Thursday, October 21, 2010

Using up the swiss chard

I managed to get some swiss chard into my family this week, with this easy recipe.
Braised half a sliced onion in a bit of oil, add some cumin/jeera and a bit of chilli or chilli powder. I add a quarter tsp chilli powder AND a whole chilli, so it's not too much for the kids but the hubby who likes things hot can munch on the chilli. If you have turmeric, add a quarter tsp.
Then add a clove or 2 of slice/chopped garlic. To this add a peeled and cubed potato, with a quarter cup water. Add your chopped swiss chard, toss a bit and cook for about 5minutes. Add about 3 tsp tomato paste to thicken the gravy - not necessary. Salt to taste.

I'd use about 6 cups chopped swiss chard to 1 medium potato.
We had it with roti - yum.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Busy spring

Our property came with a peach, nectarine and lime tree. The quality of the fruit is amazing. I remember tasting the first peach off the tree last year, it was warm from the sun and perfectly ripe and juicy.

It gets a bit hectic in spring and early summer, as I need to spray the fruit trees quite regularly. I've been using 2 teaspoons neem oil diluted in a litre of water as a spray and it's worked really well. I have to spray weekly as well as after rain - which was quite often last year. The only fruit that got stung where the ones I couldn't reach with the stepladder (we've pruned the trees properly since then)

My biggest hassle was the sprayer - I tried a few different sprayers, as well as home made ones, but they were either inadequate or left me with cramped hands. So this is what hubby got me.

It works brilliantly. One lesson I've learnt the hard way - use the right tool for the job.

This spring has been really hot. I noticed that 2 of my swiss chard plants started bolting. Apparently they get bitter when they bolt. So, I've started to seriously harvest the Swiss chard - this is what I get every alternate day.
The plants where started almost a year ago. They've been excellent providers for the small space they occupy. I planted them in a protected spot in the veggie patch - so they were fine through the frosty nights. It was wonderful being able to get something out of the garden in the dead of winter. I can't feed Swiss chard to my family at the moment - the girls love it, but hubby has had too much :) So I chop it up fine, steam slightly and pop in the freezer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Avo tree & compost

Red billed wood hoopoe on my Avo tree.

It's a lovely, tall tree - there have been no fruit while we've been on the property (1.5 years). I was told to trim it down, but there are always birds at the top bits, so I'm not doing that. Two friends suggested knocking a nail in, which I have now done, as an experiment. We'll see what happens. After living in a townhouse complex for almost 8 years, I really appreciate the mature trees we have.

Hubby got me a copy of Steve Solomon's "Gardening when it counts" for my birthday. I'm reading the composting section for the 2nd time now - it's something I really want to get right. I seem to be doing quite a bit wrong though :( Two things that I need to fix in my existing heaps: 1) remove branches, bark etc and set them up in a pile of their own. 2) Add a thick layer of soil over the top of the piles, to trap the escaping ammonia.

Last night we got our first bit of rain for the season ... the girls where out dancing in it, they were so thrilled. My 2 little helpers often help in the garden - they happily take on any task and work really hard. Gardening with the girls is really special for me - I love that I can share something that I treasure with them.