How to store asparagus...

31 October, 2014

I had to share this tip, as it's been revolutionary to my asparagus eating experience. I may well be the only person out there so behind the times as to not already doing this with asparagus, but anyhoo.

Unless you grow fifty gazillion asparagus plants (slight exaggeration), you will have days when you harvest just a few stalks from your asparagus crowns.

Standard harvest these days: a few spears and plenty of purple sprouting broccoli.

Four asparagus spears does not make a meal. Not in my world. So I would store spears in the fridge crisper until I had enough for a feast. It would take a few days to get a sufficient amount, by which time the first spears would inevitably be wilting a little.

No more.


That is the secret: a jar of water.

Simple, yet amazeballs.

Just add spears to the jar until you get to the point that you can't fit any more in. Then its asparagus gluttony time. Every spear stays as fresh as the day it was picked.

(BTW, the tomato sauce is actually homemade. I just keep re-using that bottle, because I find it more convenient to use a squeeze style bottle than try and pour sauce from the screw top bottles I preserve in. So I decant. Just so you know.)

Which one is the variety 'Fat Bastard' do you think?

Once the jar is full there is a good handful of asparagus.


Yay. Asparagus gluttony time!

Do you have any good fruit or veg storage tips? Especially for typical homegrown harvests.

It's raining mulberries...

28 October, 2014

Finally, my white mulberry is giving a decent harvest.


It has taken a while to get to this point.

I've wanted a mulberry tree for about forever. Mulberry trees were the trees of fairy tales; large rambling majestic trees that I could climb, sit in with a book and just snack on fruit should I get peckish.

So when I moved in here and finally had some space to plant trees, it was one of the first on my list.

I ended up going with a white mulberry, as I read black mulberries drop fruit and stain paths, and given my hatred of lawn I was always going to have paths. I did not want stained paths, so I went with the white mulberry which, should I miss any fruit and it fall, would not stain.

And of course, should I ever wish to keep silkworms, I would have a ready supply of food.

Sadly however, my plan was thwarted. First there was the white mulberry that was not a white mulberry. This set me back a few years, as with fruit trees there isn't immediate gratification. It took a couple of years for the tree to fruit. Realising that the mulberry was in fact, not white, and then ripping the tree out and replacing it with a bone fide white mulberry was a bit of a set back.

The current white mulberry turned out to indeed be a white mulberry, which was quite a relief. And last year I got the first few mulberries.

This is the tree currently (it is looking a bit crooked as it got blown about in the strong winds we've had down here in Melbs the last two days, but I will re-stake it this weekend). It's now about 2m tall and while a bit spindly, shows promise of the sprawling fabulous climbable tree it will, with any luck, become.


But in the meantime, I have white mulberries galore.


The birds don't seem to recognise them as edible, which I hope is how it stays. Because they are delicious.

I may not be sitting in a tree with a book while I eat these, but they are still pretty enjoyable.

Where did the weekend go?..

26 October, 2014

It's hit that time in spring where you feel like there is so much to do in the garden, and not enough time to do it.

This is what I managed to get ticked off the garden to do list:

Net the early raspberries, as some formed berries are just starting to turn red.


Remove the shade cloth from the tomatoes and start the support structure for them to grow up.


(Yes, there are tomatoes in there. They are mostly between 5-10cms high, but completely impossible to see. I promise I'm not making them up.)

Plant out cucumbers with my usual cucumber structure.


Also completed, but not photographed, was the task of chopping back the lillipilli tree which was getting way too tall and shading too much of the garden.

Whew.

What did you get up to in the garden this weekend?

Fennel babies...

22 October, 2014

As I have mentioned before I am a lazy gardener. This sometimes makes life harder (no one is going to sow those successive crops for me) but sometimes makes life easier.

When I crop fennel, I never pull the fennel out. I just cut it off at the base. Easier to harvest (no dirty root bits needing further cleaning and chopping in the kitchen), and the bonus being the roots regrow more fennel.


See the fennel babies coming up.

I once kept a fennel plant producing in this manner for over two years. Then I forgot to crop it, or just got sick of fennel, and once the fennel went to seed it gave up the ghost.

