Tag Archives: tomatoes

Too Many Grapes – Never Enough Tomatoes

Garden Gone Wild

rose_02
A very special rose. This gift from a friend holds the memory of someone taken much too soon.

Record rainfall followed by hot sun

After a late summer of seemingly endless blue skies, South Head received an unseasonal 124 mls of rain between 08 and 14 March. On the first soggy day we were grateful as the water tank was getting low, but by the end of the second day the novelty had worn off. The rain followed by sun has turned the vegetable garden into a jungle through which I can barely navigate.

A carpet of green

kumara
A tangle of kūmara, melon and squash.

In early November, we planted three rows of kūmara tupu. ‘Tupu’ are the rooted shoots that grow on a kūmara tuber. The vines are very vigorous  and are spreading all over the garden. I’m very excited about this. We’ve had mixed success with potatoes and I’d much prefer to grow kūmara if possible. We’ll have to wait until the leaves start to die down before seeing what’s hidden in the soil. This could be any time from the end of March onward and looking at our plants I suspect it’ll be more like April.

After harvest (assuming there is actually something growing underneath all those leaves) we’ll set the best aside to start a new crop next October.

veges 02
Left to right: Basil jostling with carrots; okra; rhubarb; kale and silver beet (chard, to those of you from the northern hemisphere).

Our one surviving rhubarb plant is gigantic. The stalks are fat and juicy and despite baking them into Rhubarb Tarte Tartin and adding them to cereals and desserts, many will go to waste. We also have more than we can eat of basil and silver beet, and I’m curious to see how the okra turns out. Growing okra is another ‘first’ for me, and in my ignorance, I allowed some pods to grow too long, so have cut them all off and am hoping that more will be produced before it gets cooler.

veges 03
Left to right: Limes; habanero peppers; ‘Big Chief Butternut’ squash; bell peppers.

Continuing with the green theme, it looks like we’ll beat our record for limes as both trees are very well-endowed this year and also have a decent crop of new flowers. My favourite chile pepper, Habanero, is looking very fine, with each of the plants laden with flowers and young fruit. I also sowed a handful of seeds for a different squash, ‘Big Chief Butternut’, which apparently grows to 2 – 3 kg. And it is HUGE. And the capsicum (bell pepper) plants have become so large that we’ve had to support them with sturdy wooden stakes.

Zucchinis and tomatoes

This summer we’ve had the heaviest crop of both zucchinis and tomatoes since living at South Head, with green beans, coming a close third.

cleome and worms
Left to right: Pretty Cleome spinosa (Spider flower); a tomato fruitworm tucking into a green tomato; the disturbing sight of a grub inside a tomato; same grub after removal.

Scattered around the vegetable garden are self-sown Cleome. I planted a half dozen a few years back to attract green vegetable bugs and the Tomato Fruitworm, Helicoverpa armigera ssp. conferta. The Cleome attract both insects really well, but there haven’t been so many green vegetable bugs this year, and I’ve been picking off the damaged tomatoes when I come across them. The hens like drawing the fat green caterpillars out. I must admit that when I overlook one, and the tomato goes rotten from the inside, I can’t bear to look at them, let alone touch them. All that ‘goopy’ decay turns my stomach.

I’ve been freezing tomatoes in 400 gram packs for use over winter; the neat thing about outside-grown tomatoes is that they are easy to peel, which saves time later. And I’ve also bottled a batch of tomato sauce. I’ve used the zucchini for pickles and we’re eating them every other day. My favourite recipe is to slice them thickly before sautéing them with mashed garlic in a little olive oil. At the last moment, to throw in a few sage leaves. Because the Costasta romanesco variety of zucchini isn’t at all watery, the sage leaves quickly go crispy and add a delicious flavour.

