How long?!

I have had a lovely time.  Hubby the Un-Gardener took the boys away camping to make the most of the summer before… well we won’t dwell on the coming months.  It’s still summer and that’s all that counts.  I miss them very much, but to garden uninterrupted is such a pleasure.  So I indulged myself in all things gardening.

In case you were wondering  the corn was perfectly delicious
In case you were wondering the corn was perfectly delicious

I started out by sowing the next season’s seeds.  I’ve been putting it off as it seems way too early to be bothering with cold weather crops, but they need the warm start and so there was nothing else for it but to reach for the seed raising mix.  I hope to have flourishing in my garden later in the year:  red cabbage, cavolo nero, witloof, celeriac, spinach, Asian stir fry mix, leeks, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and not to mention the kohlrabi and romanesco that are already in the ground.  I also sowed some herbs that I intend to limp along inside for our culinary delight, namely dill, coriander, cutting celery and basil.

Always take a photo of your seed tray  - just in case something bad happens to your labels
Always take a photo of your seed tray – just in case something bad happens to your labels

It is still quite hot and we are still in drought conditions, so I came up with a cunning plan to stop my seed trays drying out between watering, I placed a wet newspaper in a large tray under my seeds and so far so good, everything is still damp.  Now I just need the seeds to pop up.  I don’t suppose checking three or four times a day is going to speed things up but I can’t help myself from having a wee peek.

I had a quick look about the garden to see if there is actually room for all the seeds I’ve sown.  Although not all of the seedlings are intended for my garden as I really want my friends to be encouraged away from fair weather gardening and grow year round, so I should have heaps of spares to give away.  While some have logical locations within my crop rotation, some may not fit.  What I need now is an empty bed that won’t be needed until next October and the only empty bed so far is the one that I just took out the potatoes, however it is only three quarters empty as there is still a row of spuds in there, but it will have to do.

My new favourite veggie of the moment - you should try it in a chocolate muffin!
My new favourite veggie of the moment – you should try it in a chocolate muffin!

Then I got my hands dirty and prepared to soil for the carrots and parsnips.  That meant harvesting the beetroot to make room, so it was just as well they were ready.  I think I have mastered the art of getting a good big straight carrot so I’m looking to do what I did last time, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke!  I dug down deep and fluffed up the soil in the row, a little obsessively – with my hands.  But I crushed all the lumps and removed all the stones.  But the carrot seeds will have to wait another day as I have run out of fertiliser and I need to feed the row, but with carrots you can’t use any organic matter or the carrot would fork.  The proof will be revealed in the coming months as to whether it was a one off great carrot season or not.

A basket of green gold
A basket of green gold

I looked across at the pepper bed and found it positively teaming with Hungarian Wax chillies that need to be harvested so into my basket went the equivalent of $130 worth of chilies – based on local supermarket prices for fresh jalapeno.  While in the mood for harvesting, I took my basket and headed down to the orchard to see if anything was ready.  I came back with over a kilo of elderberries and a handful of windfall apples and pears.

Perfectly ripe elderberries
Perfectly ripe elderberries

Suddenly my kitchen was full of things that needed my attention.  There were gherkins that I picked a few days ago, and chillies that received the same treatment and were pickled.  Beetroot have become my new all-time favourite vegetable of the moment.  Roasted they are delicious and in chocolate muffins – even yummier!  I cooked it up and froze half so I can satisfy my beetroot desires at any time and pickled the rest.  I froze the elderberries as there are still more to ripen on the bush.  Once they are all harvested they have been earmarked for elderberry wine – a sophisticated drink.

A great day spent getting pickled
A great day spent getting pickled

Once I cleared away the mess of a day of kitchen gardening, the windfall apples and pears sat there staring at me.   So I made a cuppa tea and flicked through my favourite preserving recipe books and stumbled upon a recipe for ‘gardener’s windfall chutney’ and I had all the ingredients – although I did have to pick through the Christmas fruit mix to get enough sultanas!  It couldn’t have had a better name – it was just the ticket, so I set about whipping up a batch.

Surely it's not supposed to look so wet?
Surely it’s not supposed to look so wet?

I didn’t read the recipe properly – I never read recipes properly, and once it got it to boil, it looked really wet and more like soup than chutney, so I checked to see if I’d done something wrong and stumbled across the line that said simmer and stir frequently for two and a half hours!  TWO and a HALF HOURS.  It better be really nice.

I think I need to stop procrastinating and sort out the big freezer
I think I need to stop procrastinating and sort out the big freezer

Come again soon – the harvest is slowly being squirreled away for the winter.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

13 thoughts on “How long?!

  1. I’m very envious of your corn – ours failed dismally last year due to the truly dreadful weather we had. I couldn’t even make up the shortage by buying from the supermarket because once you have tasted corn on the cob which you harvested from the garden a mere 15 to 20 minutes previous to eating, then shop bought simply can not compare.

