Starting our warm weather crops.
Is time for me to get cracking & start to organise the warm weather crops. This is always a bit of a hard task as we appear to accumulate quite a selection of seed at times, as well as a few new varieties we're eager to try.
I won't be planting many of any one variety, except for the pop corn because it requires a decent amount of plants to get full cobs of kernels. We don't have enough compost available at the moment to feed all of the beds we have on the go. Because of this I've decided to let a few beds lay fallow/go feral until compost becomes available to add in. This is no big loss as there are plants in some, like the warrigal green bed, that will still give us a harvest of sorts during this rest period.
These beds will get a feeding later in the season when the compost we have on the go at the moment is ready.
We do have a long growing season so am confident that a few beds will be planted out later on. One or two of the resting beds will be fed up later in the warm season, which is OK because they'll be ready to go for next round of cool weather crops.
Most of the seeds we'll be sowing this time round were gifted to us through the Share the Seed group on Facebook & YouTube friends. Will also be sowing a few of our own saved seeds along with some purchased ones from our favourite small seed suppliers.
I have a few greens selected & will be starting off with some that like the cooler weather. I think we'll pop in some Asian greens & lettuces into the aquaponics to start and then move onto plants like Egyptian spinach & amaranth a bit later on as they handle the heat a lot better.
Three garden beds have been prepared & sown out already. At the backstairs I've set up a new Root Pouch wicking garden.
The pouch on the left hand side at the back was sown out with a few cucumbers & some Thai Basil, both gifts from online seedy friends. The pouch on the right has 4 sweet potato slips planted out which will be trained up the trellis at the rear along with the cucumbers. The 2 pouches at the front have been sown out with a mix of leftover carrot seeds from various packets found in the seed toolbox.
I prepared the soil/compost mix a bit different than the other lots by adding a fair amount of course sand. This will help to loosen the mix & allow the carrot roots to (hopefully) grow straight.
The final pouch has our favourite yellow sunshine chilli in it. It was looking a tad scruffy so I gave it a bit of a trim back & a good feed with some fresh compost. It should bounce back nicely once the weather warms up.
The wicking bed in the centre of the hoop house has been fed up with compost & topped up with some soil from a few pouches of potatoes that were harvested. A trellis has been added for some Munchkin pumpkins to grow up as they are supposed to be a semi compact variety.
The other end of the bed has the red cherry tomato vine that I'm trying to grow the length & breathe of the hoop house. It had some perennial leeks growing at its base, so I moved them to a better position & gave them a few good handfuls of compost to help them on their way. Some sweet basil and a compact yellow zucchini was also planted out with a few samba bush beans being sowed in the centre of the bed.
Have also done a bit of maintenance in the aquaponics to get ready for the warmer weather.
The dwarf summertime gold tomato was removed to make way for new plants but I took some clones off it to get a jump start on some new plants.
Taking clones is an easy way to propagate tomato plants & is as simple as pinching out the suckers (small growth points above the leaves of the plant) & planting it out in soil or in my case, clay balls in the grow bed. If you want, you can also start them off in a jar of water to allow the roots to develop a bit before planting out.
I've purchased some water loving food plants to try out in a new pond garden this year too.
Taro is one plant I've been wanting to grow for a while & have thought about growing it in the aquaponics but might wait until next season. Duck potatoes/arrowhead is another that will go in with the taro & water chestnuts. Not quite sure where the pond will be set up so the plants are staying in trays full of water in their pouches for now.
A couple of harvests.
A few weekends ago I finally got around to harvesting the orange turmeric & some ginger from a wicking bed in the hoop house that had been growing for around 19 months. They normally get planted out in spring & harvested when they die back at the end of autumn/start of winter. These plants didn't get a full season in the bed last year so were left just to see how they would go. I think it was a good idea as what was unearthed really blew our socks off.
We ended up taking out 6.3kg/13.8lb of turmeric & 2.5kg/5.5lb of ginger. We kept all the ginger from this harvest but have given away/sold just over half of the turmeric.
Some of the turmeric we've kept is being stored in the fridge for use fresh in meals & a few fingers being frozen whole.
The majority of the harvest we kept has been turned into a paste & frozen in small blocks so they can be thawed out & used to make curry paste or just added directly into meals.
The brassicas have done exceptionally well this season with at least one head of cauliflower being harvested every week and broccoli heads or shoots being used in nearly every evening meal.
We still have a few young broccoli & cauliflower growing in the patch but am unsure how well they'll do once the weather starts to warm up.
Have pulled another lot of fish from the fish farm & had another crack at making up fish cakes. For these fish cakes I used 1½ cups of bread crumbs, 3 small perennial leeks (spring onions would work just as well), dill, 1 egg & about 500g/1lb of skinned fish fillets.
All the ingredients were blitzed in the food processor, formed into cakes then rolled in Panko style breadcrumbs. They were then shallow fried in a frypan until done then served with some home grown cauliflower & broccoli.
Must say that these fish cakes turned out a lot better than the lot I mentioned in last month's blog & they went down a treat. Will be pulling a few more out this week to turn into Thai style fishcakes methinks ;-)
A few weekends ago we cut back the tomato jungle that had been slowly consuming the chook pen for the past few months & harvested all the ripe yellow current tomatoes.
It was a fantastic harvest & we collected just under 4½kg/10lb of fruit with the chooks getting their own fair share of what fell through the wire roof. The plan was to stew them all up to become tomato paste for sauces, that was until Bianca posted a picture she took to Facebook. One of her friends (Thanks Bec) suggested we roast them "with fresh thyme, rosemary, splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and a little sugar" at 120°C/248°F for 2-3 hours. This sounded so appealing I thought they'd go great as a topper on a pasta dish, so whipped one up for dinner the next night.
Roasted cherry tomato pasta.
The sauce was a very basic one made from some summer time gold & Wherokowhai tomatoes from the freezer, a few cloves of garlic, few tsp of raw sugar (to cut back the tang), salt and cracked pepper.
It was simmered in a pot until most of the liquid had boiled off then blitzed with a stick blender to chop up the skins.
Some chopped Warrigal greens from the freezer were then added until they were warmed through.
The tomatoes were very easy to prepare. First of all they were halved & laid out onto an oiled baking tray.
A few sprigs of fresh thyme & rosemary from the patch were chopped finely then sprinkled over the top of the halved tomatoes. Salt & pepper were then ground over them & they were added to the oven (set on 130°C/270°F) for 2½ hours.
Once the tomatoes in the oven were done the pasta was put onto boil, salami was sliced & the sweet basil was washed & shredded.
To put the dish together the spaghetti, salami & basil was tossed through the sauce with the small roasted tomatoes added to the top. The flavour of the roasted herby tomatoes mixed with the sweet basil & spicy salami was absolutely fantastic. Made up another batch a few days later with some of the sauce we made with the yellow current tomatoes from the chook pen & think it will become a bit of a regular meal here now.
Hope you've enjoyed the look at some of our warm weather garden preparation & hope yours is coming along well.
All the best & have a great one folks,