I keep wandering down to the subtropical orchard and inspecting the big strappy leaves of the bananas planted down there, but alas there’s not so much as a pinky, let alone a bunch of ladyfingers, which was what Mum used to call homegrown bananas. They look fabulous none the less and just them alone shout ‘subtropical garden down here’ even before you see the babacos, the taro and the sugar cane, which are all doing just fine. Ahhh another year perhaps. It’s going to be amazing when I spot them one day. You’ll probably hear my screams of delight. I can hardly wait. The kids helped me to cut down the Canna Lillies and spread them out. With their watery long stalks and leafy stems they do a perfect job. They only covered about half the area though so I will need to plant more. I got bitten by something and felt a sharp pinch on my forearm that stung but couldn’t find anything on the stem. I stopped and wondered if it was hurting too much to carry on as I watched it swell. I showed Monie at afternoon tea and said, “Just in case I keel over you’ll know what happened”. She wasn’t very impressed. Possibly given she was going to be helping me.
The view to the subtropical orchard with the bananas framed by old power poles.
I planted out garlic in June last year, doing everything that was recommended, with great expectations to be plaiting great lengths of them up to hang in the shed that would take us through the year, so you may understand my disappointment when this is all I harvested.
However Graham told me after babysitting our house and dog over Easter weekend, that my garlic was sweet and delicious like it used to be in the old days. “Yeah, but it’s so small, I whined. I was really gutted when I pulled it up”. “They were all small back in the old days, he tells me. Goong’s were too. Not like the elephant tasteless stuff you buy these days.” He was right. Mine were small, but sweet and tasty. I looked at the bowl of tiny cloves and remembered how delicious they had been stir fried with chokos the other night. Lid on and left to steam, the natural sugars caramalised, and with the garlic it was a taste sensation. Almost as sweet as fried bananas. I was suddenly proud of my bowl full of garlic. I just might need to grow more next year cause this was definitely not enough!
I tried once again to grow tomatoes in big pots, and once again had a really disappointing crop. I wanted them in pots so I could transfer the whole pot into the glass house which I hope one day to have glass in. A guy told me he does this and has tomatoes almost all year round by starting them in the glasshouse early and transferring them back in end of season to extend it. I think next spring I will plant one or two in pots, and the rest in the ground. It’s time I accepted I don’t give them as much water as they need and the poor things are struggling at best, tho the basil at the foot of the tomatoes in the same pots have turned into giants. Maybe they’re taking all, the food I just wondered.
On the other hand, my coriander has flourished all summer long in the shady space under the crab apple. Seeding heads I simply turned upside down and slung over the branches, and viola I had a new bunch of seedlings before you knew it. It’s been almost a year of coriander and now I have Thai basil in there as well. Heaps of basil and coriander equals pesto, so that’s the weekend job. I also grew gerkins and they are just delicious. I would never grow cucumbers again. We had two vines of gerkins and they could hardly keep up with us eating them before we got to the kitchen, never mind trying to pickle them, and if an odd one got missed it became a cucumber . Win – win. Tiny ones sliced length ways thinly with a sliver of cheese is divine and even better with a glass of red.
I tidied up the salad bed and what a stunner that was this summer. Several different kinds of lettuce and salad greens flourishing all summer long. I especially enjoyed the tang of rocket. Barely a day passed when we didn’t pluck something from there for a salad bowl. Must do that again I thought as I threw all the leggy lengths of seeding heads to the hens. I’ve been busy seed raising the last month too and the first broccoli head was proudly shown off at dinner the other night and a whole bed of bok choi, cauli and broccoli gone in. I feel like this is the first year we have really reaped from the veg beds. There have been very few days where we have not grabbed something from there. I just have to get a bit better at the succession growing and a little more volume.
With no effort what so ever the Choko has climbed up and over the hen run fence, down the other side, across the ground and over another fence. In the other direction it was about to bound over the hen house and had giddy designs on our abode as well, when I took to it with some pruners to knock it back a bit. I was watching them grow fat and green when Monie told me she saw some piddly ones for sale and maybe I could sell mine. I grabbed three off the vine and went out the back at the local fruit and veg shop and proffered them up to the lady everyone pointed to as the ‘boss’. Her eyes lit up and she asked where I got them from. “I grow them,” I answered. I could tell she was delighted at their size and colour as she turned each over and asked me “how many you have, I will take all you have, how many? 100?”
Sheesh lady I thought. Settle down. It’s like I’m holding aubergines or something pretty special, not chokos. “How many?” she demanded again turning them over like they were dusted with gold. “A lot” I answered. In truth I had no idea. I thought I could have a hundred, but I hadn’t really looked. “One hundred?” She pestered. “Maybe”, I said with a smile. We agreed on a price and she said I was to come back with more. She wanted me to go home and come straight back. I shook my head. “I will come again, maybe tomorrow, maybe next day.” “Tomorrow”, she insisted. “No”. I reiterated shaking my head again. I am too bloody old to be told what to do lady. You’re not paying me enough for that. “I will come next time I come” I stated. Bloody hell. I wasn’t sure whether to be glad or scared. I went out with a big smile on my face while creeping around in the back of my mind was the annoyance that I had cut it back only a couple of weeks ago. Damn!
As soon as we got home I carefully prised open the hen run door of the resting side the Choko had wired shut with its twining tendrils. Being extra careful to not dislodge the swelling guords I slipped inside and began to lift up the tangled vines. I started to pick and could really only find twenty that were sufficiently green and sufficiently fat. Three days later I found another twenty and three days later another twenty. “Why you only bling me twenty each time? I want more,more,more.” she greeted me with. I was beginning to dislike the demanding nature of this woman. She owns a damn fruit and veg shop, you think she’d have some idea how things grow. “If I bring you one hundred they won’t be all ready, I raised my voice back to her. They won’t be all green. I will bring twenty each time they are ready. That’s all I can do”. “Okay, okay” she replied turning away from me. Hmmmm…We weren’t going to get rich on this crop. “…but just think, I said to Monie later. Next year! I will nurture those chokos like there’s no tomorrow. I will string them up so their skin never touches the ground and they will be easy to pick. I will nip the excess leaves back so the sun can dust its outer skin until a golden green. I will gently encourage those tendrils to find their way over and around where ever they want to go. We will pick hundreds and I will tell HER the price.” I can see Goong, Gilbert’s Dad throwing his head back with a toothless laugh if I told him I was selling my chokos. He would love that I’m sure.
…chokos dwarf the aubergines.
Talk Soon, Tricia