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Late at posting, late at planting.. This summer has really taken it out of me (& the garden). Haven't started by autumn sowings yet so am wondering whether would be better off postponing the GV a month or two til I have a bit more to show for it... hmm?

Feb 2017 harvest:

- Eggplant, Black Market 1kg

- Pumpkin, Jap 14.7kg (4)

- Spring Onions 4 

- Zucchini, Black Jack 50g (1)

- Baby Carrots 185g

- Sweet Potato 4.3kg

- Herbs: Parsley, oregano, chives

Thank goodness for the volunteer pumpkins, is all I can say! Some got cracked open a bit (is this from water like tomatoes?). This one above was 4kg :)

I left some of the eggplants a little too long - so have made a point of picking early!

Been making a lovely soup with them roasted in the oven in olive oil, then with some ground ginger, ground allspice and milk and/or sour cream, blended. then with dollop of s/cream or yoghurt on top with lots of cracked pepper and fresh chopped spring onions :)

More pumpkins and eggplants! This:

Became this:

More lovely baby carrots, must sow more!

I think my trouper zukes have finally given up for the summer. One of the plants has heroically retired/collapsed.

Starting to notice the different bugs and weeds coming and going with the seasons. At the moment there are lots of crickets and grasshoppers. The Cobbler’s Pegs that were finding there way into my socks (even after washing) have started to die down. Still trying to tackle the long grass from xmas break.

Sowed some rocket seeds that sprouted and dried out in the same day; waiting for milder weather. Rockmelon and cucumber seedlings are doing ok though. Planted a beauregard SP to add to the mix.

Had some casualties this summer: the bush lemon gave up as did the new pepino L Even my SP got attacked all over by some bugs – little holes everywhere.

Very little work on the garden all summer, had withdrawal symptoms. Even from Gardening Australia not being on air (I think they start again this weekend). Dream Gardens has been intereresting but a bit too $$ to be accessible and not enough edible gardening.

Need more work conditioning the soil for the year. Got some horse manure and built a big pile layered with grass clippings. Hopefully will stay moist enough to turn into compost. 

Was lucky enough to get a massive 200kg sugar cane mulch bale for $65 from Capalaba Produce. Was fun getting it in/out/to stay in the ute, I can tell you ahhaha. I have mulched a few garden beds and have barely put a dent in it!

Found this Pineapple at the market - couldn't not! I've been able to get a dozen pups out of it!! Wouldn't that be the best $2 investment ever if they were all to fruit :)

Check out this flowering Native Thyme - so pretty!

First New Guinea Bean (aka the faux tromb)

My beautiful corn salad flowers that give me so much joy around the garden:

I must be spending more time in kitchen to avoid the heat outside. Lemon & ginger kombucha:

Been trying different sourdough recipes – still not quite happy with the bestest one. I did like the crust on this one - used a lot more flour than I was used to during the kneading process. 

Still not too satisfied I decided to run some experiments to see what's happening with the feeding of the sourdough starter. There are so many variables involved: what and when to feed, how long to ferment dough, let alone cooking temp and times! 


Experiment 1 - Feeding sourdough starter


All have total weight of 100g (S:F:W) and are at room temp

  1. 1:0:0      Starter only
  2. 1:1:1      33g starter; 33g flour; 33g water
  3. 1:2:2      20g starter; 40g flour; 40g water
  4. 1:2:1      25g starter; 50g flour; 25g water
  5. 2:1:1      50g starter; 25g flour; 25g water
  6. 2:2:1      40g starter; 40g flour; 20g water

Old school line graph :) :

Summary of findings: 

- more starter means quickest to peak

- more flour, more sustained peak (i.e. peaks for longer, even if later starting)

- more water, slower peak, lower final mark

- peak point: between 3-7 hours


- To fully "activate" starter (roughly double in size and nice and bubbly), you need about 3+ hours but 12 hours (i.e. morning for evening) is too late - the bubbles will burst and start caving in!This must be why recipes call for 2nd feed soon after 1st feed.

