Monday, September 28, 2009

Hyacinth Hiccup

My lovely friend Ms K gave me this bulb forcing kit for my birthday. I got right and and tried it and followed the instructions to the letter. I have never actually been good at following instructions. With recipes I always tweak and change or don't bother with them in the first place. Gardening I follow some guidelines but mostly go with the gut instinct. But this, this was something I had never done before and it seemed really technical so I figured it would be best to be prudent and follow the instructions. It began its journey as shown by the diagrams on the box, then it just stopped, frozen in time.

It has been like this for months, in its hidey hole in the cupboard. This seemed much longer than the box said for the in darkness phase so I took my own route and brought it out into the sunshine of my study. Currently it is keeping watch over the remaining tomato indoor experiment. Not sure it will ever do anything but maybe, just maybe it might!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welsh Sprouting Onion Cycles

I planted some Welsh sprouting onions ages ago, literally I would say a year ago. They were overcrowded in their pot so I thinned them out. They seemed to be everywhere in my garden, in the hanging pots (again I thinned them), in their own pots and even nestled between the silverbeet.

They grew huge and side shoots have kept me with oniony goodness whenever I need it. I do buy other kinds of onions but these are great for those last minutes 'oops I forgot my allium' moments

To this day I still have two pots left. Now they have decided to flower!

Can you eat onions after they flower or should I just collect the seed and start the cycle again?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Tomatoes for the Balcony Garden

I have left the balcony garden in Mr M's very capable hands while I spend a week with my parents at home in Adelaide. I love visiting Adelaide because it gives me a chance to garden with Mum and the family's two spaniels. However, I have promised a post on the new tomatoes planted this spring on the balcony garden. There are plenty more to come but as for the early planting here is the proof - several varieties in seedling form, growing and waiting for their chance to get a spot on the balcony.

Already there are 2 Aunt Ruby's German green, one planted in a double planter with a much smaller flame tomato, the other in its own pot.

I also have a black russian and a green zebra, planted together.

A tigerella in its own pot.

And a generic beef steak in its own pot.

I aim to get another black russian, green zebra and tigerella but substitute a mortgage lifter for the beefsteak and plant them in a month. This should stagger the harvest a little and work around the summer heat in varying ways. I also have two red tumbler tomatoes planted in the hanging pots by the glass, and two yellow tumblers in the high up hanging pot. Two more will be added to the currently flower-filled hanging pots.

Hopefully lots of tomatoes will be coming my way this Summer!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pink and Red don't always Clash

I've picked up the posy theme again this week with a snazzy pink and red number. Mum always told me never to wear pink and red together because they clashed. Most times I agreed with her, but this time I think the hot pink of the boronia works nicely with the differing hues of the snapdragons and vibrant scarlet geranium. It also smells amazing because it is all bound together with lemon thyme!

Again I'm having camera issues so I've included both shots, one to give you an idea of colour, and one to show it more clearly (but flash makes the colour vibrancy fade.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quick Fish and Greens

I have never been a big fish fan. As a child, Mum could usually force me to eat fishfingers so long as they were crumbed, baked and tasted very little like fish. Sometimes she would make a salted cod white-sauce pasta dish, this was less pleasant and I usually spent the meal time eating around the fish and managing to pick out each individual pea and corn kernel without hitting the icky sea creatures.

As I grew older, and wiser, my palate changed. I began to enjoy tuna (in oil from a can of course) and smoked salmon. Indeed the smoked salmon almost became an addiction and if it wasn't so expensive I would eat it everyday. I like raw fish too, as you saw in this post. I even eat the same salted cod dish these days and scoop up bits of fish along with the veggies. Cooked fish is still not really my scene, but a salmon fillet or tuna fillet will never be turned away (though it does always lead me to wonder why did anyone bother cook such a delicate fish when you could just eat it raw???)

Last month I posted about the Smoked salmon terrine I made for my two favourite boys, and the fact I had to eat leftovers of it the following night. While it was delicious it was laden with butter, a big no no for those who are concerned about bad fats and waistlines. While the cookiemonster's cookies have now been labelled a sometimes food, smoked slamon terrine is more of a once or twice in a lifetime food. I think I have now stumbled upon a slightly healthier alternative! I had some daikon that needed using, and I put it with some carrots and greens from the balcony garden. I could have just chopped the avocado and smoked salmon and placed it on top, but that would be kind of boring. Instead, I decided to rework the terrine, using an avocado mix instead of the butter. Swap bad fats for good fats. I added some finely chopped lemon thyme to the mix to add a depth of flavour.

The avocado mix looked kind of like the pea soup in the exorcist, but at least it tasted good.

I then layered it between smoked salmon and left it in the fridge for a few hours. It turned out like this.

Add a salad, mostly sourced from the balcony garden.

Slightly less set that its buttery companion and it didn't present overly well. It was difficult to cut but it tasted amazing!

