Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Changing Rooms

Large deciduous oak tree
As always, the garden is constantly changing.  Seeds germinate, grow and dominate one area, only to be harvested, removed and cleared.  A blank canvas once more.  Seasons too bring changes.  As our Autumn was so balmy and the winter has been mild so far, deciduous trees are only now beginning to lose their leaves.  The old oak tree in the centre of our garden has dominated our view for so long, that it is an old friend.  A wistful last portrait - it has been topped twice in the time we have lived here (7yrs) and now the decision has been made to remove it completely.  It grows at such a vast rate that it obliterates the sun to much of the vegetable garden in Autumn/Winter, even when it has lost it's leaves.  Sometimes we make these decisions, regretfully.  But then I am reminded that we have planted about 60 -70 trees over the past 7 years, so at least we are increasing Earth's lung capacity, not just shutting it down.  Cutting down our tree will mean more sun for our vegetable growing, which is ultimately our sustenance.  Another maple tree (Northern Hemisphere trees) will meet the same fate but we feel less saddened by the decision as it has never fully recovered from it's previous pruning about a year and a half ago.

Maple "stump" at far back, in front of shed.  This picture
also shows the shading of the vegetable beds by the oak.
Actually, the garden is not looking too bad for this time of year.  The middle garden is due for a major overhaul, which it will get soon.  The hebes are woody and the plantings are so haphazard that it really begs a make-over.  So next weekend, we will pull most of it up and start again.  I have ordered some ground-covers, small shrubs and flowers from an online nursery, so will be able to plan and plant it all out hopefully.  The tricky bit will be trying to remember where I planted all the bulbs!

The citrus in the garden make for a lovely burst of colour.  The lemons and grapefruits are ripening up nicely, their yellows matching the daffodil bulbs that are popping up everywhere.  All that lovely Winter fortifying Vitamin C.  Did you know, according to the doctrine of Signatures of Wholefoods, that citrus is the signature food for breasts?  If you look at the cross-section of a breast in an anatomy book, and  a picture of an orange or lemon cut in half from side to side, it mimics the mamary glands perfectly??  Truly amazing!  The D-Limomene, found in the oil of citrus fruits has been found to detoxify estrogen!
Small 3 yr old lemon Meyer tree dripping in yellowing
fruit -just in time for accelerating the Immune System
for winter.

Lemons ripening on our older thick-skinned
lemon tree.  
I am reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that we cannot grow tamarillos successfully here anymore.  There once was a time when we could.  Our tams survived the one or two frosts we suffered but now that we have been getting anything up to 22 frosts over a single winter/spring it is increasingly impossible.  These sub-tropicals have large thin leaves which are frost magnets - end result: a slow and agonising death by gradual dying off of plant tissues working backwards down the trunk.  My seed-grown cassimiroas, strangely seem to survive!  Now we wait with bated breath - will they ever fruit??  The cherry guavas handle frosts to minus 5deg, so they do well!  Slow growers but prolific fruit-bearers.

Frost-bared tamarillo with fruit still clinging on tenaciously, despite having
lost all leaves!

Yellow cherry guavas ripening in the winter sunshine
As persimmons are truly the fruit we most treasure in this garden (alongside blueberries, strawberries, mandarins, oranges, feijoas, guavas, apricots, peaches, nectarines, bananas............and just about everything else), we individually bag them up to protect them from the marauding birds who seem to love them as much as us.  We keep our old onion bags and peg them onto an overhanging branch to secure them.  It stops 99% of pilfering by feathered friends.  In the long wait for ours to fully tree-ripen, we have bought a 20kg box of organic persimmons - Sun Fruit!  If you cut it across the middle, it shows a pattern of a sun, with rays radiating outwards from the centre.  Fruit of the Gods!

Bird-protected persimmon fruits sweetening up

Welcome sight of butter-yellow daffodils

Grapefruit hang in anticipation........ still a long way off of being sweet.

Middle bed, muddled, overgrown with weeds and in need of TLC

Overgrown wilderness...... watch this space!  Changing rooms!

A bunch of bananas defy the weather odds and fatten up
for a mid-winter feast!
 Back in the kitchen this weekend, we had run out of herb salt.  I made the last one with basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  A kind of Mediterranean mix. This time around, I collected a few handfuls of sage leaves, curry bush and fragrant marjoram.  (I never can tell the difference between oreganum and marjoram?!!)  Popped the lot into the dehydrator and set to dry over 2 hours.  Then I buzzed them up in the coffee grinder, added a cup of ground salt and previously dried parsley and Voila!  A very fine tasting table salt.  Quick and easy - and enough to last a month or two at least!
Sage, marjoram and curry bush in dehydrator

Dried herbs crushed in coffee grinder, unwashed sea salt added

Mixed together, herbs and salt - herbed salt!
And then Mike performed his own little Kitchen Magic alongside me............ he's the Hummus King in the house!  I soaked and pre-cooked 3 cups of dried chickpeas which he transforms into the tastiest hummus - watch out Lisa!!  One pottle is eaten almost immediately.  The rest are frozen and defrosted as needed.  

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt to taste
1 Tbspn olive oil
4 Tbspn Tahini
juice of 1 lemon
optional: chopped mint/sprinkles paprika

Liquidise all ingredients, adding more chickpea water as required.  Add more garlic, lemon oil or salt to taste. 

Mike prepares to make hummus; tools of the trade.

A total weight of just over 1kg hummus

Dried persimmon taste like dried papaya
If I were Korean, I would die with excitement at our Sunday discovery.  I was hanging up the laundry when I spied a rather large green leafy extravaganza under the washing line.  I pulled it up to discover a half-meter long daikon radish!  Looks as if it's been on steroids!  Think of all the kimchi it could make!!  Or maybe I should just try and pickle it?  We'll see.

Our freakish daikon radish!!  How did we miss this one??

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