Friday, 31 August 2007

Pruning newly planted cherry trees?

Do I have to? If so, how best to prune these two?
Anybody here who can give some advice? Please?
They don't have any of the shapes you see in the pruning books when explaining how to prune cherries. That's why I'm stumped. All answers very much appreciated. :)

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Cape Gooseberry

I've had this plant in my garden for the last 5 years. It's now pretty frost hardy. I just made sure it's in a spot where the sun doesn't hit it first thing in the morning. So it does get defrosted very, very slowly. The fruit is just amazing. Let it drop off the plant and then open the papery lantern. The round, orangey fruit is delicious. If you leave them on the ground long enough, the 'lanterns' show an incredibly intricate pattern. You can still eat the fruit. :)
Can you tell I am fascinated by this fruit? :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

What's for tea?

Something very healthy, as I know that the old gnomes are checking this blog regularly to keep a tab on what we are eating. *waves to old gnomes*

Freshly made sourdough bread. A big bowl of salad. And a glass of Jeanerette Cab Sav.

Dressing: fresh lemon juice (lemons from the tree outside), extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper, herbs (chives, parsley).

Ingredients: hard boiled free-range eggs (these are from Louise, our oldest chook), boiled & peeled potatoes, canned salmon (tuna does nicely, too), leaves of corn salad, red cos, red oakleaf, rocket, purple mustard, chinese broad leaf celery. Toss and enjoy!

First Iris

Just discovered the first Iris!

Spring bulbs are out!

The garden is showing fantastic colours with all the spring bulbs that have sprung up in the last 2 weeks. Daffodils and Jonquils abound. :)


Spring is in the air! All kinds of flowers are starting to display their gorgeous colours! A real feast for the eyes. :) This camellia has been flowering for weeks and weeks now.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Seedling Invasion!

This is the dedicated tomato seedling window. It is rapidly filling up. Most of the seeds have graduated from punnets to little pots. I spent the last few days re-potting most of the seedlings. I am constantly shuffling pots and trays to find better spots or utilise space to its maximum.
The capsicum, chilli and eggplant seedlings are in the bedroom, in front of the big window. Let's hope they don't snore!

The absolutely knackered Veggie Gnome

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Red-cooked ribs with fried (greenery) rice

Tonight's feast was absolutely delicious! The pork ribs were so tender, the bones fell out when you picked up the meat with the chopsticks. (I put them in the slow-cooker in the morning. With some lovely spices, etc. Then let simmer till you are ready to have your dinner.) The fried rice was very tasty. Just quick fry celery, broad leaf chinese celery and purple mustard (everything from the garden), add cooked rice. Mix. Scatter corn salad leaves over rice. Serve. This complemented the ribs perfectly.

The Veggie Gnome

This Salad Bar

... currently serves Celery, Spring Onions, Russian Kale and Purple Mustard.

It will soon (hopefully) add Chicory (2 varieties), Mizuna, Purple Siberian Kale, Rocket, Yugoslavian Lettuce, Red Leprechaun Lettuce, Komatsuna, Mitsuba, Cos Verdi Lettuce and Red Orache to its selection. Most of the seeds were sown in punnets, only a few straight into the bed. You can only see one end of the salad bar. The other end still contains some chilli plants and a few weeds.

I do have another salad bar in a different spot that provides other varieties of lettuces and greenery. But it will soon be closed for business as I have to replenish the soil and then plant something else there.

The leafy Veggie Gnome

Monday, 20 August 2007

Today's lunch

...from the garden.

3 All Season Carrots, 2 Purple Dragon Carrots, 1 Baby Kohlrabi, 2 Muenchener Bier Radishes, 1 Aomaru-Koshin Radish, 1 Baby Fennel and a colander full of different lettuce leaves.

Wash and cut.

Plonk everything on to a plate, drizzle sparingly with some lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Add a smidgen of salt & pepper. Toss. Enjoy! :)

The content Veggie Gnome

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Get rid of the Flodders fence!

The fence had been an eye-sore for the last few years. Finally, with the orchard extension nearly finished I was able to get rid of the fence. I had started taking it down a week or two ago. Today I decided to finish the task.

It was a lot more work than I anticipated. There were two layers of fencing. The 'normal' fence wire and the chicken wire. Then the barbed wire. Then a trellis and an old wooden gate. Some stakes and star droppers. And all tied to bits and pieces and to each other by baling twine, wire, ties, etc. And someone had stapled the wire to the posts, not with just 2 or 3 staples but with 5-6!!!

Anyway, the fence is gone. The bits and pieces are leaning against the new fence. I will have to tidy that up tomorrow. My back just did not want to play any more!

In the distance you can see the two new apple trees planted today.

