Tag Archives: Gardening

A stroll through the garden – October 2017

Duchess and I have decided to take you on a stroll through our garden.

It has been a dry and cold winter and we are hoping to get some spring rain sometime soon. In fact I had a grin from ear to ear one morning earlier this week as we received just a few mls – it was nice to watch and listen to the rain falling.

The garden is coming along nicely and our citrus are now happy with their new home, luckily they survived the harsh frosts, unlike many in the area.

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A Stroll Through The Vegie Patch – The End of Summer

Today I thought you might enjoy a stroll through our Vegie Patch. Lots of photos and very few words – A break from the kitchen…

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Aubergine / Egg Plant

Beans

Beets

Berries

Brassicas

Corn

Courgette / Zucchini

Cucumbers & Cornichon

Flowers

Green Stuff

Herbs & Aromats

Onions

Other Stuff

Peas

Peppers

Potatoes

Pumpkins

Rhubarb from Navarre

Rock Melon

Seed Saving

The Bees

Tomatoes

 

My favourite pics…

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I hope that you have enjoyed joining me on a stroll through our vegie patch.  It’s one of my favourite places to be.  Can you believe that just three months ago, we did not have a vegie patch!  I am looking forward to working and watching it through the seasons ahead.

Until next time…

Happy gardening and…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

The Vegie Patch

Swiss Chard AKA Silverbeet

I have to say that Swiss Chard, or Silverbeet, as we knew it, was not a favourite vegetable of mine when I was a child. However, tastes change and more importantly cooking methods and an introduction to international cuisine has definitely changed that!

We all know Swiss Chard as a vegetable, and it really is such a great addition to any vegie patch as it is easy to grow and continues to produce for many months. But as I began traveling to France, I was to discover it’s value, in particular the coloured varieties, as an ornamental in flower gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, is the first place I think of when reminiscing about such beautiful displays. As I walked through the gates for the first time, my eyes were automatically drawn toward a stunning vision of rich reds and greens. I had never seen Swiss Chard used in such displays before.

You probably realize that Swiss Chard now has an important place in our vegie patch and in our meals, and as the flower garden is developed, I also hope to use it as a feature plant there too. Over the next several days, I hope to introduce you to some new ways to use Swiss Chard and make it star in meals you prepare. With the first recipe of this series being an old favourite – Weed Pies

Weed Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity of Savoury Potato Pastry
  • 350 g mixed greens (refer to note below)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 150g dry ricotta or feta
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg beaten (for egg wash)

Directions

  1. Rinse the greens and remove any yellow or damaged leaves.
  2. Finely chop the onion and any stems, and then finely slice the leaves, keeping separate
  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stems, sauté until soft, then add the leaves and put the lid on the pan and cook until the leaves have all wilted. Set aside to cool. Drain off any liquid.
  4. Preheat oven to 200˚C (Fan forced).
  5. Combine the cooled greens with the cheeses, eggs and oregano, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lightly grease the pie tin(s).
  7. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking, paper, and line the pie tin(s).
  8. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, before filling.
  9. Cover with pastry, make a little hole to allow steam to escape, brush with egg wash and bake 25 minutes, until golden.

Notes

  • For your wild greens, use a combination of dandelion, mustard, chickweed, rocket, wild fennel, beetroot tops, turnip tops, silverbeet or rainbow chard. You could also add some fresh herbs if you want.

For those new to gardening or who would like to try and grow a few plants, I have also included a little information which may be of use.

Description  – Swiss chard, which some people mistake for spinach, is actually a member of the beetroot family. The ribbed stems come in a variety of colours, white (the most common) yellow, orange, pink and red (rainbow chard) and a very deep red (ruby chard). The stems support large crinkly deep green leaves and both the stalks and the leaves are edible. The green leaves are normally separated from the stalks when being prepared for cooking, as the rich green leaves require much less time to cook than the stalks.

Growing  –  You can either purchase seedlings, or grow your own from seed. Seedlings can be planted from early spring to Autumn in the temperate and colder areas, and all year around in the tropics. Swiss chard needs full sun and prefers well drained soil that has been prepared with compost and well-rotted animal manure. We use a combination of horse and sheep manure along with compost, in our garden. Why a combination of the horse and sheep manures – it is what my Uncle Paul recommended, so it’s what I do. A fortnightly feed of liquid fertilizer will also ensure a ready supply. For those without a vegie patch, I have successfully grown Swiss Chard in pots so if you are restricted to a balcony or a courtyard you can grow it too.

Harvesting  –  To harvest Swiss Chard, pick the larger leaves from the outside of the plant, simply by breaking the stalks downwards and sideways at the same time. Harvest regularly, but leave 4 or 5 leaves on the plant. The plants will keep producing and keep you supplied with this wonderful green all season, so no need to plant again until next season.

