Garden Share Collective June 2014

The Garden Share Collective


Welcome to my contributions as part of the Garden Share Collective. I love the concept of bloggers being able to support, inspire, advise and educate each other in so many  areas. The following is an extract from the co-ordinator of The Garden Share Collective

The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month giving us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably. 

Each month I will be posting on things such as planting, harvesting and jobs that need to be targeted in the coming months.


I find that June is more a planning than planting time. Apart from a few succession plantings and some seed for spring flowers in the greenhouse, not much is going in. I have however, today started some kale seed, I have been using far more than I thought I would! Trying to get timing right is crucial with planting things to avoid frost damage when flowering happens to crops such as peas etc. As winter starts to fully set in, the “Must Do’ job list starts to grow and just seems to get bigger.


It is great at the moment, I seem to be able to pick lots of odds and ends to go into all sorts of dishes. Last night I posted about how important it is to have essentials at hand to make it easy to whip things up without needing to be dependant on supermarkets etc.  At the moment I am harvesting broccoli, Jerusalem artichokes, celery, capsicum, chillies, tomatoes, leeks, the occasional strawberry and autumn raspberry, silver beet, kale, lettuce, spring onion, various herbs, picked my first beetroot from this crop tonight ad of course harvesting some eggs from the chooks! I still have some tomatoes on plants in the greenhouse and I have been holding off picking so I can say “I’m still picking tomatoes in June”! The taste isn’t great, think there is a reason they are summer crops.


Tomatoes in JuneThe ‘To Do’ List

The english oak is about half done with shedding, the pin oak out the front has just about finished so dealing with the leaves is a priority. I blow them all into one area, run over them with the mower then layer them into bins made from wire, lined with black weed mat. Layers go in with some blood and bone and lime as well as some green stuff like grass clippings. I then put some weed mat on the top and wait for nature to do its thing breaking them down into leaf mold which is a great soil conditioner. I’ll end up with 3 of these bins dotted around the yard.


Other jobs I have tagged so far  are:

  • Sort out worm farm-take some castings out to free up one layer.
  • Plan and prepare site for where peach tree is to be planted
  • Transplant blueberries from wine barrel into garden bed, plant tamarillo into wine barrel.
  • Plant flower seedlings into front bed. Add compost to each as planted.
  • Check seed library
  • Stake brussel sprouts
  • Check for plants susceptible for frost damage and stake steps to minimise

I’m sure I will be adding to this frequently I have already thought of a few more!



Why basic essentials on hand are essential!

We have both Mr ATMT and my close friends birthdays on the 28th & 29th May respectively, we usually try to organise some sort of get together each year but this year we hadn’t really put a plan of attack into place. I spoke to my friend at 4.20 and said why don’t you call in on your way home for a drink to toast the birthdays. Her partner was also hauled in to call in for a quick drink to celebrate. I felt that it would be nice to offer a few nibblies to accompany and stopped on my way home to buy some cheese, wine and a few pieces of fruit to throw together. I then had the idea that surely I could present something a little better at representing a birthday celebration with what I had at home, managed to serve this at 5.45. Bloody good effort if I say so myself!


What was on the platter?

My attack was:

  • As soon as I walked in the back door at 5.10 (after putting the wine in the fridge) I sliced 3 chicken thigh fillets and threw some Annabel Langbein asian style marinade I’d found in the fridge, (I can’t remember what it was or what I’d used it for) over the chicken. I did know it had fish sauce and chilli in it!
  • Out to veggie patch to pick some celery and carrot, rinsed and sliced, onto platter (best celery I’ve ever grown as it turns out)
  • Picked last of my basil, rinsed, into jar with olive oil, cashews, S&P and parmesan, blasted with bamix to make a quick pesto


  • Thinly sliced some of my sour dough and threw into toaster
  • Took some turkish bread from freezer, defrosted for 1 minute in zapper machine, drizzled and rubbed olive oil over it and put into hot pan to grill
  • Cut  some pickled onions into quarters and put them and some pickled cucumbers into a couple of dishes
  • Threw the chicken that had been in the marinade into a pan, tossed a few times till cooked.
  • Opened the cheeses I bought which consisted of Maffra Tasty, Gippsland Brie, a blue vein and some lovely goats cheese. I pushed some of the goat cheese into a small ramekin so it could be used as a spread on the sourdough.
  • Quince paste onto platter
  • Peeled mandarin, onto platter
  • Everything onto platter, time to our a glass of wine and say happy birthday!