And still there’s more…

There are some vegetables I haven’t really bothered with… lettuces, for example. We rarely get around to eating them and while I do have a row growing and gradually aging right now, there are several earlier plants that I’ve let go to seed; the fuzzy down drifts around the garden with the slightest breeze. Lettuces are unlikely to become a problem if they sprout everywhere… I allowed a golden turnip plant to go to seed in Spring and we now have them growing in a couple of the pathways. There are only single rows of beetroot, carrots, parsnips, golden turnip and rocket – not that you’d ever need any more than one row of rocket!

veges 01
Left to right: Asparagus still sending up shoots; zucchini Costasta romanesco; parsley; bulb fennel.

Grapes and honey bees

grapes 01

Yet another amazingly productive crop we’ve had this season is grapes. The vine stretches along the sun-drenched,  north-facing wall of the barn and I’ve never seen as many. We can’t keep up with eating them, so they are all beginning to split and ferment on the vine.

bees
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) gorging on the over-ripe grapes

Grapes are particularly attractive to honey bees – more so in the morning, and in the evenings I’ve seen the German wasp, Vespula germanica hovering around, so I’m hoping to observe them at dusk at the end of one of the fine Autumn days we have ahead of us, to see if we can ascertain the location of their nest.

grapes 02
The picked grapes are sweet and juicy.

Northern Japan in springtime

In about a week’s time I’m heading to Asahikawa in the north of Hokkaido for about five weeks. The contrast in weather will be a shock, I’m sure – going from the mid 20s to low 30s Celsius to close to 0 degrees (at least, for the first week or so), but I’m very much looking forward to my very first visit to Japan and am planning on writing  about my impressions while I’m there. Because I won’t have the distraction of the garden, I should have much more time to write, which will be something I’m really looking forward to.

dahlia
DahliaCactus Colour Spectacle‘ growing against the old fence.

Summer to Autumn

March

A typical March view of the paddock next door.
A typical March view of the paddock next door.

I started this post over a month ago but recent circumstances got the better of me and I didn’t get it finished.  Today I’ve made the commitment to at least get something posted – after all, the whole point of a blog is keeping up with it.

We’ve had a little rain – just enough to prevent it being declared a drought in our area, unlike some other parts of NZ – but it’s getting very dry now.  As I write a large truck has come scuttling down the hill and along the gravel road beyond our gate.  Huge clouds of dust drift and settle on our property.

I think of the solar panels and how they will most likely need to be cleaned manually if we don’t get a decent rainfall soon. You’d be surprised how much dust settles up there! Or perhaps you wouldn’t.

As I write it’s around 1.30 pm and 27 C outside in the shade.  By the time the sun comes around it will get very hot where I’m sitting, even with all the windows open.  It’s much too warm and humid for me outside at this time of day.  The sun just bears down relentlessly – hence the garden is quite neglected.  I’m hanging out for cooler mornings and evenings now that it’s Autumn.

Garden

Late summer vegetables
Late summer vegetables

The garden has still been remarkably productive, considering that until last week (when I put in a row of broccoli and rocket) I hadn’t sowed anything new since December.  We are still producing enough vegetables not to have to purchase anything other than the occasional bag of potatoes.

The basket above shows some of the vegetables we’ve been harvesting since I last wrote, but the green beans are finished now.  As are the peas and we just didn’t eat any of the lettuces I diligently sowed in Spring and early Summer – they kept going to seed as we were eating other vegetables, so I stopped sowing them.

Vegetables

The vegetables we’ve been consuming the most of, lately, have been tomatoes, turnips and zucchinis.

Golden Turnip and Zucchini - summer staples
Turnip ‘Golden Ball’ and Zucchini ‘Costasta Romanesco’ – summer staples

The heirloom golden ball turnip is a delicious little vegetable and easy to prepare.

A simple recipe I use is to peel them, then cut them into cubes and blanch in boiling water. Drain the water off and saute the cubes in a little oil of your choice until they start to brown in patches, add 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp brown sugar and 2 tsp apple cider vinegar.  Stir through to form a light glaze.  Season with salt and pepper and they are ready to eat.

