Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leeks: I can't stand paying $1.95 each

The very best summer use for stock - I feel - is in Vichyssoise, the cold potato and leek soup. It works perfectly with the stick from the Christmas ham bone. We had two hams this year, so there's plenty of stock.

I made some Vichyssoise just then - it's still great value at about $5 for ten serves but I hate paying around $2 for a leek.

I have some seeds just sprouted. I'll keep you abreast of the progress.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stop watering: I don't need to be told twice

I called into Malcolm Campbell's radio program today and he advised with the globe artichoke to withdraw the water. It'll start to give offsets that I can split off.

That's lucky advice. The other plants around it are a fig and two native ginger. Both are bulletproof.


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clever cooking with a secret ingredient

OK so it's not such a big deal but for me all cooking is an adventure.

I made a standard beef curry but because I was out at my father on law's place I saw he had some black figs. Oki then.

So here's how I made the curry. A kilo of beef mince, fried hard, fat drained off. Fried three quartered onions gently to transparent. Put it all together, put some salt and curry powder over the top, then ten quartered tomatoes.

All pretty standard. But then I topped and tailed about six small figs, halved them, put them in, covered and simmered for 40 minutes, with a stir sometimes. To finish I poured in a can of coconut milk, cranked up the heat, reduced to my preferred consistency before thickening with 2 tbs of cornflour in a half cup of water.

Served with rice and it really was amazing. Oh, and served five people with four follow up meals for about $8.

This clever cooking can be fun. And I got some of Luigi's wood from the black fig, so I might get my own one day.

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Lemongrass tea: worth a try I suppose

I was playing golf the other day when I said to my buddy "you look like you're drinking swamp water". It was a sledge day, I think he said worse to me.

Later on it came out that his wife had made him lemongrass tea, which he was drinking from an old Coke bottle. My buddy said it was pretty good as long as you put some honey with it.

Given I have so much lemongrass and nothing much to do with it (it's the grassy looking stuff here and there's more out the front yard) I think I'll hunt out a recipe.

Thanks Barry.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tree Dahlia: Easy enough so far

A buddy gave me some stems. Two nodes, taken when you cut them back in (I think) autumn.

Lay the stem sideways with some in the ground and some in the sun, and keep moist.

Nice plant, goes well in a pot (so far) and can be expected to give beautiful purple flowers in autumn. Water hungry in summer.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Meat bones" opportunity gone missing

It's amazing how sometimes one can benefit from a supermarket making a screwup. I remember once when I got $80 of lamb racks for $10 because they were weighed and coded as flap/ribs. Sorry about that, but they must've had a new person on that day. All learning costs, it just varies in terms of who pays.

Many times it's me who pays for my (and sometimes others) learning.

The other day I bought a bag of "meat bones" for $3.50 with the plan being for the dog, although these are always ok for human consumption. Based on the part of the meat case it was in, it's the law.

If I hadn't left them for a few days they might've been used for human consumption! A closer look told me they were all loin chops - normally $30 per kg. some apprentice must've been cutting too thin for spec or something.

Never mind. Halie gets loin chops.

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Donut peaches at last

A beautiful 23 degree morning in the middle of a week of 35+ days. Heaps of water onto the trees and the fruit on the ripen.

And four buds, and three grafts took off this season against a seedling of no particular type that sprung up in the driveway. That is now a really neat three arm espalier which should give that sort of fruit next season:

I put a couple of buds onto some seedlings at my father in law's house and hope they get through the heat. Not that clever and a little hopeful, really.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Big job, digging out this compost

I must've taken fifteen barrowloads out of here, but now I can start putting veg matter in again, on the right had side, and rotating that gardening gold from the left into the garden.

Man there's a lot of great material under the fruit trees now.

I can see how much loved Nonno Pasquale had garden beds that were simply magic after 50 years of gardening on the same site.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Water is the number one thing

I had a very dear friend ask me to come out and do a "garden consult" and sure, there were things about soil, or fertiliser, but the thing that hit me was water.

It's just not happening until we're getting water into the rootzone. Here I've laid the hose in prep for a couple of rockmelon vines my buddy gave me.

After that, yeh, mulch, fertiliser, pest and disease control but at least in SA, unless you're getting water to the plant you're not really started.

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Cactus: Once a year for one day

Today's the day

A pretty boring cactus, although I like all cacti. But once a year, a great flower.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

And these are my pickled chillis

Ok, I worked out what they are. They're called "chapeau de frade" or "bishop's hat". They're hot - at 30,000 heat units where Tabasco Sauce is 5,000. But they're workable.

Especially with pickling. The heat comes off, to a great extent. I just sliced two of these, got a little wedge of Brie and rolled it in a strip of mountain bread then toasted it in a sandwich toaster.

It was fine.

