Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Parsley has to be one of the most delicious and abundant herbs in a spring kitchen garden.

This morning I had no idea I’d be harvesting a large amount of parsley, or potatoes etc. A story you’ll find on my Instagram post 

I decided that with most ingredients to hand, both in the garden and pantry, a Chimichurri inspired sauce was what I would make. The fresh parsley taste at this time of year is unbeatable, and this sauce features it beautifully.

The chimichurri sauce I make uses the food processor to speed things up. I’m not Armenian, and I don’t pretend that this is anywhere near the expertise of the traditional recipe. However I am constantly looking for world cuisine inspiration, and the fresh ingredients this sauce uses from the garden is delicious. I keep the finished sauce in the fridge for about a week, and use it in a number of things.

Uses

My Chimichurri Inspired Sauce can be used as a marinade, folded through a green linguini and nut pasta, as a flavourful ingredient in a pizza base sauce, or savoury yoghurt, dips and cheeses. I’m sure you’ll think of other uses too.

Substitutions

The recipes I make are always based on what I have ‘to hand’. Fresh food moves directly from garden to kitchen to table where possible, in my home. So substitutions become necessary sometimes.

A traditional Chimichurri would use wine vinegar, however I use concentrated lime juice from my tree, stored in my fridge. Whereas fresh garlic is preferred for this recipe, I used dried garlic granules. You could use minced garlic or garlic paste if you have it. I used curly parsley, whereas flat parsley is traditionally used. I don’t like coriander, so I used all parsley. If you’re interested in traditional chimichurri just do an internet search using those key words.

Garden to Table

The opening pic shows all the fresh ingredients I used from my garden, which you’ll find in the recipe below. To this I added 2 tsp dried garlic granules, 1/3cup concentrated lime juice, 2/3cup extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar (optional).

What I enjoy about this fridge-fixer recipe is, it involves no cooking and can be used as an ingredient in vegetarian, vegan or meat dishes.

I like to let my Chimichurri sauce ‘cure’ its flavours for a day or so before using. But you might need it in a hurry. It works either way.

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Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Makes: Approximately 1.5 cups or 1 large Jar

Ingredients

100 gram parsley  (flat or curly)

15 gram spring onion/shallots

2 small sprigs oregano

2 very small chilli, seeds removed

2 teaspoons dried garlic granules

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Pinch sea salt

Pinch brown sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Roughly chop spring onions, parsley, oregano, chilli.
  2. Measure the olive oil and lime juice into the same measuring jug, for ease of use later
  3. Put half the greens, chilli and garlic into the food processor, add half the lime juice & oil
  4. Process on high till smooth.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth
  6. Put your sauce into clean sterilised jars and store in the fridge
  7. Use the sauce within a week

I hope you enjoy having another idea to use up your beautiful homegrown or gifted, parsley supplies.

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Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making your chimichurri inspired sauce.

 

 

Life and my Garden

Worms and Soil Fertility

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Back in 2014 I designed a worm farm tractor system for small spaces from readily available or up-cycled materials.

I wrote a step by step article for making my worm tractor design for permaculturenews.org and all the background information you’ll need, which you can find by clicking HERE

My design requires a garbage bin with lid (not metal-too hot for worms), a laundry basket and a bowl to fit inside. Beyond that, just the worms and your kitchen scraps.

Worm farming doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. I have decades of experience in this and I didn’t have the budget I do now, back then.

Understandably, my design went nuts on the internet and Pinterest for a good while amongst ‘wormers’ and permaculturalists 😂 Some find the commercially available systems too expensive.

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My Instagram pic shows an example of how I’m using my system 5 years on, right now.

This worm farm ‘tractor’ is one of three, feeding a cucumber and a brand new asparagus patch. The only difference is it drains directly into the garden not the bowl I included in the stand alone, or inside, design.

My experience with worm farming goes back to 1991 when part of my job as Health Information Officer was to present Living Green and Sustainability workshops/seminars to community and business groups, talks to school children who were being given a commercially available worm farm as part of the local government initiative.

Everyone can increase the fertility in their soil with things they already have on hand.

I hope this helps anyone who feels upset they don’t have the money to start improving their soil.

Give the article a read!

#mygarden#composting #wormfarming #diy#gardening #makeyourown #writer#designer #urbanfarmer#sustainableliving #soilregeneration#organicgardener #permaculture#vintagetrishgarden

 

Life and my Garden, Plant Stories

The Time to plant Fruit Trees is Yesterday!

When people ask me when they should plant fruit trees…I say…’yesterday!’

I say this because fruit trees can take years to prosper – for you to get ‘food results’.

For example I haven’t seen an avocado from my over 12 year old avocado tree.

But let me tell you a story, because that’s not always the case…

My Spring Satin dwarf plumcot tree was bought for $16 AUD in November 2015, marked down from $45.

