Tag Archives: vegetables

1730. The plot continues

Sometime ago I didn’t exactly promise but said I possibly might give a running report on my garden. So here it is with pictures. For those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in my electrifying private life, there will be the usual story tomorrow – far more coldly objective but just as true.

Thus far, our summer has been fairly cold and cloudy and windy.

You might remember, last September/October I started digging up bits of the lawn for gardens.

We made tall fences for climbing beans, thornless blackberries, and sweet peas. The blackberries will take three years to mature, but already they are laden with hundreds of yet-to-ripen (yet-to-be-stolen-by-birds) berries.

We made little fences out of poplar twigs around each garden. People say “It looks very French!” but basically we did it because the dog knows it is not allowed to step over these fences!

The cold, wet weather meant the bush beans got some sort of fungus and I pulled them out. I planted some more bush bean seeds, but the wild rabbits came in and dug most of them up! However, it has been a fantastic year for peas and capsicums (bell peppers). I have frozen a good dozen batches of peas, and lots and lots of my second favourite soup which is Peapod Soup made out of… (you guessed it) peapods!

With the colder summer weather the mâche (corn salad/lamb’s lettuce) lasted longer than usual. We now have lettuces and cucumbers coming out our ears so there’s salads salads salads. The zucchinis (courgettes) are being harvested. Swedes (rutabagas) and silver beet (Swiss chard) have been producing. The globe artichoke season is over – we devoured over 60; the Jerusalem artichokes and Chinese artichokes are coming along! (None of these three types of artichoke are related – same word, different plant). Broad beans (fava beans) are finished and frozen. Corn is in flower, as are the sunflowers, dahlias, petunias, cosmos, and sweet peas.

Incidentally our Number 1 favourite soup is Jerusalem artichoke soup! Potatoes were pathetic this year, as are beetroot (beets). Borsch is a nice winter dish so I might have to buy some beetroot. Here’s my freezer – it’s already full!

The cabbages have gone berserk and I’ve been making piles of cabbage stews for winter. Cauliflowers are coming along. Celery and celeriac are producing. We’re letting the leeks go to seed to collect. And besides, the leek flowers look very pretty in the garden! The flowers are slightly bigger than a tennis ball.

No onions. There are two things we have never been any good at growing: onions and spinach. We have no idea why. No matter where we’ve lived it’s always the same – onions and spinach don’t like us. But the garlic and shallots have been harvested and are drying in the sun (since removed to the wheelbarrow to facilitate quick removal when it rains!)

Having got a new lawn mower for my 70th birthday (the birthday I share with Saint Nicholas’ Feast Day) and a long garden hose for Christmas, life is much easier. The house water is rain water, but the garden water we share with the farm animals which is pumped to troughs and our garden tap (faucet) from a creek. So we don’t have to go easy on watering the garden. Here’s a trough just out the kitchen window!

And tomatoes! I almost forgot! Lots and lots of tomatoes! And I’ve taken to making wine, but so far haven’t used anything home-grown in the process.

Here endeth the report. Oh! And lots of rhubarb!

Also been making pickles, chutneys, jams, and stuff.

Incidentally, the best book is one I found in a second-hand shop in Asheville, North Carolina. It cost a dollar. It’s got everything you need to know about growing, canning, pickling, drying, and freezing. It’s called When the Good Cook Gardens. It was published by Ortho Books in 1974. I believe it’s available on Amazon.

1671. Garden Progress Report

I had written earlier that I might perhaps post the occasional progress report on the state of the garden. So here are a few pictures.

Here is a fabulous Globe Artichoke – one of 32 artichokes grown from seed on the window ledge. The cat kept sitting on them, but they survived. The dog is on patrol. Apart from the artichoke at the back there is Silver Beet (Swiss chard) to the dog’s right and some leeks. Beyond the dog’s tail is rhubarb.

Here is a close up of the same artichoke. Multiply all those flower heads by 32!

We (nearly) always eat artichokes as nibbles. We boil the artichoke head (like a cabbage) and make a sauce (any sauce or mayonnaise). Then we sit around talking about the weather while we nonchalantly break off a petal, dip it in the sauce, and suck out the inside of the petal. When all petals are done we argue about who’s getting how much of the artichoke heart. These days many people throw away the petals because they consider an artichoke is just for the heart. But I think the petals are the best bit!

