Weekend Jobs – Sunday March 18 2018

This was a “low effort” weekend in the garden. I prepared a whole heap of zucchini and pumpkin for the freezer and for our bellies. I swear I have never eaten so much zucchini in my life as we have this Summer. I feel very fortunate, and also a little tired of zucchini. As it is my favourite vegetable, I didn’t think it was possible to tire of it!

I made a pumpkin and chicken lasagne with fresh basil (it also had grated zucchini in it) and a lemon and zucchini cake. I grated zucchini and chopped pumpkin chunks for the freezer. We still have about five zucchini in the fridge, and more pumpkin in the garden, along with capsicum and eggplant. My husband is on curry duty this week to use up the rest of these zucchini!

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Purple capsicum

I find that homegrown capsicum tend to be less fleshy and juicy than the supermarket variety, probably because I use less water. It has a grassier, fresher flavour that makes up for it. Mine also do not grow to the enormous size of the supermarket capsicums; they tend to grow to the size of a fist.

This year I grew a punnet of mixed capsicums from Bunnings, and an heirloom mini variety from seeds I saved last year. The mini capsicum are a little bit pointless (they are tiny, about the size of a fifty-cent piece, and pretty seedy), but they are cute and prolific. I am not sure if I will go to the effort of growing them again. The mixed capsicums have no name. They grow green and a dark purple, and are very glossy and beautiful. I will try saving the seeds from the purple variety and see if it grows true-to-type next year.

On Sunday I went for a stroll in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens with my friend Lisa, and we accidentally-on-purpose ended up at the Diggers Club Shop. Our stroll lasted about as long as it took to buy a latte and make it to the Diggers Shop, where we spent about an hour buying bulbs and seeds for Autumn. Whoah baby, did we have fun and spend a wad of cash on bulbs, seeds, and garlic.

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Autumn planting fun

I’m looking forward to Easter weekend, when I will plant these beauties. Although I mostly grow productive plants, I also love ornamentals. I especially love to grow bulbs. Poring over the annual bulb catalogues is an obsession of mine, and I love to grow unusual flowers rather than the standards. I do usually grow the classic ranunculus each year, but I also like to try something different. This year I bought Violet Sparaxis, and Allium “Drumstick”, a striking pink and green ball-headed flower that stands 90 cm tall. I am also hoping that the crocuses I planted last year (the beautiful Mr. Pickwick, among them) return for another showing.

I have planted garlic annually for the past two years, and am trying again this year. Last year’s crop was moderately successful and very delicious, but the heads were a little small. I am going to try planting three different varieties (Dynamite Purple, Cream, and Melbourne Market), and I will plant in a different place with better soil. I have prepared a spot in my backyard that previously grew climbing beans. To prepare the soil for garlic planting, I have turned it well and added Blood and Bone, a high nitrogen organic fertiliser. The combination of soil that has grown a nitrogen fixing crop like beans, plus the Blood and Bone, should provide a good start for a nitrogen-loving crop like garlic. I hope that the bulbs prefer it and we will produce larger heads this time. Garlic is a slow-growing crop, so I will need to accept that this patch of the garden will not be available until late Spring.

The rest of the items from the Diggers Shop were a collection of seeds for the Autumn/Winter garden: snow peas, pak choy, tatsoi, spring onions, coriander, sweet peas (a beautiful variety called America), Romanesco broccoli (for fun), and golden beetroot. I already have Macerata cauliflower, a sprouting green broccoli, and kale started in my seedling box. Looking forward to a lot of healthy fresh greens and brassicas over the Winter months!

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