Garden Share Collective – July

Time to see what’s been happening in the garden for the Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table. It’s been lovely and warm this month so I’ve been enjoying some leisurely gardening and pottering about with the green and the edible recently. I’ve been quite surprised about how much produce is in my winter vege garden.

image image

Kale and spinach are looking healthy. I recently read an article about dehydrating kale and blitzing it into a powder. This powder can then be added to anything; soups, stews, smoothies for an extra kick of powerful green-ness. I also want to try Kale chips.

image

Lettuce is bulking up and can now be used; a leaf here a leaf there.

image

Celery is doing well and I love to pick a couple of stems for dinner which means no wastage. The other thing I love about growing celery is that I know it’s spray free. Apparently celery is one of the most highly sprayed veges on the market with capsicums coming a close second.

image  image

 

My capsicums seem to do well in winter; small but very tasty. Chilies are sending out their chilli vibes to turn them onto chilli jam – must get onto that as I’ve used up my last pot.

image  image

 

I was given some raspberry plants this month by a friend who is also a garden enthusiast. We had a merry old time snooping round each others gardens; a cutting here, a few spare seeds there, a whole plant in some cases! I also got some French Sorrel (pictured above) which has a very zingy taste and some tarragon. Anyway, it pushed me into starting up the Berry Patch which is located with the fig orchard. This way I’ll be able to keep them netted from the birds. I’ll also move my 6 pots of blueberries which are safely ensconced in acid rich soil and also some strawberries that have self seeded around the place.

image  image

A strawberry flower with promises of summer and this little creeping plant is an Orange berry. Looking forward to seeing how this little fella tastes.

image

One more new fruit to the collection is this Mexican Guava. It fruits in autumn so something to look forward to.

image  image

Herbs are growing nicely; chamomile, fennel, dill, parsley, mint, tarragon to name a few.

image

Woah! Someone’s having a Bad Hair Day! Must give Mr Lemon Balm a haircut 🙂

image

The only disappointment has been the peas. I really thought I was ahead of myself planting them in autumn to over winter but they’ve been nibbled by critters that go bump in the night and the remaining ones have black spots so on the compost heap they’ll go.

image

Here are my latest pea sowings; Pea Alderman Tall climbing. I normally go for dwarf varieties but this tall variety should give me more peas. It’s supposed to grow, flower then grow again and flower and once more. Look forward to seeing what happens here as I find peas have been quite disappointing when I’ve grown them in the past – never enough!

image

I also decided to pop a row of Beetroot Bull’s Blood in and Beetroot Colour Blend and a row of Carrots Paris Market to get a head start on Spring. I planted my garlic on the Shortest day (just!).

image  image

These aren’t edible but I’m pleased with their progress. The tray of soil with a few blobs of green are Violet Queen Charlotte. I’m really keen to get these growing so I can make violet syrup. Might take a while but I’m very patient! The rose is one of many cuttings I took in March/April. I’m particularly pleased that this one is a success because it’s Mother plant is not looking so healthy. Not sure of it’s real name but it’s a beautiful cream rose with swirly raspberry markings and the scent is just gorgeous.

image image

Some beautiful Ranunculus are cheering up the veranda.

image

This little bee spent the night inside my anemone. I think he might be drunk on the nectar?!

Lots of jobs to do
More weeding
Prune roses in vege garden and beyond
Prune honeysuckle arch
More sowing of peas and beans
Transplant strawberries to their new home
Add compost to greenhouse and tidy up
Sit down with a cup of tea and choose seeds for vege garden

Enjoy your garden this month and pop over to Lizzie’s blog Strayed from the Table.  to see what other gardeners are up to around the World.

 

Garden Share Collective June

image

Time to see what’s been happening in the garden for the Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table. The craziness continues in the garden this month. We’ve had a couple of frosts recently after temperatures of 23c! It’s definitely a case of dressing in lots of layers! Last time on the GSC May I was intrigued to see that some beans had self seeded and were climbing merrily up the metal wigwams…..

image  image

….not sure if they’ll last through the frosts. They’re looking a little on the sick side but if their root system survives I may well be ahead in the spring. The peas that I planted to overwinter have actually flowered and produced little peas! Although some little creature has been feasting on them…. This is the first time I’ve carried on vege gardening through the winter so we’ll have to see what happens in the spring. It’s definitely a time for Greens in the garden. The absolute stars of the Winter vege garden include

image image

Kale, Spinach, Silverbeet (chard) and Pak Choi. I really love being able to pick my own greens because I know they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals and that they are as fresh as can be. Also so much cheaper and I find I waste a lot less because I only pick what I need.

