Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Garden planning near and far

I have my little sheet all printed out with the plants I am going to plant this year. I sway back and forth about moon planting, but generally try to plant by the moon.  It does make sense to use the gravitational force of the moon if you can.  One thing that has never been made clear to me is - does it work the same for seeds and for seedlings? I have lots of compost brewing, as well as three buckets of worm castings.   Exciting times.

 I have seeds, and have purchased a little greenhouse.  It might seem an odd thing to do in my hot, wet climate, but in actual fact, I am hoping this will at least control the amount of water my little seedlings get.  If it gets too hot in there, I will add a shadecloth over the top.  I also plan to grow the microgreens in there as they get so many bugs out in the garden.  There has been an ever so slight decrease in temperature,
Remember my gorgeous dragon fruit flowers?  Well, they matured into lovely luscious fruit, and my grand daughter was trilled to see this one was in the shape of a heart!.
 The garden has not been empty all this time, every spare spot has been filled with turmeric, ginger or sweet potato.  The polystyrene trays have been left out and seaweed dumped on top of them, so that will be some lovely soil built up in there as that all rots down.

 Even though the heat this summer has been excessive, some plants in the herb spiral have done very well. My moringa tree has taken off and I need to keep harvesting the leaves to keep it low an bushy.  the Mexican tarragon, sawtooth coriander and lemon balm look good, and the parsley is still going strong in the polystyrene box.

As well as my own garden I am also going to be starting a little raised bed garden for my daughter when I go to visit her in America in July.  She lives in zone 7, so it is a whole different climate for me. I am thinking of getting them a raised bed, if any of my readers have any ideas of gardening in that climate please leave ideas or tips in the comments.

I also am going to have to think about making my garden as maintenance free as possible. since hubby will be left holding the fort here. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kimchi and fermentation

Last week I attended a two hour course on making kimchi - what fun.  I tried a couple of times before to make fermented vegetables and really was not that confident. It was nice to do a course.  This is done in the jar, so small quantities, which I like the idea of - I cant imagine how long it would take me to go through the amount of sauerkraut that one head of cabbage would make.
When I came home I found I had a few cucumbers in the fridge so set up some lacto fermented cucumbers.
Here is my kimchi:

Yesterday was five days, so I gingerly opened the jar and took out the cabbage leaf plug, still held very securely underneath the liquid.  It has very nice flavor and crunch.  It is hot here, so fermentation is maybe faster than it would be in colder climates. I make water kefir and it is ready in two or three days.  
The cucumber was tasty and about as crisp as other pickles I have tasted.  We cannot get grape or oak leaves here, so I put in a black tea bag. 
I have been looking online and researching other recipes. Does anyone else ferment?  What is your favorite recipe?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Seeds ordered

I know I have mentioned in the past that I really love to order seeds from The Seed Collection.  I just placed another order to get ready for my growing season.  They have a great selection and all their seeds seem to come up and grow into healthy plants.  They also have some great articles, a couple written by yours truly. .
Disclaimer - I did receive credit for some articles I wrote. This is one on  Wicking boxes  and the other one is one of my favourite subjects Composting. 

This is what I ordered - some old favourites and some new ones.
I packet of five assorted leafy Asian greens
Mibuna - this looks like an interesting one - quite mustardy so I plan to pick when young.
Choi San - similar to bok choy which grows well in my climate
Mizuna - I love this in my mixed salad greens that I buy but have never tried growing it
Garland - an edible leaved chrysanthemum 
Tatsoi - love this - one of my all time favourites. It is a little like baby spinach.
Corn Salad - we used to buy this in France - so awesome - I just hope I can grow it here!
Capsicum - Yolo Wonder - last year I had great success with capsicum so hope that continues
Silverbeet - magenta - everyone else grows great big gluts of silverbeet, I keep trying
Beetroot - bulls blood - I have yet to grow an actual bulb, but at least the leaves are tasty
Tomato - cherry cocktail - I do have these popping up everywhere, but want to ensure a good supply
Tomato - yellow pear - these are lovely - pretty and very very tasty
Chili - Hungarian yellow wax - I grew these years ago and they were very prolific and didn't seem to attract as many pests as capsicum.
Kale - red russian - I have never had huge success with kale, so am trying a different kind
Lettuce - Parris Island Cos - One of the few lettuces that grow well here. 
Rocket  - love rocket - I do have some of the wild perennial rocket growing now but this is an annual
Squash - trombonchino - these are just so cute looking - I don't have a lot of room, so hoping to grow it up a trellis. 

