Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Want to see my vegie garden?

It occurred to me that I've been showing you lots of photos of produce, but nothing to show you where it actually comes from. So today, here is my veggie garden in all it's blazing summer glory. The photos are not fabulous, but that washed out glare is not such an inaccurate representation of mid-summer here in 'Laide. I affectionately call my back garden 'The Shambles,' because it is! One day there'll be proper retaining walls and lawn and so on, but for the time being this is it.

To kick off today's set of terrible photos, I present a Window's Paint diagram of our backyard, next to the latest satellite photo of it. I like to call this one, 'Mama has too much time on her hands.' (Click to zoom so you can actually read the titles!) It's there to give you a rough idea of the layout of the place at the moment.

If you stand on the old patio looking out, this is what you'll see. My patch.

Here near the front is the oldest sowing of baby corn which is running out of steam now, and right in front of that are the eggplants which had the first fruit. The box contains a mostly unsuccessful attempt at sowing carrots when it was much too hot (but it means I have a spare box to fill, woo!) At the very back is my Moorpark apricot, planted in October 2010, which has grown immensely and all of a sudden is taller than I am.

To the left (North) of this bit are my bags of potatoes (behind), and my okra (front).

And behind that, on the patch of ground that will one day be our lawn in between the shed and the water tank, are all of the pots with my little fig trees, citrus, pomegranate, and plums (waiting to go in the ground for our 'real' yard, this winter, maybe?) as well as most of my currant tomatoes, the rhubarb, and a few bigger tomatoes and a variety of randoms like spare strawberries and more beans.

If you step UP the hill here, you'll meet my baby mulberry, look how big he's getting! He was one of my first trees and planted in October 2010.

Behind him, is my fig tree, which whilst not exactly covered in leaves (far from, in fact) is growing us a lovely batch of five figs right now. Yum! This one is a Brown Turkey fig.

Near here are my madly prolific tomatoes (although, slowing down a little now, thank God, was getting very sick of eating them).

And if you stand at the back of the yard, under out half built chicken-coop, this is the view in the other direction. Artichokes blooming in the front, fading sunflowers behind, and just some of the veggie Styrofoam boxes, which currently house a few carrots, the latest batch of bush beans and baby corn, the baby watermelon, the mini-rock melon, and the only successful capsicum bush so far. The tall patch of corn is a mid-season sowing and is just coming into bloom now.

Like these: mini watermelons (well, one!)

And the mini rock melons which are just a little over tennis ball sized.

I also have butternut pumpkins (or butternut squash, as the rest of the world calls it...) scattered throughout the yard in the hope that this year I might actually get one or two of them to eat. This one looks promising...

So that's it (well, not really, just a selection of 'it,' too much and too messy for one post alone.) Next time I'll try a renovation update, since a friend reminded me it's been ages since I've done one, oops!

PS. Just as the tomatoes begin to slow down the zucchinis begin to take over....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

General Update

Too many things to write individual posts about, and none would make an especially interesting blog post on their own, so here is a brief update about what's been going on around here:

The tomatoes dried beautifully in the oven overnight. Halved tomatoes needed an extra day of drying, so I quartered the next lot and they dried much faster. I think we're going to invest in a real dehydrator soon, as I hope to have years and years of harvest gluts ahead of me, and I'm just not comfortable leaving the oven on overnight. And the taste? When eaten alone they are, as Chef D put it, 'not that nice,' as they are so intense, but I have been chopping them up and adding them to bread and that's a very good way to eat them and use up quite a lot of tomatoes in one go. Since the toms keep pouring in, my next job is to make and freeze a whole lot of Neapolitan sauce.

I am still trying to grow various things from seeds. The latest to sprout are a whole heap of red onions, and I'm making a last ditch effort to grow melons (Eden's Gem) before the season is out.

And on the house front? We have been painting at last! And that's nearly done, too (inside anyway). And the floor polishing guy has been in and is making our place sparkle, but no photos yet because we can't really go inside while that is happening.

And last but never least, despite her diminutive size, SP is cuter than ever and we are starting to consider 2nd birthday cakes! She has requested a bird cake, specifically :-)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Corn already?

Baby corn! 'Mini Pop F1,' to be exact.

These you are supposed to harvest as soon as you see a hint of the silks, but I forgot at first and left them a little longer.

Still, it didn't seem to matter and they were still tender inside and a little bigger for longer on the plant. Uncooked they were on the bland side, but once steamed they were delicious and nicer than anything we've bought in a supermarket before.

So far, out of the first block of 20 seeds sown, I have harvested 13 baby corns (I am keeping track of harvests with weights and numbers properly, for once!) I have also sown more baby corn successionally, so there are small, medium, and fully grown plants now, and yet more seeds in the packet for another round in a month or so.

We ate our corns together with a stirfy including yet more Redlegs spring onions (these just keep on coming and getting bigger and bigger. They were planted with a well over-packed punnet bought at a shop, but now I have seeds which I am also successionally sowing;

And a couple more Lebanese eggplants. These are small, but I am wary of letting them get too big and becoming inedible.

And in tomato news? The plants are still going great guns. My early planting of bought-in largish 'seedlings' has proved fruitful to say the least. I have picked almost 4kg in the last fortnight - not including the ones eaten while gardening and never weighed.

Some we eat fresh, some we cook into dinner, some have been frozen whole to cook with later in the year, and some I'm attempting to dry in the oven.

The tomatoes towards the top of this picture are either Tigerella or Green Zebra. I have managed to lose the label (I think it might have blown behind a pile of inaccessible renovation bits and bobs in the shed). The ones at the bottom of the picture are small Grosse Lisse. Now, those stripey numbers are a little on the bitter side if they're not totally ripe, I've found, so they were my chosen candidates for oven-drying (the Grosse Lisse are super sweet and completely beautiful).

The tomatoes are cut in half and spaced out on an oven rack, then sprinkled with salt, and dried in the oven for hours at a low temperature (between 60-80c, as low as your oven will go, basically). To be safely kept at home they need to be as dry as you can possibly make them, like leather, I've read, and even though they were in the oven at 60c overnight they were still quite squishy so now they are in the oven for day 2 to see what happens. They are so beautiful when they are cut, I love the way the seeds are still green inside!

I will let you know what happens with the tomatoes. If they stuff up, never mind, hundreds and hundreds more where these came from!