Garden Monthly. August 2014.

It’s winter here in Melbourne and the veggie garden was thriving until last week. A few severe frosty mornings set some vegetables back as the temperatures dropped below zero, and snow was recorded in the nearby hills. The leaves on the lime trees are now burnt but will survive. Old Jack Frost has killed off the remaining chilli plants and the rows of new potatoes. The frosts in the last two years seem to be more severe than I can remember in past years.

frost covered patch of turnips and lettuce.
frost covered patch of turnips and lettuce.

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One sad looking potato crop
One sad looking potato crop

Nothing can kill a turnip which has led to a flurry of turnip recipe experiments. I feel like Tess of the d’Urbervilles, grovelling about the turnip rows. Where is my hessian gown and curtained hood? They are mostly added to old fashioned vegetable soups or roasted.  I tried some turnip rostis and I cannot recommend this dish, as gorgeous as it looked topped with sour cream and feathery dill. It was just too turnipy!

Turnips anyone?
Turnips anyone?

The cavolo nero ( black kale) has turned into a perennial triffid and needs staking. I don’t mind. I add the leaves to soups and risotto or cook it then add to orecchiette pasta, the latter with garlic, anchovies, EV olive oil, and chilli flakes.

cavolo nero or tuscan kale.
cavolo nero or Tuscan kale.

The lettuces are nice and crisp in winter. The Cos are prolific as are the red and copper leafed varieties which are self-sown.

self seeded lettuce
self seeded lettuce

These broccoli were grown from old seed thrown into a bed in late March.  We are slowly working our way through the heads and looking forward to some side shoots. Some years ago, I kept a broccoli plant going for 18 months, eating lovely side shoots the whole time. The trick to semi perennial broccoli? Never let the plants flower. This works well if you don’t get that nasty little white butterfly in summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFreshly picked broccoli is nothing like its woody retail counterpart. It only needs two minutes in boiling water, drained, then tossed about in additional chosen flavours. A simple Neil Perry Recipe can be found here. I also love them tossed with a little oil, garlic, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In late May, I moved a whole lot of plants into a perennial bed, artichoke and rhubarb for example. They enjoyed a winter dormant spell and are showing signs of recovering for Spring.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The To Do List is always too long.

  • Mulch the garlic before the Spring weeds get a hold.
  • Manure and mulch the perennial bed of rhubarb.
  • Finish off the third compost bin and begin the fourth.
  • Prepare spare beds for Spring planting with ready compost covered with mulch.
  • Espalier the fruit trees in the second chicken run orchard. Urgent Mr T!
  • Gather more cow manure from the front paddocks to add to the compost bins with dried leaves and green matter.

And on a sad note, here is my favourite Dexter cow, Derry, who gave birth last Sunday to a beautiful shiny black calf. Sadly the calf couldn’t stand to suckle due to a crippled leg. The vet instructed us to take the inevitable course of action.  Derry is our lawnmower, pet and keeps us in manure. She has recovered.

Derry the Dexter.
Derry the Dexter.

 

30 thoughts on “Garden Monthly. August 2014.”

  1. Very sorry about the calf, Francesca. Your description of Tess foraging for turnips made me smile. When we were children growing up in Ohio, we would sometimes raid my Grandpa’s garden and take turnips straight from the ground, wash them and eat them like apples. They were much milder than the turnips here so one could do that. I liked your simple description of eating broccoli, will try that soon. Thank you for sharing your gardening adventure.

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    1. There are many different climates in Australia, almost like five different countries. we are in Melbourne which is a a southern state and so our winters can be cold, but with extremely hot weather in Summer. In far northern queensland it is tropical all year round. It’s a big place. Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. Winter is such a bad “invention” from this point of view. Living in Montreal I know perfectly what it means! Btw you have a beautiful garden, and despite the frozen mornings you have a great green thumb! Cavolo nero… in Tuscany we say that it tastes better after a couple of freezing days, I’m sure now you can do amazing soups with it!

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  3. h, your poor potato plants… I never realised that Melbourne got killer frosts. I haven’t grown turnips, but did read that they taste better after a frost or two. Maybe it’s time for another Tess of the d’Urbervilles moment? Sorry to hear about Derry’s calf.

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  4. So very sorry to hear about your calf – how sad. But on a brighter note, your kale looks amazing. I juice mine daily. Interesting about the broccoli too – not letting it flower. I wish I could be more organised. Wow, that frost was a shocker! Biggest problem with having spuds in the ground in winter. Lovely pics! 🙂

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  5. Lots of tips and ideas here for me to file away for future reference. We get savage frosts at Taylors Arm as well. I’d love a black kale even half that big – seeing as I’m the only one who will eat it…
    So sorry about Derry’s calf. I’m pleased Derry is ok. She has a sweet face.

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  6. Poor little calf, it’s so sad when those things happen. Derry looks like a sweet girl. I hope she has better luck with her next calf. I know how those icy blasts are, we always seem to get at least one. One day the garden looks great and then whammo! I’m always hoping for the one winter when we escape the frost, but it always happens sooner or later.

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  7. You’re so right about fresh picked broccoli being different from the stuff you find in grocery stores. The first time I had it right off the plant it blew my mind. You’re so lucky to have so many veggies. Sorry to hear about the calf. That is so sad.

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  8. Sad about the calf, but glad that Derry has recovered. That cavolo nero looks good – it needs the frost. I love it made into a winter pesto or chopped and put into soups. Have you tried the turnip and beet pickle yet? Am so jealous of your lemons!

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    1. I must try the turnip and beet pickle. Its time to deal with them I tried some other turnip concoctions and they weren’t great. At least the pickle will come in handy when its felaffel time again.

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  9. The frost on the orange tree looks fabulous. Turnips: I grew them once and didn’t like them. Now I don’t waste space on them. Love the kale triffid.
    Sorry to hear about the calf.

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  10. deeply envious of your broccoli; it’s one of my favourite veg!
    not so envious of the frost. we’ve had a few big frosts here in hobart; they are so damaging. though it’s supposed to be good for kale. your cavolo nero is magnificent!

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  11. Your garden is looking great. That kale is magnificent. I think you must have a different variety of artichoke than me, my leaves are less ‘feathery’ (maybe it’s just the different area).
    I’m sorry to hear about your little calf. It’s always sad when these things happen.

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