Here is a picture of the four gardens I dug on the front lawn. Everything is starting to grow beautifully. Apart from sweet peas, dahlias, petunias, and moonflowers, and various herbs, there are turnips, beetroot (I think some countries just call them beets??), celeriac, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, capsicums (bell peppers), leeks, cucumbers, peas, and loads of beans (both climbing and bush). We also have a number of thornless blackberry bushes. Things are bigger than the photo looks! Everything’s just starting to grow and the snails and slugs are loving it!

The grass is growing like billy-O and I spend every second day (when it’s not raining) trying to keep it under control. Here is my lawn!!!!

It would be ok if I had a ride-on but all I’ve got is a crummy old push mower that’s lost one of its wheels, and those back hills can get a bit much (ha ha!!) I have to push the mower while holding it on an even keel. Nonetheless, the lawns get mowed in a cloud of Nitrolingual Spray.

All the stories and music and stuff gets written in the room which is the second window looking to the left of the open garage door! So here is my office and the view out the window.

There’s more to the garden “out the back” but that’s probably enough for one day! We’ll finish with a photo of the dog.

Thanks for reading. You’re all most welcome to pop over for an artichoke nibble or two – and a wine of course!

1650. A vegetative state

As usually happens here on this blog when an extra round number appears, something slightly different happens. Today, to celebrate story Number 1650, we shall look at aspects of my vegetable garden.

Although humility goes hand in hand with gardening, one could perhaps be excused for showing a little pride in one’s harvest. At least occasionally. So with a great deal of self-effacing non-aggrandisement, I submit four untouched photographs of me standing in front of four of my gardening successes. There could easily be a lot more, but modesty prevents over exposure.

Here is me standing in front of a couple of turnips. As you can see, harvesting one would’ve been adequate for my needs.

Here I am standing in front of a prize cauliflower. As can be seen from my shirt, these photos were all taken on the same day.

Let the size of my watermelons speak for itself.

Finally, here is a globe artichoke. It was late in the season; hence it’s quite small compared to ones gathered earlier.

To aspire to continued success this coming spring and summer, I have extended the vegetable garden by digging up my front lawn! It is now all ready and waiting for the date of the (hopefully) last frost to pass – which here in New Zealand is usually around October 25th. Here are a few snapshots of the work in progress. I just might post the occasional picture throughout the coming season to show progress!

Cheerio for now! And if I don’t appear too often on the blogs this coming antipodean summer, it’ll be because I’ll be out on the front lawn weeding.

1615. Garden measurements

Vincent had spent just over six weeks measuring the garden he was intending to dig. He had driven stakes into the ground and outlined the garden with string. It was going to be huge.

It’s huge, said Vincent, because apart from the regular vegetables I also like to grow plants that crawl and take up a lot of space. Pumpkins, for example. One plant takes up an enormous amount of ground. And watermelons.

People walking by would stop, not quite in awe but at least in admiration.

It’s going to take me a long time to dig, said Vincent. If you’re going to do something it pays to do it carefully and properly. They taught us in the military to mind the 5 P’s: Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. There are always detractors ready to scoff. Just wait until they stand at the fence on a hot day with their tongues hanging out wanting a slice of a cool cantaloupe.

How Vincent could talk for hours to the people passing by! No wonder it had taken him six weeks thus far to measure up the plot he was going to dig. In fact, he was such a blabbermouth it was a wonder he had managed to drive in the seventy or eighty garden stakes measuring the perimeter of his proposed garden.

The day always ended the same when in the evening the hospital nurse came to gather up the stakes and bring him inside.

Music 284-298: A Ninth Little Suite in Fifteen Sketches

Hi Everyone

Here is the Ninth Little Suite in Fifteen Sketches – both audio and printable – for the pianoforte. There will be eleven suites altogether.

Click on a title in the first list to listen, and click on a title in the second list to download the written music.