Uses  –  Soups, sides, omelettes, gratins, pasta dishes…

Until next time…

Happy Gardening & Bon appétit!

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Generous Gifts

I love coming up with new recipes to highlight new produce, and this weekend we received a wonderful gift of home-cured meats from a friend. Mike, Chris and Mon, our son’s future in-laws, visited from Melbourne and came bearing beautiful gifts, including beautiful flowers, some wonderful wine and Mike’s cured meats.

The flowers went straight onto the table, they were so pretty, and the meats were put to good use as the foundation of a couple of amazing anitpasto platters, one as a starter to our evening meal, the other for a light lunch on the terrace.

Meal times were wonderful chatty affairs and we spent a lot of time getting to know each other better, talking about family, funny experiences, food and gardening. Previously we only seemed to catch up at family gatherings where there was little or no time to talk and get to know each other.

On Saturday while they went visiting, I took the opportunity to race into the local farmer’s market -I wanted a little something to send home with them, and the vegie patch is really not quite up to speed at the moment. I also needed to top up our supplies of Wuk Wuk steak.

When they returned they came bearing another gift, a wonderful heritage apple tree for our garden, a Ribston Pippin – another lovely thoughtful gift. Ribston Pippin - Feature ImageI have already worked out where it is going to live and how it will be espaliered… We were so pleased to be able to give them a bag of fresh local produce – potatoes, beetroot, zucchini, corn, eggs, etc. as well as rhubarb from our garden and some Jalapeno Chili and Sprouting Broccoli seedlings. But after they left I was kicking myself, as I also wanted to give them some preserves from the store! Oh well, next time, they will be returning in March to help with some repairs to our home, and there are some cooking projects on the agenda as well.

Now… I wanted something different to cook to highlight one of Mike’s cured meats. Inspired by a recipe Endives Rôties au Roquefort, Chips de Jambon from Saveurs no 234 p59, I created Roasted Belgian Endive (Witlof) with Shadows of Blue Cheese and Mike’s Prosciutto, a recipe highlighting a luscious, creamy local blue cheese, Mike’s amazing prosciutto, and my fig vinegar. It’s a wonderful entrée with the bitterness of the endive, the crispness of the prosciutto, the creamyness of the cheese, the salt from both, and the sweetness of the fig vinegar all complementing each other.

This is a recipe that will definitely be reappearing on our table in the future.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Apricots

I still remember the joy of fresh bread, lashings of homemade apricot jam, and the cream! Fresh cream, real cream, not the homogenised, pasturised stuff from the supermarket shelf – just fresh, runny cream, no sugar, not whipped, just pure fresh cream dribbling over the edge of the bread.- Oh the memories …

We now have two apricot trees in our garden, a Moorpark – supposedly rich in flavour making it great for fresh fruit, jam, drying, stewing and juice, and a Blenheim, said to be one of the most flavourful of apricots around! However, like all of our fruit trees, they have only been in the ground for six months, which means that we must be patient, and wait until they grow before we see a nice crop.

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We did have a tiny surprise though – just after Christmas I spotted one solitary little apricot. It had been hiding and growing out of our sight and, fortunately, out of the sight of the birds. I watched it carefully, trying to make sure that the birds did not beat us to it. Then early last week, when I checked on it, I discovered that a grub had made it’s mark – I hadn’t counted on that, so quickly whisked it off the tree, and took it to the kitchen, where it became a simple little sweet treat to finish our evening meal – A simple apricot pastry.

Given the lack of fruit from the garden at the moment, I am constantly on the watch for a good buy, and was delighted to read a little add in the local newspaper for apricots. I made a call and was able to pick up 10kg, which lead to a couple of heavy days in the kitchen! But from that 10kg, we now have 14 jars of apricot halves in a light syrup, 15 jars of Worcestershire sauce, and 10 jars of apricot jam in the store.

There were a few left over so whipped up an apricot and pine nut tart – gluten free.

You know, apricot jam is not only great as a spread, but it can also be used to flavour meat dishes too, and the apricot halves can be used to make delicious sweet treats such as clafoutis, charlottes, tarts etc, but will also used in savoury dishes, including a favourite – Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger! As for the Worcestershire sauce, it’s always handy to lift an otherwise dull dish!

So now that the store is stocked up with apricot preserves, it is my plan to highlight some of them in recipes over the coming months.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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The Vegie Patch – Six weeks later!

It is six weeks since I announced that The Corner Patch had now become a Vegie Patch, and look at it now.

With the Christmas Festivities in full swing, I was struggling to find time to get out to work in it, but somehow managed to steal an hour here and there, and while most things have been planted much later than they should have been, they appear to almost be growing before our eyes.

