Catch up post. Kombucha among other things.

Well it was time to do the taste test! My first batch of kombucha had been bottled for a second fermentation which I had read creates better carbonation, 2 bottles with some ginger added and 1 plain.

KombuchaI had read that kombucha can be pretty explosive on opening, so I decided to do this outside. Good decision!img_9281This is the trail of exploded KB over the side path. Haven’t seen something like that since the kids were home and had partied hard! I probably should have taken heed of the people who recommend refrigerating the bottles before opening. I’ll take that on board for the next batch.kombuchaThis what remained in the bottle after the explosive opening.Ginger kombuchaI can say though, I loved the flavour. The slight ginger overtones were wonderful and it was bubbly and refreshing.

For a wander through the patch.

It feels like an eon since I’ve played in my veggie patch, probably because it is. We are opening again for the food gardens section of Gardivalia this year so I had better pull my finger out and get things in order.

AsparagusThere are signs of life coming from the asparagus bed,Crimson broad beansthe crimson broad beans my brother-in-law gave me look so pretty,Broad beansand the normal ones are in flower too.coriander growingWhen I was sorting out moving stuff from the temporary kitchen to the new kitchen I threw some old coriander seed into this bed and hopefully it will keep growing. I don’t have much luck with coriander so fingers crossed.De la mal maison roseThe souvenir de la mal maison climbing rose I planted last year near the green house is in bud. I can’t wait to see these bloom, one of my favourites.leaf mold compostI spread one of the  leaf mold towers we had breaking down for the last 12 months over this bed, I now need to choose a spot for the next one to be placed. So easy just removing the wire and spreading the lush conditioner over the bed.

BREAD

I’m finally getting a handle on how the new oven operates and made some oat porridge bread. Here is the oats cooking (on a real stove top!) waiting to cool to add to the dough.Oat porridge breadThis one of the 3 loaves I made. I used the recipe from the delightful Maurizio’s site and although once again, it’s not as pretty as his. I’m quite happy with the result. Oat Porridge sourdough breadCrumb shot! Not as fine as Maurizio’s but I didn’t mind.Crumb shot oat porridge sourdough.With spring in the air and me officially finishing work I hope to be able to get a bit more in control and do some finishing off of all our half started jobs.

Spring is definitely springing up! Garden Share Collective.

At the risk of painting the devil on the wall, I’m going to say that Spring is well and truly here and I doubt there will be any more frosts. There, I’ve said it! This past winter has been a ‘real’ winter. Very cold, lots of frosts, lots of rain and I’ve loved it! I really like seeing the seasons roll around and for the past few years there have been strange happenings such as things bursting into flower in mid June, then frost burning them off and trees  shooting out new leaves before the old ones have fallen. This year it has been a definite autumn, into winter and I hope now into spring. The daffodils are a sight to behold and they have been in bloom for a good three weeks so far. There are also irises and freesias about to pop open.

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IMG_2313One of the irises has opened its heart.

I’m not so confident about no more frosts yet to remove the frost protection, sure as eggs………………

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We’ll end up with more of this! This was a beautiful ball shaped fig, didn’t even think to cover it and it has been whacked terribly by the frost. Not sure how well it will come back but I’ll give it a bit of TLC and see.

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Then there’s the ever pleasing sight of asparagus spears shooting. I’ve already picked 3 or 4 and munched on them as I work outside.

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The broad beans were planted late but are going really well. In previous seasons I’ve found that they don’t set pods until the bees are out so I may be in with a chance yet! The wire support on the poles is working really well keeping them upright. I’ll add another layer as they get taller.

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The garlic at the end of this bed is rocketing along. These brassicas are nearly done and there are some radishes in here too that I pick and eat as I walk by. This bed will be mostly tomatoes and corn this summer.

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The silver princess gums are flowering and we love checking daily to see if the little gum nut caps are any further open. It is amazing how well the caps hold on even though the flower is in full bloom. This is one of my favourite plants!

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You could swear our keeper of the garden is relishing the afternoon sun on his face.

