Posts Tagged ‘chilli’

In which I struggle to regain my gardening spark

We have decided not to enter our garden in the local open garden this year. The decision has left me a little short for inspiration in the garden, especially with a lot of digging due to be done. Mr Gorgeous came to the rescue yesterday and dug two beds for me, so I have finally planted some winter crops.

I have however been busy dealing with the harvest, and for those who are interested in what happens to it all, I’m blogging at Donnaisplayinghouse where this month I’m going to have a red hot go at not buying any food for all of May. This is the second time I’ve done this challenge, and it’s been a great way to get towards the bottom of the cupboard, fridge and freezer, and to really be frugal with my resources.

I have been most encouraged though by a visit from Linda from Chloe’s Garden who popped in for a look at the garden, and within a week managed to solve my two biggest garden searches. I have been looking for a small capsicum to stuff like they do at the supermarket, and have been growing different varieties for a couple of years in the hope of finding the perfect one. Well, thanks to Linda, I now have seeds! Also, I’ve been wanting to grow tree onions, and again thanks to Linda I have a supply to get me started. What a treasure she is!

Thanks (and congratulations on the new bub) to Lizzie from the Garden share collective for hosting this blog share, and getting me off my backside and into the garden so I wouldn’t be completely ashamed of myself.

What I’m picking
Tomatoes, still, but the quality and quantity are both way down. I got enough for two meals with yesterday, but only a handful were nice enough to eat raw. I oven roasted the rest, half for tea, half for the freezer.

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Pumpkins, all at once.

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Capsicums and chillis. These have been very late bloomers and I hope I get a few more to turn red before the cold weather really hits.

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The last of the apples and pears. The pears will mostly be cooked, as the kids don’t especially like this variety raw in their lunch boxes.

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Beets. Now cooked and ready to bottle, as that’s Mr Gorgeous’s favourite.

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What I’m planting
Lots of brassicas, greens like mizuna and lettuce and chicory and Pak Choy, onions, late beets, garlic, hopefully soon some peas and broad beans.

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What I need to do
Get enthused.
Dig.
Plant.
Compost.
Just do it.

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In which I harvest like a crazy woman

March has been a big month for harvesting in the garden. My kitchen bench seems to be permanently covered in produce which needs to be dealt with urgently. Some days it seems to take all day! Cucumbers have been compulsory at every meal, and lots is being put aside for leaner days.

Other than a hand of bananas for some lovely guests, we didn’t buy any fruit or vegetables in March. We have eaten watermelon, rockmelon, apples and pears – two kinds of each. There are also grapefruit on the tree, but they will wait until the apples are all done. On occasion, the kids still look blankly into the crisper of the fridge and have to be told that the apples are still on the trees; such is the power of habit. I try to get them to bring in an armful when they go down to get one.

For this month’s blog, I thought I’d do a tour of the vegetable beds, and look at what I’m harvesting, what I’m planting, and what I need to do. It is quite long, sorry, as I have a lot of beds. At least looking at them all doesn’t take as long as weeding them! The first bed pictured here has some blueberries and artichoke at the back, and has had potatoes and zucchini this year. I took a before photo…

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Then went through and harvested the zucchinis and potatoes and took an after photo. I’ll plant some peas in here I think, because the soil looks a bit tired, and I think it could do with some extra nitrogen.

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Here’s the harvest. The potatoes, mostly kippflers, and some desiree came to the level top of my basket, and the zucchini, including the one that got away are on the top. We had a great meal of the potatoes last night. We picked up a BBQ with a lid for $40 at a garage sale, so I wrapped the spuds in alfoil with butter, chilli and rosemary, and roasted them in the BBQ. Very nice indeed.

