Saturday, January 25, 2014


We are leaving for one of our most favourite spots for 10's my birthday (44!) and our 23rd wedding anniversary...



Long braais

Walks on the beach...


Sunday, January 19, 2014

As summer rolls along

Sunflowers at the back gate

With summer comes the veggie pests and diseases, but when I walk through my garden and grasshoppers jump out the way, dragonflies and other friendly flying creatures flit in front of me and I see the ladybugs who sit on the leaves of the plants, I know that I have a garden that is a happy place for them.
Sweet potatoes
I suppose I could use sprays so that I get all the veggies, but I am happy that not only do I get "clean" food for my family, I also provide a place that friendly bugs like to visit. You see, those sprays don't just kill the bad bugs they also wipe out the beneficial ones.  Uuh-huh!

So my modus operandi these past few seasons is to leave some plants for the bugs to enjoy. Nasturtiums were planted along with the brassicas in winter and were a good decoy for the white cabbage moth to lay her eggs on. Her little babies munched away happily and got nice and fat then disappeared.

My cauliflowers, broccolis and kale all went unaffected by them for the most of the season and only one of the few kale plants that were left at the end of the season had any trouble. Even then I left the bugs on the kale and they too eventually left for other pastures, leaving the plant to continue supplying us with leaves to eat.

Harvesting is continuing with loads of marrows still coming in - in fact today I sent out an "SOS come get a marrow" text to 4 friends so that I can unload the last of these monsters. I planted way too many of them this year and will probably only plant 5 as versus 20 (what was I thinking???) next summer.

Today's tomato harvest
The tomatoes, even though they got blight, have reached the beautiful red stage. We have brought in about 20 kgs of them so far and turned them into sauce & eaten them fresh. The Italian sauce tomatoes are so lovely when roasted with herbs and garlic then blended.

Our first batch of corn was a complete failure, but our second planting has yielded some good corn. As a friend pointed out to me, the leaves of the plants are more yellow-green than green-green which indicates a lack of nitrogen in the soil. I did not add any manure in this bed as the last batch of manure brought so many weeds with it that I could not face all that weeding again. I am going to have to investigate alternatives for adding more nitrogenous matter to the soil which will not add weeds along with the nitrogen.

While it is so good to have a break from the hard work of digging in compost, making seed pots and getting seedlings started and growing well, I cannot ignore the fact that there are 6 more weeks until I need to have a plan in place and seeds sown for my late summer early autumn vegetable gardens. So this afternoon I plan to plan! We will see if I get to that.

I have been churning over ideas in my brain for a herb garden in what we call "Zeus's sandpit." This area has been a vegetable garden, a grassed area and now is where Zeus digs and runs and is simply a mess. I recently laid out some paving stones in his running track and he simply moved his run to the right of them.
Sweet lemon cucumbers

He gets 4 long walks a week in the forest and all other things that dogs need like bones to chew, grooming, swims on hot days and lots of love and he has another small digging patch at the back gate so I am afraid that his time in the sandpit is almost up.

When I have the plan in a more concrete way I will let you know what I am planting and why. I have wanted to grow more herbs for culinary purposes and also educate myself more on medicinal herbs that I can grow and use easily. "Easily" is the keyword here as time does not allow me to go into this too deeply yet.

I suppose this is the limbo period where I find myself right now...the harvests coming in, enjoying the meals, watching plants handle the heat and pests - or not - and planning for the next season.

One of the 5 pumpkins - just enough for a year :)

What are you doing for and with your garden right now?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chicken meatballs on zucchini "pasta"

I bought myself a new kitchen toy...a vegetable "spiralizer". After a bit of frustration learning to work it, I got the hang of the technique and it churned out some great "pasta" from a medium sized marrow or two.

The big ones that I was hoping to use up don't seem to be "grabbed" by the teeth of the tool if they are sliced length ways.