Tomatoes: Bloody Butcher, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter
Tomatoes (Left to Right): Bloody Butcher, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter

The three varieties of tomato that I grew this year are ‘Black Krim’, ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘Bloody Butcher’.  Of the three, I definitely prefer Black Krim and Mortgage Lifter.

Tomatoes (Left to Right): Bloody Butcher, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter
Tomatoes (Left to Right): Bloody Butcher, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter

While Bloody Butcher has a nice flavour, I much prefer the texture and size of the other two.   As a matter of interest, I collected one of each and cut them in half to show how different they are from each other, inside. (Hence,  the images above.)

Garlic drying on our back fence and a plate of newly-pulled beetroot.
Garlic drying on our back fence and a plate of newly-pulled beetroot ‘Crosbys Egyptian Flat’.

We’ve had enough cucumbers to keep us going, but not too many, and of course the usual carrots, rocket, basil… silver beet, beetroot, that we usually have on an ongoing basis.

Our harvest of Egyptian Walking Onions
Our harvest of Egyptian Walking Onions

I’ve lifted our almost all the garlic (yes, I know, it’s very late in the season not to have completed this task) and all the Egyptian Walking Onions.  We had amazing crops of each of these.  The onions are great and we have strung them up to dry out, and the garlic bulbs are very fat this year.

We do have a large section of our garden devoted to main crop potatoes but I have a bad feeling about them.  We didn’t really realise how much water they require and should have been watering the plants as they developed.  We poked around beneath the soil of a couple of plants a few weeks back and they really had nothing much under there, just some tiny, tiny potatoes.

Oh well, there’s always next year, I guess.  At least we did have a decent amount of ‘earlies’ prior to Christmas.

Fruit

Passion fruit and Plums

Yummy Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis
Yummy Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis

Fruit-wise we’ve had a glut of Passion fruit and are making sure that we each consume several per day so that they don’t go to waste.  They are lovely big Passion fruit and are extremely juicy and flavoursome.  We still have pulp from last season that we froze a year ago as it was so precious (haha!).  I’m definitely not going to freeze any this year.

Juicy, red plums
Juicy, red plums

I did manage to process some of our plums in January. We had so many, all ready at the same time, so we halved and froze some for later, ate a great deal and used the rest for jam and plum wine.

Plum Wine

Plum wine: a new batch and the finished product.
Plum wine: a new batch and the finished product.

The left-hand  image above shows this year’s batch of plum wine  directly after the first racking off.  Prior to that I’d fast-fermented the must on the skins for the first few days, to bring through a little of the red colour – the plums themselves are yellow-fleshed.

We also opened a bottle of our plum wine from 2010 – we tend to forget that we have bottles of fruit wine in our cellar. It was actually not bad!

Fiery Plum and Habanero Jam

Fiery Habanero and Plum Jam

The jam was basically just plums, sugar and habanero pepper.  I had to keep tasting the jam as I went along to ensure it was hot enough (but not too hot!); I added more habanero as it cooked.  It turned out really well.

It’s very rich in flavour and ideal either just as jam, or added to casseroles or curries to give them an extra zing.  It’s also good with cold meats and cheeses.  Nice and spicy!  I love the taste of habanero.

Molly

Well, there’s a sad tale to tell about Molly (it has a happy ending, though).  I’ll have to write up what happened in a separate blog or I’ll never get this posted.

I’ll finish with a photo of a couple of my dahlias.  They are very pretty… this photo was taken a week or two ago, they don’t look so perky today, due to the lack of rain.

Dahlias ' ' and 'Apache blue'.
Dahlias ‘Taratahi Lilac ‘ and ‘Apache blue’.

 

Windy!

The south-easterly is howling through the maize in the field adjacent to our land.
The south-easterly is howling through the maize in the field adjacent to our land.

