Category: Harvests


The front garden - looking lush & in need of a weed...

The front garden – looking lush & in need of a weed…

Out the back - starting to take over...

Out the back – starting to take over…

The garden has had a real burst of life over the past couple of weeks – especially out the back which is steadily becoming quite overgrown. I’m still waiting for the flash of ripe-tomato-red to arrive in the garden, but alas nothing so far. While summer salads may be awhile off yet, the garden still provided me with a weekend lunch – zucchini fritters with a side of freshly picked beans.

Purple king climbing beans

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Today's pickings

Today’s pickings

I’m generally renowned for putting zucchinis into almost every meal, but zucchini fritters would have to be my favourite. So simple too – flour, eggs, 2-3 zucchinis and fetta cheese – yet an extremely tasty outcome. Really enjoyable and hopefully the first of many summer meals provided by the garden.

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The garden has been trying its hardest over the past month to leap well and truly into spring. Not only are flowers blooming, but my favourite spring veggie has been ready to harvest – the broad beans.

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I have really been looking forward to the broad beans forming as I wanted to try a recipe for broad bean risotto that I tried last year which was fantastic. It’s from “Grow It Cook It” which is a really great book with recipes on basic things grown in the garden (most of my favourite recipes are from it). This recipe has lemon & parmesan in it too which makes the flavour pretty awesome, but I vary it a little by adding a lot of other veggies alongside with home grown celery. Although it does use a lot of broad beans – most of the crop, it’s worth it – tastes great! Thankfully the beans are still growing and I’ll get a couple of more meals from them again before spring is over. I’ll probably just end up making risotto again though!

Crop 1

Crop 1

Crop 2

Crop 2

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The result!

The result!

Yes – I have a purple cauliflower. And while it is tiny, and probably won’t get much larger than this – it has made me very, almost childishly, excited to know I have a purple cauliflower in the garden at the moment. It’s actually called “Purple Sicily” and I grew it from seed, which has also made me pretty happy as I’ve never managed to grow a cauliflower from seed before. Now all that’s left is to eat… caulie 1 caulie 2

Spring is well and truly here and the remainder of the winter veggies are fading fast. I’ve already harvested heaps of celery and have been freezing a lot of it for future use. The broccoli is long gone, the broad beans are almost ready for picking, and for the first year – I have had cabbage heads ready for harvesting!

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I have tried to grow cabbage before, but haven’t had much luck. Wombok seems to grow easily enough – but with other types like savoy or red cabbage I seem to only end up with outer leaves and no tight heads (I really grow red cabbage as an ornamental plant! Just love the colour in a mainly green winter garden). However this year I have had a few savoy cabbages grow much better that any previously and last week they were ready for cooking. Although small, I wasn’t deterred and thought I might try a couple of different cabbage recipes for some fun (and it beats cabbage soup – sorry cabbage soup fans!)

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Given how much I love Japanese food, I thought I’d stick with a Japanese theme and make gyozas and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes). The gyozas were made mainly with pork mince and of course – my home grown cabbage. The recipe did say to use wombok , however I did say I was “experimenting” with cabbage. The recipe (from the cook book “Yoshoku”) also included ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin seasoning, pepper and spring onions. Teaspoon of the mixture in a gyoza or wonton wrapper and then they’re ready to go. They are supposed to be deep fried, but I gave them a shallow fry in a little sesame oil instead (made me feel as though they were slightly healthier…as long as I’m convincing myself).

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The okonomiyaki were made with shredded cabbage and some fresh celery from the garden, along with the rest of the pork mince (but you can use chicken), grated carrot, shitake mushrooms, ginger, and then some flour and eggs to bind it all together. Then they are fried like any other pancake which made them quite a quick and easy meal.

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Overall the meal was a great success! Quite rich, but it felt like a real home grown treat. The only problem was the meal, and the cabbage, was gone too quickly! Good inspiration to grow more cabbage next year…

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While it definitely won’t cure world hunger, or even my hunger – a little handful of fresh sugar snap peas from the garden seems like a nice little treat. I had planned to keep them for dinner – but realistically that was never going to happen… I ate them all straight away.

