Summer in the Garden

As the state is going through a heat wave this weekend, it’s time to stay indoors and enjoy the evaporative cooling. Here in Broken Hill the temperature is supposed to get to 41°C today and 43°C tomorrow. It’s a good time to write something on the blog. Exactly a year ago today we were in Broken Hill looking at properties to buy and the house we are currently in!

Back in November, my husband and I travelled back east for a four-week round trip. We visited Canberra, Central Coast, Brunswick Heads and Brisbane before we made our way back home. We did over 5000km on that trip and it was lovely to catch up with many friends and introduce little B. The only downside was a bout of sickness in Brunswick Head and a week of rain in Brisbane.

While we were away, I bought some more garlic from Ingelara Farm at the Canberra Farmers Markets. I’ve got plans for a bigger garlic planting come autumn. We also loved visiting Riccardoes Tomatoe and Strawberry Farm near Port Macquarie. We had lunch in their cafe and I enjoyed eating pasta with their tomato and basil sauce. Our son loved the sauce too! It inspired me so much that I set about making my own tomatoe sauce this week from scratch! My sister bought me a copy of Love and Lemons Cookbook (which I’ve been loving) and I made author Jeanine Donofrio’s Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce. I also made her Corn, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad and Zucchini Lasagna with Zucchini “Ricotta”.

Jeanine Donofrio’s Corn, Tomato & Mozzarella Salad using homegrown cherry tomatoes
Strawberries at Riccardoes
Ready to plant in autumn

In September lasy year I started making Bourke Street Bakery‘s Christmas Cake. This cookbook was recommended to me by my husband’s cousin’s husband (keeping up?) who used to be a chef and still an incredible cook. I carried that Christmas Cake on our trip and fed it rum all the way to Queensland for an early Christmas celebration with my family! My sister-in-law, who does not like Christmas Cake, really enjoyed it. I contacted the publisher before Christmas to ask if I could republish on my blog and they’ve just come back to me this week to give me the okay. So, I know it’s 11 months away…but if you want a Christmas Cake to try this year…try the Bourke Street Bakery Christmas Cake. It’s a crowd pleaser.

In the last month, since we got back home, I’ve been focused on trying to keep things alive, build some shade structures and do some minor earthworks. On January 2 we had a hail storm and had about 30mm of rain. Whenever it rains we have so much run-off that is not captured by our garden. I’ve started building some swales in our garden to try and prevent run-off. I’ve started with the lemon tree. I’ve also put a good layer of bark on the garden to try and help retain moisture. Before Christmas I’d ordered some good quality pipe to build a shade cloth on my veggie patch. Four weeks later and I’m still waiting for it to arrive! It’s called Broken Hill time. Until I’ve erected that shade cloth, I’m reluctant to plant anything in our garden. Keep things hydrated is a costly enterprise (not looking forward to water bill) with this heat and I don’t think any seedlings would survive.

Building Swales
Flash flooding from hail storm on 2 January

That being said, before we went away in November I had planted our some tomatoe plants I was given by Peter, who serviced our evaporative cooler. We got talking and I learned he has a hydroponics set up and he invited me over to have a look! It’s so impressive and he sent me away with some tomato plants. How kind of him. The tomatoes have been going well. I also planted some eggplant way back in August (that was way too early). One of my seeds finally germinated towards the end of last year and I’ve just started harvesting some eggplant this week. I’ve never grown eggplant before and I am so happy with my results. This week I made Ottonlenghi’s Bulgur with tomato, aubergine and preserved lemon yoghurt. I skipped the preserved lemon part but its so delicious. I’m finally realising my dream of cooking seasonally with fresh produce from the garden! I feel like I’m doing really well managing to use two home-grown ingredients for the one recipe.

Eggplant suffering in the heat today
Easy to make: Bulger with tomato, aubergine and lemon yoghurt

I hope to post a blog soon showing my temporary shade structure for my veggie patch and how you could make yourself one too!

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