Friday, 5 June 2009

Weeding again

The weather is looking dark again, and the weeds seem to grow at double speed in the damp air.  However, I am beginning to get some results for my efforts... there are quite a few broccoli heads to cut soon.  I plan to wait until they are as big as possible,  until the flowers are about to start.  In the past I have picked them as I've needed them,  so that some were smaller and tighter and might have produced more if I had left them.  This winter I am trying to freeze as much as I can just in case next summer is as hot and dry as the last two.
This is one of the smaller broccolis,  but it shows one of the the side sprouts very well.  I will cut the top off without a long stem (unlike the shop ones) so that those side sprouts can grow into "broccolini."  These are not a sprouting variety of broccoli, but they'll sprout anyway.  They always do.  I have both kinds growing.
This is the current state of the cabbages.   Not all that big yet,  but growing pretty fast now. When this is ready to eat,  I'll keep the outside leaves as well.  Those are the ones that I make "stuffed cabbage leaves" from.  
In the past, I have taken ordinary cabbages apart to stuff the leaves.  Since growing my own cabbages,  I have realised that the traditional recipes for stuffing cabbage leaves were more likely a strategy for using the outer tougher and flatter leaves while using the actual cabbage for other purposes.  
This is one thing that you learn when you're growing your own food... that planning meals becomes an investigation of what is available in the garden.  One doesn't plan a meal and then go out to get the particular ingredients.  
This even goes as far as using different combinations of foods.  I described the "broad beans and artichoke" recipes that I found previously.  Traditional foods must have been invented out of necessity.  Similarly, unlike typical modern anglo food,  traditional recipes often include bits and pieces of different ingredients...  I'm thinking of stir fried combinations, kitchadee, soups and stews.  These might include a variety of ingredients though not enough of any one for the whole meal.  When you're depending on garden food,  this becomes much more obvious, and I have a certain satisfaction in the solidarity I have with women (for it was mostly women in the past) who have lived like this in the past. Growing food becomes a way of life rather than being either work or a hobby.  It's not particularly time consuming,  just constant.

Here is a part of the patch that I was weeding this morning.  From left to right,  I can see leeks,
a kale plant,  silver beet (mostly self sown), then cauliflowers at the front and broccoli at the back.  There are some more cabbages there too, but they seem to be out of range.
In magazines about garden design, the vegetable beds are usually a particular size and shape in order to make access easy.  My yard was already partly planted, with various old plants and trees in places that made the vegetable patches hard to plan.  Consequently some of my vegetables aren't easily accessable.  Notice the pieces of board laid along the ground in the picture above.  Those are my moveable pathways that allow access and prevent compaction of the soil.  It might not work for everyone,  but it does for me.  

One little thrill this morning...  a baby fennel beginning to get fatter already.  I have quite a few of those,  but this looks like being the first that will be ready to eat...  it began life in one of my newspaper pots in a polystyrene box back in February.   These need food to grow very fat.  I need to make my stinging nettle fertiliser as soon as possible... tomorrow!


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