Stay tuned next month for Experiments with dough :)

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Comment by Cathie MacLean on March 16, 2017 at 8:38
just read through my comment - sourdough ratio should say:- 1x weight of starter: 2 x weight of water: 3 x weight of flours etc.
Comment by Cathie MacLean on March 16, 2017 at 8:35
Hey Sophie.... It's been a tough season but you are still holding the faith! Eggplant soup looks divine - I've never cooked eggplant that way so I'll have to give it a try when I produce some decent eggplant. I've got two white ones that are suddenly taking off and three little cuttings taken from the base of an enormously productive one at my work community garden so got everything crossed that they will be successful. The faux tromby was a fizzer for me - so sorry that I bum steered us both but next time I'll be sure to plant the real thing. The night pollinators must be too few and far between at my place - got lots of lovely flowers every evening but they shut up shop in the morning! You seriously lucked out with the sugar cane mulch!!!! And the gorgeous pineapple with umpteen heads!
Love the sourdough experiments - I feel like Lab girl sometimes too with a counter covered in ferments of one kind and another. I have to say my sourdough baking is better than ever these days. My husband won't let me buy bread from the store so I bake twice a week. I probably keep it simpler than you. I literally slop half my starter from the fridge into a container (about 50g) and feed it a 1/4 cup bread flour and 1/4 cup cooled boiled water. Once it's frothy, in a couple of hours I feed it the same (or double if it is very energetic or I'm going to be away from the kitchen for more than a few hours). When I'm ready to mix I just use the basic ratio of 1x weight of starter : 2 x weight of water (sometimes adding a bit of lacto/whey if I have it handy) : 3x flours. For the flours, the bulk of it is always bread flour (say 450 of total 600g) but I have recently been throwing in some chia and sunflower seeds and/or LSA mix, pumpkin seeds, a bit of rye flour or wholewheat, rolled oats etc. I also often add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of honey which I did not used to do when I started with sourdough. This miscellaneous mix makes fantastic sandwiches and great toast and seems to be more tender than the basic sourdough I started with. I was getting bored! I let it rise on the counter for 5-8 hours or in the fridge for 12-18 hours, entirely depending on my schedule. I re-form the dough very gently and bake after it has puffed up a bit - usually only 30-45 mins if it was on the counter and about an hour - 1 1/2 if in the fridge. I get very good oven spring. I am thankful every time I bake that this starter came into my life!
Well, better get to my chores. You've inspired me to plant carrots today!
Comment by Rob Collings on March 3, 2017 at 15:52

Nice hot weather gardening and activities Sophie. Great going with the purchase of 12 pineapple plants.

Comment by Sophie on March 3, 2017 at 9:24

Thanks everyone! Great comments :) 
Susan - I think the carrots germinated before christmas? Yes about Dream Garden - that ep put me off too! Not a garden!! A concrete money pit!! The next one was ok but I kinda liked the cottage garden they destroyed... We need a good proper vege growing show on ABC - even GA is sometimes too "ornamental" :) I did put the data into excel but I was doing my handmade one as it was rising and it looks way cuter ;) haha

Re the pumpkins - they were not out too long in the sense the vine attached was still a bit green. I think Elaine is probably right, with the heat. The Eggplants got a bit roasted in the sun too aha should have just covered them in Olive oil on the plant.... hahaha

Dave - thanks for your sourdough tips; I will look into for March's experiment :) I think that's what was getting hectic was that every time I was trying new flours and new times and new cooking methods meaning everything was always a bit too variable. You are right thought - the sour taste with a bit of salt is delish!! Re leaving the dough to rise - this is where I need to test becuase I suspect I was leaving too long and the dough itself was peaking before I got to it. And the importance of the second rise in the baking tin! Otherwise I would accidentally push out all the lovely bubbles before it went in the oven!

