Friday, 6 September 2013

Winter wrap

How can it be nearly  two weeks since I last blogged? I guess it is because with spring everything is coming in a flurry and I have been busy flurrying. There has been action on a shed, visitors past and impending, trips to Canberra, new fencing, weeds, weeds and weeds, and lambs, lambs and lambs and there has been frantic seed raising activity for the vegetable patch.

But before blogging on spring progress it's time to reflect on the season just past.

Our first winter at Highfield was remarkably productive considering we didn't really know what to expect weather wise. Here in the Lower Snowy Mountains we had frosts  around the house and the vegetable garden but many fewer and much less severe that I had anticipated.  I suspect that  was due not to the weather around here, but really clever positioning of the house. You see the house and veg garden sits on a small ridge and the real frostiness seems to drain off the ridge on both sides. The frost that we did get  was not very serious, just nipping the tips of the citrus occasionally. I got to the point where I stopped even covering them on the cold nights.

But just as last summer was determined as the hottest on record across Australia, the winter here we considered warm -  an anomaly or a sign of things to come climate change wise?

Despite the under developed soils and  raids of the patch by chooks and sheep the produce has been quite spectacular. I have bought very few vegetables all winter. Here is a little more detail on the pick. It does focus rather heavily on brassicas - the veg that grows best here in winter.

Wombok Mini
Wow - this is the first time I have grown any wombok and I am in love. They come out of the ground quickly and easily, grow fast and taste great. I even liked the mini version. This little brassica I will grow again and I will grow more of them spaced thru the colder season.

Calabrese broccoli
Good sized heads initially followed by a huge number of side shoots. Really worth the space they take up.

Purple broccoli
Loved these. They grew well and easily and the purple was such a pleasure in the garden. The only downside is the weird colour they turn on cooking.

Cabbage - Savoy
This is an old favourite of mine but this year they were less successful than in the past and I am not sure why. They seemed to do not much for a long time and then bolt to seed... disappointing, but nevertheless I got some
good specimens.

Cauliflower Mini
I got some nice heads of little white tight-curded cauli but in the future I wont grow the mini version.

Romaneso broccoli
Mad lime green spirals and also spirals of purple tinged lime green  - pretty crazy things. I am not sure why they are called broccoli - the plants grow like caulis and despite their greeness (or purpleness) they taste like cauli.  I will grow them again.

Cabbage - Mini
I actually got very little from this crop and not just because they were a mini variety. They took a long time to develop and then bolted. I wont grow these again

Cabbage - Red drum
Gosh - these look beautiful in the patch but have not headed very well at all and have taken so long... I probably wont grow these again.

Florence fennelWhat can I say - these have been fabulous and are likely to be the veg that tales me thru the hungry gap. I have picked them young and slim and now I am picking them fat and juicy. They will always be part of my patch.

Spring onions
An ever-reliable little crop, these have done well this year. I just wished I had had more in the patch early on in the cooler season.

There is a big statement about to come here - I have had my BEST garlic season ever this year ( if that can be said before a bulb has been pulled?). I planted Monaro Purple bulbs  which were recommended by my neighbour and they have done really well. The garlic patch is full of thick stemmed garlic which must be building great bulbs below the surface? I cant wait to pull and plait.

As with the garlic - I haven't really picked any leeks yet but they seem to be growing really well. I am looking forward to leek risotto.

These have been pretty unsuccessful this year but I suspect  that is because almost all beetroot were grazed off at least twice by the resident wallaby. They have tended to be too woody and too slow to develop. I will
however persist with beetroot because I love eating them. Provided I can keep the wallabies off, I think I can get a good root.

Lovely. This is the first time I have attempted parsnips and I Love them. The Hollow Crown variety have survived the hot summer and have developed well despite the new soil they are in. They have been small but deliciously creamy. There is still more in the ground and I am hoping that with the thinning I have done, I might get some decent -sized roots soon.

Probably the best celery crop I have ever grown.The plants are massive  and tasty.  I must pick more and juice them stems to get the best of the crop before they do the spring bolt.

I have only had curled parley so far producing and these have been incredible. They have really enjoyed the wettish winter we have had and have been a feature of many of our meals and many of my vases. I have made many, many dishes with Salsa Verde.

Fail... complete fail. I cannot remember a winter without home grown snow peas. Alas this winter I was without these little slips of heaven - the chooks got them.

Brussels Sprouts
This is the first year I have tried Brussels and they haven't really been a good one for me. The little sprouts haven't really turned into tight little balls of delight at all, just flabby, leafy little puffs! I am not sure that I like Brussels enough to persist with them next year.

Special moments
  • making cheese - quark and feta
  • assisting a sheep with the birth of her lamb
  • mist in the mountains
  • the steamy grassy breath of our cow and the lick of her raspy tongue
  • baby lambs struggling to their little hooves
  • baby lambs bouncing
  • rain in the gauge
  • lichens on  wet wood


  1. Excellent post! So simple and clear but full of great info and a nice update of what you've been up to. I gave up on cabbages after last years took so long to get anywhere (I harvested my red cabbage just in time for Christmas dinner!) but it sounds like I should try womboks next year as an alternative. I learned recently that brassicas can cross-pollinate really easily if not kept separate so perhaps that's why you had some purple tinges on the romanesca? Love the pic of the lambs on the fallen tree too :)

  2. You have been amazingly productive - well done! I admire your wombok, I must give them another go, they weren't so successful for me, last time.

    I think my garlic will do well this year too, they are looking pretty healthy. Last year was a shocker so anything would be good. Apart from the usual, I've got five giant bulbs growing. They are from the cloves of one bulb given to me by a colleague. Though I'll be tempted to use them, I'm going to try to keep them all for replanting next season. They look amazing!

    Your lambys are gorgeous! What a lovely sight to wake up to.



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