Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spring Dinner

I had a craving today. After a night out overindulging I felt an absolute need for garden greens and the freshest food I could get my hands on. Then I had an awful thought, "what is there that is ready to eat right now?" It's early spring, we've had some much needed rain, and the daylight hours are extending. Everything is looking beautiful but the Beetroot are young, the Carrots are young, the Cabbages haven't formed heads etc. etc.

All of our summer seedlings (housed in a greenhouse tent), are up and running including Eggplant, Capsicum, Jalapeno Chillis, and four different varieties of Tomato - Grosse Lisse, Roma, Tommy Toe and Tigerella.

In my pleasant little amble around the garden I grabbed a few young carrots (that needed thinning anyhoo), a Chioggia and an Albino Beetroot (more for the leaves), a handful of Sugar Snap Peas, another handful of Diplotaxis (wild Rocket), another handful of Spring Onions, and a few sprigs of Lemon Thyme and the Dill whose seed I sprinkled in amongst my Silverbeet and Beetroot. Even just a few young vegetables can make a meal that will have you feeling great.

We decided that having felt early in the day that the garden was going to be short on what we felt we needed, and having been proven wrong, our meal was going to be made of only what was in the garden. Thankfully the chooks had done their job and the wonderful harvest below made a beautiful Frittata. The Sugar Snap Peas didn't even make it as far as the frypan, to eat them anything other than fresh seems criminal they are so delicious.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The love of Carrots

Carrots are a wonderful vegetable that grow easily in most climates given adequate water. They're very useful in the kitchen and contain loads of nutritional goodies. The idea that carrots gave you great eyesight was an invention of the RAF during world war 2 when England had developed radar technology to detect the German bombers. Not wanting the enemy to realise the threat, they invented a story about 'cats eyes' cunningham, a fighter pilot who could see in the dark as a result of all the carrots he'd eaten.

Carrot Seed are tiny and the biggest hindrance to successful germination is keeping them moist. They're sown quite shallow, so regular watering or covering the drill with wet newspaper will help to keep moisture levels up. Well cultivated loose soil is essential for long straight roots, over fertile soil will cause forked or hairy carrots (covered in fine roots).

As the seedlings come up they need to be thinned to allow the roots room to develop.

<==from this to this ==>

If you are happy to thin your carrots more than once as they grow, you can first thin them to about 5cm apart, and then to 10 cm apart. The second round will probably be large enough to eat as baby carrots.

When your remaining carrots have enough room to continue growth unchecked, make sure you give them a foliar feed with a weak seaweed solution, comfrey tea or the like. The foliage will droop as they will have provided some mutual support, but within 48hrs they'll be back up and growing.

Remember when harvesting any root vegetable to cut off the tops as soon as they are out of the ground to keep the foliage from drawing on its stores in the root.

Any thinnings too small to eat will be interesting to scratch around in for the chooks.