Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mini Jungle

Before my warm season vegetable is over, I would like to show you some of our patch that has become a mini jungle. Because of my laziness to provide a big trellis to support the cucumber plants, Lenay had made zig zag of ropes which has become looking like a canopy by the cucumber plants and shading capsicum plants that are growing under that canopy. Lemon grass that my mother planted  from root after I just gave birth to Rayyan. At the back of the lemon grass is pattypan squash.
There is so many plant on this patch~ capsicum plants, tomato plants, sweet potato plants, snake bean, angle luffa, pumpkin, tumeric and other plants that I have forgotten. More zig zag of ropes to support the snake bean plants.
This have been my favourite flower this summer~ Okra burgundy which will provide delicious pod later.  This okra is surrounded by pumpkin foliage at the moment as natural ground cover.
Dahlia which is still blooming, visit Noel for The Hot, The Loud and The Proud party for exotic things.

I treat our chilies as perennial here. I can't understand why but our chili fruit more in colder month rather than warm season as if it does not want me to treat is an annual. It will undergo its second winter if I let it be, will see. Sweet potato growing near chili plant one of the reason I can't clear up the patch yet for fall planting.

Another patch that we plan to clear up for fall planting but the 2009/2010 summer brinjal plants are just starting to produce more fruit. We don't have much luck with brinjal and chili seedlings this year as it have slow growth due to cooler summer and cool night this warm season. But some brinjal plant from previous warm season that survive through winter have provide some fruits. So glad that I kept some of the plants, if not we will not have any brinjal to harvest. So far new brinjal plants have only gave us about 2 fruit per plant.
Tough decision, should I keep my perennial chilies (second year)? My brinjal?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ACAR lagi

Made another ACAR dish again this week on my cousin Lenay request as a side dish with Chicken Rice. Don't have to use the stove to prepare this dish just cut bite size of chili, capsicum, carrot, red onion, pineapple and cucumber . Then add in vinegar, sugar, salt and lemon juice, mix well, its done. Less cleaning up to do in the kitchen.
Harvest some carrots (Topweight variety) that were growing in clay soil look kind of pale but surprisingly it did managed to grow through that compact soil. Early Long Purple Eggplant start to produce prolific now. Last year this eggplant plants managed to produce until Early winter.
Last week, I did said that I would like to try P.F.Chang's Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplant dish which I saw in Kitchen Flavours with my next eggplant harvest. It was so delicious, a must try recipe and it only take less than 15 minutes to prepare the dish (including some distraction from the kids). Thank you Joyce for introducing this recipe to me, my next harvest will be this dish again. Minimise cooking time for other agendas.

Cleared up some patch for fall planting and harvested some baby size leeks planted in spring. One of the leek were so long, plus the top leave will be almost the same height with Rayyan.
Harvested some kangkung (water spinach), capsicums, beans and volunteer potatoes. Cucumber early gem season is almost over for us.

Finally after weeks of waiting, I got the chance to eat some kacang panjang (yard-long bean/snake bean). Just a simple dish with the beans, fried them with a little bit of soy sauce thats all. Another round of bitter gourd and apple juice anyone? Run out of apples, my husband keep on forgetting to buy them every time he went to the market (on purpose?).
Hope we are lucky for another round of Snake Bean harvest next week.
What is your favourite dish with Kacang Panjang?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Left them partying

Off day from the garden today. We went to the beach as it was a fine sunny day after only a few hours of sun this raining week. So we entrusted the garden today to our unofficial pet birds. When the kids were safely fasten on their chair in the car saw these birds trying to open one of the box that contain sunflower seeds under the shed. They have been very naughty lately in the garden.
Bees take their role seriously as pollinators. They are doing a fine job. More bees partying around the garden these days. We don't have to worry about manual pollination, less work in the garden now. The only thing that we worry is who gets to the female flower of vegetables that we plan to save seed from, us or the bees. 
Yellow colour flowers received a lot of admires this week.
I feel much happy this summer because there were many kind of insects visiting our garden compared to last year. A few variety of moth and butterflies came to visit us ( I was getting bored looking at white cabbage butterfly dancing in front of me). Not worry about caterpillars at the moment as not growing that many leafy vegetables. It will be a different story starting April when winter vegetable are ready to be transplant since most of them are brassicas. I have been learning to add some herb or flowers in the veggie patch to attract beneficial insects to the garden but not reducing our space to plant more vegetables or yield. Found this caterpillar having a great time on tomato plant, I wonder what kind of butterfly will it transform.

Found this larvae on a different tomato plant. Anyone know what it is? Good or bad sign? The image is not that good, I can't get a good focus.

