Elderflowers and pomegranates.

Well this first pic has absolutely nothing to do with pomegranates or elderflowers but I always get excited when I play with compost. We are starting to sort out the area down the west side of the house where the clothesline is and up until now I’ve had one of my 6 compost bins there. This needed to be moved to make way for a couple of garden beds for espaliers and so we can put toppings on the ground. This is the area I mean. The espaliered pear on the left is the one I planted in 2012 before we moved in. This is the thumbnail pic of way back then. So anyway, compost out of the way, now Mr ATMT could get busy building beds and shovelling crushed rock. Just about tamed this area now and the soil certainly smells a whole lot better than it did when we started out. It doesn’t look anywhere near as ‘nursing home’ as this in reality! Trust me.

This is the area when we purchased. No sunlight had touched the house for years and everything was mouldy, damp, smelly and even though it had that ‘old world charm’ feel to it it was pretty gross. We also had fencing installed between us and our immediate neighbour.

So on to elderflowers and pomegranates!

One of the first things I planted was what I had bought as an elderflower plant. The goal was to screen and offer protection from summer afternoon sun to the chook house and to create wonderful cordials and beverages. Sadly this plant has only reached one of these objectives. It has worked extremely well protecting the chook house but sadly not one berry to be had and the cordial I made from the (very pretty) flowers tasted of freshly chopped grass. Time to rethink me thinks.

I’ve started the cut back here so the winter sun can reach the chook house. This plant shoots back amazingly well.

This pic shows the floret remains where berries should form, or so I think. These are the very pretty flowers that adorn the bush prolifically but according to some lovely visitors we had at our food gardens open day, they didn’t have the right fragrance. They were quite experienced in elderflowers apparently so I’ve started to wonder if we actually have a legitimate variety. Further investigation to take place now as I love the idea of elderflower champagne.  I planted a little pomegranate bush near the doors of the greenhouse last season and it is just going nuts. I absolutely love everything about pomegranates, and will be beside myself if we actually get to harvest a homegrown one. The bush has been continually in flower for a  while so Ive been giving the flowers a tickle with a little paint brush between male and female flowers in the hope pollination will be more successful. Well, lookie here! I do believe we may actually have a baby pom in the making. I’ve found another 2 now so these are going to be watched closely to see what evolves. I have such fond memories of fresh pomegranate juice at all the roadside stalls throughout Turkey.

And a couple of tag alongs!

The coriander I have been drying to save seed from is now ready to be thrashed to separate the seeds. I always feel a little bit clever when something so easy takes place. I get better results growing it for seed than I do as a herb as it just seems to bolt quickly. The grapes in the berry house are turning in colour. These grapes taste of passionfruit and are absolutely delicious. Just need to make sure there are absolutely no little points of access for the birds who think they are delicious too. Then there is this! I planted some pumpkin seeds I had saved from a perfectly normal looking butternut pumpkin and this is whats growing. I’m going to let it continue and see what evolves, it may be something stunning. We’ll wait and see. So that’s the little catch up, if you have any knowledge about elderflowers varieties, pomegranates or dodgy looking pumpkin plants I’d love to hear from you.

In My Kitchen

Well another month has disappeared and I’ve yet again been a slack old thing and missed doing the couple of blog posts that did flutter around in my head. Oh well, thank goodness Sherry over at Sherry’s Pickings keeps us motivated by hosting In My Kitchen where we can both share and have a sticky beak at whats going on in all the kitchens out there.

It was time to process some more pickled onions so I purchased a large bag of pickling onions that appeared Ok on the outside, but much to my chagrin as I started peeling them it was obvious the majority were rotten in the centre. I was left with about a quarter of the bag and started the brining process using the lovely little weight I brought home from Turkey to keep the onions immersed. After a day of soaking, these onions went into the compost too. I was thrilled (not), it really hurts preparing onions, even more so with no result to be had. The clay weight worked a tree though! I can’t remember where I spotted this Disney cake to give credit, but I think it’s a ripper! My daughter didn’t accept the challenge to make it, wonder why? My last post was about how we were going to have our garden open as part of the Baw Baw Sustainability Network’s Creative Harvest event. We had a sensational weekend, talking all things food gardens with 117 people, had some lovely artists working in our space promoting the Arts side of the event and lots of laughing. This platter I served while they worked away under the mulberry tree. Every now and again they got ‘plopped on’ by falling mulberries! Here we are in between visitors coming  through. After the 40 degree day the day before, it was a bit of a struggle on so we welcomed these little gaps! I made some mulberry jam for the first time since we took over this place. Other years we have not been able to compete with the birds but the tree has been absolutely loaded so there has been enough to share.  I have also frozen many berries whole to be used as needed throughout the year. This is a great way to be able to throw some food to the little fella without filling him up on sugar. They can be thrown into pancakes, tarts and pies and slowly cooked until they make a lovely natural syrup. A couple of jars of jam is enough for us for the year. I made a couple of hundred dumplings for my son’s birthday and because pleating so many  would take ages as well as hurting my fingers,  I invested $1.50 in this dumpling press. I also used bought wrappers which fitted the press perfectly and I have to say I was very impressed with the result. Glad about that, didn’t want it to only be used as a play dough tool. I had a lovely Instagram friend come to collect a grapevine cutting I had started for her and she rewarded me with this lovely little lot.  In front are some Luisa Plums and I am smitten. They change from this colour to deep red as they ripen and the taste is unbelievable. I think one of these will be finding a spot here next season.The beans and cucumbers went into a salad along with some of my tomatoes, spring onions, with an Asian style dressing, fresh mango on the side and pork rolls in rice paper that I made after I ran out of dumpling wrappers and still had filling. Had to do quality control for the party food of course!So that’s it for In My Kitchen this month. Thanks Sherry for the opportunity of sharing.

I had decided not to pick any more mulberries this season but then I thought I should make the most of every opportunity, albeit small, as you never know if you’ll be around for the next season. An important reminder by a lovely man who sadly won’t be able to pick mulberries next season.  R.I.P. Shane.