Saturday, 28 June 2008


Isn't it amazing what you can grow?

Here is a box of chickpeas that I sowed quite a while ago. I had never even thought of growing chickpeas, until a gardening friend mentioned he was growing some.They look really pretty. This is the first time I'm growing them, so it'll be interesting to watch their progress.I sowed them in a box due to autumn/winter being slug & snail time. It's easier to keep an eye on things (and protect them) if they are in a box just outside the laundry.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Alpacas revisited

The babies are growing.
While the mums are busy eating.PS.: These pictures were taken at the end of April. I'm sure the little ones are less little now. I'm also sure the mums are still enjoying their food.

Another PS.: Just in case there are some new readers here - these are not our alpacas. They are our neighbour's.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Caesar Salad

I had this craving for Caesar Salad and decided to make my own* (actually I had it twice in a row for lunch now). It took 15 minutes to make. This was all the time I needed to go out in the garden and pick some leafy greens, put the water on for the poached egg, cut and slice bread, garlic and pancetta and crisp up in a frying pan.

Arrange the leafy greens on a plate, drizzle some dressing (not much and not the traditional Caesar salad dressing, because I was hungry) - a little extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar (or lemon juice), salt & pepper - over the leafy greens. Scatter your crispy croutons over the greens, arrange anchovies, slivers of parmesan and put poached egg in the middle. Enjoy!
This may seem a lot of croutons, but I was hungry when I made it.

*This started out as The Caesar Salad Rant but then I decided that I couldn't be bothered - yet. It will be a tale of shock, horror and how badly a restaurant can muck up something as simple as a Caesar salad.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Frost and chillies

These two plants survived last winter. This was a very pleasant surprise as we experienced quite a few severe frosts a few days in a row then. Now we had the first frosty morning (their second winter) and they are still looking good. There are still a few chillies ripening up on the plants and the Orange Rocoto (Manzano Amarillo) is flowering profusely.

The plant on the left is a Bishop's Crown and you can see why when you look at its fruit. They are bright red when fully ripe. They are not very hot and only give you a little kick. They are particularly nice stuffed with good feta.

The fruit of the Orange Rocoto is small and oval-shaped, orange in colour when ripe, thick walled, has black seeds and a fruity taste. I ate some that didn't have any heat at all but you can also get the odd one that will blow off your head.

Orange Rocoto
Flower of the Orange Rocoto

Monday, 16 June 2008

Frosty morning walk

We experienced our first frosty morning of the season.

Let's start our walk at the balcony. Luckily I had lined the sides with polycarb yesterday. The sheets are attached to the lattice with pieces of wire. I had also arranged the pots in such a way that the hardier plants are more to the left - the more exposed side - and the more fragile ones closer to the right which is near the totally enclosed area.

Let's check on the Cape Gooseberry / Golden Berry. I have grown this plant from seed and it is now approx. 5-6 years old. It's a very attractive plant which yields amazing berries. Even though they normally do not like frost, this plant is in a pretty good position. It does get frost, but the sun reaches it only very slowly. So it defrosts very gently and therefore does not get damaged.

Let's walk over to the patch where I planted leeks and spinach yesterday. Seems to be fine. The soil is fairly frosty here. Have a closer look at the frosty soil.

The calendula looks healthy. Its flower petals are edible and look great scattered over salads.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Baker's Helper

'What is a baker's helper?', Kate asked.

This is a baker's helper. Every household should have one. They are very handy to have around.

If anyone watched "The Cook and the Chef" last night, you'd have seen a baker's helper being used. BTW, that was a great episode. Peter Cundall was there!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Lunch treat

Once in a while we all need something different for lunch. So, what is a lunch treat?

Freshly baked pretzel. Here we have 'before' and 'after' pictures.

A salad with ingredients freshly picked from the garden. Leafy greens such as Chinese Broad Leaf Celery, Japanese Mustard Spinach Komatsuna, different lettuce varieties, rocket, French Sorrel, pea shoots, young beetroot leaves, etc. Add some very thinly sliced bulb fennel, thinly sliced oranges (without the peel), extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle of lemon juice, salt & pepper.


