Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

28 Mar 2017

A bit of this and a bit of that....

MrHM made a request to know what's happening on the 'farm'. To this end I'll be doing a daily update for the last few days of March. It also gives me an excuse to play with the photo arranging :).

After the rain last week these began popping up. The huge ones on the left are some kind of toadstool I think as they are completely enclosed. The centre is a regular mushroom and on right is the underside. Shame the rain was so heavy it impregnated them with sandy/clayey dirt as there were enough to fill a 2 litre ice cream tub.

The dwarf beans also benefitted from the rain by shooting up about 15cm and flowering. The difference in sizes is due to staggered planting times....and an ant bean seed eating invasion...grrrr.

My worms are breeding up nicely and making lots of fertiliser. The bottom tray (left) is worm cast and some adventurous worms, Middle tray (centre) is filled with shredded paper to 'catch' those who venture down from the top tray. The shreddings are also damp from worm wee so they can be used as compost for the garden. Right picture is some bedding from the top tray and the, hopefully, worm free bedding/cast from the top feeding tray separated into the box to be used to either make worm tea or as compost or a potting mix addition.

I had begun to remove these  a few weeks ago as we had no idea what bulbs they were. Now that they have flowered I think I'll keep some and plant clumps of them in various places as they are so cheering to look at. I will research what they are as well. Anyone care to help by naming them for me?

The end of the day today and my two "assistants" are having a rest. They are good mates to each other as well as to us.

RobynLouise XO

29 Apr 2013

More on pumpkins...

I had a comment from Wayne on my Pumpkin Pickin' Paradise post and I thought it would be easier to answer it here than in the comments section.

"Hello Robyn - Great article and pics. Very helpful. My "unplanned" vine started in a worm tower in December. Now, end of April, it has pumpkins of various sizes and still getting flowers and young fruit. Have not harvested any yet. How long should the vine keep producing pumpkins before it dies off? Regards Wayne"

As Wayne is a no reply blogger and I don't know his location I can only say that what happens here is that some pumpkins will be on the vine until the first frost, about May/June, when the vine dies off naturally. Some say it is best to leave them on the vine until then but we can have rodent problems so I prefer to harvest mine when I can. Also the hard skin pumpkins like Queensland Blue or Jarrahdale are better left until the vine dies down, so I've heard (keeping qualities/flavour apparently), but the soft skin varieties like JAP/Kent it doesn't seem to matter.

Wayne, experiment with yours - harvest one that has a dried pinched stem, put it in a dry semi sunny spot and watch for the stem rosette to wither and flatten, about 4 weeks or so, then cut it. As you cut it there should be a crisp cracking noise which also indicates that it's ripe. Some people tap the pumpkin on the bottom, like you do fresh cooked bread, to see if it's "done" before cutting, but I'm not good at predicting ripeness like this. Another way to check ripeness is to scratch a tiny spot of skin off the pumpkin and see it it "bleeds"or "oozes" and/or if it smells "green". If it does it's not ripe. If it just looks a bit wet in the scratched spot but doesn't ooze or if it stays dry it's ok to use. Document the results for future reference. Take photos if it helps.  Remember I'm only referring to JAP/Kent pumpkins and I'm not sure if this method works with other varieties of pumpkins.

A ripe JAP/Kent will keep for about 3 months in cool conditions then they begin to decompose inside. Not the type of pumpkin soup you want! Hard skin pumpkins left to dry on the vine will keep for 8-12 months without any effects so it's always good to be sure of which type you've unwittingly been gifted with by Mother Nature.

I neglected to put my pumpkin soup recipe on the recipes page when I made it, so that's done now, and I've just discovered I don't have any photos of my pumpkin soup. As you know I can't see the point of blogging if there's no pics to look at so I found a relevant photo in my photofile of a potholder I made for a swap a few years ago. I'm sure there's some of this fabric left too so there could be another potholder or so on the list.

Robyn xo

12 Apr 2013

Pumpkin Pickin' Paradise!

