Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TIBG goes to England

In just about 3 hours I'll be on a plane to the UK!!!!! It is conference time, so me, my trusty history paper and I are jetting off to speak with like minded souls. A stroll around Kew Gardens, a dance across Hampstead Heath (visiting my old pub where I worked in 2003 on the way) to Brighton for the 7th Biennial IABA conference. After my stint in Brighton it will be off to fair Vienna for snitzel, noodles, and some frivolity with an old friend. A side trip to Budapest will seal the deal then it is back to Oz.

Never fear, the balcony garden is in safe hands, Mr E will be looking after it, sampling its wares and keeping it healthy for my return. The one thing he wont be doing is blogging about it. So for 3 weeks this blog will be on a little hiatus.

One other bonus of this trip - DUTY FREE CAMERA!!! So when I return I will be able to film the BG in good quality.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here camera, camera, camera

No harvest Monday and no garden bloggers blooms day because ...

I lost my camera!!!!

No whimsical talks of the broccoli I have eaten, of the lovely snapdragons and sunflowers in bloom nor of the colourful chard helping keep me healthy through winter.

It has to be around here somewhere ...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cooking with Garden: Lentil, pear and proscuitto salad

I posted a while back about a few cooking adventures with my balcony garden produce. There was a yummy wild mushroom pasta and a fig sandwich. Alas Autumn is behind us now so the season for such mushrooms is passing/has passed and the sandwich craving has been eagerly filled by Earl Canteen (their bacon sandwich with quince aoli has, for me, surpassed the pork belly one - who knew!)

One dish I whipped up a lot in Autumn was a lentil, proscuitto and pear salad. I served it cold but it could easily be served with the lentils and cabbage still warm. So here is another, short, cooking with garden post.

First I boiled up some black lentils, in veggie chicken stock with a dash of pepper. I cooked them until aldente, adding some finely chopped cabbage in the last few minutes (and on one occasion some silverbeet too.) Leave this to cool in the fridge if you want a cold salad. Then it is just a matter of putting it all together. I used assorted greens from my garden, pretty much a staple. Added in the lentil/cabbage mix. On top of this I put slices of pear (I've used many varieties but corella add a great flavour, beurre bosch are good for texture) and some small strips of shaved proscuitto. No need for a dressing! Et voila one realtively healthy, high in fibre, tasty autumn salad.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good and Bad visitors

Good visitors to your home look after it with care. They leave you olive bread for when you get home after a longish flight, they keep the place clean and eat everything you leave there for them (and nothing that isn't theirs.) They also eat all the nasties lying around the place and look pretty while doing it.

Bad visitors do this - they mangle the furniture beyond repair and eat it along the way. Who woulda thought just one bunch of bad aphids could do so much damage to a forming plant.

Previously I have mentioned my torment with a horde of snails. Good visitors or bad visitors - I know which ones I prefer! In balcony gardening in particular, with the confined space, wierd microclimate and close proximity of plants it seems pests run really rife. I know Mum's broccoli was similarly covered in aphids, in her vast garden, though the icy weather seemed to finish those off for her, and what brassica doesn't get mauled from time to time. But thus was a cornflower, none of which have been overly attacked in the garden before. It was so infested that it grew wildly, wrongly and finally wilted and died. I would have pulled it earlier but I left it as a form of science experiment (and maybe secretly hoped it would act as a beacon to lure ladybugs.)

How do you manage pests? Sprays, picking them off and throwing them away (like caterpillars and snails) or encourage natural predators like ladybugs. I know I employ all three, in a balcony garden the battle is constant and with the lack of nearby gardens most good pests seem to steer clear.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hanging in there

Sorry for the lack of posting in the last week, between writing and giving a paper at a uni conference last Thursday and visiting my parents in Adelaide for Dad's 67th over the weekend I have had little time to think, let alone dwell in and about my balcony garden. Luckily I left it in Capable E's hands over the weekend, and I think he will look after it while I am overseas as well. Excellent. I look forward to harvest Monday next week too - there were some yummy things in that haul I can assure you.

But today I want to show you one strange photo that I found in the mix of 30th birthday photos. Along with the shots of white jacketed men and 1940s women (it was a Casablanca themed party) there appeared this one photo which only proves the photographer was a true garden freak. It was ...

... a picture of my hanging pot of garlic which seems to have a few small coriander plants springing up around it. And the photographic culprit??? It was me! I can't usually see into the hanging pot very easily, and while out taking photos of my trivia friends who had nestled nicely in the back corner bench I must have, in champagne fueled wisdom, worked out a way to check the progress. Ahhhh gardeners, we are an odd bunch at times aren't we!