Posts Tagged ‘planting’

Posted on 21st December 2013

Grow | Kiwi Fruit


kiwi fruit on vine

kiwi fruit flowers

Kiwi fruit (Actinidia), or Chinese gooseberries as they are also known, are deciduous vines. They are ideal for people without a lot of space as, providing they are kept trimmed, the vines can be kept to a manageable size. However, one plant is not enough, as kiwi fruit are either male or female and you need two to tango! If you decide you want to go into kiwi fruit in a big way, you can plant up to eight females per male plant, at 3 m (9 ft) spacings.

As they are deciduous, kiwi fruit can also withstand frosts while dormant and grow in a range of climates from cool to temperate without any fuss, providing they are in well-drained soil. Spoiling them with extra chicken manure and deep soakings of water during summer will ensure they give you a bountiful harvest, and they normally start bearing properly after 4 years.  Prune them hard in winter and remove any canes that are more than 3 years old, as these have passed their use-by date.

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Posted on 1st December 2013

Grow | Turnip & Kohlrabi


kohlrabi growing

harvesting home grown turnip

From farm fodder to fast becoming the hippest ingredient in town, these humble vegetables deserve recognition. Turnips, kohlrabi and swede are very cold hardy, and store well over winter, which is the reason that they have been used as cattle feed for so long, and also to sustain people in regions such as Scotland and northern Europe, where winters are harsh. Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea) looks like an above ground turnip, with the swollen stem being the part eaten, and has the added bonus of also being able to cope with hot dry summers, making it one of the hardiest veg around.

Turnips and Swedes are both botanically known as Brassica rapa. The Swedish turnip, or Swede, is the ‘Rutabaga’ cultivar and has yellow flesh with a purple top, whereas turnips normally have white flesh, but can be flat, round or long in shape depending on the type. The white mini type is a fast grower, being able to be harvested in 7 weeks, as is the lovely
lilac variety ‘de Nancy’. The trick is to grow them quickly to ensure a milder sweet root and good texture. All are best grown in open, fertile soil, planted in late summer and autumn and harvested in late autumn and early winter. In very cold areas, seed can be sown within cold frames in late winter and then the foliage is a valuable ‘green’ that can be used like young cabbages.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 1st November 2013

Grow | Macadamias


macadamias ripening on tree

Macadamias are the most successful ‘bush tucker’ export from Australia, with the oil-rich nuts being used in both sweet and savoury cooking. The two main species of macadamia are Macadamia tetraphylla (rough-shelled) and M. integrifolia (smooth-shelled), which include a pink-flowering type that is rather pretty.

Macadamias are best grown from grafted stock, as they will then fruit after about 5 years. They need a frost-free, open, sunny position, but one that is protected from strong, hot winds. They require rich, fertile soil and you ned to feed young trees every 2 weeks with seaweed solution or worm wee (worm tea). Once they are bearing size, mulch the plants with lucerne hay to keep them gently fed. Allow about 10 m (33 ft) for your tree to spread out. Encourage beneficial insects into your garden and bees to help pollinate the flowers and keep your macadamia trees disease free.

The nuts are easily picked up off the ground to harvest, but they are a harder nut to crack than most!  Dogs and rats seem to love them, and will get them off the ground if you don’t.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 20th October 2013

Grow | Avocado


 avocado on tree

Growing an avocado in the home garden is not for the impatient, as from seed to fruiting it takes around 6 years. Luckily, grafted plants are available that not only give you a particular variety but also reduce the time to fruiting by about 3 years. Avocado trees need to be grown in a frost-free area and excellent draining is crucial as they are prone prone to root rot. A thick mulch of leaf mould will also keep their roots cool and moist, but take care not to build this up around the trunk. Full sun with protection from burning winds in summer is also desirable. Which variety you choose depends a lot on where you live. For those in the tropics, ‘Walden’ is worth a go, but further south try ‘Hazzard’ or ‘Pinkerton’, which have the ability to set fruit over a wide range of climatic conditions. Avoid taller growers like ‘Hass’, ‘Fuerte’ and ‘Sharwell’ if you want any space left in your yard, or unless you live on a large property. The best selection for marginal temperate zones is ‘Bacon’, which can even cope with the odd frost once established. Avocados can also be pruned back to keep their size in check. A good rule of thumb here is 20 per cent off after fruiting. Complete plant food and sulphate of potash are great nutritional supplements to help your tree cope with cropping and stay healthy. Ripening times vary depending on the variety, but start to harvest your crop when the first avocado falls from your tree and you won’t be far off.

