Tag Archive: vegetables


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.

soup 1

My soup!

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Raining cucumbers

It really feels like it has been raining cucumbers over the past week! Not quite a “glut”, but as there are only two of us it really feels like a large harvest. I’m only growing them out the back this year as I had the fence available to place a trellis for the plants to grow up. This worked at first, but all three cucumber plants seem much happier growing up and around the tomatoes as they got larger. I even found a big one that had been hiding on the ground under the pumpkin leaves. I think some pickling may be in order….

Initial growth

Initial growth

cucumber 3

Starting to use the tomatoes

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One big cucumber-tomato mess! Oh well, if it works….

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Around half the cucumbers harvested (others left on the plants)

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cucumber 8 Big cucumber hiding under the pumpkins

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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…

verdict 9 Verdict 10

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!

pumpkin cut open

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…

GN pump 6

GN pump 8

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

tom 1

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.

tom 2

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.

cucumber 2 bean 5 bean 4

The Garden In Spring

Although most of the spring bulbs have now gone, the garden is still looking pretty lush and inviting thanks to the spring rain we’ve had. The nasturtiums are looking great, but as they’ve started to take over most of the garden I’ve had to cut them back a little. All the summer veggies are growing well, including zucchinis and beans from seeds and a couple of tomatoes I bought as seedlings. More and more of my own tomatoes from the seedling experiment have been planted into the ground and continue to grow well which has made me a lot more positive about small seeds. I may end up with a lot of tomatoes at this rate – but that only makes me want to plant more! The capsicum and eggplant seedlings are still a bit too small to plant out, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make it in time for summer (and sneak in a couple of more advanced seedlings while I’m waiting – hopefully they won’t notice).

Why I hate snails

I haven’t always been out to get snails – but I did start out naive and inexperienced… When I first grew seedlings (a few years ago) I was delighted as they germinated and grew before my eyes in the safety of the indoors. Once large enough, excited with the thought of future vegetables to harvest – I planted out some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings, picturing the start of what was to come. The next morning I passed through the garden on my way to work and smiled down at my seedlings, – only to find…. nothing. They were gone. All of them. At first I thought I’d simply forgotten where I’d planted them (foolish hope), but then the realisation sunk in and I began to understand all the stories I’d heard about the “gardening war”. A short search revealed all that was left was the stems/roots of the seedling under the ground. All my weeks of work and care had been destroyed in one night.

A collection after an afternoon shower (not even night yet) – what chance do my seedlings have?!

At first I tried relocating the snails onto the nature strip and further down the street. They all came back though, and brought my neighbours’ snails with them (I probably deserved that). I tried egg shells, coffee grounds, beer and orange juice traps – all which seemed useless. I then got ruthless. Frustration and desire to have a vegetable garden set in – the number of snails that have ended up under my shoe or in our numerous skips as the renovations progress would amaze you. Spotlighting at night would find 20-40 snails every dry night and 100-150 on wet nights. Every night. The saying should be changed to “breeding like snails” rather than rabbits.

Copper tape has given me a bit of relief, and I do feel I can leave the garden alone at night now. But I still lose seedlings from time to time as snails have managed to find their way under a container, or over the top with the help of nearby plants and grass. They never seem to give me a break – I have even seen snails start moving towards seedlings while I’m still planting them!

Comparison of copper tape protecting a seedling vs one without

So you tell me, what is the point of snails? What good are they to me and my garden? I actually searched for this online and the main answer I found was “food for frogs”. I have no frogs, but I am now thinking about acquiring some. The second most common answer was to consume dead plant material – however the snails never seem to do this, preferring my seedlings over anything else.  Another reason I found was “to keep gardeners humble”. Well you can see how well that went down!

Unfortunately for now the war will continue, which means I will continue to be a snail killer purely as my love for gardening is obviously much higher than my humanity for snails. But when people think I’m mean, insensitive and ask why I’m cruel to snails – I offer to help them start a vegetable garden…