January in My Green Garden
Phew! Christmas is over and now is the time for the summer hiatus. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with the end of the school year coupled with the seasonal festivities and the garden has been a tad neglected, except for the odd weed pull while I am out watering.
This month is the time to enjoy the garden and its bounty. Too hot to bother putting anything else in what little space is left, all that needs be done is watering and harvesting. The tomatoes are still growing branches faster than I can tie them up, let alone prune them. There are plenty of green ones on, promising some delicious salads and sauces to come. The cucumbers that were given a vertical structure to grow against have decided to grow horizontally as well, smothering adjoining vegies. Luckily they are fruiting already and need to be picked regularly. The sweetcorn (originally sown in toilet rolls) is developing both the male and female bits and will rely on the wind to pollinate them. They should be ready to eat soon. The self-sown pumpkin is putting out flowers and the zucchinis have some beautiful fruit developing. Best not to turn away for too long on those because they can develop into monstrous sizes overnight. However, the chooks love eating overgrown veg so they wouldn’t go to waste anyway.
The fruit trees should be in full production now, if it weren’t for the pesky possums around here! Any trees with a decent amount of fruit must get covered with netting (close weave) from top to trunk otherwise we miss out. If there are only small bunches, I improvise and make smaller bags to keep them covered.
As much as I love this time of the year when work takes a break it does create a dilemma for the backyard produce grower. Taking holidays away just when everything is coming to fruition is fraught with anxiety in anticipation of the break away as I need to make sure the irrigation system is working properly, that the chooks are getting looked after and if there is any very hot weather forecast, that I manage to put up covers over the beds to shade the vegies from the worst of the heat.
In the Preserving Kitchen
It's a great time of the year to be harvesting and then preserving for future months.
In the kitchen I am:
- Drying bunches of herbs, especially oregano
- Stringing up hot red chillies to dry and then display in the kitchen
- Harvesting basil and making batches of pesto sauce that I freeze in containers or in ice-block trays
- Blanching excess green beans briefly, refreshing in ice cold water and then cooling and drying before freezing
- Making jam out of just ripe red (Japanese) plums; or stewing them and then freezing in small containers to enjoy over porridge in winter
- Cutting stalks of rhubarb into bite-sized pieces and freezing in ziplock bags
- Making pickles of vegies sott'olio out of zucchini and green (not ripe) tomatoes