Posts Tagged With: vegie garden

Vegie Garden Update

We’ve been having some very wintery weather here these last few days. It’s been quite nice actually, because the first two weeks of winter were very mild. Today we have had almost non-stop drizzly rain and cold, cold winds.

With lambing well and truly underway, the vegie garden has not got a lot of attention lately.

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I’ve picked the last of the pumpkins. The butternuts have been ripe and have been turned into some wonderful pumpkin soup already. I hope the Queensland Blues will be ready also.

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I’ve also been picking leeks and some rogue potatoes. The last of the tomatoes that were ripe were bottled and stored away, and I made some green tomato pickles out of a large stash of unripe ones that were still on the vines. I’ve picked the lower leaves from the brussel sprouts to give the developing sprouts room to grow, and laid the leaves out down the rows of onions to try and kill off the grass weeds that are growing between the rows. You can see this in the photo above.

The boys and I had a bit of a working bee on the weekend. Here’s Archie planting the garlic.

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I usually plant two full bulbs of garlic, which yields at least 20 plants. This keeps us going for about 6 months. If I get time I will plant some more in the next couple of weeks, as it stores really well so long as I let it dry out properly.

While Archie was planting garlic, Danny and I were preparing the beds for the potatoes. Danny never feels the cold. Archie and I were in coats and beanies – Danny, shorts and t’shirt!

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And here’s Archie planting the potatoes.

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This year we’ve planted Dutch Creme potatoes. I haven’t planted them before, but the packet said they were a good all rounder, suitable for mashing, roasting and baking.

We’re still picking lots of celery, spinach, silver beet, broccoli and leeks. I made a great soup on the weekend with pumpkin, celery and leek.

I covered the capsicum bushes a couple of months ago, with a big tunnel of plastic, as I’d heard that if they don’t get frosted they can be biennial. Besides running a bit of water under the plastic I have pretty much ignored them. But today I had a peak underneath, and this is what I found…..

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I’d love to know what everyone else has in their garden at this time of the year!

Categories: Home Grown, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Adventures in Sweet Chilli Sauce

 

 

We have a couple of chilli bushes in the herb garden – a Jalapeño, and one of these below, I call it “mystery” variety.  Its very pretty, as the chillies are quite short, and the whole bush is more of a ground cover than a bush.  Danny has been keen to make some of our own Sweet Chilli Sauce, my boys LOVE spicy food –  so he picked a bunch of the reddest chillies and off we went!

Chilli plant photo

 

The recipe we used is one I made a few years ago and the quantities of ingredients depends on the “hotness” of the chillies.  I can’t remember where I got it from originally, but I did a quick web search, before we started and the general recipe is quite similar on lots of different recipe sites.bowl of chillies photo

 

First we topped all the chillies.  If they were a bit bigger I would have scrapped quite a few of the seeds out also, but that would have been a laborious task with our babies.  The chillies and three garlic cloves (because that was all we had, probably would have preferred to add more if we had them) into the food processor with about half a cup of vinegar.Chilli photo

Chilli photo

Once they were chopped finely I scrapped them into the pot and added 4 cups of vinegar and 3 cups of sugar.  Basically all I did next was brought it to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolved, then tasted it.    Ohhhh Boyyyyy! Very hot!  So we added another cup of vinegar and half a cup of sugar.  Dissolved and tasted!   Still veeeerrrrrrry hot.  Another cup of vinegar and half a cup of sugar.

Danny tasted it, he thought it was fine, but for me still a bit too uncomfortable to cover my spaghetti with it.  I remember reading somewhere that lemon or lime juice can act as a means of decreasing the heat in chillies, so I added the juice of one lemon, another cup of vinegar and another 3/4 cup of sugar.  Once it was all dissolved and mixed well, another taste and I was happy.  It still has a good punch, but at least it doesn’t leave you gasping!Chilli sauce photo

 

Once I was happy with the taste I left it simmering for about an hour.  This allows it to reduce and thicken.  Then we poured it into hot sterilised jars and sealed them.Sweet Chilli sauce photoYou would think with all that vinegar we would have had a bucket of sauce, but because it reduces so much, we were left with just under  2  litres.  Still with its level of spiciness we won’t need to use too much.  Also I probably should have only let it simmer for maybe 45 minutes as it is very thick – possibly a bit jam like!

I’d love to know other peoples recipes for Sweet Chilli Sauce…. let me know in the comments if you have a good link.

 

Categories: Cooking and Preserving, Home Grown, Lifestyle | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Bottling Tomatoes

Well finally I’m getting some significant tomato harvest – I was so sure they wouldn’t ripen in time, as the whole vegie garden has been very slow this year.  But I have managed to pick a few good handfuls each day for the last week or so, and they’ve been steadily accumulating.  Besides tomato sauce, the main way our household uses tomatoes is as tinned tomatoes in casseroles, pasta sauces, etc – so I always try to preserve as many as I can to use in this way through out the year.  And considering that I have already made my sauce for this year, from bought tomatoes, any that come in from now on will be preserved in jars.  When doing this I literally just quarter the tomatoes (removing any bad bits), push them into the jars quite tightly, drop a garlic clove or two on top, and fill with water.

Then I process them in a water bath for about an hour.

Bottled tomatoes canned tomatoes

 

I have also made a couple of batches of semi dried tomatoes.

Semi-dried tomatoes photo

 

Balancing Rock Farm Semi-Dried Tomatoes

Quarter tomatoes, removing any bad bits

Put in a bowl, with a bunch of chopped basil and/or oregano, and as much garlic as you like.  Add enough olive oil to coat the tomatoes.

Lay in single file on a baking tray, and place in a cool oven for up to 8 hours.

Once the tomatoes have dried down to your liking (I like mine to still be a bit juicy, but slightly crispy on the outside), pack into a sterilised jar, and cover with olive oil.

Refrigerate for up to 1 month.  Delicious on toast in the mornings, or tossed through freshly cooked pasta.

 

They smell so good they may not make it to the jar!  Enjoy!

Categories: Cooking and Preserving, Home Grown | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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