Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Harvest Monday

Today I got back from school before the sun set and decided to do a quick direct-sowing on the most sunny patch before it gets dark. With seeds and a trowel in hand, I was on my way to that patch when adorable little girls wearing cute Halloween costume walking in our driveway for trick or treat. I should have thought of cutting them flowers too instead of just some chocolates. I hope gardeners from Northern hemisphere which have sudden snow storm in autumn  that their plants survived. Leeks and root vegetables like parsnip and carrot must be much more sweeter now after frost? 
Komatsuna planted early spring starting to flower so we harvested them. We had many self-sowed lettuce this  spring growing as they please which delights the gardener. I made another one mistake this spring, I  grow potato on a patch which previously sweet potato grown in it and I dug in all the unwanted part of the harvested sweet potato plants back to the patch at least 20cm deep.  Then planted seed potato on it. After 6 weeks, potato plant growth were stunted and started to wilt. However, hardy was those sweet potato veins that they manage to grow so many shoots again after being buried deep into the soil as the weather gets warmer here. Since the potato plants were stunted, we pulled out 3 potato plants that were growing there. So of course only a few potatoes were there for a 2 months old plant.
These are cauliflowers and florence fennels that were harvested from our patch that was growing in shade during fall/winter.We made cauliflower soup. Rayyan likes soup very much. I never made cauliflower soup even after growing them for 3 years each cool season. So this is the first. We frozen a few bag of the cauliflower soup. Florence fennel grow in shade will be tall and lanky. But they do grow and takes a bit longer than sunny places.
Spinach are starting to flower as well so had to harvest them.
Spring onions producing buds now. Trying to decide whether I should eat them or collect seeds.
We harvested our first beans for this spring from Redland Pioneer variety.
While tidying up a patch yesterday, we harvested a whole rainbow chard plant, leeks, florence fennels and Italian parsley.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cineraria for company

This is our second year growing cineraria. Last fall, we found many self-sowed cineraria in our garden. So we scooped those volunteer seedlings and tried to make it as border plants. Wishing that it will gift us with spring blooms and add colours in the garden after a green winter. I like to try different combination of flower plants with edibles because I can't draw any form of flowers on a canvas at least I can make a design on a patch. It was fun to see if cineraria can be a good companion or not.
Cineraria plants with Nero Black Kale side by side at our semi-shade patch.
On the same patch, last year lay-out.
A few months later,, plants starting to grow and filling the space.
Cineraria as a border and growing with celery.
Have a nice weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Carrot and Coriander Muffins

Our fall-sown carrots have to be harvest ASAP as it is ready to grow flower stalk and turn woody. From carrot varieties we sowed in fall, purple dragon flowers much faster than others. The topweight carrot seems more resistance and laid back from flowering which is good since our main aim since last fall onward is to have all year round fresh harvest of carrots. So far so good. The first batch of spring-sown carrots has already grown into finger size. We have try our best to sow carrots every month now since end of winter after 2 months break. With the help from Kitchen Flavours, we enjoyed our carrots by making muffins.
Makes about 11 muffins
300gram plain (all-purpose flour)
1tbsp baking powder
15g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
30g chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) < I add just little for the kids>
170g grated carrot
2 eggs
185g milk
100g oil

(1)Preheat the oven to 180 degree C (fan oven 160 degree C). Grease and flour muffin tin sections or line with paper liners.
(2)Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and black pepper. Add to the bowl any black pepper that did not go through the sieve(strainer). Using a large metal spoon, stir in the chopped coriander, then add in the grated carrot and mix well.
(3)In a medium size bowl, beat together the eggs, milk and oil with fork.
(4)Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Fold everything together with a large metal spoon until just combined.
(5)Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin sections.
(6)Bake for about 25 minutes until well risen and the top springs back when gently pressed.
(7)Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.
I enjoyed them very much because I don't feel guilty eating it.
No chocolate muffin this time.
But pact with healthy vegetables.
Walking around the garden while enjoying muffins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spring Kitchen Garden Patch