Lissa - Kombucha. haha yes. Guests are freaked out. I was making a bearnaise sauce and ran out of vinegar so used some pure kombucha and turned out great. my mum was eating and loving it but when I told her she was like PHEWWWFFFT. People are funny

Dianne, yes! I have some endives I must sow but waiting a little :) 

Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 3, 2017 at 6:57

Great Report Sophie, you have been very busy despite this horrible weather we have been having. Your Sour Dough looks Yummy. Love the Carrots and a truly great buy with that Pineapple. Don't those Corn Salad flowers look so pretty, I have had Endive flowers flowing and the bees have been loving them. Sorry to hear about the Lemon Bush going to Citrus Heaven but they say if only 10% of your garden is lost in a year you are very lucky (not sure what THEY thought that up). Happy Gardening, See you Sunday...

Comment by Lissa on March 3, 2017 at 5:53

You've been very busy despite the heat Sophie. Very scientific with your sour dough experiment. I like your little capped bottles of flavoured Kombucha. I really must "venture out" with flavouring my K one day. I tend to just drink it diluted in carbonated water (I find it delicious and refreshing but others want to know where it comes from and then I show them the Mother and they decline). A big bottle lasts me one or two weeks.

The SP problem is most likely weevils. I occasionally had whole crops ruined by these little monsters despite growing my SP in grow bags, not the ground. My remedy was to make sure I moved the bags around  - avoiding growing them in the same area as previously.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 2, 2017 at 21:41

Great report Sophie! My, those Pumpkins are the worst for wear - no idea what has caused that splitting. I have never seen it before. The hot days and nights for so long may have something to do with it.

The 'Native Thyme' is likely a Callistemon relative e.g. Kunzea. They are in the Myrtle family where Thyme is a Mint.

Comment by Dave Riley on March 2, 2017 at 21:38

I'm a lackadaisical baker of sourdough but I now get consistent loaves.

I usually wait until the starter/sourdough batter takes off, then mix it in with the bulk of the flour and water. But I rise the loaves for as long as I can muster. This weather, that's about 13 hours on the kitchen bench. I once got to 17 hours which is where I prefer to reach.

The last few hours are in the bread tins after kneading (by folding) for the first 2 hours or so then a longer period of rising before I tin up.

I suspect that, for me, what rules activity is the flour (brand) I use and the blend (eg: white, wholemeal, rye, etc) I concoct .

But I tell you, the other day I had a rustic bun in a shop that looked delish -- what with its flour mix and colour -- but it was absolutely tasteless. At 13 hours plus you do get soured up bread and since I use extra version olive oil as well there's a chewy density.

Reminds me of the great breads I ate in Sweden. Currently I'm baking 1:1 --wholemeal/plain -- flour ... but I'm  hoping to track down some barley flour and add a percentage of that.

I use roughly just over 1 litre of water to 2 kgm of flour to bake three loaves at once.

My daughter supposedly is gluten intolerant but she gormandizes my bread.

On that, here's a good summary of the nutritional benefits of sourdough: LINK.

Comment by Susan on March 2, 2017 at 19:43

WOW Sophie - lots to take in and I LOVE your graph :)  Reading your blog, I'm just thinking how much you and I are alike.  I have been hanging out for gardening australia to start again too and then started watching dream gardens.  I was okay with the big $$ until I watched the episode with the $200 000 disaster pool that turned into a $450 000  backyard in Sydney.  My god, some people have way more money than sense.  That just put me off completely.  

I can't believe you've had success with carrots over summer.  I gave up trying to germinate after my last lot in spring and was just thinking about putting my next set in this weekend.  They cleaned up real good.  

Could your Pumpkins have cracked because you left them on too long?? I don't know if that is a possibility but I have had rockmelons crack when they've been on the vine to long and might be similar. 

Thanks for blogging about your sourdoughs.  I still haven't had a chance to bake one yet so at least I can get the gist of what I'm in for when I finally do get time.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 2, 2017 at 19:41

Great job Soph.  Interesting results with the starter.  

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