Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 149

Today we finally bit the bullet and stripped the beans grow bed right back to the ground and replanted.  Our experiment of mixing seeds didn't fail but wasn't the greatest either.  The beans shot straight up and took over which meant other things struggled a little.   

As we were pulling things out we found so many things like carrots, radish and leeks.  Very small ones though.  its as if they just hadn't had the sunlight to grow well.   We kept them all bar the radishes and replanted them.  We also replanted the spinach, cauli's, broccoli and beetroot. 

You can see in this picture the grow bed is half empty and this is the stage that we started to find so many things that had been hidden.

We have done the growbeds in two different ways so far.  Mixed seeds and lines of seeds.  So this time we are trying a new approach. We made a 3x5 grid that covers the whole growbed.  I actually cant believe that I didn't take a still shot of the grid but I was making a video as well at the time and it slipped my mind.  Anyway in each cell of the grid we will plant seeds of each variety of veggie for that season that we want to grow.  It means we will have 15 things in each grow bed.   

I have put both these bottom two pictures in so you can sort of see how it will go.  We replanted the things we wanted to keep, put in some seedling and also some seeds so it should stagger a little the produce we get.

Here's a link to the youtube video I made of the replanting by grid.  Have a look as it's explained a little better.  Video Link

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 146

We've decided to pull out the grow bed with the beans that got hit by the frost.  We have waited enough time for it to recover so its time now to get something else in and growing.  So we have a bit to get through including these radishes.  Were going to pickle them.  I've never had pickled radish so its worth a go.

On the other hand the broad beans are starting to form.  Looking forward to a dish with fresh double podded broad beans.

And another first for the season.  Cauliflower.  Its been teasing us for awhile now.  Ever so slowly growing and tonight we couldn't wait any longer.   Out it came and like last time we think this size is perfect.  It hasn't had a chance to get to big and is tender and sweet.  We have baby carrots and baby peas, why not baby cauli's?   

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 143

Well you'll have to excuse the photos today... the low light isn't very forgiving and my youngest knocked over the Nikon SLR a few days again smashing my favourite lens which means its a little harder now getting the shots.  

After we pulled out all the plants from the grow bed in the last post we ended up with a heap of celery.  I had no idea what to do to preserve it and looking online I just got a lot of "freeze it" suggestions.  I can just imagine what it would be like after being unfrozen and even just used in soups and stews I still don't think I could eat soggy celery.   I had to think a little harder and thought celery salt.  

So we chopped up all the celery into small 2 inch pieces and dried it out in the oven overnight.  This is th e result.  Small matchstick size celery stalks.  I pounded them in the mortar and pestle to a fine powder and then added Maldon sea salt.

And the result.  A jar of beautiful celery salt.  It tastes fantastic and will be great used in all sorts of dishes over the next year.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 139

This is the grow bed I mentioned in the last post.  Its getting a bit scrappy and could do with a good clean up.  We have big broccoli plants that we've taken from in the hope they may produce more but they aren't.  Celery is very bushy and it could do with thinning out as well as a myriad of other things that could be moved around.

So after about 30 minutes EASY work we now have this.  We transplanted anything we wanted to keep into other grow beds except the herbs which we moved to the near side of the bed.  Plants transplant so easily and we found hundreds of worms in the roots of the broccoli and rhubarb.  It was almost like a worm nursery in each root ball with huge clumps of small worms.  

We planted out the empty space with another crop of winter veggies.  It should be ready by the time we have gone through the other things growing now and keep us going daily with a fresh pick of wonderful veggies.  

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 138

Another pick of the patch and we have some fantastic greens.  The beans are back but ever so slowly and snow peas are in fine form.

We are thinking about cleaning up one of the grow beds to plant some more seeds and move on from some of the things that are almost done.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 132

I've been eyeing off these beetroot for awhile now and today was their day to shine.  Beetroot has been probably the best performing root vegetable in the aquaponics system and not only do they provide the tuber but also the leaves can be used in salads for a nice beetroot flavour crunch.