This brings the smoked salmon terrine to a whole new level, from a once or twice in a lifetime food to a sometimes food. The good oils from the salmon and avocado, alongside the greens of the salad and the digestive qualities of the daikon make this a really good-for-you meal. Alas its consumption is only limited by the budget.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Comparatively Speaking, Sid was the Easy Target

I posted recently about my encounter with Sid the snail, our troubled breakfast, the breakdown in communications regarding the eating of the lettuce, et al. It seems he thought I said 'Sure Sid, tuck into my hard-earned salad greens, and just to get a nutritional balance make sure you take a bite out of each an every variety, even the rocket' where as what I actually said was, 'Oh no, not the freaking lettuce again, it's time Sid, oh boy it's time'. Such similar sentences I can understand why he got confused, then again he may have been slightly deafened by the greenery caught in his ears (do snails even have ears???)

The killing of Sid was difficult enough. We had bonded, albeit only momentarily, and he was rather sizeable. The death was cracklingly noisy and the evidence sat around for a while. But that death was easy compared to the battle raging on the balcony now. Remember last summer, the heatwave, the devastation. Well there was one, and only one, bonus to it; the heatwave killed all the spider mites! Yes spider mites. Other gardeners, particularly balcony gardeners know these evil little pests all too well. They hit with a vengeance last summer, and now, I am afraid they are back.

Check out the red spots on the snowpea flowers, they're red spider mites, and most of the snow peas have become infested. I love the snow peas, and they still have a few good weeks in them left before they need to be replaced by tomatoes but these spider mites are consigning them to an early death. I took to one lot of snowpeas with pestoil today, the only thing that seemed to at least slow their reproduction last time. Unfortunately, last time it also seemed to foster powdery mildew, goodness only knows how!

Does anyone else have any suggestions on how to rid the balcony garden of these evil and damaging little pests?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spring Evenings on the Balcony

A few posts ago I showed the joys of Spring breakfasts on the balcony. Some of you suggested evening on the balcony would also be heavenly, and given the recent startlingly nice weather I took your advice. Behold, evenings on the balcony (and an apparent penchant for cider.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hanging Purple Plant

In the latest post from Garden Bloggers Blooms Day I showed a new purple flower and I am still none the wiser as to what it is. It began in the hanging pot, which up until recently looked like this.

With the strong winds causing it undue stress I transferred the purple flowers and the blue cornflowers to a large ground level pot and this pot is happily sitting up by the dividing wall.

The hanging pot now houses two little yellow cherry tumbler tomato seedlings.

But I still don't know what this purple plant is!!!

Any clues?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day in Spring

This is the first Garden Bloggers Blooms Day in Spring here in M-Town, and I am hoping it is also a little inspiring! Snapdragons of many colours.

Violets adorn this hanging basket too.

The bolt of blue seed mix meant sky blue Cornflowers and some random purple flowers. What are they? Can anyone tell me?

Lemon tree flowers, such a wonderful scent.

The Boronia keeps blooming. If you like the picture below, there is a whole post devoted to it here.

Gazanias, four red ones, unfold each day.

And my favourite ... tomato flowers!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mini Monday Harvest of Sorts

I just love Harvest Monday over at Daphne's Dandelions. Not only do you get to see the wonderful savings people are making with their harvests, it also provides some wonderful and sumptuous tomato pictures. Everytime I see the bucketloads of multi-coloured tomatoes I drool. Unfortunately the Balcony Garden Indoor Winter Tomato Experiment had to be culled due to extreme fungus gnat damage.

Pots emptied of all sickly tomato stems (they were soooooo weak they literally melted when I untied them from the stakes.)

Green tomatoes harvested which count as a bit of a harvest.

This is all that is left, some basil and one big rainbow tomato and one white tomesol, though I have no idea which is which! And yes that is the infamous electric toothbrush needed to pollinate the tomatoes so they go from flower to fruit (no bees inside!)

Most of these tomatoes ripened quickly, and I used them in a stir-fry sauce and a chilli. A week ago I harvested this little collection, a few tomatoes, a few carrots (on the small side) and some snow peas.

That harvest actually went to my cousin as a little present. What isn't shown by photos is that this style of collection continued throughout the week and I gathered the same sized mini-harvest (with bigger carrots) twice over! That meant some yummy stirfry, and good greens on the side of a chilli con carne lasagne. Next time I better remember to take more photos! Although the mini-harvests also included a lot of this ..


Yummmmmmmy rainbow silverbeet!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lurking behind the Boronia

As I suggested earlier I love taking breakfast on the balcony (I also seem to have an equally pressing penchant for saying the words 'taking breakfast on', a phrase that is so quaintly
oldschool.) Though sometimes it feels like someone is watching me, lurking behond the boronia.

Ok so maybe that it not really a camera-wielding lurker behind the pretty pink bells, indeed it was actually me, trying to get the camera to capture their beauty. Of course it cannot capture their scent, which is simply divine. Daphne may be my favourite flower scent wise, but the boronia is certainly a sibling or cousin in this capacity because it inflames the nostril's senses with its equally heavenly scent. I am equally unable, it seems, to capture its visual beauty. I tried taking pictures of the whole plant and the pretty pink flowers simply faded into oblivion.

I tried the odd close up or two, all hot pink blurry messes.

I clicked from below but shadows hid the good things.

Nothing, it seemed could capture their elusive portrait. For now the boronia will be a pink blur and a bringer of the beautiful boof to the balcony garden, that is until I finally bother to buy a daphne, or a better camera!