Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

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?!

Harvest Monday and Garden Update, March 2017

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

February clicked over into March, and our stinking hot summer suddenly turned wet. It has rained and rained and rained. Couldn’t go outside because it was too hot; suddenly became couldn’t go outside because it was too wet. We lurched from an energy crisis (when industrial load had the potential to overlap with domestic “everyone gets home and switches the air-con on” load), to a severe storm and flood crisis.

The advantage of all this rain is that purslane has been popping up in my front lawn/dirt patch. Apparently, purslane grows in highly compacted soils (like mine) and is high in omega-3 fatty acids (this is new to me). Yay! I stir fried this with cabbage, and also added some to a cucumber salsa:

Cucumber salsa

Diced cucumber, pear, random herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon etc), s&p, apple cider vinegar & olive oil. Pretty simple!

I have never really understood the point behind a cucumber. Apart from turning it into a pickle, or eating it in a salad, what is the reason behind its existence? Then I found this salsa recipe in The Cook’s Companion, supposed to be an accompaniment to smoked fish… and I couldn’t stop making it, or eating it.

The armenian cucumber came from the February crop and swap event. I haven’t seen it in the shops before, I liked the taste, so I saved a few seeds to try and grow next season. The marigolds (edible flowers), also came from a crop swap event.

I checked on my bananas earlier in the week, and it appears that I had left them on the tree for too long. They’ve been forming since November, so about three months of ripening. After trimming the hand, clearing off the rotten bits, shooing away the cockroaches and the slugs, and cutting off the slightly nibbled bananas, here we have it.

Roll up, roll up, for the world’s smallest banana harvest!

World's smallest banana harvest

This is 1kg (including skins). Each banana was the size of your little finger, about 5cm or 2 inches long. They were very sweet. I couldn’t eat them all at once, and if I left them in the house unattended for more than a minute, he would throw them out.

Approx 400g tomatoes (no photo). I still have a few more left on the vine, but it is the last gasp of the summer crop. I must not plant tomatoes next year, I really need to give the beds a break.

Approx 10g random curcubit flowers.

The male flowers keep falling off the vine after they’ve done their thing. It seems a waste to let the snails get to them, so I have been adding them to stir fries like zucchini flowers.

Around the garden:

Random curcubit

My random curcubit is still going strong. I originally had three plants pop up in the full sun garden bed, and I transplanted two of the plants to the other two beds. They are taking over where the tomato plants are dying off. I still haven’t identified it, except that it is definitely not a cucumber or a pumpkin.

Random curcubit

I’m thinking winter melon or luffa. Any ideas?

I killed my two cherry trees, which makes me sad. I think over enthusiastic grass trimming killed the roots.

I killed the native raspberry (too much heat when I planted it), but hopefully I have a lead on raspberry or youngberry canes to plant.

I started putting in some seedlings for autumn/winter. I had a bet each way – kohlrabi (cold crop), okra (in case the hot weather continues), and red rosso onion (seeds slightly out of date, hopefully I get some germination).

I am also hoping that this plant:

Papaya?

is the germination of a papaya? There have been guesses for sweet potato, or papaya, but no firm consensus yet. Ignore the red stems, that purslane lurking underneath. What do you think, dear reader?

Harvest Monday, 12 Feb 2017

We are in the middle of a long hot summer. Bats, baby turtles are dying. Not joking. On one day the records were broken, and then we went and broke them again the next day. The cycle is of 4-5 days in the high 30’s (deg C or 95 F+), followed by a 1-2 days in the low to mid 30’s – whereupon it feels positively nippy; and then it repeats. Last weekend, it got to 45 deg C (113 F). It has been horrendous. My garden hates it. I’ve had to rig up shadecloth over the tomatoes; but every time a flower on my random curcubit opens, it keels over and the flower falls off the stem. So it is still a mystery plant.

