Thursday, December 10, 2009

Miscellaneous munchies

At this time of the year all of the food plants in my garden are competing with each other to see who can grow the fastest, but if you're not a lettuce you probably will be an also-ran.

In just a few more days these lettuce will be beyond their best, and so yes, I have planted too many (I usually do), but aren't they pretty with their variety of colours and shapes? Just a week ago none of them were touching and now they're jostling for space. I'm to blame – or at least the liquid seaweed which I've been applying fortnightly is to blame.

Last Saturday morning the words 'Thai Eggplant' were not on my horizon. No radar contact at all. But by Saturday evening, what do you know – there's a Thai eggplant in my garden. That's what you get for aimlessly wandering around a garden centre with the simple mission of plugging up a hole in the garden. The plant I had in mind (a small flowering shrub) I learned would not be available for a few more months, and so what could I grow there that could be pulled up in a few months' time? Well, it turns out the answer is Thai eggplant (they're little spherical eggplants). I've never grown one before, so that sealed the deal.

As this is just a posting on 'miscellaneous munchies' I thought I'd finish off with a few tips for those trying to grow some kind of food plants in too much shade. Essentially, most vegies won't grow in shade, but some herbs will love it there. This is yet another pot of chervil, grown from seed. This herb has a delicate flavour with a touch of aniseed, but not too much. Pam chops it finely and sprinkles it over zucchinis, and it transforms those somewhat bland vegies. French cookery uses a lot of chervil, so though it's not a common herb it's a ripper in a shady spot, and looks quite pretty. It's a bit short-lived, but this pot should last 3-4 months, and I'll sow some more seed in autumn and it'll come up.

Good old mint is the other mainstay of shady spots. I plan to give this pot of mint to someone as I have more than enough already. After trimming back my mint a while back, I just stuck some of the trimmings into a glass of water and in a few days they formed roots. These plants are vigorous! As long as mint gets water and liquid feeds it will never let you down. And in the kitchen, try it as a coriander substitute in cooking Asian food. Once heat is applied to it, mint does quite a good job of adding a coriander-like tang.


Ami said...

Hi Jamie,
Those little Thai eggplants are delicious in Thai curries. Hard to find in our stores here in Oz. Have to trawl the Asian grocers. Is this baby an annual?
BTW, I've just stumbled across your blog and loving it.
Ami in Melbourne.

Jamie said...

Hi Ami, glad you like the blog.

I've been reading up on the Thai eggplants today and yep, they're an annual. I should get a crop in about three months (late February?). I think these will turn out to be the golf-ball size Thai eggplants, not the really small pea-sized ones. The golf-ball sized ones are Solanum melongina (which is what my plant label says it is), while the pea-sized ones are Solanum torvum.

My plants should grow to about 90cm tall, will need a stake for support, love lots of fertiliser, water and sunshine and, hopefully, will become the star attraction in my 2010 late summer Thai curries!