All That’s Orange In My Garden

Marigolds in my vegetable garden

Hello Everyone. It has been a little while since you heard from me last but that doesn’t mean things have stopped in my garden. Today I thought I would share some beautiful orange flowers that are in my vegetable garden and why I have these particular plants.

The first of these are marigolds and I have orange, yellow and red flowers in my backyard. Marigolds attract pollinators such as bees and they also deter bugs that we just don’t
want in our vegetable patch such as whitefly, cockroaches and mosquitoes. Marigolds also excrete an insecticide that deters some varieties of slugs. These amazing flowers also really don’t suffer from diseases. Marigolds are a must for any gardener who wants to grow organically.

Amazing marigolds a must for an organic garden

Next up are nasturtiums otherwise known as nasty nasturtiums and not because they are horrible plants but because they can grow in nasty conditions. They are not fussy about soil types and give off a scent that deters garden pests. They are easy to grow and mine have all been grown from seed. They also of course add beautiful orange, yellow and red colours to the vegetable garden.

Nasturtiums are easy to grow

The last orange flower I have is in a big pot with two snow pea plants. This lovely plant was given to me as a gift from a work colleague for helping her out with a personal favour. It is a succulent but I have no idea what it is called. I don’t know if it has any particular benefits apart from attracting pollinators but it is certainly pretty. If anyone knows what it is called I would love if you could comment below to let me know.

Do you know what this plant is called?

Well that’s all that is orange in my backyard vegetable garden. Do you have anything orange in your garden? Why not share below in the comments. Until next time I’ll be in my happy place 🙂!

Do you have carrots and snow peas? Then make my Honey chicken & ginger stir fry!

When I went out to my garden and came back with lots of carrots and snow peas, my husband said ‘Are you making stir fry’? Well of course the answer had to be yes! There are a few ingredients in our favourite stir fry recipe besides carrots and snow peas including bok choy and you can learn how to grow bok choy from bok choy bottoms from my previous post. There is also chicken breast (thighs work well too), celery, capsicum and garlic that make up the fresh ingredients too. You could also use fresh ginger if you like but as I have never grown or cooked with fresh ginger (there’s a challenge I hear you say) I use the ground store bought form. This recipe also calls for soy sauce, honey and peanut oil (but really any oil you have on hand will do).

Honey Chicken & Ginger Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken breast in strips
  • 2-3 carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 200g snow peas cut in 3 length ways
  • 2 sticks celery cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 capsicum (red or green) cut thinly
  • 1-2 bok choy sliced length ways
  • 1/2 cup honey & 2-3 tbsp soy sauce combined
  • Approximately 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (used separately)
  • rice to serve

Method

  1. Heat wok and add half the oil.
  2. Cook chicken.
  3. Remove cooked chicken from wok and put aside.
  4. Add remaining oil to wok.
  5. Put garlic and ginger into wok and cook until fragrant (this doesn’t take long).
  6. Add carrots, celery and capsicum to wok and stir until softened.
  7. Stir combined honey and soy sauce before adding to wok and bringing to the boil.
  8. Add bok choy and snow peas and return cooked chicken to wok and heat through.
  9. Serve with rice or noodles if you prefer.
  10. Serves 4 (or only 3 if my husband is eating it)

My family love this recipe and I hope some of you will try it too. Soon the garden will have many of the fresh ingredients to make it which is always an added bonus. If you have too many carrots, keep an eye out for an upcoming post where I’ll tell you about my carrot cake recipe. Until then I have my front yard to mulch, sunflower seeds to plant and the three sister raised garden bed (corn, beans and pumpkin) to prepare. Happy gardening 🙂.

How to grow bok choy from bok choy bottoms!

How are you all doing? We have been lucky with some nice bouts of sunshine but here in Adelaide we are set for lots of rain. All I can say is rain is great for our gardens and means we don’t have to water. The topic of this post is so exciting as it means a supply of bok choy without spending money constantly.

So, you have bought some bok choy to make your favourite stir fry and as you prepare you cut off the bottom of the bok choy and put it in the compost bin. Right? No! Stop! Cut off the bottom 4-5 cm but don’t throw it away, save it to grow into a new bok choy plant to harvest again for another stir fry. Once you have cut the bottom off place it in a dish of shallow water.

