Posts Tagged ‘garden’

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 … a little bit late

This years’ guava harvest is early.

But I’m now fighting a battle on ***three*** fronts, up from one last year.

Bats eating the fruit when raw.
Fruit fly laying little grubs whenever they feel like.

And these guys:


Bloody lorrikeets!

They like to knaw on the fruit just as it has ripened and about to drop to the ground. They are then scattering the seeds all over the place so it looks like a cat has vomited copiously on my lawn.

Bits of uneaten fruit fermenting in the sun then attract the fruit fly, who lay grubs.

I have been trying to collect the fallen fruit and bagging it to minimise the spread of the fruit fly. But there is so much fruit! 80% of the stuff is affected by fruit fly I can’t give it away. Plus I am so busy at the moment, I don’t have the time to make jam/jelly products.

I have been ‘processing’ as much as I can: seeding and degrubbing the fruit then placing it in ziplock bags in the freezer. Apparently freezing may reduce the amount of pectin, but I’ll deal with it when I get there.

Processed Guavas

So! This week the harvest is:
6kg guava (3kg processed)
1 tomato
Bayleaf, Parsley and Vietnamese mint leaves.

Potatoes for dinner

homegrown potatoes by A Sydney Foodie2
Potatoes for dinner, a photo by A Sydney Foodie2 on Flickr.

I really need to remember that I don’t need to buy any potatoes, and that I have my own stash.

Most of the time I forget. Here’s what I scrabbled out of the garden for dinner a few week’s ago.

The offspring said ‘ew’ when I showed him my grubby haul in the process of being washed. I guess that ‘in reality’, potatoes grow in supermarket plastic bags.

This lot got turned into a simple potato salad with mayo, capers, pepper and parsley from the garden.

The trick is to dress the potatoes whilst warm and it turns into deliciousness. Usually I add fresh sliced mushrooms and cooked yellow button squash.

I also tried making a version of a potato chip inspired by my frienddoingsomethingnew* . You slice your potatoes about matchstick thin, and then fry them up on the BBQ with oil and paprika. I marinated my slices in crushed rosemary, salt, pepper & olive oil. This got fried in a pan. The edges went brown and burnt. If you didn’t eat them right away, they went soggy. I still haven’t worked out the trick with these. Probably a deep fryer.

*yup, that’s right; I was at her place slicing potatoes, and then I went home and did the same thing!

Scented Geraniums

I helped a friend lay out part of her garden, and one of the plants we got were lemon scented geraniums. I have always liked these, because there is something just so annoying about a standard geranium. They’re boring and they’re not useful!

Luckily, since we bought out all the nursery’s stock for my friend’s garden, my neighbour gave me some cuttings. I am embarrassed to say: I don’t know what exactly they smelled like, except scented! Not rose, not cinnamon, just scented.

Scented Geraniums

The hot weather has just started, not ideal for cuttings, so I snipped the majority of the leaves off to reduce transpiration, and planted the stalk with the first segment/branch below the soil surface level. They have survived a week thus far.

What to do with all the remaining scented geranium leaves? Bake muffins!

Recipe was taken from geraniums online.


2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 c. milk
4 tbsp. oil
Geranium leaves

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk and oil. Add to dry ingredients.
Stir just until mixed; batter will still be lumpy. Place a geranium leaf in the bottom of 14* greased muffin tins. Fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake 25 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.

* I used 12 muffin tins, but I wasn’t very exact with the filling.

I poured half of the mix into the tins, then added some dessicated coconut and pistachios since I thought the mixture rather boring.

Scented geranium muffins

The end result was really quite pretty. The heat and oil in the muffin tin “cooked” the geranium leaf. I can see what was supposed to happen: The heat was supposed to permeate the scent throughout the muffin mix – didn’t work. Don’t know why this recipe doesn’t have shredded bits of geranium leaf through it – like this other recipe.

Next time? Make scented geranium sugar, ala “vanilla pod” sugar, and use that. Also, try a variant with shredded bits of geranium leaf. If my cuttings take root, I should have plenty of leaves to play with.

Update on that Excess Lettuce

Remember those lettuce seedlings my neighbour gave me? Well, two days after, twenty-odd had been reduced to four. Scattering eggshells around the seedlings seemed to encourage the snails – the eggshell protected ones were eaten first.

Luckily a week later, said neighbour gave me another twenty odd of cos lettuce. I scrounged all I could, and stuck milk bottles around each seedling 24-7. This seems to have helped *some*, but some containers are no barrier at all.

I have been doing snail patrols every night around the garden … But my dilemma is thus: the seedlings are outgrowing their boots. If I remove the containers so that they can reach their potential, the poor darlings will be decimated!

Excess Lettuce

Excess Lettuce by A Sydney Foodie
Excess Lettuce, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Hey, look at these babies!

My neighbour had put some lettuce seeds in, and too many had sprouted. So I scored the excess, which I have now planted. I kind of waited a bit too long so they’ve wilted a little. Grow, grow my pretties!

Fresh Guava Tart with Guava Jam

So what is the best way to deal with my over abundance of guava fruit? Having made guava jelly and butter, and given kilos and kilos of the stuff away, I thought that I should package it up in a tart and feed it to my colleagues.

I was aiming for something like tarte tartine, but with guavas! *evil cackle*

1. Pastry
I made sour cream pastry. However perhaps because of the humidity, I needed 1.5 cups of plain flour to the butter and sour cream.

The extra flour was enough for a large 27cm quiche tin, and five 10cm taster tins.

I oiled the tins, and put a round of baking paper in the base to assist later removal. The finished product comes out quite easily, so this might be unnecessary.

