gardening · gratitude · herbs · lemon · mangoes · pecan nuts · summer

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Abundance.


This past week has been a rather hectic one for me, with an abundance of work, mostly paper work, taking up most of my waking hours each day.

As a result I have missed out on posting anything here for quite a few days. I’ve even missed the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for last week!

Now, where in the rules does it say a photo can’t be posted a couple of days late?… No where?… That’s what I thought!

So here I am with my photo, which represents last week’s theme ~ “abundance”.

This photo was taken last year, when our garden produced a massive abundance of extremely tasty food; tomatoes, lemons, limes, mangoes, pecan nuts, chillies, and a number of my favourite herbs, including rosemary, basil, sage, parsley and thyme.

This time last year, the planets must have aligned perfectly, giving us a bumper crop of absolutely everything we grow! The right amount of rain and just enough sunshine, with the right amount of heat beating down upon the earth.

This summer, however, Mother Nature has not been quite so kind to us. Luckily, I have my photos from last year, showing my garden in all of its lush glory with an abundance of edibles, with which to reminisce, until the perfect weather conditions return again.

And the perfect weather conditions will return. Mother Nature is kind that way. 🙂

Australia · basics · gardening · gratitude · happiness · herbs · winter

An Appreciation of Winter Crops and Sun

Winter is just simply the most heavenly season of the year in my part of the world.

I  could make a list of the advantages of cooler days and nights, in fact, I’ll do just that! Here’s my “Winter Appreciation” List.

  • The feeling of the soft fluffy fabrics of my jumpers against my skin is pure luxury.
  • I enjoy knitting to my heart’s content, without fear of sweaty fingers.
  • Have I mentioned I wear jeans, just about every day? Jeans in winter are so comfy with my fluffy boots, or clogs.
  • Ironing isn’t quite the chore in winter that it is in summer!
  • I sleep peacefully each night, without waking up all hot and sweaty.
  • The heat of the oven when baking warms the house.
  • My baking satisfies hungry tummies!
  • My cats and kids are all far more cuddly in winter!
  • Hardly any weeds grow in the garden and those that do grow are tiny.
  • Gardening is a pleasure under the warm winter sun.

Okay, that’s ten points. I could go on to one hundred points, but I think you get the drift…

Little “Cutie Cat” and I enjoyed a wonderful wander around the garden this morning; with me photographing all of my green crops, nearly ready to be picked, and she pouncing out from behind bushes to grab at my hand, startling the daylights out of me as I stopped to pull out a weed here and there.

Coriander is definitely at the top of my favourite herbs list and I have three plants growing, one of which is covered in delicate little flowers right now, much to the bees delight. And the spinach that I had all but given up on has had a new lease on life, now looking fresh and green and ready for the picking.

Coriander in flower
Baby spinach

Here’s a view of some old laundry tubs which make wonderful planters pots. This is where my spinach is thriving, along with some recently planted bok choy. We harvested some of the most carroty tasting carrots I have ever had the pleasure eating from these tubs, only about a month ago. Imperfect, but beautiful.

Recycled tubs
New carrots

The cauliflower and broccoli were planted at the same time, although the broccoli has overtaken the cauliflower by a long shot. We’ll be enjoying the first of this season’s broccoli tonight. 🙂

Broccoli and Cauliflower
Ready to eat.

I’ve taken a freshly picked lettuce inside and we have an ample supply of flat leaf parsley on standby, flourishing away happily in the winter sun.

Home grown lettuce
Flat leaf parsley

Our garden is extra green at the moment. This is one family you can rest assured  will be “eating their green’s” for the rest of the winter.

Cutey gardener
Sunning herself
Australia · autumn · gardening · herbs · pecan nuts

Autumn In My Garden

“What was Paradise? But a garden, an orchard of trees and herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights” ~~ William Lawson.

When autumn arrives, my life takes on a whole new meaning. After the long, hot, humid summer that I must endure every year over the Christmas season, it is such a pleasure to once again venture out into my garden!

How beautiful the garden is looking right now, as if all of my plants have collectively heaved a sigh of relief that the heat is over and they have all burst into flower at their happiness!

Most of the days now are warm and sunny, allowing me to spend all day hard at work outside, without so much as breaking into a sweat! I must admit, though, that when I am in “garden zone” I lose all concept of time and reality, becoming completely ensconced in my outdoor paradise.

It has become a regular occurrence that I will often be temporarily startled by a rustling noise nearby, only to discover a friendly bird has dropped by to say hello. I’m amazed at how tame the birds in my garden are! Or is it just momentary confusion on the bird’s part, believing me to have grown in the garden also, having spent so much time out there??

My most recent additions to the garden beds have been broccoli, cauliflower, marjoram, oregano, lemon grass, pineapple sage and lavender. We have collected bucket loads of pecan nuts and have enough limes to last us for months! I am especially proud of this year’s tomato crop. They are planted companionably next to my basil, perhaps being the reason they have been particularly generous with their crop this year.

