Monday, July 28, 2014

Early spring

My first jonquil flowered a couple of weeks ago, just after the winter solstice. It's been a weird winter: warm most of the time with occasional bouts of freezing  snowyness. My fruit trees' buds are swelling as a result, and I'm a bit worried that they'll bloom and then get frosted off. Anyway, it's nice to see the (damp) jonquils brightening up my patch of skeletal fruit trees. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Artichoke glory

I love artichokes. They're beautiful, fast growing, block weeds, are virtually impossible to kill, and are delicious. I prefer the purple ones, but they're a rare treat because they're not compatible with my stomach, unfortunately. I have green ones too, which aren't nearly as pretty or fleshy.

My purple artichoke was looking a little tired, and I am digging the entire bed up to start again, so I decided to hack the plant back, pulling away the spent flowers and limp older leaves.

Purple Artichoke mid-hack

You can see the baby plants sprouting up now that I've pulled the older ones away:

Purple artichoke, post-hack (sorry, it ain't pretty)

I should really split and replant the babies but I'm lazy. 

You can see how effective the plant is as a weed suppressor by the ring of weeds around the edge of the now removed plant. 

The simplest way to cook them is to boil them after cutting the spiky top off, peeling the stem, and pulling off the outer petals (dip the cut bits in lemon water to prevent them from browning).  Dip the cooked petals in olive oil, oil and balsamic, melted butter, or hollendaise. If you want to BBQ them, boil them a little first, then cut in half and  brush with olive oil before placing it on the barbie. Stuffed artichokes are also great. 

Hint: after eating artichokes, sip some water. It tastes sugary! It also changes the taste of beer. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

My first sunflower for the season bloomed the day before Christmas.

The wind made the petals a bit flappy for the picture, unfortunately.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spring stuff

 Who says lettuces can't be decorative?

My first cherries have started growing, as have my apples. You have no idea how excited I am.

baby apples
Behind the fruit trees we've put up a trellis for the kiwi fruit plants and passionfruit.  My sister had the wonderful idea of using plastic coated clothesline instead of wire so they don't get too cold in the winter.

 We've been overrun with snowpeas, which is not a bad thing really.  I just wish they came in small doses throughout the year, rather than all at once.

It's that time of the year, and some of my peas and snowpeas have started getting the dreaded white mold on them.  I have a number of peas dotted around the garden, so they're somewhat quarantined, but I remember this happening last year around this time.

Lastly, I originally made this sign for my beetroot, but it kinda fits for the red onions.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

fruit tree awakening

Japanese Plum
My Japanese plum tree sprouted first, and the nectarine and apricot have weakly followed.  This is their second spring in my garden, so I don't have high hopes for produce this year. 

The daffs are showing off with their massive bright heads, and the rhubarb plants are enjoying their new freedom. They've settled in well, and I now realise that rhubarb is pretty hardy. I delayed moving them in fear of killing them, but they seem to be happier than ever, despite my brutal hacking (and it was violent and bloody - I still have the scar). Unfortunately, they now seem to be celebrating by seeding. 

Nectarine buds


Is this a bluebell?

black pansy

The damn rhubarb plants keep trying to flower

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My first asparagus

Now I thought it took 3 years before an edible asparagus formed, but one year after digging them in, one of my crowns has delivered a wonderful specimen:

asparagus amongst the daffodils
I planted five crown last year, but most got dug up by the idiot blackbirds. After spotting the lovely stalk,  I decided to visit Salamanca Market at lunch today and buy a few more crowns to replace the four that had been destroyed. So now I have six.

I also stuck in a number of Rialto Fragrant Lilium bulbs.  There's a good bulb stall at the markets which sells seasonally only those ready to plant straight away.  I didn't plan to buy bulbs at the markets, but I guess there are worse things to impulse buy.

I might post an image of the ceremonial inaugural asparagus picking tomorrow...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chloe's post...

This post was actually written 2 months ago; it's just taken me this long (and my sister returning) for me to figure out how to upload it (yes, I'm technologically inept...)


