Archive for November, 2010

Posted on 15th November 2010

Grow | Cherries


cherry blossoms

Not everyone can grow a cherry tree in Australia, as they really do need a cold spell in winter sufficient to set fruit.  However, if you’re one of the lucky one who live in the mountains, tablelands or colder inland areas, like Canberra, then their ornamental value is an extra bonus, aside from the fruit, that you may not have considered.  They have exquisite white blossoms in spring, stunning autumn foliage colour and a shiny, polished looking trunk that in itself is a feature.

Most cherries need a cross pollinator to set fruit, but a new dwarf one from Flemings Nursery, called Cherree® Black Cherry, is actually self fertile, as are a couple of their other cultivars. Look out too for the white fleshed, blush skin cherries.Check out see the ‘Help Guides’ section of the website.

The cherry tree in Australia is famous for its November and December fruit, which hangs on the tree as if decorated for Christmas. Plants need shelter from strong hot winds, well drained soil and full sun with cold winters to thrive.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 15th November 2010

Harvest | Cherries


Cherry harvest

Choose firm, glossy fruit with the stalk intact. Generally speaking, the darker the skin colour the riper the fruit. Keep refrigerated in a plastic bag for 3-4 days.

What to do with glut

Freeze, make into jam or pickle in a vinegar syrup.

  • Freeze:

Using a cherry pitter, remove seeds and place cherries in a clip-lock bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Preserve:

Cherry syrup topping

Combine 300g pitted cherries, 1 cup caster sugar, ½ cup of water or ¼ cup of kirsch in a saucepan. Simmer on low until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and cook for 20 mins, until syrupy. Cool slightly. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain and fill sterilized jars. Seal. Refrigerate once opened.
Use as a topping on ice cream.

Makes 1 cup

cherry syrup topping recipe for ice-cream

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 15th November 2010

Cook | Cherries


Cherry Slice recipe

Cherry slice

1 egg
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup plain flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
melted chocolate, to drizzle (optional)
cherry topping
75g butter, chopped
½ cup plain flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups pitted cherries

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Grease and line a 18cm x 27cm slice pan.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg and sugar together until thick and pale. Add oil and beat until well combined. Fold in combined, sifted flours. Spoon into prepared pan and pat out with your hands to cover base evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden.
3. Meanwhile, make topping. Place butter, flour and sugar in a bowl and using fingertips, rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add coconut and toss to combine.
4. Scatter cherries and then coconut mixture over base and bake for 20 mins, until golden. Cool in pan.
5. Drizzle over melted chocolate. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Makes 15 squares

tip ….
Use white, milk or dark chocolate to drizzle over the slice, or simply omit if you prefer.

try this ….
Cherry ricotta tart
1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
200g fresh ricotta
1/3 cup cream
¼ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
200g pitted cherries

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Lightly grease a 20cm pie plate.
2. Line plate with pastry, trimming edges. Line tart shell with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for another 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat ricotta, cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Pour into tart shell and bake for 30 minutes, until just set. Refrigerate until cold.
4. Pile cherries over tart just before serving and dust with icing sugar.

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Posted under cook
Posted on 13th November 2010

Grow | Peas


Growing instructions for the
Grow Harvest Cook Give-away Snap Pea seeds

Peas are normally sown in autumn or winter, but can be sown into early spring in cold areas like Tasmania and even into summer in areas where it doesn’t get too hot. They like a soil that drains well, and if it’s too acidic, add some lime and dig over well prior to planting.

Plant pea seeds directly where they grow every 5cm or so and then gently firm them down into the soil. The soil should be well dug and pre-moistened, but then not watered for a few days as you can easily rot the seeds. Protect the emerging seedlings from birds with some sticks or netting, as they can develop a taste for young pea shoots!

These snap peas need support so are ideal growing on 1.5m tall stakes to help support them. These can be structured in a tripod or an A-frame run, or even cross hatched like a lattice. If possible run this north to south so they get the most sun possible.

Peas take about 8-10 weeks to start cropping, and the more you pick the more you get, so pick regularly. At the end of your pea season, dig your pea stalks back into the ground and you’ll enrich your soil with not only organic matter, but also nitrogen, as peas have a magical way of using special nodules on their roots to take nitrogen from the air and turn it into a plant useable form.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 2nd November 2010

Community | Kendall


Community gardening at Kendall Preschool

Children gardening at Kendall Preschool

Community gardening at Kendall Preschool

Kendall Preschool has been building ‘outdoor rooms’ for a number around 5 years, gradually gaining confidence and knowledge of native plants and vegetation. We consider ourselves to be innovative in terms of providing children and families with real opportunities for developing environmentally sustainable practices, and this will continue to evolve. I am working closely with Biripi elders to provide native vegetation, which, in turn has led to a massive increase in native birds in our spaces. Today we counted 26 Rainbow Lorikeets picking at the sunflower seeds and grasses, but we have many more smaller birds living around us too. We have a small but committed group of educators who bring meaning and enjoyment through outdoor exploration, and our families and the community are gradually seeing the light! This year we were part of the Camden Haven Open Gardens, and received a really positive response from people in the community who do not usually see the preschool.

Over the last few years, we have developed a great veggie garden, and at the moment we have: spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, broad beans, cauliflowers, sugar loaf cabbage, asparagus, potatoes, coriander, chives, kale, peas, beans, beetroot, carrot, zucchini and cucumbers growing! The children are the gardeners, who plant, water, feed and harvest the crops. In our orchard, we are watching the apples growing, and the guavas are flowering. We also have citrus trees, and a mulberry growing.

Our bushtucker and sensory plants include gingers, blueberries, sandpaper figs, lemon, cinnamon and aniseed myrtles. We have native gardinias, a
native frangipani and lots of bird and insect attracting plants. We have developed a number of small frog habitats, and we hope this will encourage
the frogs in time. The native stingless bees love the native gardenias when they flower, and are a great source of interest for the children. We have
lots of native grasses which we are beginning to use with weaving with Biripi people in the next few months.

Children compost food scraps that don’t go into the worm farm, and use water from rain-tanks for gardens and also for the use with the digging patch! Most children now send a low waste lunch, and we monitor the amount of packaging that is brought in. The chook house is now a couple of years old, and our assortment of chooks are well fed by the children and families, and well looked after! Again the compost is a great space for chook pooh, and old hay. Chicken collect eggs each day, and love to handle the chooks.

We are continuing to find new ways to provide children with meaningful, creative play, and we spend most of the day outside. To us, the preschool is a space for children to engage in meaningful, nature based play where they develop a sense of pride and enthusiasm through caring for the environment.

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Posted under community
Posted on 1st November 2010

Grow | Artichoke


artichoke plant

There are two plants called Artichokes.  One of which is the globe artichoke, where the flower buds are eaten, the other is the Jerusalem artichoke, where the roots are the edible part.  For this entry we will be dealing with the globe artichoke, or Cynara cardunculus.  Essentially this plant is a giant thistle, and it’s the triangular scales around the immature flower head that are eaten, along with the inside part of the stem.  The inside florets known as the choke are removed as these are inedible.

The plant itself is a beautiful thing to behold; the silver foliage with its deeply lobed leaves whorl out from a central point, standing about 1m tall, then the flowers rocket up even further.  Many people in fact grow them as an ornamental in a perennial border, letting them flower their purple thistle and don’t harvest them, just admire them! If however you have tasted fresh artichoke, you’ll probably consider this sacrilege.  They are easy to harvest, picking the buds when about tennis ball size, leaving about 15 cm of stem on them.  They will last like this stored for up to 2 weeks, though obviously cooking them quickly results in the best flavour.

Artichokes like a good, free draining soil with added manure or compost, as they are going to live there a few years putting in this extra conditioner will pay dividends.  They prefer full sun. Cut back artichokes to the best 4-5 shoots in winter, but they will only grow in frosty areas if they are mulched well and given protection.  They can be planted out in spring from divisions, or seeds, and will flower and bear from their second season onwards, first producing a spring crop, then a few over summer, followed again by another autumn crop if you keep feeding and watering up to them.

Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and dietary fibre, they have been an important ingredient in first North African cooking, and then Mediterranean cooking, for Millennium, and were even an ingredient on the table of King Henry VIII. Include 3 plants as either potted specimens or in the garden as focal points, and you will have enough for a family to dine on happily all season.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st November 2010

Harvest | Artichoke


harvesting artichokes

Artichokes begin to deteriorate from the time they are picked therefore are best used immediately. If purchasing from your grocer, choose artichokes with bright green and tightly closed leaves. They should feel heavy for the size. The most reliable method of testing for freshness – rubbing the leaves together – the characteristic squeak assures freshness.
Store, unwashed, in a sealed plastic bag, refrigerated for up to 2 days.

What to do with glut

  • Preserve:

The best way to handle an artichoke for prolonged use is to preserve them straight after picking. This way they will retain then unique nutty sweetness.

preserved artichokes

Lemon braised artichokes

Remove outer leaves from 8 artichokes. Halve lengthways, remove hairy choke and trim stem. Cut off and discard top third of artichoke. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, deep frying pan. Cook 3 chopped garlic cloves for 1 min, until fragrant. Add artichokes, 1 cup white wine and juice of 1 lemon. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 tablespoon butter. Cover, simmer on low for 15 minutes, until tender. Place artichokes in sterilised jars and fill with pan juices. Seal and store for up to 1 month. Refrigerate after opening.

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