IMG_4376Happy birthday Geoff and Sally!

Just ticking what came from stock that I had because of pre-storing, making or growing.

Sour dough, pickled onions, quince paste, marinade, turkish bread in freezer, garden where I could pick basil, celery, carrot, cashews, good olive oil, parmesan salt and pepper  on the shelf. Not to mention the good company that was the motivation for making an effort!

Grilled chicken sausage and cabbage toastie.

Mr ATMT rang just after 6.00 to say he was on his way home and I had been busily engrossed in doing some cello practice and completely forgotten about dinner (as always the perfect wife!). Not to worry, luckily I had taken some of Mirboo Pastured Poultry’s chicken sausages out of the freezer at the weekend with a plan to do something with them this week. Just hadn’t planned what! I had in the back of my mind that a sauerkraut style cabbage would go with them so I went ahead and made a toastie from what we had to hand. Sausages, sour dough bread, cabbage Belinda’s Tomato Pickles and to add a bit  of depth Annabel Langbein’s Chilli Jam. I’ve jotted down the recipe as it was a really good easy tea that we enjoyed in front of the fire along with a glass of wine. Link for how I did this below. Does look like it needs bait of salad or greenery, but it was a fireside easy meal!

Grilled Chicken Sausage and Cabbage Toastie IMG_4366

The Ins and Outs of the weekend.

The in’s- In the kitchen.

This weekend’s kitchen round up includes, jerusalem artichoke Trial #3, new test for cooking sour dough, delicious breakfast in the (what may be one of the last opportunities) beautiful morning sun.

Jerusalem artichoke Trial number 3.

My nieces partner who just happens to be a damed fine chef, graciously shared a couple of recipes for JA’s. I was hesitant to share them but I saw the recipe for this on the website of Jones the Grocer as well, so figure it mustn’t be too secret! Link for recipe-

Jerasulem Artichoke Soup Recipe

This recipe has L’Orto di beppi marinated garlic in olive oil as a major ingredient. Jones the Grocer are the most likely to stock this, but the closest  store, Chadstone, is about 2 hours away from me and no way anyone down here is likely to have any marinated garlic in any shape or form so I improvised and roasted a full head of my garlic and mixed it with some olive oil and white wine vinegar. I love roasted garlic, it adds a really deep, mellow dimension yet still gives a good garlic taste.  No idea of the comparison to the listed ingredient but it tasted good to me! Other improvisations I made to the recipe are: I used my stock which is mostly vegetable based and darker, so the soup will be darker.  I made some ‘chips’ from a bit of JA as a topping garnish, I also toasted some beautiful, freshly picked walnuts my friend gave me (thanks Richard) and sprinkled these, some thyme and freshly ground pepper on top for serving. Toasted some of yesterdays sour dough, rubbed with oil and garlic and yummo! We have a winner! Still a bit flowery for me but really nice. Thanks Bec & A!

Jerusalem artichoke soup.

Playing with sour dough.

I have been fortunate to find a blog by an amazing woman who posts the most delightful, informative and practical ideas regarding everything she does with preserving, making bread and baking. Every post of hers I read, makes me feel like I want to jump up and give it a shot. Well Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, I have jumped up and given this a crack! With only having my ‘toy oven’ to use for bread baking I found the top was sometimes getting a bit dark due to the frequent kicking in and out of the top element. Celia mentioned she used a Falcon Enamel Cooker for cooking her high hydration (wet) doughs. My niece had also mentioned a couple of weeks ago she used an enamel pot for cooking her ‘faux sour dough’, synchronicity at large here, better get one! I divided the dough in half,Sour dough Proved the dough and one went into the silicon bread tin and the other into the new enamel pot.