South-Easterly

We were away from South Head from Saturday morning until Sunday early evening, and while we were gone, a very strong south-easterly wind developed.  The prevailing wind for our area is supposed to be a southerly, but in actual fact, a straight southerly doesn’t really  affect our property due to the fact that there is a convenient rise in the land that protects us.  We do sometimes get a nor-easterly.  While this is annoying, we’ve put things in place to protect our vulnerable plants – sturdy stakes and protective shelter material… that kind of thing.  But this south-easterly is coming in from an angle we haven’t experienced before.

The wind is doing its best to separate the washing from the line!
The wind is doing its best to separate the washing from the line!

When I hung out the washing earlier I had to use twice as many pegs per garment.  It reminded me of trying to wrestle with cloth nappies in Lyall Bay, Wellington, back in the 70s.

Plums

This doesn't really show the extent of the plum loss - they are spread over a wide area of ground
This doesn’t really show the extent of the plum loss – they are scattered over a wide area of ground

I was too exhausted last night to look at the garden, but the first intimation I had that all was not well was when Ben reported that nearly all the fruit had been blown off from my favourite plum tree.  This is the plum tree in what we now term our ‘native’ area – it’s an old tree that has less plums than the one growing closer to the vege garden.  But the plums are larger and have a deep red flesh.

I love them and have been looking forward to eating them.

Fallen plums
Fallen plums

When I went out earlier this morning to take stock, I felt like crying.

And I do still have a heavy heart, but I suppose there is no point in shedding tears over lost fruit.  At least we aren’t dependent on our fruit or our crops for our livelihood.

The second plum tree - mostly unaffected by the wind
The second plum tree – mostly unaffected by the wind

Fortunately, the other plum tree is situated out of the worst of the wind.  It’s still laden with fruit.

Local Birds

The wind has has had an impact on the birds that have chosen to make their homes here, as well.  I’m sure they were just as unprepared for the wind’s unusual direction.

We’ve found quite a few parts of nests on the ground, and the sparrows are busy with recycling; flying down to collect the broken nest parts from the ground and carrying them back up to their respective nesting sites.

A tiny nest lined with hair of some kind.
A tiny nest lined with hair of some kind.

Ben found the above nest below the macadamia tree, although it’s so light that it could have blown from anywhere.

It’s quite a bit smaller than any I’ve seen on the ground before.  The diameter of the inner bowl is approximately 4.5 to 5 cm and it’s lined with silvery grey hair of some kind.  I pulled a couple of strands out and it’s too coarse to be human or from a cat.  And I think too long to be from a dog… I’m wondering if it’s horse hair or something like that.  I really have no idea.

It’s a beautiful little nest, though, with moss and lichen woven in to the outside.

Possibly a blackbird's or a thrush's nest.
Possibly a blackbird’s or a thrush’s nest.

The above nest is much more loosely-woven than the smaller one.  It’s also quite a bit larger – around 9 to 10 cm across the bowl of the nest.  We’re pretty sure it belonged to either a blackbird or a song thrush.  We could only see the tail of the bird sticking up when it was sitting on, it as it was just out of eye sight.

The nest had been built in quite a small, spindly broad-leaf, and right from the start was partly tipping out, so it’s not surprising that it was dislodged by the wind.  This  nest is constructed almost entirely from grasses, with a tiny bit of lichen visible… and it seems to be lined with fine mud.

Three Blackbird eggs
Three Blackbird eggs

Our resident Blackbird couple are raising their third batch of eggs this season.  The female is currently sitting on three eggs – I had first observed her back on the nest on 09 December, which surprised me.  Raising young seemed to be a never-ending process for her and  I wasn’t sure if was because something had happened to her previous babies or whether she would keep on raising new broods if time allowed.

With her second batch I had noted the following: –

  • 19 November: 2 whole eggs, 2 hatched
  • 20 November: 4 hatched
  • 02 December: 4 chicks, well feathered and alert
  • 03 December: Nest empty

It seems amazing to me that it only took 13 days to go from hatching to flight.

