Plant Stories, Garden Thoughts, Nature, Garden Update

Time to Plant some Autumn

THIS is a ‘time to plant some autumn’ harvest, even though we’re in the middle of a very curious Summer.

Allow me to journal…

I ‘topped off’ the huge Costuluto tomato, that’s why there are so many green ones in the picture…but they’ll ripen on the windowsill, and many more will come from what I left. 

From the same little annual veg bed I collected seed heads from the lovely lemon strawflower. And potted up two successful dwarf mulberry cuttings (not shown) I’d stuck in there back at winter pruning. It’s good to pot up and label deciduous rooted cuttings while they’re in leaf – no confusion between sticks in pots. 

I’m adapting to the garden being so messy this cool summer season. Cutting daggy confused and diseased leaves back, tying up or removing wind blown wrecks, and dealing with spring-type weeds (that are usually dead by now because of heat). It’s an adventure to see what can survive this unseasonal season. Some of my lavender didn’t which is surprising. And, east coast NSW gardeners..I’ve never worn winter pyjamas in summer and I did last night. Just me? 

Fitting bits and pieces of this gardening in between life, rain, sometimes heat, wind, storms. Cycling through the beds. But then gardening, like any activity, is Life.

I think more tomatoes, beans, carrots and zinnias for this bed now.

Then on to the next bed when I get a chance and the inclination. Happy adventure gardening to you, It’s good to make time to be back here 💫

FOR MORE LIKE THIS:

If you’d like to see more regular updates from my garden, please click on my posts @ Vintagetrishgarden on Instagram Thanks for stopping by. Trish.


#gardenharvest #coolsummer#polyculture #organicgardening#adventures #vintagetrishgarden

Events, Life and my Garden

Converting Scraps to Compost Worms Milestone (Part 1)

Compost worms … 29 years on

BACKGROUND

Before I get to the real story here let me say one thing. It’s the little wins in gardening, that often give you the greatest kick, & inspire you to do more.

From my experience, you don’t always have to be super motivated at the start, or consistent through unavoidable changes to your time. Little wins come as you try. They will develop your patience and inspire consistent effort, to try out new and bigger things in your garden. In turn, You and your garden, will become more resilient to seasonal conditions, weather, pest problems, uncooperative humans & wildlife, to name a few.

THE  MILESTONE

Since 1992 I’ve separated 50 kilogram extra, of pure red wriggler compost worms from my worm farms, to start other worm farms breeding in my garden. That is from no special effort, except feeding them on kitchen and garden scraps (plant based only) in enclosed vermin resistant systems I designed. For more information see My Worm Farm Design links below.

I have dug separated worm castings into my soil, probably into many hundreds of kilos by now. I wish I knew the real figure. But in my haste to improve and condition new native soil garden beds in my younger years (I’m 52 now and started this garden from scratch at 23) I didn’t record these details. But like Manuel in Fawlty Towers…’I learn Mr Fawlty..I learn.’

CURRENT PRODUCTION

Currently I separate at least 20 kilos of worm castings from my worm farms, AND 3 kilos of extra worms, per year. Time required: Low…I have just 10 hours total on average per week to spend in/on my garden (I mow my lawns, sow, plant, prune, tidy, harvest, tend to all composts in that time, myself).

I will go into how I harvest, store and use worm castings in Part 2 of this post..TBA.

I will say all those kilos of worm castings I produced, though separated, contained compost worm eggs. The newly hatched compost worms have ‘lived rough’ on the sheet mulching I regularly apply on my native soil garden beds, breaking it down into …black gold. Tons of beautiful soil I could never have achieved for this large garden and didn’t have the funds to buy in. The worms and I have created this lovely topsoil together. But the garden has weathered several droughts and hot summers including last years ‘once in one hundred years ‘ drought. Many of those worms have died in the process and, my soils after all this time are definitely not perfect. So all soil continues as a work in progress.

Those that survive ‘living rough’ have spawned little descendant compost colonies dotted all over my garden – because I don’t use chemicals or manures. I have found red wrigglers and earthworms to be  perfect companions. They work on breaking down surface mulch like grass & leaf clippings. The earthworms plough the deeper clay soil below. Work I wouldn’t and shouldn’t do much of, myself.

But why did I say no manures? It’s my more recent measure, and it’s hard to sustain the kind of beautiful soil organic manures give. But sadly, many manures ‘organic’ or not, may contain traces of worming medications and antibiotics used to keep animals healthy while they live in ‘regulated’ conditions. Those worming medications may kill your garden earthworms, compost worms and soil microbes. I choose not to let manures into my garden now, so problem solved. So now you see how important my worm castings and random wildlife droppings (via ecosystems I design in) are to my soil. They are chemical and medication-free because I know what foods they’ve eaten. Part 2 will have more on this.

MY WORM FARM DESIGN

In 2014 I wrote an article about how to build your own worm farm using my fully enclosed worm farm design, for permaculturenews.com.org. You’ll find that article HERE.

I also wrote an update blog post in 2019, which you’ll find HERE

I use them now as ‘tractors’ of fertility all around my garden, not just tucked in out of the way spaces like my 2014 article photograph suggests.

I hope you can use some re-purposed materials around your home to build your own. If you buy new components, these will last you many years, so are worth the money.

Please like this article. Comment below on how you are going with your worm farms and any further ideas, comments or questions on the topic you’d like to add.

Good luck with your worm farm if you decide its for you 💚

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 your worm farms.

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.

IMG_1722

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.

IMG_1726

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

IMG_1712

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.

IMG_1711

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

 

Garden Update, Kitchen, VintageTrish Kitchen

Preserving My Turmeric Harvest – Powder & Paste

One of the most exciting parts of growing the beautiful ‘Golden Goddess’ Turmeric, is harvesting it!