So, I’ve taken over most of my sister’s stuff – her house, car, dog, friends – I may as well continue the identity theft and take over her blog as well! (she's gone to Europe for 2 months...)

I’ve always been a keen gardener; mum almost killed me when I was little and decided the black recycling bins would be a great place to start a veggie garden. When I rented a place in outback NSW I transformed the garden, relandscaping and planting a Aussie Native garden which flourished in the dry heat, hopefully its still alive today (I planted it with the knowledge it would have to cope without any human input/watering once I left…). So, having just been in the UK for 2 years, without access to a garden, I’m making up for lost dirt-under-the-fingernails time.

Following our epic garden earth-works over the easter break, I’ve continued the renovations by merging the previously separate fruit tree beds at the back of the garden into one long bed. This will mean more planting space; which is always a good thing! I had to rework the brickwork a bit, which is a little crooked, I know, but it’ll do the trick…

The dogs are appreciating the extra sun-baking space on all the fresh sugar cane mulch!

I’ve attempted to ‘naturalise’ the bed by planting bulbs under the fruit trees (I’m not sure if I’ve used the term ‘naturalise’ in the correct context, but that’s what the presence of bulbs under trees seemed to be called in the UK…). Heaven’s knows what the bulbs are; I’m quite looking forward to the surprise when they pop up, which they’re already doing, one week after planting!

The new magnolia seems quite content, not doing much really, but at least its not withering. I’ve fed it with seaweed fertiliser, so hopefully it’ll come into its own in Spring. The seat we positioned at the back of the garden is a nice sunning spot in the morning, with views over the ‘burbs and bushy hills of Hobart.

I’ve pulled out the spent summer crops – aubergine, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers – dug sheep manure into the soil and planted out the beds with the cool season crops.

In bed 1 – beetroot, onions (silly delicate little things), asian greens…

Bed 2 – brassicas – cauliflower, broccoli (normal and purple-sprouting), cabbage. I’ve scattered nasturtiums throughout this bed as a companion plant.

Oh, and garlic, which I thrilled to see is already sprouting lovely fat shiny shoots. I was getting a little concerned the bed was too wet for the little things, but apparently not. The cloves are from a bulb harvested from last years crop!

Bed 3 – salad greens (mizuna, rocket, baby spinach, lettuce), leeks, fennel, peas (next to their stakes for make easy climbing...).

Pip and I are both a little concerned about the raspberry plant. It doesn’t seem to have approved of being transplanted (with a week in a bucket of water before I got around to planting it). Fingers and paws crossed that with Pip’s careful nurturing, the little cane picks up again; I was really looking forward to fresh raspberries!

Oh, and Luce, I’m not sure how you feel about daphnes… but I like them and they smell nice so I’ve stuck 3 in near the seating area for nice wafts on sunny days, lets hope they’re as odiferous as their name suggests!

On a completely different note, on a somewhat larger scale, I spotted the words ‘Octopus Tree’ on my map of the Mt Wellington area the other day and headed straight up there to satisfy my curiosity. Wow, what a tree! Anyone in the Hobart area should definitely check it out. It’s only about a 200m walk from Shoebridge Bend (the first hairpin bend after Ferntree). Also from this point I would recommend checking out O’Grady’s Falls and the lovely little ferny valley along Betts Vale Track.

Even this early on, my plantings have rewarded me with some yummy produce – I had loads of fresh greens for a salad at lunch. I’m getting sick of silverbeet, it’s such a prolific grower! My Asian dishes are packed full of greens from the garden – pak choy, bok choy, spring onions, coriander. Luce and I cooked some good Turkish inspired dishes with the last of the aubergine and tomatoes before she disappeared overseas. Italian dishes are gaining great flavours from fresh oregano, thyme and rosemary. And garlic chives, parsely and mint brighten up any dish really. Roll on the winter veg, lots of happy cooking ahead! Hopefully, Luce, you’ll get back just in time to see them at their best and enjoy the spoils!

It’s so nice to be back in a garden again!