I found an excellent page which provided me with the answers on the Tiritiri Matangi site.  It seems that Blackbirds do raise 2 – 3 broods per year, and that the chicks fledge at 13 – 15 days.  The other interesting fact I read is that a Blackbird’s possible lifespan is 15 years.

Garden Diary

It's going to be a bumper season for passionfruit.
It’s going to be a bumper season for passion fruit.

The garden has been flourishing, and as usual, I’ve been struggling to keep on top of things.  There has been more rain in November & December in comparison with the past couple of years, which is a good thing.  We’ve only had to water the vegetable garden once, and that very evening it rained, so …

The tomatoes are coming along nicely.
The tomatoes are coming along nicely.

We’re been well-served by our vegetables and have been eating asparagus, beetroot, silver beet, green beans, peas, lettuces, rocket, new potatoes and Florence fennel.  Probably some other things as well but it’s hard to keep up.

Sweet Peas

My favourite early Summer flower.
My favourite early Summer flower.

I can’t finish today’s entry without putting in a plug for Sweet Peas.  I was very disappointed with the strike rate for the seeds I sowed in winter.  I had used up a whole packet but only a handful of seeds germinated.

Well… the ones that did sprout, combined with a few self-sown plants, have provided a wonderful display once again.   I’m sure the extra rain has helped, too.

I love these flowers and every other day have picked enough to fill two vases.  Even as I sit here writing I can smell their sweet and spicy scent from across the room.

Spitikos Domatopoltos

Greek Tomato Paste

In Greek: σπιτικός ντοματοπολτός
Pronounced: spee-tee-KOHS doh-mah-toh-pol-TOHS

A portion of the finished tomato paste, covered with a film of virgin olive oil
A portion of the finished tomato paste, covered with a film of virgin olive oil

I tried two different tomato paste recipes this year, but the Greek version is far superior in flavour.  If you have extra tomatoes at this time of the year, it’s definitely worth the time spent in making your own tomato paste when it turns out like this – rich, dark red and extremely flavoursome.

This paste is actually too nice to waste in a recipe as a mere addition to a vegetable or meat sauce.   I could easily just eat it all by itself, straight out of the jar (but will restrain myself).

Ingredients

  • About 2 kilograms of end-of-season overripe tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 red capsicum (red bell) pepper, seeded
  • 1 tablespoons sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly chopped and skinned, end-of-season tomatoes
Freshly chopped and skinned, end-of-season tomatoes

Method

Blend tomatoes and capsicum until smooth
Blend tomatoes and capsicum until smooth

Process tomatoes and pepper in a food mill, processor, or blender until well pulped.

Transfer to a pan and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2-3 minutes.

After cooking, strain the tomato mixture over cheesecloth overnight
After cooking, drain the tomato mixture over cheesecloth for 12 hours (overnight is good)

Place mixture in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, and using a strainer, suspend it over a bowl.  Leave to drain for 12 hours in the refrigerator to remove all excess liquid.

Transfer mixture to a glass or ceramic baking dish and stir in the salt.  Allow the mixture to reach room temperature, then dry in a lukewarm oven (95-100°C) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove paste from oven and transfer to sterilised glass jars
Remove paste from oven and transfer to sterilised glass jars

Spoon into sterilised glass jars, taking care to avoid creating air pockets, and top with 1/4 inch of extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover completely).  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Home-made Greek tomato paste
Home-made Greek tomato paste

Notes:

This recipe can be multiplied by increasing all ingredients proportionately.
As the tomato paste is used, top up with more oil to cover, as needed.
These will keep well until next year’s tomato crop is ready!

I found this recipe at: –

http://greekfood.about.com/od/doityourself/r/domatopoltos.htm

I only used 1/2 the salt recommended in the original recipe as that seemed plenty.  (I tasted the paste after adding the 1 tablespoon of salt.)

There was an additional comment that in Greek homes, this paste is often spread on slices of country bread with a little olive oil, and topped with a crumble of feta cheese.  Of course I had to try this with our home-made feta cheese, and it tastes incredible!

