Thanks Tatiana

I am the lucky owner of an interesting cachet of seeds given to me by good friend Tatiana who is not only Team Leader at my local library in New Farm, but she is also the driving force behind our newly formed Gardening Group which is held at the library every second Friday of each month.

Tatiana is an avid gardener herself, producing an amazing variety of vegetables and herbs in her own garden, to the benefit of her friends and neighbours as well!

I was pondering how to photograph these seeds etc in an interesting way and decided that even with my photographic talents (?) it was a big ask. But anyway, here is the photo, and a list of the goodies.

Carrot colour mix seeds

Giant leek seeds

Fennel seeds

Broccoli Raab seeds

Potato Dutch Cream, Red and Golden shallots

Elephant garlic

Garlic Italian White

Garlic Glen Large

Garlic Monaro Purple

So I’ll be off to the allotment this weekend and get planting.

Poor Man’s Bean

When I arrived at the allotment this morning I was given a couple of the most enormous beans I have ever seen. Check out the photo below.

My friend Di who passed these beans on to me says that they are called Poor Man’s Bean. They grow easily in the tropics.  She also tells me that the reason they are called Poor Man’s Bean is because you have to be pretty desperate for a meal to bother with them as the outer shell is so tough and hard to penetrate, and so I am told are the beans inside. But that’s all I know about them. Maybe someone else can enlighten me further.

Tomatoes (wild, and the more restrained)

I enjoyed a few hours at the allotment yesterday. My exuberant self-seeded tomato plant needed even more staking, I think I’ll have to get my tomato recipes out for the crop I am anticipating. I gave it a good feed of comfrey tea.  I have an inkling where the seed blew in from. My allotment neighbour has a fine cherry tomato plant that is trying to take over Brisbane a bit at a time. I think there lies this plant’s pedigree!

Mustn’t ignore my two Black Russian tomato plants. They do not have the personality of their wild cousin across the other side of the plot, but they have been quietly growing away and I noticed yesterday that I have two tomatoes on one of the plants. Next time I go to the allotment I’ll cover them with one of the fine net bags I have made. Let’s hope the fruit fly hasn’t been there already.

And because I cannot resist snapping the flowers around the farm. Here is another one …

The corn is as high ……

Visited the allotment this afternoon and the sweet corn is coming along nicely. Might not be up to ‘an elephant’s eye’ just up to my shoulder.  I was lucky enough to catch another allotment holder (thanks Ron) to take the photo. Bribed him with a feed of snake beans. Actually, I forced them on him, gotta get rid of them somehow. I blanched 2 kilos of them (again) yesterday. How come that this blog always gets round to snake beans?

Lemon grass is looking really healthy

The recent rain has done wonders for my lemon grass. I planted just a small piece of lemon grass to use in my Thai cooking and look what happened. What you cannot see from the photo is the height. Must be a metre tall. There is really much more than I will ever use, so when I split the plant I’ll be sharing it with other allotment holders.

 

Sauerkraut on a rainy day

Another wet morning in Brisbane, did I say wet? what I really meant was ‘it’s pouring down’.  This wouldn’t normally stop me going to the allotment, but I have been there the last two mornings and the ground is so soggy I can’t really achieve much.

So, I decided that today is the day I am going to venture into the world of fermented foods. Yoghurt is my fermented food of choice and there is always a pot in the fridge, but today I am making sauerkraut. A bit scary. I dipped my toe in the water a few weeks ago when I attended a workshop on sourdough bread, sauerkraut and kimchi (Korean sauerkraut).  Since then I have invested in a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon which features a very interesting chapter on fermented vegetables and fruit, so I was committed.  And as I had become the owner of an enormous cabbage, sauerkraut was the recipe of choice from Ms Fallons’s book.

As an allotment holder I cheated a bit because I didn’t grow the cabbage, but my local greengrocer only supplies the freshest fruit and veggies and I decided to give him my custom. I already had the sea salt, caraway seeds and a brand new 2 litre wide necked jar all ready to go. This was an enormous cabbage (see para above!) so I decided to use half, reckoning that would fill my jar to the top. Here we are – sharp knife at the ready.

Here is the cabbage shredded finely, and ready to add the caraway seeds.