As the rain is threatening again I decided, during a dry spell today, to have another poke around the grass/weed infested pumpkin patch.
 I think I'm going to have a stall at the local markets on the 20th of April as I discovered another 31 that needed harvesting and there's at least another 30 remaining that could do with a fortnight or so longer on the vines. Pumpkin profits will go towards the new set of reading spectacles I'm currently paying off :).

That's the only problem with JAP's, as they are more of a squash, their keeping properties aren't as long as the hard skinned pumpkins like the Queensland blue or Jarrahdale. There will be lots of freezer cooking happening in the future and I'm definitely going to try the pumpkin soup cooked in it's own shell this time. Wondering if I should serve it with pumpkin scones, pumpkin damper or pumpkin bread?

While I was picking I thought it would be handy to post pics of when to harvest JAP pumpkins, which you can tell from the condition of the stalk.

So from the top down:
Thick, plump stalk all the way down to the pumpkin means it's not remotely mature yet.

Narrowing at the main stem end means it's beginning to dry off but will still be very juicy and will leak this juice from the stem if you break it off, accidently or otherwise. It also means a cut or broken stem can begin to rot so you need to put these upside down to dry off and ripen so any juice that leaks out doesn't just lay on the top of the pumpkin and begin rotting it.

This is a good one to harvest as not only is the stem pinched, dried up and dark looking all along it's length but the spots on the pumpkin are a nice orange colour indicating maturity. Compare this to the two above and see how the spots on those are much greener or paler.

The reason why I decided to see if further harvesting was needed. The stalk on this little pumpkin rotted off at the main branch stem and it shrivelled up by itself. Too much rain can do this. Notice how the spots are still light green and the base of the stalk is green. It will ripen slower than the mature one above and the flavour may not be as good, as it was parted from it's parent plant early, but it's quite edible.

Pumpkin Hunt :).
Search and you will find!

These 3 were in a shady spot under a pile of farmer's friends, stinging nettles, some other prickly obnoxious weed, bracken and the ever present kikuyu. As they were shadowed, and the maturing rate wasn't rushed along by the hot sunny days we've had here of late, they grew to quite a large size. I'll have to weigh them but from carrying them around I'd say they were about 3kg each.
I've been harvesting dressed in  either tracky pants or jeans, long sleeved shirt and my knee high rubber boots and often a hat to keep my head shaded and give something else for any spiders in the long grass to alight on as I bend over to collect pumpkins.
As I've had a request for the pumpkin scone recipe I thought I'd post it, and any other pumpkin recipes I use to diminish some of
this harvest, in the recipes pages as I make them. Link in the sidebar.

Robyn xo

An Upside of Autumn

I've always loved Autumn, nearly as much as I love Spring. Both seasons are full of bright colours, but for different reasons. One of Autumn's bright colours is the yummy orange of home grown pumpkin. I had some JAP, also known as Kent, pumpkins germinate in my compost pile so I transplanted them to the paddock and they thrived. Technically JAP's are squash and are supposedly evolved from the Japanese squash  cucurbita moschata but there's also a story of them originally sprouting on a USA farmer's property and when he was asked what they were he replied "Just Another Pumpkin" and they've been known by the acronym ever since. Nice little story. However, I'm not politically correct and if we do have the Japanese to thank for this versatile vegetable I have no problem with honouring them for it's origin by call it a JAP or Japanese pumpkin as it's my favourite :D.

Whatever the origins they are very popular in Australia and are used for everything from soups to pies, as a roast vegetable and in various types of bread.  I've harvested 10 but I gave the two smallest ones to my parents and there's at least another dozen maturing on the vines. There's a 20c piece on one of the pumpkins at the back to give an idea of size. The cut one is the first of the harvest after a few weeks of drying off. I've already made a big pot of pumpkin soup and there's a roasted pumpkin and lentil salad I want to try as well as 2 different types of pie and of course some pumpkin scones. It wouldn't be Australia without pumpkin scones!

I always save the seeds as what better way to keep producing them than to save seeds acclimatised to the growing conditions here.