The sore Veggie Gnome

Early apples are in the ground

Finally I managed to find some time to start planting my fruit trees.

Today I planted 2 apples. They are early varieties. Beauty of Bath is supposed to give us apples at around Christmas and Sweetman in early February.

Beauty of Bath is just to the left in the picture.

As our soil is heavy clay, I had to amend the soil a little. Dig a really big hole, at least double (usually I go for 3 times) the size of the tree's rootball. Add some gypsum, blood & bone and some good compost. Layer with the original soil. Put in the tree. Fill in hole. Water in well.

I haven't mulched them yet as the forecast is for warm weather the next 6 days. So my theory is that the soil will get warmed up. As soon as the weather is forecast to get cooler I'll mulch around the trees to keep the warmth in.

Plant your peas

A look at your moon planting guide will tell you that it's a great day to sow peas, amongst other things.

So I went and built a little frame for the peas to climb up, when they start growing. Just hammer in 2 stakes at either end and then tie stalks of Bronze Fennel (which needs cutting back every autumn/winter) in-between.

The soil in this bed is really good, so I didn't have to do much. Just make little holes and bung in a pea. Cover, give it a little pep talk, and hope the snails don't attack as soon as the seedlings poke their little heads out of the soil.

I sowed Blue Podded Capucyner Peas in this patch, which I received from a lovely gardening friend.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

First Artichoke

The artichoke patch is looking marvellous.
Especially in the morning when the sunlight hits the dew drops on the silvery leaves.

What a surprise! The first artichoke!
It must be at least one month earlier than usual.

Thursday, 16 August 2007


A few hours and many sore muscles later. 2 tired gnomes. 3 very healthy looking wood trolleys. All split and stacked high. This will last us the rest of the winter and will give us a good start next autumn.

The Veggie Gnome

It's my lucky day!

2 tons of red gum.

3 empty wood trolleys.

1 wood splitter.

Guess what!?

(I'm out of the office! Narrow escape there.)

The Veggie Gnome

Just another winter's day

After yesterday's springy weather we are back to winter. Foggy, drizzly, windy and cold.

This might be a good opportunity to tidy up the office. Unless I find something more interesting to do. *fingers crossed*

The Veggie Gnome

What a seedy day!

Yesterday was a perfect day for sowing tomato, capsicum, chilli and eggplant seeds according to the moonplanting guide for August. If you haven't checked out Cosmic's Blog with the guides yet, do so now. There'll be another good day next week on the 23 August. Just in case you missed a few seeds or varieties.

The weather was perfect, too. There was a touch of spring in the air.
I had sorted out which varieties of tomatoes to sow and was ready! (I won't tell you how long it took me to finalise that list. At one stage the number of varieties was up to 90! I had to do a merciless cull to get the number down.)

I am trying different containers this time. Usually I use punnets, but I wanted to have smaller containers to squeeze in more into the domes and mini hothouses. You can see quite an assortment - cream cheese containers, bottoms cut off milk bottles, etc. I also used styrofoam cups and little pots. Let's see how these go.

There was still time and soil left to re-pot some capsicum and chilli seedlings that were busting to get out of their punnets. The window sill is rapidly filling up with little pots of seedlings.

The Veggie Gnome

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Seed Gremlins Attack!

This is not for the faint-hearted. Do NOT look at the picture, if you are easily scared! You have been warned.

I walked into the office this morning and even I was a bit taken aback. What on earth had happened here?! Drawers and containers of seeds piled on every surface imaginable. Tucked away in shelves, scattered everywhere. Seeds, seeds, seeds, little seed bags, labels of seed packets, envelopes, lists, seeds, oh, I think I mentioned them before.

The really scary part is, that I am NOT in the seed business. Nothing to do with seeds. Not me. I may just have to grab a few seeds and sow them. Right now. Work? Well, you can't expect me to work in such a mess, can you. Must have a chat with my boss.

The Veggie Gnome

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Peace shattered in Gnomesville

Well, it was that one Saturday a year when the gnomes have to swap their peaceful garden and surrounds for loud noise and lots of dust. Yes, it was car rally time again where the road is closed for 5 hours and you are imprisoned in your property.
So, if you can't beat them, join them. We invited several gnome friends to enjoy the loud noise and dust with us. (Why should we have all the fun). Starting with a fortifying afternoon tea of cake, smoked salmon, dips, cheese and other delectables we then headed to the top of the hill where we could get the best view and of course where the most dust was.

We got a roaring bonfire going.

Then the cars started roaring past. This one got
a bit close to our fence.

A few red wines and lots of dust later one of the gnomes tried to escape, but she wasn't successful.

