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Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Home-grown Garlic

In Gardening on May 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Garlic (Allium sativum)

One of the crops I grew last year that I was most proud and pleased with was Allium sativum, better known as garlic. My inspiration to grow this healthy and versatile relative to the onion came from my gardening magazine, in addition to liking it of course. I thought it would be wonderful to grow organic garlic and have enough of it to last at least one year, so I set to work. I sourced heritage garlic seed locally from the Internet, and for very little financial outlay I was sent beaut heritage garlic bulbs.
I prepared the bed a couple of weeks before planting with sheep pellets, blood and bone and some good quality compost. Once the bed was settled I broke apart the bulbs and planted the best and biggest ones.

 

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Photo above: The first shoots coming through
I sowed my seeds during the beginning of winter in June (NZ) on the shortest day of the year and then harvested my very pleasing crop a few days after Christmas. They were supposed to be harvested on the longest day—the 24th of December, but due to being struck down with an awful cold, they had to wait until a few days later.

 

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I was excited to pull these gems up out of the soil and finally see them after waiting six months. I was more than happy with the great results of big bulbs containing an abundance of cloves!  My mum was staying with us at the time from England and we hung them up on the washing line to dry in the sun and later moved them into the greenhouse where they stayed for about three weeks. I did bring a few inside to hang up in the kitchen so that I could admire my achievement. The first time we tried the garlic was with friends when we made pork dumplings. My lovely Japanese friend taught my mam and me to make these—naturally they were delicious—however the garlic was immense in smell and flavour, a true joy for the first time cooking with my home grown garlic.

Garlic has great health properties, but it does not agree with everybody’s digestive system, therefore an alternative is to  infuse it in oil and just use the oil. The shelf life of this alternative isn’t very long and I would recommend researching before making. I love it in all Asian cooking, as well as pasta dishes and love it simply roasted on its own or with other vegetables.

Now the time is nearly upon me again to grow some more and I will be using one of my own bulbs as my seed! I still have plenty to eat and I have also frozen some for when I run out!

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Sweet Succulent Corn!

In Gardening, Non-Fiction on May 13, 2014 at 12:03 pm

sweet-corn

 

I call it corn-on-the-cob where I come from and I love it steamed with a dollop of butter melting all over the hot kernels, who doesn’t? Although it’s not butter that I really use! I use a healthier alternative spread of course! Nevertheless, this sweet yellow cob of joy was a pleasure to grow and picking it straight from its stalk and eating it the same day was delicious. I now have some in the freezer so that we can enjoy it through the winter months.

As well as steaming the corn you can boil it and I like to roast it too. You can also cut the kernels off to use in a stir fry.

The only difficulty I had growing the corn was the strong Nor’wester winds we get here in New Zealand and not forgetting the southerlies too, basically very windy! There were a few times I thought I might lose the crop, but luckily all was good. Putting the weather aside it was pretty easy.

Corn or maize derived from the American continent and is now grown all over the world. The sweet version was developed hence the name sweetcorn and there are varieties that differ in sweetness. When you crop sweetcorn, the darker the tassel the riper the sweetcorn will be. It’s a good source of carbohydrates, protein, fibre and minerals such as potassium, selenium, iron and zinc in addition to vitamin A (beta-carotene) and B vitamins Niacin and B6. The main phytochemicals in corn are carotenoids named lutein and zeaxanthin associated with protecting eye health.

IMG_4578   My corn before harvest!

I will definitely grow this again when the season comes around. It makes a wonderful staple in your diet through the summer months as it’s so versatile and as I mentioned above it can be frozen too, either in cobs or just the kernels.

 

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IMG-20140130-WA0002       Bon Appetite!