Hoping that southern hemisphere people are looking forward to lots of warm tasty pumpkin treats as the weather becomes colder.

Robyn xo

23 Mar 2013

Autumn gardening and a gorgeous girl

The equinox was yesterday and I may have left it too late to do much in the garden except tidy up and tend what I have. 
I didn't realise asparagus had fruit until I saw these on the plants. Another thing to see if I can grow from seed and research the pros/cons of it. 

Today I finished removing the old bean vines and twined the seed grown cucumber plants that I started under them up the old gate. The furthest and nearest plants have begun flowering. I'll have to remember to buy more cane mulch.

Turned that compost pile at the top right of the cucumber photo and discovered my timing was correct as I found an "employee" under it. That means it was becoming too cool to compost effectively.

If you look closely at the left end of the worm you will notice a lighter coloured band near it's end. This is my future crop of free workers as this is the egg sac. 

I still haven't figured out which end is which with worms yet so I'm not sure how "ripe" this egg is or which end it is supposed to slip off.

Discovered some beans on my vine today that weren't there last time! 

Purple climbers are sneaky as they start maturing their produce half way down the plant or at the bottom so if you don't keep checking there are  beans there before you know it.

I was giving my asparagus a quick search for any last minute spears before I leave them over winter when I found this cheeky little bugger - "Here chookies". 

I'll be able to have one more feed of spears before winter I think. Then it will be time to add some mulch and let the asparagus die back before trimming them up for next season.  It's about time I checked the pH levels again too so I can add whatever is necessary to keep future vegetables happy :).

I'd just like to finish this post with a photo of my youngest daughter who is entered in the Teen Showgirl quest at the local Agricultural Show tonight. Her Dad has to take her as she says I make her too nervous. They'll be home in a couple of hours and I'll find out the results. 
*Fingers crossed*

Robyn xo

20 Mar 2013

Now that it's a bit drier.....

...I can manage the vegetable garden again. When I can find it! The pile of future compost next to the upturned crate is mostly from the entranceway. 

This bucket contains those weeds that tend to be impossible to destroy unless you drown them first. The noxious climbers, onion grass and other types that can be difficult to kill even if you compost them.

My free labour hasn't been affected too much by the wet, thankfully. There were lots of little worm tunnels in the soil :). That's not a stick next to the tree label it's one of my workers!

The next crop of purple king climbing beans is coming along nicely. 

I did some minor vege bed alterations after I removed old tomato and lettuce plants and waterlogged spring onions.

A little more work and hopefully I can start some crops before the crisp nights begin. The pumpkin vines will begin to die off then and I'll feed them to the cattle, along with any failed pumpkins I've missed. If I hadn't let the pumpkins go feral I would have hardly any crops at all now!

Robyn xo

15 Sep 2012

More harvesting and the mad cat

I collected these from the garden this morning and realised that I haven't posted any photos of the peas I've been picking as Miss13 and I have been eating them raw almost as soon as they are harvested!

It looks like a lot but by the time they are shelled there's about 3/4 of a cup. Another lesson learned -  3 metres of pea bushes is not enough for 3 people so if I double the rows it should be fine.

Absolutely nothing like the crisp sweetness of freshly picked!

It was chilly yesterday afternoon because of the wind and I think sitting in the kindling bucket  may have been Maddy's attempt to remind us we needed to bring in wood and light the fire in the combustion heater!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend :).


20 Aug 2012

Harvests and Homemade

Yesterday became a gardening day instead of a sewing day as DH finally decided to shift the dead peach tree out of the vegetable garden area. Sorry, no pics of that as I was navigating and guiding branches over fences. He also removed the lawyer thorn (local terminology here but we all know how prickly some lawyers can be - hence the name!) in the corner so I now have an area of about 4m x 5m  available for planting with vegetables or fruit vines *great big smile*.

I harvested some edibles too:

Globe radishes: Cherry Belle - top, Sparkler - bottom

Common Oranges - the trees with the thorny branches that are tough but yield big sweet juicy fruit!

and I'm waiting in anticipation for these to ripen...Mmmmmmm......