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The next bed along has had beans, eggplant and capsicums and chillies. The eggplant is nearly all done, the capsicums are still going strong – just hitting their straps really, but the beans have all died really suddenly. The leaves went yellow and mottled, and they just stopped producing. I found quite a few juvenile vegetable bugs on the beans, but I suspect that wasn’t the whole story. Anyway, I grabbed what I could and pulled them all out. I think that I’ve neglected the soil a bit this year, and that could be the cause of my issues. I’m predicting a big manure week.
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Still, the view as the Aunty Collector and I worked, and the lovely weather this weekend made for a pleasant afternoon. When we had finished our work, the Aunty Collector grabbed the stakes and corn stalks, and had a great time making a tepee of sorts, and then trying to keep the dog out of it.(Unsuccessfully)

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The strawberry patch is a weedy disaster. I left the netting on too long so instead of grabbing a weed or two, or throwing on some mulch as I went past, things just grew like topsy under the netting. It’s a mess of runners, weeds, and I don’t know what else. Last year, I pulled everything up at the start of winter and just replaced the strawberry plants, and I got kilos of strawberries, so I think I’ll do the same again this year. Only with more mulch. And with remembering to take the netting off. And with more vigilance.

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This next bed is mostly clover since I pulled the onions and leeks. There are a few eggplants at the back, but although they have flowers, I may have put them in too late to get fruit. We’ll see.
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The corn and beans at the back are all done. Same bean problem here too. The silverbeet in the middle is THRIVING, and the beets are coming on well.
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Photo Credit: The Aunty Collector

The next three beds are where the rockmelons were. For the first time this year I’ve separated them from the pumpkins, and they’ve produced fruit. I can’t believe it took six years of swamped melons and no fruit to come up with that brainwave! There are still beans (fairly healthy) and cucumbers producing here.
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The asparagus is growing large and will be feeding the roots. I’ll need to get some manure here too.
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I planted some painted mountain corn. The ears are so beautiful. I’m drying it to see if I can make popcorn, but I have to admit I don’t know what I’m doing, and early experiments are NOT promising. Still, it’s giving me a great deal of pleasure as it graces the kitchen bench.
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Lastly the tomatoes and pumpkins are providing lots of colour and lots of meals. I’m roasting and freezing the tomatoes in Chinese food containers for winter meals. Between that, the lamb and the grated zucchini, the freezer is groaning. The purple ties you see here are an old pair of thermals!

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This poor tomato must have missed out on water. What a sorry specimen

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PLANTING
When my mum was here last year, she sorted my seeds so I could see what I should be (could get away with…) buying. Last week I finished the sort, and labelled the bags, and the resulting tidiness makes me happy.

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I’ve planted brassicas, leafy greens some late beets, and some onions. They’re happily residing in the little greenhouse.
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Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting the garden blog share. If you’ve enjoyed reading about this, you’ll probably enjoy the other gardens there too. There are lots of ideas and lots of great gardens.

The Garden Share Collective

 

In which the show comes to town!

Every year on the first Saturday in March, our local town has a show. One of the men in charge in the exhibition hall goes to our church, and one year when he was visiting us, he showed me how to pick rhubarb and prepare it for the show. Thus began my association with the show, which now sees me acting as a steward, as well as showing vegetables and cooking.
It’s one of those daggy things to do that make the show a really fun outing. Because I’m a steward, I get there really early, so my entries look very lonely for a while. Soon however the shelves fill up. From that point on though, I don’t know what’s happening with my entries, because my area of responsibility is the art section.

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At the end of the day, once all the artwork is judged and displayed, I get to rush back and see how my babies have done. This year, despite terrible weather, and me being away, the babies did very well, thank you. My highlights were my zucchinis and pink cordial which both won best in section, something I’ve never managed even once until this year. Also bringing home the bacon were beans, pumpkin (already in today’s soup for lunch) beans, tomatoes, strawberry chilli sauce, watermelon, tomatillos and cucumbers, (although the cucumbers managed to come second in a class where they were the only entry, so don’t be too effusive in your congratulations!)
So, in my acceptance speech, I’d like to thank Mr Gorgeous for his tireless watering efforts in 40 degree heat while I was away.

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Now, to what’s going on in my garden at the moment. Thanks to Lizzie at the Garden Share Collective for keeping me regularly blogging.

The Garden Share Collective

There are beans everywhere. Despite losing all their flowers in the hot weather, the plants have lived on, and are now blooming and producing lots of beans.

