Jane's Delicious Garden Blog


Quick & Delicious

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the January 31st, 2020

In summer, with the sun setting so late, I prefer not to spend hours cooking. After getting home from a dog walk, supper should be ready in about half an hour. Tonight’s meal took about that to prepare. Everything fresh from the garden.

* Sweetcorn fritters with curried yoghurt

* Zucchini salad with tomatoes, basil, feta and sprouts

* Sautéed eggplant slices

Grilled eggplant slices

* Slice a large eggplant and toss with flour and Herbes de Provence.

* Sauté on both sides in olive oil until browned on both sides and soft in the middle. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sea salt.

Sweetcorn fritters with curried yoghurt

The trick to making light and fluffy fritters is to use chickpea flour. Wheat flour creates wetter, denser fritters.

I never follow exact proportions when making fritters. You are aiming for a wet mixture that just holds together enough to be picked up in a spoon and dolloped into the oil.

* Mix together: chopped jalapeño, sliced spring onions, cooked sweetcorn kernels, salt, pepper and curry powder to taste.

* Add chickpea flour and baking powder (approximately one teaspoon to one cup of flour) and mix.

* Mix together one egg and a little milk. Add it to the centre of the veg and stir to incorporate. Add more milk as required.

* Heat sunflower oil in a frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the batter. Cook over medium heat until browned on one side. Turn and cook the other side.

Zucchini salad with tomatoes, basil, purple beans, feta and sprouts

* While the fritters are cooking, julienne the zucchini and toss with feta, cherry tomatoes, basil, chopped fresh purple beans and sprouts.

* Mix together and dress with olive oil and balsamic.

GROWING TURMERIC

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the January 27th, 2020

Turmeric isn’t just for adding flavour to food, it also benefits health and looks beautiful in the garden

It’s surprisingly easy to grow, however it requires a little patience. Here’s how to grow turmeric and how to use it.

PLANTING

In spring look for the freshest rhizomes you can find, preferably with a few sprouting buds (they look like small horns popping out of the skin). You can find fresh rhizomes at Indian spice shops, greengrocers such as Impala or selected Woolies and Checkers. Livingseeds sells fresh rhizomes in spring.

Turmeric likes fertile, well-drained soil, and although it thrives in hot weather, it doesn’t do well in full sun, preferring morning or filtered sun only. Wait until daytime temperatures are above 20°C before planting.

A few days before, cut the rhizomes into 5–8cm long pieces, making sure each one has at least two buds. Cutting them ahead of time allows the surfaces to dry, reducing the chance of disease. If you have small tubers, don’t cut them.

Plant the rhizome at an angle, with one side about 7cm deep, and the other just below the surface. Position it so that the growth buds point upwards. Cover with compost and press down firmly. Water well until the ground around the rhizome is soaked; keep it moist until the first green shoots appear – which can take anything from 20–45 days.

TIPS FOR GROWING TURMERIC

Turmeric grows about a metre high and has shiny green leaves. In fertile soil, it’ll need little more than a compost mulch after harvesting, and a side dressing of bonemeal and Talborne Organics Vita Grow (2:3:2) in spring.

For the first year, leave it to become established before harvesting. Look out for the exquisite flowers, which form at the base of the leaves in midsummer.

In late autumn it begins to die back and by the beginning of winter, the leaves will have turned brown and withered. Mulch well with compost and it’ll pop up again in late spring, as soon as the weather is warm enough.

It spreads by growing new rhizomes underground, forming large clumps above ground.

You can also grow turmeric in containers. Make sure that they are at least 30cm deep and don’t let the soil dry out.

PESTS AND DISEASES

In hot dry weather, spider mites can be a problem. Spraying with water mixed with garlic oil will sort them out. In very moist hot weather, fungal diseases can affect the leaves. Spray with 1 part milk to 4 parts water to prevent this.

HARVESTING

Once established, you can harvest pieces of root off the side of the plant throughout summer. In late autumn or early winter, once the leaves have died down, push a fork deep into the ground under a section of the plant and lift the rhizomes. Cut the stems off and place the rhizomes on a hessian sack. Give them a good wash with a hose on a high pressure setting, turning and rubbing to remove all the soil.

STORING

They’ll keep, refrigerated, for three to four weeks. If you need to keep them longer, cut into manageable pieces and freeze in an air-tight container. To make turmeric powder, cut rhizomes into slices and leave to dry before grinding in a spice or coffee grinder. Note: Fresh turmeric stains everything!

EATING AND USING TURMERIC

The roots, leaves and flowers are all edible. Aromatic roots add flavour to curries, marinades and rice.

Fresh turmeric root has a more intense taste than dried and isn’t as bitter. It contains plenty of curcumin, an effective anti-inflammatory. To obtain the maximum benefit, mix it with black pepper, as its active ingredient, piperine, aids the body’s digestion and absorption of curcumin. Warming turmeric and mixing it with fat also increases its efficacy. Add it to smoothies or warm milk with other spices.

The flowers give an exotic flourish to salads, and fresh leaves impart a subtle turmeric flavour if torn and added to curries and soups at the end of cooking. They go particularly well with coconut dishes. The leaves are also delicious as wraps for sticky rice buns, or as parcels for steamed fish.

Calculating mulch.

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the January 20th, 2020

People often ask me how much mulch to add. It depends on what mulch you are using. Straw or leaves can be added a bit more thickly than compost for example, as they are looser.

If you are buying mulch in bulk and want to work out how many cubic meters you need here is the process:

1. First work out the square meterage by multiplying the length by the width of each your beds.

2. Then combine these to get a total.

3. If you have circular beds the maths is a bit more complicated:

  • Measure the radius of the circle (the distance from the center of the bed to the outer edge.)
  • Then multiply that number by itself. Then multiply the total by 3.14 (π):

R x R x 3.14 = square meterage of a circle.

4. If your beds are odd shapes, divide them into imaginary rectangles and circles and add up the totals.

Now decide how deep the mulch will be. If I’m using compost and leaves mixed together I make it about 10cm but with straw it can be 10-15cm.

Take your total square meterage (meters) and multiply it by the thickness (centimetres). Divide it by 100 to get the metre cubed amount you need to buy.

For example:

40m² x 10cm deep = 400cm³

400cm³ ÷ 100 = 4m³

If you are buying in bags:

Compost is sold in 30dm³. This is 30 cubic decimetres and 10 bags make up one cubic meter.

For 40²m you would need 40 bags.

Preserving Summer’s Goodness

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the January 10th, 2020

A dehydrator is an excellent tool for preserving summer’s abundance. Especially when you suddenly find a couple of baseball bat zucchinis skulking in the garden!

First step is to slice them evenly. A mandoline is essential.

Don’t cut them paper thin – they will get skinnier as they dry. About 3-4mm thick is good.

Next step is flavouring. The choice is up to you: lemon, salt and Mediterranean herbs; soy sauce and chilli powder; rice vinegar, mirin and soy sauce; apple cider vinegar, garlic and parsley – whatever you like. Don’t leave them in the marinade for long – five minutes will do the trick.

And then layer the slices in the dehydrator and dry until crisp. Store in an air tight bottle.

These can be eaten as snacks or added to soups and stews.

Yum!