Snagged on Snags!

I had some feedback that my comments regarding the quality of food available locally was a bit harsh so I thought I’d just clarify my point. My reference was directed mainly towards the supermarkets more so than the family businesses of which there are a few making a difference to the range but not necessarily the quality available. There are a handful of businesses who are really making a difference to the quality and range available and they are predominantly butchers rather than purveyors of general produce. I still claim that it is near on impossible to get fresh, high  quality (mostly fruit & veg) as a matter of course in most towns in Gippsland. There doesn’t appear to be the demand  by the consumer which is what I find distressing. Most people I work with or know are quite happy accepting what the majors offer without question, along with all the packaging they throw in and nothing will change while this is so. I can only keep spreading the word!

We only eat meat  couple of times a year and when we do I really want it to be a treat, not a trial. This is where lack of planning ahead can strike you down as it did with my hot potato salad last weekend. Having to rely on the local supermarket, I was sadly disappointed. I decided to prevent this happening again so today went to our excellent local butcher and stocked up on some Chorizo sausages to freeze so I wont get caught out next time, and some honey, lamb and rosemary sausages to have for dinner. Very hot day today and a good snag (sausage) and a cold beer are a match made in heaven. I wasn’t disappointed by the lamb sausages, along with gorgeous freshly picked spuds tossed in butter, parsley, mint and served with a little salad of freshly picked offerings. Oh, and a lovely cold beer of course!

Lovely looking sausages from Trafalgar Butcher Shop. Note, no nasty little plastic tray!
Honey, lamb & rosemary sausages, fresh spuds with mint, parsley and a little butter and salad made from, carrot, grated beetroot, lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

 

Weekend with the lot!

This weekend was jam-packed with a variety of things. Had a great cello lesson (practice does pay off), got home to find my husband had made great progress with painting the lounge-room, I opted to work outside because it was such a lovely day and he was also listening to the cricket (I am probably the worlds most avid hater of sport in any form!).

Went for Dulux curd full strength for the bottom section to add a little more tone to the room. Happy about that!

In the afternoon I started putting together my new Sproutwell Polycarbonate Greenhouse, after a few technical hitches (mainly due to my approach) I was underway. This construction will take shape over a few weeks as I have to fit it in between other more pressing jobs.

Now to get these to turn into one of these !
Should be a cinch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to assemble the sliding door and window components, as well as the base so we can check whether we have to make some adjustments to where it is going to be located (and we do!). Next step is to get foundations set up properly and then it will be plain sailing till the final completion.

I often like to have a wander around our backyard (at the house we are selling) on a Sunday morning looking at all the bits and pieces in the garden and remember how far we have come with developing this back yard. I hope to be able to do this soon at the ‘new old house’.

Plenty of mulberries developing this year, such a beautiful fruit, tree and colour!

Time to do some bird protection!

Blueberries are becoming nice and fat and I can’t wait for them to ripen.

I have two varieties of blueberry, this is a much fatter fruit than the other. Shame I’ve lost the tags!
The smell of this transports me straight to tropics! Citrussy, Frangipani-ish, gardenia-ish and just beautiful-shame it doesn’t flower all year round!

 

Picked the last of the broad beans and a couple of beetroot. Not sure when I’ll get to process the beans!

I then moved onto the ‘new old house’, took a trailer load of scrap metal to the tip but also came home with an old frame from a sun shelter or such. The poles from these frames make good garden stakes and I just can’t see something go to waste!

I haven’t tried using beer snail bait traps for many years as when I used to put them out our dearly departed ‘Cossie’ the dog would quickly gobble up the beer. Poor old Cossie is no longer with us, so I’ll give the traps another shot. The snails and slugs in the potato bed are the worst I’ve ever encountered, I may have to think about borrowing a duck for a few weeks.

Probably should have used beer from a not so great batch of home brew rather than bought stuff!

Inspiration! Sat under the Mulberry Tree and had a beer!