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The tomatoes are very late this year. I’m only just starting to get good crops now

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I’ve separated my melons from my pumpkins, thanks to some extra room this year, and finally I’m getting melons. This watermelon (sugar baby, I believe) plant died suddenly, so I’ve been bringing the melons in to eat. They were underripe, but still delicious and refreshing.

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I haven’t planted anything this month. This will almost certainly leave me with a gap in my produce, but I’ll try and plant a few brassica seeds this week, and some tomatoes and carrots. If it’s not too late, I’d like to put a few more beets in. I get a monthly email from gardenate which tells me what I can plant, although I’m never sure whether I’m temperate or cool climate here.

As soon as we get some rain, I need to start some weeding, especially of paspalum and of the strawberry patch. Also, there’s an orange winged bug I need to research to see whether it’s friend or foe.

Just as soon as I finish basking in glory…..

January, in which I chronicle the ups and downs

Firstly, Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. May this be a wonderful year full of blessings.

As I write this, it is pouring outside. I was just thinking I’d have to water the garden, but all is well. I grew up on the other side of the country, outside Perth where it seemed we were always on water restrictions, and waiting for rain. Rain was always a relief, and even now, after 10 years living in rainy Gippsland, I still feel safe when it rains. Even at the end of winter, I’m not sick of it. Even when it’s boggy outside, rain still makes me happy. Especially today, when the garden was just starting to look thirsty.

One of the best things about having a big garden is having lots of people in it. We were able to have an open house on Boxing Day, and the weather was perfect. We played our new Christmas games, Finska (like 10 pin bowling meets darts) and my fabulous new backyard Scrabble game made by Missy Moo and the Aunty Collector, with some help from Mr Gorgeous. Yay kids, I love it!
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The first sunflower has just opened. I think last year’s flowers cross pollinated. I had a sunflower called Lilac Spray from Diggers’ Club and this flower seems to be half Lilac spray and half Giant Russian, judging by the height of the flower.Does anybody else have problems with their sunflowers leaning over. Mine seem to start lurching from a very young age. This year, and last, I have planted them near the back verandah, and have strapped them up with a maze of strings. The bottom isn’t so pretty, but my flowers are all standing to attention….except the ones down the back that I haven’t quite got to yet. These sunflowers are also just near the kennel of Mollie the Collie so hopefully she’ll stop them getting in too early. The seeds will go to our chickens once they’re ready.

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The herb garden is now a real riot of herbs, and is ready for another clean out. We’ve been eating lots of herbs in a happy accidental recipe discovery. We were given a sandwich press a few years ago, by some friends who stay with us when they go to the Phillip Island Grand Prix, and have discovered it makes great omelettes, cooking the top and bottom at the same time. So with our chickens giving us 5 eggs a day, it’s the perfect meal. I chop 5 or so herbs into individual dishes, then each family member can choose what herbs they want with their 2 egg omelette. Quick, easy, and the kids reckon they could eat it every day. Not to mention the fact that they feel like they’re ordering their meals a la carte.

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The tomatoes are a riot of leaves, and finally some fruit setting. I’m always late getting fruit, perhaps because I grow from seed, perhaps because I’m always late getting things into the ground. In amongst the tomatoes, (which are planted too close, but I’m quite thin, and I’m tying them up, and anyway I have a skinny kid if I get desperate) are a bit of calendula, and lots of borage. I’m pulling the borage out in succession to make way for tomatoes and putting it into the compost. We gave away an oven a few months ago to someone who turned out to be a permaculture teacher, and she told me borage was a compost activator. So far I’d only used comfrey. Are there any other plants that do the same thing? Anyway I’m happily pulling out borage. I’ll just leave a few to bring the bees.

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This year I’m trying tomatillos. Last year I picked up a few at the West Gippsland Permaculture Group’s Swap table. (They are so kind…I didn’t even have anything to swap in) I made salsa which was delicious, even though I can’t remember what a tomatillo tastes like. So this year I’m growing my own. Maybe I’ll even take some up to the Rokeby Market and sneak them onto the WGPG Swap table!

