Sunday, October 12, 2014

Springtime Harvests and home grown Garlic

The heady perfumes of jasmine and wisteria, grapefruit blossoms and bush fire (back burning), have become the welcome and well known intoxicating smells of springtime here in the Blue Mountains. Walking out on the balcony in the morning time, the rich aroma's hold us in a dreamy suspense, and remind us just how good life in the mountains is. The weather is warming, the Kookaburras are sitting plump & content, and it's time to watch the garden grow.
As you may already have heard we're are doing a 1 tonne challenge! That's right, we are aiming to harvest a tonne of food from our yard in a year..nothing like setting the bar slightly high - that would Joe's fault. However, in the last 80 days we have now harvested 80 kgs! That's a person, and we haven't yet hit peak harvest season, actually Springtime in the garden is the leanest season of the for all the non believers out there (I secretly think we might hit closer to 450kgs) watch and be amazed ;)

Today we harvested the last of our citrus, the final oranges and lemons, though there's an abundance of new blossoms bursting with potential. We've been citrussy spoilt this last season, massive juicy grapefruits, sweet oranges and perfect zesty lemons. The secret to our success has been building the chook enclosure around the citrus trees and wait for it - sucking all of the stink beetles into beetle oblivion with the vacuum cleaner - the old vacuum cleaner, that whilst retired from domestic duties proudly sports its abilities with Joe at the realm any time the stink beetle population gets, well stinky. 

Home Made Orange Juice

Springtime specials
 Over the past weeks the kids have been picking the new season mulberries, cape gooseberries, strawberries and broadbeans. We've also been enjoying loads of Pak Choi, yum, yum, yum and it has without a doubt taken over kale to become our new favourite green. Tonight we enjoyed a noodle, chicken, sweet potato, garlic, pak choi and chilli laksa. Pak Choi can be grown all year round and if it's cooked ever so slightly its deliciously juicy and packs a satisfying crunch with every munch.

Home-grown Garlic

This year we were determined to supply ourselves with as much garlic as possible. Planting well over 200 bulbs, on St Patrick's be sure, to be sure and now, in the last fortnight we have harvested and feasted on our very own fresh garlic. Whilst the bulbs aren't enormous, the flavour has been beyond compare to trashy, out of date Chinese and Argentinian store bought garlic, sprayed with all manner of nasty pesticides and fungicides...(along with strawberries, garlic is one of the most heavily sprayed post-harvest crops to promote longevity). There's no need to wait 9 months though to enjoy your garlic. We've been cutting the green tops off the plant all year and loving them in our cooking, offering the most flavoursome  edge to any dish.

If you have never tasted it home grown, do yourself a flavor, and plant some at the end of summer. mulch well and keep the soil moist. then next spring, pull up your very own garlic bulbs and try them roasted whole, or finely sliced and simmered with a little butter and olive oil and parsley, served on sour dough.

Whilst we've been enjoying some springtime treats, we've also been pretty busy in the patch preparing some of the summer heavy weights - pumpkins, zucchinis, potatoes, cucumbers and of course lots and lots of tomatoes.  So far we have 12 tomato plants (and expect to plant at least another 10 before the end of summer) in and thriving including some cherry varieties lemon drops, dark cherry, tommy toe and also some orange juan flambe which have all produced well here in the past. We've also potted up some heirloom tigerella tomato seedlings which we're hoping will be as prolific as they were last season.

 Our front driveway has been decommissioned to make way for our brand new pumpkin patch, so if you're planning on visiting you may never reach the front door alive...might be best to come in via the side gate ;).