Wait a few days and you will see the bok choy starting to sprout up in the middle. Make sure you change the water each day. After about 5-7 days it will be ready to plant outside.

If any of the bok choy stalks have started to get slimy pull these bits off before planting.

Plant in a sunny position and now just water and wait until they are big enough to harvest and the process starts all over again. This unlike the onion bottoms is tried and tested by myself already and definitely works. Have you done this before? Tell us about your success in the comments below. Anyway I’m off to make my favourite stir fry because I have so many snow peas in the garden and I have just harvested a bunch of carrots too. Until next time I’ll be in my happy place 🙂.

Naughty Puppy Strikes Again

It wasn’t me… it was the cat!

So once again my husband and I had ensured the dogs could not get into the vegetable garden after Pepper’s last escapades. Pepper, however is a very resourceful dog when she wants something. I had planted a peat pot that had a very small thyme seedling that I had sprouted inside, into a long pot with some sage and dill. I positioned this long pot just inside our puppy proof fence as you can see from the photo below. The peat pot with thyme in it is just able to be seen on the right of the photo.

For some reason Pepper is drawn to the peat pots, not the sage or dill plants luckily. She must have very carefully put her snout through the puppy proof fence and gently pulled the peat pot out of the soil leaving a very well defined hole behind as can be seen in the photo below.

My other dog Halley is well behaved when it comes to our garden now. She is about 9 months older than Pepper so maybe she can teach Pepper a thing or two about respecting her Mum’s happy place. Do you have any puppy stories to share? Why not add it in the comment section below. Follow my blog below to keep updated on not only my garden story and gardening hints but also all the adventures of Pepper and Halley. Until then happy gardening 🙂.

What do I put in my tomato planting hole?

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all having a great week and have been able to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Now that I have my raised garden beds sorted it is the most anticipated time for an avid gardener, planting time! But wait… First I must gather the all important ingredients for planting the best tomato plants. These ingredients are crushed egg shells and epsom salts. The reason I use these ingredients in the hole I plant my tomatoes in are two fold. The crushed egg shell is placed in the hole to add calcium which tomato plants need to help prevent blossom end rot and they are also crushed up and put around the plant to prevent slugs and snails as they won’t go over the shell because it will cut their underside. The epsom salts are added to the hole as I have said before because it helps plants cope with the shock of transplanting and also because it is a valuable source of magnesium.

Egg shells

When adding the Epsom salts just a small sprinkle is enough and then cover lightly with soil, add egg shells and again cover lightly with soil. Next water both the hole and the plant before planting and once planted add crushed egg shell around the outside in a circle about 5-7 cm from the tomato stem so those slugs don’t get near your precious tomato plant.

Raised garden bed all planted out

As you can see above I have also planted capsicum the same way as my tomatoes and this has always been successful in the past. This year I have for the very first time planted zucchini and although I put Epsom salts in the hole I didn’t put egg shell as I wasn’t sure about the needs of zucchini as it is my first go with it. I did put egg shell around the outside of the zucchini plant in hope that it also gets good snail protection. As you know my garden is all organic and this year I lost all my cauliflower and broccoli to 🐌 and 🐛. It is my own fault for not being on the ball and getting my organic methods going quick enough. What methods I hear you say, well that is a story for another post. Until then happy gardening and relaxing in the ☀️.

Relax

How to prepare a raised garden bed

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. In Adelaide we were so lucky with the weather, a fine 23C. Before Father’s Day I began preparing my new raised garden bed for planting. There is a special formula I have used over the past few years that I find works really well, I have detailed it below for those setting up a new raised garden bed ready for Spring planting.

