silverbeet

Autumn seedlings are in the ground

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Purple sprouting broccoli seedling

We’ve had more luck with our seed raising this year, and last week I transplanted a whole pile of seedlings out into the garden. The beds are looking pretty bare at the moment, but we have a huge crop ahead of us:

  • Carrots
  • Silverbeets
  • Turnips
  • Snow peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Peas
  • Leeks
  • Beetroots
  • Spring onions
    • green
    • red
  • Kale
    • green
    • tuscan black
    • red russian
  • Broccoli
    • purple sprouting
    • di cicco
    • romanesco
    • chinese (broccolini)
  • Cabbages
    • mini
    • chinese
    • red
    • sugarloaf

That should keep us going for a while! This time around, I’ve avoided mass planting, and have instead mixed everything together (except the root vegetables). Hopefully I’ve got the spacing right, but only time will tell…

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Chinese cabbages and more

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Chinese cabbages in the ground, sugar snap peas on the climbing frame

It’s surprising how much can be grown during a Sydney winter. With no frosts (at least near the coast), and less bugs, we’re getting plenty out of the garden each week.

The chinese cabbages are my current pride and joy. These grow very quickly, and are just about ready to be harvested. They have, however, had a mixed track record to date. Last year, they rotted in the ground, after non-stop rain for a month. This year I protected them with plastic, but the slugs have found them. Picking 3-4 slugs off them each day has meant they’ve been growing faster than they’ve been eaten, but it’s a close-run race.

I’ve also tried a different approach to climbers. The teepee structures I used last winter were fine, but took up a lot of space. So this time around I screwed together some garden stakes and attached wire mesh. So far the sugar snap peas are very happy!

These are just two of the above-ground plants we’re growing this winter. In addition we have:

  • savoy cabbages
  • mini savoy cabbages
  • purple cabbages
  • silverbeet
  • warrigal greens
  • pak choy
  • bok choy
  • kale (two varieties)
  • snow peas
  • rhubarb
  • salad greens
  • herbs (various)

(I’ll list the root vegetables in the next post.)

A very early Christmas

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A veritable cornucopia from the garden
A veritable cornucopia from the garden

On Monday I cooked Christmas lunch for my team from work, as is the tradition. (Yes Christmas! The price to pay for having two of the team going on maternity leave late this year.)

For the meal, the garden provided:

  • masses of silverbeet
  • carrots
  • spring onions
  • salad greens
  • herbs, including mint and dill

From this, and a a few store-bought ingredients, we had:

  • spanakopita (cheese and spinach pie)
  • roast chicken with baked potatoes
  • indian carrot salad
  • green salad

There’s still heaps of silverbeet left in the ground, and the spring crop is just coming into its own. It’s amazing how little has to be bought when the majority of ingredients can be pulled straight out of the ground an hour before the meal.

Silverbeet going to seed

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Silverbeet on a rampage, and going to seed
Silverbeet on a rampage, and going to seed

I’ve just got back from two weeks in Europe (work unfortunately, not pleasure). It’s definitely spring: everything has grown hugely in the last fortnight.

This includes the silverbeet, which seems determined to take over the world! The leaves are huge, and are crying out for some serious harvesting. A number of the plants are also going to seed, so I think they’ll soon be coming out, to make space for the next round of planting. Peas perhaps.

The harvesting has begun

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Tuscan kale, the first produce to come from our garden
Tuscan kale, the first produce to come from our garden

The obvious milestone for starting a new vege garden is the first harvest, straight from the garden to the plate. While everything grew rapidly during autumn, the cold snap over the last week has definitely slowed things up.

Still, this was a good week for home-grown food:

Last Sunday: a handful of tuscan kale, sauteed with butter, garlic, verjuice and parmesan. A perfect side-dish with lemony chicken!

During the week: the first small handful of snow peas, stored up for eating tonight.

Today: a generous basket of silverbeet, english spinach and tuscan kale. All of which will be going into spanakopita (cheese and spinach pie). Can’t wait!

A small handful of snow peas, with more to come
A small handful of snow peas, with more to come

I’m hoping that by next weekend we’ll have a good crop of sugar snap peas, more snow peas, and pak choy. Then tomatoes and further silverbeet.

Five colour silverbeet, just about to go into a cheese and spinach pie
Five colour silverbeet, just about to go into a cheese and spinach pie