In the Garden – May 2022

The Citrus Garden

I’ve been conjuring up a plan to start planting vegetables outside of the vegetable garden, and it’s slowly coming to fruition.   The first garden on my list was the Citrus Garden, and rather than trying to work the entire garden, I mixed up a batch of manure and garden compost, and then proceeded to work it into the areas that I wanted to plant up.  With that done, the first thing that I wanted to do was relocate the broad leaf sage and then plant a traditional sage plant next to it.   With that quick task done, I set to work on the area where the Russian kale seedlings were to be planted, it looked like I had planted pvc pipe rather than seedlings, but it had a purpose.

You may, or may not note that I’m trying to keep walkways between the areas that are being planted for easy access.  The pathways will become compacted from being walked on, while the areas that are being planted up, mulched etc, will not – well that is the plan…  The little pathways will also provide easy access for weeding, planting and so forth.  The birds, however, have a different plan, and I now need to walk around, rake in hand, raking the mulch off the pathways and back onto the garden!

As the month progressed, I planted broccoli – Chinese (Kailaan), onions  – Barletta, French shallots, Swiss chard and begamot.

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Already in place were quite a few strawberries, including three strawberry plants, ‘Reine des Vallees’.  Once you taste these little strawberries you really begin to understand what a strawberry should taste like.

The three ‘Reine des Vallees’ plants have thrived since planting, but as they are a clumping type of strawberry, they have very few runners, so anything that looks like it may have potential is pinned down to the soil to encourage growth.  The other interesting point  about this plant is that it doesn’t rely on the length of the day to produce fruit!  I find this fascinating, and am still amazed that I am continuing to pick berries now – the only problem is that they don’t make it into the kitchen, rather, they go straight into my mouth!

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I’m hoping that I can stop eating these delicious little berries straight from the plant so that I can make a simple little, refreshing sweet treat that I think they would be delicious in – Fresh Berries in Apple Jelly – no added sugar and just three ingredients!

Fresh Berries in Apple Jelly
Created for something light and refreshing to serve alongside a rich chocolate dessert!
Category: Brunch, Dessert
Style: Australian
Keyword: Apple, Berries, Fruit Jelly, Jelly
Quantity: 6 small glasses
Author: sbaskitchen
  • 300 ml pink lady apple juice
  • 3 gelatine leaves
  • 150 g of berries
  1. Carefully warm the apple juice in a saucepan.
  2. Soften the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the softened leaves to the apple juice and stir over a low heat just enough to dissolve the gelatine, then remove from the heat, strain into a jug and allow to cool, (but not set).

  4. Pour a little of the cooled jelly mixture into the base of your glasses and allow it to just set in the refrigerator.
  5. Arrange a layer of berries on top, then add a little more jelly to cover the fruit.
  6. Refrigerate until set. Continue to build up the layers of berries by allowing them to set in the jelly before adding more.
  7. This will ensure the berries are evenly dispersed through the jelly.
  8. Allow to set in the refrigerator before serving.
  • If the remaining jelly starts to become too firm before you need it, simply warm it a little and then allow it to cool before adding the next layer of jelly and berries.


I don’t think that there is room for anything else in this garden at the moment, so just need to maintain and nurture!   That hasn’t stopped me from planning what to plant when the warmer months approach, though!

The Veggie Patch

  • Broccoli – Purple Sprouting – Early (Bed #4)
  • Romanesco Broccoli interspersed with garlic in the little space left in Bed #6
  • Cabbage – Sugarloaf, and Broccoli – White Sprouting seedlings into veggie bed #9.  When that was done, I planted a basket full of golden shallots in between the rows.
  • Broccoli  – Green Sprouting and Spring Onion – White Lisbon (Bed #10)

A Peak into the Vegie Patch –
Beds 6, 10 and 9

Veggie Patch Plan

Weeding & Tidying

The root veg bed (bed #6) is neat and tidy, weeded  and mulched , the carrots are a bit patchy though – I’m having so much trouble with pests enjoying the tender carrot tops.  While I wasn’t sure if I should, I decided to tansplant the swede turnip seedlings, only time will tell if it was the right thing to do.  One thing though, the parsnips are looking fabulous!