They are usually covered by wire mesh so the possum and the birds don't pre taste test them!

I've been promising Miss13 pizza for tea for ages and this time I remembered how long the dough takes to rise and had it ready so we had thick crust homemade ham and pineapple pizza for tea. It does look better than this but night time indoor photography isn't my forte, lol.

I also had some apples that were looking a bit tired so I made a German apple cake which turns out sort of like an apple slice. I misread the directions and sliced the apple quarters, instead of leaving them whole, but it looked quite pretty and made the texture different so I'll be assembling it the wrong way in the future too :).

Crosscut showing the layering.

It's nice like this but we ate it still warm with a lavish coating of hot custard! 
A nice finish to a busy day.

Robyn xo

13 Jul 2012

Growing my Own....part two

Six weeks after the start of the cleanup began:

Top left : Bed 1 – peas and radishes growing strongly
Bottom left : Bed 1 – other end! I’m delighted with how the asparagus is multiplying. Another replant for them in a couple of months into another bed until they become 2 yr old crowns, by which time I hope to have a 3m x 3m permanent bed ready. Lol, I’ll have more  than enough of these when they are in full production. I think a bit more research before acquiring them would have been helpful but they’re here to stay now J.
Top right : Bed 2 root veges are sprouting nicely and a row of 2 leaf pak choi seedlings on the left of photo are enjoying having more space.
Bottom right : The microclimate and the fact they are planted in old compost has confused my strawberry plants as mid-winter is not when they are supposed to flower and fruit!

Top left : Soil testing throughout the bed making process showed a consistent level of 6.0-6.5 pH. Perfect for healthy veges J!
Middle left : A mass of worms with every forkful of soil turned was another common finding. I’m soooo pleased I don’t have to build up the fertility of the soil. 
Top right : Pak choi seedlings on the left of the climbing vines frame and snow pea seeds sown on the right. Pak choi will be mature about a third of the way into the snow pea’s growth cycle.
Middle right : Bed 3 with the first row of mixed loose leaf lettuce seedlings planted. Climbing vine frame in background.
Bottom : A mystery seedling amongst the kohl rabi! My guess is a melon of some description but it may be a jap pumpkin. It is now transplanted to its own pot to await developments.

Of course being an insignificant human I did require supervision during the later days of gardening to ensure I was doing things correctly....

Top left : Rascal - Lord of the farm cats – perched in the Mulberry tree
Bottom left : Ginger on the roof of the old duck enclosure
Top right : Maddy behaving
Bottom right : Maddy misbehaving

Hope you've enjoyed gardening with me!


8 Jul 2012

Growing my Own....part one

ROFLOL, bet that title grabbed your attention!

It's all legal and above board though as I'm growing my own vegetables again not anything else J.  

Top left : Southern side of the garden after trimming the River Oak and the old Mulberry tree.
Top right : Northern side before the weed clearing.
Bottom left : Southern side after cleanup - levelling the first bed
Bottom right : Northern side after preliminary cleanup - digging out bed 2 pre filling and levelling.

Top left : First two beds completed and all the trimmings from trees burnt. Bed 1 with asparagus crowns, fortnight old bush peas and globe radish seeds planted. Bed 2 seeded with chatenay carrot, kohl rabi, globe radish and some spring onion seedlings. Cardboard covers are over bed as a big storm was in sight and I didn't want the freshly planted seeds disturbed from a downpour. The 'box' at left is my seedling tent.
Top right : The strawberry box at rear. Chive seedlings, at front, from the seeds I'd planted at the same time as I began clearing.
Bottom left : Inside my seedling tent - pak choi and lettuce seedlings - with broccoli and spinach seeds in the punnets at rear.
Bottom right : The skins the possum leaves after helping itself to an orange (or a few) nearly every night. You can't see it properly but there's a little possum "message" at the corner of the bricks - yuk!

Now something for the possum lovers. My orange thief!