Saturday, February 26, 2011


I haven't had a lot to brag about in my garden this year. Our summer vegies haven't been terribly successful, tomatoes a disaster, zuchs got fungus on early, eggplants just slow and cucumbers died without giving a good reason.

A few things have done really well and some just give me a lot of pleasure. Is it alright if I share them with you?

Pumpkins. I haven't grown them before, but my gosh they're going gangbusters. They are taking over our newly finished courtyard. I love watching the boy and girl flowers set, doing a little bit of "assisted parenting" and then seeing which ones take. I think from 3 plants, as it stands today we'll probably end up with about 15 butternuts. Stay tuned in the coming months for LOTS of pumpkin recipes!

Windflowers, only white ones. Gosh I love these plants. I love the leaves, I love the gorgeous fat buds which unfold like silk flowers and the blooms themselves, so papery and generous. I don't deny my girls much but they know these are flowers that are to stay on the plant and not be delivered to me cut, however lovingly.

These plants are the children and grandchildren of plants from my parents, loving transplanted from their Beechworth home and before that from my childhood home in Carnegie. When we leave this house, a lot of them will come with us and go back to retire to my parents current home.

I do like all plants in my garden to serve a purpose. They need to please me with their appearance or their scent, they need to be tasty to eat, or appealing to the native birds.

I've never grown lemongrass before, but it loves our garden. They save you can use the young leaves in teas and stirfries, but our cat Eddie loves chewing on them whenever he's in the yard, so I leave them to him. You can see that the little stalks are forming, although I'm not sure how you harvest, if you have to pull up the whole plant or can separate one stalk.

French tarragon is one of my very favourite herbs (along with dill and basil) and it loves its second home in our courtyard. We're having a picnic with friends tomorrow and chicken sandwiches with dill mayonnaise will be the order of the day.

And to the smelly stuff. All herbs (aside from sage whose smell makes me gag when fresh) are deliciously scented, but some are best for their scent, rather than for their flavour. Lemon verbenda in the foreground you can use again in teas, but I just love rubbing the leaves on my skin, so so fresh and delicious. In the background is pineapple sage, which unlike the aforementioned gagmaking sage, smells just like pineapple and is so delicious, also rubbed madly on one's wrists when walking by.

What's doing well in your yard this year?


Sarah said...

Hey Vic,

For some reason our pumpkins are hopeless the last three years. This year I am helping them - lets hope it is a better crop - they are looking pretty dismal at the moment. My zucs have formed a few fruit but very pale green and yes fungus has started and lots of white flies. Tomatoes self seeded and some are ripening. They are having trouble. all else seems to be ding okay. Talked to a garden guru and he said crops in Tassie this summer have not done so well as we just have not had enough really warm days.

LJ said...

looks great! My small garden has been a bit hit and miss this year too - though our tomatoes have been great.

To harvest lemongrass just cut the individual blades/stalks of the grass as close to the soil as possible. The bottom part (about a third) is what to use for cooking. The top part can be used for things like tea or in stock. Good luck - although by the sounds of it your cat gets all the good stuff!!

CC said...

We only planted potatoes this year as we're waiting on some landscaping. A few weeks ago we dug up 7kg of kipflers and desirees - home grown potatoes are so good. A pumpkin vine came up by itself but was mysteriously snapped off at the base and died. Our herb garden is always reliable - mint, thyme, sage, tarragon, rosemary, chives, curry leaves, lemongrass and chilli. I don't use fresh lemongrass very often but when I do I twist a stalk or two off at the base of the plant.

Anonymous said...

hi victoria,

love the look of those pumpkins - what beautiful flowers!if you haven't already, check out karen martinis pumpkin salad in todays age/sunday life - it looks delicious! i often refer to claudia rodens middle eastern cooking when cooking pumpkin,it goes so well with pulses,particularly chickpeas.some wonderful tagine recipes too.

my mum is burmese and always uses lemongrass in her cooking. it gives stir-frys and curries a lovely flavour - she just bruises it with her pestle and throws it in whole and then removes it when ready to serve.harvest the thick bottom part of the stem for asian cooking -its the juiciest.

i just picked a lovely bowl of cherry tomatoes( my girls love eating them straight from the bowl) a handful of butter beans and big bunch of silverbeet. i must say though, the larger varieties of tomatoes and our corn are SO SLOW and my chives have lots of little black bugs... not enough sunshine and just TOO wet??

anyway, better go and start cooking dinner... you have once again inspired me - i love to cook what's growing in my garden. it's great to read and chat about what people are eating and growing.

buon appetito,


Sandy said...

lovely! be careful of the lemongrass though, it can grow fast and take up a lot of space, kind of like planting mint. the last time we planted lemongrass, we planted it with its container to keep it confined. i have a very lovely coconut chicken soup that uses lemongrass, very yummy. let me know if you'd like it! do you have a slow cooker?

it's very cold here! lettuce and snap peas are the only things that seem to be doing well.

Sandy said...

if you like growing pumpkin, try growing butternut squash next time. you'll love it!