Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Eating through the hunger gap

This year I have been more successful in having vegetables from the garden during the supposed 'hunger gap' than during the winter.
I have a forest of broad beans that we are picking while still green, small and delicious. Fried with bacon and served on sour dough bread, they made a tasty Sunday dinner.

broad beans on the plant

Saturday the salad was from the garden using the pea tops, which we need to pick almost every day at the moment to keep on top of them. I have planted corn between the rows so that as the peas finish, the corn will take over and we will be eating corn fresh from the garden in February - if they grow well. The mandarins came off the tree in the citrus grove. The snapper came from out in the bay.

snapper and salad

I have a future aim to be able to make a salad without a dressing using mustard leaves that taste of mustard and garlic tops to give a garlic flavour. Rocket could provide the peppery note. But my mustard is still growing so I dressed this salad with a honey dressing - 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of honey. Mixed well together it worked nicely with the mandarins and pea shoots.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Planting for winter crops - New Zealand Christmas problems

The year round vegetable garden is something I am still learning to master. There is a big difference between planting all year round and harvesting all year round.

Year one on the lifestyle block I planted more vegetables after the main late summer harvest. It was too late they were great come late spring and early summer but over winter they were too small.
The winter mesclun was a hit though.

Year two, I planted early in February. Towards the end of winter and into early spring we have had some lovely leeks. But it was still too late. The red cabbages are not ready yet and there are still leeks in the garden.

Then I learnt that to be successful in the year round harvesting garden, winter crops need to be planted alongside the summer crops in spring and in early summer. Reading a Northern Hemisphere gardening blog recommended to me, the writer talked about planting mid June to mid July. When is the equivalent in our Southern Hemisphere seasons?  You guessed it mid December to mid January. Just the time when we are busy getting ready for Christmas, enjoying Christmas and New Year or taking a holiday away. No wonder that all year round garden seems challenging.

This year I have my root vegetables of carrots and parsnips in on the spring planting. Hopefully they will not get eaten when they are teeny and vulnerable. I plan to plant brussel sprouts, cabbages, leeks and cauliflowers in the mid December to mid January window. The brussel sprouts seeds are just starting to sprout in the pots.

Each year my aim is to produce more vegetables in quantity and variety and at more times during the year. Learning new skills takes time and practice.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Peas for self sufficiency

This year I understand better the position of peas in the self sufficient garden.
I am not growing them for year round freezing or bagfuls. I am growing them as the sweet vegetable that will fill the gap, while my spring vegetables are growing and before the summer harvest begins.
The plan is to plant peas for trimming the tops as salad greens, sugar snaps for use with the whole pea pod and then because we have the space, I have planted some peas that you do pod - for sweet treats.
I planted the peas for trimming and the sugar snaps about a month ago but made the mistake of not covering them. Very few have survived. I think the birds enjoyed some tasty snacks.
I replanted and covered them. Now I have plants!
The peas planted for trimming were microgreen peas fiji feathers from King Seeds.
I trimmed them two days ago and then trimmed them again tonight for dinner for four. If you let them grow too much they get tougher. I will probably need to trim them every day or every second day to keep to the yummy tender shoots and leaves. They do taste just like peas.

At the end of the microgreens are planted the sugar snap peas. I chose this variety because of the comment "excellent eating quality." They sounded tasty. I was concerned they might get trimmed as microgreens by accident but the advantage of the fiji feathers is they look completely different to the sugar snaps. If all goes to plan, early November we should be using these pods in our cooking.

My peas for podding are the peas alderman. I have grown these the previous two years and they are delicious. Very few make it anywhere near the kitchen. They get eaten in the garden and that is a yummy way to enjoy some peas. They should follow on from the sugar snaps.

Peas are also nitrogen fixing. Once the peas have finished, if I dig them into the soil, they will also enhance the nitrogen content of the soil for future plants to use. The peas will keep giving us more vegetables.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.