I always get so excited at this time of year, anticipating a garden chock a block full of yummy vegetables. Are you trying some new vegetables this year?  or sticking to the old tried and true favourites?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dragons in fruit salad alley

When I planted the dragonfruit I really wondered if I was doing the right thing.  They can get very large, and they are quite prickly.  During the week one of the branches started to flop out towards the carport, so I tied it back, wondering if this plant was really such a great idea.  Glancing down I noticed some flowers started to form.  Well, that could be a game changer.
Heading out for my morning walk during the week my eye was drawn to the most awesome HUGE flowers.  Ohmigosh!

 Two flowers!

There were some native bees buzzing around and by the end of the day the flowers had flopped down and closed.  Now I wait and see whether the bees did their job.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Garden Share Collective January

This months garden share collective is all about herbs.  This is the middle of the wet season, when everything struggles with the heat, humidity and occasional floods..  Everything except the weeds that is.  A neighbor kindly offered me a couple of barrow loads of mulch, and the weed spiral was the first to benefit.  I pulled out weeds, and drastically cut back the plants that were there.  Something was really enjoying the lemon balm, and it wasn't me!  Then I spread out a fairly thick layer of mulch.
 In the herb spiral I have cuban oregano - a tropical perennial that is similar to oregano in taste, but the leaves are quite fleshy.  Very versatile - I use it in any sort of tomato based dishes.  It doesn't get any bugs, and there is a green and a variegated one. It sort of wanders around, but never gets overwhelming.  The perfectly behaved plant!  Then on the other hand I have sawtooth coriander - oh my gosh, if you don't keep cutting off those little spiky flowers it will spread everywhere!  My hubby is one of those people who hates the smell and the taste, whereas I just love the fresh clean smell that emanates from it while watering.  The taste is just like the regular coriander leaves, but sooo much easier to grow. Right in the top section I have rosemary.  My last rosemary bush died so this is a replacement.  In the bottom corner I have a struggling bay tree, and right next to it mexican tarragon.  That makes a lovely fresh tea (as does the lemon balm).  the tree is a moringa which is supposed to be so good for you.  I occasionally grab a few leaves to munch on while I am gardening.
 In the back section I have mint in a wicking bed, with thai basil and tumeric alongside it.  The tumeric pops up throughout the garden during the wet season.
  Alongside the fence is lemongrass - I made lemongrass chicken last night - sooo yummy.  Basil is another plant that pops up in odd corners, but you can never have too much basil. I also have my ginger bed - I use a lot of ginger, and luckily never have to buy any - this keeps me supplied.

Parsley struggles on with the heat, but as long as I keep re-planting we do ok.
Most of the gardens in Australia seem to be struggling with the heat this year, but herbs are often the one plant that survive through it all - luckily for us gardeners, as they are so wonderful to add an extra special something to our meals.
Do check out all the others in the garden share collective rosehips and rhubarb or on  facebook. , and share in the fun by telling us what herbs you are growing.  You might be surprised like I was, at what a variety you have in your garden.
I will be planting out some microgreen beds shortly, and I have ordered seeds to get ready for my March planting.
I am harvesting lovely asparagus - at least a couple of stalks every day.  It is tender all the way down the stalk, and the flavour is awesome.  I have been making smoked salmon and asparagus frittata, and steamed asparagus with a little butter and lemon juice - oh yummmmm!
Also harvesting the odd pawpaw and lots of passionfruit.  I have some pawpaws coming up, and want to try and plant out a couple between March and July as I have heard those wont grow as tall - has anyone heard this?
To do
I mulched most of the garden, but still the weeds seem to appear, so it is a continuous thing to keep weeding.  I picked up a bit of seaweed and lay that over a couple of areas.  The asparagus especially loves that.  I also have to keep moving the compost out of the tumbler and into the bin so continue composting down.  The worms are also going crazy munching on everything I put into their buckets so I need to harvest some of the castings to provide them with a cleaner living environment.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Reduce, re-use, recyle and garden tool maintenance

