Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Garden share collective September - all about seeds

This month is all about seeds.  Connect with others at the Garden Share Collective.
I must admit I am not always very good at saving seeds.  Last collective I showed a lovely photo of my bok choy flowering.  I have been keeping an eye on the seeds as they began to form, last weekend I looked for my little paper seed collecting bags, and then got distracted.  Ooops - now they seem to have scattered with the wind.  A lot of my seed saving is like that, and next year I will have bok choy coming up in that same spot.
A while back there was a competition to grow oats and my grand kids got quite excited about it.  They are now ready to harvest (I think!)
 I pulled out the plants and lay them over the compost, then cut most of the seed heads off.  the remainder of the plants went straight into the compost tumbler - lots of lovely greens (and probably a few seeds I missed!) The seeds are now in a paper bag pegged on the washing ling line under the eaves.  That is what I do with most of my seeds to finish drying them.  I am going to have to research how to process the oat seeds - we will probably have enough to make one granola bar each lol!  It is good for children to follow the process from farm to plate though.

 Here is some more bok choy - the seeds seem to explode really fast - I would normally wait until after the flowering has stopped, but I might be waiting too late.  When do you cut the seed heads off?
My coffee bush is full of flowers.  Last year I got a few coffee beans but didn't process them as I had so few.  I think I will have a few more this year!  I noticed ants climbing up the main trunk, and I am not sure what that means.  I sprayed the trunk with a garlic chili spray, but need to do more research on that too.
 This Darwin lettuce was good, so I will be saving the seeds from that as well.
 My main crop of rocket is going to seed, so I planted a few more seeds next to the tatsoi - both of my favourite greens.  this was where the oats were.
I decided to try some microgreens in a polystyrene tub - this time of year when it get so hot and humid most people don't grow greens as they shoot up and go to seed too fast.  I thought if I grew them intensely and then harvested them as microgreens that might be the answer for this time of year.  I have so enjoyed eating salads out of the garden these past few months.  There are still lots of cherry tomatoes so I need something to go with them!
 The purple king beans didn't do too well - neither did the radishes, so I dug in lots of compost and a mix of manures.  The soil is friable for at least a spade depth down so it should be good for below ground crops.  I planted some jicama against the fence and bok choy in the front. Does anyone have any suggestions why I cannot grow beets or radishes - they just do not form a bulb.  Last time I grew jicama it was the same thing, so I am giving them another go.  In the central bed the sweet potatoes are lovely - I keep harvesting them and then planting out another section so that I have a continuous crop.  This is also the bed where I grew ginger last summer.

I had a seed swap with Liz at 8 acres a while back and received some of her tatsoi seeds.  This introduced me to a wonderful green that I might not have tried otherwise. It is amazing - lovely dark green and it lasts washed in the fridge or out in the garden where I can just snip off leaves as needed.  In fact looking back my best plants have come from seeds that other gardening bloggers have sent me.  Amaranth from Kate at Vegetable Vagabond.  Bok choy from Tracy at Sunny corner farm. I have sent out quite a few seeds in exchange - hope they have also become firm favourites.

To do:
Save bok choy seeds
Save tropic tomato seeds
Research how to process the oats
Research how to process coffee so that I am prepared
Research about ants on coffee trees.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday weekly menu

I have a couple of linkys that I am joining in to do my weekly menu plans - It is great as I can get tips and it also keeps me doing it
These are the places I am linking to

Here is my weekly menu with costs.

Week 1 Lunch Dinner Shopping list
Mon  Lentil soup Leftover curried chicken with rice and dahl. oats .99, granola 3.85,greek yoghurt 5.00, chocolate chips 3.10, milk 2.70
Tues prawns with salad Indivual meat loaves, sweet potato, salad
Wed Tuna patties with salad Pork chops with Jamies stir fried vegetables Prawns 4.76, Frozen pizza on clearance 3.00, T bone steaks 7.48, Porterhouse steaks 11.28,  eggs 3.50,  
Thur Curried lentil soup Chargrilled chicken drumsticks with tabbouli
Fri Leftover chicken with salad Frozen pizza with salad Mushrooms 2.98, slaw 2.25, leek 1.98, carrots 1.98, sweet potatoes 3.92, cucumber 1.5  pumpkin 3.88, watermelon 4.15, pears 2.48, mandarins 1.35, lemons 2.78, strawberries 4.00
Sat Meat loaf with salad Black bean and ham soup- cook extra beans for tues salad. Banana chock chip muffins
Sun Black bean and ham soup T bone steaks with salad on barbeque

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stop food waste

This was posted recently on social media
Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough for everyone.