All the fruit trees have now been trimmed and tied to the wires to train them for the espaliered fruit edging of the area, and, with much persistence, Duchess, for the moment, has been blocked from the area – every now and then, I’d hear a noise, or see a movement, and there she was, making her way along the edge totally oblivious to the fact that I was there! But letting her know she had been discovered and best leave, she would show me where she was entering thus giving me another job to do, in blocking her route!

Some of the plants in the patch have travelled with us, and are siblings of plants that my parents grew quite some years ago – rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus, I also continue to try and grow everything from seed. Having the plants from my parents makes the vegie patch an even more special place to be.

All of the strawberries (except the three pretty pink flowering ones) are siblings of those that my beautiful dad, who is now with the angels, gave to me many years ago, and the asparagus, my gorgeous mum nurtured to what is now a good sized patch at our old family home.

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It was so hard to leave the asparagus run up to fern – but if we want to have a bounty of this delicious treat we must be patient – hopefully next year!

 

The rhubarb, well, I think it’s from plants that we had growing when I was a child, and that is a long time ago! I still remember the bowls of rhubarb and custard our mum would put before us to finish a meal. We were very lucky…

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The rhubarb patch.

I persist with growing almost everything from seed – unfortunately I had to admit defeat on a couple of fronts, although having planted more seed, maybe should not have caved so early. But I am so excited to say, that given I had a lot of seedlings ready to go, we are already enjoying the fruits of our labour at meal time – strawberries with our breakfast; salads using various leaves, edible flowers and fresh herbs; snow peas in our stir fries, rhubarb and strawberry compote with our yoghurt; and our one solitary apricot became a little dessert to finish an evening meal this week.

They say that gardening is wonderful for your health – how true. You can exercise, relax and wind down almost simultaneously! You are providing flowers to fill your vases, food for your table and nutrition for your body! What a wonderful and giving hobby it is…

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Sustainable Gardening Australia

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We have a vegie patch!

It is safe to say that there has been a lot of hard work going on in the Corner Patch, particularly over the last week or so, and I can now, with much delight, tell you that the Corner Patch is now the Vegie Patch! Yes, on Monday of this week at about 6 pm we finished making the last of 12 garden beds. While we were both exhausted, we are both really pleased with the end result and all being in order, are looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labour for many years to come. The fun now begins with planting up the beds, nurturing the seeds and seedlings into food for our kitchen and store, family and friends.

Just a recap on how we got to this stage:

  • Trees were cut down, cut up and removed.
  • Stumps were dug out
  • Plans were drawn up
  • 31 fruit trees were planted
  • A slab was put down for the garden shed
  • The garden shed was erected, and everything that belonged in it, relocated accordingly
  • Holes were dug for posts
  • Posts were purchased and concreted in
  • Holes drilled in the posts
  • Wires strained accordingly
  • An old gate that we found behind the garage was cut down and given a lick of paint before being hung.
  • Timber and pegs for the garden beds arrived
  • A bit of creative use of old posts, rescued from the pens on our family farm, before it was sold, have been put in place to stop the beautiful Duchess (border collie) from entering.
  • Careful measuring, cutting, nailing and screwing of timber into place to box each bed.
  • A mountain of soil was moved from one place to another and finally into each of the boxed beds.
  • Well rotted manure worked in
  • Seeds sown in anticipation
  • One inexpensive archway erected to train fruit trees over the entrance

Left to do:

  • Plant out the seedlings.
  • Plant seeds
  • Espaliering of the fruit trees
  • Three inexpensive archways to be erected, one more for the fruit trees over the entrance and two for the runner beans to trail up and over.

 Click here to see some of the activity leading to this point

While all of this hard work was going on, we did have a little reprieve with a visit from our son, Chris and his family, to celebrate his birthday. It was a quick visit, just one night, as they had to return home for his work. But while they were here, we enjoyed two meals together. I can tell you that seeing our little grandson, Cooper, enjoying picking strawberries, and eating blueberries straight from the bush was a real treat.

Don’t you love it when the little ones are around, it also meant we could have cake before our main course, because he had to go to bed and he made sure he got to take a bite of almost everyone’s cake – Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake of course!

When we did get to sit down to our main meal we enjoyed the beef brisket that I had had cooking in the smoker all day – another one of the Old Fat Guy’s amazing recipes, adjusted somewhat as the brisket I had was considerably smaller than that called for in his recipe. I also slightly changed the rub, given that I did not have any onion salt – I used a combination of home made porcini mushroom salt, together with celery salt. There was plenty left over, so we were able to send a container full home with them, together with other goodies. The rest has been sliced, vac packed and frozen for quick meals when we need them.

Until next time…

Happy Gardening & Bon appétit!

 

Links:

The Vegie Patch

Chocolate Sponge – AKA Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake

The Old Fat Guys Beef Brisket

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The Grand Old Dame

 

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The Magnolia Bed