In front of our kitchen window there is a small patch about the size of 1 metre X 2 metre square. In fall  and winter, it will be in shade. However spring and summer will be receiving scorching sun in the afternoon. For 3 springs, the type of plants that occupied this patch has remained the same and newcomers has been welcome here as well. Unfortunately, I don't have the photos for 2009 because Rayyan was in a critical condition and we were mostly in the hospital. However, each October for 3 consecutive years celery will be growing on the same spot and somehow one capsicum plants has been growing there for 3 years now.
Year of 2010
Nasturtium climbing on the trellis in the background. Polyanthus and aquilegia became permanent residence. Aquilegia has started to bloom this time around. Cauliflower has been harvested and has been replaced with komatsuna. Can be  found in this patch are self-sowed viola and french marigold. Other edibles grown here are carrots and leeks.
Year of 2011
Somehow this year the growth are rather slow in this patch. Because broccoli has just started to develop curd. Meanwhile, aquilegia has still not produced any buds. Due growing nasturtium last year, there were a few self-sowed nasturtium growing on this patch as well but not as merry as last year. At the back there is a row of foxglove plants growing but still short and I am not really confidant that it will be blooming this year. First time growing foxglove this year which were sowed last fall. Rainbow chard is also growing on this patch, oh so slowly. Cineraria and ranunculus decorates the front. Herbs not noticeable here are chervil, thyme,mint and chinese celery.
Which do you think is better of our spring kitchen veggie patch, 
2010 or 2011?
I would like to hear some of your thoughts.
So I can plan our veggie patch for next fall.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brinjal Brrrr....

Brinjal are treated as perennials in our garden. 
They take a long time to grow and impatient that I am to wait until late summer to harvest them if grown from seeds. So if I give the chance for the brinjal to survive over winter, I would have fresh brinjal again before summer comes. Last year spring I bought a seedling of bonica eggplant and left them growing over winter in the garden. What surprised us that early spring I found some fruits on it while I was cleaning up that area. Although it should be dark purple, the skin colour somewhat turn stripey and whitish. But the taste was good and sweet.
Who will expect that there are fruit on this bonica eggplant when it look dreadful like this.
I found snail hiding place on this brinjal plant.
Curiously, there were many snail but my greens were left untouched.
At the bottom of this plants new shoot appears.
Holes courtesy of those snails.
This is our Lebanese brinjal plant that has experience 2 winter seasons. In winter, this brinjal plant snuggle together with broccoli plants and dills. It does look a bit sad but it has started producing flowers.
Nice surprise this week.
We found a few baby brinjals on this plants.
Hope blossom on this plants will bear fruit successfully this spring.

Mid-Spring 2011 Harvest

After going through winter, many of our plants are starting to flower. So the ones that shows the sign to flower will have to be pick first. Italian sprouting broccoli still producing many side-shoot sprouts, although the size are getting smaller. Our bloomsdale spinach is not bolt resistance this year. Spring-sowed daikon shows no mercy to me as it wants to join spring flower by giving us flower as well when the roots are still small.
Pest do like kohlrabi, can see the obvious sign of being eaten with many scars on it. Funny-looking parsnips. No beginner luck with purple savoy cabbage this year. Most of them produce small head or bolts. Planted too much rainbow chard last fall. Many of them I left flower in the garden. We harvested some red russian kale last week.
How do you enjoy your Florence fennel?
Harvested most of our over-wintered dragon carrot grown in container inter-planted with garlic and shallots. Bandicoot baby potatoes.
Funny-looking kohlrabi. We sliced them and fried it together with noodles.
Someone was busy again and left the cauliflower and brassica too mature with loose head.
Daikon and Topweight carrot thinnings.
Hope to see whats going in your place after I finished my annual review report.
Wish I can finish it before I fall asleep though.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broccoli and Cheese Penne with Garlic and Lemon Crumbs

