Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Winter in the Garden

It has been quite a cold winter in Sydney. We had a coldest july for 20 years with sub-7-degree C temperatures – the average temperature this month has been 7.2 degrees!


Pumpkin. The poor pumpkin plant managed to put out one pumpkin before it was killed off with all the frost.


Guavas. So many guavas. 2015 season was May – July. Three whole months!

Seedlings. Kale – Cavalo Nero. Kale – red curly. 1 x beetroot seedling. I bought a set of six from the markets, but I gave half of them to a friend.

I planted snow peas:

Snow peas

… which are starting to form flower heads. They seem quite sheltered from the frost that we have been getting at least twice a week for a month.

This year, rather than risking the garlic getting whipper snippered near the rose bush, I have planted the garlic cloves in a pot. This should also help with harvest.

What does the garden look like?


it’s forming a head! The secondary plant, behind, is also starting to form a head, but it seems to be a bit shaded by the one in front.

The banana plant

Banana plant

is not faring well at all. I have a 4m high frostbitten plant. The chill has reminded the banana that it is growing out of its normal area.

I was really inspired by the Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California. Rows and rows of grapes. I really want to put up a trellis/espallier for my grapevine in the front yard, as a sort of living fence. This sprouted from a neighbours’ grapevine, which has unfortunately had to be removed. I’d better do this soon, otherwise winter will be gone!

Harvest Monday 17 September*


Last of my winter cherry tomatoes, 4.
Asparagus spears, 4.
Handful of parsley
Trimmed all the frost bitten bayleaves and into the spice cupboard. I will reuse the pot.

with extreme prejudice: the agapanthus. In its place will go some columnar dwarf apple trees.
Yes, I went to the market to buy fruit n veg, and came back with two apple trees.

Planted & Achieved:
Transplanted my anonymous citrus into a big planter pot
Rocket seeds, from neighbour
chilli seeds from a fiery birds eye
Heirloom tomato seeds
Capsicum seeds, from store bought

Still growing:
Snow peas, 4 ish
Dwarf beans, 1
radishes, 8 sprout heads
carrots (no green sprouts yet, but planted at same time as the radishes. I may have too much clay for the carrot)

*Note this is more a record of what I remember has happened recently. The events described above may or may not have happened on the date nominated.

Fruit Fly Exclusion

So sick of my tomatoes ending up with little grubby worms (fruit fly), I bought some fruit fly exclusion bags. I have tried plastic bags over bunches of grapes before, but they ended up moulding inside the bag, and the rats got to them anyway.

To try out the theory, I bought two organza “wedding bonbonniere” type things from Spotlight. These were $2.90 for two of 16cm x 11cm; or $10 for 10 of 16cm by 11cm.

Yes, I know, I am late in the season, but my tomatoes are still going!

These were a little small for my giant compost-derived tomatoes, who ended up bursting their bags, but they did their job. Not only did it stop the fruit fly from landing and stinging the fruit, it captured the little larvae worms – they couldn’t drop down into the soil and pupate into more fruit fly. *It stopped the cycle*.


So I ended up getting some more from ebay. Including shipping, it cost me $18.20 for 20 bags of 20cm by 30cm. You can put whole branches in the bag, rather than one fruit.

Fruit exclusion bags

The first thing I noticed was the drawstring was made of a skinny string that was tough on the fingers to use. You need to make sure the bag opening is tight and doesn’t allow the fruit fly in, but also that the material is loose around the fruit and the fruit fly can’t land on the bag and sting your fruit through it.

I much prefer to use the organza bags – you pull the ribbon on either side, and it cinches it up a treat. I may end up replacing the string in the other bags with a ribbon.

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!

Great Guava Roundup 2011

Here is a photo of my guava tree.

Three weeks later, I have:

* harvested 14 -21 kg of fruit
* introduced many people to the delights of pink guavas
* inspired several people to grow their own guava trees (I haven’t told them about the 30 year waiting period)
* spent six full days in the kitchen prepping, boiling sterilizing, baking
* made 20 various jars of guava jelly, jam & butter
* baked varieties of guava tart, torte and bread (shame it doesn’t start with ‘T’)

For completeness, I’ll mention that an Indian acquaintance used some of the guavas to make a savoury guava juice using lemon juice and pepper.

While hunting for that recipe, I found a recipe for an Indian-style guava chutney.. Hmm, I might have to try that next year.

And how could I forget: the snow egg from Quay, as featured as a challenge on the masterchef tv show!

Now, please, no mention of guavas for at least six months.

Sweet Potato leaves

Recently, a lady called Cheryl has been appearing at the Castle Hill markets with a table of sweet potato leaves plucked fresh from her garden.
I was quite excited because I remember reading about sweet potato leaves in good living magazine, but not seeing any for sale since I read the article.
I managed to catch up with Cheryl when the markets got moved temporarily to the educational pavilion of the showgrounds in favour of the orchid show.
Sweet potato leaves are high in vitamins A, C, and B2 and are used as a vegetable in some African countries and Singapore.
Each bunch, wrapped in newspaper cost . Cheap!
I cooked these in two different ways, both after removing the tougher lower stems, which can get quite fibrous. First I cooked the stems and leaves together, by panfrying with garlic and chilli. The result was very much like water spinach (kang kong) or the Chinese ‘ong choy’. The texture itself was mucaligious, or the unkind would call it ‘slimy’.
So the second time I prepared this, I used the same technique I use with Ong Choy. You separate the leaves and stems, cook the stems first, and add the leaves at the end. I noted that with these leaves, when you snipped them off from the stem, a milky white sap emerged. The second dish was a bit drier, and I added some oyster sauce at the end.
Cheryl explained that I could grow the sweet potato leaves by leaving the stems in water until the roots sprouted. The roots grew very fast, 1/2 to 1 cm per day, with a water change daily.I have had more success with them than I have had with doing the same with Vietnamese basil!

Sweet Potato leaves by A Sydney Foodie
Sweet Potato leaves, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

Here, you can see the results of one week’s worth of root growth being planted. Hopefully I can grow my own sweet potatoes, as well as the leaves to enjoy!