Now the sea salt (I see your eyes glazing over)

I then proceeded to knead the cabbage for about ten minutes until it released it’s juices. Very therapeutic, a bit like kneading bread, and packed it in the jar.  And here is the finished product. I photographed the sauerkraut on it’s own but I have to say it looked a bit (dare I say)  ‘boring’ so decided to set it alongside a few jars of my plum jam. That cheered the pic up no end.

So, despite the inclement weather, it has been a pleasant and productive morning.

Flowers around the allotments

I took my camera out yesterday around the farm where I rent my allotment to snap some of the flowers that grow there. We do what we can to attract the bees. Here are just a few photos.

A seed planting morning at the allotment

It was pouring with rain when I set off for the allotment this morning on a seed planting exercise, but I set off undaunted nevertheless.  I would much rather garden in the rain than with the hot Queensland sun beating down.  I had already dug in plenty of compost in preparation, but raked in some blood and bone this morning for an extra boost. I planted Moulin Rouge beetroot, Asian greens, Cavolo Nero Tuscan kale, coriander, Rabbit Ear and Red Romaine lettuce.  Thanks to my seed saving friend Wendy for the lettuce and kale seeds.

I noticed my self-seeded tomato plant is doing really well and needed some more staking. It has about six stakes now. Looks like it might take over. There are already tiny tomatoes so hopefully it won’t be too long before I find out just what sort of tomato it is going to produce for my plate.

If you live in South-East Queensland and you like beans, do yourself a favour and plant snake beans. I have been harvesting snake beans for weeks now (as witnessed in previous posts) and today was no exception, I came home with a great bunch of them. I’ll take some to my daughter-in-law this afternoon.

New planting season at the allotment

March is a welcome time of the year in Brisbane as the cooler weather starts a big planting season.  It’s still pretty hot with days of 29 degrees centigrade so I am starting gently, with just a few plants and seeds. It takes me ages to propagate parsley from seed so I took the easy way out yesterday and bought seedlings of curly parsley and Italian parsley.  My favourite herb, I reckon a kitchen can never have too much parsley.

I have planted the curly parsley alongside the only remaining plant left over from the last season and intermingled them with tiny marigold plants. Hopefully the flowers will confuse the bugs, and welcome the bees.
You may notice the mint at the top of the photograph. I planted my mint last season in a big old plastic pot with the bottom cut out.  I found this successfully captured the roots so the mint didn’t take over the whole allotment, as it would like to if I let it.

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Here is the Italian parsley. Seems that most recipes these days specify the flat leafed parsley. So I gotta have it. Mind you, I still think you cannot beat the curly variety for parsley sauce with fish.  Yum.Image

I have decided to include a few flowers in the allotment this year as we are really short of bees at the farm and need to encourage them all we can. As well as the fact that I would like some cut flowers for the house. These pansies are the Giant Butterfly variety. (Must remember to buy a very small vase!)

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And I also planted the Petite Orange Marigold. (Better buy two very small vases!)

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To top off my morning at the allotment I planted seeds of Harlequin Carrots which I am very excited about. Why plant orange carrots when you can have every shade of purple too.  And finally, I planted Drunken Woman lettuce seeds kindly given to me by my gardening friend Wendy Hocking. I could have photographed the plot where they are planted, but even as a mad photographer, I thought it best to wait until they actually pop up out of the ground.

Cob Oven

Maureen from http://mylottieheaven.blogspot.com.au/ asked about the cob oven that we use at the farm where my allotment is. So yesterday I took along my camera. The cob oven was made by volunteers some years ago and has been well used as you can see from this photo. The first thing they did was build the brick base. Then they formed a mound of sand on the top, the size and shape they wanted the internal measurements of the oven to be. Then they slapped on a thick layer of mud and straw leaving a hole for the door, left it for two weeks to dry out, then removed the sand from the inside of the oven. The door was made, and then we were ready to fire her up. We use wood as a form of fuel. Once the wood has died down to hot embers these are raked to the back of the oven and the pizzas or damper (bread) are placed on metal trays and popped into the oven and the door is closed while they are cooked. The wood fire gives the food a wonderful taste.

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This is how the oven looks once the door is in place

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And in this humble cob oven, we make the most delicious pizzas.

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