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As I sit in our small, front room in front of the open fire where bread is proving and we are eating the warming, spanish chicken dinner I made last night,

IMG_2376I wonder how many more nights we have to enjoy such cool climate comforts.

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I’ll try to add this post to the Garden Share Collective site but I keep stuffing up due dates   so it may just go on the FB GSC page.

 

In My Kitchen. Golly how did it get to be November?

What a busy time it is at the moment! We have just celebrated the engagement of our son and his beautiful partner. Joyous time indeed and a lot of creating food for the celebration.  So in my kitchen is:

10424268_1563188050563163_5140644749713191810_n Some of the leftovers of the magnificent cake my daughter made for the event. Ready to pack to put in the freezer for later use. It was beautiful and looked amazing as well as tasting sensational. She is VERY talented!IMG_6254I made some vegetable pakora, they looked much better on the serving platter, see my previous post!IMG_6185

Cauliflower pakora

I cooked up some VERY spicy tiny sausages and meatballs. These were a great hit.IMG_6179In my kitchen are a few beautiful roses, this one is  a week old in the photo and still holding up well.IMG_6186 These beautiful ‘Jude the Obsure’ blooms are from a bush our daughter gave us after her wedding. Very precious to me.IMG_6206 In my kitchen are 2 heads of broccoli freshly cut waiting to go into our tummies.IMG_6230Sadly, I have to say goodbye to the last of last seasons garlic. This bag was chockers and has lasted really well. Only a couple of weeks till new crop is ready I think.IMG_6233 In my kitchen is a leek, broad bean and mushroom risotto made from freshly picked veg. It was beautiful!IMG_6237 Some of the broad beans, nearly finished for the season so enjoying them while we can.IMG_6248In my kitchen is a smoked trout. We are so lucky having such an excellent butcher who makes his own small goods and they are sensational. Thanks Wayne from Trafalgar Butcher Shop. Such an easy appetiser, trout, some bread or crackers to serve it on and your done!IMG_6257 Another local producer who grow the most amazing organic vegetables with love. Wendy and Tony go out of their way to make sure their produce is first rate and their service is exceptional. Wendy delivered these beautiful lettuce and daikon and some other goodies to me at work. Love shopping that way! It is nice knowing that the food I served for the after party BBQ has been grown with so much love and care. Check out Thorpdale Organics, it’s worth it.IMG_6260

Didn’t get to take a photo of the view from the kitchen window but it’s looking pretty good!

Thanks Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for giving us this opportunity to see and share kitchens from around the world.

Espaliers, skirting boards and spring pasta.

We have at long last commenced the fence around the veggie patch. We are going for a rustic paling look across the front and on the gate but along the back it is just posts with ‘reo’ attached so I can use the steel as framing for espaliers, beans and other things as needed. I got to plant the fig which has been in a pot since we bought it at the Castlemaine market the Easter before last. This may be quite a hot spot so hopefully the fig should do well. Not sure about the root system, but what the hell! I’d already started training it to a ‘U’ Goblet shape and hope I get some side shoots soon so I can train it to spread across as well as up.IMG_5168I’ve also planted 2 apples along this fence. With another 2 planted along the front patch fence which I will train as step over apples, (photos when that fence is completed). This means they are varieties which have been grafted onto unusually dwarf rootstock so you can keep them small and manageable.IMG_5169I’ll train the granny Smith as a double cordon style shape like this photo below. Mine certainly won’t cover as much space as this but I want to demonstrate what you can achieve in small spaces with fruit trees.espaliers-2013-13-620x416

Now to the walls on the inside!

I have spent some time this weekend working on the hallway. I managed to finish hanging the wallpaper and started work on restoring the 8″ cedar or Australian pine (not sure which or what the difference in fact is ). It would be so tempting to just paint these or even go and get new, fresh, perfectly recreated mouldings made from craft wood or pine but these babies have been here since the house was built and I like the scars they show and the story they tell. I wonder how many of the scuff marks are from people who were quite nervous (justified I’m led to believe) about going into the doctors for a procedure or checkup. This is the starting point, the boards have been sealed or varnished over the years with a quite dark finish. They are terribly scuffed and we’ve had to glue quite a few together in places.