Click on a title to listen
1. Weeding the garden
2. Carrots
3. Asparagus
4. Artichokes
5. Peas
6. Potatoes
7. Onions
8. Radishes
9. Lettuces
10. Cucumbers
11. Cauliflowers
12. Beans
13. Turnips
14. Leeks
15. A break from weeding

Click on a title to download the written music
1. Weeding the garden
2. Carrots
3. Asparagus
4. Artichokes
5. Peas
6. Potatoes
7. Onions
8. Radishes
9. Lettuces
10. Cucumbers
11. Cauliflowers
12. Beans
13. Turnips
14. Leeks
15. A break from weeding

1568. Dangling carrot

(The opening sentence to this story was a comment made earlier on this blog. Nitin suggested it could make an interesting opening sentence, so here it is!)

“Sometimes they dangle a carrot in front of you only to stick it up your bum.” Oswald was surveying the carrots at the supermarket. His wife, Kitty, had already filled a bag with half a dozen carrots for purchase. The sign said:

CARROTS! 30 cents each. Two for only 65 cents.

“They do that all the time,” said Oswald. “Trick the dumb buyer into believing there’s a bargain. They dangle a carrot in front of you only to stick it up your bum.”

Kitty emptied her bag of six carrots back into the supermarket carrot bin. It wasn’t the price she was worried about. It was the thought of eating a carrot that had… that had… you know what I mean.

1476. Weeds and a cauliflower

It’s happened before and it’ll happen again, believe me, said the proud cauliflower to the surrounding weeds.

The little weed seeds had just begun to germinate in Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden; right next to the proud cauliflower.

Last time, said the proud cauliflower, Farmer McGregor came along and pulled out all your weedy forebears and threw them over the fence. I alone was left to survey my lovely weedless kingdom. One prickly thistle, two deep-rooted docks, and a dandelion; to say nothing of all the other countless unnamed weeds that had become too familiar with me in my garden. As I say, it’s happened before and it’ll happen again, believe me.

Farmer McGregor is just waiting for you to grow a little bigger and then he will come along, yank you out, and toss you worthless lot over the fence. Unlike you, I’m permanent. It’s not half obvious that I’m the one in charge.

Here comes Farmer McGregor’s wife, Miranda, now. She’s carrying a long knife. Hee hee hee. She sometimes exterminates young weeds with the carving knife. You watch. You’ll see just how right I…

1150. A botanical saunter

Inspired by the daily wonder-wanders of my blogging friend, Derrick of Ramblings , I have decided to take a springtime saunter around my own garden to celebrate the 1150th story on this blog.

There’s little colour other than green! There has been almost constant rain since last April. The lawn has been under water for a good part of the winter and still is.

The turnips, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, and onions, have all gone to seed without producing anything edible. Among the brassicas a single cabbage is the only one to have made an effort. But heartless!

The silverbeet (Swiss chard), peas, and shallots are doing fine.

The globe artichokes are thriving, and the Jerusalem artichokes are just starting to put their heads above the ground. We had a huge supply of Jerusalem artichokes throughout the winter. They keep in the ground but quickly deteriorate when dug up. The filled bucket (pictured) are just some of them that I dug up to stop them from taking over the world. That’s a huge 10 gallon bucket!

Most of the spring bulbs have rotted with the rain. Mainly what’s left is a couple of irises in a pot!

The banksia rose, the clematis and the potato vine are starting to look pretty.

The wattle has finished its springtime flowering and is now dropping a mess on the lemon tree below. The yellow-flowering kowhai is inundated with nectar-feeding birds called tuis.

The cyclamen in pots have almost done their dash. The cineraria on the driveway are also winding down.

The Christmas lilies are getting ready to show off through the holiday season.

The apple tree is just beginning to flower. I’ve hung a trap to catch the codling moths – it’s a plastic milk bottle cut open on the side, with a potion of molasses, cider vinegar and ammonia. It works well.

The ponga (tree ferns) are starting to unfurl their fronds. The hydrangeas are in leaf.

So it’s cheers from me with some homemade wine! With all the mud, don’t forget to wipe your feet before you come inside!

As some of you know, we are going to move – this place is too small, too muddy, and has too many noisy-nosey neighbours. The house (pictured) we would like to get (to rent, fingers crossed) is next to Mount Egmont (aka Mount Taranaki). Mount Egmont is a volcano that could erupt at any stage, but anything’s better than mud, isn’t it?