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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!

A New Arrival

A new pet? A small child? Pretty close – I have, with hesitation, introduced an orchid into our lives. I have always felt orchids indicated that next level of obsessive gardening, indicating a point of no return. The more time that goes on however, I struggle to see why that’s a bad thing. orchid 2 I fell in love with orchids back when I went to the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show in March, which had the most spectacular display, and the desire to own one has gradually been building ever since. With a nursery voucher left over from my birthday (to get something special) I found myself last weekend contemplating taking home an orchid. At the time, I decided the responsibility was too great and wandered home. However that very same day, my partner Chris came home after helping clean out someone’s house with what he described as a bag of leftover, unwanted soil. I wandered outside to find a small bag of orchid potting mix – surely it was a sign! The next day I found a “beginning with orchids” book on sale for $10. I took that as a sign too…

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So today I ventured out with the knowledge there is no turning back. At the checkout the cashier said “oh you’re taking home a child!” which did make me feel a little better about the over-exaggerated feeling of responsibility growing in my head. She also made a comment regarding it not being too expensive if it dies. That really cemented it for me as my stubbornness boiled up thinking “I won’t kill it!” It’s now pride of place on my desk, beaming back at me. I’m also looking for names for my new “pet” if anyone has any funny or creative ideas…orchid 3

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

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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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Spring is here!

Towards the end of winter I planted out my first round of spring seeds. I’ve been keeping them inside next to a north-facing window and had hoped the warmer temperatures and protection inside would convince the seedlings it was spring. It worked! The seedlings are now a couple of weeks old and are looking pretty happy.

Now that they are larger I’ve been very tempted to plant some out into the garden, but the weather is still a little cool and fluctuating… so I might wait till the weather gets a bit more settled. For now, as with every year, our lounge room has turned into a mini nursery – but it certainly has started the spring excitement at our place!

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I’ve had the pleasure of a garden filled with flowering winter bulbs over the past couple of weeks. They have not only brightened the garden, but have been a great reminder of the winter beauty that can exist. But time to get excited – spring is only a day away!

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Revamping…

Last year we placed three small hanging baskets on the fence which can be seen out the window next to my desk where I write this blog. They flowered all spring and summer and made my work space very cheerful. However I’ve ignored them and they’ve been dead and empty for most of winter… With spring getting ever so close, it was time for replanting! I dug through some compost and fresh potting mix with the soil already in the baskets followed by planting some cheap flower seedlings and a few oregano cuttings. Instant colour & brightness! Hopefully they will continue to grow, flower and inspire me over the next gardening season.

Pretty much dead & empty...

Pretty much dead & empty…

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New view from the window

New view from the window

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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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Sunny Sunday

A new addition to the garden has popped up, just in time for the weekend sunshine…

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