IMG_6094I started by going over the boards with metho to break down the finish (luckily we found a couple of 10 gallon /20 litre) drums of metho in the stables when we moved in. Doctors obviously bought their metho in bulk! IMG_6095This along with a scourer to help dissolve the finish, washed and a final sanding using steel wool and they are looking much happier. Love that grain!IMG_6096The first coat of Tung Oil, and I’m really pleased with how they are coming up. They still show many dents, scuffs, splits. holes and dings. I’m quite OK with that! They don’t actually look quite that red which is good. Another sand with steel wool, another coat and they should be good to put back in place. I’m keeping the unveiling of the hall until it’s just about finished.IMG_6097

Spring pasta.

We are starting to get much better harvests now that the soil has warmed and the sun has been out a bit more. (I nearly stupidly said “now that we have more sun because of daylight saving”, but that would have been silly). Dinner last night was an easy pasta dish. I walked around and picked a young garlic plant that was growing in the way of something else. Young garlic delivers a subtle flavour to a dish without overpowering it. I also picked some young asparagus, thai basil, oregano, parsley and chervil.IMG_5183 Now don’t get excited but I also picked, yes, broad beans. A whole tablespoon full. We love broad beans and have been anxiously waiting on a harvest as they are very late this year. IMG_5185A couple of leeks, some broccoli I’d frozen before we went away, along with these herbs, some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and it was lovely light dinner. IMG_5189

 

 

Garden Share Collective

Thanks Lizzie at Strayed Table for getting all these together.TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Well Spring is well and truly showing its face. Flowers are smiling at me, fruit trees and deciduous trees are in bud, leaves are popping and showing signs of life. Birds are sharing their joyous chatter and everything just looks clean, pretty and bursting with energy.

I’ve been picking oranges from the now very healthy tree. The broccoli and kale are nearly done but I’m still getting side shoots from the broccoli.

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I started some sweet potato in the greenhouse and have planted them out into one of the greenhouse wicking beds. I don’t really expect to get a crop of tubers but the leaves can be used like spinach and in stir frys. Good little root system! IMG_5358 The broad beans are growing beautifully, but no sign yet of ‘beans’. Researching I found mention that they don’t usually appear until it warms up enough for insects to do their thing with pollination. Sure hope this little guy has done a good job!IMG_5355 My worm farm is apparently a nice place for slugs to take up residence. This is just a few that were ‘relocated’ never to return. I’m sure their offspring will though!IMG_5345 I’ve tidied up my pots, adding fresh potting mix, thinning our any dead wood and fed them. All my seedlings are doing well, tomatoes growing rapidly and the cipollini onion seed that I heard about from another blogger are up and nearly ready to transplant. Time to do some cucumber, pumpkin, beans soon and all those other summer crops. The Brussel Sprouts still are teenie weenie, don’t hold out much hope there.

First tulip opened today.IMG_5417Two Corella birds sitting in the oak tree watching down on me.IMG_5428And this magnolia says it all!IMG_5270And this magnolia says it all!

You don’t see until you look.

After reading a post from Sarah at The Garden Deli about hidden and undiscovered flowers that act as nectar and pollen attractors for butterflies, I thought I’d take a sneaky peek at what was happening in my garden. We see VERY few butterflies here apart from the dreaded white cabbage butterfly which is rated as foe, not a friend. They were conducting a ‘Big Butterfly Count‘. I might check that out, sounds interesting. I wonder if they are as obsessed with ‘big things’ over there as we are here? Maybe someone has a ‘Big Butterfly’ at the front of their business or at the entrance to the town. Would be far prettier than a ‘Big Pineapple’ or ‘Big Yabbie‘ like we have!

Anyway, I am home for a few days trying to repair a damaged knee (fell during my marathon of work a couple of weeks ago) and today was an absolutely beautiful day. It is very frustrating on such a day not to throw myself into another round of jobs and just be a bit passive, but due to the injury I really need to take heed. Something I don’t do very well!