It just makes me so sad that people are suffering from hunger and we are wasting food.  I found that menu planning has really helped in our household with controlling the grocery bills and also with food waste.  We still buy things not on the shopping list, but our food waste is minimal.  If something is not salvageable it goes into the compost.  I think we all have ideas though that might help others to budget, plan meals and use up leftovers.  I am going to post our weekly menu, shopping list, some recipes and costs and then do a re-cap to see how we fared.  Are you willing to join me in this?

For now I will just post mine and follow along with anyone who wants to join in - then if there are enough people interested we could do a regular linky.

I normally shop over the weekend so start my menu from Monday - this was an example of last weeks shopping and menu. If something is already in the garden or pantry or freezer I dont add it to the shopping list, and if I am shopping and see a really good deal I will buy it and include it down the line.

 I have posted the Cauliflower and chickpea salad in my recipes as it was awesome.  Lately I have fallen love with patties and always have ziplock bags of lemon tuna patties and curried chickpea patties.  This week I tried a new recipe for chicken patties, they are a bit different as they are baked in muffin pans, and with a few adaptations that recipe also turned out to be a keeper. Better than chicken nuggets is what I called them.

This blog Dont waste the crumbs has some awesome tips on meal planning and budgeting.  Feel free to add links to your favourite meal planning and budgeting sites in the comments.
Week  Lunch Dinner  Shopping list 
Mon  Pita with cheese and salad Cauliflower and chickpea salad Eggs 2.99, basmati rice 3.29, olives 5.00, milk 1.8, barley 1.55 black beans 5.30 peanuts 2.68, dates 2.00, bread 3.00,
Tues Cauliflower and chickpea salad with boiled egg Leftover roast beef and vegetables
Wed Leftover roast beef and veggies Chicken nuggets, baked potato, tomato onion sauce and bok choy from the garden. Chicken drumsticks 3.84, leg of lamb 22.83,
Thur Chick pea patties with leftover veggies Leftover chicken nuggets with broccoli and carrots
Fri Salad Fish and chips out Cucumber 2.95, broccoli 1.78, potatoes 1.64, onions 1.96, pears 2.50, bananas 3.04, lettuce 1.50,
Sat Lemon tuna patties with salad Roast leg of lamb with veggies
Sun Vegetable soup - make extra to freeze Leftover leg of lamb with veggies


Monday, September 7, 2015

Garden share Collective September - Garden size is a slice of pie!

I have had visitors so am a little late for this post. Here is Lizzies post where you can see the other bloggers talking about the size of their gardens  Garden share collective.

Over the weekend I paced out my garden and it is a triangle 12ft long by 10ft wide.  This photo is taken looking roughly South, so gets the morning sun, and afternoon shade.  To the right I have climbing snow peas and beans with lettuces and tomatoes in front.  Also a few volunteer pawpaw trees.  To the left I have (from the front) spring onions, barbadoes cherry tree, rocket, cucumber on a frame, eggplant in wicking beds, lettuces, volunteer sweet potatoes, tropic tomatoes and a dwarf mandarine lime tree.
This photo is taken from the herb spiral where my veggie garden comes into a narrow point, looking West.  The first bed is a herb spiral that over the years has flattened out and merged into the surrounding area incorporating some gerber daisies as that is one of the few sunny spots in the garden. At the back of that is an old gazebo frame which has orchids hanging on it.  The herb spiral has a rosemary bush on top, then cuban oregana, sawtooth coriander, flat and curly parsley, dill, garlic chives.

This photo is taken from the other corner of the triangle. Next to the mandarine lime tree I have two old council bins they were giving away at one stage.  They are great for storing excess mulch, potting mix, buckets etc.  The bed behind that is my perrenial bed with lemongrass, vanilla, coffee, peppercorns, asparagus tomatoes and polysterene boxes of mint and kang kong next to the path.

This has been a very productive season for me.  Lots of leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes for salad.  Cucumbers have suffered from downy mildew - even the so called resistant variety.  My new favourite green is tatsoi - I got some seeds in a seed swap and sowed them pretty liberally, and am I glad I did!  I got them from Liz at Eight acres - thanks so much - now you can see your seeds in action!

Blue lake beans were not too succesful - only providing a snack for the gardener, never a meal for the family.  Snow peas likewise.  Tropic tomatoes have been amazing and have been feeding our family and all the neighbours for months now.  This is a pretty regular daily harvest, without the leafy greens which I pick as needed. I let these eggplant get a little over-ripe but they were still great roasted.

In fact I never got around to picking this bok choy and it is going to seed - I think the flowers are supposed to be good in salads, so I might pick some and save some. 

My visitors loved eating out of my little slice of paradise.  I think the fact that it is shaped like a slice of pie is a good thing!  

Monday, August 17, 2015

My garden is a delight for the senses

I have been wandering around the garden wondering how it will look in the eyes of my visitors.  Will they gaze up in awe at the wall of hanging lady slipper orchids?