image

Still enjoying lots of colour from calendular. I had to weed a lot of seedlings that had appeared in the gravel path but they were easy to pull up and I’ve left loads in the beds so come Spring the colour will continue.

image image

More colour from rose hips and from the leaves of my blueberries. I’ve planted the blueberries in tubs full of acidic soil. I’ve never had much luck with blueberries but I remembered that a friend of mine grew a blueberry in a large pot for years. She even transported it from London to Kent and (as far as I know) it still thrives today. It was such a prolific plant literally dripping in berries so, with a little bit of molly coddling, I too am hoping for this kind of dripping berry action.

image  image

Lemons are looking good and limes are flourishing too. Looking forward to making some lime yoghurt muffins.  The grapefruit doesn’t seem to mind the frost at all. I bought a little guava fruit bush in a sale the other day and I’m hoping that this time next year I can add that fruit to the harvest. The variety of guava we generally get here in New Zealand are the little gob stopper sized ones. Perfect for nibbling and popping in a lunchbox.

image

I’m really pleased with the artichokes ‘Purple de Jesi’ that I sowed last Spring. I’m hoping for beautiful purple artichokes next Spring but for the moment I’m enjoying their architectural spikiness.

Jobs To Do

image

It’s a lot of weeding and tidying at the moment.
Clear a path around the greenhouse so I can store all my pots behind it
Clean out the greenhouse
Plant out garlic
Add manure to the squash bed
Sow some more beetroot and carrot
Sow Queen Charlotte violets to make syrup
Sow more sweetpeas
Sow Coriander and dill (they do so well in the colder months)

Lastly, the most delightful fruit that cheers me up on a cold day – the persimmon. Beautiful peeled and sliced into fruit salad or eaten on it’s own. It has a slightly nutty taste and is hard like an apple. I always think the tree looks like a Christmas tree all lit up when the sun shines on the golden orbs. Happy Gardening and pop over to Strayed from the Table to see what other gardeners are up to around the world.

image

image

 

Garden Share Collective May

image

Do you know what? I’ve been blogging for over  a year now! My first post was all about making Quince Jelly on 1st May 2013. I’m a bit late celebrating my Blog-iversary but I began thinking about what I loved blogging about the most and it’s the Garden Share Collective posts. So, to celebrate my One Year here is my May contribution to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

Its been a blissful Autumn so far; warm, sunny days with a nip in the air in the morning and evening.  If an alien landed in my garden in the day they might be forgiven for thinking its Spring. I have some confused plants in the vege garden at the moment. Remember all the trays of Calendular seeds that I sowed in the Spring?

image  image

Well, look at the seedlings that have merrily and quite wantonly self seeded in the gravel paths and beds!! Some are even flowering.

image

Remember the Nasturtians ‘Peach Melba’ I planted to scramble between the courgettes? The courgettes really swamped it but look at it now!

image

I also spotted some beans that have self seeded (I think they must be French Beans)…

image

…and look what I found in the strawberry patch? A plump, juicy strawberry; three in fact.

image

Not sure what to do about the Florence Fennel. I thought it had all gone to seed but I have quite a few healthy plants. I’m wondering if a cold spell over winter might fatten their bulbs? I love the experimental aspect of vege gardening!

image

I might even see an Echinacea flower this autumn. I sowed these in the Spring and wasn’t expecting to see anything until next summer but here is a little bud. Crazy flower.

image

Back to normality now and here are my beautiful crisp Pak Choi destined for a stir fry or two….

image  image

…some healthy looking peas…

image  image

…and spinach and silverbeet swamped with calendular seedlings…

image image

Grapefruit and lemons are ripening…

image

…and limes are as prolific as ever. I’m tempted to try a Lavender and Lime Drizzle cake from Tales from The Farmhouse. It sounds delicious and I have plenty of lavender to make the sugar.

image

Celery is looking healthy and doing a good impersonation of parsley!

image

Ah no here’s the parsley and fennel..