756 g tomatoes, 200g basil

Harvest Monday 12 Feb 2017

They look pretty; but the taste, not so much. I tried to harvest them in the early morning, such that it was close to 24 hours since I had watered them. I originally picked them to give to a colleague who had been inspired by my tales of sugo making from the last batch, but she wasn’t at work on the friday. So.

My friend is a member of a community garden, and posted photos of her harvesting this amazing looking genovese basil. My basil is a tough mediterranean type that survives winter frosts, but is less green and leafy. It is always in flower, and I can’t bear to cut it back because the bees love it so much. I swapped a 500g jar of honey for the basil.

So I turned the tomatoes and basil into fresh tomato and basil pasta for dinner (using fresh pasta from the markets), and enough for lunch the next day. I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar, so I used a combo of apple cider vinegar and guava vinegar.

The next 100g or so of basil I turned into fresh pesto, with pine nuts and a little lemon juice to try and keep the vibrant green colour.


Curry leaves:

Curry leaves

Not mine, my neighbour’s. He was cutting back his curry leaf plant, and offered me some cuttings. I tried to plant them – but I mentioned this stinking hot weather, right? They didn’t take. So I am currently drying them for later use. They have (to me) an unusual peppery herbaceous taste. I’ve used some leaves to flavour kombucha, as well as make a “curry leaf pesto”. It’s got that peppery taste!

Harvest Monday

I have had 1-2 tomatoes so far, all with grubs, but this was the first time I harvested a big lot of them. Ok, so there was a caterpillar munching on one, and evidence of more caterpillar breakfast on another but here is 800g of grosse lisse:

Monday harvest

I had three of them in a slow cooked ‘shakshuska’ breakfast, except that I was so distracted, I forgot to add the egg.

I’m thinking of bringing out my inner wog, and turning the rest of the harvest into my very own passata.

Add various harvestings of thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary and mint.

The cucumbers (300g) are from my neighbour, she’s such a gem!

I don’t know if this is an old wives tale, but she says that if you harvest them in the full heat of the day, it makes them sour. Thoughts?

Monday Harvest, Late November Edition

Not quite a harvest, but a garden update. Yes I know its December, but the photos were taken in November (and the post was started then too)… and so it’s kind of a late spring planting edition.

Native raspberry:

Native Raspberry

It looks like I’ve killed only one cane, but there’s a teeny tiny leaf poking out of the second one. Looking at the leaves, I think it is rubus moluccanus.

Dwarf avocado:
Dwarf Avocado

All the leaves fell off in a recent windstorm. This might be terminal.

Dwarf cherries:

Dwarf Cherry trees

They lost their leaves during autumn. Nothing yet has shooted for spring. Everywhere else in suburbia has done the spring flowering thing, and now has leaves. Also probably terminal. Dang it. I suspect over enthusiastic whipper snippering cut all the shallow surface roots.

So that’s all the bad news.

Harvested.

About 5 strawberries.
10kg honey.
5 Spears asparagus.
Herbs such as oregano, thyme, parsley.

Tumeric:

Tumeric Harvest

I also got about the same amount in ginger. I do like a ‘hot’ ginger, but apparently only old ginger is hot ginger. Does this mean I have to put it in the garden again for another season to make it hot?

Growing:

Banana

Bana-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA-NA-NAH, Bana-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA-NA-NAH.

This was planted in November 2013, and only now, 3 years later, do I get a hand of fruit forming. To quote Big Kev, I’m Excited.

I'm excited

Cropped and swapped.

I haven’t had much chance to talk about crop and swap. I went a few years ago to one hosted in Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains. That has been put on hold for 2016, so I joined another crop and swap group which is Sydney wide. The aim is that if you have excess produce, you offer it up for swap and you decide what the ‘value’ of what you want in return, but no money changes hands.

About the only thing I have to swap is honey. So far, from one 500g jar of honey, I have collected a kobucha squash seedling, cucumber seedling and three dragon fruit cuttings:

Swapsies

Then three jars of honey gave me a fortnight’s worth of homemade granola, made using the honey:

Granola

So there you have it, my late November/late spring garden update!