With the tomato plants nearing the end of their productivity, it was time to remove the plants and dispose of them, and then bundle the stakes for storage.   Any tomatoes that were still green were removed from the plants and spread out on trays indoors for ripening.  It all takes time, but is rewarding to see everything tidied up and still have tomatoes for a while after the plants were removed.

Finally I found time to do some work on the compost bins, closing off compost bin #2.   Compost bin #3 is now being filled, but  I still have to empty compost bin #4, which is a wire frame that I use to finish off the compost, once that’s done I can move the contents of bin #1 into it for finishing.

Some seed sowing & Propagating

I have only had time to plant a few seeds – I know that it was late, but it was worth it.

  • Cauliflower ‘All Year Round’ (old seed), these seeds have proven to be too old and did not germinate, but there was no harm trying.
  • Cauliflower ‘Green Macerata’ (planted 3 May – germinated 9 May)
  • Cauliflower ‘Purple Siciliy'(planted 3 May – germinated 7 May)

On a whim, I also scattered a mixture of salad seeds in a tub just outside the back door.  I have no idea what’s in it, I can just recall mixing a whole heap of old seeds some time ago, figuring that they may make a nice cut and grow planting! They were old seeds then, but it seems that sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

Seed mix scattered into a pot, coming through.

During a recent break at a little coastal village,  I collected a few cuttings, I just can’t help myself!  They have all been potted and now I must wait…

  • Ivy Geranium – such a pretty pink…
  • Perfumed geranium – I think it’s citronella
  • Succulents
  • Osteospermum (African Daisy) – Purple
  • Osteospermum (African Daisy – White
  • Bougainvillea – Pink

If the bougainvillea cutting doesn’t strike, I think that I may just have to go and buy one – how good does it look in the terracotta pot?

Spring bulbs arrived

When you receive the spring bulb catalogues it is just sooooo hard not to order everything, so what I do is select just a few and order 12 -15 of each, that way I can plant up a pot with one variety or just plant one variety all together in the garden for more of an impact.   I’m looking forward to seeing my little selection in bloom…

  • Narcissus – Daffodil ‘Love Call’
  • Tulipa hybrida – Triumph Tulip ‘Timeless’ – planted in a pot
  • Tulipa hybrida – Triumph Tulip ‘Strong Gold’ – planted in a pot
  • Tulipa hybrida – Bokassa Tulip ‘Rose’

However, each year I get an email advising of a mystery box of bulbs – honestly, who can resist!  I love this little surprise packet, discovering the contents and working out where I will plant its contents.

This year’s mystery package included:

  • Allium sativum  – Garlic. ‘Australian White’ (2 bulbs) – having already planted my garlic, I managed to find some space and planted these in Vegie bed #6
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica – Spanish Bells Blue (10 bulbs) – planted in Duchesses’ Garden
  • Ipheion uniflorum syn. Triteleia uniflorum – Spring Star ‘Light Blue’ (50 bulbs) – planted in the Woodland Forest Garden
  • Iris x hollandica – Dutch Iris Mixed (30 bulbs) – planted in pots
  • Freesia refracta alba – Freesia refracta alba ‘Grandma Freesias’ (20 bulbs)
  • Narcissus – Daffodil ‘Ice Follies’ (5 bulbs) – planted with existing patch of ‘Ice Follies’ in the Mauve Garden
  • Narcissus – Daffodil ‘Las Vegas’ (3 bulbs)
  • NarcissusDaffodil – Mixed (25 bulbs) – planted in pots
  • Narcissus – Daffodil ‘Tête-à-tête’ (5 bulbs) – planted with existing patch of ‘Tête-à-tête’ in the Spring Bulb Garden
  • Narcissus – Daffodil ‘Sunlover’ (5 bulbs) – planted with existing patch of ‘Sunlover’ in the Spring Bulb Garden
  • Narcissus jonquilla – Jonquil ‘Grand Monarch’ (5 bulbs)
  • Ornithogalum arabicum – Black Pearl Lily (6 bulbs)
  • Ranunculus asiaticus – Ranunculi ‘Red’ (20 corms) – planted in the ‘Laundry Garden’
  • Tulipa hybrida – Double Tulip ‘Chato’ (3 bulbs) – planted in a pot
  • Tulipa hybrida – Triumph Tulip ‘Denmark’ (4 bulbs) planted in a pots

Well, that was a little snippet from the garden in May.

