Tag Archive: summer


tommy 1 tommy 2

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Another year has gone by, and while most people find New Years a time of reflection of the past year and what they want to gain in the next – I find myself doing the same thing for the garden. What worked? What was a complete disaster? What do I need to plant more of this year? What do I want to try?

As the permanent plants and trees become larger in the garden I find myself needing to adapt and change where I am able to plant vegetables to still gain success. My knowledge grows each year though, which is something to be happy about. A good way of seeing how far I have come is a look over previous photos of how the garden has grown and changed since we first moved in four years ago. So here is a look over the evolution of the garden – I recommend all gardeners do the same thing; I promise it will make you smile. Happy New Year everyone, and for those who are gardeners – I wish you a large bounty and fast-ripening tomatoes this year 🙂

From the "for sale" adds - the garden when we first moved in

From the “for sale” adds – the garden when we first moved in

Initial work

Initial work

ev 3

Year 1 - initial brick work

Year 1 – initial brick work

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

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Year 2 - making my mark

Year 2 – making my mark

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

ev 14

Year 3 - Spring

Year 3 – Spring

Year 3

Year 3

Year 3 - Summer

Year 3 – Summer

Year 3

Year 3

ev 19

Year 4 - Spring

Year 4 – Spring

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

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

zucc fritt 3

zucc fritt 5

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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Summer Flowers

Still waiting for the fruit of the summer veggies to grow and ripen … but at least I’ve been able to enjoy the summer flowers while I wait, knowing they’re helping to bring in the bees…

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One of the main things I had to learn about renovating was to be extremely flexible. At times I did struggle this, however overall now that we’ve finished – I think I did (reasonably) ok. A fair amount of tantrums occurred though when the garden was invaded. Over the past few years renovations have been mostly inside, however at the very end (back in September) all the weatherboards were replaced outside and the eaves etc were sanded to make the front look… well…stunning. The only problem with this was the garden underneath was trampled in the process. To be fair to my partner Chris, I was warned of this pretty much the day we moved in, so I’ve really only planted annuals and a couple of bulbs. But still – when the time came I guess I’d put it so far in the back of my mind, that it was hard to watch.

new bit 1

I sulked for a good childish amount of time, but then given free rein to start building up the garden again did spark me out of my mood. I thought about it for weeks, trying to work out how to form a “screen” between the two new pillars. I thought about different grasses, small shrubs and even lavender came to mind. However a walk about our local streets revealed the inspiration I needed – my favourite native correas! It seemed very me and I loved the idea instantly.

What was left - a new blank canvas to work with

What was left – a new blank canvas to work with

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I dug through some compost under both windows and planted my “Alba” correa (had been growing in a pot out the back) between the pillars. I found a couple of cheap mini “Alba” cuttings too which I planted either side – hopefully as they grow larger they’ll continue to form a screen. I divided a grass that I already had growing there and added a lot of annuals around the front to hopefully give the areas a burst of summer colour.

Initial planting (in September/October)

Initial planting (in September/October)

Under the bay window I also planted three correas – this time a “Canberra Bells” as well as a couple of my “Relexa” cuttings I’ve been growing. Again annuals were splattered around to hopefully give a burst of life.

Initial planting (September/October)

Initial planting (September/October)

I’ve now also moved a few spring seedlings out there too – including dwarf beans, capsicums and pumpkin seedlings (a bit hopeful I think, but worth a try!). Now that it’s been a couple of months, everything has grown and the area is looking a lot better (see photos below)

Even though the garden went through a very negative patch, and a lot of my spring bulbs were nowhere to be seen this year – things are now back to positive and on the way up. Thankfully rennos are now finished, and I can go back to protecting plants just from snails – at least they’re smaller.

What the garden now looks like - photos taken this week

What the garden now looks like – photos taken this week

The garden now (photo taken this week)

The garden now (photo taken this week)

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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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Summer Flowers

Not quite the show compared to the spring bulbs, but the summer flowers still have their own place in my garden. Despite the heat they have continued to flower throughout summer and have not only helped keep the garden cheerful but have helped bring in the helpful bees too.

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Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin growing

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.

 pumpkin harvest pumpkin harvest 3

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!

soup 2

You know it’s summer when…

Dinner can be found in your front yard! We’re at the peak of summer here, with hot dry days and extremely little rain. Harvests from the garden are now a lot more frequent that during December, with enough tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber for a daily salad, and still enough blueberries for dessert! I love this time of year 🙂 summer harvest 1 summer harvest 2

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

Verdict 4

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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