Spicy eggplant & capsicum chutney

Growing your own food is sometimes the easy part, what to do with the glut is quite another matter. In this case it’s eggplants.

This is not going to turn into a cooking blog as other folk do a much better job of it.  It’s more about my attempt to find ways of utilising the vegetables that land in my lap as manna from heaven (or in this case, from the community garden where I have my allotment).

Today’s recipe is Spicy eggplant & capsicum chutney. Here is the link.

It’s a new recipe so I’ll try it out by just doing half quantity, see if I like it. Everything lined up on the kitchen table and we’re ready to go. Incidentally, it’s not that the eggplant is small – it’s more a case of the capsicum being huge. I only need half that amount – I’ll be eating it for the rest of the week!

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Whichever way you point the camera at it – diced eggplant doesn’t have a ‘good side’, so I’ll chain myself to the stove now and the next pic will be the finished result. Hopefully.

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I’m back again.

WOW. Just had a taste of the finished result. What can I say except that it will clear out your sinuses! The heat will depend of course on the heat of the chilli you are using and how ‘hot’ you like your food. In this case I used one level teaspoon of chilli powder as I didn’t have a fresh one.

It will be interesting to see how the taste matures as the recipe suggests you leave the chutney for a month before using it. Should be perfect for Christmas to go with cold meats and cheese or as the recipe suggests, with Indian curries.

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This is the amount I made using half of the recipe – four x 250 ml jars. I’m very happy with that result, especially considering that the only thing I had to buy was the red capsicum and a few fresh dates. The rest of the ingredients were out of my pantry staples.

And that’s more of my eggplant stash used up.

Happy gardening.

Another Wednesday morning at the farm

Today we had our usual Wednesday get together over at the farm where I have my allotment.

I did a bit of work on my allotment. I took the wheelbarrow over to the paddock for another load of horse poo to spread on my plot, grubbed out a couple of old broccoli plants, and then I watered the few remaining veggie plants. Only took about half an hour.

We are having the Annual General Meeting at the farm on Sunday and I’ve been asked to organise the catering for the BBQ we will be holding afterwards.  So it was time for a final catch up with the ‘catering team’. We are working on about 40 folk turning up. We have thrashed out the menu, willing helpers are poised and ready to go, and we’ve worked out who will be at the BBQ turning the snags (sausages) and kebabs and frying the onions. There will be no shortage of salad.

While this was happening volunteers were at work harvesting food in the community garden ready to put on the Share Table to be shared out at the end of the morning. Here is just a small selection.

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White mulberries, with the occasional rogue red one

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Curly kale

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Tomatoes harvested by our youngest gardener

And here is the gardener who picked all the tomatoes in the bowl and a good amount of the white mulberries.  He is just making his way through the nasturtium bed, maybe looking for chokos, they share the same area of ground and he managed to find one a couple of weeks ago, even though the season was just about over.

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Our youngest gardener

Then it was time to down tools for morning tea. Alongside the tea and cakes we feasted on mulberries straight from the food forest and and strawberries picked fresh from the community garden.

Happy gardening.

Beneficial flowers down at the allotment

I am trying to learn more about the beneficial effects of planting flowers amongst my vegetables down at the allotment, both to attract beneficial insects, and deter pests. The flowers look pretty too.

With a total of 16 square metres over two allotments space is at a premium but I’ve started to introduce a few flowers to attract good bugs, and repel bad.

Here’s a few flowers growing in my ‘lottie’.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

The extra benefit of growing nasturtium is that you can eat the leaves and the flowers. The leaves have a peppery taste and the flowers add a bit of the exotic to a salad.

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Alyssum

I like to see alyssum growing in a border. My alyssum plants were bought from Bunnings nursery but I also planted a row of seeds to give me a little border. That was some weeks ago and the seeds have refused to germinate so far. Looks like Bunnings are going to make a few more dollars out of me as I buy another punnet.

Marigolds help deter root-eating nematodes in the soil, and add a nice bit of colour.

Marigolds

Marigolds

The community garden at the farm is scattered with flowers.  Here is a view taken recently across the community garden.

Flowers in the community garden

Flowers in the community garden

Liz, the co-ordinator in the community garden planted a whole bed of sunflowers. It’s great watching the bees going berserk on the flower heads, and the birds have a field day too on the seeds of the flower.

Sunflowers with bee ( in the top corner of the left flower)

Sunflowers

Cosmos flowers pop up, self seeded, all over the place.

Cosmos

Cosmos

I took this photograph of a flower border on the edge of the farm, near to the allotments and the community garden. We all feel the benefit of these flowers both in the pollination of our vegetables, and just for the pleasure of looking at them.

A flower border at the farm

A flower border at the farm

Happy gardening.

Pouring down and potting up at the allotment

After a dry spell we had a wonderful downpour at the allotment yesterday. It seems to me that one good drenching of rain will do more good in the garden than a couple of weeks of hand watering.

I have been potting up cuttings this week for the Morningside Fair being held on Sunday 29th July. Beelarong Community Farm where I keep my allotment has a stall there to promote the farm and to raise funds too. We sell plants that we raise ourselves and jams made from the fruit grown at the farm. Committee member Di works tirelessly to make this stall a success. I will be writing more about the Fair nearer to the time.

When I was at the allotment on Wednesday I pulled out a large Rosemary bush that was getting very woody making it hard to snip off pieces for my culinary needs, and taking up far too much room. So I am using the bush to start up new plants, one for myself and the rest for the Morningside Fair. This is one of them, looking pretty strong.

Rosemary cutting

Today I’m going to tackle the Brazilian Spinach. I grew this plant from a tiny cutting given to me by Lissa at our local Seed Savers meeting. But that too has rather taken over my tiny plot so I will be taking lots of cuttings from it.

This was the original plant after just a few weeks.

Brazilian Spinach

Now it’s like this – growing vigorously in a corner of my allotment, and I’ve been picking at it constantly.

Brazilian Spinach

I’ll pot up some cuttings for the Fair, but I also want to pot one up for Tatiana who leads our gardening group at New Farm Library. Brazilian Spinach grows vigorously in the sub-tropics where I live, but it seems to be one of those plants that you don’t see in nurseries. So there is a bit of an ‘underground movement’ in Brisbane to ensure it’s survival as we pass around snippets of the stuff.

Talking about survival.  Will you just look at this.  I will never understand Mother Nature. I planted lettuce seeds in the best potting mix weeks ago and after much cosseting up popped these tiny seedlings. (Look hard – they are there!)

Cos lettuce seedlings

Put that alongside this testosterone fuelled plant that is growing valiantly out of a dry brick wall outside my garage.

Happy gardening.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

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