How does your garden grow?

lemonIts been a very long time since I posted anything about the garden. You see, there has been not only a hiatus in blogging over the past couple of years but also in gardening. While once my kale was the talk of the town, or at least of Frances-from-around-the-corner, the last two years have seen us struggle to be at all productive, at least with veggies. Each season we clean up the weeds and swear that it will all be different! It never was.


Gardening somehow fits into the rhythm of the day when you’re at home with young kids. And I guess the rhythm of a young child’s day lends itself to weekends at home. Lately though, work and the joy of being able to spend a whole day out, preferably on a bike, without someone getting tired have conspired against us.


So we’re taking a different approach. Rather than try and maintain the four veggie beds and one herb garden, we’ve down-sized. Recently I dug up the herb garden and transplanted as much as I could to the veggie beds. At first I was heartbroken at all the veggie space I was giving up, but that sort of self-pity only works if I’d actually been growing something doesn’t it?


The next part is to be more pragmatic about what we grow. I mean, yes, I enjoy fussing with heirloom kale, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries as much as the next person. But now we need stuff that will just sit there and grow itself.  Things that will stand long periods of being ignored.

I’ve re-instated the asparagus bed the Dutchman once removed in some over-zealous winter weeding. (The irony, we only managed to get around to weeding twice a year and he weeded out all the asparagus!) ¬†Garlic is another way I considered filling up a bed, even bought the bulbs but getting them into the ground was a bridge too far. Sigh.


And I have an entire bed of parsley. Its not very exciting, but I figured since we eat several cups a day in the warmer months, it is very practical. And it’s practically a weed in terms of growing itself.

In addition to that there is lots of sorrel, and of course the herbs that survived moving; rosemary, oregano, lemon thyme, and sage. I’ve put in some leeks, lettuce, cucumber and beetroot. We do seem to be finding a rhythm again, a different rhythm.


A rhubarb crown is taking off, and the apple, peach, grapes and lemons are all looking good. Inspired by all of this I’ve also pruned and been a bit more regular with some garlic spray for pests. And best of all a small pear that Spike destroyed is making a come back. My only problem at the moment is the possums munching on my wormwood every night!

I was looking back through some of my posts about the garden from years ago. There are comments on those from some of my favourite twitter friends and I realised, its not only the garden I’ve missed.


We’ve been enjoying grapes for weeks now but this week they are literally falling from the sky (the grape is growing on a pergola). They have reached peak ripeness and even though we have shared several kilos with friends, family, possums and birds we are struggling to get through them all. Who’d have thought? Boef has taken to hoovering all those that lie on the ground, luckily, so far, without going into renal failure. It’s difficult to get them all picked up before he finds them, especially if we’re out for a few hours.

For the first time I also have Amaranth in the garden. It’s very handsome and grew almost wild from some seeds a woman at the local nursery pulled from a plant and stuffed in my bag. I scattered these at random so it’s great to see some have come up. But how do I harvest it? Anyone know? For the moment I’m happy to have it as an object of beauty but I’m curious about what one would do with it and what quantities do you need for it to be useful?

Quince fatigue

This past weekend saw a great picking of olives and quinces.

It was our olive trees ‘off’ year and so we ended up with abut 7kg of small olives without much flesh. A great year to experiment! One batch, green and small, I processed using the dry-salt method described by Maggie Beer in Maggie’s Harvest. She mentions that this intensifies the flavour of wild olives which I’m guessing these essentially are having had no feeding or watering this year. One batch of larger, purple olives I decided to try Black Olives Recipe #2 from Preserving the Italian Way by Pietro Demaio. In doing so I used the last of my preserved lemon so will be looking forward to when our own lemons ripen.

A third batch, again green, has been done according to Pietro’s Olives in Oil and a fourth batch following his Preserving Olives in Brine recipe. Most of our neighbours, whether Greek, Italian or Lebanese, seem to follow a variation on one of these two.


I’m planning quince paste for the quinces. From all accounts it will give me a chance to try out my new welding gloves! I did get them all de-fuzzed and cleaned on the weekend but ran out of time to actually start cooking. Quince paste is a good four-five hour stretch in the making. All in all it was a solid day’s work with washing, weighing and the rest. I’d like to do the quince as soon as possible but am still recovering from the exigencies of olive preparations!