Tonight I wanted to prepare these fairly simply and in a way that may not be known to many people.   I picked some rosemary and chopped it finely, added it too the grated beetroot and with some salt and pepper,  an egg yolk and a dash of flour to make beautiful beetroot rosti.   Some sautéed spinach from the patch and an oven roasted chicken breast and dinner is served.   Let me tell you.  This was amazing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 131

It is freezing at the moment.  We've been having such mild days and all of a sudden we have been hit with a cold snap.   We recently had a small frost and it's taken a toll on our beans.  We haven't had many beans at all over the last week or so.  Just the occasional one.

On the other hand the cauliflower's are coming along nicely and broad beans are just a week or so away.  Tonight I was able to pick a good handful of snow peas.  

So tonights pick for dinner was pak choi, broccoli, snow peas, a few beans, spring onion and a number of herbs.  Straight into the wok and a little hoisin sauce and a pork rack and we are done.

I commented to my wife tonight about when we last bought veggies from the supermarket.  Neither of us can remember.  Its a good thing.  All we need to do now is sort out some potatoes and we may never have to go back again.   Here's hoping!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 127

Yes it's been awhile.  Now that winter has hit us its really effecting the daylight hours we have to be able to take images of what we are picking.  We are still picking, and eating some great things but without some decent lighting I cant take great pics.

I will do my best over this weekend to fix that situation and post some pictures of how its all going.  Be patient with us and in the mean time get yourself a copy of the latest BYAP magazine here -> Backyard Aquaponics Magazine

Its got great articles and even a story or two about our system.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 122

Sunday morning and enjoying a cooked breakfast is one of life's indulgences and being able to walk out the backdoor and pick fresh spinach to add to the cooked breakfast makes it all the more enjoyable.

In the short walk out to harvest this mornings spinach I got to thinking just what this means.  I am not a "greenie" by a long shot but I do think more of our impact on the earth as these things are being more and more talked about.  

By growing our own we not only provide ourselves with amazingly fresh produce full of nutrients that we all need but we eliminate things like the distance our food needs to travel to us.  A bag of spinach bought at the supermarket has so many "miles" attached to it from the farmers equipment used in sowing and harvesting, the freight from the farmer to the market.  The market to the super market, and then my car trip to and from the supermarket.  We then buy a product that may have been picked a week or two ago and usually its more than we need so the excess is thrown in the garbage.  I have no idea of what the farmer has sprayed or fertilised the product with either.

On the other hand I know exactly what has been added to my spinach.  Sunlight, Water and fertiliser from the fish.  I have picked the grubs off by hand and that's it.  Its super fresh.  From paddock to plate is  minutes not weeks.  

I even took the plate back to the paddock and it was still hot when I arrived.  Not bad hey!  So it may just be a small thing but every bit helps and I know my family is getting some of the freshest ingredients around.  I just need to work on a chicken coop!  

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 121

WOW.  I just realised that we have reached Day 121.  It's pretty much 1/3 of the way through our 365 day picking from the patch journey.  It feels like a long time but also feels like it was just yesterday that we started this blog.  We've taken an amazing amount of produce from the patch in that time and learnt so many valuable things to help us through the next 2/3's of the year.  We have people from all over the world reading the posts and we feel honoured that you are taking the time to join us.

Not only are we online but we have also started a regular coloumn in the Backyard Aquaponics magazine.  The 1st article has just been released and we look forward to getting a copy to see how it reads.

So before I go on too much here is todays pick.

Beans, beans, beans and more beans.  I feel like I should be in an old western.  Thats all they ate and its the majority of what we are getting from the system at the moment.  Daily we get a feed of beans plus silver beet and some spinach.  An Asian dish with pak choi once a week is also currently a hit too.

I did manage to work out what the plant I couldn't identify a few posts ago was.  Broad Beans!  Did I mention beans :)

We did lose a Murray Cod.  He was outside the tank.  Must have jumped out.  He was still moving but was past any redemption so I had to dispose of him.

We had some friends over for lunch today.  We picked a few herbs including Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley and we also picked radishes and beans  (did I mention beans?).  We had some delicious seafood with the herbs added for flavour and side dishes made with the other produce.

We did notice a new cauliflower growing which is exciting.

And finally some snow peas.  They'll go well in a stir fry with the pak choi.