Because turmeric root is the useful part, seeing your eventual rhizome harvest after 12 months of waiting, is very much like an ‘unboxing’.

Then of course, you need to process and preserve your turmeric.

My guess is, you already know about the amazing benefits of turmeric.

So what I’m focussing on in today’s blog is processing and preserving the rhizomes in two ways. These are not the only ways.

Pregnant or nursing mothers, children, diabetics or anyone with existing health conditions or allergies, should consult their health professional’s advice before consuming fresh or preserved turmeric.

Growing, harvesting, preserving and using your turmeric harvest is so satisfying. I highly recommend it. I hope you enjoy using your powder and paste for the many recipes and drinks these lovely turmeric products make possible 🌸

Quick Background: Followers of my Instagram Vintagetrishgarden know that I started my little turmeric ‘plantation’ in November 2017 with one 3cm rhizome bought from an organic providore. Since then, I replanted my entire harvest of rhizomes in June 2018, to overwinter, in-situ. The turmeric broke ground in November 2018, and this May 2019, I harvested 621 gram of turmeric. If I were to buy fresh turmeric at current prices in my area it would cost $24.69 per kilo, and that is not organic–mine is. I’ve returned 300g of rhizomes to the little 1 metre x 40cm strip ‘plantation’ for this growing season, and am processing 321gram in the following ways. Next harvest – May 2020.

How I decided to preserve this turmeric harvest

  1. Turmeric Powder for pantry storage
  2. Fresh Turmeric Paste divided into refrigerated and frozen portions

Uses: Curry pastes, Soups, Smoothies, Teas, Golden milk and much more

Preparation after Harvest

All the turmeric rhizomes were well washed and then set to dry out a little for 1 week after harvest. Use a covered basket, which prevents dust but allows air circulation (prevents mould.) This makes the rhizomes more easily handled and retains more of the rhizome when peeled, in my experience. They shrink a little from their plumped up, ‘just harvested look’, at this stage.

Advice: Fresh turmeric stains anything it contacts, yellow. Wear disposable gloves, protect benches and wash plates and utensils soon after using them when working with it.

Turmeric Powder

Equipment I used:

Disposable gloves, Hand peeler, Mandolin slicer, Food Dryer, Food Processor, Spatula

**Adapt your own equipment**

Method: After putting on my gloves:

  1. All small knobbly parts of the rhizomes were broken off and kept in a seperate bowl.
  2. The now more easily peeled large sections were peeled with a hand peeler.
  3. All unpeeled ‘small knobbles,’ and peels, were put aside for the paste recipe.
  4. The large peeled turmeric rhizomes were sliced into 3mm width slices using a mandolin slicer with a thickness dial. (I opted for using the mandolin slicer because it keeps slices a consistent width which means drying in the dryer is more uniform, if all are the same width–which means the turmeric will powder easily.)
  5. The turmeric slices were arranged in a single layer on two trays of my food dryer, with one empty tray on the bottom to prevent over-drying.
  6. My food dryer has one setting–so I let the turmeric slices dry for 1.5 hours. I decided after checking at the 1.5hr mark that 30 mins more would get it to the optimal dried state for processing into powder-slices should be dry not ‘bendy’. I did swap the bottom slice tray to the top at this stage, as they tend to dry more quickly than the top trays in my dryer model. You will need to use your own judgement on this depending on what drying method you use. Since I have never used an oven to dry turmeric I am not going to give advice on it, except to say that you are trying to dry (not bake) the turmeric– so the oven would have to be set very low, and would presumably take longer than mine did in the food dryer.
  7. The dried turmeric slices were removed from the dryer trays and put into my food processor to process into powder, on High for 3 mins, then another burst on High for 2 mins. Yes, it takes that long if you want fine powder. It would take longer again if you are grinding the dried slices using mortar and pestle.
  8. The powder was removed from the processor and put into a glass jar for storage in my pantry.  * Storage times vary for differing conditions and climates. Use your own judgement and research*
  9. Store turmeric powder away from heat and light in the pantry.

Fresh Turmeric Paste

Ingredients:

Fresh turmeric processed (fine or grated), black pepper, organic coconut oil, water

Equipment: Grater or food processor, stovetop, pot, whisk/spoon, spatula

Method:

  1. The kept aside large fresh rhizome peels and unpeeled fresh ‘small knobbles’ were pulverised in my food processor. Alternatively you could grate them.
  2. For every 3 inches of rhizome, you use 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper and 1/3cup water divided. Just do your best to estimate the amount of rhizomes you have–since it’s a paste it’s a fairly ‘forgiving’ recipe, but take care with the amount of water you add, do that ‘by eye’ especially with the other half of the water in step 6.
  3. In my case I was using the peelings and small rhizome knobbles which amounted to 7 inches of rhizome (so…the recipe amounts multiplied by 2.5). This meant I used 5 tablespoons coconut oil 2.5 tsp fresh ground black pepper and 3/4 cup water, divided.
  4. Put all solid ingredients into a pot on the stove over medium heat–with only half the amount of water you need to add.
  5. Using a whisk or spoon, stir all ingredients till combined over medium heat till bubbles form around the side. It may take a little time for the coconut oil to melt if your weather is cool.
  6. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, slowly adding the remaining water until the mixture forms a paste. The coconut oil tends to slide and glide away from the side of the pot once it reaches this held-together paste.
  7. Transfer the paste using a spatula or spoon into a glass jar or container.
  8. Leave to cool, put lid on and refrigerate. Alternatively, put paste into ice cube trays, freeze, pop ice cube portions into a container for easy access when needed.
  9. As a guide only, this paste can usually be stored for 2 weeks in the fridge–use your own judgement. Frozen paste portions store longer.

 

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 and using your turmeric powder and paste.