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Sunday, January 30, 2011

You say tomato

My tomato plant took a while to get going. The fruit took ages to ripen and when they did, insects got to them before I did. It's fruiting well now and I've got around the insect problem by using bags over the fruit which I purchased from Green Harvest. Yesterday I harvested three tomatoes just turning to red (I put them on the kitchen sill to ripen further). We're having better luck with cherry tomatoes and enjoyed some of these for dinner yesterday in a salad along with some mixed lettuce. I'm looking forward to making a greek salad and only having to buy the feta and olives.

Home grown tomatoes are yummy under the grill on top of cheese on toast.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I went out this morning to check on the garden and found this brazen cocky (cockatoo) eating my sunflowers! I've since put a stocking over the top which will hopefully prevent further scavenging and act as a catch net for the seeds when they eventually fall. Sunflower kernels are apparently high in Vitamin E and make a great snack.

Have not yet decided what we're having as a main for dinner - probably fish or quiche - but there's plenty of squash to have as a side. I plan to lightly fry them in some butter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anyone for squash?

Australia Day was spent at the beach where we had fish n chips for lunch and I got badly sunburnt. So dinner that night was scrambled eggs on toast with fresh dill from the herb garden.

Still in a lot of pain yesterday, so for dinner we had easy chicken wraps using crumbed chicken strips from the freezer and salad stuff including tomato and lettuce from the garden.

I've harvested some button squash (pictured) so we'll be having those tonight along with some beans and rice with our chicken in french sauce. The biggest squash weighs 160gms.

My dwarf macadamia arrived yesterday from Daley's Fruit Tree Nursery. It looks very healthy. We are perhaps a little too far south for it to fruit (temperate zone) but hopefully will be able to protect it from frost. I've placed it in the position where it will go permanently but left it in it's original pot for the time being to ensure it likes the spot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Do the salsa

I picked the first of the summer squash today but it wasn't going to go far between the six of us. So to go with our steamed barramundi - that my 4yo insisted on buying at the fishmongers today - we had steamed beans and from the herb garden I picked basil, mint and parsley to make this salsa verde. It's too hot for mash (34 degrees today) so we had potato salad and beetroot as a side.

Our mint grows wild in the dog's yard and is quite strong so next time I'll use less as the salsa verde was very minty. Overall a very yummy and fresh-tasting light meal, perfect for a hot summer's evening. Now I'm craving mango and ice-cream...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet capsicum

There's a lot of stuff almost ready to harvest but not ripe enough to eat yet - tomatoes, leeks, summer squash (button squash). So for dinner last night I just picked a couple of long sweet capsicums (pictured below). These are similar to the bell-shaped capsicum (bell peppers) but milder and seem to be a lot easier to grow. They added some texture to our meatballs with spaghetti - great to use in place of onions if you want texture but not too much flavour. Into the tomato sauce I also threw some oregano and basil leaves from the herb garden which made it smell divine while cooking.

It amazes me how much the garden changes from day to day. I usually pop out in the morning to check on things and again in the arvo - do a spot of weeding or watering if needed. Yesterday I was thrilled to see a chilli on one of the chilli plants and that the cucumbers seem to be coming back to life after looking a bit sickly. Sadly, the beetroot, brocolli and cauliflower don't seem to be faring too well but there's a fair bit of rain forecast for the next few days so we'll see what that brings.

Tonight's dinner will be crumbed fish with jacket potatoes topped with sour cream sprinkled with chives. I'm going out now to see if there's any beans ready to have with some mushrooms.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day one - salad

We had a busy day today and nothing was planned for dinner. It was five o'clock and the kids were asking, "What's for dinner?" before I put any thought into it. So it was something from the freezer. To go with our chicken tenders and chips I plucked a few lettuce leaves from the garden and used up half a cucumber that was harvested a couple of days ago.

One of the challenges I have as a newcomer to growing vegies is knowing when to harvest things, particularly those that aren't obvious (like tomatoes are, for example). I came across this excellent guide today - excellent because it covers all the main vegies and doesn't go into too much detail.


I got into gardening a few months back after an innocent request to remove a small tree turned into a full-on landscaping epic. We are a fairly typical family on an average suburban block (around 610sqm total) on the outskirts of Sydney. Our yard is L-shaped and by no means large. A portion is fenced off for the dog, another section houses the blow-up pool (in summer, trampoline in winter). Some of the rest is given over to a play area and what will hopefully be a deck, and also a meditation garden.

We have four beds assigned to vegies, another which I haven't completely decided on yet and is currently home to some lovely sunflowers and another bed which is for flowers only. I probably could have planned the bed rotation better but because the whole set up was a bit haphazard (made up as we went along basically) there are plants alongside plants that probably aren't recommended to be together. But hey, Brooke Shields and Michael Jackson were happily dating for a short time so why not corn and beets?

Here's a list of what's currently growing (to varying degrees of success):

Bed 1 (kitchen garden bed)
Tomatoes, lettuce (various), capsicum, dwarf beans, lavender, basil, marigolds and a sick zucchini.

Bed 2 (along a fence)
Ballerina apple, cucumber, lavender, watermelon, leeks, carrots, capsicum, squash, cherry tomatoes, rosemary. And just planted runner (climbing) beans.

Bed 3 (the organised bed)
Cherry tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, capsicum, zucchini and newly planted runner beans.

Bed 4 (the anything grows bed - pictured below)
Ballerina apple, dwarf beans, squash, sunflowers, chia.

Bed 5 (new raised bed)
Corn, butternut pumpkin, cos lettuce, beetroot, cauliflower, radish, broccoli.

Also around the place are dotted a few pots containting various herbs, strawberries, blueberries and a dwarf peach. Nearly all of the plants have either been purchased as seedlings or grown from seed in the past six months.

This blog was inspired by a tip I read in one of Jackie French's books. She said to get the most from your garden, as motivation for doing all the yakka if you like, eat something from it every day. Even if it's a sprinkling of herbs. So for the past few days that's what we've done. Yesterday it was a handful of dwarf beans cooked with mushrooms to go with our sausages and mash.

Can we keep it up for 365 days? Let's see.