Alas,  I found no butterflies and no hidden flower gems in the lawn, but I sat with a cuppa for a while and was entertained by some hover flies and bees in the veggie patch and garden. I deliberately left these broccoli to flower for that purpose, so it was nice to see it had the desired effect.

IMG_4859Incoming bee for landing.

IMG_4894 Hover flies everywhere and look at the pollen on that bee!

The beautiful jonquil flowers also had some visitors.

IMG_4938Flowers on the broad beans, and the supporting wire I installed is doing a great job.  Can’t wait for a harvest from these.

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Almost a celeriac!

I was chuffed at seeing how well one of the celeriac plants was doing and one morning it looked a bit lop-sided so I went to investigate and obviously something other than me thinks celeriac is worth having a chomp on. Bugger, it looked like it was going to be a cracker too!

IMG_4766Could this be the guilty one?

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Genetics.

Does how you paint go into your genetic profile? Father & son here, made me giggle.

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Food and fun.

This weekend has been lovely. Almost tea with my son and his girlfriend at their new home (no dinner because all the take-a ways were closed!). They are doing a great job giving a sad old post war weatherboard home a makeover. Three weeks in and it’s amazing what a difference some cleaning, pruning (major) and TLC can do to a house. Lovely seeing them looking at things from a different view as owners rather than taking everything on face value as normal. We then spent some time on our property that we are still trying to sell at Fish Creek and re-instilled some love there.   Hopefully enough to trigger a sale, but things are so slow over there I’m not holding my breath. Think I may have to re-assess how we manage that!

Re-kindle India.

While in India, we had the fortunate experience of tasting ginger tea at breakfast while staying in a hotel in Delhi. It was purely accidental that we poured from this particular pot as the ‘western tea’ had not been served at that time. I love accidental discoveries and after some lengthy interpretation with the staff we vaguely got the gist of how it was made. Googling answered my questions and it is a common beverage in many Indian households. I had a go this morning at making it and yes, it was sensational. I followed the recipe on ‘Show me the Curry‘ website and was very happy with the result. Nice start to the day indeed. Sorry but photo is a bit fuzzy!

Ginger tea

PHOT!

Not Pho, not hot pot but an attempt to marry the two. I had wanted to make pho but didn’t have bones for stock. Thought about a hot pot (or as Cam would disrespectfully say, Ho Po) but didn’t have a clay pot that would fit into our mini oven, so I tried to marry the the two together. Marinated chicken as per the recipe at recipe.com added some extra stock and put the whole lot into the slow cooker and let it go. 2 hours before tea I added some chopped bok choy and then served with fresh spring onions, rice noodles and finely chopped spring onions. I would add some star anise and chilli next time but it was very, very nice. I can really understand how these meals based on rich stock with, lovely spices and fresh vegies are soul food for so many. So fresh and healthy too!

 

The ‘Phot’ required Shiitake mushrooms and I realised that since we have been away and not tending the logs too well, my shiitakes had actually dried on the logs!

Shiitake dried on log

What the heck, cut the dried ones from the logs, reconstituted in hot water, sliced and added to the slow cooker. They were sensational!

Shiitake reconstitutingFingers crossed!

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All good! This was a really nice dish. Broth was flavorsome from the shiitake and other spices and seasonings.

Jobs I didn’t get to!

Had a master plan this weekend to plant the onion bag full of bulbs that I took from the last house and to install the auto-openers on the greenhouse windows. Don’t you love it when you have a list and manage to work hard but don’t see one item from the list completed? Started out with the goal to plant the bulbs, went to compost to get some planting mix and realised that the open bins are struggling due to encroaching tree surface roots. I have never had much success with open compost bins, they dry out, roots invade and I find them difficult to turn. I am a fan of the ‘Geddye’ style bin. Easy to use and turn with a curly compost turner. Easy to manage moisture levels and worms seem to love the environment. Ahh, the bulbs will have to wait till next week!

 

 

 

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!