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Pumpkins are coming on too

I've got a nice micro climate going there. The pumpkins tend to shade the eggplant and it's all watered by a beautiful loop of dripper hose

The male flowers are out, they're always out early. And female flowers are on the way:

So with a heap of water and a sunny aspect we should get a fair few this year.

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Summer adrenaline in the garden

The compost heap is ready and is half dug out. That's about 20 barrowloads, worth about $7 each.

The rainbow lorikeets have obviously found the Nashis, so I need to smarten up my netting. Still, there's only a days worth of damage:

And the plums are fair game too, but because it's cropping so heavily I'll get to keep enough for us:

It's all fun.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mites: Hit em now

I like to go light on the chemicals when I can, but softer measures tend not to work with these buggers. They get onto the back of leaves and start sucking out moisture. Then with a hot day the plants just burn to a crisp.

With mites the argument is to go with tomato dust (sulphur), pest oil, then natrasoap in order of increasing strength. It's all crap.

The other argument is that they thrive on dry conditions so leaf watering is an idea, increasing humidity and making the mites uncomfortable, but increasing all other problems in the meantime. It's crap. Never ever water tomato leaves.

Go the sledgehammer. Specific miticide. Active ingredient Dicofol, but trade name Kocide.

Once a year about now. On tomatoes, stone fruit, marigolds, anything that gets speckled leaves. It just has to be done.

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My Chilli is called "Chapeau de Frade"

At last, I know what it is. A little research landed the result.

And it's hot. About six times hotter than Tabasco.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tightwad Gourmet: Egg Supreme Wraps

It even ticks the vegetarian box. Well sort of. I knew somebody once who called themself and "Ovo lacto pescatarian" and another who considered themself a "no neckatarian" (not eat anything with a neck). I suppose it ticks their boxes.

So I'll probably need to find cost efficient ways of getting calories into me for a while. Hence the "gourmet tightwad" meme.

With four beautiful chookies - who I love to keep for their gardening duties, the eggs keep rolling through. Even while I've got two newies, just started in training. But even now we get a dozen a week so yippee. The quiche and the meringue things is there, and we'll keep doing that. Also read up on bearnaise sauce.

But the perfect egg/lettuce rollup for lunch? Why not.

Okey. Prick the eggs, put in hot water, bring to boil, simmer for about seven minutes. Now, very important: straight off the heat, run the whole lot under water and then throw some ice in there.

Y'know the grey crap one gets around the yolks on boiled eggs? It happens when they cool slowly. Look at these beauties:

So I then squeeze some Praise over them and then some Keen's curry powder.

Tomorrow morning I'll wrap them. Stay tuned. Or not.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fertilise citrus now, or late May

I fertilised my citrus a couple of days ago, just before the last major rain event. They're showing growth now.

This is probably the last chance to do it. Any of this soft green growth late in summer or early in autumn will get hit hard by citrus leaf miner.

That pest is heartbreaking, and there's no real effective treatment for it. So my advice is to fertilise now, let the growth harden up before the pests arrive.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brugmansia: Angel's trumpet looking a little different

Normally this plant has an ugly-ish white downward flower. But I bought this at the carpark caper, and they said it was a little different. And it is.

Another of what I call the "ballerina flowers". Fuchsias are another of my favourites. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Luigi's tomatoes take the prize so far

Well played, sir. I dropped into Luigi's veg garden as he's been off on holidays. And picked a few of his tomatoes. Then came home and had one of my own summer crop ready.

The tiny one on the bottom left is mine. Well played, sir. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

My pumpkin/eggplant microclimate

I hope it works. Four eggplant will grow tall over the pumpkin which is running quite nicely at ground level.

Drippers will keep the soil moist from under the canopy. A little lemongrass and chilli around the side because they were there from last year. It should work. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

One butt ugly tomato

It looks better here than it is. But it's big and I bet it's full of flavour. Congrats to my father in law Luigi for growing it. I just picked it while he's on a vacation.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Parsley needs watering?!

One thing I'm never short of is parsley. I threw some seed around the garden 20 years ago and a plant has turned up somewhere practical every year. I get leaves in the first year, seeds in the second. Fine, my seeding stock is going well

But this year the leafing stock has appeared in places that get less water. So for the first time in 20 years I'm watering parsley:

They've got huge roots and so are quite drought tolerant. They will survive a lot. But to get big fresh leaf I suppose watering might be good and dare I say fertilise? - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shantytown shade solution

Unfortunately we don't have the money for anything much more, but at least it's practical.

As the sun goes over towards the right, my ragged assortment of shadecloths puts the cars mostly into shade. And keeps the sun off of the main areas around the house.

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Hooray for Veraison

Veraison, when the fruit begins to ripen.

This heat is turning the fruit quickly. Which is good. Satsumas.


White plums (Narabeen)

Red Globe grapes

But the bad news is that uncovered, the birds strip them:

So as well as nets I'm using the tried and trusted "bag over the fruit" method when the fruit is nicely bunched.

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