We have the longest harvest season for broccoli and cauliflower this year. We have been continuously harvesting them since July this year up till now. We still have many plants growing in our garden and hopefully broccoli and cauliflower supply keep on flowing into the kitchen each week. This is our third year growing them. We finally managed this year avoiding a glutton of broccoli and cauliflower to harvest at the same moment. We practice succession sowing for this vegetable and sowing usually begin from mid-March till May. I like this recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly~Gratins and Bakes recipe book that I tried. The taste of crunchy breadcrumbs with creamy garlic and lemony flavour mix on the penne was so good.
Broccoli and Cheese Penne with Garlic and Lemon Crumbs
500gram broccoli ( I only used 250gram mix of broccoli and cauliflowers)
200g penne pasta
3 eggs
1 cup (250ml) pouring cream
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
2/3 cup (80g) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (35g) stale breadcrumbs
1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1)Preheat oven to 220Celsius. Oil deep 2 litre (8-cup) ovenproof dish.
2)Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water until tender. Add broccoli for last 5 minutes of pasta cooking time; drain. Rinse pasta and broccoli under cold water; drain,cool.
3)Combine pasta, broccoli, eggs, cream, milk and cheddar in large bowl; season. Spoon mixture into dish; sprinkle with combined breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, lemon rind and parsley.
4) Bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until brown lightly and set. Stand 10 minutes before serving.
Finally transplanted some tomato seedlings this week. 
A few challenger tomato variety and self-sowed tomatoes start to set some flower this week.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aussie Brown Onion Life-Cycle

The first time we attempted to grow onion from seeds is Aussie brown onion variety in the middle of last year. Aussie brown onion is a late-variety onion. Although onion takes a long time to grow, fresh home-grown brown onion tasted sweet. Aussie brown onion seeds sowed mid-winter will be ready to harvest some time in February. Since it took so long to wait for it to ready to harvest, I forgot about them and some of them had to be used quickly when I realised it was past the correct time to harvest them.
Aussie brown onion seedlings.
Unfortunately the first time we tried growing onion from seeds, we did not have any space to grow them (wrong planning on my side). So we had to try growing them in shallow containers. Because onion took it own sweet time to grow, we inter-planted onion with Asian leafy greens for productivity.
Our first time growing brown onion in container was not that much of a success but can't say that it failed as well. Harvested onions size were in the range of medium~small. There are still improvement I need to make towards my attitude towards onion. I usually leave all allium in neglect after I transplanted them. I think it would be better that if I sowed onion seeds earlier and transplant them as soon as possible. This year is revenge, hopefully we have much better onion harvest early next year.  
I did not intend to collect Aussie brown onion seeds. But I always forget the existence of 2 Aussie brown onion left growing in the container over winter. This spring season, these plants started to flower and hungry bees were happy that I been forgetting what grows in the garden. I found it was interesting to watch the stages of Aussie brown onion flower development from bud to full bloom , click to link. 
Aussie brown onion seeds. It takes more than a year from sowing to seeds.
Planning to collect any seeds this month?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Celebrating Chilli 2nd Birthday

I can't understand these chilli plants of ours which have live through 2 winters and surprisingly still standing tall. This is what these chilli plants look like early winter this year. Its home is under our porch shade. As you can see the clay soil condition is terrible and need some improvement. Moreover, this area is totally unkept and neglected by us. We don't even feed this plants that much, rarely received liquid fertiliser. We tried growing many different type of plants (extra seedlings) here but none grow that much.
This is how one of the chilli plant look at the moment. I just realised that it has grown new baby leaves to replace the ones that died in winter on the branches. Sometimes it does received some sun but only for a few hours (<2hours?).
Not just new leaves but flowers too. 
These twins are also celebrating their 2nd Birthday. They received full sun. This is how it looks like last April (mid-autumn). These plants starts to fruit late because it was too hot for them to have blooms. Each year to protect these twins, next to them I usually plant cool season vegetable that will grow taller than them .
Planting these plants closely will help to shelter our chilli plants from chill winds and keep them warm like a blanket at night. So this is how the area looks like last August (end-winter). I did a mistake, one of the twins are safely tucked behind these big brassica plants but the other twin was exposed in front. The exposed twin at the moment looks like it is trying its might to revive.
I observed that our chilli plants fruit more in its second year. This is because I think on its first year, we have to wait for the plants to mature (starting from seeds) and when it starts to fruit its already close to autumn. However, treating them as perennials it will start to fruit soon after the weather is warm enough for them. Chilli for thoughts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our October Container Garden