The tree had obviously experienced dehydration at the ‘big shed’ it came from, and looked quite sorry for itself on that overpopulated markdown shelf. It was the only plumcot there.

I knew this tree had potential with my help, because it’s genetics and nursery supplier were reputable. I had also heard only great things about this variety, to that point.

It is now 3.5 foot high and in remarkable health. It’s small stature is definitely not an indicator of fruiting ability in my experience.

The tree is planted within stone’s throw from a satsuma plum, and a nashi pear that blossom at the same time. It’s possible these are acting as pollinators or at least encouraging pollinators for this partially self-fertile fruit tree.

So far this year it has produced 850g of fruit, with average fruit mass of 18.8g.

No fruit fly, minimal water, drought tolerant, delicious tasting fruit!

While I still advise getting all your fruit trees in early  I want to show you that some are surprisingly quick to fruit!

These are the type of images I was dreaming of when I started my garden 26 years ago.

This fruit took only 3 years!

Get planting! 🌸

PS Would you like to see daily updates from my garden? See VintageTrish Instagram

#fruittrees#stonefruit #plumcot #getplanting #organic#springsatinplumcot #growyourown#growyourownfruit #nochemicals#permaculture #organicgardener#vintagetrish #garden #ediblegarden#vintagetrishgarden

Garden Thoughts, Nature, Garden Update

Garden Update: Focus on what you Can do

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A summer bearing Imperial mandarin focusses energy for survival in a hot climate by not wasting it on producing an orange skin–even though its ripe and ready for eating.

A garden can teach you anything if you let it. Focus is one of those ‘anythings.’ It springs from cultivated patience and observation over time. Nature says ‘you’ll just have to deal with this,’ the Garden says ‘all that remains is what matters.‘ And a gardener who looks and listens, learns the lesson. Well that, at least, is my experience.

If you follow my Instagram feed you may have seen my post about my tiny 2 feet high Imperial Mandarin tree. Despite this high heat-ridden, windy, dry summer, the little trooper produced 5 very large mandarins. They were delicious and juicy. How? Well, you’ll notice I harvested them green with slight yellowing of the skin. This is because the mandarins in our hot summer climate are best harvested (for taste and sweetness) at this stage. I harvest the Valencia oranges the same way, from another tiny tree. The fruit at this stage, are ready for eating, but they don’t look it. The tree focusses its energy to prioritise survival in a hot climate summer-bearing situation, by stopping short of full orange colour-ripening. The tree lives. It’s that simple, but complex too. In a natural forest hot climate situation, the fruit would fall to the ground where the ripened seeds (unaffected by peel-colour) allow the plant a chance to reproduce. Now, if you’ve ever waited (in a hot climate) to harvest summer-bearing imperial mandarins until they went orange, you’ll know it was a long wait and the fruit tasted bitter (been there). The tree wants the fruit harvested quickly to increase chances of reproduction, so water can be directed to the roots and growth. Those actions will in turn increase its survival and resilience. Nature is way ahead of us! We have to get with the program!

Focus is the best piece of advice I can take from my experience in my garden this season, then give to you, as a possible hint on handling these weather weirding times. Right now there’s a ‘back-up in the flow’. Observation is telling me to ‘hold…hold’ – just like the Scots were told to ‘hold’ attack by William Wallace in that powerful battle scene in the movie Braveheart. It’s still too hot in the garden, for several types of cold season crops. Though, not necessarily for all types. Further, the steps I take when, have to be pared back to the essential, minus any flurry (because I, like the garden, have not got the energy to waste).

To fill you in, I think we are discovering ‘Second Summer’ in southeastern NSW this year. This is the name I’ve heard some indigenous elders call the weather cycle in the warmer regions of Australia, which seem to be eerily similar to this years weather patterns we’ve been copping. It’s April and yesterday was 35 degrees celsius here, again.  Today is over 30 degrees in temperature, but this time accompanied by strong hot and drying, northwesterly winds. The lead up to this has been 8 months of regular windy days from different directions, suggesting wind might be ‘the new daily normal.’ The heat in my area this month has been a consistent 7.6 degrees celsius above average. Less than 1 ml of rain fell this morning (the first rain of this month) and we have had just 106 millilitres in 2018 so far. My water tanks, are dry, again. The 106mm rainfall roof-harvested and tank-stored water has this year been used sparingly but consistently, on parched earth throughout the season. Many high temperature records have tumbled. Our nearby cousin, Penrith, was the hottest place on Earth recently. Our local area flying fox population was decimated by the heat  in early January, when our maximum temperature registered 45.3 degrees celsius. Later today I’ve learned in the news that a serious bushfire is burning out of control in a bush lined suburb just kilometres from here. Hot northwesterly and westerly winds seem ever-present when bad bushfires occur on parched land.