IMG_4314 IMG_4322

I wasn’t that confident that the pot would actually fit in the oven, perhaps I should have tested that first! Breathe easy, it fits! Interesting, the pot loaf is actually darker and flatter than the tinned loaf. Haven’t cut the tinned loaf yet but the pot one is fantastic!

Sour dough

Breakfast in the sun.

What better way to start the day than a yummy breaky consisting of everything bar the bacon & mushrooms coming from our kitchen and garden. The mushies did at least come from Gippsland Mushrooms. I discovered them at the last Warragul Farmers Market. Mushrooms were cooked in a little butter, added some garlic, white wine vinegar, p&s and a little stock. I also threw some kale in with them to take on the flavour. Couple of poached googies, toasted sour dough toast and a cuppa. All is good on the world! Should have wiped the dust off the table though.


The Outs.


I flew into the Yarragon market on my way to Melbourne yesterday hoping that John from ‘Herbalicious‘ was there, even though it was a bit before opening time. I was in luck, grabbed some borage I want to plant for attracting bees and use as decorative garnishes. Those blue borage flowers are beautiful, no wonder the bees want to stick their heads in them! I was very impressed with the quality and great range  of John’s stock, so hoped I would be back in time to have a better look. I was, also picked up some ruby mustard, miners lettuce (winter purslane) and chervil. Think I might just be getting quite a few plants here.

HerbaliciousAlso planted some spinach, leek seedlings, carrot and kale seed and stuck a few garlic cloves into some gaps in the garlic bed. This photo shows the dibber I use for helping plant so many things. It belonged to Mr ATMT’s grandfather and is beautiful in the hand. Every so often I give it a light sand and soak in oil and it jumps back to looking like new. I love using it and it is really nice thinking of Grandpa Cray, he has been dead for many years now and the blue lake beans I plant are direct descendants of seed I saved from his at least 20 years ago. Love that!

DibberThe broad beans are going ok but broad beans tend to flop and need support. I have placed some stakes at the corners of the bed and slipped some 100ml spacing wire over the stakes. The broad beans can grow through the wire and I can just move it up or add another level if needed as they grow. Especially good to prevent wind damage which broadies are prone to.

Broad Beans support Broad bean support

The cuttings I took from some sweet potato and the ginger root I’m trying to sprout are beginning to look more like they will work. The tiny little speck of green in the bottom right is the ginger.Sweet potato and gingerSomeone pointed out to me that you can take panorama shots on your phone. Well I’ll be danged, gave it a go and here’s my panoramic view around the patch. Might have to play a bit more with this function!Panorama





Beginnings and ending crops.

Last weekend I picked the first broccoli of the season and knew I would have to get back out there in the next few days to pick the next lot while at its peak. Didn’t get out there until after work tonight, I have been so busy that I almost haven’t thought about the     ???…..??? (area where I grow my food) mmmm, I need a name for my veggie patch. Back to that later! Tonight I picked two good heads of broccoli, basil, last little eggplant, a good capsicum and some tomatoes from the greenhouse that are almost finished.

Autumn harvestI’m hoping to stretch out these tomatoes a bit longer so I can boast that I was still picking tomatoes in June! Every time I get home from work and go straight into the ???….??? I feel all the stresses from a usually busy, full of crap day just easing their way out and clearing my head. See those little critters in the front? Yep, Autumn raspberries!

Broccoli & Autumn Raspberries

I was very gracious and shared them (well 1) with Mr ATMT, to which he was VERY grateful. I must admit they don’t have that lush, sweet, full of flavour taste of the summer variety, but nevertheless I was happy!

