05.07.15 Mid winter and it’s nippy and overcast – we’ve had some gentle rain on and off and the ground is nicely moist. I am rugged up in fleecy trakkies, sheep skin uggs, skivvie, fleecy jumper and hooded padded coat – I look like a good Bogan should. I have to sit on my hands to warm them but the front door is open as usual. I have inherited my English born Grandmas love of fresh air around me. The dogs cope (!hah so spoiled) by snuggling under blankets on the couch. They woke me around 3am this morning but of course they have gone back to bed while I am sitting here typing. Never mind, it’s Sunday and I can have a siesta after visiting a friends garden this morning with our gardening group Brisbane Local Food. The cane toads have only just stopped their warm weather activities and the snails in the farm are still active every night unlike last winter where the newly purchased adults did very little. I have 100’s of new babies 🙂 and I’m finding free ranging, wild born snails around the yard almost nightly to add to the snail farm. They are such gentle little creatures – they ignore the beds full of delicious brassicas and lettuces and go for the compost pile. I am so fond of them it will be hard to bring myself to boil them for food when the time comes. Being nocturnal I can only watch them in action at night by torchlight when they come down to feed – you can actually hear the big ones munching. They love to travel in pairs – no doubt this helps in the wild to have a mate close to hand when it comes to breeding. Little ones often ride on the backs of the big ones – so funny to watch, like little pilots on the backs of big ships.
I love planting radishes as they create a crop so quickly within about 6wks. I’ve ended up with a few different varieties this year to try out but you can’t beat the classic Champion. These were made into soup.
Simple recipe HERE.
The Soursop has been slowly ripening a crop. Also known as Graviola they are a fad at the moment for weight loss and cancer cure. I’ve had a few people contacting me wanting a bag of leaves for making tea. Blasted fruit just sits looking the same for months and then suddenly drops to the ground goes splat. This is one I managed to get before that happened. Related to Custard Apple they are quite nice, not sour but not sweet, a bit fibrous. They go well with icecream.
A friend (Rob) gave me some Davidson’s Plum fruit to try. He’s very keen on them and grows a few different varieties. Not actually a plum it’s a native fruit – quite tart like a lemon. Very good for making drinks and jam etc – another friend turned his into liqueur. Mine was turned into cordial and it was absolutely delicious with just a quarter cup of sugar added to each jug I managed to make three jugs out of one fruit.
That same friend also gave me a Monstera Deliciosa fruit and a plant cutting. My Gran always had these growing and we loved them as kids. They ripen a bit per day – the edible bit becomes accessible when the scales come off easily. Eaten unripe they are full of prickly bits (potassium oxalate). Well worth the effort as the fruit is delicious as the name indicates.
From one plant bought at the local markets I have had quite a good crop of Jerusalem Artichoke. Nothing to do with either Jerusalem or artichokes they are related to sunflowers and are grown for their edible tubers. They contain the carb inulin – good for diabetics but make sure you eat your tubers fresh or they cause a great deal of abdominal discomfit. Roast, stew – use as you please.
The pollinators and I like flowers around the garden. I grow a lot of Salvias as all the pollinators seem to find them valuable and they come in a variety of colours and forms. Below are Clitorea ternatea, a double variety from an Asian friend. The flowers are used to colour food. A gentle little creeper, the flower colour is just so vibrant.
This winter I’ve made sure I have lots of Pepino growing where ever there is a space. This gentle creeper produces a lovely little fruit that tastes very much like a juicy rockmelon but is so much easier and prolific to grow. They will fruit all year long but come into their own in winter when the dreaded Fruit Fly are dormant. Plants appreciate a bit of water and composted manure and grow very easily from cutting. They like a bit of support or will happily ramble like these below.
The white choko has taken off after sitting and sulking for over a year. Not as hardy a plant as the green version I like the fruit a little better than the green. Could be all in my head of course as I haven’t done an actual comparison! All parts of the choko plant are edible so it’s a great plant to have in the garden. Eat the fruit young and sweet – raw or cooked any which way. Quite a treat. Do not! leave them to get this big for eating. Yech bland. This lot are to share around for growing.
Pawpaw proliferate here. They like this yard for some reason. I eat most of them green as salad or roasted or stewed as a veg.
I like to encourage predators and insects into the garden and made these insect hotels some time back. Insects will only use each tube once and then move on but you can see where some mud dauber wasps and leaf cutter bees have created nests for their eggs. Even the straws were used and have hatched – see the little holes. Top right hole has a dead insect that didn’t quite make it out 😦
Jeff and I have been talking about Tree Collards. This plant is grown in America and is on my “I want it!!” list. A member of the Brassica family it’s a perennial and is best propagated from cutting – they grow in a wide variety of climates and are apparently very good to eat. All I can get in Australia is Collard Greens seed which while proving to be a useful green and good eating (for both me and the snails who love the stuff), just isn’t the perennial plant that I have my heart set on.
The beds are lush with winter growth. Peas have started cropping, silverbeet, collard greens, rocket, beans are growing, lettuce, toms are developing fruit, mustard greens volunteer all over. All I have to do this time of the year is a little tidying here and there. It’s so enriching on so many levels.
Volunteer lettuce from some plant I originally grew years back come up in the lawn. How good is that!
Ok, now my hands are really cold and my feet are wet in their Uggs from all the dew on the grass. I feel quite alive 😀 Time for ham and egg brekkie with a hot chocolate. Love winter.
What a deliciously nippy morning, my favourite time. A foray into the garden produced two surprises – the Samphire or salicornia seed is sprouting in it’s mock marsh and there were a lovely clump of Carambola fruit to be pulled out of the tree before they fell and went splat.
Hasn’t rained for weeks but I haven’t had to water either (just the pot plants) as the plants root systems now reach down deeply enough to keep themselves hydrated. Nothing much to do apart from cut what I want and do a bit of tidy up now and then.
The yard is quite messy with patches of long grass but there are so many self seeding edible plants out there at this time of the year it will just have to stay messy. The lettuce come up everywhere – in pots, in the lawn. There’s Pepino, Red Mustard, Chick Weed and nasturtium growing abundantly. I don’t want to mow it down.
Broccoli is starting to crop and it’s the best I’ve ever eaten. No caterpillar damage either.
I was hunting around over the weekend for somewhere to plant the finally! chitting potatoes (keep them in the pantry with your onions NOT outside in a warm bright spot) and realised the only spot left was the compost pile. Under the surface it is rich and loose. Fingers crossed but I think they should do well there.
The Caboolture Markets are always full of surprises when it comes to home grown produce from our local area. These are Canistel fruit (Pouteria campechiana). My own tree is still yet to produce so it was good to try these out. Not blown away, but not bad. Sweetish and nutty flavour.
There has been a quest to find non-bolting versions of lettuce to grow here in our hot wet summer. Two very useful plants have come my way –
A hunt on the net turns up various versions and photos of these plants, which do look very similar to each other growing in my garden.
Here’s the A Choy (on 4th March) which grew, produced seed and died before winter:
And here’s the Canadian Wild Lettuce coming into it’s own now in July: