Thursday, 31 January 2008

It's a girl!

We received the birth announcement this morning. Visiting hours 10am - 6pm. So guess who visited mother and baby not long after 10am?

The welcoming committee with the 3 aunties.

One day old and already on its legs. Wobbly, but walking.

Portrait of mother and daughter.

That's enough. Let's go somewhere quieter.

Wait for me!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

More Dahlias


The Dahlias are really starting to come out now.





Snow White...

..isn't very white.These are the first ripe ones on the plant.
Normally they have the colour of ivory, or similar. Let's wait and see what the next ripe ones look like.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Zucchini Pasta

Well, I hope nobody is getting bored hearing all about our zucchini. But here they are again. Tonight we had zucchini pasta.

Sweat sliced garlic and spring onions in a little butter, add sliced zucchini, season and let fry a little. Add a little white wine to give it some added umphhh....(but this is not necessary, you can add some pasta water instead, or omit this step entirely) then toss in cooked pasta, tomato wedges, freshly chopped parsley and basil. Toss and serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Bon App├ętit!

Cherokee Purple

The first Cherokee Purple this year! It's a beauty!

Snuggling up to an Armenian Cucumber. Guess what's for lunch?

Cut up and ready to be devoured.

Lemon Squash

Another splash of colour from the Lemon Squash plant. The little squashes do look a little like lemons. They are lovely cut in half and thrown into the frying pan with other zucchini, some garlic, herbs, salt & pepper.

Golden Zucchini #2

I love this time of the year. Everything is starting to produce like mad. Big splashes of colour everywhere! Here is another picture of the Golden Zucchini plant.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Zucchini Fritters

We are harvesting quite a selection of zucchini at the moment - Costata Romanesco, Golden, Lebanese.

A good way of (momentarily) getting on top of this zucchini glut are zucchini fritters as they require quite a lot of zucchini.

Grate zucchini, season with salt & pepper. Add chopped spring onions, garlic, 1 egg, a little flour, cubed feta cheese. Mix. You can also add some capers. These provide an unexpected taste explosion. Omit, if you don't like capers. Use this mixture immediately, otherwise it gets too runny. Drop a big tablespoonful of the mixture in a medium hot frying pan. Gently push down to flatten slightly. Don't touch until the edges start to brown, then turn over. Do them in batches.


We served them with just a little tomato/cucumber salad. All from the garden.
The beauty about these fritters is that you can add all kinds of ingredients to the mixture. Depending on what you have on hand or fancy at the moment. Different herbs, cheeses, seasoning, chilli, smoked ham, etc.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

First Dahlia


Remember the Dahlia Patch - The one that the flying rainwater tank landed on.

Well, it recovered and today the first dahlia is out.
It is a decorative dahlia by the name of Gambier Jane




Here is a pic of the whole patch



Today's shopping basket

A few tomatoes (Black Cherry, Polar Baby), 2 zucchini (Golden and Costata Romanesco), 1 Armenian Cucumber, a few plums. We have to pick them a bit earlier than we usually would, even though they still need another day or two to fully ripen, but the birds are attacking them despite the netting. It's frustrating to come out in the morning and the plums are lying on the ground, with some bite marks. The birds could at least eat the whole plum, couldn't they!? No, they have to sample at least 5-10 and just take one or two bites out of them. Grrrrr.....

Turkish Leopard in the garden!

This is a melon variety which is growing nicely at the moment. The fruit is currently about 10cm long. It is the first time we are growing it so we don't know what it tastes like. We shall have to wait a bit until the fruit is ripe.

Black Cherry

Our favourite cherry tomato. We picked the first ones today.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Food!

Leftover pesto from this morning was used up in tonight's tea.
2 Golden Zucchini from the garden made it into the pasta, too.

Heat a little butter with lots of thinly sliced garlic in a frying pan, add zucchini that were thinly sliced lengthwise. Fry just a little, add cooked spaghetti and pesto. Season with salt & pepper. Toss. If the pasta appears a bit dry, add some of the water in which the pasta was cooked. Top with freshly grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Serve.


Tomato Condoms

Safe sex in the veggie patch!

Why? To ensure the seeds you save from a particular tomato are not cross-pollinated. My plants are fairly close together, there is a lot of insect activity and it's pretty windy. All these factors might contribute to cross-pollination. As I grow many different varieties of tomatoes I like to play it safe and bag my tomatoes.

The same happens to capsicums and chillies. I like to swap seeds with fellow gardeners, and if I didn't bag the flowers I could not ensure that the seeds I give away are 100% true to type.

This year I was lucky and Mama Gnome made my bags for me. I had bought quite a lot of curtain material from an op-shop a few years ago for exactly that purpose. This year's bags are 15cm X 17cm. A bit bigger than in previous years. My thinking is that maybe the bigger bags can eliminate or reduce blossom drop. On very hot days it gets even hotter inside the bags and blossoms tend to drop. It's a bit of a bummer, if you haven't bagged another flower truss.

Anyway. Get your bags and thread the twine through the top thingie.

Look for a nice truss of unopened blossoms.

Put the bag over it and tie tightly. Once the fruit has set you can remove the bag and leave a ribbon around the stem. Or if the bag is big enough, you can leave it over the fruit. Just make sure people with access to the veggie patch know the rules: Don't touch any bagged fruit or fruit that has a ribbon around it!