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I know I say this every year, but I’m giving melons ONE LAST TRY. My excuse other years is that they were crowded by the pumpkins, and that’s why in the last three years I’ve had one measly rockmelon and not a single watermelon. I grow varieties that are designed for short summers (though perhaps not for the wintery conditions outside at the moment), so hopefully an improvement in their living conditions will encourage them to fruit.

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This bed is the site of the latest rampage by the chickens. The gate has dropped, and the wind blew it open I think. Then in marched the chickens. They dug for potatoes, scratched around the melons, and dug up quite a few of the capsicums, chillis and eggplants in this photo. I replanted those I found and gave the bed a good water and apart from a few that disappeared completely, they will almost certainly recover. No real harm done, despite first appearances. Some of the plants had been buried 4 inches deep.
At the back of the bed are the scarlet runner beans. They are just showing a few small beans now, so probably 10 days or so until our first beans. My other beans got completely waterlogged, and so I replanted them yesterday. Perhaps it will work out for the best, and they’ll be ready after these scarlet runners are finished. Who knows?

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The potatoes are being dug up bit by bit as we need them. This end is the Kipflers which have been doing overtime in potato salads. The sweet peas behind are well and truly finished but have been beautiful enough for us to bring them inside despite the allergies.
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The zucchini glut is, I suspect, just beginning. All seven plants have thrived, and that is too many. Let me know if you need one!

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The corn is up and doing well. Oh, and more beans! I forgot about those!
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So, what to do next?
I’ve got a small time window in which I can plant a few last summer crops.
I still haven’t pruned the lemon tree.
Also, I need to rethink how I do the chickens’ roosts. Every month or so, they all get a big fright as the roost collapses, and I rig it up again using wire loops and nails. There has to be a better way.
That should keep me busy…

In which we completely ignore the to-to list!

We’re having a lovely long weekend in the garden. But, as is our wont, we’ve started one job, which reminded us of another, then been distracted by something else, until we’ve ended up doing a completely random bunch of stuff.

After years of staking my peas with a labyrinthine system of strings and counter strings, which I have to train the peas up, much as one would train a puppy (but that’s next week’s story), this year, I have bitten the bullet and bought a whole roll of wire mesh. Usually, I plant my rows of peas north/south, as I think that would give them more sun, but this year I fitted them in around what was still kicking on from my summer garden, so I hope they are impressed enough with their new trellis  to thrive anyway, despite some extra shade.

The newly staked peas

The newly staked peas

This always seems a very unfruitful time of year. The summer bounty is all in, but the winter crops aren’t producing yet. I do have kale, which I’ve continued to grow after last year’s adventures of eating from home and not shopping.

 

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I also have lots of Warragul greens, which I noticed on TV, being used by a chef, so they must be good! Anyway, I decided to go out and see what I could rummage up, and found some capsicums which were not changing colour any more, due to the cold, loads of lemons, and the last of the chilli harvest.

This week's harvest

This week’s harvest

The lemons have been made into cordial, the capsicums are still in the to-do pile. Actually, they’re still out on the bench. Excuse me for just a moment while I put them in the fridge…

The chillies have been strung up, and I’ve hung them near the wood heater to dry. They may also end up smoked, given my fire lighting skills.

The chillies hanging out to dry

The chillies hanging out to dry

Over the past year or so, we have been having a running argument with a passionfruit vine. The vine stopped producing a few years ago, but after we pulled it out, the rootstock took on a life of its own. Despite attempts with poison, secateurs, and spades, it lives on. So yesterday, as part of our aimless trail, we attacked the roots in earnest, to a soundtrack of me thinking up possible blog titles for the activity (“In which we re-enact the movie Caddy Shack”,” In which we make the strawberry fiasco look like the garden of Eden”,” In which we discover a resident mole”…) SURELY, this time we have it licked!

The aftermath

The roots of the passionfruit. Surely we have killed the beast!

Finally, the Aunty Collector has been putting his (considerable) energies to good use, digging a hole for our bird feeder. I have a love/hate relationship with birds in my garden, but I love this feeder, and perhaps some seed in here will keep them out of my peas. Well done, son – it looks great!

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The new bird feeder