Saturday, June 16, 2012

Local as Anything



For a number of years here at Chez Blueday we have been growing food that doesn't always make it to the plate. Apples, pears, cherry plums fall to the ground and end up in the compost bin, lettuce and greens go to seed, the tomato harvest seems impossibly prolific, and cooking chutney on a hot Summer's day seems less fun than, let's say, reading a book under the pear tree... In short, because I have the green grocer's as a backup, it is possible to ignore the bounty all around me that I have spent more than a decade planting and tending. I am waging a war on waste now though, and I want to use all the resources I have, learn some more skills in preserving, and just become more observant and thoughtful about what is available to eat in my own garden, and spend some time thinking how to use it.

This week has been all about the apples which I finished picking a few days ago. Due to my neglect a lot of them are affected by codling moth, so I have to slice around the bad bits and stew those ones and freeze them. The whole ones get dried or refrigerated for eating. This week we have had apple pie, apple crumble and stewed apple and rhubarb. Luckily, we like apples!

We are steadily eating our way through the available lettuce supply, but we will run out this week, and will have to buy lettuce for a few weeks until the next crop is ready. I procrastinated for a couple of weeks in early Autumn, which means a hungry lettuce gap. I have also been throwing various other greens in salads - new pea leaves, calendula petals, wild rocket, to eke out the lettuce supply.

We have a million or so lemons. Three years ago I planted a lemon hedge against our back fence.


You cannot buy a commercially produced local lemon in Tasmania because it is too cold to grow them in a field, but they do well against a fence or wall - another triumph for the suburban gardener. I have six lemon trees, two each of Meyer, Eureka and Lisbon, so I get lemons almost year round, with the peak of the season now, so we are putting lemons in everything, giving lemons away, and juicing and zesting lemons and freezing them. I have been coddling the trees all year with compost, lots of organic fertiliser, and actually weeding around their bases so they have no competition, and they have rewarded me with an enormous crop.




The Boy has perfected a Thai chicken curry that requires lots of lemon juice and zest, we have made lots of lemon curd, lemon delicious pudding, lemon and poppy seed muffins and lemon tart. I want to try lemon cordial and lemon marmalade next when I get a minute, and I have book-marked some cleaning solutions that also require lemons.

Yesterday The Girl made lemon cupcakes with lemon icing for a girls-only afternoon tea, and we extended our use of garden produce by topping them with edible flowers - forget-me-nots, rosemary flowers, violets and a tiny single, pink dianthus. I don't imagine that it is possible for anything to more resemble a story book 'fairy cake'.

Except if we made them with acorn flour.

There are oak trees at the end of the street....

4 comments:

GretchenJoanna said...

When I was a child we had 10 acres of lemons in addition to 20 of oranges. Even after I married, my father kept me supplied with as many lemons as I wanted. Now that "normal" state of affairs is no more, and I have to *buy* lemons. Hearing about your varieties and your hedge just makes me very happy!

Monique said...

Oh Jo, your surfeit of garden produce is making me positively green with envy.. especially as the ants keep eating my seeds before they have the chance to even pop their heads up...I have a summer garden with not a zucchini or cucumber, and it's almost getting too late to nurture them gently in egg containers before leaving them to the ravages of nature...

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Oh, I love lemons so much, and I especially love lemon cupcakes with lemon icing. I'm not overly confident in my ability to grow lemons, however, and I'm mightily impressed with your ability to do so.

Our summer garden is coming in (too hot for lettuce now, I'm sad to say; it's very hard to go back to store-bought), and I share your commitment to not wasting. Sometimes it's hard to keep up, but this year I'm going to make a very serious effort. Which reminds me, I have some beans I need to go put in the freezer ...

frances

Jo said...

Hi ladies, I would so love to ply you with lemons and cupcakes, you know you are welcome to drop in any time! I just love a crop that flourishes in the dead of winter. Gretchen Joanna, growing up on a citrus farm must have been fabulous - I planted 5 oranges and 2 mandarins this past spring, so hoping for more citrus goodness next year.. Monique, all the best gardening with ants - I remember those big red ones up north, they eat everything, and Frances, I just HATE waste, but it's not so easy to carefully huband our resources when we both live in such ridiculously profligate societies, recession or no recession. Maybe we can nag, I mean, motivate each other on this issue..

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