from your own garden, still warm from the sun. Even ones that have been slightly nibbled by ants or snails (bottom right hand corner).

Other stuff still going in my garden:
I have some promising oranges growing, and I have adopted the neighbours fig tree. I water it, I have put some fruit exclusion bags on it, and I hope to get figs soon. I have also taken looking after the neighbours two orange trees – just watering and de-stink-bugging them when I have time. The place was recently sold by a keen gardener, and it makes me cry to see the inattention and neglect that the new tenants have towards the garden that the previous owner loved so much.

Harvest Monday and Garden update, October 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things Harvest related.

October* has been all about the mulberries.

Not mine, just ones foraged off the street. This is the perfect arrangement, as I don’t have to deal with purple stained driveways or washing.

I found two trees on my way to the train station, which I had been foraging from at first. The berries were a little on the small, dry side. Then I found two off a freeway on my way back from a parkrun event which yielded me a 400g reward (all my giant takeaway coffee cup would fit). Finally – my most recent source has been from the carpark at the local pub. I am sure that the mulberry tree has been “very well watered & fertilised” from the patrons, but these berries are super fat and juicy.

The various berries got turned into jam:

Mulberry and Paddy Melon Jam

Paddy melon and mulberry jam. I bought the paddy melon at a street side stall in the Mangrove mountain area, with the intention of eating it and saving the seeds. When I actually looked up “paddy melon”, my melon was the wrong size (too big), and hopefully not of the poisonous variety. So perhaps it was a pie melon (or a jam melon), which feature in a Country Women’s Association (CWA) cookbook.

As well as scary Eye-Pies for a halloween event at work:

Eye Pies

The recipe I got from NotQuiteNigella, but with the mulberry pie adaptation from Allrecipes with only 1/2 cup of sugar to 3 cups of raspberries. Some people seriously have a sweet tooth – my proportions were perfect!

Attack of the lettuces:

Attack of the lettuces

These butter lettuce seedlings were obtained via crop swap. I can see that they’re now bolting to seed, but just before they were ready for my heavy handed harvesting, I got a lot of lettuces and salad mixes from various other crop swaps. Now, the caterpillers and snails love hiding amongst the leaves, so I have to check and wash them quite thoroughly before using. These generally go into sandwiches, but I may have to make a few more salads in the next few days to get the most out of my crop.

Parsley.

I didn’t realise that tabouli is *so* easy to make. With my neighbour, and current tablouli expert away, I used a recipe from the Almond Bar cookbook. I have made a giant batch for a sheep roast BBQ, and a smaller batch for a picnic. The secret? Lots of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and ras el-hanout in the dressing.

I also plan to use the next harvest as a pesto green, another idea I got from the crop swap group.

Honey:

Honey Harvest Oct 2017

We have had a very dry winter, and so the bees have been having a field day. I had two swarms in a fortnight in September (does a bee swam count as a harvest I wonder?), one which I kept, one which I gave away. I nadired three hives (all were full of comb to the bottom), and harvested on frame from the third hive (lilli pilli swarm) which was 3/4 capped. This gave me about 2kg of honey.

Dwarf beans, broad beans:

Harvest of Beans

Three dwarf beans, about five broad beans. I think the broad beans were “early harvest” from Mr Fothergills. I haven’t gotten anything from the tripoli. All my broad beans were planted in May, and had serious attacks of the aphids on the as-yet-unopened flower clumps. I think this has affected the production.

Pomegranates:
Pomegranate

I didn’t grow these. I foraged them off a tree down the road. Alas, I dropped one beauty into the overgrown grass *ahem* on the wrong side of the fence. The fruit is very sweet, definitely worth harvesting again.


Coffee bean seedling:

coffee bean seedling

I told you about this in September I have had one germination out of all of the green coffee beans that I soaked in seaweed solution prior to planting.

Planted/seeded:
– Water chestnuts (I ate two, and have “planted” the other four in water. They are amazingly creamy and crisp, almost like fresh coconut, but without the heaviness. I already have two little shoots poking out)
– Purple tomatillo (cos it’s PURPLE)
– Purple chilli (see above)
– Cape Gooseberry
– Tomatoes, mainly received as part of a swap. The most interesting one I am looking forward to is the blue jasper.
– glass corn/ gem corn. I had 3 seedlings, an attack of the caterpillars, then it’s down to one. Hopefully I can get enough pollination from one plant to be able to grow this more succesfully next season.

Seeds Saved:
– Mustard Greens
– Yellow mustard (the only thing that really grew as part of my Horta mix)
– Rocket
– Pak Choy (Bolted to seed almost straight away, no eating).

So dear reader, what have you harvested and what have you planted this month?

* I am 100% aware that it is now November. Life, exams, got in the way of the timely publication of this post.