Approx 30 years ago I moved from Melbourne to the West Gippsland, Latrobe Valley region and I have still not come to terms with the lack of fresh produce available. The wonderful movement that is gaining momentum across many regions with  farmers markets, fresh is best and limited food miles has been painfully slow in reaching here. The produce stocked in our local supermarket is disgraceful and it says a lot that people don’t demand better! As for stocking anything organic or that is produced by locals, forget it.  I only venture in there when absolutely desperate and tonight I wanted to add some zing to the hot potato salad I had planned and thought some nice chorizo would be ideal-should have known better!

Home made my giddy aunt! Who keeps that chemical stuff in their pantry?
Beetroot, broad beans, garlic, garlic stem, spuds, herbs, lettuce, silver beet. Bring it on!

Anyway, we ended up having a really nice dinner of a hot (warm) potato salad type thing. Part of the harvest  I picked today and needed to use was-some nice young spuds, silver beet, garlic stem, red onion, broad beans and some mint. I also had the amazing ‘homemade’ chorizo I purchased.

Method- Put chorizo on griddle/BBQ to cook, par boil spuds till a bit underdone, while cooking, chop up some red onion, green capsicum, mint, slice garlic stem, and finely slice some silver beet or spinach. If the broad beans need double peeling blanche and do this too (I don’t worry apart from really big ones). Put the onion, garlic stem, mint, capsicum into serving bowl ( I also had some ricotta spare so I threw that in too) and when spuds are at the ‘not quite cooked but very close stage’ turn off the heat and bung the beans and silver beet into the hot water with them so they just barely cook. Slice the chorizo,  drain the spuds, beans and silver beet and add to the serving bowl, top the salad with the chorizo and some more chopped mint if inclined, grind some salt & pepper and drizzle some good olive oil over (I used Splitter’s Creek Olive Oil). Serve with some sour cream on the side.

Very nice indeed!

I had planned to do a post on my 5 favourite garden tools but forgot to take any photos. Will keep that one for another day.

 

What a lovely weekend!

Finally some stable weather and some lovely sun, not too hot, not too cold, just right! I had planned to get a start on my new Sproutwell Greenhouse but got waylaid with lots of other jobs.

We made  great progress with painting the lounge-room, a second coat on the ceiling, filled some spots and a couple of coats on the top section of the walls. The decision to wait until our re-blocking is done is proving to be quite frustrating as we are holding back on filling gaps as we anticipate there will quite a few more. None the less it is still nice to see (and more so smell) some freshness being instilled into the old house.

I spent Sunday outside thinking, planning and working in the yard. With a possible buyer for our current house I am focussing on working out a few basics we need to do to be able to live in our new old house. Nothing major, just things like, plumbing, maybe an area to cook in would be good and also having some hot water. I’m sure it will all sort itself out, we have developed quite a ‘let nature take its course’ approach the older we get and it usually does!

Bye, bye, bok choy!

I am pulling the plug trying to grow this. I have only ever had success growing this once and since then it always  just bolts and has  not proven a viable component of the garden. Tried many different tactics but it just doesn’t want to play. I get the message!

Making way for the garage.

It is painful  seeing established trees having to be removed but in order to have a garage installed we had to make the decision to remove a loquat from the fenceline. Not a tree or fruit that I am passionate about but it did serve a great job screening a very unattractive brick wall of our neighbours and birds love the fruit.

Loquat and acanthus out. Now to get the stumps of trees we have had removed ground out so foundation for garage can begin.

General vegie stuff.

With the broad beans spent I cut them down, left the top growth on the bed and topped with compost. Hopefully this will create a nice little compost pile within the bed to feed future planting. I believe the little pale coloured things on the roots are ‘nitrogen fixing nodules’ that are beneficial to the microbial activity in the soil.

Chopped broad bean growth laid onto bed which I covered with compost.
Nitrogen fixing nodules of roots of broad beans.
Took 3 barrows of compost made from last years oak leaves, grass cuttings, hay and other bits added to the mix to top dress the garlic and broad bean bed.