So no more big marrows - I will harvest the last of the crop medium sized for pasta! We are tired of marrow meals so we are glad it is nearly time to pull the crop up and prepare the beds for a late summer crop.

On to the recipe...this was quick to make and yummy to eat. You can serve the meatballs over normal pasta and it will be just as delicious.

While my zucchini pasta was draining in a colander in the sink I did the following:

2 packets of Funky Chickens chicken mince
1 big bunch of basil chopped
2 cloves of garlic pressed
1 big handful of Parmesan grated
2 eggs
Salt and black pepper

Mixed together in a bowl, shaped into bite sized meatballs and fried until nice and brown. 

I then added the last bottle of the roast tomato sauce, but you can use shop bought Passata or just two cans of chopped peeled tomatoes. 

While these were cooking I flash fried the zucchini pasta in some olive oil and garlic unit just cooked.

Serve with meatballs on top and a sprinkling of Parmesan...Enjoy with a good red wine.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Butternut, spinach and feta lasagne with roasted tomato sauce

When the garden offers up a complete meal to me I get very enthusiastic. While we eat something from the garden everyday, all year, there are these high points when I need only add one or two things from the pantry and the rest has been grown right here...a few steps outside my front door.

Last nights meal was one of those times. We had such a lovely butternut harvest that I wanted to make it the centre of a dish. Combined with all the beautiful ripe and juicy tomatoes we have managed to grow despite the blight that hit most of the plants, it was time to make a special meal.

I used Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's roast tomato sauce which simply involved halving 2 kilograms of ripe tomatoes, adding some garden herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, marjoram and oregano), drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper and adding 8 peeled garlic clove.

While these roasted away until soft, and blackened a little around the edges, I put one of our whole butternuts to roast in the bottom of the oven.

I popped out to the garden to collect a big bundle of spinach which is still growing from what I planted back in Autumn 2013. By picking the outside leaves these giving plants continue to grow and grow. The tend to go to seed in summer, but we have had such a mild one so far that they are still producing loads of leaves. The leaves were washed, and then lightly fried with 2 red onions then left to sit with the heat off.

Back to the kitchen 1hr later and the oven roasted veg are done. I tipped the tomatoes into my food processor and whizzed it all together, herbs, garlic and all. I placed a layer of this in the bottom of the oven dish, then a layer of lasagne sheets.

Next came the spinach and a layer of crumbled feta and a fine grating of nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Then another layer of lasagne.

Next up was the butternut which I had scraped from the skin and mashed with some butter and salt.
I drizzled some more of the tomato sauce on this then added a final layer of lasagne, loads more sauce and a good grating of Parmesan and Mozzarella.

This was then returned to the oven and baked for 40 minutes until it was bubbling. The tastes of this meal were phenomenal and the butternut was only second to the rich fragrant tomato sauce.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Around ~ About ~ Inside ~ Out

Well that describes our December holiday so far. Starting off with a list a mile long of what has to happen and what we want to happen made me feel tired before I even started! With my elder son now training in all earnestness for the Argus has seen 5.30am starts to every day getting him to his cycling friends for early morning cycles.

We have been able to fit in some fishing a swimming times at my favourite spot - Silvermine Dam - lots of walks in the forest and some gardening. But with 2 weeks left to get through my list...mmmh...well, time is running out.

Speaking about's what has been happening on our little patch of the planet:

Bean coming hard and fast

Tomatoes hit with blight - green ones rescued for relish

Final butternut harvest

Coriander in a trough - splendid idea!

Corn nearly ready

Cucumbers - daily for a salad

 Green tomatoes to be made into relish

Early morning harvest

Gorgeous lemon cucumbers

Pumpkin 1 of 5

And his sister
3.5kgs of marrow went into this delicious relish
After a day of very unseasonal rain, wind and low temperatures in Cape Town, my garden has soaked up the unexpected showers. I think with the first hot day the mildew on the squash leaves will explode and our very bountiful squash and marrow harvests will come to an end. It has been great!