Harvest Monday September 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

Salad mix:

Salad mix

Various things, gathered from the garden, for this week’s salad mix for inclusion in sandwiches. This includes mustard greens (plant obtained via a swap), horta, butter lettuce (swap), curly kale, parsley (self seeded), rocket (arugula), land cress, beetroot greens.

I finally have some broad bean flowers showing. I planted six broad beans directly into the soil in the planter box. Two months before I got any shoots – only one for the direct sowed, and two shoots for the ones that I soaked in seaweed solution.

Spring Seedlings 2017

Other stuff obtained in the past two month via swaps:
– yellow capsicum (pepper) seedlings
– tomato seedlings (black krim & yellow something)
– pak choy seedlings
– bitter melon seedlings (I planted two, will onswap the other. I don’t eat it.. so not sure why I planted it!)
– dwarf bush bean seedlings
– random lettuce seedlings (red oak, cos, butter)
– kabocha seedlings
– mushroom plant (I killed it by not planting it)
– pomegranate tree
– 2kg of cumquats
– Yacon, some to plant, some to eat
– Seed Potatoes (Otway red, snow queen, royal blue)
– coffee chaff & coffee bags (hessian sacks)

Other stuff still growing in the garden/seedlings:
– celery
– onion
– garlic
– kohlrabi (getting a bit late in the season)
– beetroot, grown from seed
– potatoes (pontiac, snow queen, royal blue)
– brussels sprouts (took a cutting from my infested brussels sprouts earlier in the year)
– land cress (as a sacrificial lure for the white cabbage moth)

I have planted some green coffee beans that I found in the hessian sacks, after first soaking in seaweed solution. I hear that germination rate isn’t high. But hey, free coffee beans. Fingers crossed!

Harvest Monday, June 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

I gave in, and finally pulled out my hairy winter melon cross vines. The leaves had started to die back as winter and frosts had hit. Final lot of hairy winter melons:

Hairy winter melon

3 from one vine (the main producer); the fourth from a vine on its own. 346g, 700g, 664g, 900g. That’s a total 10.64kg from some random seeds that just popped up in the garden bed.

Banana.

Banana

Its started to rain – quite a lot. My second hand of bananas started to form in about April 2017. One of the bananas had started to split – probably because of the rain. The upturned ends had also started to rot. So I harvested it, with the hopes that being indoors and warm, my bananas would start ripening to yellow without deteriorating further. 1675g the hand. Perhaps I need a ripe banana to put with them, give off some ethylene gas and help with ripening them to yellow.

Planted:

The second lot of onion seeds took, so some of these I have planted. What is interesting is a little stalk grows up, and the onion seed (slip) is on the top.

I have planted out those seedlings I showed in the last garden update post – kohlrabi, snow peas, dwarf peas. I have also planted out some garlic – elephant, and some other purple type that I picked up from the organic food store.

I also ripped out the brussels sprout “tree” – which was infected with many aphids, and possibly white cabbage moth – lots of little white moths the size of the aphids, very hard to squash. There were a few sprouts which had rootlets on them, so I replanted them. I’m trying an alternate method of control – land cress seeds. Apparently if the white cabbage moth is around, it lays its eggs in the land cress, and the larvae eat it (in preference to the brassicas). This kills them.

Guavas:

Guavas 2017

Guava season has started. I haven’t really eaten that many this year, and I haven’t had much time to process them. I’ve been swapping them mainly, more on that next post.

Horta:

Horta

Looking good for a patch entirely in the shade! I’ve harvested from this once. Not quite micro greens, perhaps mini greens. I’ve actually been harvesting dandelion leaves, sweet potato leaves, malabar spinach leaves, parsley and mustard greens for my local greens boost.

Horta, June 2017

Olives, three ways

Olives! Available as a crop to swap. I got about 1kg (and then another 1.3kg later) from one crop swapper of mostly black olives. I swapped a hairy winter melon cross, about 1.7kg.

My dream olive is a green sicilian olive from Darling Mills Farm; or a smoked olive picked up from the Orange Grove market.

I tried three ways of preparing my olives.

1. heavy salt brine
(1 litre water, 1 cup liquid)
To tell the correct amount of salt, you float an egg in it. The first egg chosen was a little long in the tooth, so I then used a slightly younger egg (3 weeks old). Then I read up at skillcult, how to make a Sicilian style olive, but more importantly, proportions of salt to water was given.

2. A dry salt pack

This I got from milkwood permaculture. You put a layer of olives in your jar, then cover with salt. Repeat.

I was at a little loss as to what to do with the olives that had slightly bruised or bad bits. My source of the olives said to throw them out, because they turned mushy. My maltese neighbour told me that she put them all in , warts & all. I made a slight compromise, chopped the bad bits off, but then I fermented them separately in a heavy salt brine. I figured that with the extra exposed surface area, they would take less time to ferment.

Here they are (left to right, as above):

Olives, two ways

I’m already having trouble from stopping my olives from floating to the surface, and my weights are obviously not weighing them down.