  • Choose a spot that gets the right amount of sunlight for the plants you want to put in the raised bed. In my case 6-8 hours is needed for most of the plants.
  • Layout cardboard to cover the size of the raised bed with a bit sticking out the sides to prevent grass and weeds as much as is possible from growing up through the bed.
  • Next lay newspaper over the cardboard about 3-4 sheets thick ( I didn’t have any newspaper so I used the brown paper packaging from an item I had delivered. Never use glossy paper from magazines as this does not breakdown as easily or as quickly and who knows what products are in that type of paper. The cardboard and newspaper helps with weed suppression and also breaks down quickly adding compost to the soil.
  • Wet the newspaper and cardboard well.
  • Following on from the newspaper you can add any sticks, bark, leaves and the contents of your compost bucket. I only had my compost bucket this time.
  • Now comes the layering of soil, cows manure and compost with a mix of perlite in with the soil. Just mix half a bag of perlite with 2-3 bags of soil in the wheelbarrow then spread over the sticks and compost that is in the raised bed. Next spread 2-3 bags of cows manure over the bed and follow up with 2-3 bags of compost. Keep this layering up until the garden bed is full. Remember there will be settling over time so it is best to fill to approximately 5-7 cm from the top. These amounts are based on the size of my raised garden bed and you will need to adjust according to the size of your bed. If you haven’t heard of perlite before it helps aerate the soil so it doesn’t become water logged.
  • The raised garden bed is ready for planting!

There you have it, how to prepare a raised garden bed for planting! Do you have a different method for preparing a raised garden bed? Why not comment below so we can all try a different way. Can’t wait for planting day. What will you be planting soon? I have tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini and lettuce and I will be interspersing marigolds and petunias for their companion planting benefits. I’m so excited because my own capsicum seed that I planted 5 weeks ago has finally sprouted and will eventually go in the garden later than the seedling I bought from the garden shop. I think it took so long because it wasn’t warm enough even inside. Until next time, you will probably find me in my happy place, happy gardening. 🙂

Spring has Sprung

Proof that Spring is near
Nectarine tree in full blossom.

Hello Friends, I’m happy to say I have seen some wonderful signs that Spring is near. I popped out to the garden to see if I could save anything from Pepper’s adventure in my garden and was welcomed by the wonderful sight of my husband’s dwarf nectarine tree in full blossom.

While smiling at this beautiful sight (the blossoms not Pepper) I noticed flowers on the strawberry plants. These plants are going into their second fruiting season and I am crossing my fingers that I get large, sweet strawberries.

The snow peas have grown so tall that they are over the fence and have attached themselves to the trees over in the neighbours garden. I have harvested quite a few snow peas and have enough for a stir fry. When I cook this I will post the recipe and some photos. It is a Honey Chicken and Ginger stir fry I have been making for years. My in-laws love it so much that the recipe had a permanent spot on their fridge for quite some time. One of the ingredients is bok choy and this amazing vegetable can have the bottom cut off and planted to produce another plant. I have done this many times and it is always a great reason to have a stir fry when the bok choy is ready for harvesting.

While I was outside I got my seed potatoes planted in the grow bag with my husbands help. Mixed equal amounts of compost and cow manure and placed about 10cm in the bottom of the grow bag. Then the sides of the bag were rolled down and the potatoes planted with their sprouts pointing upwards and covered with some of the compost/manure mix then watered.

Both celery and lettuce are doing well already and there is a trick I used to get my celery going in winter and it wasn’t starting it inside. I used soft drink bottles with the bottoms cut off and placed over the seedlings. During the day if it was warm enough I would take the lid off the bottle to let some air in and put it back on as it got cold and over night. This is like creating a temporary terrarium for the celery seedlings. Lettuce grows all year round in Adelaide so we are lucky. I did have trouble getting the seeds to start and had a couple of goes before they sprouted.

I have begun hardening off the seedlings that I started inside but some have not sprouted. The capsicum and watermelon haven’t sprouted, so today I put some of these seeds on a dish of cotton wool and water. Hopefully this will give the seeds a kickstart and they will sprout.

Adelaide has some nice days forecast for the next 5-6 days and I hope you all get a chance to get outside and enjoy yourselves as well as doing some gardening. I know I’ll do my best to get out to my happy place, until next time happy gardening 🙂.

Chicken Soup with my garden harvest

Yummy soup for a cold winter day

I hope you are all well and have been able to get out in your garden a little. Unfortunately I have hurt my back quiet badly and until today was bedridden.

So not feeling the best I thought chicken soup was called for. My chicken soup recipe is below if you too feel like it might just be what you need. As I couldn’t make it to the garden I sent hubby out to get spinach as I didn’t have any in the fridge (the benefits of growing your own veggies). This is what he came back in with from the backyard patch.

