Monday, October 29, 2012

Flowering Harvest

 Many of the autumn-sown veggies are starting to flower so its a chase to harvest all those veggies ASAP. We harvested all of our Florence Fennel bulbs and carrots last week. Our pea season are ending this month. From self-sowed autumn tomato plants we get to harvest some ripe cherry tomatoes.
 The warm weather this week has hastened tatsoi to flower and got to harvest them. We harvested a few left overs chiogga beetroots.
Our only surviving chamomile plant is still producing flowers which we welcome very much.
 We also harvested boltardy beetroot last week. The last edible purple vienna kohlrabi was harvested. This kohlrabi has very long-ish thick stem but still edible.
 Golden nugget cape gooseberry and alpine strawberry fruits are still in season here in our small garden. We had volunteer garlic small bulbs sprouted in container last autumn and I pull them out all for immediate use in the kitchen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ubi Kentang 'Royal Blue"

Before living in Australia, I never knew that there are so many types of potatoes. Furthermore,different variety of potatoes also have different texture when cook and are put in categories like salad potato, waxy or floury. Some variety of potato are all purpose use, or good only for boiling or roasting. I am going to admit I am still not good at remembering which type of potatoes is good for boiling/roasting and so on. I still don't know much how to differentiate or understand the term  'waxy' or 'floury' potato. Maybe you can  give me some tips?

 Last year end of winter, I tried growing 'Royal Blue' potatoes which is an all purpose potato with purple skin and yellow golden flesh. See how different the 'Royal Blue' potato skins compared with other potato variety in the top basket.
Sprouted 'Royal Blue' potato  ready for planting.
'Royal Blue' potato seedlings.
 Instead growing the sprouted spuds in the same patch last year at the end of winter, I planted them in different location because I wanted to see how they grow in different spot around our house. This plant that was growing next to a row of bush beans and tomato plant grow very fast. But I suspect the heat from the brick drive pathway help a bit during the unpredictable weather in spring season. I usually stop dreaming planting potato in our scorching summer unless growing them in partial shade  with much lesser yield. So for summer, we swap growing potato with sweet potatoes.
The first heat wave visited early as always at the end of spring and some potato plants could not withstand the heat and few of the potato plant died earlier than I would like to start harvesting those potatoes. The almost 4 months old 'Blue Royal' potato did gave us a decent harvest size of baby potatoes in such an early stage compared to other potato varieties that we planted last year.
 The 'Blue Royal' potato can also be grown in our garden well at early autumn for winter fresh harvest. It is a reliable potato for us to grow twice a year in our micro-climate. So far, 'Blue Royal' potatoes gave the most yield per-plant in our garden compared to others in terms of quantities or production. Another all purpose potato that does well in our garden is Desiree.

Have a lovely weekend!

Selamat Hari Raya Haji.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Purple Top Turnip

 I had so much fun growing purple top turnip this year after more than a year trying to grow them successfully but did not get much of a root to enjoy. But this year I got it right and the best thing was that I don't even took care of them, never water and feed them. The turnip plant grows only with rain water. What I did was only sowing the seeds. It was only the matter of sowing the seeds on the right time and season. To grow them easily will be early-mid autumn which is March and April. Later than that the turnip might not give me much root but will probably produce flower much earlier. Thank you to Mr. H owner of Subsistence Pattern for introducing me this beautiful root vegetable.
Purple Top Turnip Seedlings.
Sowing turnip seeds in spring for me is a bit tricky if it get stress out due to lack of water will bolt easily. We really have dry weather by end of spring so it hard to make sure the soil does not dry out quickly.
Its time to thin those plants.
Sometime I got confuse whether these are turnips or radish plants if the label gone missing. Yes, the small hands in our home love to collect these labels. I always wonder how in other gardens all round the corner of this humble earth their turnip roots develop rather quickly and some I read harvested the roots in two months. Ours turnip roots does take long time to develop in good size. Although I sow them early autumn, it usually in spring seasons that I can enjoy harvesting the root. The root starts develop in spring and not much in winter except for the leafy top.
Turnips rubbing shoulders because the gardener did not bother to thin them was on sick leave :P.
Can be grown in container.
Oh my that turnip is squashing a volunteer celery I see.
Slugs/Snails must have been having a taste of that turnip looking at those scratches.
The container I have been using is only about 20cm deep.
Yup yup yup had so much fun growing them this year.
Or should I said not taking care of them this year at all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back to School and Harvesting

 I have returned to school from maternity leave almost 2 weeks now and Abby is 2 months old. Hence, disappearing for a short while again from the blogsphere. I have not come in early to school yet probably around noon as it is hard to leave Abby. But then I stay at least until 7PM. I think that is an excuse I am never a morning person (another excuse low blood pressure). The Medela freestyle breastpump has been a savior as I can do 3 things at a time breastfeed, expressing and browsing the net. 
I missed Daphne's Dandelions Harvest Monday last week so these are the harvest summaries for the first half month of October.
 The month of October will be continuously harvesting Western Red Carrot, Boltardy Beetroot and Golden Nugget Cape Gooseberry.
 We still have some fresh lemon grass stalks to harvest after the plants stayed dormant during cold season. Peas are reducing as the weather gets warm. Harvest the last black round Spanish radish last week. Need to start harvesting Florence Fennel regularly before they flower. We kept on finding some potatoes whenever we do some weeding in the garden.
We harvested our first small red cabbage last week. No more Bloomsdale spinach in the garden as I harvested them all as some of the plants starts to form flower stalk. The last 2 touchstone gold beetroot were harvested and I left one to flower to collect seeds.
 The harvest in the photo above were growing at the back of our backyard fence on reserve land. They got trampled by the council cleaning team. My husband was shocked when one morning he wanted to harvest some veggies at the back all the veggies were almost gone and even big plants were mowed. We managed to harvest leeks that had hair cuts because the stem were planted deep into the ground and only the top were mowed.Same with the florence fennel were severed from its roots and the leaves cut , lucky that the bulb stayed intact. For 3 years, I grew veggies back there but this is the first time happened. The spring onion flowers were left drying on the plant but it got chopped so brought them in to dry.
The previous post I mentioned that I am giving-away Australian Brown Onion and Spring Onion seeds.
Winners, please send me your address so I can post it to you (

