Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
This is a wonderful time of year, the chickens are laying more eggs than we can eat and some of the veges are starting to be edible. These recipes are a great way to use the extra eggs and use new spring vegetables.
Individual Bread Puddings
in a bowl mix:
Bake at 180 for 20 mins or until they look puffy and delicious
It’s very rich - so eat with a teaspoon.
A 6 egg frittata will feed two hungry adults or four adults for a light lunch. Vegetarians can drop the pork and it still tastes excellent.
onion, potato, chorizo, onion, silverbeet, feta, paprika
(serve with gewurztraminer, sweet riesling or light red)
- Amazing chorizo sausage from the Common Sense Organics meat fridge is best
- Castlepoint Feta is our favourite
The same technique can also work for
spring onions or leeks, potato, bacon, caraway seeds, cream cheese, parsley, salt and pepper
- bacon from Stoneycreek Farm is best
potato, broadbeans, broad bean tops (if you grow/have them), feta, (allspice, nutmeg or mace)
You get the idea. You can do in many versions, the secret is matching cheese / spice / veg and always using potatoes. It naturally happens that we use seasonal vegetables from the garden, this means the tastes always seem to match.
When you grow your own garlic you have not only a much more flavourful crop, but you have access to the lovely summer garlic, where the outer layers have not yet turned to paper and are still moist and succulent. The flavour of summer garlic is really worth getting into before you harvest your main crop and also one of the best reasons to grow your own.
Garlic has been one of our most successful crops, last season we had some unused space next to the driveway, in a strip just 20cm wide but about 10m long we planted two rows of garlic. The soil along there was pretty compacted from people missing the driveway and running over it for who knows how many years, so we broke it up with a fork and put in some of our compost. This year we planted it in some really nice soil the chooks prepared for us behind the new garden beds.
I’ve read quite a lot about garlic in preparation for this year’s planting, and it seems the hardcore garlic growers get quite specific about soil, water, planting date and harvest. We’ve found that garlic has been very low fuss, the strip we planted in is not only some of the driest ground in the garden, but also the wettest, with one end turning to rock and the other to mush where we get standing water even in the lightest rains. I think, as with all vegetables, it’s about the soil fertility. Good compost seems to trump other factors.
Get seed garlic from the garden centre, the stuff we grow has a reddish skin around the cloves, and is called, unimaginatively, NZ garlic. Alternatively get a head or two from a gardening friend (like us) and grow the seed for next years crop. Ours is all gone this year, but we gave away garlic to a number of friends this year, so let me know if you want some next year and we’ll try to save you some. Some people claim that supermarket garlic will grow, but you risk introducing disease from the imported stuff and it’s often chemically treated to stop it sprouting on the shelf. I wonder what that does to humans?
When to plant, there’s still time!
The traditional date to plant garlic is on the shortest day, then harvest on the longest. Again, we’ve never been too exact, last year we planted some in May and some in July, harvesting both at roughly the same time in early January. The best time to plant and to harvest is when it suits you. The best garden is one you enjoy, that you don’t feel dictates your schedule. According to ‘Growing Great Garlic’ you can plant any time from May to August, so there is still time!
The best garlic comes from the cloves on the outside of the head, the big juicy ones from your previous crop are your best bet, helping you create your own local variety suited to your garden. We actually plant all the cloves, eating the smaller heads first and saving the monsters for next year’s seed. Gently pull the outside cloves off the head, try not to damage the moist insides of the clove, plant them with their skin on, pointy end up, and about 1 or 2 cm below the surface of the soil. Keep them about 10cm apart if you have good fertile soil.
I love pea straw. Pile on a thickish layer of pea straw, the garlic will push through with no worry at all. The pea straw protects the soil from drying out, keeps the weeds down and feeds the soil as it breaks down over the 6 months the garlic is growing.
Harvesting the garlic is done about 6 months later, when you see the top leaves wither and brown. The garlic head should be lumpy from the individual cloves, leave it a little longer if this is not the case and eat the one you pulled up. Stick a trowel under the head and gently pry up the garlic, yanking it up can bruise and damage it. If you see the curly pointed flower heads (scapes) appearing at the top of your garlic, snip them off and eat them in a salad, they’re quite mild to taste and will cause your garlic heads to split if you leave them.