Then it was all over for another year and we dragged our cold dusty bodies inside for a bbq. Just the thing to fuel our hungry bodies was some nice Wagyu scotch fillet. Ummm...look at that marbling.

Followed by the finished product

And all the food was devoured in no time by 8 hungry gnomes

Today Gnomesville is back to it's peaceful self and much gardening was done.

The Flower Gnome

Saturday, 11 August 2007


Last night's tea. Pototo & Chickpea Curry with Naan. The eggs are from Louise (our oldest and smallest chook). Truly free-range, too.

After cooking the curry and making the Naan, I suddenly was too lazy to put melted butter on the Naans. This normally gives it additional ooomphh. I won't be too lazy next time. All was truly delicious and there is only a small portion left for a little lunch today.

The Veggie Gnome

Friday, 10 August 2007

Flowering Loquat!

Our Loquat tree has been flowering the last few weeks. I am really excited as this is the first time this is happening. We planted it about 7 years ago as a seedling. It's a lovely tree, but I was getting a bit fed up not seeing any fruit. (I did threaten it with the chainsaw last season.) I don't even know what the fruit tastes like.

Let's hope all these flowers (or at least some of them) will turn into delicious fruit!

The Veggie Gnome

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Hot stuff!

A basket of hot stuff from last summer. All kinds of hot chillies. Peruvian Purple, Serrano Tampequeno, Long Red Habanero, Astrakhanski 147, Cayenne, etc....

I really only grew Peruvian Purple as it's such a pretty plant (purple leaves and fruit that turns from red to dark purple). The fruit is thin-walled and full of seeds. I didn't use it much for cooking. However, it's perfect for drying and then grinding up.

Cut off stems. I usually peek inside to check that the inside and seeds are all clean. I cut the longer ones in half. Either avoid touching the seeds or wear gloves.

Grind. Then very, very carefully and slowly lift the lid. And preferably away from your face.

Put in air-tight jar. By now you should have had a whiff of the chilli heat. If you must, very, very carefully taste the powder. You could use the spoon as provided here. But you would be mad to do so. With all the Serrano Tampequenos and Peruvian Purple it is potent stuff.

Don't forget to clean the grinder very, very thoroughly. Your next espresso or cappuccino might give you an unexpected kick. If you do grind chillies very often it might be wise to invest in a grinder specifically for that purpose. I shall now go and grind some coffee beans for our afternoon cappuccino. Wish me luck!

The Veggie Gnome

Heeling in fruit trees

This is my 'holding bay' for the bare rooted fruit trees that arrived a few weeks ago. As the orchard extension wasn't closed off then, I had to put the new arrivals in a place where they'd be happy for a while.

It's quite a big tub with holes at the bottom, filled with good compost.

This morning I thought of planting them all, but while taking this picture I got chilled to the bone and decided to wait till the weather fines up a little. It's foggy, windy, cold and generally quite miserable out there at the moment. Let's hope it clears soon.

The Veggie Gnome

Corn Salad / Lamb's Lettuce ...

..this delicious lettuce has many names. Field Salad, Field Lettuce, Mache, etc. are some more. It's a member of the Valerian family, if I remember correctly.

It's a small plant and grows really well here in Winter. I have it self-seeding in my lettuce/veggie patch. You can either rip out the whole plant, or if you are patient, pick leaf by leaf. They are great in salad mixes. I usually pick a leaf of this and a leaf of that. Rocket, green/purple oakleaf or cos, mignonette, salad burnett, purple mustard, etc. It's great fun walking around the garden, colander in hand, and picking whatever takes your fancy for your lunch or tea.

The seeds of corn salad can be a bit slow and erratic to germinate. But once you've got it growing, let at least one plant go to seed. Either collect the seed or let them scatter naturally. You won't regret it.

The Veggie Gnome

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Meet Madame Pomfrey!

Let me introduce Madame Pomfrey. She likes to chill out in the fridge, but gets very active once fed and given some warmth.

This is my sourdough starter. I've had it for the last 2 months, I think.

Whenever it is time to bake another loaf of bread, I take out the starter, pour half of it into a bowl and feed it with a cup of bread flour and water. Cover bowl with tea towel, put into a warm spot (usually I warm up the oven a little bit and put it in there) and let rise until bubbly and risen.

The starter in the jar gets a cup of flour and water, too. Mix and put back in the fridge.

The bowl with the sponge after several hours. Nice and bubbly:

I added two cups of bread flour (German mix - this includes whole grains and seeds, etc.) and mixed that well. Then cover and let rise again. This time I left it overnight.

Divide dough into two, pour into bread pans, let rise another 30 minutes or so. (You could use a bigger bread pan and make one big loaf.) Then bake on highest temperature for about 30-35mins.

Guess what's for lunch?The Veggie Gnome