End of February

Garden Update

The maize in the paddock next door is dry
The maize in the paddock next door is dry

It seems ages since I’ve posted anything.  February has been so busy and now that it’s almost over, I can’t think where the days went to.  The sun is rising noticeably later and setting noticeably earlier.  The temperature range is still in the high 20s to low 30s Celsius, but there is the ‘smell’ of Autumn in the air. It has been extremely humid, and almost unbearable for sleeping at night.  During the hottest parts of the day I still stay inside where it’s shady and much cooler.

The maize in the paddock next door has dried to a pale golden colour and rattles in the wind.  The days are loud with the clicking of cicadas, and the nights with the more musical chirping of black field crickets.

Much has been happening in the garden, including our banana flowering for the first time, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes, and a very good crop of garlic.  It’s been extremely dry, and sadly, I fear that some of the newer small shrubs may have been lost – many are looking very dry and shriveled up and it’s just about impossible to water them as the earth has become so dry and hard.  Large cracks are spreading in some places, and there are many patches where the grass has completely dried off.  The pumpkins and squashes are dying back and we’ve given up on our zucchinis.  There have been just too many of them.

In the vegetable garden, our best crops at the moment are basil, peas, silver beet, the last tomatoes, beetroot and chilli peppers.  We have a new batch of scarlet runners that look pretty healthy and the passion fruit are dropping from the vine.  I am always amazed at how lushly basil grows, even when it’s so dry.

Banana ‘Mons Mari’

Banana with first sign of flower spike.
Banana with first sign of flower spike.

The most exciting development has been our banana ‘Mons Mari‘ flowering for the very first time.  I observed the very first spike of purple (which was the beginning of the flower stalk) on Monday 03 February.

This plant has been in our garden since April 2011 – I realise now that we didn’t plant it in a very good place – it’s exposed to the wind from the North and is also in very poor soil.

The flower stalk appears out of the centre once the plant is fully grown, hanging down as the flower develops.  The male flower develops at the end of the flower stalk creating a bell, with the female flowers spiralling around the stem.

The bananas just keep on forming!
The bananas just keep on forming!

Nevertheless, it has produced an amazing flower stalk of small bananas with more still forming.  We counted 170 the last time we checked – and remarkably this is only 3 weeks or so since the flower first appeared.

Tomatoes

A selection of tomatoes from the garden
A selection of tomatoes from the garden

We’ve had so many tomatoes that I couldn’t keep up with picking them.  The most successful have been the heirloom varieties, ‘Cherokee Purple‘, ‘Black Krim‘ and ‘Black from Tula‘, and the cherry tomato, ‘Suncherry’.

The latter have been dropping to the ground like berries and to be honest, we haven’t kept up with them.  I also grew ‘Bloody Butcher‘ and this was a very nice, smaller tomato, but nothing really beats the taste of the big beauties.  Some of the tomatoes were tunneled into by caterpillars, but not too badly.  And this year all have ripened, so I won’t be making any Green Tomato Chutney.

Left to Right: Spicy tomato sauces, Greek tomato paste, Tomato sauce
Left to Right: Spicy tomato sauce, Greek tomato paste, Tomato sauce

I’ve ended up turning just about all the excess tomatoes (and there have been kilos of them!) into tomato concentrate and tomato sauces.  I’m really pleased with a couple of recipes, so will post these in the near future.

This year is the first time I’ve tired making  tomato concentrate.  I tried two recipes – a plain one and a Greek version.  The taste of both, compared with the tomato paste you can purchase commercially, is far superior.  Sweet, tangy, fragrant and rich with the flavour of tomatoes that have been ripening in the sun.

Garlic

Garden bulbs hanging on the fence to ripen
Garden bulbs hanging on the fence to ripen

I’ve grown garlic for three years now at South Head and this is the best crop I’ve harvested.  There are more than 30 bulbs, a few of which I’ve left in the ground to mature a little longer.

