Sunday, February 20, 2011

21st February

Coincidentally, today it is two years since our father died and here's the Rowan Tree to remind me. The flowers on his coffin were lovely but the branches of Rowan berries seemed particularly appropriate and beautiful. Rowans thrive under difficult circumstances, do well in drought conditions and are fairly frost resistant. The flowers smell a bit like rotten meat, reminiscent of Dad's fridge, and in the Autumn the berries are stripped by the birds.

Now it is lazy gardening I am particularly enjoying at the moment so here's some of my favourite garden events. Starting with the rocket top left, I planted the seed and never got around to pricking it out or potting them up, let alone planting out. A row of seedlings has turned out to be ample supply for current demand and without any stress of moving it took awhile to go to seed. Top right the seeding spring onion finally fell over and a wealth of little seedlings have sprouted around it. Like wise the parsely plants below are volunteers.

I have been potting up any small self sown seedlings that I find to overwinter and get a jump start on Spring. Planting from seed in Spring doesn't produce parsely for eating until very late in the year. Bottom right is dill which suffered the same fate as the rocket. A row of seeds went in and that was the end of it. The dill hasn't reached it's full potential at all due to overcrowding and fairly quickly went to seed but there has still been enough for me to pick.

On the zuchinni front, gold zuchinnni, the comment might be 'live and don't learn'.  The itty bitty squitty photo bottom right could easily have been taken last year. I had some small insect infestation then and thought that they were the reason the leaves had browned to a crisp. In hindsight, the same thing happening again, I think the glasshouse is just too hot for them. The older leaves are brittle and dry so although the younger leaves are in pretty good heart, the plant as a whole is losing productivity and slowing down.
'How many zuchinni do you want?' Yes, you might well ask. Three jars of Fay's Zuchinni Relish (recipe lifted straight off the internet) is possibly a year's supply given all the other relish and condiments stowed away down here.

We snatched this photo on our last trip through the Pigroot just to show Annarosie that we may live in the middle of nowhere but there are still social occasions and signposted at that. The partygoers are geology students who start the year with a field trip up this ways every year.

To recap on the zuchinni. Next year I will stagger the planting a little more. I will probably only grow the gold zuchinni because they are less inclined to run to marrows and don't get waterlogged. They also look great in a stirfry and make the best relish. Beyond the first two of the season, the rest can go outside and make what they can of the summer. They don't seem to need the heat that corn, beans and pumpkins need to produce well.
 I can't resist one poem for the occasion.  Another by Richard Langston called:
He is There

When I wake.
He interrupts my nights.

In his empty armchair.
His folded glasses.

In the humor in us,
our appetites,
the heavy tread of our feet.

He is the bird lifting slowly
out of the dewy paddock,
the impenetrable spaces
above the sea.
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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lazy Perfectionist

I wouldn't reduce my personality to two adjectives, but this cap, among others, fits very well. My husband has cut back on coffee and I seem to be the one without any energy this week, out in sympathy.
So I've planted out the last two dozen leeks. Two months too late for this climate. The first batch of seedlings were wiped out twice; It seems to me that this soil does not drain well and short of bog plants, even moisture lovers need drainage. That was one problem.  A weeding 'incident' took care of the rest. Dibbled these leeks in to a better class of dirt and my secaturs weren't sharp enough so I gave up mauling the tops and in they went. Good enough gardening.

The broccolli has gone to flower and the bees are loving it so much I can't resist leaving it in a bit longer. There's kale and silverbeet and parsely in the background. The Kale will make it through the winter.

This year the garden has had shelter on two sides. I'm really enjoying the potatoes (on this side) which other hands planted, tilled, hoed up and weeded  (in the old strawberry patch). Sun-yet-to-be-flowers are a windbreak on the other side. We're digging the potatoes now, and with a record 53mm of rain on Sunday night the tops have freshened up no end.
This place is potato heaven and on the menu it is always Red King; We go from the new potatoes at Christmas (glasshouse) onto the first new potatoes  outdoors and then dig them through to the maincrop is lifted about May.
I remembered the other reason I like to grow a tiny tomato, beyond something to eat in the glasshouse, is for drying. I prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and have the oven low, about 120C or anything less and just leave them in until they have dried or the fire goes out.  Salt the halves first,

they sweeten as they reduce and of course the flavour intensifies. The boys who won't eat fresh tomatoes will eat these like candy.  This is blackjack and never goes very red. I store them in the freezer because they aren't normally dried to a crisp. In winter I put them into an olive oil
mixture in the fridge as we need them .

I pulled out the dwarf beans this week; runner beans still running. The roots were pretty poor and I've already loaded the soil with woodchips, sheep manure and sowed a cover of black oats. I'm beefing up the organic matter to improve drainage in the soil.
Bean fatigue starts to set in when you have them every night. What helps is  the magic tool, the Krisk bean slicer. Just think of them as vegetable linguine I cheerfully  advise
when the kids start complaining that the serving size is getting bigger and bigger. The Krisk even has a little blade to top and tail them (mine has broken off, this is an old one.) It also usefully rejects anything too big and tough, bean pile on the left, so that young palates can enjoy their beans in optimum condition and form good mealtime associations. Hear, hear.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Now I know...

Now I know why the replanted tubs aren't doing so well. Orange marigolds, lobelia and irresistable catmint under that naughty lump. She likes to lie down while she snacks on the catmint.

I also know why Jack took bean seeds and not celery. These wouldn't have got him far and slowly at that. The celery is called 'crunchy dwarf' from Otepoti seeds. Maybe this is as good as it gets. I planted the seed in the second week of September, about 18weeks ago and blamed the slow start on the bag of seed raising mix. Maybe it was old. The name caught my fancy after the dwarf incident in the U.K a few years ago. Apparently a hippo in a zoo swallowed a dwarf as he fed it a loaf of bread (the story comes from Uncle Doug of course).
In the background are my bean couple Freda and Bob. One of them has flowered and set beans and the other is barely flowering. In hindsight I planted them way too close together (45cm apart, needed 60cm at least). They all get equal shares of the light, water and food.  Some things remain a mystery.

The summer feels like it has turned before we really had it. Suddenly the glasshouses both need closing down at night and the real proof that it is cooling down, the lettuce are all the better for it, Canasta I think.  I've chanced a late crop of yellow zuchinni for a very special relish. There they are stretching into the distance. Last year they came to nothing here because of an insect infestation. This year I've awarded them my bokashi supply and so far so good. Here's hoping.
In the far distance corn is racing against time and unless we get some good temperatures it may be off the menu.


On the menu is all things NZ. I'm putting together a few recipes (with photos) for Louis to take to Argentina. This is Apricot Frangipane. I also make it with plums. For the record I use Pams sweet short pastry, the lump that is left over after making Chocolate Mud Pie is enough. Filling is 75g each of sugar and butter creamed. Add 1 egg, a few drops almond essence, 1/4c flour. Spread that over base, put on raw fruit and almonds and bake at about 170 for about 1/2hr. Serves 8.
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