Until next time…

Happy gardening




In the Garden – December 2021

With the final visit to our family home, Christmas, and a quick trip to visit with my beautiful sister, Jan, there was very little time for the garden in December…  However, I did manage to sneak in a little time now and then – it’s my escape, it’s where I can relax, it’s my happy place and I love it, even if it is out of control!

At this time of year the lilies are in full bloom adding beautiful colour and height wherever they are in the garden – these are just two that I managed to snap – the yellow tiger was the best it has ever been.  I saw them almost every day that I was at home, as I pass this little garden on my way to the compost!


Isn’t this white Agapanthus just stunning!  Not only did I stop and take in its beauty, but as usual I spent way to much time watching as the bees collected pollen from the flowers.

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Swiss Chard / Silverbeet

I am currently working through my site and tidying things up!  What a job…  Hopefully when I’m done everything will be much easier to find and/or follow.

So while I’m tidying up, I’m also updating.  This is a copy of a page that I created back in 2017.  I have just finished updating it, adding more detail with regard to how to grow Swiss chard, and also how to save the seed.  I’ve even been creating labels for the seeds that I save to share with family, friends and community, and will gradually upload the labels to my site for access to those who love to save seeds and give them away, like I do.  So here we go, this is all about Swiss Chard / Silverbeet.

(Beta vulgaris)

While we all know Swiss Chard / Silverbeet as a vegetable, that is such a great addition to any vegie patch. On my first trip to to France, I also discovered 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.  To this day I recall walking through the gates for the first time, when 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.

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Chard, Onion and Cheese Gratin

I have read many recipes for Swiss Chard or Silverbeet gratin, where the prominent ingredient is the stalk, rather than the rich green leaves.  I recently stumbled upon this recipe that I thought I would try, because it includes some of the leaves as well.  I was so thrilled with the end result, I cooked it again a couple of days later.

This gratin really is very easy to make, and the end result is a delicious cheesy gratin with the stalks providing texture, the leaves, colour, and both contributing to the wonderful flavour.

Chard, Onion and Cheese Gratin

The stalks of Swiss Chard make a gratin that is delicious and delicate in flavour, and pairs beautifully with a roast. Equally it can be served as a light meal with a fresh green salad on the side.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • Stalks from a large bunch of chard, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced.
  • 4 chard leaves, thinly shredded
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 150 ml full-cream milk
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 30 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

  • 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil and half the butter.
  3. Add the onion and chard stalks, place the lid on and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until the onion softens.
  4. Stir in the flour, and cook for a 1 minute over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk. Bring to the boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer until the sauce has thickened. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Stir in the chard leaves and cook for another minute or two until the leaves have wilted a little.
  6. Then stir in the Parmesan and the cream, then pour into a greased gratin dish.
  7. Mix the topping ingredients together and scatter over the top of the gratin. Dot with the remaining butter.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.


  • This gratin can also be popped under the grill ’til golden and crispy, if short on time or oven space.
  • For a gluten free version, simply replace the flour with the same amount of gluten free flour blend.
  • Adapted from Easy Vegetarian One Pot, 2011, R Woods (ed), p159

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Chard, Onion and Cheese Gratin

Gluten Free Four Blend

Swiss Chard

Chard, Chicken and Potato Soup

I love this soup, the chard stalk in this soup gives it a little texture and the leaves add a lovely rich green fleck through it. This is also a great way to use up left over roast chicken, but if you do not have any left over cooked chicken, you could poach some chicken thigh fillets in the stock and then shred or chop them up and add to the soup.

Chard, Chicken and Potato Soup

A delicious soup that can be enjoyed all year round.


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 250 g cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 125 g bacon rashers, cut into fine julienne
  • 125 g onion, diced
  • 125 g celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 500 g potatoes, cut into 1 cm dice
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 10 swiss chard/silverbeet leaves, washed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove the swiss chard leaves from the stalks. Finely chop the stalks and set aside, then finely chop the leaves and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon and gently fry, stirring, until slightly crisp.
  3. Add chard stalks, onion, celery, garlic and potato, stir, put the lid on the pan and cook gently until onion is soft, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer, until the potato is just tender.
  5. Add the cooked chicken and swiss chard leaves, simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve hot.


  • The broth keeps the soup nice and light.

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Chard, Chicken and Potato Soup

Swiss Chard AKA Silverbeet