The blueberry in the pot is covered with fruit. Capsicums, chillies and tomatoes in the greenhouse are ready to plant out.
Crowded in the garden and in pots around the water tank, curry plant, sages, lemon balm, oregano and thyme. Pretty with various flowers, colours and textures and close to the kitchen.
The dry inland of Australia covers a vast landscape. Here in The Wimmera, our rains come in winter, usually, and after a long dry summer and autumn, the garden responds as it would to the coming of spring in more temperate and coastal climates.
The grass grows again, and so-called weeds, which make good foraging for salads and medicinal teas. Lettuces, silverbeet, broccoli, kales get going , and beetroot and turnips begin to form nice bulbs.
Nettle, dandelion, rocket, self sown parsley, dill, coriander and fresh garlic shoots like spring onions, all add to the menu for both people and poultry.
The fruit trees are bare, but the wattles are about to burst into colour. Sparrows and blackbirds raid the garden for feed, but avoid all the plants mentioned above, and greedily eat the new pea plants, to the point that they have to be covered with cages to protect them.
Foraging includes olives from wayside trees and big bags of fallen leaves , to supplement the straw in the duck yard, which eventually turns into lovely compost and mulch. More lawn is turned into no dig gardens and small circular gardens are made on the Nature Strip as ever more space is needed.
Yacón is this year’s discovery. A tuber from a friend turned into a tall plant with large leaves. When the frost hit it, it was pulled up and yielded a good kilo of tubers, about 4 very large and some smaller ones. The Seed Savers’ Handbook gives information about propagation but a search on the Internet was needed to learn how to cook and eat it. They look a bit like potatoes, but are very juicy and crunchy, texture like water chestnut, mildly sweet and not unlike a Nashi Pear. They can be eaten cooked or raw. In a casserole, the Yacon took on the flavours of the stock and herbs and eventually softened to a texture like Choko. Chopped up raw, they go well in a fruit salad.
Pumpkins did not give a good yield this year. We had a cool wet summer and only got a couple of decent fruit. Here is a wonderful recipe for a Pumpkin Custard which can be eaten as a custard or used as a filling for a pie. It comes from a little recipe book that was originally sold at Aunt Emily’s Craft shop in Bowraville in NSW. It was contributed by Eva Spring
1 1/2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin, 3 eggs beaten well , 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger to taste, 2 teaspoons grated orange rind, 1/2 cup light cream.
Mix together and pour into a pie shell or dish. Bake in a moderate over 30-35 minutes or till set. Goes well with yogurt , cream or ice-cream.
Keep warm and stay well till spring.
Hello All Gardeners.
This Winter/ Spring we have had cool weather and average rain. This has meant rapid growth in the garden, ripe tomatoes before Christmas and zucchinis in plenty. loaded berry vines and good displays of flowers in spring.
As usual, I started the beans later than most people, putting in seeds after the Summer Solstice, December 20th. I do this to avoid rust and fungus in the area which tends to be prevalent in spring .
Still trying to get some beetroot started this season. . The stars must be against me this year. Seeds did not germinate or failed to thrive. And other disappointments included packets of new seeds which also failed to germinate. Given the good weather, I can only conclude that the seed was not fresh in spite of being within the Best By Date on the packets. By scouting around in local garden centers and hardware shops, I have discovered more brands of seeds available than usual, and I am always ready to try something new. But it is disappointing when the seeds don’t come through.
At present I am drying and packing Lucullus Silver Beet, large semi double Peony Poppy, Haw Lan Do snow peas and Telephone shelling peas, Big Big Russian Garlic bulbs, Nigella seeds, Dill seeds, and Endive. Endive makes a good addition to salads. It is slightly bitter and said to be very good for the health.
The Burgess Buttercup pumpkins are making fruit, also small purple striped Egg plants, Tomatoes ES38, too, which are small but quick to grow as they have a compact form and medium fruit. The fruit is round although slightly flattened and the colour, bright red. The skins are thin and the flavour is good, so I hope to start collecting seeds from them soon.
I was disappointed by Sweet Bite cherry tomato, recommended by several friends. It grew well, made big roots , but the fruit is very very small, and the skins tough and the flavour not sweet at all. Maybe the nights have been too cold here, as we had temperatures regularly down to 5 degrees at night, right up till January.
I am trying a bush snake bean with burgundy skin, and some Bulls Blood Beetroot and will sow Uncle Dick’s Turnip later this week.
Warragul Greens and self sown red stem Purslane are providing some leafy greens, very welcome now that the days are getting hot.
Drying herbs such as sage, oregano and coriander seeds ensures plenty of culinary flavour for the year ahead and my loaded nectarine tree will soon be ready to harvest. Drying the fruit is a good way to keep it for a long time and takes minimum space in storage.
All the best for a safe and happy season. Rose