Avocados don’t fully ripen until they are picked from the tree. Store at room temperature for about 3–5 days. They are ripe when the skin ‘gives’ slightly when lightly pressed.

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Posted on 1st October 2013

Grow | Green Beans



climbing beans

french beans

Got a fence?  2 metres of beans growing along it could feed your family all summer, and the kids will love going outside with a basket to cut their own greens for dinner, or just nibble on raw beans as they past.  If you can’t find a fence, no probs, you can grow dwarf beans in the garden in rows.

Both runner types and dwarf types can also be grown in tubs too, though obviously the taller varieties will need a tall tripod about 1.8m is ideal, and they are actually very pretty too, with some purple (‘Purple King’ and ‘Purple Queen’), or yellow (‘Bountiful Butter’) podded varieties available. These are all frost tender, and should only be sown after all chance of late cold snaps are gone.

If you live in a colder climate, then Perennial beans, known as runners, can also be grown. These are cut back each autumn then reshoot in spring from their crown.  The two best known ones are ‘Scarlet Runner’, which has beautiful red blooms, and ‘Borlotti’ which has speckled red beds.  These are both the sorts of beans that need slow cooking to be edible, like kidney beans ‘Canellini’.

Whatever you settle on, beans like an enriched soil with lots of added compost to thrive.  They also love regular watering, hate the wind and dislike being overfed, as they actually make their own nitrogen with their specialised roots.  They produce more and more beans the more you pick, so harvest them continually every 4 days or so to keep the plants productive. Be careful not to damage the bush, which is quite easily done, when you harvest by always using a knife of scissors, to reap your bounty.  Sow
seeds when the soil warms up and you’ll be munching away in 10 weeks time.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 23rd September 2013

Grow | Onions


 home-grown onions


Onions (Allium cepa) have a long history and have been grown for so many years in so many countries it hard to tell where they are native, though its thought to be Asia.  Ancient Egyptians used them as a symbol of eternity, with each scale leaf or onion ring repeating itself inside the bulb, it’s not difficult to see why.  Onions have many cultivars, and are a staple in cooking.  Red skinned varieties (sometimes called Spanish onions though they don’t originate there) don’t tend to store as well as brown and white onions, though have a sweeter, less sulphuric flavour that makes them popular in salads.
Onions are grown from seed and take about 20 weeks to ripen. Seeds need to be sown into a sunny position in friable soil with a neutral pH soil anytime from autumn to winter. Early varieties don’t tend to store as well and are usually eaten soon after harvest or pickled.  Generally speaking, later varieties are thicker skinned and store better.  These are harvested in summer and their dried leaves can be plaited together and hung in a well ventilated place to keep.


Shallots are very much like onions, and botanically are in fact A.cepa var. aggregatum, which is making reference to the fact that they grow in groups of cluster, with about 6 smaller bulbs at the base of each plant.  They used to be called A. ascalonicum, which is probably why there other common name is eschallot, and is named after the town from which the Crusaders brought back to Europe this prized bulb.  Subtler in flavour, there are red and yellow skinned varieties, both of which grow easily and
store well.  You plant shallots in a similar position, but are normally planted as bulbs, which can be kept from the previous season crop and planted out in winter, or bought in packets at bulb time from mail order companies.  A few weeks before harvest, you carefully need to scrape away the soil around shallots so that the skins harden prior to harvest.  You do this once the leaves start to whither.  Store in net bags in a cool dry place.

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Posted on 23rd September 2013

Harvest | Onions


onions harvest


Store eschalots and brown and white skinned onions loose, in a dark cool place for up to 1 month.
Chives and spring onions however should be picked as needed. In case of a glut, they can be stored in a clip lock bag, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze

Onions can be frozen once peeled and sliced, however due to the high water content they will be very soft once thawed. Thaw in a strainer, discarding juice. Frozen onions are ideal for cooking on the barbecue, however the time it takes to caramelize and cook through will double.

  • Preserve

Pickled spring onions

1kg small onions or eschalots
1/3 cup salt
4 cups brown vinegar
1 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 rosemary sprigs

1 .Place unpeeled onions in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 5 mins to soften skins. Drain and peel onions. Place peeled onions in a bowl with salt and toss to coat. Add enough cold water to cover and set aside for 24 hrs. Drain, rinse well and pat dry.

2. Place vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns and rosemary sprigs in a saucepan. Heat on high, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Place onions in sterilized jars and pour over enough vinegar mixture to cover onion. Seal and store in a cool dark place for 2 weeks before using. Use within 1 month and refrigerate after opened.

pickeld onion recipe


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