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winter garden 1 The garden has been plodding along quite nicely lately, with only the occasional fertilisation and weeding from myself. Both the front and back garden are now in full swing and looking pretty lush.  winter garden 5 winter garden 6 winter garden 8 I have been eating leafy winter greens from the garden (mainly mizuna, silverbeet/chard and kale) regularly over the past month as they’ve been doing well, but this week I’ve had a larger harvest – broccoli! winter garden 4 brocc 1 Earlier than expected (they were quite late last year), the broccoli heads have grown and are ready for harvesting. They were probably ready last week, but I thought I’d try to leave them to see if they got any bigger. However as they now look like they’re about to move towards flowering it’s time to feast on them instead. Given the pumpkin soup I made in summer never made it to winter, I thought it was high time to try making some winter soup from the garden – so today I harvested a few broccoli heads and set out to make some broccoli soup for lunch. My recipe included about 6 small broccoli heads, as well as some mizuna, kale, oregano and rosemary from the garden. I also added garlic, an onion and a couple of potatoes to help thicken it. brocc 3 After it was all cooked up (and given a good pounding with a potato masher) – I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to finish it off. I have to admit it tasted pretty good! Almost better though was the smell that filled the house of the freshly baked homemade bread to go with it. Too good 🙂  soup 1 soup 2

Autumn Pickings

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Now well into autumn – the hype and lustre of the summer garden has, for now, completely gone. My free time has been spent weeding, starting off the winter seedlings and clearing out all the dead summer plants. Although this is usually a “down” time in the garden, it can at times be disappointing compared to what the garden looked like and the harvests I had in summer.  Despite this, I have been encouraged and comforted by the continued small harvests throughout autumn of my eggplants (which have been a huge success) and capsicums.

I know the glory of these plants also won’t last, but for now the weekly harvests of supermarket sized eggplants seems just too good to be true! These have also far outdone any of my previous attempts at growing these veggies and have helped fill in the gap until the winter harvests start.

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Last winter I plated 8 different types of potatoes to determine if any type of potato is better suited to container gardening (and therefore more prolific). In the last couple of weeks I’ve finally harvested the last bag of potatoes (Inova – was probably ready to harvest in early Feb, but distractions meant I only dug them up in March) and I can now report on what I found.

Inova - the last harvest

Inova – the last harvest

Unfortunately there was no clear winner out of the 8 – the Pontiac, Ruby Lou, Coliban, Desiree and Sebago all did quite well, and there were only grams between their finishing weights. However the others (Inova, Nicola and Dutch Cream) weren’t really that far behind – only around 100g lighter finishing weight which isn’t much! In number of potatoes they ranged from 15-20 larger ones per bag, or up to 30 smaller ones depending on the type. All still smaller than what you’d commercially buy in the supermarket. Although I will always strive for and wish for larger harvests, when there are only two of us to feed the small collections are ample and means there is never any wastage.

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Dutch cream

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Desiree

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What I hadn’t realised initially was the harvest range I would end up with. The first potato harvest was back in October last year, and the harvests carried through gradually until this month! 6 months of potatoes – really not what I had expected. So while I can’t recommend a certain type of potato to try out in containers – I would highly recommend trying a range so that you can enjoy gorgeous, buttery home grown potatoes for half a year. That’s what I did and I’d definitely do it again!

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Hidden surprises

While I was outside getting some tomatoes for lunch, I happened to notice a splash of colour amongst the tomato leaves I hadn’t seen during this season before…. the unmistakable flash of purple! Hidden away, one of my eggplants had flowed and now formed fruit!

I checked the other eggplants, and while all are flowering, only one other plant has starting to form fruit. This particular plant however is very special to me because I have grown it from seed! I have accomplished something I’ve never done before – grown an eggplant from seed. That feels pretty good really 🙂

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Rainbow Chutney

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It has felt like I’ve been waiting all summer for a glut of tomatoes that I’ve so desperately wanted. It was probably the same last year, I’ve just managed to block it from memory. Don’t get me wrong – the small little harvests that we’ve had most of summer have been beautiful – but I’ve been longing for tomato chutney for about 6 months now after my last lot ran out! I kept telling myself to be patient, but in the back of my mind was the worry that maybe the tomatoes were not going to be successful this year. Thankfully, when my faith that the glut would come had almost diminished – February didn’t fail to live up to expectations and I’ve been harvesting around a kilo of tomatoes a week. This only means one thing – chutney!!
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My recipe for chutney is actually a really easy one. I use the green tomato chutney recipe from “Jams and Preserves” (published by Murdoch Books). I tend to use riper tomatoes (rather than all green) and this year I used a combination of red, orange and yellow tomatoes. I also added a couple of green tomatoes to make it a colourful, rainbow chutney. Boiled with cider vinegar, sugar, a couple of onions, some sultanas and spices – the chutney takes half an hour to turn into a rich chutney colour. Although it takes half the time to stink out the entire house with the smell of vinegar!

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I’ve had so many tomatoes that I’ve already made two full batches, not including the ones I’ve diced and put in the freezer for later use. Think that definitely counts as a glut!

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Given how much chutney I now have, it’s safe to say a few friends and family will end up with a jar (yes, now taking orders) so I put little “enjoy” stickers on the top, hidden under cloth lid covers to hopefully add a homely touch. As with most preserves it’ll be a long month for the flavour to develop and I can open a jar and enjoy. My favourite: scrambled eggs with home made chutney on the side – beautiful! Hope it’s a good batch this year…

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