Sunday, November 2, 2008

Morning ramble

November 1 started off cloudy yet warm, the perfect sort of weather for a little morning ramble, a pleasure I'd been denying myself for several days, due to that annoying malady known as work.

Here's Garden Amateur land this mild morning, with everything chugging along nicely. The two pots at the front left are potted cumquats which I've come to call 'The Twins'. One belongs to me, the other to my friend Michelle, who's living in Birdsville, a place where cumquats would not like to live. Michelle's blog mentioned that it got up to 42.8°C there the other day... gets hot in Birdsville, and it isn't even summer yet.

Meanwhile here in Sydney, the Blue Lake beans are casually twining their way up their little willow teepee. They shot out of the ground on 'being born' day, but since then their pace has been merely steady.

I like the way climbers and twiners go about their business. I keep on thinking of doing some time-lapse photography one of these days...

I must admit that I'm finding vegetables a lot more beautiful than I expected them to be. Perhaps it's their radiant good health that appeals, but I love all the details of how they grow, their foliage, their flowers, the forms they take. In the past I restricted myself to growing lots of salad greens, some tomatoes and herbs, but these last two years have seen me trying to grow all sorts of vegetables – and almost all of them have proven to be the most handsome plants. These beans are no exception.

Given that this is such a big, sprawling plant it's amazing that I haven't mentioned its presence in the 9m x 7.5m of my little backyard. It's cardamom, and it's one of the oldest plants that I have growing here. This is about 16-17 years old. I grow it mostly because it provides a good screen for the fence, actually, but its fragrant leaves are nice to be near. Alas, it produces no pods for me at all. Never has! An Indian-born friend, Rema, occasionally takes some cardamom leaves home and then wraps them around little milk-based sweets. She then steams the sweets in the leaves, and the heady cardamom scent goes through them. Delicious!

And while I'm talking culinary matters Indian, my good old curry tree is in bloom, and over the last few weeks since I posted about this plant it has leafed up beautifully. Such a lovely little potted tree, and so useful in the kitchen, too.

For the record, here's the leaves and the flowers of the curry tree this morning. The flowers are small clusters of stars which last a few weeks. Later on in late summer and autumn, berries appear.

Producing a good flush of leaves and flower buds everywhere, our baby frangipani, which we've grown from a cutting taken two years ago and transplanted in early spring, has settled in beautifully to its new, permanent home. The mulch is there to suppress weeds mostly. Frangipanis and Sydney were meant for each other. I'll never worry about watering or feeding it and it will thrive on my benign neglect. Raising it as a baby was all the help it needed from me, and all I need to do now is leave it alone!

Leave it alone I have promised to do, but I still have visiting rights. Here's a flower stalk rising from one of the frangipani branches. Can't wait to enjoy that scent again!

Another backyard baby is this only child, the sole Jalapeno chilli, and the only chilli in fact, that I have growing here this year. I use some chillies in cooking, but not a lot, so one plant is all I really need (given that they are so plentiful in our local Asian shops). I like the Jalapeno because it's mild, rating about 5 on the 10 point heat scale. In previous years I have grown habaneros, serranos, jalapenos, anchos, cayennes and several others, mostly because I love the look of the plants when they're laden with fruit (especially the pretty apricot-coloured habaneros). This year I've scaled back on the chillies to make way for the other vegie crops.

Speaking of making way for space reasons, the potato patch is turning into the real-estate takeover merchant of my backyard. Sprawling everywhere, lush and green, happy and flowering, spuds take on a suburban sprawl like no other.

The packet for these Roma (egg) tomatoes says they're ideal for pots. Every book I have says Romas need staking. We shall see. They have stout stems and do seem to be a bit squat in growth habit so far, but I do have some spare stakes at the ready, just in case.

This gaggle of pots have made their way onto the main path up the middle of the backyard, where the sun is good. The chives in the foreground aren't that flash, as they were a victim of the spreading potato metropolis. As I had been busy with work lately I'd forgotten about the pot of chives around the side. I found them almost completely covered by spud leaves. They'll bounce back. The little pot at the back left is rocket, mixed lettuce on the right, basil in the centre at the back. All happy as can be.

The zucchinis are happy plants, too, their big starry yellow flowers yelling "over here" to all potential harvesters. There are three plants here, and in the previous week we harvested about 6-10 baby zucchinis with their flowers, then cooked them up after stuffing the flowers with a mix of ricotta, goat's cheese and herbs.

Tonight, I'm cooking these guys. The variety is 'Black Beauty', by the way, and it seems to be cropping a little bit better than the 'Blackjack' which I grew last year. I've deliberately harvested these when much smaller than the usual size of zucchini sold in shops, as I think that in general, zucchinis taste better as quite small vegies.

And speaking of cooking zucchinis, that's what I had better get busy doing right now – preparing some lazy, simple food. Roast a chicken, with baked potatoes and baked cauliflower florets (ever tried caulis baked? – heaven, they become sweet, completely different from steamed or boiled caulis) plus the zucchini babies. I might even bake them, too...


lilyflax said...

Jealous that you are eating zuchinis already just planted haven't even planted mine out. Where did you get the pyramid that the beans climb up, good to see more photos of your garden, about the same size as mine

Jamie said...

I bought the pyramid at a local garden store (Gardens R us, on Gardeners Road at Kingsford), for about $27. They're made from willow in Lincolnshire, England by the Gardman company. It looks great! It's 1.5m tall.

And you'll only have to wait a week or two more before you get some zucchinis. They're so fast to get down to cropping, they're terrific vegie plants, one of my favourites.



Susie Collins said...

Aloha from Hawaii! Your garden is an inspiration! And the information in your posts is treasure. Thank you so much for sharing. I would love to share with my readers if you don't mind. Is it ok if I "snitch" a couple of photos? But mostly I want to share with my husband-- your mix of pots, plantings, fruit, veggies, flowers-- just what we are planning. I also love your clothes line as part of the garden! The whole concept of your garden is lovely lovely lovely. Mahalo.

Jamie said...

Aloha, Hawaii!

Yep, welcome to share, so you can snitch some photos as long as you mention where you got them from.

And that clothesline gets a lot of use, too. My wife Pam hates clothes dryers, so everything goes on the line. It's one of those models that folds up and can be pulled out of the ground if you want to. We used to do that to make the garden more presentable when entertaining, but as the years have rolled by we've relaxed and it stays there almost all the time. It's our solar-powered clothes dryer!

Susie said...

Thanks so much! Yes, of course, credit and links!

We dry our clothes on a line as much as we can, but living in a rainforest means we have to use the dryer sometimes or else the clothes take three days to dry!

Already showed the hubby some of your pics. He loves the bean pyramid and your great use of space.

I love your blog and I'll be back! Mahalo and aloha!