Did you garden this weekend?

Friday, March 25, 2011

My March Savings

I thought I could not save any seeds this month but saw some dried flower around the garden. Flower seeds collected this month, Marigold Crackerjack and Zinnia Lilliput Mix. I don't know why but our zinnia like to self-sow during autumn and some bloom through winter last year using broccoli and cauliflower as blanket (maybe those big brassica leaves help create a micro-climate?).
My cousin is more efficient in collecting and cleaning up the seeds for storing as I listen to her grumble beside me complaining as some seeds are not easy to harvest. Grumble, grumble, grumble yet she finished cleaning up those dried seeds faster than I who sat quietly in front of her pretending to listen but only managed to do less than what she managed to did. One of her not favourite seeds to harvest is the allium family. Although she complain out loud, she smiles after she finished harvesting the seeds. Our first attempt at collecting leek musselburgh seeds, not a very successful attempt. Only got a small amount of seeds from 2 stalks.

Another one which make my cousin grumble is lettuce seeds.
She is very good at harvesting lemon basil seeds. Always enjoy this session as the room is fill with lemon frangrance. Lemon Basil seed capsules look like small flower shape brooch.

Parsley (Curly-Afro) seeds takes a long time to wait for it to dry on the plants. She starts to grumble again.
I still have not finished harvesting the leek seeds yet she finished harvesting the rest and had to help me harvest leek seeds afterward. I am that slow, no wonder she grumble eh ;-). What do I do without her?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bitter Gourd and Apple Juice

Before we left for Melbourne our bitter gourd was starting to produce many female flowers. For UV protection we recycled papers to wrap those small babies. Too much expose to strong UV rays is not healthy. We teach our children to wear hat, protective clothes and put on sunscreen lotion whenever they go outside, so bitter gourd babies need protection as well. Bitter gourd plants have grown more than 3 metre tall, I can't reached the one at the top.

The paper wrap also shelter other beneficial predators in the garden.

Because they are so many other visitors admiring bitter gourd flowers. It help balance the eco-system in our garden.

The weather is mild now and bitter gourd really love it with so many lush growth and produce. We don't have to wrap the fruit at the moment as it has been a wet week. Don't want the fruit to catch cold wearing wet cloth.

Thanks to Cik Manggis (Madam mangosteen) author of jom masak, jom makan makan..for bitter gourd and apple juice recipe. I discovered that you can make a healthy juice from bitter gourd.
Ingredient: 1 apple, 1 bitter gourd , half a lemon, 3 glass of water and ice cubes (optional sugar or honey if you are not counting calories).

Washed and slice the apple and peria and put into the mixer with 3 glass of water.

Squeeze lemon, stir and add ice cube.
After all the process, add some ice cubes and ready to drink. Rayyan and Ilhan had the honour to taste this juice first while my cousin and I supervised them. Since children at their age don't lie, look at Ilhan expression closely.

Bravo! Ilhan finished a glass of bitter gourd and apple juice.
Instead of half a lemon, I used more than one lemon and add some sugar since I like sourish taste more.
What do you think?
A very healthy juice in the morning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Me?Volunteer melons

I should feel grateful to all my volunteer warm season plants, they always provide the first fruit before the ones that we sow start to produce. Self-seeded tomato plants that we transplanted end winter provide us with so many fruits from early summer. Self-sowed melons also gave us some fruit when I almost gave up with our other melon which does not grow very well this year. We were not sure at first if these self-sowed melon were honeydews or rockmelon. As the fruit matures, netting on the skin without no doubt it is ROCKmelon. We were not sure when to harvest them but saw something was hoping to get the first taste of our rockmelon so we guess it must be ready for plucking. The first rockmelon had a hole on it from pecking or drilling?Not sure. Second melon when I turned the rockmelon which face the soil saw many creatures were gathering on it and started to chew on the skin. Oh no you don't, its mine! Both of the rockmelon won't made it into beauty contest and were just the size of my palm.But they sure tastes very sweet and juicy. BLISS.
Okra plants are producing nicely at the moment. I was clearing up a patch that were growing celery, leek and carrot. Vegetable on that patch has not produce the desirable mature size yet but cool season are knocking. What to do with this harvest? Okra into the freezer. Made some ACAR using cucumber, red chilies, carrots, red onion and pineapple (the only ingredient which is not home-grown, we have 2 pineapples which we have grown for 2 years but you probably laugh if I show you how they look like ;-)),Celery and baby leeks goes into chili crab dish together ( Found some crabs we caught last December in Wallaroo almost forgotten).
Harvested some eggplants last week and made Chili Fried Eggplant dish. A big button squash went into the wok for stir-fried vegetables. Our next eggplant harvest, I am planning to try cooking P.F.Chang's Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplant dish which I saw in Kitchen Flavours.

