Peas in the Pod

really is there any other way to eat them?

This plant is growing from seeds that I saved from last year.  I think I many have been a little heavy-handed when sowing them, expecting the sparrows would eat many of the shoots.

Alas they ate NONE!  The old iron trellis is simply covered in pea tendrils.  However, the thrilling part for anyone under the age of 9 around here, is the flowers.  A sure sign that pods will soon be ready to eat.  I’m yet to tell the older two that there are peas to pick, as Mr2 has decided he likes peas.  And dang it, thats the second vegetable he will eat without an arguement!  For now its’ our little secret!

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Pumpkin time again

After our massive haul of pumpkins last year, I was buzzing with excitement to discover self-seeded seedlings popping up early last summer.

As last years pumpkins, these seedlings were growing in a blue pot = portable.  Great as I really didn’t want them taking over the yard again.  So off the pot went across the yard (via a bag trolley) hopefully to grow us many pumpkins….  under the clothes line.

Under the clothes line really is dead space.  For years now I’ve meant to dig out the garden, erm yes there was a garden there oh about 5 years ago.  And in this garden I would plant a great drift of lavender, the washing would gently brush over the bushes and smell delicious.  Yeah, It’s on my list.

Instead of lovely lavender, my washing has been drying daily over the pumpkin vine.  Over the grass, up the fence and the neighbours shed the vine grew, Oh I had high hopes of a bumper crop similar to last years.

Fast-forward to May 2012 the nightly chill has set in and the soil is rapidly cooling.  The vine is slowly dying back to show her bounty of 3 pumpkins.  What only 3/  Let’s have a closer look….  Yep just 3 of the buggers.  I cannot express how disappointed I am.  10 maybe 15, not to be greedy.  But 3?

These babies shall be rationed out s.l.o.w.l.y I tell you.

Planting Garlic

It seems it was only  a few months ago I was pulling my bumper crop of garlic.  Yet it is that time again for sowing garlic.  This year I feel that I’m planting late, but with such wacky weather lately I decided it was best to wait until the autumn chill rolled in.  (We were having 28C days!) 

Last week the weather finally begin to feel right and I noticed a few of the garlic bulbs beginning to shoot – a sure sign it was time.  This year I’ve decided 3 square metres of garlic maybe a bit too much.  Instead I am planting out 1m for our use and 1m for selling or gifting.

A few garlic planting tips:  Don’t try to grow foreign grown garlic it’s been treated and won’t grow.  Try farmers markets or look for ‘Australian Grown’   Select the biggest fattest cloves in the bulb, the tiny centre ones will grow, however they won’t produce lovely fat bulbs.  Check your pH garlic likes a fairly neutral soil of 6.5.   Plant the pointy bit up and if you have children helping check the bulbs before you cover them.  Finally full sun, water and wait

Happy Gardening

choko… one word… big plant

Chokos have a reputation.  Big, invasive, did I mention big and usually the vegetable you see for free on the side of the road.

Can you see that ‘dead’ stuff up there in the tree.  Click on the image if you can’t.  Yes that is the remains of our choko that. got. BIG.  Up up it went into the oak tree.  5m 10m 15m  maybe even more.  It fruited and then the giant fruit began to fall.  Off with its branches I declared.  Before it knocks out an innocent chicken or child.

Yes Chokos can get big.  But when you grow them in a pot, it is rather easy to bring them back under control…..

Easier than I thought

Sometimes I’m prone to over thinking things.  Maybe I spend too much time with a toddler (who turns 2… 2! on Friday)  or it is just my personality.  But I had this crazy idea in my head that growing climbing beans wouldn’t work in my gardens.  Not enough room, they need a frame, blah blah blah….  I have several types packets of seeds in my collection but I never sow them.

Until now.

I usually grow dwarf beans.  Little plants, fast growing and produce a lot in a small space.  However in the last 2 years a rusty fungal disease has attacked the plants.  The last crops so bad I’ve had to pull them out.  Desperate to keep the beans coming in (1 of only 3 vegetables Mr6 will eat)  I dug through my seed packets and came across a packet of climbing beans.

