Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Herbalicious - Mint

Given it is spring and I've just planted some more basil and coriander I think it might be high time to do a few little focus posts on the herbs in the balcony garden. Some, like the aforementioned greeny goodies basil and coriander are annuals. Basil I sow in Spring and Summer while coriander is a year round affair, when I remember to procure seeds that is. I'll post on them seperately. This post is for an amazing little green fellow who was one of the first plants in my garden. He grew from a cutting and has never changed pots (in 3 years, no new potting soil yet he lives and thrives.) If you haven't guessed by now this hardy little tacker is, it is mint.

Common mint for a bit more precision (let's not get into the tangle they did on Masterchef when naming mint.) I did have some ginger mint at one stage but it died a while back from neglect. I don't use mint very often. Maybe for a garnish but never as a star. That was until I started experimenting with cooking, and substituting it for other herby flavours. Mint and coriander go so well together, in rice paper rolls, salads and even as a soup garnish. Particularly different kinds of asian cuisine suit it divinely.

On Friday night I threw together a salad for a few people before a party. It included a dose of finely chopped mint (and coriander) from the garden sliced up on the lovely mezaluna given to me for my 30th brithday by my dear boss Dr A, lettuce from the garden, baby spinach, spicy fried potato noodles, garlic, ginger and chilli marinated baked chicken and some purple cabbage. Mostly healthy and full of flavour! I'd eat it again in an instant.

Do you grow mint? Is it almost like a weed as it is for some of my friends or do you have trouble with it? Should I expand my mint varieties - chocolate mint perhaps? or maybe fill another pot with mint? What is your favourite mint?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Harvest Monday

Spring has sprung and the harvest is beginning to pick up. Zukes are starting to fruit, as are tomatoes but it'll be a while before I harvest them. And, for once I remembered to take pictures of the harvest! It was a bit similar to times past, lettuce, eggplant, carrots but this time with one lovely addition - a strawberry (or 3.)

Eggplant was holey, thanks to Mr snail.

Carrots ranged from baby purples,

to lady-shaped purples,

to wierdly mangled multi-colours.

Lettuce is continuous and tasty.

While this Kurowase strawberry was shared by 3 eager tasters.

It was light but sweet and smushy. The Hokowases I ate this morning were smaller but stronger in taste. Looking forward to a large harvest of these this summer. What are you harvesting this week? Look over to Daphne's Dandelions for more posts.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Curly Leaf Nectarine and the Nine Blossoms

I'd almost given up on the nectarine tree this year. Last year it bloomed amazingly, produced 3 tasty nectarines then went into Winter hibernation. When I forgot to spray it for curly leaf I knew I was in for a spot of bother but when I witnessed a total of about 9 blossoms on it, I gave up entirely. How on earth could I get any fruit from a measly nine blossoms?

I put some mulch on it to help trap water, and added some fertiliser but of course it was going to be too little, too late. The blossoms were joined by leaves,

then faded away.

Following that the leaves got major, major, major issues of the curly variety.

This disease wont kill your tree instantly, just shorten its life overall if untreated. Miss J has had a nectatine tree that was infected and it fruited every second year without fail. Just might not fruit for as long as an infected tree. Others have been affected by it this year too and I have since learned it is endemic to Melbourne. Definitely will have to consider spraying it next year, trying to get that window before the buds open, to kill the curly and make the tree happy again. That and remember to repot the poor thing and feed it on a more regular basis. Poor nectarine tree, he really is a bit neglected

Mind you all, was not lost - I just realised there is a nectarine on the tree! One tiny, little speck of stone fruit hope for this summer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Monday

Yummy harvests have been going on here at the balcony garden. It is carrots, carrots, carrots all the way, oh and a little bit of lettuce. Oh and eggplants, out came some of the little baby eggplants. Problem was I forgot to take photos of them all! So here they are on the plants or in the ground and you can imagine the yummy harvest!

Although small, I had to harvest some of these overwintered eggplants, because the snails or something similar had already started a harvest of their own. They gave texture and sweetness to a yellow curry.

mmmmmmm cos lettuce. Whether it be sandwich or salad not a day goes by when I don't eat some of this. (don't worry there are several lettuce pots, this isn't just a magic or miraculous single lettuce.)

The carrots may look wilted here, but they tasted great in salad, and in the curry. Purple carrots in this pot. White ones in another. They're all coming out to be replaced with zucchini 0r tomatoes and more.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ooopss I missed garden bloggers blooms day

Life has been pretty cluttered lately, some unfavourable, but all the rest in a very good way. The side effect of this though is that life itself seems to be getting on top of me these days, there are people I need to see/email/ring/or all of the aforementioned and before I know it, it gets too late at night and I haven't managed to accomplish any of those things. Thesis, gardening, storms, a funeral and general activities seem to be getting in the way. I even missed garden bloggers blooms day and I never miss garden bloggers blooms day! I couldn't even get outside to take the requisite photographs because of a serious day-long downpour! So instead of simply waiting until the next time, I am taking advantage of recent photographic expeditions to the land of the balcony garden and showing you a small sample of what has been flowering on the balcony garden this Springtime. From pansies to broccoli and rocket gone to seed, apple blossom to violas the garden is an array of colours and shapes and sized. My favourites would have to be the orchids and the boronia flowers.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blooming Adelaide in Bloom

It'll be garden bloggers blooms day soon, and there is plenty flowering away on my balcony. However when I was in Adelaide there was plenty in bloom in my Mum's garden and out in the parks where we took the dogs for a stroll. In the home plot there are all sort of goodies. First there were the purple irises. Yes I know the photo is white, Mum bought purple irises, just turned out they were white instead (she was unimpressed but I think they are majestic.)

Gerberas and Geraniums

Strawberry flowers from the new pot I made for her (Ok techincally she ended up potting them up, but I floated the idea ...)

Lime flowers

Orangey goodness (can you tell I don't know the name)

We went walking nearly every day with the dogs. Often round Norwood but one day we went back Burnside way, to Michael Perry park, a spot of greenery from my youth.

Gone was the clandestine rope swing we used back in the day, but still there were trees we would climb, clearings we would rest in and shrubs within which we would hide ourselves away. Magical place then, still at least a magical place for the dogs now.

There were lillies and nastursiums all over the place. Gotta love free range nature!

Adelaide in Spring can certainly be a magical place.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

While I was away ...

Wow, where did the last week go? If anyone knows please tell me because I want it back. Too much uni work, with a few fun social times thrown in for good measure meant this blog got neglected. But the garden certainly was taken care of, and even a few new additions found their way into the fold. I'll post later on that one. In the meantime, above is a shot of the balcony as it was when I returned. Housesitter B did a splendid job and anything grew amazingly while I was away. The before shots can be found in my last few posts, but here are some afters for good measure! Some things blossomed, like one of the apples and a lime and the flowers on the boronia opened to let off a beautiful scent.

The crops got bigger, including the eggplants, corn, zucchinis and garlic while some things like snow peas and beetroots germinated.

The tomatoes, both seedlings inside, and larger plants outside became triffid like.

The currants took on a huge new lease of life.

Others didn't fare so well. The primroses don't like the heat too much, and the nectarine has a terrible case of curly leaf and I have only found one fruit on it so far.

Still not bad for only two weeks! Go my little balcony garden.