gardening

Repurpose

When perusing a seed catalogue with a view to vegetable planting for the coming season, it’s easy to have eyes bigger than available plot space. I have experienced this in the past and with novice gardener’s enthusiasm have attempted to grow too many varieties resulting in what can only be described as a crowded, unsuccessful tangle. This season I am narrowing my selection to three plantings based on what will grow best and what we will actually eat. It’s all very well sowing several rows of hollow-crown parsnip seeds, but what do you do when upon harvesting your glut, everyone at the table pokes at the mash suspiciously or makes polite excuses? So this winter, I plan to slice the heads off cauliflower and broccoli and uproot a good supply of leeks because these are the staples that appear in many of our cold weather meals. There will also be some fenugreek seeds going in, a herb to be added to winter Indian curries, and based on the fact they will prosper independently in terracotta pots, they won’t be part of the head count.

When you keep chickens, it’s amazing how generous people are with their empty egg cartons. I have accumulated a tremendous supply from well-wishers who I suspect, like me, are not comfortable tossing away these resourceful cardboard packages and share a collective relief that there is a good home to be found for them. There is however, a limit to how quickly my brood of five can fill them, so I do have a considerable stockpile. You can then imagine how pleased I was when I saw these gems planted up as seed sprouters, that when the seedlings have reached maturity, can be planted out directly in the garden within their own biodegradable pods. Less shock to the seedlings and nothing to be disposed of – a perfect gardening scenario.

When sliced down the centre, the bobbly half of the carton with the 12 egg craters is filled with seed-raising soil (after being pierced with a skewer for drainage). Simply insert the exact number of seeds in each pod and gently water with a spray bottle. Each of my seed planters sits in its own aluminium baking tray and is covered with cling film to create a mini hot house. The cardboard lip that was formerly used to close the carton is a fabulous place to write the name and planting date of the seeds.

The plan is, once the sprouts have appeared, all but the strongest in each pod will be culled – survival of the fittest, natural selection, runts of the litter – whatever biological theory you subscribe to, will be the way the most superior, robust seedlings with the greatest chance to produce will go forth to the great outdoors and provide us with a groaning table of winter veg. Well, that is my theory. For now they sit lined up near a sunny window and I have a new daily task assigned to lift the cling film, give a light spritz of water, watch and wait.

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gardening · recipes

Golden

Golden Wattle

Nothing speaks of mid-Winter in Melbourne quite like the golden wattle. With a choice of bare deciduous or lush green rain-fed under-growth, our early winter neighbourhood landscape generally lacks imagination. Suddenly as the season gets into its stride, strollers, joggers, cyclists and commuters are met with glorious bursts of vivid yellow, and the collective relief can be heard in communal expression, ‘the wattle is out!’

The distance travelled is relatively small for my first glimpse of the golden beauty. Not far short of my mail-box, a neighbour has a majestic specimen lighting up our grove. Throughout the year it blends chameleon-like in an ash-green shade amongst other leafy companions putting on their summer display. As the season pulls out its crispest of days, the summer pretties are leafless and forgotten – but now the wattle takes centre stage.

And fortunate we are, as short drive through our district reveals an incredible variety. The early flowerers are now fading, the golden is in her prime and others are poised to burst. A spectrum of gold has painted our neighbourhood, it surely is Winter.

Wattle, though magnificent an outdoor display, does not fare well indoors. It’s pungent aroma tickles the allergies and the tiny florets sprinkle the surfaces. So for us, indoor winter gold must come in this form:

Lemon Deliciious Pudding

Lemon Delicious pudding. All things golden: butter, egg yolks, lemon and crust. Gold.

100g softened butter
grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sifted SR Flour
1 1/4 cups milk
icing sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease a casserole dish.
  2. Cream the butter with the lemon rind and sugar.
  3. Beat in the egg yolks.
  4. Stir in the flour alternately with the milk.
  5. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture with the lemon juice, lightly and gently.
  6. Pour into casserole dish and bake for 45-50 minutes.
  7. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot with cream or ice-cream.

Hot lemon delicious pudding

Postscript: So as the neighbourly tree lit up our street, this lemony pudding did its part shining in the kitchen.