What did I have to lose?

Why oh why have I never planted these before?  In this 100L tub I have maybe 10 plants.  And the beans are pouring in!

So I’m left asking myself what was so hard about growing climbing beans?

Pickled Beets aka Beetroots

With harvests coming slowly from the garden I’m trying to make the most of everything.  Needing to make room for more carrots the beetroot had to be pulled.  A basket full later I was left pondering ‘what to do’ with them all.  I’d been making my way slowly through the crop eating them raw, grated and roasted, but that was one at a time. Now I had almost 2kgs

In the end I went to our local library and found ‘Canning: for a new generation.  Bold, fresh flavours for the modern pantry’  by Liana Krissoff.    Ok really I loved the cover and the other books weren’t in.  But it contained a recipe for ‘Pickled Beets’ page 56.  “Most pickled beets are so achingly sweet I tend to forget I’m eating beets or pickles.  All you need is a touch of honey to mellow out the vinegar a bit” 

I had all the ingredients and it sounded tasty…  Lets go

Begin by boiling the beets in water until soft.  I had such different sizes, I added them biggest to smallest over a 15minute period.

Once cooked, drain them and dump them into a sink of icy cold water.  You need to chill them enough to handle.  When cooled its time to peel off the skins, this is really easy the flesh kinda pops out. 

Next the now naked beetroot need to be sliced.  Heres a hint – wear a glove and old clothes.  Roughly 3 to 5mm is a good size.  Place them into a big pot or bowl.

In another pan or a really big pot heat the cider vinegar, honey and spice mixture to boiling.  (I’m not sure of copyright if I can post the exact recipe here) Once boiling add the beets and return to a simmer.  Working quickly add the hot beets to hot jars (I sterilized them in the fowlers kit)  top up with liquid and cap.

I boiled them for 30 minutes as the water was already boiling and the beetroot were hot too.  In total : 2 bottles of fowlers no.20 and 1 no.31 with just enough extra to fill this jam jar too.  And seriously wear a glove, don’t wear white and be ready for a purple splattering on everything!

Taste test:  Still a strong vinegar taste, need to sit for another week or two.  But the sugar to acid is just perfect.

Now Harvesting …. Chokos

It wasn’t that long ago I was wondering if we would harvest any of these beauties before the cooler weather set in.

Well worry I needn’t!  The vine has taken off and engulfed the Chook Pen and now we are feasting on the watery green fruits.

Can you see the tiny one in the above photo?  The fruits start about 1cm long.  And I swear grow massive overnight!  These were not here last night! 

(Yes the fruits hand down through the chook pen roof.  Its making it really easy to see them.)

Today I have 5 sitting on the table beside me waiting to be turned into a choko chutney.  Oh yum!

A monster in our garden

As summer slips away into the cooler days of autumn, a monster has taken over our yard.  The wide angle camera lens doesn’t do any justice to the size of this plant.  Our yard is roughly 17m wide, the pumpkin would have to be at least 12m wide from the green fence to just under the clothes line.  But this plant cannot be fenced in by fences, oh no it has gone under the fence to deliver our neighbours pumpkins too! 

Last count of fruit 30 for us and 3 for the neighbours!

Choko Vines

Never before have I grown a choko.  But I have discovered it to be rather easy to get a big vine with little work. 

From our local fruit and veg store I brought a cheap, sprouted fruit.  50c I think.  In a pot it went, promptly to be forgotten about for awhile.  Then later to be discovered merrily growing.  So I thought it best to put in a bigger pot to see if I could get a few fruit…..

Still waiting for the fruit, but it looks like it might be a good shade plant so the pot was moved to the Northern side of the chook pen.  (Previously a passionfruit did this job, but it was infected with the passionfruit woody virus).  The best part?  The plant will die down in winter, giving the pen much-needed sunshine and warmth.

Has anyone grown a choko before?  And when will I get fruit?