Almost half of our garden containers are dominated by allium family at the moment such as garlic, elephant garlic, shallots, spring onions, chives and leeks. Some of the containers that has garlic growing in them are inter-planted with carrots. Dragon carrots growing in containers are showing the sign of growing flower stalk, so I probably have to harvest all of them this week. I will perhaps leave a few dragon carrot plants to flower.
Growing different varieties of garlic on this corner. White sweet potato plants that I planted last August growing in this big round pot. Our lemon grass plant growing in pot are almost bald since it has been dormant through cool season while we harvested some for cooking.
Some containers which has just been planted some seed potatoes in it. Sweet potato plants that we left growing through winter has survived. It looks a bit sad but warmer weather will helped it to bounce back. This sweet potato plants has provide me with new shoots to cut and grow new plants. Other plants in this corner are parsnips, topweight carrots and leeks.
We are experimenting growing shallots in container. Topweight carrots sowed last August seems to be growing much faster this month. We cut some strawberry runners from our 2 years old strawberry plant and growing side by side with pansy. Red Choi seems to put on more growth this week.
This corner of our container garden is nurturing Florence fennels, leeks, parsnip, strawberries and potatoes.
What is your main plants growing in your container garden?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Begedil Beetroot (Beetroot Croquettes)

We entered the mid-spring season now here in Adelaide. Our fall-sowed beetroot has already starting to bolt. So this week I had to harvest most of our beetroot.  Parsnips were growing on the same patch with beetroot. So I decided to harvest everything on that veggie patch and in replacement direct-sowed some summer vegetable and flower there. 
So what to do with these beetroots?
I would like to thank Shaheen author of Allotment 2 Kitchen Blog who has kindly give me suggestion and link to her beetroot archive when she commented on my previous beetroot harvest post about how to enjoy beetroot since this is a very new vegetable in our kitchen. We like croquettes very much and I can trick my eldest to eat it because it does not have the form of vegetables anymore. All the vegetables nicely hidden inside. I really enjoyed Shaheen's beetroot croquette recipe and just change a bit of the ingredients to suit for my kids. I bet Shaheen's version is much more tasty.
500gram mashed potatoes
300gram beetroot (peeled and grated)
1 Tablespoon Sweet paprika
Small handful of fresh parsley( or coriander), minced
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 egg, beaten,
Vegetable Oil

Combine well mashed potatoes, grated beetroot, sweet paprika, parsley and salt.
Adjust seasoning according to your liking.
Make a shape of croquette that you prefer from the mixture.
To firm up, place it on a tray and keep in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Dip it into the beaten egg and coat it well with breadcrumbs.
Heat oil (quantity for shallow frying) at low heat.
Shallow-fry those croquettes and gently turn them for all side until golden.
Ready to serve.
This is the first time we try growing purple top turnip thanks to Mr. H (Subsistence Pattern) for the seeds. Our Ruby chards also needed to be harvest as quickly as possible this month before it bolts.
This year is a very good year of Italian sprouting broccoli for us, so many side-shoots that keep on coming since last August. However, peas were not as generous as last year. But our kids still happy with the amount or peas they can have everyday. Not enough to freeze though.
Opps...Some of the cauliflowers and broccoli were harvested too late made them loose instead compact heads.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Afghanistan Carrot Blossoming

This is the first time I have seen carrot flowers. 
I found the development stages of carrot flowers fascinating.
Before it forms the bud structure, it looks like a creature with many tentacles.
The initial development of bud structure.
The carrot bud in a romantic mood at dusk.
Cheerful and rosy in the morning.
Unfolding dainty new blooms.
Older blooms that have been kiss by pollinators.
Seeds developing under blooms.
Waiting excitedly for Afghanistan carrot seeds to develop so we can collect them later when they are ready.
Have a nice weekend!