Leave your garlic to dry out for about a week, we store ours up high on a piece of wire mesh under shelter but in the sunlight for however long it takes us to get around to dealing with it. This year we plaited the garlic by weaving the leaves together, Clare found it really easy and before long we had long strings of garlic hanging in the shed. The plaits should be stored in a cool, darkish, dry place, a shed is perfect. They should keep until roughly the time you start to eat next years.
Recipe - Simple Sweet Pasta Sauce from Your Garden
If you have your own:
If you don’t:
Put the oil, tomatoes and garlic in a heavy pot like a Le Creuset. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon and stir around. Cook uncovered for twenty to thirty minutes over a lowish heat. The tomatoes will separate from the oil and the moisture level will be quite low when it’s ready. Chuck in a handful of fresh basil and serve over any type of pasta.
Variation: instead of basil put in any combination of fresh or dried chillis, olives, capers and anchovies when you put in the garlic.
A Cold Start
This morning we had another -4 degree C frost. Under the light of the full moon it was a beautiful sight, reminding me that while it might stop me from growing year round tomatoes, bananas and other fruits which prefer a more tropical clime, that there is an advantage to a crisp sunny winter morning. Gardening has brought me closer to nature because of the sensation of creating a living thing, but the sight of crystalline patterns on vegetable leaves reminds me that nature displays beauty even in non-living things.
After the first frost we spend less time worrying about insect pests on our plants, especially the green caterpillar that is my enemy. Some fruits need a cold winter, like the apricot which needs a cold winter to fruit, and brussel sprouts which love the frost. I’ve also read that frost can help to break up soil through the action of the expanding water as it freezes.
Avoiding the Frost
The best way to protect against frost is to plant in frost free areas, all gardens have microclimates, areas which stay slightly warmer and stay frost free, often these are next to the house, under a tree or a wall that stores heat. Sometimes you might be lucky and a complex set of factors give you an area that gets full winter sun and is less prone to frost. That’s where you plant your vegetables! If you can’t avoid the frost, use a cloche or a bit of frost cloth. Last year we protected some plants using some discarded bubble wrap, draped over some stakes which seemed very effective. Eventually we plan to build a greenhouse, heated in part by the chickens.
Frost Hardy Vegetables
|Plants who survive:||Plants who suffer:|
For me, the simple beauty in a tiny brassica or lettuce seed is that they have wonderful complexity sleeping away in a tight little package. They lie in wait for the right conditions of soil moisture and warmth to unfold themselves into a simple pair of leaves in a few days. Each time I water them, they release a little detail of their full potential, remembered from their parent plant with all the good and bad characteristics that go with it.
We recently received two Chokos (Chayote) from a colleague, one of them has already sprouted inside the fruit, apparently the seed needs the fruit to establish its own ideal conditions. These amazing creatures seem like landing craft for introducing their sprawling vegetation from another planet. Their fertile form screams to me their nature of speedy growth and huge harvest. In return for these wonderful creatures I gave my colleague two of our best heads of garlic from last season, ready to be planted on the solstice so they can spread their successful genes across the country.
Symbiosis Between You and Your Garden
Saving, sharing and growing from seed is a great way to express your humanity as a part of your ecosystem as well as redevelop a connection to nature. Saving seed from your garden is becoming increasingly important, Agribusiness control seed through aggressive purchasing and genetic modification, killing biodiversity to protect their profits. In the US, Burpees, a large seed company, reports that they have doubled their sales in the past year and are out of stock of some species. We are saving seed from a few of our plants this year, the chioggia beetroot, buttercrunch lettuce, silver beet, and our favourite tomatoes. This will ensure we still have access to our favourites as well as improving on the previous generation to create a local heirloom we can pass on to other Wairarapa gardeners.
When to Start
Winter is such a slow time in the garden in Carterton, we have regular frosts which slow the growth down in all but the most stalwart vegetables. The leaves have fallen from all the trees that lose them, and the chickens look annoyed at the weather (although Sausage and Pearl still give us two eggs a day). But looking through our seed packets, the online catalogues and picking the best plants from which to save seed is a form of gardening that can be done inside or through a window, with a warm fire, a pot of tea and a block of chocolate. Imagining and planning the garden and the flavours we’ll taste later in the year, knowing that this year we’ll be planting from our own seed collections.
Contact us if you want to share in our seeds.