So I continue to focus major effort to providing enough water to my large and unirrigated suburban garden. Having earned my certification in permaculture design in 2014, I have provided my garden (both prior to, and since) with the benefits of water harvesting design elements. They work really well for both food forest trees and my annual vegetable garden.  I also have available town water – not as good for the soil as rain water, and an ongoing problem if it doesn’t rain soon, but there, thankfully,  if I need it.

Just like the mandarin tree I focus harvested water, where it is needed and conserve its use. By growing my own seedlings (using seeds collected from previous crops) I’m giving my annual vegetables the greatest chance of survival, in this garden and climate. Those annual plants then develop their own genetic ‘water-usage instructions,’ pass them on to the seeds they produce, and I collect them. So the seeds can only get better…for this garden. Meanwhile, the perennial trees and plants develop their learning about how to live and use water in this climate, because they never really go dormant (except in summer high heat). Plants learn from conditions then prioritise an adapted response. So cool.

My change-of season garden ‘should’ technically have cool season crops starting to ‘take’ or even ‘fruit’ by now. But ‘should’ is a human perspective and the four seasons approach has little relevance in Australian conditions. There are probably more like 12 seasons but I would need training in indigenous weather content to know for sure. I take many cues from Indigenous knowledge weather advice, but I have much to learn! What I have right now is a ‘hybrid season’ annual vegetable garden, that looks much like… a summer garden! Eggplants, cherry tomatoes and capsicums have no intentions of fading. Volunteer tomato seedlings are popping up with strong little stems that don’t resemble the straggly fragile ones that usually die off at the first sign of cold. I’ll pot those up the minute the weather threatens cold, and shelter them through winter for an early start next season. The garden is not overly tidy and neither are my techniques, but it’s not messy either. I have a very strong need for aesthetic beauty and when everything is humming nicely along, my garden proves both great productivity and beauty can co-exist.

My confused granny smith apple trees are blossoming again. There is no real chance of them producing finished apples before the eventual cold, which from experience of this last year, could mean no granny smith apples in spring/summer – for the second year in a row. Bummer. It’s unlikely the blossoms will last anyway in these cruel hot winds. Even the washington navel orange blossoms which are ‘on schedule,’ may find it difficult to hold on in the wind (they are drought stressed).  We may have less oranges this winter. I caught myself singing that “Cruel Summer’ Bananarama song the other day while pruning some burnt leaves off my avocado tree. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a psychological hang-over from my youth, and is more of a meaningful thought as I pruned the avocado of this cruel season!

Anyway, there’s some cool season things like snow peas I planted in shade…now climbing and flowering. They are third generation to this garden, so they’ve adapted to the seasonal routine (which is something bought seedlings can’t do in their first generation). They make my heart sing. The red russian kale seedlings don’t seem to mind their haphazard garden spot which is the result of being put in ‘for now.’ They seemed tough enough, with my intention being to move them to a final spot, later. Their mature siblings from last season, left in over summer for an early start, burst out of dormancy into production a few weeks ago. The garlic are up and over the 20cm mark, but I won’t know how the very warm start to the ‘cold season’ has affected their taste, until closer to Christmas.

Many of my cold season crops – naturally grown seedlings I’ve started like broccoli, purple cauliflower, edible flowers, rocket and mizuna are holding out in seedling trays and pots. I’ve had to focus my efforts more than usual this season, on providing shelter from wind and heat. I find I can water them easily, keep them alive and prevent bolting this way, which wouldn’t be possible in the garden beds yet. While I hope they won’t be ‘bonsai’ by the time they get into the garden (because their roots have been in trays and pots too long) the alternative – bolting or dying when I’ve spent so much effort raising them, seems a lot worse.

My mind this afternoon, returns to the central Australian indigenous elders who’ve spoken about Uterne Uyelpuyerreme – late summer. In March usually, the advice goes that ”whirly winds dance across the landscape, scattering seeds and pulling the growth up from the seeds in the ground” and then… the cool weather is nearly ready to arrive. But the advice also goes, that if it rains, Winter can extend into September. This would delay what we usually think of as ‘Spring’. Well I’m hoping for rain but focussing my planning systems on preparing for none – which seems somehow to be a higher probability. I’m probably a cynic! But if  it does rain, I’ll prepare for a late ‘spring’ planting, which will mean another ‘hybrid change of season garden.’ I’m not sure Nature is aware she’s being scheduled by humans. If she is aware, she doesn’t care. So good luck to Her if it’s the latter!

As the sun starts to dip today, I can say the whirly winds are still here. Perhaps cooler weather is near. I’m looking forward to it, and the garden doesn’t need to speak to tell me it is too. But just look at those divine olive branches I cut and put into water this morning! It’s still warm enough weather for soft cuttings and a dream of the free olive hedge those cuttings will spawn. That hedge will protect fragile plants from the ‘whirly winds’ in similar seasons I expect to see in the future. Cultivated patience. Thoughts for another blog, obviously. Take care, focus on what you Can do. Trish 🌸

© Trish McGill 2018