We always called them veggie gardens, because Dad was always growing vegetables. Mum grew flowers. My Dad is pretty epic at veggie growing. He grew up in the country. His family did Share Farming when he was a kid. You worked someone else’s farm and you shared in the profits. I think it was a lot of hard work and not a lot of profit, but when you had a lot of kids and no farm I guess it worked pretty well.
When I was a kid in Sydney we had the biggest backyard. There was a huge grassed area where we played cricket, and I learned to ride a two wheeler bike – that was a painful day. Dad had a veggie garden up the back section, Mum had flowers in the front yard and some trees in the backyard – cricket proof trees! Also Kelpie proof as we had a black kelpie too. The back 1/3 of the yard was fenced off for the chooks, and there were plum trees in there. We ate lots and lots of plums. You would probably have called it sustainability…..but it was just growing your own food in those days.
We moved to a hobby farm when I was 11. Dad had more garden after that. He grew a lot of stuff. He grew Beginni’s. Heard of them? A guy at work gave him some seeds. Mum didn’t know what you were supposed to do to cook the Beginni’s. They weren’t really popular. Many years later I find out they are actually called Zuchinni’s and that they can be pretty tasty if you know what to do with them. Nowadays Dad has a medium size backyard in a country town and he starts planting early. He usually starts harvesting his first tomatoes around the same time as I put in my first tomato plant. ‘Bit late isn’t it love?’ Well no Dad, we often have a heavy frost in December, so later is better. Although, you know? I’m starting to collect recipe’s like Green Tomato Relish and & Chutney. Well yes, we do usually get a fair few red tomatoes (although I’m not too sure this year, the weather has been very erratic.) But we usually have the plants totally laden with green tomatoes when that freak early frost hits and the plant just freezes.
Now, after going to a Permaculture Gardening workshop, I now know that it’s not the freezing that does the damage, it’s the thawing in the sun. So you just have to leap out of bed on the first cold frosty morning – turn the hose on (if it’s not frozen) and hose the plants off so they thaw slowly and not quickly in the sun. I’m not an early morning person myself, and seem to have passed that gene on to all my children – so I’ll keep collecting the Green Tomato Recipes!
So, what’s on the menu in our house? What’s in the Kitchen Garden? Well, I had Bruschetta the other day. Chopped tomato (not ours yet), chopped basil leaves, some garlic, some spring onion, some olive oil, and just a tiny dash of balsamic vinegar. Was very tasty. Planning to have that again this evening. Should get one of the kids to put the bread maker on so we can have it on newly baked bread. We’re also having red and green lettuce with garlic chives and choppped bacon. Here’s a picture of some of the things we picked this morning before the heat picked up.
And you know one of the things is that this stuff lasts so much better than what you buy at the shops. I’m always throwing out lettuce from the shops. Those mixed, loose leaf lettuce in packets go droopy and dry if you don’t eat them soon enough. And the hearted lettuce go slimy the day you go to use them. We made a big salad for New Years Eve, but only a little was eaten. So we brought it home. Being late it got left on the entry way drawers and not found till the morning. Put in the fridge that day. 3 and 4 days later the lettuce is still crunchy, the chives and spring onions still look and taste great.
The Zuchinni’s are getting there – what a big plant! It’s easy to miss the zucchini’s so I have one overgrown, ready to be stuffed and baked. I had to take some leaves off as it was shading out all the beetroot, kale and cabbage. But we’ve had 3 zuchinni’s already and there are a whole heap more to come. I’ll tell you about the Salad Corn another day. Bring on the tomatoes and the cucumbers please!
Oh and here’s the potatoes getting going too. Lots you can do with them!