Spinach leaves?

I think these are Brussel sprout leaves. I sent him back out and finally he found some. Then with a better idea he went out to harvest some from our front yard foodscape. With carrots and parsley also from the garden I had a good start on what I needed for my chicken soup.

Sautéed carrots and celery

For my delicious chicken soup I start by placing chicken frames in a pot of water with a couple of stock cubes and cook until the chicken is white. Then the liquid is poured off into a container and reserved. The chicken frames are put to the side to cool slightly.

Chicken frames

The smell in the kitchen was developing well. In the pot I just took the frames out of I melt some butter and sauté the carrots and celery. I throw in the rest of the vegetables and return the reserved liquid to the pot. Here I also add liquid stock but you might want to add more stock cubes instead and some extra water depending on how thick you like it. Add in bay leaves, Italian herbs if you want and salt and pepper to taste. I even put in some chicken salt. Oh, almost forgot a cup of pearl barley. Now you can prepare the pearl barley as per packet but I just put it straight into the pot.

Chicken from the frames

I pulled the small bits of chicken off the frames and put aside. If you can’t be bothered with doing this you could just get a cooked chicken and shred some of it instead to add to the pot. Once the veggies were soft I used a Barmix to blend the soup and then put the chicken in. Oops, I did take the bay leaves out before blending.

See I remembered to take out the bay leaf

If you too feel the need for a delicious chicken soup to warm you up and help you through the last of the winter blues why not try making my chicken soup.

Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken frames
  • Big handful of spinach
  • 5 or 6 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced
  • 3 or 4 small potatoes peeled and quartered
  • Handful of parsley (chop this up)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 – 4 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • Salt, pepper, chicken salt (to taste)
  • Italian herbs
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Tsp butter
  • Water

Method

  1. Place chicken frames in large pot and cover with water.
  2. Add 2 – 4 stock cubes depending on the size of your pot.
  3. Bring pot to boil and reduce heat to a slow rolling boil for approximately 20-30 minutes.
  4. Take off heat and pour liquid off into a container.
  5. Put chicken frames to the side to cool slightly.
  6. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pot the frames were in.
  7. Sauté carrots and celery.
  8. Add chicken stock and reserved liquid to pot.
  9. Add remaining vegetables to pot.
  10. Put in bay leaves.
  11. Add pearl barley.
  12. Add Italian herbs, salt, pepper and chicken salt to taste.
  13. Bring to boil then reduce heat and cook using a slow rolling boil until vegetables are soft.
  14. Remove bay leaves.
  15. Blend soup to desired consistency.
  16. Add chicken and stir it in.
  17. Your soup is ready to enjoy.

As the seasons change so does the harvest from our vegetable garden and I will post more of my favourite recipes for those interested. To make sure you don’t miss any follow my blog or subscribe below. Apparently there is some nice weather coming for those in Adelaide so until next time, happy gardening 😀

Naughty Puppy & Garden Extension

How are you all? Here in Adelaide it has been very cold and we have had quite a bit of rain. Of course this is great for the garden but it does limit how much time we can spend out in it. About a week ago my wonderful husband extended our vegetable garden puppy proof fence so we can fit In another raised garden bed. Puppy proof fence is a bit of an oxymoron as you will see in the photos below.

The new entry to our garden courtesy of Pepper.

Pepper was rather annoyed that her humans were not outside as much as we usually are and decided to get some attention all be it negative (they are not so different to children). Luckily I had planned to transplant the herbs she dug up to another area soon so I didn’t feel too sad.

Puppy master and wonderful husband was not impressed that his hard work on the fence extension had been destroyed and more work was ahead for him. He had done such a great job and I really appreciate his persistence.

The new garden bed will have our tomatoes and capsicums for the coming season. I have attempted to start these seeds inside under my grow light and so far the tomatoes have sprouted which has made me so excited.

Tomato seeds started inside under a grow light.

I just need to be patient now and wait until they have 2 sets of true leaves before hardening off and transplanting outside. See my post regarding how to start seeds indoors for more information on how to do this.

Hopefully the weather starts to fine up soon and my fur babies behave themselves so I can get out to my happy place. Until next time, happy gardening. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: