It’s been over a month since I last wrote in the diary. I’ve just been jotting down a list of successes & failures we’ve had in the garden. Ironically we’ve had failures from not enough water & too much water! On the plus side our Eggplants, Peppers, Basil, Scallopini & Bush Tomatoes are yielding well (See recipes for Vege curry recipe). The little cherry peppers are turning red, & I’m planning to harvest some this week & have a go at turning them into “Pepperdews” which incidentally is a trademark name for a special South African pepper.

We’ve had great crops of Pears, & White fleshed Peaches & still have some to come. The earlier Apples have been good too, & more to come, also our first Grapes from a new vine we’ve planted by the deck. The birds moved in on the grapes well before they were ripe enough for us, but the CDs hanging from the vine have meant we’ve managed to get some too. Must remember next year to hang some up early on.

The sad Raspberries in the soft fruit house have rallied & are cropping well. We’ve been feeling decadent having home made granola, yoghurt & grapes, raspberries & strawbs from the garden, what more could one ask for to start the day?

In the damp area the pumpkins are thriving, & so too is the rhubarb, this is the first time we’ve had rhubarb as up until this year , our wayward sheep have leaned over the fence & eaten all the leaves, don’t they know it’s poisonous? I’ve stewed up a couple of lots of rhubarb, I was inspired by Giles & Libby to add a few strawberries once it was cooked. This is great, as well as rounding out the flavour, they added some colour to our mostly green stems. I had a dessert at “Olive’ Restaurant in wellington, called “Eton Crush” which was delicious. It was a mix of cream & yoghurt with cruched meringue, rhubarb & strawberries in it. I saw Nigella make a similar dish using meringue & pomegranate.

Alas the melons have mostly rotted, although the few we’ve had were delicious, & we grew some Golden Bantam sweetcorn, whether it was lack of water I don’t know, but the corn was disappointing, stodgy & sticky. The carrot & beetroot seeds we sowed,some weeks ago & thought we’d fried, have all popped up after a good drop of rain. We’ve resown the parsnips & fennel.The celariac seedlings are growing on well. In a few weeks we’ll make a repeat sowing of most of the root veges, & that should see us through the winter. We’ll probably plant broadbeans in the patch where the spuds are now, & maybe a few more plants of silverbeet.

After the rain we planted about 150 leek plants, a bit later than usual for us. The seeds we put in are growing but still small, so we bought a couple of bundles of plants, I’d rather have leeks over Winter than be a purist!

Thank goodness we have a freezer! We used to bottle tomatoes & fruit every year, but with a freezer we can cook up small amounts at a time, rather than a marathon of preserving. We’ve decided that we want to have enough tomatoes for about 8 months, usually we supplement with watties toms, thinking at least they hadn’t travelled very far. Now we have become disillusioned as we read on the label that Italian toms are also used, how crazy is that? We cook our toms in a big frying pan, so they cook quickly. Some we add sliced zucchini to, others a handful of chopped Basil, & some we leave plain. We’ve also frozen a few bags of smallish toms whole, just washing them clean & taking off the calyx. These will be good for our bulk curries & casseroles. We’ve also cooked up peaches  for the freezer. We have a number of pottles which we recycle, once the food is frozen we can take it out of the pots & put into bags. Then re-use the pots over & over. Last year we bought a dehydrator at a garage sale. Pears dry really well, just sliced into thin circles. We use them later in granola, they just need chopping up. We tried plums but they were too strong & sour for us. Peaches are good, & we tried some melon & that was tasty too.

On Sunday, we had a stall at a Fair at Duart House in Havelock North. It was organised by the Arthritis Foundation NZ. It was a great venue, the weather was perfect & the crowd relaxed & friendly. Duart House is a graceful old building, harking back to the Victorian era, so the theme was Victorian, any excuse to dress up!

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