I’ve read that garlic grows to its own conditions, which means that each year, if you use cloves from your own crop, the results will be better.  I love it that I can grow enough garlic to last an entire year.  We were literally turning the last of our 2013 garlic cloves into paste on the same day as we lifted the first bulb for 2014.

Caterpillars, Leaves and Seeds

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Today started out clear, sunny and calm, but it clouded over as the day progressed.  It’s clearer now, but there is a storm traveling up from the South Island, and although it’s unlikely to travel this far north, we have been experiencing very strong South-Westerly winds, as can be seen by the cloud patterns to the west.

Our planned excursion to Helensville this morning was aborted half way there, as the road was closed due to a truck having rolled on one of the corners.  Rather than wait around for an hour or more for the tow truck to arrive and sort things out, we decided to head back home.

I spent some time this afternoon cutting back the ratty leaves on my tomatoes.  I spotted a couple of cabbage looper caterpillars, Trichoplusia ni, and picked them off.  I’ve posted images of these on the Nature Watch NZ site.  I love this site as it’s helped me to identify many of the unfamiliar bugs and plants I’ve come across since we’ve lived at South Head.

But I digress.  Last summer these caterpillars wrought havoc on my tomatoes – not only did they eat the leaves, which isn’t too much of a problem in itself, but they also like to tunnel into the actual tomatoes and many were spoiled.  From what I’ve read, I suspect that my tomato plants are becoming vulnerable due to there not having been any rainfall since Christmas.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but if not, we’ll have to give our garden a decent watering.

Our hens like to eat the caterpillars, so it is with some satisfaction that I feed them any that I find.

Garlic

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The photo above shows how little garlic we have left!  But the garlic we harvested around this time in 2013 has lasted all year so we haven’t had to purchase any.

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Our garlic plants aren’t looking that amazing …  again, the soil has become very dry.  We did dig in a decent amount of compost during the year, but with our light soil, it just seems to become absorbed really quickly.  And of course, I’ve been lazy about weeding. The garlic bulbs will be ready to lift and dry when the foliage dries off and turns brown.

Leaf Mulch

The tawny leaves that can be seen lying on the the soil amongst the plants are from the huge Lilly Pilly trees that line our back fence.  There doesn’t seem to be one time of the year that they don’t shed their leaves.  At first this used to drive me mad, but I’m accustomed to them now.  Every so often I make the effort to sweep them all up and add them to our compost heap.

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We’d also started a bag of leaves for leaf mulch – but I must admit that although I started out really keen to keep the leaves separate, I lost interest within a few days of starting the bag.

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Lemon Grass

Another garden task we tackled today was the removal of an overgrown lemon grass plant.  I must admit that when we purchased it as a precious, tiny plant three years ago, I thought that a spot in the vegetable garden would be just fine, but it’s grown out of proportion to what I’d expected.  And I worry when it’s seeding (as it has been for the last several weeks).

I use lemon grass from time to time when marinating prawns or cooking up something Asian, but I don’t tend to use it often enough to allow it free reign in my garden.

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So, Ben had the task of digging up this unfortunate plant and we’ll buy a new one at some point and decide on a more appropriate place somewhere else on the property.

Seed-Sowing

Other than that, I’ve had a pretty lazy day.  Ben had pulled out a row of bolting celery a couple of days ago, so we’ve sowed the following seeds in the space freed up by its removal: –

Carrot ‘Touchon’ (Daucus carota var sativa) , Mesclun Lettuce Mix (Lactuca sativa), Radish ‘Easter Egg’ (Raphanus sativus), Pea ‘Easy Peasy’ (Pisum sativum) and Organic Rocket (Eruca sativa).

For those not familiar with botanical names, you’ll notice the use of the word ‘sativa’ or versions of this in the names of all the seeds.  Sativum, Sativus, and Sativa are Latin botanical adjectives meaning ‘cultivated’, applied to certain seed-grown domestic crops.