I had been using an old wooden cupboard outside under the eaves for my gardening "stuff".  As so often happens these days a lot of the cupboard was made of chipboard.  Once that starts to get a bit damp it disintegrates.  My dear hubby thought there would be enough of the solid wooden parts to make up a few shelves in our hot water cupboard to create some shelving space.  He set to, measuring demolishing and stacking all my gardening stuff into a precarious pile.
I very cleverly stayed inside sewing because there it was nicely cool in the air-conditioning.
Once the shelves were completed I gathered my tools together and started to clean them.   I have wanted to do this for a long time.
 I had two buckets, one with hot soapy water, and one for rinsing water.  All the tools went into the hot soapy water first.  After scrubbing off residual dirt I began to take them apart.  The better quality tools came apart right down to the bare bones.  I scrubbed off the rust with steel wire wool, and sandpaper.
After another good wash and rinse the pieces sat out in the hot sun to dry thoroughly.
Some tools, like this saw, didn't come apart more than this. Well maybe someone else could have taken it apart further, but it seemed to me that just removing the blade would do a good enough job, and it did.  All the sharp edges were sharpened with a file.
The next job was to oil every piece of metal and then re-assemble them.  I kept the pieces of each tool separate, and everything went back together very easily.  I have seen this done so many times on gardening shows and thought it was something I needed to do someday.  I am so glad that I did.
Now I tend to get very involved in my gardening and when packing up and I am hot and sweaty the last thing I want to do is clean my tools and pack them away neatly.  I guess that is going to have to change.  My tools are now all nicely cleaned, sharpened and oiled, and in order to keep them that way I have an oily rag handy to wipe them off every time.
Have you ever cleaned your gardening tools?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

No shop week and meal planning

Last weekend we didn't go grocery shopping.  I implemented a no shop week on the spur of the moment - no pre-planning, no notification so we could stock up!  My dear hubby is quite used to my impulsive nature by now.  He calls it my "shoot from the hip attitude."  This was mainly brought about because I got stuck in to cleaning the sliding glass doors on Saturday which turned into a major living room clean, and I didn't want to get cleaned up to go into town and shop for groceries.
I did a quick inventory of the veggies and fruit and fresh stuff and knew that the freezer was well stocked.  I always have a loose menu plan for the week in mind and thought I would be able to wing it.
On Saturday we had a nice little barbeque in the back yard.  Home made boerewors (South African sausage) baked potatoes and a salad. Sunday, hubby was busy doing a bit of reduce, re-cyle and re-use which I will tell you about in another post. Luckily I was inside with the aircon on, sewing for my new little grand daughter

Asparagus and smoked salmon frittata was a good meal to have when we were both busy with other things, and I had a few stalks of asparagus that needed picking..  On Monday I made a meatloaf, a nice Italian style free form one, chocka block full of veggies, grated zuchini, carrot, onion and held together with a couple of eggs and some oats.  Served with roasted veggies, super healthy and super tasty.  I had salad ingredients to use up, so Tuesday the meatloaf was served with a salad.  My yummy shasushka that I made on Sunday morning provided a pre-cooked breakfast for the next three days.

 Frozen soups worked for lunches (ham and pea from the Christmas ham bone).  The rest of the meatloaf was used up with salads for lunches.  My hubby makes an excellent meat and potato bake so it was his turn to cook on Wednesday, and since the veggie drawer was getting rather empty I used up the last of the carrots, with some frozen peas and a mix of green beans and spinach out of the garden.  There is enough of that left over and it will be padded out with frozen veggies for dinner tonight as the veggie drawer is now empty.
I was planning on waiting until Friday to shop but have now heard that the birthday party we were planning for Saturday will have to be held on Friday. I will have to stop by on my way home and get some ingredients to bake the carrot cake, and veggies to go with the steak and boerewors that are already in the freezer. That shortens my no shop week by one day, but I think we did ok, and the bank balance is a bit puffier.
Is anyone else sharing their weekly menus?  I know I haven't been consistent up to now, but think I might do this from now on.
A no shop week once a month is now going to be implemented too.  Does anyone else do this?


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