Sunday, August 17, 2014



Finally, last night we had our first decent drop of rain after what seems like months. We took the girls out for a puddle hunt and didn't return until they were sufficiently soaked with muddy water. The water tanks are full again and the vegetable garden is soaking up as much as it can hold. We are 21 days into our challenge to see how much food we can grow on our suburban block in one year, and so far, we have harvested a modest 45kg of fresh fruit, veg and eggs from our garden. We have set ourselves the goal of trying to reach 1 tonne of food production before the year is out, and although it seems ambitious for a suburban block, we're quietly confident that we can at least get close.

You may be wondering what there is to harvest during winter in the mountains, but we have a bounty of lemons, oranges and grapefruit, tamarillos, and plenty of greens. Shallots, bok choi, nasturtiums, kale, and even dandelion greens have been harvested daily. After reading a great little book on edible weeds, "The Weed forager's Handbook", we have been looking at some of our weeds rather differently. Instead of pulling them out, we have been enjoying them in salads, which makes a lot more sense.

R with a double decker tamarillo!

Kale Chips? Anyone? Anyone???

Kale has been enjoying celebrity status in the vegetable isle around the world, it seems, for the past year or so, and all the most chic of herbivores have been desperate to be seen with a bunch of these designer label leafs, preferably wrapped in some rustic brown paper, being peddled in the front basket of a retro bicycle. Scientists have found that Kale keeps you looking healthy, and very, very vogue!

Not  to be left behind in the food fashion world, we decided to grow some this season, so that we too could bask in the Kale haute - couture, of this oh so "in" veg. Yesterday we made kale chips, and were very impressed with ourselves. The feeling of being cutting-edge-cool was almost palpable, until we tried to share them with the kids, who each screwed up their faces and collectively gagged at the taste....philistines!
Crispy Kale chips
Kale chips are actually worth a go. Of course, only a more seasoned pallet will appreciate them. Simply dry off the leaves using a towel after washing them, then toss them with a tiny amount of olive oil. Tear up the leaves into rustic looking bite sized bits, and pop them in a low oven at 130 degrees c for about 15 minutes until they have gone delightfully crispy.

We sat and ate our high society,all organic, home grown kale chips as we casually flicked through the paper, knowing that, even though no-one could see us, the world  somehow just knew, we were bourgeois foodie gods... and then, I saw it, an article in the paper on how seaweed is the new super fashionable green to be eaten... suddenly I felt like a K-Mart end of season sale bin!

From Failure to Falafel
Last year, we got all excited about the idea of making flour from our broad beans. We had giddy notions of making our own broad bean bread, and being oh so sustainable... but broad bean flour just doesn't least, not for bread-making. Our one and only attempt at broad bean bread went from dismal failure to happy accident, when we accidentally made... the worlds best broad bean falafel mix!

                                    How to make a boastfully good broad bean Falafel

1. Grow and dry your own broad beans with pride
2. grind your dried beans in a food processor (we used a coffee grinder)
3. add water, some garlic, a chilli, and herbs of your choice to taste
4. roll the delicious mix into bite sized balls and shallow fry in a pan with olive oil.
5. serve with sweet chilli and homemade yoghurt!

The New Veggie Patch

Take a peek at our new patch. With the addition of another 14 square metres, we have loads more growing space for the challenge, and we are very much looking forward to testing it out this summer. Our perennials and fruit trees are grouped together, south of the vegetable patch, where, hopefully, apples, pears, bananas, tamarillos, strawberry and pineapple guava's, sweet potatoes, strawberries, cape-gooseberries, chillies and yacon will all happily grow in harmony.

We have also updated our in-ground worm-farms. We found that our first ones were too small, so we've added 5 x 20 litre buckets, cutting off the bottoms and drilling with holes. they are working wonderfully under our fruit trees, and the worm population in our patch is getting  a real wriggle on!

Our garlic has also been growing well, so far, despite a few aphids, and if all goes according to our garlicky plans, we should have mountains of garlic to store for the coming year.

In the seedling nursery we have 8 different varieties tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchinis, basil and shallots all awaiting transplanting over the coming weeks. Today we sowed carrots, beetroot and leek, a bounty that should help us reach our challenge target. One tonne here we come ;)!