From my husband fishing trip, a fish and squids. Squids were fried coated with Kentucky fluor mix with Lemon Basil leaves and pepper (Our pantry breadcrumbs and tempura were out of stock).
More okras, bitter gourd, cucumbers, angle luffa and capsicum harvest.
What is your eggplant favourite dish?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seed & Bulb Tea Party

How was your weekend everyone?
Mine was a very perfect weekend even though Sunday was a rainy day started late morning. Due to rain, I was able to focus on sowing seeds and not get distracted with other chores in the garden.Woke up on Saturday morning before the kids awake, opened email and very glad to hear a very dear friend whose family lives near the recent earthquake effected area was safe although their house were badly damaged. He wrote to me, he don't know what will happened from now on but he said he will do all his best ~GAMBARUKARANE.
Saturday afternoon, I received many precious home-saved seeds,seedlings,spuds,eggs, garden produces, and bulbs from generous gardeners~ARIGATOUGOZAIMASHITA. I was so excited felt like Christmas. It was good to meet other gardeners and out from the house except for appointments to the hospital since we came back from Melbourne.
One of my plan in gardening year 2011 is to try growing flower from bulbs which I never had any experience. I would like to thank Julie and Andrea author of  The Mad Gnome Strike Again! for making my dream come true. I have the chance to grow different colour of irises, daffodils and jonquils. I have already planted most of the bulb immediately after we reached home except for jonquils which hopefully will be planted soon after clearing up some patch.

I thought one of our iris that Julie gave us last month dissapeared and I forgot where my mother planted it. Found it yesterday and sprouting new shoot (or is the correct term leaf?). Made my day so cheery just looking at it.
I can't stop smiling since yesterday afternoon, I feel so happy and lucky because I never dare to dream that I can grow so many Elephant and Purple Monaro Garlic this year although it was on top of my wish list. I am in cloud 9 Andrea! Thank you so much. I got also 3 different variety of not easy to buy seed potatoes even in nursery yesterday from a very generous gardener and thank you so much for sharing. South Australia don't allow potato from out of state so you can't order them from out of state which where most of the seed companies are located.
Thank you Bob for the passionfruit plants he grown from seeds and offering it to other gardeners. I went to Bunnings 3 times thinking of buying passionfruit plant this summer to grow near my one and only garden arch but were not allowed to have one by my sisters or cousins each trip to Bunnings. They keep telling me I won't be there to taste my first fruit. But I simply enjoy looking at them growing so I won't really mind even I won't be tasting the first fruit. Anyone know how long do we have to wait for passionfruit to bear it first fruit?Also, someone shared some home-saved sweet pea that I can grow near the garden arch as well. Saturday was my lucky day. 
Not sure the real name of this plant. But it has fame with bringing luck and fortune. I hope it link with good health as well.
Some of my winter vegetables seeds sowing today. Notice I don't follow moon planting calendar? No choice the boys make the rule. Rayyan had a surprisingly long nap and Ilhan more keen on spending time with dad so mummy have some time for seed sowing finally. Direct sowing vegetable have to wait until next month, probably on easter break as summer vegetables are in full swing now.

My cousin Lenay sowed many flower, herbs and winter vegetables 10 days ago when we were still in Melbourne and some of the seeds have already sprouted especially brassicas. Flower seeds that have sprouted are nasturtium, calendula, stock,cineraria, bellis perennis, foxglove and poppy. I have to update my seed sowing schedule. 
I sleep much better this week after Rayyan is back with us and had his complete corrective surgery. When he was born and before had a shunt surgery, I keep on waking at night not only because of feeding but making sure he is ok and breathing.
Sweet Dream everyone:)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

End Summer blooms

While I was wandering around outside, I noticed that we actually don't have many flower blooming as autumn approaches. So I took some photos to cheer us up during winter.This accidental sunflower growing in the hanging pot together with portulaca, viola and dianthus bring back fond memories. Not sure how sunflower seed got into that hanging basket but it still can grow about a metre tall. Someone must be really hungry look at the leaves.
Amaranth flower look like fox tail.
Lilliput Zinnia has been the best flower to bloom all through this summer at our place. Providing some colours for the veggie patch. Nice as patch border and act as a shade for eggplants from receiving too much sun which sometime can scorch the fruits.
Portulaca always happy when the sun is out. Miss the sun on gloomy days.
Gaillardia bright faces give colour on one the partial shade patch.

Have a nice weekend!