Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

It's nearing the end of spring but with temperatures rising and no rain, I'm organising the shade structures for the garden to give my plants some relief in the hot dry weeks and months ahead.  The investment in time and mulch for the gardens is paying off with the soil retaining moisture and plants still pretty happy.

My nasturtiums are doing well all over the garden and have self seeded profusely.  So many uses for these amazing plants - I just can't get enough of them.

 

My To Do List is ever growing and I never seem to have enough time to get through it so I'm going to have to resort to some serious 'food bribery' to encourage my husband to drop some of his outdoor projects in favour of mine in the kitchen garden! Only way to move them up the priority list I'm afraid. Unabashed bribery.  Banana cake ... in fact any kind of homemade cake seems to work and several days in a row usually gets me just where I need to be in terms of my project completion. Whatever works!

With the warmth though has come the rampant growth … from grass to weeds and pumpkins.  Passionfruit vines are throwing their arms around like drunken octopuses!  They’re climbing up into the nearby mango and sprawling in an untidy habit ... they really need an arbor but no time for that at present so will have to be content with their messiness. 

 

I shouldn't complain too much as they have been flowering well with lots of bees helping them set fruit so I'm hoping for a bumper harvest.  Keeping the food and water up to them is a regular task at this time of year!  Watering system is definitely on the To Do List.  I'm done hand watering. 

In the vegie patch, there are new bean seedlings that have gone in and zucchinis are producing some yummy crops popping out new zukes almost nightly with beautiful edible flowers too. 

 

I've put in 16 lebanese cucumber plants (yes we eat a lot!) succession planted for continuous harvests and been adding twine zigzagged between their 4 tepees with additional horizontal bamboo stakes to give them every opportunity to climb and maximise vertical space. It's amazing how fast they grow at this time of year.

 

We are enjoying plenty of salads with lettuces, celery, onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, nasturtiums, herbs, sorrel and edible flowers. It's time to swap lettuce for some of the more resilient greens for our climate now so those seedlings will go in next. Some of the crops currently planted are capsicums, cucumbers, lettuces, shallots, spring and bulb onions, herbs of all kinds, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, leeks, beetroot, rainbow chard, beans, mustard greens, ceylon spinach, pumpkins, chillis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, a variety of onions and garlic, celery and rhubarb. 

 

First year I've grown rhubarb and had no idea the leaves could get this big!  I planted them quite close - maybe too close but they seem to be building up healthy crowns so only going to harvest a few stems and be disciplined so next year I have a good crop and can divide them up.

 

I’m keen to see what fruit appears on our ‘AC/DC’ citrus tree. The graft has split and two kinds of fruit are growing – one on the original root stock and another on the grafted stock.  I think we may end up with half lemon and half mandarin but I’m keening waiting for our 'citrus surprise'!

 

 

On the maintenance side of things, I’ve been adding twine and additional horizontal bamboo stakes to the 4 tepees for the cucumbers that have been succession planted for continual harvest to maximise vertical space in the tank garden. 

 

I’m only venturing out into the gardens in the cool of the day – early morning and evening to check on the overnight miracles like cute baby cucumbers that have been born; their tendrils curling around the twine and happy bees buzzing in for breakfast. 

 

I’m making the most of the increase in nitrogen rich green waste available in the garden at this time of year to turn it all into compost and recycle the nutrients back where I want them … but that means building more compost bays!  Not a project for hot days … Currently my dad's here from Sydney helping me repurpose some hardwood timber crates and lining them with weed mat to make solid bays with lids.  

Still on the ‘To Do’ List are more micro gardens in containers with potting mix to replenish and I’m looking up recipes for 1001 ways with cherry tomatoes.

 

After a bumper crop I’m making salads, sandwiches, sauces, pastas and anything I can think of to use them up. Both a blessing and a curse to have an over-abundant garden!  Balance is certainly a key!

What challenges are you having in your patch?

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Comment by Lissa on November 28, 2011 at 12:08

I have sage out there at the moment too, one of my favourite herbs when I can keep it alive - I have a white sage which has grown quite tall as well.

I must give that a go in the dish next time.

Comment by Anne Gibson on November 28, 2011 at 6:41

Good to hear Lissa!  You can adjust the flavourings to suit your personal taste. If you have capsicums coming on in your garden, I've found they add a lovely sweetness to this dish and when you add zucchini, it has a milder creamier texture so they all go well together.

Comment by Lissa on November 28, 2011 at 6:08

Hmm. I ate the lot lol.

It was all cooked before my meat so I ate it with my fingers as an entree. I overcooked it a bit - but this makes the vinegar caramelise and it was all very tasty, if a little crunchy in parts.

Comment by Anne Gibson on November 27, 2011 at 18:31

Excess? I've only ever had some left over once and I froze it.

Otherwise I just use it up over a few days in different dishes. It tastes good served up in a variety of ways so we don't get sick of it.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on November 27, 2011 at 18:26

How do you store the excess Anne? Or is there no excess ;-)?

Comment by Lissa on November 27, 2011 at 16:37

I've added some choko - perhaps a little too much in the baking tray, but I'll move them around a bit during cooking.

You have me motivated now. I cook so simply for myself these days ;)

Comment by Anne Gibson on November 27, 2011 at 16:13

Let me know how they go. Meant to say you can also cook them on the BBQ with this marinade. Just brush regularly with the marinade during cooking. I turn them once if baking in the oven. Good luck!

We might both be eating the same dinner tonight! :)

Comment by Lissa on November 27, 2011 at 15:59

Done! They are marinating.

At least I hope it's similar to what you describe. I have lots of lovely little eggplants at the moment so hope this turns out to be another way to use them that I love.

Comment by Anne Gibson on November 27, 2011 at 15:13

This recipe is very versatile so when you've marinated and cooked the eggplant you can use hot or cold.

The quantities of marinade ingredients depend on how much eggplant I have (I also add zucchini, mushrooms and capsicum if they are in season).

I marinate in 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1/3 quantity of extra virgin olive oil: 2/3 quantity of either red wine vinegar or white vinegar (not balsamic); freshly ground pepper; pinch salt and 1/2-1 tspn of dried mixed herbs (or 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped - basil and rosemary work well but you can use whatever flavours you prefer).

Mix marinade together well in a bowl and toss in the thin sliced (on long edge) eggplants, (and zucchini, capsicum or mushrooms if using).  Heat an ovenproof pan with a little oil, add the veggies in one layer then brush them with a little extra marinade and spray with oil. Then grill or bake until soft and golden.

Reserve the extra marinade in the bowl as a dressing when adding to salad. I also use the marinated veggies tossed through pasta (mouthwateringly good with toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, torn fresh basil and feta). The dressing is the pasta 'sauce.' It's delicious hot or cold.

We also add the marinated veggies to home made pizzas with feta, tomato sauce base and fresh herbs.

Enjoy! It's yum.

Comment by Lissa on November 27, 2011 at 14:59

Gorgeous!

What do you marinate the eggplant in before cooking Anne? You serve them with your salad then? - so you eat them cold?

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