Making bread is incredible fun!

For something different, take your usual or favourite bread dough, flatten it out on to a floured work bench. Cut it into rectangles or triangles. Then take your baker's helper and cut slits any old way you feel like into this rectangle without cutting through the edges. Spread them out. Let rise. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

The fougasse looks stunning. It tastes just like your favourite bread, but has a different shape. Serve with a cheese platter, stew, or soup. Thread a ribbon through some pieces to bind them together and give away to friends and family.

This fougasse shape was copied from R. Bertinet's book "Dough".


There is always some rocket growing in our garden. In all nooks and crannies. It's great in salads, pasta, sandwiches, risotto, etc. It is easy to grow, self seeds (always a bonus in my eyes, unless it is a weed) and does not need a lot of maintenance.

This rocket does go to seed when it gets warmer and I usually don't have any in summer. But there is always a plant going to seed at some time and the seeds scatter and lie dormant until the first good rain arrives in autumn.

Then you get lovely young rocket growing everywhere. It is easy to rip out, if you don't want it growing in a particular spot. Or pot it up and give some to friends and family.

However, Wild Rocket seems to be a perennial in our garden. It has pretty yellow flowers, which I cut off, and it grows even in summer (without any watering). This plant has been growing since last winter/spring. It has flowered, it survived our extreme summer, without water, and supplied us with peppery leaves. They taste a lot less peppery at the moment, as they get water now (rain).

It also self seeds and the young plants are everywhere. They are easy to pull out or I throw some compost and mulch on top. Done.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

One corner of the balcony

This part of the balcony contains mainly edible plants. At the far left you can see my Aniseseed Myrtle, then a pot with turmeric. On the plant stand there is an assortment of seedlings - asparagus, cardoon, spinach, onions, lettuces, hollyhock, violas, etc. all ready to be planted out. Then a few chilli plants in pots, my Lemon Myrtle, Davidson Plum, Muntrie, Small-Leaf Lillypilly, Curry Leaf Plant, more turmeric and a Pepino.
Soon I will get some polycarb to line the sides of the balcony so that the icy winds can't damage the plants. This corner is fairly frost protected and I can overwinter all these plants without worrying too much about them.

Today's view

Winter started on Sunday, 1 June. This is today's view from the balcony. It's been a foggy, drizzly, cold, miserable day out there. The rain gauge recorded 2mm of rain + 1 snail this morning.
The slugs and snails are out in force. They munch on anything and everything.
It is a lovely day to stay inside and get some work done. The housework beckons, too. Oh, and I think there are about 3 baskets full of clothes waiting to be ironed. Maybe I'll just stay in the office? :)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Going native Tumbeela Native Bushfoods.

This visit was organised by Kate from the Adelaide Hills and Plains Seedsavers. Thanks Kate! We had a good time learning about bushfoods.

We were greeted by Warren Jones with a lovely cup of lemon myrtle/aniseseed myrtle tea and a lemon myrtle biscuit. Then we sampled riberry & lime/lemonade glaze, lemon myrtle infused honey, lemon myrtle icecream, wattleseed icecream (which tasted like hazelnut to me), dried & ground bush tomatoes, whole muntries and riberries. We smelled roasted & ground wattleseeds and dried mountain pepper leaves.

After the talk we went for a little walk through the rows of lemon myrtle and mountain pepper bushes. We were encouraged to rub the leaves of the lemon myrtle between our hands and enjoy the scent.

We nibbled on fresh mountain pepper leaves - nothing happens for a few seconds and then it kicks you. Fiercely!

The same with the fresh pepper berries.

There was also a cinnamon myrtle, aniseseed myrtle and a riberry. All lovely bushes.

Everybody was eager to do a bit of shopping after the walk. There was a good range of products and some seedlings.

Now for experimenting with some of the spices. :)