Tomatoes!

The first handful of tomatoes. Oh, they were good!

I picked a bunch of basil in the morning and made pesto with that.
We had a sour dough baguette and focaccia for lunch. I filled the focaccia with some of the pesto. Sprinkled the top with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt - baked in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Tomatoes freshly picked from the garden and home-made bread straight from the oven.
Lunch was scrumptious.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Wooohooo!

4 days later the Armenian Cucumber looks like this:It's now 11cm long.

Fantastic! We'll be feasting on this one soon, if it continues growing like this.

Tiger Lilly

Now this is an absolutely gorgeous bunch of flowers I received on my birthday. Thank you so much again, neighbour gnome! :)

Fascinating flowers.

Very intriguing - the fact that the seeds are on the stem.

I sowed quite a few seeds, just to see what happens.

Our neighbours...

...are wonderful people. But I'm not sure whether they are a good influence on us 'young ones'.
Even their dog got stuck into the booze. (Sorry, Polly!)

(Photos courtesy of one of the neighbour gnomes. - They have all been elevated to honorary gnomes.)

Ps.: No animals were harmed in the process of taking these pictures. Or during that night.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Shopping in the garden

That's the kind of shopping I like best!

We needed some veggies to throw on the barbie, so off I went with my garden shopping basket.Guess what the red, round things are? Potatoes! Red Otways. I washed them, sliced them thickly and put them on a baking tray. Sprinkle with Citron olive oil, salt & pepper and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake in the oven at 200C until done and getting slightly crispy, approx. 20mins. I only used the biggest ones and we'll use the small ones to plant out again.

Then there were 2 Golden Zucchini and 1 Zucchini which is supposed to be a Golden one. But the colour is similar to the Lebanese Zucchini. I sliced those thickly and tossed them in olive oil, rosemary, finely chopped garlic, salt & pepper. Those we threw on the barbie. Together with thin slices of pumpkin (the last of our pumpkins) and some capsicum.

The little green chilli on top of the zucchini is a Hungarian Wax. Very mild.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Did I ever mention...

... that I like Hollyhocks?

And I like taking pictures of them, too. But I guess it is hard not to notice that.
Even though the seeds are from one plant, they do vary slightly in colour.
Here is a single one.

Armenian Cucumber

This is a really interesting cucumber. (It is actually a type of melon.)
Last year, a friend of ours gave us one of these cucumbers from his garden for seed saving. He had let it grow to a considerable size/length, of course, to ensure plump and viable seeds. It has a light green, slightly ribbed, thin skin. We did taste it, though, and it was crisp, sweet and juicy, even though it was 'grown up'.

Here it is in my garden. These are two plants that are now growing nicely. They are flowering profusely.
Have a closer look! Aren't they just the cutest baby cucumbers? Grow, cucumber, grow!

Rhubarb

We have 2 different varieties in the garden.

Thick stemmed and very bright red:This clump is fairly young. I only planted it a year or two ago.

Thin-stemmed and not as bright red, but not exactly green either:This is a clump I planted at least 8 years ago (and divided a few times since). There were some crowns in the paddock which we mowed down frequently (they were in the way), until I decided that this is a bit of a waste and transplanted them into my herb garden.

Both taste very nice. Either just stewed with a bit of orange juice, sugar and cinnamon, or in a tart, etc.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Golden Zucchini

The Golden Zucchini plant is producing nicely. We like the texture, colour and taste of this zucchini. It's also normally the first one to give us something to eat.

I'll pick the zucchini tomorrow. I reckon it'll be nice on the barbie. Just toss it in some olive oil, chopped garlic, herbs and salt & pepper first. Yummmmm. :)

And this is an impostor. The label clearly states that it is supposed to be a Golden Zucchini. I'm not sure what happened there. Anyway, we'll eat it and enjoy it.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Happy Birthday Veggie Gnome

Charlie is overseeing Veggie Gnomes Birthday presents this morning.





The flower arrangement from Mama gnome is made from herbs from the garden. The bundle of wool represents the cardigan that Mama gnome is making for Veggie Gnome. The biscuits are Florentiner, which are Veggie Gnome's favourite. We are looking forward to many wonderful meals made from the new cookbooks and sipping our before dinner sherry from the new glasses.

Happy Birthday Veggie Gnome

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tomato Patch #2

I planted the bulk of my tomatoes at the end of November and the patch looked like this shortly after planting.

About 1 1/2 months later the patch looks like this:

To the right is a bed filled with pumpkins, chillies, capsicums, melons, zucchini, cucumbers. This bed goes all the way to the end of the patch.

Fruit set on the tomatoes is slow due to the excessive heat over many days. There are still quite a few plants that do not have any fruit set yet.

We will get fruit a lot later than usual as I was a few weeks behind with my planting. Normally we can expect the tomato glut to start middle of February.

African Fish Chilli

This is one of my favourite chilli plants. The variegated foliage and the striped fruit look really pretty. This is a plant I overwintered in a pot on the balcony. The fruit has light green and dark green stripes and then turns slowly red. Very pretty indeed. Oh, the heat? Manageable. ;)

Eggplant Trough #2

The eggplants are looking great! Most of them are now flowering and we might actually get some eggplants to throw on the barbie this season. Wow!


This is what they looked like in November.