Will they enjoy picking the parsely and bokchoy  in the herb spiral as the bright gerbera daisy nods them a lazy good morning?

 Will they anxiously watch as each tomato starts to colour and quickly pick them before the birds do?

I know we will all be reminiscing about the last time we ate garden figs together in the garden forty years ago!

I will be back after my little holiday - see you in September!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Showcase of interesting ideas

I have been contacted on occasion by readers who want to get the word out about kickstarters or new ideas.  We are living in a changing world and it is marvellous to see little businesses pop up as a result of kickstarters.  This gives people the opportunity to get something off the ground, and I am happy to support some of them.  I am going to do a monthly blog post showcasing new ventures, products and ideas.  If anyone wants to reward me for this I will of course accept products to try, but will be fair and honest in my assesment. I will disclose this information as required, I have not received any renumeration for these products.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has -- Margaret Mead. 

Self watering pots:
These little pots are great, every time I visit one of my daughters I set them up with some herbs in pots and they always die.  The only ones that do survive are the ones I plant in self watering pots.  I reckon these are perfect     kickstarter - connect a pot.

There is a free app that has just been released in Melbourne called sustain me, at the moment just in Victoria but with plans to expland.  It provides information of what, how and where your waste items can be recycled, upcycled, donated or thrown away.  I cant wait until it gets up to Queensland as it looks like a very useful app. You can find more information here

Keeping cameras dry
After spending so much of my life in and around the water I realize the benefit of a really good dry bag, and I would reccomend this  waterproof swymbag

Spice mixes
I have a friend - Sally, who started a market stall selling spices, and it has really taken off - she has some lovely dinner packs and some unusual spices that are hard to find.  She also finds some awesome recipes to share, and information about how spices affect your health.  She will post anywhere in Australia - here is her facebook page Wild about Spices  The list of products and prices is in the view menu section.

If you want to try fermenting these fermenting bottles looks awesome.  They started out as a kickstarter and at the moment are only available in the US.  I am definitely going to buy some next time I am visiting my daughter there.  I love the way the spring holds the produce down under the liquid.

What new products have you discovered recently?

I will include a photo of a sunbird on my lady slipper orchid just for your enjoyment and because I honestly cannot post without a photo!  It just looks strange :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Garden share collective, wrapping up July

Time to share our gardens again! - here is the link .  Our wrap up will now be at the end of the month, although I will be a little late for the end of August as I will have family from overseas visiting..
July has been a good month in my little tropical garden.  I have been working really hard to make sure that we have something to harvest.
Cucumbers: We had tons of rain which some of the garden liked, but the cucumbers which had been doing well got downy mildew, so they had to be ripped out before it spread to the other new cucumbers I had planted.  I am not sure if they will have fruit by the time August 18th rolls around.

Tomatoes: The two tropic tomato bushes that a friend gifted me have been overloaded with fruit and the cherry tomatoes are also doing well, so I think this month will be all about the tomatoes.
 Eggplant:  The eggplant went through a bit of a slow phase, but then when I cut back the barbados cherry and they got more light they took off.  here are the round Thai ones and I accidently left one to get quite big and it was lovely and tender.
 I also have the long purple ones.
 I bought a punnet of silverbeet on the clearance rack and they are looking quite nice and healthy - unlike the ones I grew from seed.   This plant in the front is watercress
 I also have lots of peppery rocket, and also a new to me plant - amsterdam celery - which is a great addition to salads.
 Choko:  The choko vine is growing, but no sign yet of any fruit.
 Blue lake beans:  The vines look healthy and I have seen a few flowers but no beans yet.
 Snow peas:  Snow peas are travelling up their trellises, but sure taking their time to fruit as well.  Once again maybe I am just being impatient.  In front of them is darwin lettuce which seems to like this climate.  It is similar to a romaine, although the leaves are soft and floppy.
Lettuces and greens: Something started chomping on my red leaf lettuces, so I got out my chili garlic spray and shood them away.    Tatsoi and bok choy have been planted but not growing that fast.  I suppose since I start from seed it seems to take forever, but I just love the whole process.

Sweet potato:  Volunteers are popping up all over the place, and that is fine I reckon they are growing under the lettuces so maybe they can have a symbiotic relationship!  I seem to have another round of coffee beans starting up.  I didnt do anything with the last ones, but the birds sure enjoyed them!

Pawpaw: I picked the first of our red papaya, and there are lots more on the tree - yum.  It is not as red fleshed as some that I have seen.

To do:  I have been spreading out a bit of chook manure and blood and bone and watering in well and then have also mixed up a foliar spray of charlie carp and sulphate of potash and will continue to keep that and the mulch up to date.  Regular watering is sometimes hard as I have been leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark. If it doesnt rain I get the hubby to turn on the soaker hoses once or twice a week.


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