Friday, August 27, 2010

Would you like brussel sprouts with that?

One of the great things about going away, is coming back with fresh ideas. Amongst first things I did was turn some of the parsely into a bright green pesto that has been used on everything all week. Spring can seem a bit like scurvy season and we're scratching like chickens for greens. The brussel sprouts have come into their own, by virtue of there being no competition. The last scraps of four seasons lettuce to the left; they overwinter without being bitter and come away for just this time. I lost quite a few in Autumn to grass grub and slugs and birds. Have stowed away good intentions for this year to be dusted off and practiced in March.

Monty Don says somewhere that it is not so much 'what' or 'where' in gardening as 'when' that counts and I'm beginning to agree. Onion sets below case in point. Red onions to the right were planted at the end of March. We could be eating them for spring onions now if it was allowed. Five weeks later the white onions on the left went in. The birds were hungrier and pulled alot of them out and the heat was going rapidly along with daylight hours. I planted more than this but onion seed is like parsnip and needs to be fresh to be viable. I also purchased this seed from a cut price chain store. Good intentions to not do that again will be stowed away for later retrieval. These are in the glasshouse because the frost pushes them out of the ground outside. Onions need as much growth as possible before the longest day so that's why I Autumn sow to get a head start.

A few signs of Spring. The peony shoots just beginning. Some gardeners here don't clip back their perennials in Autumn, choosing to leave the dried foliage for frost protection in Spring. I have done that through neglect with the hellebores in particular and they look terrible. The little flower heads are just coming through amidst a mass of rotton foliage; it's not dry and crisp and should have been cleared away. Good intentions formulated but not yet activated.

The hazelnuts are flowering, the only thing flowering apart from a little blue weed, Speedwell
in the garden that is a welcome call for the bees. This is the first year that the Whiteheart have flowered. Last year it was only the pollinator Merv. de Bolwiller.
Here is my first sketch and I'm completely happy with it. Bill normally names his paintings but I've already called this sketch "Rolling Back the Years" . I think the girls who've just seen me will all agree that Bill works with a flattering eye. I'm thinking of an array of my favourite gardening tools in the background.
I finished planting the new potatoes this week, 7 beds @ approx 120 seed potatoes each. The yield, from memory, is around 500g per shaw when they are very first dug in late November. By Christmas it will be maybe 750g. Mostly red kings which are a well shaped, lovely flavoured potato and a few of another variety with a speedy name; it's either Sprite or Swift and all I can remember is that it suggests a fast, early potato. A crow bar, wiggled around to create the hole is the perfect tool for planting. These are too close to mound up and I plant as deeply as possible to minimise any greening of top potatoes. The soil was marvellous and I quietly congratulated myself as I went. Every effort spent on it has repayed me lavishly. Have planted some tomato seeds and begun to rehydrate the glasshouse. The soil cannot absorb too much water at first and it needs to be taken slowly. I'm trying some new tomatoes this year; recommendations welcomed.
Parsely Pesto
2 large handfuls of parsely, stalks removed
1/2 c olive oil, 1/2 c parmesan cheese, 1/4 c nuts (cashews)
2 cloves garlicPosted by Picasa


  1. Hi Miriam,
    Thoroughly enjoy your blog. Enjoy hearing your gardening exploits and also of En Hakkore. I envy you! It's great hearing of the next life of the glasshouses. Here in Porirua we don't have the challenge of cold and dry. Our challenge is clay soils and wind.

    Tomato recommendations:
    Have been reading through the Kings Seeds catalogue today.
    -Baxters early bush cherry - I've tried these before and they seem to be tolerant of lower temperatures and reasonably prolific.
    -Sub arctic plenty - aparently bred for the U.S Greenland military bases. The world's earliest tomato
    -Russian red is another for low overnight temperatures.
    -The Brandywine ones are supposed to be very flavoursome. Haven't tried them myself.

    We had a disaster of a tomato season last year. Too cold and wet. Hopeful of better things this season!

    Tim Borrer (son of Eleanor!)

  2. Hi Miri- that portrait of Bill's is working up a treat! I cannot believe it was only last weekend you were here in the big smoke, and already it's back to potatoes and brussel sprouts, time marches relentlessly on. MAS x

  3. The sketch looks lovely, really really good. I'm glad you posted that parsley pesto recipe, I've been thinking about how delicious it was at that cafe in Auckland. We went for a big drive in the country this afternoon and got some nice parsley from a stall at a big garden on the Waimea plains- so now I'm ready to roll.

  4. Hi Miri I agree - the sketch is lovely and last night I made your parsely pesto recipe and we ate it with fresh bread from the farmers market and homemade pumpkin soup for tea. Very delicious.

  5. yes it certainly does rain up here, definitely not the 'winterless north' like the tourist brochures claim. hope you enjoyed your harbour trip - motuihe is one of my favourite islands, i got married on a boat just anchored off there. waiheke does have that island isolation, although i grew up on great barrier, where we used to say that people who lived on waiheke weren't 'real' islanders. the water remains both a physical and pschological barrier to a lot of people, many aucklanders tell me they could never live here. suits us! and now off to make some parsley pesto (it seems to like the wet!) and think i might try some coriander pesto which is also flourishing.