Archive for December, 2012

A sunny end to the year

I thought I’d end the year on a positive note – having a look at what the garden looks like now in the height of summer, including sunflowers which have been brightening up my days (and hopefully now your day too!). Happy New Year everyone and I look forward to lots more gardening adventures next year 🙂 summer garden 4summer garden 6 summer garden 5summer garden 3summer garden 7 sunflower 2sunflower 6 sunflower 4 sunflower 5sunflower 8 sunflower 7 sunflower 3 sunflower 1

When first planted compared to now

When first planted compared to now

From humble beginnings, to overgrown madness – over the past month the backyard veggie patch has grown amazingly fast! The patch faces north, and with loads of morning sun it’s turning into a very productive little patch. So far I’ve harvested beans, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchinis and 1 pumpkin (with more on the way!) from the small patch. Tomatoes have also formed and I’m just waiting for them to ripen. I probably have overcrowded things a tad – but all the plants seem to be happy and making the most of it. For example two of the cucumber plants are growing up around the tomatoes for support. I’ve even seen some ladybugs hunting around in there, helping keep pests down so the madness can continue. The plants have also managed to keep themselves contained in the little patch, which is slightly disappointing… although the pumpkins have started to make small moves…

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Pumpkins making their way out of the patch...

Pumpkins making their way out of the patch…

I’ve also included a photo of the cut open Golden Nugget pumpkin from Christmas – it was delicious!

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Is pumpkins. Not just any pumpkins – but home grown pumpkins. Due to the small space I have, pumpkins seen to have always eluded me. I get so jealous seeing rambling pumpkins in other people’s huge blocks… I’ve tried each year to grow standard pumpkins, but they seem to never thrive without the space required to roam free. One year I grew small space pumpkins called “Wee B Little” – which were very cute, but once opened were 98% seeds. Really nothing to eat.

Wee B Little Pumpkin

Wee B Little Pumpkin

This year with my expanding backyard plot, I thought it was worth giving pumpkins another go. This year I planted “Golden Nugget” which is recommended for smaller spaces, but hopefully larger pumpkins than what I’ve had previously.

Golden Nugget

Golden Nugget plant growing well and developing a pumpkin

...almost ready....

The plants have taken off really well, and so close to Christmas it seems my wish is coming true – pumpkins have started to form! One is even ready to harvest – just in time for Christmas lunch. I anticipate cutting it open Christmas morning for roasting will be like opening a present – ever hopeful for enough flesh to eat. Fingers crossed…

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Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all have a great day 🙂

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Yes it’s that time of year again – the very first tomato of the season has ripened! It’s also the time of year I start receiving empty jars “just in case” I don’t have enough for tomato chutney this summer (have to take that as a big compliment). As soon as I slice open and eat the tomato it reminds me of exactly why I garden – the favour is astounding. Nothing like store bought tomatoes, not even close, and exactly the reason I long for so many tomatoes each summer.

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I also found a cucumber in the backyard patch this week, which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Beans have started to pop up as well! Add loads of home grown lettuce and so far everything is looking promising for a bountiful summer.

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Finally my blueberries have started to ripen! Last year the berries ripened in spring, however this year it’s taken well into December before I’ve seen the dash of dark blue I’ve been longing for. But once they started – they’ve been off like a rocket & I suddenly have heaps of blueberries ready for picking and eating.

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I’m often asked by friends what I’d recommend to grow in containers. I think blueberries have now made it to the top of the list. Mine seem perfectly happy growing in pots (with acidic soil), and the plants are so cheap compared to how many blueberries you end up with. Plus the flowers are stunning, so you really get the best all round attractive vs productive plant.

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The new blueberry plants I added this year were from my parents for my birthday. Once planted my Mum asked me for blueberry pie when the fruit developed. While it was a casual off-hand comment, I thought given how many blueberries I was getting I should at least try to fill this request. I didn’t have enough blueberries for a whole pie (most likely because I keep eating them…) so I decided to make mini apple and blueberry pies instead. I went down to my parent’s place yesterday and surprised them with mini pies – very well received and, even if I do say so myself – delicious!

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Nasturtium Capers

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With this latest discovery, nasturtiums are possibly the most useful plant in my garden. They grow easily and quickly (including hard to fill places), they cover the garden with bright beautiful flowers (which you can eat – my type of flower!) They then shed loads of seeds all over the ground and self-sow so easily that I haven’t had to grow any from seed since my initial two nasturtium plants from a few years ago. The rest of the plant can be composted, adding to their usefulness. I was already pretty happy with how much I could do with them until I learnt I was wasting the seeds (despite giving away as many as I could) – I could be making nasturtium capers!!

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I’m not sure how I missed this one, but after mentioning it to a few people it seems they are pretty common. It’s also amazing easy to do: collect the seeds (they need to be green) and soak them in salty brine for 24hrs.  Drain, pat dry and place into sterilised jars. Add herbs and a bay leaf if you like, and then fill the jars with white wine vinegar. Too easy! All that’s left is to add some labels and wait for a couple of weeks for the flavour to develop. I made these at the very end of last month, so it won’t be long before I can give them a try…

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Summer begins

Summer is finally here! Over the past week we’ve had some lovely sunny days, followed by rainy nights and the garden has loved the combination. It’s only the second day of summer and already the first zucchini is ready to harvest – hopefully it’s an indication of what the season will bring. What better way to end the day than with one of my usual summer favourites:  zucchini fritters with home grown roast potatoes and herbs. Simply superb!

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