Aussie Brown Onion and Spring Onion Seeds Winners:

> Gardenglut author of Glut: a year in my patch

> KitsapFG (Laura) author of The Modern Victory Garden

>Joyfulhomemaker author of Fhat Farmer Chick

>Ummuaidan author of Our Simple Garden

>Malar author of My Little Garden

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lesson from Onion (Seeds Give-Away)

 The Australian Brown onion and spring onion plant in our garden taught us something new about them this spring. Onions are biennial plants which flowers/seeds on their second year. After the plant has produce seeds, it will leave us as the plant has spent it last energy producing seeds for new progenies. Same goes for biennial flower like foxglove or hollyhock. Last spring, we left one plant growing in a polystyrene box after cutting out all the dried seed pods. I sowed some water spinach seeds in the same box after adding new compost, thinking while the onion plant spend it last days will helped deter some pest away from the young water spinach seedlings. Another spring came again for the onion plants, those water spinach plants long gone since autumn as they don't do well in cold season but those onion plants remain evergreen and produces seeds again this spring. I was really amazed that those onions kept on growing and produces new buds each time we cut the drying pods. These onion plants can be short live perennial with our mild winter. 
I discovered that growing Australian brown onion and spring onion for seeds once well-established in the garden:
~Require minimal care.
~Good companion for young plants.
~Does not require much space to keep as you can plant some plants in between.
~Require minimal watering
~Withstand scorching summer heat.
~One plant each is enough to give plenty of seeds or share for next season planting and save money from buying seeds.

 We have very small space to grow plants but I don't think saving seeds from these plants will take much space. Australian Brown Onion is a long-day variety and a long keeper. Sometime you find it in catalogue sometime you don't. I don't find the seeds available from the seeds company I got it first now this year, Digger has it in its catalogue at the moment.  I have experience several times of heirloom seeds that I like to obtain once again is not readily available anymore. Therefore, saving seeds of rare varieties are the only way to ensure I can continue growing the variety I like and suits my garden.

 I am giving-away Spring Onion and Aussie Brown Onion seeds for 3 seeds sowers of this post. The winner will be pick by the old-fashioned way of writing the name in the piece of paper, roll, shake and let see which paper will be pick randomly. I will announce the lucky recipients on my next posting perhaps tomorrow.
 Abby first passport photo. It was not easy to take as she keeps on turning the head side-ways rather than looking up at me. The photos were taken outside in the garden as I like to use natural light. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turnip Rikyu Soup

 We harvested some purple top turnip this week. I like purple colour so I was excited to harvest these root vegetables and it is the first time I had success with this variety after  trying to grow them at second attempt. It is the gardener fault sowing in the wrong season the first time because I can't wait to grow them. I have been keeping this turnip recipe since last year and waited to try to cook it. My husband and I enjoy Japanese food very much and he is the one who cooks better Japanese food than I do. So I handed the recipe to him. I really like the simplicity of the preparation and ingredient in 'The enlightened kitchen~Fresh vegetables from the temple of Japan' recipe book by Mari Fuji for 'Turnip Rikyu Soup'.

~Turnip Rikyu Soup~


4 small white kabu turnips (about 60g), peeled
2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
Turnip leaves, very finely chopped (about50g)
800ml Konbu stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sake (did not add)
finely grated yuzu rind, for garnish, optional

1> Cut the turnips lengthwise into 4 to 6 wedges.

2> Roast the sesame seeds, then grind in a food processor.

3> Blanch the finely chopped turnip leaves briefly in boiling salted water. Drain and squeeze lightly.

4> In a saucepan, combine the konbu stock, soy sauce, salt, sake and turnips, and place over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes until the turnips are cooked through, but still crisp.

5> Add half the turnip leaves to the saucepan (my husband add tofu and spring onions too), bring very briefly to a boil, then remove from the heat and serve. Garnish with ground sesame, the remaining turnip leaves, and yuzu rind.

A very healthy and nutritious food. Sorry no photo of this dish, it is just a soup dish and I was too hungry to take a photo after feeding Abby.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spring Cleaning

 We did a little bit of spring cleaning around our container garden at the backyard on this long weekend. The last year and autumn sowed plants are going to flower any moment, so it is best to harvest them ASAP or it will become woody/bitter once the plants starts to flower. Most of the rainbow chards in our garden is flowering, same as kohlrabi. We harvested some red romaine lettuce, purple top turnip and leek. All of these veggies were given to young student friends visiting Abby last Saturday.
 We also give-away these root crop vegetables- carrots, boltardy beetroots and black spanish radishes to Abby's young bright scientist visitors.
 Our Italian sprouting broccoli and peas still continue to supply food for our kitchen supply. We harvested all Western Red carrots grown in the same polystyrene box this week. I am quite satisfied with the number of carrot that we get from only one small container.
It is ranunculus blooming season in our garden at the moment, cut some to bring inside. Surprisingly, found some ripen capsicum cherrytime fruits on the plant hidden surrounded by beetroot leaves. Florence fennel bulbs are also good size ready to be pick in the garden. It is exciting at the moment to pick cape gooseberry fruits and eat them straight away in the garden. 
Enjoying fresh pick chamomile for tea almost everyday now. 
Our 7 weeks old Abbiyana is also putting on weight nicely and chubbier.