So I need to come up with a name I can use as a reference when talking about where I grow things. Things like, ‘the patch’, the plot’, ‘the allotment’ have all been used to death and Mr ATMT suggested ‘The Tink Tank”. Sort of works for me, my name is Tink and it is like having a therapy session when I’m out there, I often come up with all sorts of ideas and plans whilst working away. What do you think?


Jerusalem Artichoke Trial No 2

Bit more success this week! One of the recipes I found in my quest for learning about Jerusalem Artichokes was this kale and JA gratin recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, it seemed good as I had kale ready to harvest as well.  I had bought a 2kg forequarter of lamb from Wayne The Great intentionally unstuffed as I had something I wanted to try in the back of my mind. Because we are now ’empty nesters’ I cut the meat in half and put 1/2 in the freezer for another day. I unrolled the joint, made a stuffing of sour dough bread crumbs, lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper and some mushrooms. Stuffing in, re-rolled the lamb and prepared the remaining accompaniments.

Lamb forequarter stuffing IMG_4245The harvest today included kale, beetroot, parsley, rosemary, the first oranges of the season, jerusalem artichokes, lemons and eggs.IMG_4247Dinner was roast lamb forequarter (shoulder) with lemon, rosemary and mushroom stuffing, kale and jerusalem artichoke gratin, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, roast beetroot and snow peas. The gratin ended up with some mushrooms in it as well because they fell out of the fridge and I couldn’t be bothered putting them back in. It was a real juggle tonight trying to manage cooking everything. Put the roast and veggies into the cast iron casserole but had to leave the lid off  so it fitted into the ‘toy oven’. Of course my bread dough then decided it was ready (after a 24 hour slow rise) to be cooked, so I had to take the cast iron cooker out, put it in the BBQ along with the gratin and put the bread in the oven to bake. Twas time for me to sit and relax!

Mmmm, will it fit?
Phew! Didn’t chance the lid too.

IMG_4258 IMG_4260 Made a gravy from the pan scrapings, blanched  the snow peas and served. Not the prettiest plating up but it is Sunday night TV dinner! Mr ATMT actually said it was the nicest roast he’s ever had. Now that’s saying something!

The Reno Update.

After some serious issues with paint blistering and peeling, we are finally getting somewhere with the original fly wire doors. Sensible people would probably have had replicas made to match the design but us no, have had them rebuilt, but painting has proved to be an issue taking far longer than it should have. Getting there now though!

IMG_4235The Anaglypta wallpaper we are putting in the hallway has arrived so now I have to take a deep breathe and ‘man up’ to applying it. Decision was that it should be me  due to Mr ATMT’s more heavy handed approach! Stay tuned for updates.



Jerusalem Artichoke Trial No 1

Ok, I’ve got this big bucket full of Jerusalem Artichoke, what on earth do I do with them?Jerasulem ArtichokesGoogled for recipes that would seem to be suitable, IMG_4223 Decided tonight I would give the Roast Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and lemon recipe (link below) a shot. I will try and make all four chosen recipes using different techniques over the next week or so, just to get a better picture of how these artichokes behave. The recipe said to boil the JA’s for 10-15 mins until cooked but not soft. Don’t know if it was because they were so fresh but 2-3 minutes into the boil and they were soft. There was a floral aroma around the work area that I couldn’t quite make out. I’m quite sensitive to fragrances and I didn’t like what I was sniffing. I tasted the JA’s while raw and they were just like water chestnut, crisp, not too starchy and quite OK. Maybe the cooking brings out an aromatic  fragrance not noticeable in the raw state. The whole time I prepared, cooked and ate this dish I had the feeling that took me to when food has been in the fridge and something like quince or mango had permeated everything. Didn’t really feel comfortable about it. I served the dish on a bed of rice noodles topped with some finely sliced carrot.


Roast Chicken & Jerasulem Artichoke This is the recipe link but I’m not uploading it onto my recipe page as I don’t think it is worthy.

Best part in my opinion was that I got to serve the first broccoli of the season. It was beautiful, outshone everything else I reckon. Mr ATMT thought the dish was fine but I was just ok with it.