Let's see how long I can keep this one going for.

First of the fruit...

14 October, 2014

I had noticed last week that some of the strawberries were beginning to ripen. 


So, knowing from experience that an unprotected red berry is a berry that will shortly be eaten by a bird, I made netting the main strawberry patch a priority gardening task.


I use a bunch of around 1.2m stakes to hold up the netting and a few bricks around the edges to hold it down.

On bypassing the strawbs patch this afternoon I saw some positive ripe berry signs.


So I did a quick un-netting to see what I can find. With this netting strategy I simply take off the bricks and fold the netting back on the stakes, leaving an easy to access strawberry patch.


This was the first pickings.


I won't say it is a strawberry feast quite yet, but it will be a very welcome addition to my dessert yoghurt.

Yay for the first fruit harvest of the season.

Grafting success and failure...

10 October, 2014

Earlier in the year I attempted my first ever grafting on my Anzac peach tree.

As a quick recap, I did three bud grafts each of the two varieties I was attempting to graft, to give the greatest chance of success.

It appears that I have had both success and failure.

The Blackburn Elburta grafts have taken off like a shot.


They are looking fabulously healthy, shooting green leaves in add directions. I'm so pleased. Grafting just seems such a magical thing: a frankenstein type experiment come to life.

The only problem I'm going to have is remembering which branches (when they grow) are from the graft and which is the original tree. I'm removing all the Anzac tree buds, to let only the grafts grow. But when I was learning grafting the instructor told the story of the time he accidentally pruned off the graft, then realised what he had done. Horror!

Unfortunately, none of the Fragar bud grafts were succesful. They all look completely dead. 


I was hoping they would just be late bloomers, but no. I think I can catagorically say there will be no Fragar peaches on this tree. *Sad face*

I have no idea what the difference was. But I am happy enough with the experience to definitely be trying more grafting in the future.

Have you done any grafting? Any tales or tips would be appreciated.

Garden Share Collective: October

05 October, 2014

It being the first weekend of the month, it's time for Garden Share Collective. Cheers to Lizzie for starting the GSC.


Gardening at this time of year is both joy and pain. When the sun is out and the birds are singing it seems like anything will grow if you can just get it into the ground. Then the sun goes behind the clouds and you feel the cold and remember: spring is only just beginning. Don't get ahead of yourself.

That said, things are moving on from last month.

Planting

Seed continues to be raised mostly indoors. Eggplants and peppers are hitting their germination strides, but are a while away from being planted outdoors.

Cucumbers will shortly be kicked out from inside into the big, wide world: aka planted out. Pumpkins ditto. They will require lots of snail protection.

The tomatoes are all outdoors now, some being planted out just recently while the remainder are still in their punnets. These are kept outdoors against a north facing brick wall, with some large bluestone blocks around them to both protect from wind and be heat sinks, releasing the warmth overnight to protect the tomato seedlings from cold shock. The whole shebang gets covered with garden fleece on any cold night for a little extra protection.

In other solanum news, I have also planted out some potatoes. Some was bought seed potatoes (Spunta) while I also had a few Dutch Creams go green, so I chitted these and planted them out too.

Harvesting

The garden harvests have been well and truly on the cusp of the winter/spring garden. Old winter stalwarts continue, including cabbage (only two left now), kale and broccoli. The kale bed is looking a bit sad, but there are still plenty of edible leaves.


Peas have been continuing well, although have started to get a bit of mildew. I've treated this with a soap/milk spray and it seems to be improving.


Purple sprouting broccoli is just beginning.


Proper spring crops of artichokes and asparagus are starting to hit their strides with good harvests.



And in super exciting news, I think this will be the year of the earliest ever tomato!


To do:
  • Plant out cucumbers and pumpkins.
  • Sow zucchini outdoors.
  • Coddle the tomatoes until they get planted out, likely around late October.
  • Keep on top of the broccoli, pulling out any that go to seed.

That seems to be it for me in October. Don't forget to check out other garden happenings at Lizzie's.