Bridget's Veggie Patch - March

Kees_and_Riaan_eating_carrots_they_have_harvested

I started out with bumper crops of just about everything. But in January we went away with our family and I just ended up staying in the Coromandel until school started again in February. I did not heed my own advice and did not get anyone to feed, water or harvest my crops. As a result when I came back by corgettes had contracted some awful rot and were disintegrating as fast as they were growing. I had sooo many cucumbers that I didn’t know what to do, my lettuces had all gone to seed and my beloved tomatoes (that I had so many ideas for) were overgrown and many falling off and rotting.

My disaster of a vegetable garden at the end of January

P1010548 Tomato_Garden Cucumbers_and_Corgettes

So for the clean up!

My Beet and Lettuce Seedlings

Beets_and_Lettuce_Seedlings I began by pulling out all of the corgettes and lettuces and harvesting all of my cucumbers.  I have composted these parts of the garden and planted new lettuce and beetroot seedlings. (I wanted instant gratification so I went for seedlings instead of seeds)
With my 20 or so cucumbers I made Bread and Butter Cucumber, which is a yummy sandwich pickle.  This I have stored in jars, kept some and given some away.  This is a great recipe for surplus as it doesn’t matter if they are a little over ripe.  (See recipe below) I needed desperately to tend to my tomatoes, I picked lots to use.  But also found that I had a lot of green ones that I just was going to need to thin out so that the plants were not competing too much.  Luckily I found a great recipe called Green Tomato Relish, and this is really yummy, great for sandwiches and cheese and crackers. (Recipe also below) Bread_and_Cucumber_Pickle Green_Tomato_Relish

I was disappointed with my crop of Roma Tomatoes as they seemed to get attacked by something. If I had a bit more time I really should have harvested this to make tomato sauces and base for winter cooking. Unfortunately I was not very organized and sadly I am just about to rip them out. On the plus side I have learned a lot and now I can focus on getting this area of the garden ready for winter.

So where to from here

I recently started watching a TV show about an urban couple who turned most of their garden into vegetables. Mike and I decided that we needed to put more effort into attempting this ourselves. So he is currently designing a way of turning another section of our property into vegetables.

I have also decided that while seedlings do give me the instant gratification that I like when gardening that I would get better value for money and more overall satisfaction from growing my veggies from seed. Rather than use my house as a growing room I have invested in a little hot house kit from Bunning’s. This cost me $99.00 and is big enough to walk into. There are cheaper ones starting from $20.00 and of course you can just cover seedlings with a plastic bottle or grow them indoors.

So now I am busy, tending my new lettuce and beetroot seedlings as well as clearing room for the resting of my winter vegetables. I am also cultivating radishes, broccoli, spring onions, Heirloom tomatoes, Rhubarb, snow peas and regular peas. Mike is getting excited about the new building project he has, ha ha. (Looks like he won’t be on the golf course as much as he hoped) Just as a note.

I am going to use our Living Earth Premium Lawn Mix to propagate my seeds. A little birdie told me this will work as well if not better than seed raising mix.

Seeds Our_Giant_Atlantic_Pumpkin Old_Fashioned_Mint

Other Fruits and Veggies Growing in our Garden

Riaans_Sugar_Baby_Watermelon Lunch_Box_Grown_Espalier New_Season_Feijoas

Green Tomato Pickles

Preparation Time: 25 minutes + overnight soaking
Total cooking time: 40 minutes
Makes: 1.25 litres

Ingredients:

1.25 kg green tomatoes
2 onions
½ cup cooking salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
½ cup sultanas
½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons curry powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons corn flour

Method

  1. Slice the tomatoes and onions into thin rounds. Combine with the salt in a large non-metallic bowl and add enough water to cover. Place a small plate on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged. Leave to stand overnight.
  2. Drain the tomato and onion and rinse well. Place in a large pan and add the sugar, vinegar, sultanas and spices. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons water to the corn flour, mix well and stir into the mixture. Stir over medium heat until it boils and thickens.
  5. Spoon immediately into clean, warm jars and seal. Turn the jars upside down for 2 minutes, then invert and leave to cool. Label and date. Leave for 1 month before opening to allow the flavours to develop. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks.

Bread and Cucumber Pickles

Ingredients:

* 4 pounds pickling cucumbers
* 1 large onion, quartered, sliced about 1/4-inch thickness
* 1/3 cup kosher salt
* 3 cups cider vinegar
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
* 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, or use half pickling spices
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Method

Wash cucumbers and cut off the ends. Slice crosswise into 1/8-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with the salt and onion slices; cover with about 4 to 6 cups of ice cubes. Cover and let stand for 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the boiling water bath. Add water to a large canner with rack and heat to about 180°. The water should be high enough to be at least 1 inch above the filled jars. I usually fill it about halfway and I keep a kettle or saucepan of water boiling on another burner to add to the canner as needed. Wash jars thoroughly and heat water in a small saucepan; put the lids in the saucepan and bring almost to the boil; lower heat to very low to keep the lids hot.

Drain the cucumber mixture. In a large pot (nonreactive) over medium heat, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumber mixture and bring to a boil. With a slotted spoon, loosely pack the vegetables in prepared jars. Ladle the liquid into jars, dividing evenly among the jars. With a clean damp cloth (I keep a little bowl or cup of the boiled water handy for this step), wipe away any drips around the rims of the jars then cover with 2-piece jar lids. A lid lifter comes in handy to get the flat lids out of the water, or you could use tongs. Adjust the screw on rings firmly but do not over-tighten. Place filled in the prepared boiling water bath, adding more hot water as needed to bring the water up to about 1 inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes. Lift the jars out of the water and place on a rack to cool.

Makes about 6 pints.

ST. JOHN’S YARD:

88a Merton Road,
St Johns, Auckland
09 951 4089
stjohns@aucklandlandscape.co.nz

Mt. Roskill YARD:

52A Frost Road,
Mt Roskill, Auckland
09 951 4089
mtroskill@aucklandlandscape.co.nz

TAKANINI:

163 Airfield Road,
Takanini, Auckland
09 951 4089
takanini@aucklandlandscape.co.nz

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