Archive for the 'vegetable growing' Category

It’s always so sad to say goodbye

Even though hardly anyone reads this, I do feel like I should say goodbye on this blog, on the off chance someone finds it.

This is only a young blog, but I started it to record my gardening progress.  However, I feel that now I would like people to use it, to download freebies, to be inspired about gardening.  So I have moved it hook, line and sinker to  a new place called Out from under my hat.  This will mean that it is under the umbrella of my other blog and therefore will probably get more readers.  Which will make it feel less self-indulgent and more useful.

Garden work … or is it?

Click on the image to enlarge.

To me working in the garden is not a chore.  Sometimes I look out my bedroom window into the walled garden on the land owned by the body corporate (the group of owners of our townhouses, of which I am one of six) and wish I could get out there for more than a harvesting stroll, a watering stroll or an admiring stroll, but paying work or whatever other busyness keeps me from it.

But this last weekend, curiosity got the better of me.  Such deep and meaningful questions arose, like, whatever happened to those carrots and onions I planted several weeks ago?  Are they under all those weeds?  And, how can I help the tomatoes along in this cooler than the coolest of summers the whole of New Zealand is having right now?  The answer came to me, in a flash.  I’ll get out and do some good, old-fashioned weeding.

This was rewarding in many ways.  For example, weeding usually turns up a number of what I call “free gifts”.  I found self-seeded silverbeet, spinach and lettuce, which I was able to rescue and put elsewhere, in the area reserved for silverbeet, spinach and lettuce.  I was also able to harvest a lot of silverbeet, spinach and parsley, with which I concocted several new recipes (post coming soon) including a delicious silverbeet and potato soup (like leek and potato, only different).  I made a huge pot of that, which is now in single servings in the freezer.  I also had a lot to offer to the neighbours, in the spirit of sharing, which always feels good.

I also gave my compost a good turn over, in my hunt for some ready compost, that luscious soil from the bottom of the compost pile, which I lovingly put around my just-weeded and growing plants to encourage them on, and thank them from the bottom of my heap (sic).

To help the tomatoes, I removed the lower leaves so that more sun gets to them, and staked them to the archway and a peice of string I have tied between the archway and a post I put in to tie string to.

I have heard that gardening is good for the soul, because it inspires hope.  I just love my garden and thank God for it every moment I think of it.

BTW, if you are interested in the image I made above, it uses the Classroom colour scheme, which I made at colourlovers.com.  At some stage I will make the layout available from my artmama blog as a freebie, so please look out for it.  The same image but with a different background was used for my post with My Miracle Cream moisturiser recipe.  The handwriting font I used is JULES P.C. WIMMIN which I sell in my shop.  That particular font only uses capital letters and has dingbats in place of lowercase letters.

How I like to eat

I want to eat healthy, planned meals based around what is growing in the garden.  My goal is to inventory the freezer and the shelves every couple of weeks, and stroll around the garden at the same time to see what is ready.  This cuts supermarket costs, but it also means that food ready to harvest doesn’t go to waste, and we are eating fresh, organic, and in season.  Sometimes the overpriced organic food I see in the stores looks like it is days old.  I like eating food the same day I pick it.  It is infinitely better for me, and of course the taste and texture is also beyond compare.

Soon I will be having salads with tomatoes, orach, rocket and cos.  Coriander, zucchini, silverbeet, carrots, onions and leeks.  Dwarf and climbing beans, as well as digging up three different varieties of potatoes, purple, red and white.  Not to mention the strawberries and raspberries.  No cucumbers this year though.  Oh and there is already delicious asparagus.

So I should be able to create something beautiful with that lot.  But still, I want more variety.

Afterword: if you happen to like the image at the top of this post, a blank version is free for download from my artmama blog here.  The font I used for the hand writing is jules-te-reo which is sold in a pack of 8 fonts here at my shop.  And yes, that is my own handwriting.

The charms of silverbeet

I love silverbeet, or is it swiss chard?  Here in New Zealand we call it silverbeet.

I have so much of it in my garden and it just keeps popping up.  Instead of weeding it, I transplant it – I consider them free plants.  I do the same when I notice lettuce plants or other plants popping up.

The problem with silverbeet is that most people don’t know what to do with it, and they may have memories of having it plain and boiled as children.  Understandable then that they don’t find the thought of it appetising.

Besides making a cheese and silverbeet sauce to have with pasta, another thing I often do is grate it in the food processor, mix it with eggs, grated potatoes, some wholegrain oats, salt and pepper and a bit of flour to bind it together and frying them as patties or fritters (the difference is the amount of flour added).  Absolutely delicious.  In fact my daughter made these today for lunch.  She commented that it was so lucky that we have some silverbeet that has grown in the gap between the paving and the wall, because it is so convenient for harvesting.

A winter overing

A winter not in the gardenIt has been a sad time over winter.  I wasn’t sure if I would get to garden in the bigger spot next to my townhouse again.  Some new owners bought a place in our body corporate (the body corporate is the group of the six of us owners who own a townhouse each) and the new owners were keen to assert their part in the ownership over the bit of land next to my house.  There was talk that the garden my daughter and I had lovingly worked in and shared produce with the other owners from in the last nine years should be converted to lawn, so that everyone could use it. 