image

…and some self sown dill. Veges and herbs really are your friends; always willing to grow and save you a job 🙂

image image

Here are some quintessential Autumnal photos; the very last of the quince and the prickly hedgehog of a nut Horse Chestnut.

image

For the southern Hemisphere folk amongst you this fruit is easily recognised as the feijoa. It has a smooth green skin and is generally eaten like a kiwi fruit; cut it in half and scoop out the soft green flesh inside. I’d love to say I enjoy eating feijoas. I have three trees laden with them every Autumn. However, I think they taste like antiseptic. sad but true. Mr Fig and the Figlets adore them though! It is definitely a Kiwi Thing and if you are averse to the feijoa then Be Wary. You will find feijoas slipped innocently into juices, desserts, even ice cream. Eek!

To Do

The greatest thing about blogging is you can Hide A Multitude of Sins that occur in every garden. The weeds in my garden are positively rampaging through the beds. There is a pile of broken plastic pots and other gardening rubbish to be sorted, seeds to be sorted out, spring onions to plant, a big bonfire to burn, limes to be juiced and frozen, prickly horse chestnuts to be raked up and on and on….

image

I think I might have a seat in my new (or rather second hand) chair and contemplate my To Do List for a few minutes! Have fun in your garden this month 🙂

Garden Share Collective – April

image

I always like to read last month’s Garden Share Collective  post so I can see the progress I’ve made. Well, that’s the theory!  Here is my April contribution to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

As we slide into Autumn the pace of growth dramatically changes in the vege garden but there is still loads to harvest and a never ending list of Jobs To do. While I get very excited about the prospect of spring I also feel a kind of relief as I get to Autumn. It’s the comma in a long sentence of gardening effort! A time to take a breath; slow the pace down a little and re-focus.

Last month I wrote a lot about collecting seeds. I think I’m becoming a little obsessed. Seed collecting was high on my To Do List and it is still high up there! I like to go Seed Spotting round the garden. I’ve spent most of my gardening career focusing on growing from seed and it’s only now that I’ve started to become interested in collecting seeds. It’s a very grounding task; a reminder of the cycle of growing our food and why I’m growing it in the first place. Let’s face it, sowing seeds, preparing the beds, making the compost, harvesting, preserving and repeating the whole process requires a huge amount of effort and time. I mainly grow veges to provide chemical free food for my family but the other benefits I’ve discovered along the way include having access to a greater variety of veges, becoming a more intuitive cook (I use what I have and it’s seasonal) and the more spiritual aspects of gardening. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty and creating something meaningful. Anyway, back to seeds….this is what I’ve harvested so far and I have loads more to go….

image

….German Chamomile, Basil Genovese, pink and white Cosmos, Calendular Officinalis and Calendular ‘Porcupine. The Calendular is ostensibly for the Wild Flower garden I’m planning in the paddock but I might keep some for the vege garden too.

image

The Basil balanced precariously on the bowl has been a source of fascination for me. I’ve learnt that you need to catch the seeds before they go brown! As you look at the stems you can see both brown and green seed pods and if you look inside you can see the seeds. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get them out which is why I’m going to let them fall out when they’re ready – I need something better to catch them in than that bowl! It’s a learning curve and one that I am enjoying.

image   image

I also collected some bean seeds from my All Time Favourite little bean “King of the Blues”. He is a beautiful purple bean; very handsome and tasty too so I’m hoping I can grow some from this harvest.

image  image

Top of my To Do list was to plant out/sow some winter veg. I have to admit I bought seedlings from the Farmer’s Market. Not ideal but Needs Must and all that. So I now have Pak Choi, NZ Spinach, Rainbow Beet (otherwise known as Chard which always makes me think of Somerset Auntie C!), Snow Peas and Pea ‘Easy Peasy’.

image

I was also seduced by the celery even though past celery growing experiences have been fraught with disappointment. That’s the optimism of the vege gardener! I’m still busy harvesting. I delay the Big Tidy Up as long as I can in order to extend my harvesting season. Look at my haul from today…..

image image

Beautiful beetroot destined to be roasted and popped into juices and I’m still getting sweet cherry tomatoes and spring onions. I made a few jars of Tomato Relish but I think I need to make more to last us through…

image image

This is the final harvest of the cute little Carrots ‘Paris Market’ and some strong and healthy looking Sweet Fennel and  Parsley. This parsley will see us through winter and into Spring. It’s a Super Food which we add to many dishes.

image

Still plenty of berries to throw into salads from the stalwart spinach strawberry plant. I’ll definitely grow this again next spring.

image image

Now for a little mystery…. Look at my monster of a Lemon Grass bush. I grew this from seed back in October. It’s a giant but the stems are weedy and thin.  There are a few thicker specimens but they are green when they should be white. I’ve double checked that the seeds are the proper Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus and indeed they are. I’m really, really hoping that the stems will thicken up and whiten in the next few weeks so I can prepare them for freezing.

