Friday, 30 August 2013

Baby broad beans.

This morning as I checked the garden for produce,  I found the first tiny broad bean for this season.  It is one of those exciting things that happen in the garden that on one but me really cares about,  but here it is...
 ... it is only tiny,  but once these plants begin to produce,  they keep going until the really hot weather comes.
The potato plants that have made it through the winter are looking healthy.  There were no frosts severe enough to do much damage at all (climate change?) and tne only ones that have not survived this year are those that I have raided earlier and those potatoes are all eaten already.
 These are of the kippfler variety...   I like them very much though they don't seem to produce as many potatoes as some other plants.


Last week I took this photograph of a cabbage plant that was beginning to flower....
 I am always amazed at the growth of cabbages.  As tiny plants,  the leaves seem to know how to curl around almost immediately and, of course, they go on to form lovely cabbages that I eat all winter.  The ones that I grow don't form the really hard "drum head" style heads,  but are jsut a little bit looser and easier to manage.  They are so much easier to make into cabbage rolls like these....
 ... and that has to be good.
These were filled with meat, leftover rice and herbs and cooked in a tomato flavoured stock.  They were very good.

But,  back to my cabbage plants.  The one that was beginning to flower last week is even more lovely today...
... the leaves inside are beginning to change shape,  though I can't see the flower yet.  I always let one of these cabbages "go to seed" just to watch the change in form, though these are not the cabbage seeds to keep, being the first to flower.  I wouldn't want a whole crop of early flowering cabbages that didn't give me the opportunity to eat them.  This is just one of those interesting plants to watch each year as the season changes.  More later....

The other plant that is flowering beautifully right now is the White sage that is a native of California where it flowers for Christmas,  apparently...
In California it is a "humming bird plant"  and, despite the lack of humming birds,  it is still a lovely plant to have by my bird bath.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Four weeks until the equinox...

It definitely feels like spring, despite the fact that it is still four weeks until the equinox (23 September) and it should still be winter.
There are tulips flowering in the garden...
 ... and I am still collecting plenty of food....
Today I found lettuce (this crop is self-seeded among the garlic) broccoli (the next batch of side shoots) snow peas, jalapenos and eggs... after only two eggs yesterday,  it appears that "someone" has made up for it with a "double-yolk" that is significantly bigger than the other three.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Daily food collection... and bok choy production.

The weather has been wet in recent days.  Nights are still cold too... a bit too cold to plant the new "summer" crops.  I have planted a few seeds and transplanted some seedlings that are hardy enough to withstand cold nights in a couple of protected spots of my garden (micro-climates?)  and I am still picking plenty of vegetables from the garden more or less daily...
Today it was bok choy, cabbage, snow peas and coriander.   I didn't eat the eggs today.  I had some fish (Coorong mullet) that I had bought during the week.

When I have bought bok choy at the shop,  it appears to be the whole young plant.  These leaves are the second or third picking from these plants as they attempt to flower... much in the same way as other brassicas (like broccoli.)  The flavour is identical to the whole young plant, and the plants produce the "new" stalks within days,  even in cold weather...  more quickly than broccoli.   This means that one is able to gather more vegetables for the same amount of effort.  This wouldn't be useful for commercial production,  as the picking is slower and one needs to consider each plant carefully... is the shoot big enough to pick?  how much do I need to leave for the plant to survive?  and how much more water/goat poo do these plants need...  it's useful to know your plants well and look at them every day.

Once again,  I can't believe that ordinary people,  growing their own food, in past times would have killed a plant that could go on to produce so much more food for so little extra effort.  I don't believe that commercial production of food is as efficient as we are told.

As Michael Pollan says... eat food,  not too much,  mostly plants.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Coriander (also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley).... Coriandrum sativum

I have had several comments about coriander recently.   People either love it or hate it, and many find it hard to grow.

I love the flavour,  so much so,  that I have been known to buy two bunches at the market (in the past,  when I didn't always have it growing) because invariably one would be eaten before I reached home!

These days,  I grow it almost all of the year round.  It is easy to grow in the winter and doesn't seem troubled by light frosts.  All winter,  I have been eating the coriander from the self sown seeds of last summer's crop....
 There are still a few pieces to pick,  but the plants are beginning to try to flower....
 I think that this may be associated with the lengthening days rather than the temperature.  Coriander flowers are lovely too...

... this was taken in the same patch,  earlier in the year.

The plants that I am picking in recent days are these....  here....


 ....  and here....
 ....  in a different part of the garden.

No doubt these will soon try to flower and produce seed as well,  but picking the leaves regularly will prolongue the leafy phase.

The next crop is not yet ready....
 ...  these seeds were planted about six weeks ago,  from memory.  Seeds were from the flowers shown above, and picked at the same time as those for all of the currrent cropping plants.  I keep plenty of seeds for sequential planting....

The seeds are also good to eat.  They are a significant component of many curry powders and are good just to chew on as they grow.

Coriander plants produce vast numbers of seeds.  I pick quite a few of them for planting where I need them to grow, and those are the ones that I save in little envelopes ready for planting every couple of weeks.   I also break the dried stalks (seeds attached) off and scatter them in other parts of the garden...  even shady parts,  especially in summer.  Unexpected little crops of coriander appear under trees, among weeds or among other vegetables.

As the days become longer and the weather hotter, I will need to plant seeds more frequently in order to maintain production.  In mid-summer when the weather is very hot,  coriander is harder to grow.  It would be possible to resort to indoor pots or purchase from hydroponic crops,  but by then the basil will be abundant and seasonal eating is ok too.



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Todays bounty...

Parsley, cabbage, coriander, snowpeas, broccoli (second and third pickings) spring onions, potatoes.... enough for dinner.

The spring onions are the "thinnings" of onions that I planted a few weeks ago.  Spring onions in seed packets seem to be onions that are bred to not produce bulbs even when left in the ground, but I think that the name probably came from the spring-time thinnings of the usual summer onion crop.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Broad bean flowers

The broad bean flowers are finally "out".


The lack of rain is noticeable when we have a warm day...
... the plants are actually wilting on a warm, dry day.