Garden Prozac with Thai Salad

On mid Autumn days when the sun shines and there’s not a breath of wind, my enchantress, the vegetable garden, lures me through her gates. No matter how much I try to limit my work to an hour or so, time just flies by. I read recently that it has a lot to do with Mycobacterium Vaccae, a microbe in the soil, which is said to have a similar effect on the neurons as Prozac. The bacterium found in soil may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier. Great, dirt is a natural anti – depressant. My fingernails are now full of garden Prozac. Or is it the sun, fresh air and exercise? I feel very content and at peace in the garden, despite what my back is telling me.

Today’s Pick/1. Carrots, cucumber, pumpkin, tomatoes, zucchini, baby leeks, Thai basil, mint, regular basil, French radish, beans, chilli.
Today’s pick

In the garden there are late borlotti beans, rambling cucumbers, and zucchini ( of course!). There are a few courageous tomato bushes, some self-sown specimens appearing out of nowhere after a big clean up. The strawberries are re-flowering, fruiting and throwing out runners which are taking up residence in the pathways. The lemongrass has turned into a giant, the chilli bushes are in their prime, and bok choy and celery have self-sown everywhere. There are three metre high amaranth plants, looking like it might be the invasive new crop I do not need. Definitely Triffid material. What was I thinking- grinding up amaranth seed for bread? This one has to go.

The potential pest. 3 metre high Amaranth giant about to shed its seed.

A transitional time, our beds are being prepared for new crops. Each bed receives a few loads of fresh compost and some spent straw from the chook house. So far, I have sown broccoli ( Calabrese), Tuscan Kale ( Cavolo Nero), regular kale, rugola, three types of lettuce, dill, radish, beetroot, spring onions, peas, snow peas, broad beans, parsnip, turnip, and cima di rape. Due to good timing- warm soil, followed by good rainfall and mild weather- all the seeds took off. Please dear reader, if you live near by, come and get some seedlings. I can’t transplant them all.

The seedling bed. Lots to spare

After a garden pick, I feel like one of those contestants on Masterchef, except less stressed. You know that segment where the judges hand over a bunch of odd ingredients and the contestants have to cook something using what’s on hand. Not wishing to see the freshly pulled carrots and herbs go limp, I put together this salad for lunch. As I was eating it, I thought it would go rather nicely with some grilled prawns, or freshly cooked prawns, peeled and chopped through it. But then, who needs to go shopping.

Fresh Garden Thai Salad

Garden Thai Salad

  • one medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 small carrots- I used two medium white carrots, and one small orange
  • leaves from mint, coriander, Thai basil, regular basil
  • one Thai chilli, chopped very finely
  • two teaspoons of light brown sugar
  • juice of one-2 limes/1/4 cup of juice
  • fish sauce to taste/ optional
  • a little neutral vegetable oil, not olive oil
  • unsalted peanuts, fried and chopped if you have some

Grate the vegetables. Tear the leaves and mix through. Mix the chopped chilli, sugar, lime juice, oil, fish sauce, together in a jug. Pour over the ingredients and toss well. Pile onto a serving plate and add chopped peanuts.

All for me.

28 thoughts on “Garden Prozac with Thai Salad”

  1. What as visual spectacular. One can only imagine what your taste buds must have experienced. Nothing is more appealing and fulfilling than the fresh organic fruits of one’s labour – resulting in the world’s best bowel broom. In the tropics we are celebrating the arrival of red dragon fruit, rambutans, mangosteen, acid-free pineapple, avocado, ginger, turmeric et.al. It is also mud crab season and we’re getting our fill. However, we hanker to be in your kitchen to feed all the senses and our gobs. Bring on the Prozac!!

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  2. Bravo for producing that garden – not many people in Melbourne have that or can do that! Looks delicious, green and healthy. Our little vege patch has mostly produced and has been eaten already but there are a few hangers on like chilli, cucumber, tomatoes, stawberries and celery which seems to take ages to grow (maybe it’s the soil in the west) but we eventually get there.

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  3. So lovely to see your Autumn garden… I’m going to see if I can make some room for parsnips. Our garden being new, I put in some novelties but next year there’ll be no red chicory dandelion, probably not rosellas at least in the garden and the marigolda & nasturtiums won’t be in the tubs. So far for Autumn I’ve planted spinach, wasabi lettuce, garlic, onions, carrots, celtuce (yet another novelty), radish, more coriander, rocket & basil, Greek green beans, broad beans, celery, perennial capsicum, something I didn’t label and we’re already eating snow peas. We have a couple of lingering tomatoes & a happy chilli plant. Our corn is so-so but the G. O. has lots of spuds coming up. You can see how much you’ve inspired us ♡

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    1. Oh Dale, how wonderful. You’ve got that new garden going so well and in such a short amount of time. Is wasabi lettuce a mustard lettuce? and what is celtuce? I know what you mean about the novelties. In the end, when you put all your love and compost into your available space, you just want stuff that you love eating. I love unlabelled surprises. When they get big enough to recognise, you then remember what they are. My mind goes haywire in the garden. I’m in a lost world.

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      1. Yes, wasabi lettuce is a mustard lettuce… I love standalone greens I can dress simply, and which the G.O. will eat that way. Celtuce is also called Stem Lettuce, which is what the seed packet said, so I envisaged literally lettuce that I could pick off leaves from a stem… however it’s an Asian vegetable mostly grown for its core which is sliced and stir-fried…
        I lose hours in the garden… at the moment I’m trying to do a major Tafe assignment so I’m being strict about distractions.

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  4. Beautiful produce Francesca, and I’ve heard that about the beneficial affects of soil bacteria too, what a wonderful little natural reward cycle! 🙂 I’ve only planted coriander, lettuce, spring onions and radishes so far as I still need to pull out the last of the summer veg – it’s cooled off here a lot here already, so just seeing if I can get a few more tomatoes to ripen…

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    1. The transitional time is challenging- with beds still hanging onto summer crops when you need a bit of space for the winter stuff. It’s funny how coriander likes the cooler weather more, and only bolts in summer. Go get that garden Prozac Beck.

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  5. The scientific explanation for the calming effect of gardening is new to me, but doesn’t surprise me. I get a great sense of satisfaction from it.

    Here in Virginia our spring gardens are starting to mature. I’m looking forward to the late summer goodies like yours!

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    1. Hi Bill, I’m preparing ours for winter now- lovely green crops like Tuscan kale, Chard and lots of lettuce. Each season brings so much treasure. Enjoy your Spring garden Bill.

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  6. Wow, how good is your garden! All that produce .. I’m jealous. Our garden still has herbs, chillies, cucs, spring onion and beans .. but that’s it! No zuccs. I hauled out a massive butternut pumpkin the other day. So excited. I wish I lived closer .. I would love some of those seedlings. Do you grow them in situ Francesca? And yes park choi is serious at self

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    1. Yes, I have more success in situ.With small seeds, I usually gouge a row in the soil using my finger and fill it with sand,then cover with more sand and a crumbly mixture of nearby soil or old manure. I watch the weather like a hawk and wait for the best conditions. I don’t tend to sow in trays because I’m not around enough to monitor them. The in situ ones work for me, given my undisciplined nature.
      pak choi and bok choi- the new invaders. Happy gardening miss.

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