With wicking beds it is difficult to stake things as you don’t want to pierce the water holding membrane of the bed. I came up with a nifty little idea and hope it works! I love bamboo because of its sustainable (apart from transport for imported products) value, its longevity and its natural look and tactile feel in the garden.

Large bamboo stake secured at end of beds with ‘U’ clamps and centre support only goes in to soil a short way. Cucumbers will be trained to climb the framework.

 

Climbing frame at end of tomato bed for cucumbers, peas, beans, sweet peas or anything that may need support.

Silver beet and lettuce is doing really well, I picked some to go into tonight’s dinner of silver beet and fetta quiche, salad and some oven baked potatoes. It was lovely even though I had trouble extricating myself from the japanese bath and left it in the oven for about 10 minutes too long!

Little too brown but tasted lovely!

 

Weekend wrap

What sensational weather we have had this weekend, I even had to dig out the shorter pants and some thongs! This lovely sun should really kick a few things into top gear. I did lots in the garden and finished with an easy pasta dinner made from the pickings.

These tomatoes are the San Marzano variety and seem to be going very well. Most have a few flowers on them and some have small tomatoes showing, so pollination must be happening.

I had quite a few Gross Lisse tomato plants that I had not planted due to running out of available bed space. We haven’t managed to finish building the remaining wicking beds due to priority re-assessments so I decided to take a gamble and plant directly into the grassed area between the beds. I dug a good-sized hole, filled it with compost and mixed blood and bone and some ‘Rooster Booster‘ pellets through the compost mix. I then planted the seedlings quite deeply, filled the hole with more compost and then topped with more blood and bone and ‘Rooster Booster‘. I mulched the whole area with some old carpet underlay to act as weed mat and then spread some spent hay over the top. I will add another couple of shovels of compost as they grow. Fingers crossed!

We have a family of magpies who love to keep an eye on all we do and they seem to know when we will be exposing some tasty morsels for them to eat, so they just hang around in the trees or wander over the grass. They are getting quite comfortable and today one of them was having a lovely time using my asparagus bed as its sun bed!

We were a bit worried it had died for a while but as I crept up it was quite clear it was just having some R&R!

I am a little concerned about the slow bulb development of both the garlic and shallots. Possibly because it has been a long, cold winter it may just need some extra time. I will keep using the small ones (Shallots) as spring onions as they are lovely and sweet and full of flavour.

Lovely to see the pink grapefruit tree I planted is in flower. I have developed quite a fancy to the flavour of this fruit so it is exciting to see the flowers.

Pickings of silver beet, broad beans, shallots, young garlic, parsley, oregano and lemon were the base for tonight’s dinner.

Spring Pasta

Slice some mushrooms, couple of bacon rashers, shallots, garlic and a few leaves of silver beet. Fry off the bacon, shallot, garlic and mushroom in a pan with some olive oil and a knob of butter.  Add some broad beans to pan and stir through for a minute. Squeeze a lemon and pour juice into pan and also put the silver beet in. Turn heat off, stir through lemon juice and put lid on so silver beet just wilts. Leave sit while you chop together some mint, sage, parsley and lemon rind which will be used as garnish. Drain cooked pasta and add everything from the pan to it, blob some more olive oil in, crack some pepper and serve with the herb garnish and Parmesan. Very tasty!

Small pickings

It really is very satisfying when things are at a pick-able size and you reap the rewards of patiently waiting and nurturing them into fruition . With broad beans now at their peak, I am trying to use them while they are still small enough to avoid the double peeling that larger ones need. Some of the beetroot is also ready to harvest and some young beets are following giving me  succession harvesting. Along with some silver beet, lettuce and young beetroot leaves there is a great base for a salad. I had to remove some rogue potato plants from a pathway so the young spuds were also put to good use. Fresh lemon juice, some marinated feta cheese and it was a great salad!