That’s how it was when we bought our townhouse, it was lawn, which everyone could use.  No one came and sat in it, or helped maintain the hedge, or helped cut it down, or paid for the fence, or mowed the lawn.  It was all left to me.  It was too much hassle for anyone else to do anything, and they weren’t interested in sitting or standing or doing anything in it.  So my daughter and I painstakingly converted it to garden, a patch at a time.  A season at a time.  A mosaic paving stone at a time.  What fun. 

When talk of the garden being converted to lawn was first floated at the AGM, I was so shocked, hurt and outraged, when I got home that night I cried.  Various options were suggested.  I put forward the idea that we could all have a vege patch each, or have a garden committee of keen gardeners to work in it.  This was considered but then decided that it would take too much commitment and no one was really interested.  It took till winter of email discussions before the lawn idea went down the river too, because it would cost too much to do and too much to maintain.  My heart by then had gone out of the garden, I was okay with whatever everyone decided, lawn, carpark, whatever.  Although I was broken hearted.

So in the end, the cheapest option for the body corporate is for me to continue to care for it for free.  Although, the body corporate has now agreed to paint the wall and fence which is much needed.  So last weekend, I began again in ernest, patch by patch.  As I weed, I plant and the compost heap gets bigger.  Within a month, the whole lot should be weeded and planted.  The compost from last year is the most beautiful, wormy compost you could imagine.  Birds watch me, waiting for me to leave so they can be the earliest ones to get the worm, although I covered last year’s compost with old carpet to stop them.

By the way, if you like my picture above, you can get the template and put your own pictures and words in from my Art Mama blog here.  Great for recipe books, gardening records, brag book photos, visual journals etc etc.

For us, life is good.

Cooking homegrown kohlrabi at the bach

From garden to table

From garden to table

Remember that patch of Kohlrabi I planted and posted about here?  Well, just before we left for a week at Little Akaloa (we went there the day after school had finished for the year, and noone was there yet – it was like having our own private beach, but that is another story*) I checked the garden of course and saw that the kohlrabi were a bit crowded.  So I thinned them and we took them with us.

Don’t they look funny, like little aliens?  And the salad spinner on the left has the leaves, which I did use in a salad, but also chopped up and made a pasta/cheese sauce dish.  Very nice.

By the way, the font in the image here is one I have just created, and will soon be released at my shop.  Also, the layout, minus the photos and text of course is available as a 300dpi 6×4 png with transparent bits for popping your own photos in hereFree.  It’s a wee brag book page.  I also used it with a photo of my daughter and her sports trophies, that is zipped up with it, as well as a discount coupon for my other fonts (just thought you may be interested).

Anyway, the recipe is a freestyle adaption of one I posted here.  You can do it with whatever you have.  Do let me know how you get on.

* Little Akaloa was where we were over Christmas.  No, this year I did not get to have a traditional Christmas day swim – Felicity did though, with Hambley the pug, but I was too busy gathering heart-shaped stones – so many at Little Ak – and an abundance of gorgeous, coloured, worn bits of glass.  See where Little Akaloa is here.

Purple potatoes and what to do with them.

What to do with purple potatoes

What to do with purple potatoes

I love to grow veges which are a bit different.  They delight us and our guests and give me a new riddle to solve – what to do with them.  Of course recipe books don’t cover the food I have, mostly grown from heirloom seeds, so I have to make up my own.  When I plant something new, half of the fun is thinking what to do with them.  I like plain cooking:

“Suppose you learn plain cooking. That’s a useful accomplishment, which no woman should be without,” said Mrs. March, laughing inaudibly at the recollection of Jo’s dinner party, for she had met Miss Crocker and heard her account of it.  Excerpt from Chapter 11, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

And what is plainer than mashed potatoes?  These beautiful Urenika purple potatoes are divine boiled (the water turns green) then mashed with butter and milk.  So creamy.  And the purple looks enticing on the plate alongside salad greens. 

I love to make Shepherds Pie.  It’s very easy.  In a bowl, I just mix together a bunch of freshly harvested, washed, chopped, leafy vegetables and some cooked ground beef with some chopped tomatoes (I used last season’s tomatoes which I froze in blocks of 400g, lightly thawed, then chopped in the food processor).  When this was mixed together, I put it some pretty oven proof dishes, and the mashed potato was put on the top, under some grated cheese. 

As for the vegetables to put in Shepherd’s Pie, whatever is green and in the garden will work.  At the moment there are a lot of silverbeet, leek, asparagus, celery, parsley.  Just think what vitamin and mineral goodies this combination of vegetables have in them!  Soon there will be beans (here in New Zealand).  So depending on what is available, this dish will always taste different.  And you don’t need to have ground beef.  My 13 year old daughter made up a beautiful recipe with tuna (same principle, but no longer called Shepherd’s Pie, she calls it Tuna Bake).  Or you can put beans in, or lentils.  Or sausages, or not have meat at all. 

This is cooking freestyle, kind of Plain Cooking.  Surprise me!


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