The broccoli is really starting to come on, really looking forward to using it. Think the protection nets I put in place early in the season have helped dramatically with protection from bugs and other munchy critters.




Paneer, Pears and Green Manure,

On my last visit to the Dandenong Market I bought a packet of Paneer cheese to have on hand when I felt the need to use it. Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese, easy to make but sometimes you just don’t plan ahead of time, so having some ready made is handy. One of my many favourite Indian dishes is Mattar Paneer (Mutter Paneer, Matar Paneer), but I have only ever ordered it at a restaurant or as take away. Mattar Paneer is a vegetarian dish with peas, lightly toasted paneer in a spicy tomato sauce base. Now was the time to have a ‘crack’ at making it. Took the bull by the horns and googled a recipe that I thought would be suitable and less than an hour later we sat down to a truly delicious version of Mattar Paneer.  Sorry photo a bit dodge! I followed the recipe pretty closely apart from using a ‘stubby’ of tomato passata as the tomato content, I wasn’t sure if they meant large or small green chillies, so I used 3 jalapeños and instead of all that heavy cream I did 2 greek yoghurt/1 cream. I was worried it would be a bit too spicy initially but it mellowed out to a beautiful smooth flavour. Definitely a do again recipe, Link below.

Mattar Paneer Recipe


Pear Tree

While doing a ‘tour of the estate’ last weekend I noticed my espaliered pear tree was looking quite strange on one branch. Notice the discolouration or purpling of the bottom branch?

Espalier Pear

Closer inspection led me to see the tiniest little piece of tie wire sticking out and I wondered it this in fact being ring barked from an early supporting piece of tie wire. It made me think of when as a kid you squeeze around your thumb and the blood is trapped making it look purple (or was I just a very strange kid?).

Ring Barked Pear Tree

Got out some pliers and manage to remove quite a length of wire. Bound the wound with some grafting tape and just have to hope I’ve gotten to it in time and don’t lose the branch. I think there is still some hope as there is obviously some sap getting through.

Green Manure Crop

The wicking bed I planted with a green manure cover crop a couple of months ago looked like it was ready to have the crop slashed and turned in. This form of organic manuring is beneficial in returning all nutrients back into the soil. It is a great way to add organic matter and ‘resting’ the bed in between crops. If legumes are in the mix a good source of nitrogen is also an added  benefit. This bed will also get a load of broken down ‘stuff’ when I clean out the chook house next week.

Green Manure readyTrimming Green Manure

Green Manure slashed and turned in

Other Odds & Ends-Jerusalem Artichokes

I planted a couple of tubers early in the season (or was it last spring?) had no idea what they did, how they grew or what to do with them if I got a harvest. I noticed a couple of tubers were protruding from the soil so took that as an indication they were ready to harvest. Quite a pleasant surprise when Mr ATMT stuck the fork in the ground!

IMG_4212 Jerusalem artichokesI now need to find out how to deal with them and have come up with a couple of different recipes I’ll try. Seems to be an underlying theme by experienced though, not commonly referred to as ‘Fartichokes’ for nothing. Stay tuned!



Getting a bit Prickly around here!

I love the way that sometimes things gather their own energy and take on a life of their own. A few weeks ago I went into the Fowlers Room looking for extra space to put ‘stuff’ while the floors were being done and made a hasty decision that I certainly didn’t need all of the Fowlers preserving bottles I had stored there (Fairy, you’d be proud!). When the kids were little I bottled tomatoes, pears, apples, grapes, puddings, apricots, pineapple and anything else that was in season and cheap. The reality was that I would never use those jars again, so it was time to say goodbye. I took one photo, didn’t count them and bung an ad on Ebay saying something generic like “Fowlers Jars assorted sizes $1.00 each or $10.00 dozen”. Had no idea how many I had of each size. Within half an hour I received an email from a prospective buyer who was happy to take the lot. At this point I thought I should do a stocktake! 144 bottles, that’s 12 dozen jars! I didn’t include any of the size 20’s or the tiny ones, nor the pudding jars as I still use them.