I also notice the bubbles of the fermentation process coming to the top. About a week in, I tried one of the olives. When I cracked open the lid, I noticed the aroma was starting to smell like the familiar ‘olive’ type smell, but it was still quite bitter. I also noticed that the colour actually starts leaching a little out from the partially green and black olives, so they turn more green.

With a later batch of green olives (swapped for a pumpkin, which I swapped previously), even though I know that they weren’t the Sevillano type, I thought that I should ferment them the skill cult way.

3. Skillcult way
One litre water. 1/4 cup salt. 1/4 white vinegar. I chucked an orange leaf in to add a little tannin, to follow in the steps of my neighbour.

I can’t wait to try the finished products!

Harvest Monday & Garden Update, April 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

Yes, I know it’s May. I’ve been working on this post for a while. Life has been a bit manic.

Harvested.

6 x Hairy/Winter Melon cross, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.3, 0.466, 0.868 kg each. That’s 8.03kg kg so far.

A hairy melon is normally hairy and long; A winter melon is normally short and squat. I think that my random curcubit is a Hairy Winter Melon:

Hairy melon

Handsome, no?

I’m not quite sure how this happened, because the seeds that I planted came from a winter melon purchased from the shops. I think that this also means that the seeds from these fruit won’t be viable because of the cross pollination. Oh dear.

Anyway, I gave one melon away;
Turned the second one into soup;
And then swapped the third for 640g of Boston Marrow through the crop and swap.

I was a little slow on the uptake, but it turns out there are lots of little ‘hairs’ on the leaves, stalks and of course *fruit*, if you’re not paying attention they stick to you and make you very itchy. So eventually I worked out that I had to wear long sleeves and gloves when admiring my fruit hanging on the vine, and checking them out. I think that it is time to harvest the remaining 6 or so fruit, ranging from baseball sized to basketball, as the vine has started to die back.

Two strawberries.

One Marigold flower – added to a salad. There have been more marigolds, but as is their intention, the ants and aphids have moved in.

Swapped.


Kombucha scoby
! Does this count as a harvest? Someone put out a call for a scoby because they had managed to kill their current one. I swapped the scoby, and got in return some fresh picked kale, fresh genovese basil, 3 limes, some bay tree cuttings, 2 chillies, oregano and thyme.

Butternut pumpkin! I didn’t grow this, but I orchestrated a three way swap. One lady had pumpkins. One lady had fresh picked saffron milkcaps, cooked with thyme and oil and snap frozen. I had just-made plum jam. I swapped my plum jam for three pumpkins and genovese basil. Pumpkin lady got some jam and a serve of saffron milkcaps. Mushroom lady got a pumpkin. I then used one butternut pumpkin to swap for 2 alpine strawberry plants (one white, one red) and one rubus moluccanus:

The last one had *grown from a single raspberry picked up from a roadside rest area*. Now that’s patience. My new swap friend then told me that my earlier native raspberry was not a moluccanus, but some other variety. Huh.

Malabar spinach:

Malabar spinach

Someone was ripping out their entire lot of malabar spinach. The cuttings from one plant went to about 20 houses all over Sydney. I offered to go and pick up the remainder, and take it to the next crop swap meeting. I cut the stems into sections and placed in water until it grew roots. I also planted two stems in the ground for myself.

I had resisted in the past planting the cuttings of the warrigal greens that I get, because they are high in oxalic acid, and you have to cook it first before eating. No such worries with the malabar spinach.

Planted.

This is the first year *ever* that I have planted seeds, and not gone off and bought seedlings.
Clockwise from top left:
Snowpeas, Kohlrabi, carrot, dwarf pea

Winter seeds

snowpeas – 50% germination
kohlrabi – germination appears to be 50%, seeds picked up from the crop and swap seed bank.
carrot – 20% germination. These were seeds saved by another crop swapper
dwarf pea – 20% germination

Others that I have planted, but not taken a photo of:

red rosso onion – 0% germination. Well, the seeds were slightly out of date (Aug 2015)

Beetroot – 60% germination. These have now been planted in the ground.

I have got some more (brown) onion seeds from a crop swapper, so I’ll try these and hopefully get a little more germination.

Banana update:

Banana plant

My bananas (second bunch) are still going underneath their little banana bag. Not yet yellow, hopefully I’ll catch these before the snails do.

Banana fruit, round 2

I also planted my “Horta” patch. Have you heard of this? It was described in my book as “Greek food for Olympians”, wild growing greens that you plant one ‘square’ (out of the square foot) method of gardening. My horta seed mix consisted of seeds I use for cooking – cumin, coriander, caraway, yellow mustard, nigella seeds, fennel seeds; then augmented with my garden seed mix: rocket, pak choy, radish, english spinach, silver beet, butter lettuce, garlic chives. Some of those seeds are a little out of date, but I can see little seed heads popping up now, so who knows what I have grown?!