My To do list for April is to start a mammoth Tidy Up which includes composting or burning old crops, weeding and covering empty beds, mulching and generally putting the garden to bed. I also need to clean the greenhouse and wash plant pots and store. I’m really pleased with the weed free paths in my vege garden (we re-weed matted in the spring here). I have my eye on weedmatting around the greenhouse this winter to create a storage area for the many plastic pots I re-use each year. So, still lots to do and a new seed saving obsession to indulge! Happy gardening and pop over to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

 

Garden Share Collective -March

image

It’s time for the March post of the  Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie at Strayed from the Table. As I write this we’ve just had the first day of Autumn and a lovely one it was too. The tempo of the vege garden has changed very subtly over the past couple of weeks; a slowing down, a gentler pace. I’ve been busy harvesting, preserving and cooking as well as thinking about the winter vege garden (yes…still thinking….not a lot of sowing).

image  image

The eggplants are churning out gorgeous, glossy fruits that are being roasted along with figs and potatoes and topped with fish.

image  image

The spring onions, limes, chilies and coriander are making great stir fries….

image  image

….ah yes the chilies. They are as stunning as ever! I’m trying the Habanero mix this year. However, the really interesting action in my vege garden at the moment is seed harvesting. It’s my first ever attempt and I love the whole process. I started with the sunflowers ‘Golden Toasted’….

image

….which I’m going to soak overnight then roast with various spice mixes (watch this space).

image

I’m very busy harvesting thousands of calendular seed which will become part of my Wildflower Mix that I’ll merrily throw around in the paddock to create a Wildflower meadow. I’ll also harvest the ‘Porcupine’ variety and my spice bed is bursting with potential Wildflower goodies like Anise Hyssop and Bergamont Bee Balm. I’m still waiting for the Caraway seeds and Fennel

……the white umbrels of the Caraway will look stunning in a meadow. In the meantime look what I managed to collect from my fennel…

image  image

….gourmet fennel pollen. I was so disappointed when my Florence Fennel bolted but I got a great tip from The Garden Deli. The pollen in the bowl came from one head of flowers so you can see it’s pretty labour intensive to get a decent amount! Apparently all the best restaurants are using this little spice so I’ve been sprinkling it liberally over roasted veges and using it in meat rubs for that mouth watering aniseed taste. My garden never ceases to surprise and delight! And all for the cost of a packet of seeds.

image

Herbs are really rampant right now; parsley, thyme, fennel and tarragon. It’s such a treat to be able to pick huge handfuls for cooking.

image

My first ever post was about quinces and here they are again. A funny, knobbly fruit but it makes the most stunning jelly and gorgeous peach and quince crumble. And do you know what other little treasure I found in my garden?

image

It’s a redcurrant. I thought it was poisonous! However, the lovely NZEcoChick visited the other day and assured me that it was in fact an edible redcurrant. I’ve been busy looking up ways to use this bounty. More autumnal bounty….

image

…with it’s spiky little coat it’s one to watch when it starts falling to the ground! And of course my beloved figs…..

image

They’re a month early this year. These are Brown Turkeys. When they’re ripe they go purple.

To Sow:
Definitely time to sow some winter veg:
Silverbeet ‘Rainbow Lights’
Beetroot (so I can make more chocolate and beetroot brownies!)
Perpetual Spinach
Broccoli Sprouting ‘Winter Rudolph’ and ‘Tender Stems’
Onion ‘Red Bunching’
Pak Choy
Winter Lettuce

To Do
I’ve still got lots more preserving to do including a big batch of tomato relish, quincey things, redcurrant things and of course….more seed harvesting!

Enjoy whatever you do in your garden and do pop over to Strayed From the table and check out what others are growing too.