Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mini vegetables

One of the things I always enjoy so much when I visit South Africa is the mini vegetables.  I think growing them is a very well kept secret, and have come to the conclusion that  most of the time they are just picked early.  That might be very helpful in my climate - fraught with humidity and lots of bugs.  Searching on the internet has come up with two different options - hybrid seeds bred to produce smaller varieties or growing the plants very close together and harvesting early.
One thing the mini vegetables are used for is to cook in a potjie.  This is a cast iron three legged pot and it is cooked for a long time over a fire - or in reality just a few coals mounded around and some laid on the lid.  My brother cooked a marvelous chicken potjie, flavored with ginger, scallions, lemongrass and coconut milk.    Once the chicken was almost cooked a layer of mini vegetables were laid on top.  Yummy!


So just when I was thinking I wouldn't be planting any more seeds since the wet season is coming and I want to grow plants true to my climate...... another package arrives from MrFothergills


 Now do I plant these seeds while they are still fresh and take a chance on the wet season with its mildew, bugs and incessant rain arriving late?  One option is to assume that I might have to harvest early - before everything reaches full size - yup short season mini veg. None of these seeds in this package are suitable for this other than the chili peppers, so will keep the remaining seeds for spring planting, but I am looking through my seeds to find some other quick growing veggies I can plant now.  When I returned from my holiday and realized I am planting everything too far apart I also thought that growing and harvesting quickly, before everything gets to full size is a great idea in this climate.  Get them before the bugs can!  I am going to try zuchini again - the last lot melted into a rotting mess, but I think I am willing to give them another go. My gem squash plants are already looking good. I do have the lebanese eggplant, and they are great when picked small, although that bush seems to be undergoing some sort of stress at the moment - I am hoping I am not going to lose it.  Does anyone else grow mini vegetables?

15 comments:

  1. Those veggies look like they would be yummy additions:) No garden anything here when it comes to mini veggies....I wish...but not so much. The smallest thing we have here are kumquats and those will be ready in December:)

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    1. they are perfect in any type of stew etc.

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  2. I don't purposely grow mini vegetables but we always get a few baby potatoes when we harvest and some tiny carrots will come out when I pull the one next to them (because I plant too close I guess). Baby beetroot and baby squash are just harvested early.

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    Replies
    1. Roz,
      I also harvest things early because sometimes I just cant wait :)

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  3. Yes, my dear, mini vegetables are available. The hotels here use them in the fancy dishes that are prepared for the tourists.
    I know my girlfriend brought some seeds back from the US to try this year.
    Thanks for the photo of the potjie, but what really caught my eye, was the lovely cake/bread being sliced up in the background.

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    Replies
    1. virginia,
      I will continue to look for seeds,,, Ah my brothers legendary bread. Unfortunately I cant pass on a recipe as he just throws in bits and pieces - corn, flour, beer etc. then he bakes it in a little tin alongside the fire. It is always yummy

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    2. A bread with beer as one of the ingredients.....sounds tasty.

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  4. That pot looks marvelous. I once tried baby carrots but otherwise I've never done the mini veg thing.

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    Replies
    1. VG,
      I wish I could put one in my suitcase - but they are very heavy..... You have to be careful with baby carrots because sometimes they are big carrots milled down to look like baby carrots lol!

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  5. Never... but it sounds enticing. I actually prefer baby carrots.

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    Replies
    1. I love the way that they cook so evenly and seem to soak up the juices so nicely. Also they are super cute!

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  6. I've never grown them before but must do some research now that you've got me thinking. Love that Potje too. Did you buy that here in Australia?

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    Replies
    1. Chez,
      No that potjie photo was taken during my holiday back to South Africa last month. I think you can buy them from SATOOZ. I have one without the legs sold in regular camping stores.

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  7. Never having had a garden of my own I have never grown them. Great photos. I love grape and cherry tomatoes...actually, I love all tomatoes, but especially fresh garden ones. Nice post!

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  8. I have never eaten mini vegetables apart from baby corn (the canned stuff) or baby carrots but now I know about it... Thanks!

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