It’s winter here in Melbourne and the veggie garden was thriving until last week. A few severe frosty mornings set some vegetables back as the temperatures dropped below zero, and snow was recorded in the nearby hills. The leaves on the lime trees are now burnt but will survive. Old Jack Frost has killed off the remaining chilli plants and the rows of new potatoes. The frosts in the last two years seem to be more severe than I can remember in past years.
Nothing can kill a turnip which has led to a flurry of turnip recipe experiments. I feel like Tess of the d’Urbervilles, grovelling about the turnip rows. Where is my hessian gown and curtained hood? They are mostly added to old fashioned vegetable soups or roasted. I tried some turnip rostis and I cannot recommend this dish, as gorgeous as it looked topped with sour cream and feathery dill. It was just too turnipy!
The cavolo nero ( black kale) has turned into a perennial triffid and needs staking. I don’t mind. I add the leaves to soups and risotto or cook it then add to orecchiette pasta, the latter with garlic, anchovies, EV olive oil, and chilli flakes.
The lettuces are nice and crisp in winter. The Cos are prolific as are the red and copper leafed varieties which are self-sown.
These broccoli were grown from old seed thrown into a bed in late March. We are slowly working our way through the heads and looking forward to some side shoots. Some years ago, I kept a broccoli plant going for 18 months, eating lovely side shoots the whole time. The trick to semi perennial broccoli? Never let the plants flower. This works well if you don’t get that nasty little white butterfly in summer.
Freshly picked broccoli is nothing like its woody retail counterpart. It only needs two minutes in boiling water, drained, then tossed about in additional chosen flavours. A simple Neil Perry Recipe can be found here. I also love them tossed with a little oil, garlic, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.
In late May, I moved a whole lot of plants into a perennial bed, artichoke and rhubarb for example. They enjoyed a winter dormant spell and are showing signs of recovering for Spring.
The To Do List is always too long.
- Mulch the garlic before the Spring weeds get a hold.
- Manure and mulch the perennial bed of rhubarb.
- Finish off the third compost bin and begin the fourth.
- Prepare spare beds for Spring planting with ready compost covered with mulch.
- Espalier the fruit trees in the second chicken run orchard. Urgent Mr T!
- Gather more cow manure from the front paddocks to add to the compost bins with dried leaves and green matter.
And on a sad note, here is my favourite Dexter cow, Derry, who gave birth last Sunday to a beautiful shiny black calf. Sadly the calf couldn’t stand to suckle due to a crippled leg. The vet instructed us to take the inevitable course of action. Derry is our lawnmower, pet and keeps us in manure. She has recovered.