Tag Archive: Harvests


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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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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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Pumpkin Soup

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It’s summer. I do realise this. Hot long days which the summer veggies of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis seem to love. It’s the season for salads with crisp fresh lettuce picked minutes before eating. Not quite the time of year for soup… but I seem to have missed that memo.

My golden nugget pumpkin plants have continued to grow well and I was able to have a little harvest of pumpkins. It was exciting just to be able to finally have pumpkins! However there was always only going to be so long before the craving for pumpkin soup started – for me it was only a couple of days.

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I found a recipe online for roasted pumpkin soup, and decided to try a variation of this. I roasted the pumpkins with fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden and a little olive oil for an hour in their skin (the recipe recommended this, but if you’re using golden nugget I’d try peeling the pumpkins first as the skin is very thin which made it quite difficult to separate from the flesh after roasting).

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Before and after roasting

Home grown garlic

Home grown garlic

I then fried an onion and a leek with some home grown garlic. I blended this with the cooked pumpkin with some chicken stock. All that was needed then was a dollop of natural yoghurt to finish it all off. It was beautiful!

And what would go perfectly with this? A loaf of fresh sourdough straight from the oven of course! Then I had a meal to please – regardless of the time of year.

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My soup!

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I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

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As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

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Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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Capsicums

As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

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