Sunday 30 May 2010

Be Nice to Nettles Week!

Did you know it is Be Nice to Nettles Week. Check out the website called Be Nice to Nettles Week.

Stinging Nettle

The picture above shows stinging nettle (Urtica Dioica).

Nettles play an important role in an organic garden. They are excellent added to a compost heap. They can be made into a liquid manure & used as an excellent tonic when sprayed on leaves & soil.

Nettles also have an important nutritional value as they are rich in vitamins A & C. The formic acid is destroyed by cooking so they can used in the same way as spinach. Use only the top fresh leaves. Nettles can also be made into teas, beers & wines.

Nettles are an excellent addition to cattle fodder & poultry feed as they are rich in chlorophyll, iron, nitrogen & calcium.

I hope you check out the Be Nice to Nettles website as it has some great information.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Fenugreek, Methi

Chillies & Garden-43

Every winter I plant a small patch of organic fenugreek sprouting seeds in the garden. They germinate quite quickly and you soon have a great harvest of beautiful nutritious leaves. You can use the young sprouts in salads, and the leaves (not the stems) in cooking.

Fenugreek leaves can be added to just about anything you cook. Traditionally they are used in Indian cooking. So can be found added to dhal, fried pakoras, curries, saag, Indian roti bread,  sambars and sambals.

Fenugreek leaves are the herb and have a lovely earthy flavour. Once picked from the stem they can be frozen.

Fenugreek seeds are the spice and once again appear in many Indian recipes or curry powders.

Fenugreek seeds can also be spouted in the kitchen and would be a great for folks who cannot garden outside in winter.

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Sunday 23 May 2010

CHILLIES - a rainbow of colour in the garden


After many hot and warm days here on the Adelaide Plains our chilli patch is laden with lots of multi coloured, multi shaped chillies. A real rainbow of colour and anticipated heat for cold winter days.

Most of these chillies will be frozen for use in soups, pesto's, curries, casseroles, veggie burgers, meat koftas, spice rubs, sauces, salsa’s, salad dressings, marinades, chilli jam, pickles and chutneys. Maybe even chilli brownies or chilli chocolate cake.

Chillies & Garden-1

Purple Tiger is a great chilli to grow. Not only are the leaves beautiful and colourful but it produces masses of purple and red chillies. One purple tiger chilli will give enough heat for a really hot curry.

I think the hotness of chillies is dependant on many factors, like soil, water applied, heat from the sun, length of time on the bush and age of the chilli. More mature chillies are definitely sweeter.

I have picked chillies from the same bush and have found the heat content can vary. The membrane of chilli is the hottest part so if the seeds and membrane are removed, the chilli will not be so hot.

Have you experienced differing heat content and flavour in the same variety of chillies you have grown?

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Today’s harvest of aubergines and green chilli has already been made into a spicy pasta sauce and the red chillies are all in the freezer.

I notice most food gardening bloggers are not blogging much lately. I imagine they, like us, are busy processing the last fruits and veggies of a warm autumn and pruning, composting and planting out seedlings grown for winter vegetable gardens.

Saturday 15 May 2010



If you follow this blog you will be aware that grass in Adelaide, unless watered, turns golden and does not grow in summer because we have very little summer rain. But as soon as the rain comes in Autumn, the grass grows again.

So the neighbouring agricultural high school paddocks are green again.

It is then that the cows are put back in the paddocks to graze on the winter grasses.

The goats appeared in a neighbouring paddock a few days ago and today the cows are back!

The animals are from the local agricultural high school and are kept in back paddocks during summer but in winter they are in the front paddocks and many local people bring their children to see the animals.

So now my young grandson will be elated, because all summer I have told him as we gazed at the barren, sun dried paddocks, when the rain comes, the grass will grow and when there is green grass in the paddocks, the cows will come back.

I repeat myself many times about some things I would like him to be interested in and remember.

WOW! the cows are back or WOW! the seeds we sowed have germinated and WOW! this parsley is from the seed we saved then threw over the garden in summer, WOW! this lettuce is yummy, WOW! look at all the worms in the worm farms.

Why? well it is important for us all to be aware of nature and the seasons.

The seasons bring many changes in our gardens and lives, foods appear once a year and then they are gone until next season.

Each month brings a different fruit or vegetable to enjoy, preserve or let go to seed so it can be replanted next year at the appropriate time or just left in the soil to germinate when the conditions are right for it.

Next week when he visits and we shall enjoy watching the cows chomp on the green grass and wander the paddocks.

And why are their 5 cows this winter and there were 10 cows last winter, well that is another story for another day!

We love the cows and we love the fact that they are eating lovely green grass, and that they look so healthy and content.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Pine Mushrooms Asian Style

Autumn in Adelaide brings chestnuts and pine forest mushrooms.

Today we spent quiet afternoon wandering a friends property gathering mushrooms for dinner.

We arrived home to walk the dogs then head for the kitchen to prepare these delicious mushrooms.

We cleaned and sliced them and then fried them in a little olive oil with lots of fresh garlic, chilli and grated ginger.

We cooked some Hakubaku soba noodles and added a little with sesame oil.

We returned all the mushrooms to the pan and added freshly sliced Asian greens, fenugreek and coriander leaves and some tamari and already cooked chestnuts. We bought the chestnuts last weekend from Nirvana Organic Farm they are fantastic.

We served the mushrooms with the noodles. They were absolutely delicious, I reckon we might head to the forest again soon.

And I think we shall also prepare this delicious, best in town 3 minute noodle dish.

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Pine Mushrooms Asian Style-2

Friday 7 May 2010

BORAGE the Herb of Gladness, Joy and Courage returns to the garden

Speckled Borage 

We love our speckled borage scattered through our winter garden so we always let some go to seed and then reappear where ever it chooses.

Those of you have grow borage before know that it will reappear everywhere. But is is easily removed to pots or the compost. Some people do not like growing borage because it would take over your whole garden if you let it.

We love borage in the garden because the neighbourhood bees love borage and appear in mass once the beautiful blue flowers appear in spring. We love the local honey it is dark and flavourful and makes delicious honey mead. We also use that honey in any thing we bake or sweeten.

Some people eat small quantities of the leaves in baked goods, we add them to the compost.

But the flowers we add to drinks, salads, fresh fruit and cordials.

Here on the Adelaide Plains it is starting to get colder at night. We have had sufficient rain for the garden and the seeds we have planted are germinating and need thinning out or moving.

Spring Flowers

We call our winter garden our green garden because with limited space available we mainly grow green leafy vegetables and lots of herbs.

So the menu here changes from zucchini fritters to spinach fritters. The soups have lots of Asian greens, chillies and chives added to them. We shall be having mustard greens, fenugreek and coriander added to curries. Spinach pies will reappear filled with all sorts of green vegetables, parsley and herbs.

As the delicious flavour of fresh tomatoes fades to a memory, citrus trees are ripening ready to be added to salads, muffins, fritters, drinks or just eaten fresh.

We are so lucky here in Adelaide to be able to grow  and enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits all year.

But the herb of the week here is beautiful borage.

Dorothy Hall in her 1975 copy of The Book Of Herbs suggests a variety of uses for borage.  She says borage is the “Herb of Gladness” and is a great tonic which gives courage and joy to warriors! It is used in teas, salads, salad dressings and as the ideal companion plant for strawberries.

How do you use borage?