When my home grown produce makes it to my kitchen I am constantly searching through my recipes, often feeling rather indecisive as to what I will make next. Decisions, decisions….I want to make them all! 🙂

Helper on a Break
cooking · gardening · herbs · recipe

Zucchini Slice

There are those who think that I am strange as I have always liked zucchini’s. I will state my case here and you can decide for yourselves. I’m hoping to convert some non-believers!

Zucchini’s are such a versatile (and under-rated) vegetable. They are easy to grow in either full sun or semi-shade and in the area that I live, can be grown all year round.

They are a member of the marrow family and both the vegetable and the zucchini flower can be eaten. Zucchini’s are delicious served simply as a raw, grated vegetable, added to a tossed salad, or as elaborately as the flowers being stuffed and deep fried.

The vegetables should be picked when still quite small, no more than 10cm in length. This is when they have the best flavour and it also encourages the growth of more vegetables. On average, a plant will yield up to 40 zucchini’s per season.

Zucchini’s have a rather subtle taste and a slightly crunchy texture. They should not be over cooked as this will make them “mushy” and watery.

Zucchini’s can be washed, (no need to peel!), sliced and cooked for 3-4 minutes in boiling water, tossed in butter or olive oil and served as a side vegetable. For extra crunch and flavour, garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds can also be added.

Alternatively, zucchini’s can be sliced, sprinkled with salt and left to drain for 1 hour (2 teaspoons salt per 500g zucchini). Pat slices dry with kitchen towel and deep fry.

Knowing my affinity with zucchini’s, my mother passed on this recipe to me after it was given to her by a friend. I have enjoyed making this zucchini slice for many years. It is perfect for a light weekend lunch, at any time of the year.

Zucchini Slice

3 cups grated zucchini (4-6 depending on size)

Zucchini Slice

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 rashers bacon, finely chopped

1 cup (125 g) grated cheese

1 cup self-raising flour

Fresh parsley, basil, oregano and rosemary (to taste) chopped

Pepper to taste

1 vegetable stock cube

5 eggs

½ cup milk

Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, flour, herbs and crumbled stock cube in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and combine with milk.

Fold the egg mixture through the zucchini mixture, combining well.

Pour mixture into a large, well greased quiche plate and bake for 35-40 minutes at 180 degrees C, or until set.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Australia · gardening · herbs · pecan nuts · Uncategorized

Seasons Changing…In The Garden

The air has been changing of late. Although there have been some hot days recently, we have had a few cooler days this week, along with cooler nights. The fresher air tempted me to venture out into my garden last week, to survey the damage of a long hot summer on my beloved garden.

To my surprise, there weren’t too many casualties. The weeds were running rampant in parts of the garden, but were easily removed due to a recent downpour of rain, which had soaked the earth, enabling the weeds to come out with ease. I had feared that I had lost my Camellia Sasanqua, which seemed to have totally disappeared, however the weeds may have actually protected it from the elements as it seems to have remained unscathed!

On Sunday afternoon, my 12 year old son & I made a trip to our local nursery. Although still quite a hot day, my boy enjoyed ducking in & out of the sprinkler system set up at the nursery! We arrived home an hour & a half later, laden mostly with various herbs that we had chosen.  The late afternoon weather was extremely kind to us, cooling down beautifully so that we could plant all of our newly purchased treats!

So far we have planted new batches of thyme, sage, coriander, basil, dill, both flat leaf & curly parsley & my son’s favorite, chocolate mint! My chives, peppermint & rosemary plants had survived summers onslaught of heat. I have new plants of cherry tomatoes, a huge family favourite, & was thrilled to find a number of new tomato plants had popped up throughout the garden, where my son had stood to eat freshly picked tomatoes last year!

My lemon, grapefruit, lime trees all have the beginnings of small fruit on their branches & the pecan nut tree has an abundance of nuts on it, which are starting to ripen & fall from the branches now! The outer casing of the nut is easily removed by hand, then a gentle tap from a small hammer on the shell breaks open the inner shell & there you have beautiful, freshly grown pecan nuts!

The photo to the right is one I took just before Christmas, showing the green pecan nuts starting to develop. They have now turned brown & will drop from the tree when ripe. I have a delicious Pecan Nut Pie recipe, which I will be posting here shortly!

It is such a pleasure to watch the trees & plants grow in my garden & I am even more thrilled that the weather is now cooling down. Sunburned limbs are not a good look on anyone!

The simple pleasures in life really are the best. All I need is my garden tools, a fine day, a few new plants to add to my collection & I’m set! With the gentle sound of the wind-chimes rattling away in the breeze & the occasional visit from a baby Magpie or Pheasant Coucal, what could be better?