Blind baked the pastry for about 15 minutes, or until light brown.
2. Guava Jam
I figured sliced guava on its own might be too plain in flavour, so I made jam. I didn’t read the recipe properly, so like on autopilot, I made as per guava jelly and boiled my guavas.

This is my recipe, modified from the link above.

3 cups guavas, de-seeded and simmered (as per guava jelly)
1.5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1/4 tsp salt

Boil the lot, and then have it on a medium simmer for about 30 minutes.

I had the mixture bubbling for 20 minutes, and kept stirring to stop it spitting.

This gave me enough jam for a thin layer in one large quiche tin, four small 10cm tasters, and one 500g jam jar for later consumption.

Guava Tart Prep, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

3. Guava Tart
Half an apple, thinly sliced.
3-4 fresh guavas, de-seeded and sliced into strips.
Guava jam, to taste.
Just baked pie/tart crust.
Allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar.

Smear a thick layer of jam on the pastry baked base.

Starting with thin slices of apple (optional), create the main pattern on the pastry, and then infill with strips of fresh sliced guava. Go on, don’t be shy, if you’re trying to use up a day’s harvest of guavas, you’ve got plenty to spare.

Sprinkle, allspice, cinnamon sugar and brown sugar. I had some Chinese five spice lying around, so that went on too.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and the fruit has reduced a little.

Guava Tart, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Verdict: yum! Evil in this case is justified.

Lessons learned: use heaps more fruit. Also, how do I make nice professional looking pastry edges rather than rustic homemade edges?

Guava Jelly

So I had an over abundance of guava fruit, and needed to do something with them before I was driven insane with too many guavas. I had already given kilos away to neighbors, colleagues and family, and kilos were arriving by the day.

Since the flying foxes had discovered my tree, and although I like the idea of guava jam, I think it would also remind me too much of bat-poo, so Charmaine offered guava jelly.

The following are my interpretations of her recipe, with some consulting online.

Guava jelly
1. Obtaining the juice
2kg guava fruit, halved
Water to fill just below the top level of fruit.
Knob of Ginger, julienned

Bring to a boil, and simmer for about an hour until fruit is soft.

Boiling up Guavas, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Cool slightly, then pour into a muslin cloth* which has been wrung out in water so it does not absorb too much of the juice. Allow to drip slowly preferably overnight.

Draining the juice, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

*Yes, I really did use a delicates laundry bag for my muslin cloth substitute.

This yielded just over two litres of guava juice. This smelled quite sweet, and nothing like guava.

Leaving the bag overnight didn’t really give me much more juice than the initial drain. This may be because of my muslin bag substitute.

2. Making jelly
1250ml guava juice
920g sugar (3 3/4 cups)
Strained juice of five limes (approx 5 tablespoons)
33g pectin (“25g per 1.5kg fruit”)

Cooking no more than five cups of juice at a time, allow for 3/4 cup sugar and the juice of one lime per cup.

Bring to the boil, add sugar and lime juice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Draw pan away from heat, and add pectin, sprinkling over it if it is in powdered form.

Once more, bring to the boil and boil hard, stirring, or until jelly from the side of the spoon in two or three slow drops, joined by a ‘sheet’ of transparent liquid^. this is a good indication that a good set will be obtained. Do not skim the surface while cooking, or much of the pectin will be lost.

I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the jelly to reach ‘sheeting’ stage, and it didn’t. In the end I was boiling on-and-off for about an hour before I gave up. The stuff was setting as a skin when left on abandoned spoons after all.

I had been sterilising my jars in the meantime, and pulled my jars out of the oven just as I turned the heat off the jelly.

I’m still unsure as what I’m supposed to do at this stage. Do I drop in some paraffin wax on top of the jelly? Am I supposed to fill the jars all the way to the top?

I forgot to read up before I did this so I don’t think I did this quite right. I filled up each jar almost to the top (I suspect it is supposed to be all the way), with a 1cm gap.

I had these new Fowlers Vacolla ‘kleerview’ plastic jam covers which appear to seal the jar. You wet the outside, stretch it over the rim, and then fasten in place with a rubber band. When it dries, it is stretched taut and goes all crinkly like cellophane. But then what? Do I screw on the original jar lid on top, or am I supposed to attach my very own tartan tablecloth jar cover? I settled for the former, on the basis I might accidentally pierce the plastic cover without it.

So here we are on the far left: my very first batch of overcooked guava jam.

Guava Jelly and Butter, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Batches two and three were a lot lighter in colour. I followed the suggested timing of 5-10 mins boil, add in pectin, and 5-10 mins hard boil; with a preference for a shorter boil time so the jelly would not be as sweet.

Bountiful Harvest

Bountiful Harvest by A Sydney Foodie
Bountiful Harvest, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Look at this! I took 2kg of guavas to work yesterday to give away, and when I got home there was another kilo waiting for me. Then yet another kilo thumped off the tree overnight!
*happy dance*
I didn’t have a harvest at all last year because I had a terrible infestation of scale, and the bats (flying foxes) were fighting over the fruit every night. So none left for me. This year though, I have way too much.
Charmaine says: “In the middle of the ball (of quite hard seeds) is the sweetest, softest pulp found in the guava, very smooth compared to the slightly granular texture of the flesh outside the seeds.” She’s right!
I’m going to have to make jam over the weekend, because I expect another 4kg by Monday!?!?
Oh my. Every time I turn my back, another one bites the dust.

Reverb10 – 27 December – Ordinary Joy

December 27 – Ordinary Joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)

Is joy the same as happiness?

I feel joy pottering around in the garden and have had lovely moments of surprise. When I saw my first strawberry growing (the birds subsequently ate it). When my corn began shooting up tall, and then I spotted the first ears growing, I was pretty darn excited. It is amazing what your plants can do whilst you are not looking.