    Fingers crossed we’ll get a better summer and crop this year.

    1. Hi there. When the corn cobs started appearing in the shops. my corn wasn’t quite ready so I bought some, but even the kids could tell that it wasn’t fresh and complained that it tasted ‘stale’. There is nothing like garden fresh. I hope you get a bumper crop this year.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. That’s a great idea about photographing your seed tray! I have also pinched your list of what you are going to grow this year and will sift through it to find what we like and will have a go at growing it. We will get a long (hopefully) winter here and I want to make the best of it. I want broad beans this year as I adore them so will plant out a couple of beds of them (direct sow… I did learn SOMETHING from mum 😉 ). This blog is a wealth of info for beginning veggie gardeners. Forget that we have diploma’s in horticulture, that only makes us soil savvy and able to navigate our way around phloem and xylem but we have to go back to kindegarten with our caps in our hands when it comes to annuals like veggies :).
    We got through our beetroot in no time this year. They tasted amazing! I love them steamed but Steve pickled some expat U.K. style with just spices and vinegar as he doesn’t like them sweet. I am SO envious of your elderberries! I am going to have to grow some because I recently went to the most amazingly beautiful garden that had several gorgeous varieties (purple and variagated) of elderberry as feature trees that produced as well. Flowers (wine and cordial and bee/butterfly fodder), fruit (more wine and happy birds) and that gorgeous foliage sheltering the rest of the garden from the heat of the day…brilliance in a hardy bunch :).
    We trialled some jalapeno’s this year and are letting them ripen as much as they can before we harvest them. I guess the long extended summer this year will at least give our tomatoes and capsicums and chilli’s a good chance to ripen (it brings out the optimist in me 😉 ). I plan on making our own Chipotle chillies this year with some of our Jalapeno’s and Steve’s small smoker.
    What an amazing squirrel you are Sarah, kudos on your nut stashing ability 🙂

    1. Hi Fran, I forgot to add turnip, more beetroot and broad bean to the list. I think people forget to eat seasonally and expect tomatoes and zucchini in the stores in winter at a reasonable price. Old fashioned veggies get overlooked and a turnip is actually quite tasty.
      I decided in the spring I didn’t really like broad beans, but I grow them because in the past they made me feel like I was still actually growing stuff in the winter, although this year the winter garden is nearly as big as my summer one!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. My eldest daughter is a turnip and radis addict. She would live on them (raw) if she could and is at her happiest when she is surrounded by cruncy spicy root veggies :). If I grew her turnips she would give me the ultimate kudos :). I LOVE broad beans and eat them in every stage. Have you had the tips/new shoots in stir fries? They are delicious :). Turn them into broad bean hummus and your children will love them to :). When I was attending our local Polytechic (in our earlier horticultural studies) there wa a special class called “Certificate 1 in Horticulture” for intellectually challenged people and their veggie garden put ours to shame! They grew the most magnificent broad beans and artichokes and as none of them actually liked broad beans they turned them back into the soil as a really good green crop. If you don’t like them, you could do the same? They are amazing for the soil apparently :). I can’t wait till autumn when we can dig the soil again (we have thin topsoil over heavy clay that sets like porcelain over summer) after the rains soften the soil a bit because we are going to tackle making the most enormous fully enclosed veggie garden. I am SO tired of fighting the native animals for my small veggie garden! They rule the night and I rule the day and short of tying Earl up near the veggie garden at night (and most probably having him escape and do more damage than the possums!) I just have to try to stop them invading my garden by all of the devious little ways that they can. Last night they managed to squeeze underneath the large piece of weldmesh that I am forced to lay over the top of my bean bed to stop them and they ate my beans back down to about 2ft off the ground :(. It can be very disheartening but tonight they will find an ENORMOUS pile of spiky wire on top of my bean bed…good luck to them having anything nice and green tonight! ;). You will be able to hear me cheering from N.Z. when we get this new garden built 🙂

    1. Hi there. I love seeing all the goodies pile up in jars and in the freezer ready for winter, but I don’t think I’d be much help with advice on beans as we really don’t like them all that much and I don’t really know why I grow them! I normally just freeze a token amount and attempt to give the rest away.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi Cheryl. I have the mind of a teenager, sadly my body has other ideas! I crawl into bed at the end of a busy gardening day with weary bones! But it is still all worth it.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. I’ve had beetroot and chocolate brownies before and I have to agree, it’s a delicious combination. I wonder what posessed the first person to come up with that idea?!!!

    1. Hi Christine, My plan to hide veggies in cakes seems to be working. The Joeyosaurus wants a zucchini cake for his next birthday “if they are still around then.” Sadly they won’t be as his birthday is in October and the plants will have only just gone in the ground for next season.
      The first person to come up with it was probably a mum desperate to get veggies into her kids!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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