Another week with very little blogging, this time because I’ve barely been home – since last Sunday, I’ve either had dinner guests or been out myself every single evening (including this evening, in fact – yay, paid singing gig!), and as a result, I’ve scarcely had time to look at the kitchen, let alone cook in it or write about it. And today, of course, was the first decent weather we’ve had on a weekend day for quite some time. I had to make the most of it. Besides, every Melbournian knows that you have to get your tomatoes in before Cup Day – so I’ve just barely made the deadline.
So today you get me nattering on about all the vegetables I hope I will have in a few months. Because pretty much all I’ve done today is garden and then sing. Tomorrow, there will be more singing, and also baking and hat-making for work purposes. But I’m hoping that next week I really will get back into the swing of blogging – I’m missing it.
I’m an awful gardener. I’ve mentioned this before, haven’t I? I don’t have the necessary attention span for something that requires ongoing weeding and watering and suchlike. But somehow, every spring, I feel moved to plant vegetables. Lots and lots and lots of vegetables.
This year, for example, I have planted a blueberry bush and a marionberry bush, asparagus and rhubarb and yellow beans. I have planted the seeds of Easter Egg Radishes and mixed salad greens, golden beetroot and purple carrots, heirloom zucchinis of many colours and delicata squash. Most of them have even come up! I have planted eggplant (the stripey kind, of course) and five kinds of tomatoes, only one of which is red. And tomorrow I will be planting basil and parsley, even though my track record with these herbs is abysmal.
What I haven’t planted, but am getting anyway, is Warragul greens and Jerusalem artichokes and mint. Warragul greens are an Australian native vegetable that you need to cook before eating, as it is mildly poisonous. They are really easy to grow, which is to say, they are basically an edible weed. I really thought I had got rid of them all last year, but in the last ten days they have come up and spread enthusiastically to engulf the beans. (Guess what we’re having for dinner tonight?) As for the Jerusalem artichokes, the less said about them the better. Every time I go out into the garden, I spot another plant. They are like Triffids and I suspect that if we don’t eat them, they will certainly eat us. I’ve dug a lot of them out, but still have about five left, which is probably a bad idea, but they really are fun to watch growing, with their sunflowers-on-steroids tendencies… And the mint – well, I don’t really need to explain about the mint, I think.
We’re at the exciting stage with the seeds and seedlings I planted back in September. I can actually see teeny tiny beans on my bean bushes, and my salad greens are about a week away from being usable. My radishes, too, are beginning to look nearly ready to pick, and while I only managed to get a handful of beetroots and carrots to germinate, the ones which did are growing madly.
Every single zucchini and squash seed I planted has germinated, which means I have to thin them out and hope I wind up with yellow or stripey zucchini and not just the boring green kind (the seeds all look the same and they come in a mixed packet). And I’m getting volunteer pumpkins and tomatoes from my bokashi buckets again, which means that shortly I will have to make decisions about whether I want to dig them up or let them run riot across the garden like they did last year.
I’m already thinking of things to do with all this bounty – assuming I can keep it all growing long enough for the bounty to happen, that is. Summer salads of yellow beans and multicoloured tomatoes and basil, with garlic bread and maybe some cannelini beans thrown in to add protein. Or just leafy salads with radishes and herbs and a tomato or two for good luck.
One of my favourite summer dinners is zucchinis sautéed and tossed with mint and basil and lemon juice and ricotta (the ricotta being the only thing I couldn’t get from my garden). Add some good bread, and I’m sorted. Delicata squash – well, I’ve never tasted it, so I’m not entirely sure what my plans are for those, but roasting it and tossing it through pasta couldn’t be bad, really. Blueberries and marionberries with yoghurt and nuts and honey for breakfast or for dessert… My asparagus dreams are much further away. It will be two years or so before I actually get any of those lovely little spears growing for me. Assuming I can keep them alive that long and they don’t get eaten by the artichokes in the meantime.
Self-sufficiency? Not really. As I have said repeatedly, I’m not that good a gardener, and what normally happens is that I get a lot of one or two things (like the unkillable Jerusalem artichokes) and not much of the rest. But I can dream…
One day, maybe I’ll have that apricot tree and that quince tree I keep dreaming about. Not this year. I’ve planted enough for this year. But maybe next year we can have fruit trees. And in 2013… asparagus!