Interesting that the photo has mostly size 20’s! Anyway, the buyer turned out to be the people who own Tarra Valley Foods in the not too far away town of Rosedale. They produce a huge range of pickles, chutney, jams and other great preserves and wanted the jars for pre-processing needs. I had a delightful time chatting to them for ages about gardens, preserves, old bottles and other things. They have a display of historic bottles in their store and are really interested in history of preserving. Subsequently they dropped off a great big bag of quince a week later and then rang and offered some prickly pear fruit to me. How could I refuse? A couple of years ago I heard an interview on ABC RN  with a man who cooks for a school and one of the dishes he mentioned was a ‘prickly pear sorbet’. It sounded delicious and I stored it in my grey matter for one day when I would have the opportunity to try it. This could be it! I love the way when you link into local networks there is a domino effect that can bring benefits to all parties. 

Prickly Pear Sorbet Review (Recipe at link above)

I had been looking forward to making this for so long that I probably was a little overloaded with expectation. I chose to make chocolate cheesecake to serve the sorbet with (recipe is at this link) as our dessert tonight. It was very nice, not too bitter or sweet and a good repeat again recipe. Now the sorbet.

First up, peel and juice the prickly pears, these are the little suckers.

IMG_4176 I found it quite easy to peel them, sliced off each end, cut a slit in skin from top to bottom of fruit and using a small plastic spatula worked under the skin, gently peel off the skin. Bit blurry, sorry.

Peeling prickly pear. I had read somewhere that you could put them through a passata machine which I tried but it was a total failure. It just gummed up the works. I found it easier to just blast them with the bamix then put through a sieve.IMG_4180I put the juice in with the prepared syrup and then into the ice-cream machine which obviously hadn’t been in the freezer long enough as it just didn’t freeze. No drama, just poured it into a shallow plastic container and back into the freezer giving it a stir every now and again. I knew it wouldn’t be completely frozen by dinner time but just decided to call it saubet instead of sorbet! Half sauce, half sorbet, (chuckle, chuckle). Anyway, the verdict by all is it was OK, nothing to rave about, tasted very much like normal pear and rockmelon or watermelon blended. Wouldn’t drive for miles to pick them, but pleased to have given them a go.

Prickly pear sorbet Bobotie/Babotie for dinner

I read about a South African dish using mince in one of the blogs I follow and thought it sounded interesting and worth a shot. This dish was lovely, great cold weather soul food! I didn’t add sultanas as they are not a big hit with some here and I could only get minced beef, not lamb but it was still lovely. I think it will be even better tomorrow on toast! Served it with mashed potato and carrots in mustard and treacle, everyone was pleased with this delicious dish and happy for me to make it again. Bobotie recipe.


Reinvigorating the sour dough starter.

Before I left for Sumatra I put my starter in a jar in the fridge and now needed to re-kick the natural yeast activity. Onto the radiator for initial warming.

StarterFed with some more flour.IMG_4159 Popped into a clean basin to sit and do its thing.IMG_4161Things have cooled considerably on the weather front so  I need to ensure temperature stays warm enough to allow the yeast enzymes to grow. I lit the wood fired stove for the first time this season but had started proving a batch of bread before it was fired up so I had to come up with a warm place to prove the dough. No worries, the slow cooker was on with some pumpkin soup simmering away so I piggybacked the dough on there.

IMG_4169I cooked the bobotie and bread in the wood oven, gee it was nice to use an oven that fitted a proper sized container in it and not use the toy oven. Might have to have a slice of this toasted with some leftover bobotie tomorrow!


It really is Autumn!

MushroomsMy friend delivered some freshly picked field mushrooms she finds in a secret location. These became breakfast cooked by Mr ATMT, butter, red onion, garlic and mushies cooked for a while then some milk was added and cooked till reduced. Beautiful, the real sign that Autumn is here!

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