Our weather here in Coffs Harbour has been fantastic … no not really! It has been very wet and horrible, and it’s soon to be wet, cold and horrible. So perhaps this type of weather is good if you are a frog, or a duck, or any other living creature that likes to be constantly immersed in water. It’s certainly not my ideal climate.
Being the ever positive, “look on the bright side of life” type of person that I am, I decided it was the perfect time to get out in the garden. Rain is great for seeds and seedlings.
A few days earlier I had sprinkled some beetroot seeds in a 50cm square patch of spare dirt. With all the rain and the odd hot and humid day, they have already emerged and the leaves are ready for my salads. I plant beetroot predominately for the salad leaves. I simply take scissors into the garden and snip off as many leaves as I need. I take care not to take too many leaves from one bulb. At the end of the growing cycle I have a pretty big beetroot which I then pickle for my sandwiches and burgers. YUM!
Another plant which is a permanent fixture in my garden is the shallot or spring onion. This little patch of shallots were planted over twelve months ago. Every few days I need some shallots for a dish so I come out into the garden with my scissors, and cut off a stem at the dirt line. Harvesting the shallot in this way allows the plant to keep growing and sprouting new stems. I never have to plant shallots again, I have a perpetual plant.
My daughter has her own little “pretty” spot. It is a magic fairy garden, her Oma (grandmother) made the fairies and toadstools for her. Previously the fairies had been protecting some tomato bushes but we decided to upgrade their accommodation. Whilst shopping for food plants I noticed these gorgeous double gerberas. I decided they would be perfect for little Anais’s fairies. So we planted the gerberas and relocated the fairies, they look much happier with their new home.
So you can see it isn’t all about food, I do like to have a spot of colour. I planted these pansies so we would have something pretty to look at, they have also been used in my food photos when I needed a spot of colour.
Speaking of visitors to the garden, do you like my bunnies in the Rosemary? The were another cute gift from Oma. They seem quite happy protecting the Rosemary. This is my smaller potted Rosemary, but I also have a much larger bush which I use regularly for roasts and slow cooked lamb.
Whilst we were in Bali last I discovered a very interesting fact about kaffir limes. I have always been told that the Kaffir Lime is only grown for its leaf and the fruit is useless. I am here to tell you that this is incorrect. Each of the cooking classes I attended in Bali used only the Kaffir lime in their food, and they used both the leaf and the fruit. The fruit has less juice than regular limes but usually it is cut in half, squeezed briefly and then pounded briefly with a motor and pestle to also release some of the citrus oil. So Balinese dishes will have shredded leaves, a little juice and the oil from the peel, in a dishes.
For the last two weekends Mr GG and I have travelled away. It seems that each Thursday I notice more eggplants in need of harvesting. I always try to pick the food from the garden when I intend to eat it to ensure freshness. So I kept putting off harvesting the eggplants. We came home late Sunday afternoon and there was nothing in the fridge. I went into the garden and collected 12 eggplants for my Lentil & Eggplant Moussaka. I will have to share the recipe as it is a favourite vegetarian dish, I think I have been making for over 20 years now!
So what else is in my garden? Mr GG just put up some wire for my passionfruit vine. It was only planted about six months ago but already it is claiming a spot in the garden and growing like crazy. I am really please to see beautiful passionfruit flowers all over the vine.
In order to make use of the wire trellis whilst the passionfruit vine is making its way over, I planted a mix of snow peas and green beans. I find these plants exceptionally good value, when they mature every time I go out into the garden I can collect a meal of each.
Strawberries have been planted for my daughter, she comes along and hoovers them before the birds even know they are ripe.
I will let you in on a secret, I am a lazy gardener. I promise it’s completely true, I want maximum produce for minimum effort. So I am sure you can imagine my delight when the three Basil plants, (or Pesto bushes as they are commonly known at our house), self seeded and produced a lawn of basil. It was the perfect ground cover to keep weeds at bay. I had neglected the garden and their was no mulch over the soil and my garden rewarded my lack of effort with “Pesto a plenty.”
Unfortunately everywhere the basil didn’t grow, the weeds were sneaking in. The weeds were actually getting out of hand, after all it was ideal growing conditions for them too. I braved the rain and pulled out as many as I could, and then smothered the rest with sugar cane mulch. My garden looked a lot better with the addition of the mulch. Really this was the least I could do for a garden that feeds my family and friends, with plenty left of overs for pickles and preserves. It saves me so many last minute trips to the supermarket. I never have mouldy vegetables, salad greens and herbs at the bottom of the fridge, and best of all, the food we eat as a family was growing less than five minutes before it is consumed.
Another plant that I love in my garden is the Chilli bush. We have quite a few different varieties with varying levels of heat. They come in handy because Mr GG and I both enjoy spicy food. When I have an abundance I simply make a harrisa paste or a chili jam.
Do you have a vegetable or herb garden?? What is your most successful plant? Rocket and Basil have been my best producing food plant.
…but really I love any plant that I can snip with scissors and it will continue to grow. Above is my Bok Choy, It is attacked regularly for leaves.
A plant which really doesn’t go well for me is tomatoes. I know it should be simple but somehow I never produce tomatoes. The fruit either has holes in tit, or it falls off green??? But as you can see I am trying again, this time in a pot as well as in the garden.
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