Almost a year ago, my little family made the big leap to life in the country when we bought our tiny farm.
As I shared when we first moved in, it’s been a dream of mine for the longest time to have a little house and some land to grow veggies, raise chooks, plant a little orchard and hopefully some sort of vineyard so my wine making skills don’t lay dormant forever.
As with any good dream there have been some surprises along the way…
Like having not one but two tiger snakes in two days turn up on my kitchen step… Like having to catch a cute little green tree frog in our bedroom one night… Like getting used to waking up and seeing kangaroos just outside our bedroom window most mornings… Like planting my fruit trees in the boggiest patch of clay on the whole farm and having half of them decide to die…
All part of the fun of country life!
Anyway I’ve had a few requests to share what’s growing in my edible garden. Something a little different!
But before I do there’s a disclaimer. I’m new to this whole big garden thing. While I love spending time in the garden, especially picking things for dinner, I’m definitely a long way from being a green thumbed expert. So I’m not sure how helpful this will be…
My Herb Garden
This is the closest to my back kitchen door and I just love being able to pop out and get a sprig of rosemary or a handful of basil whenever I need them. This year I’ve had the most amazing basil so we’ve been eating a lot of pesto. And for the first time ever I’ve even got extra pesto stashed away in my freezer.
I’ve also got flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, Greek basil (not as good as the regular stuff), tarragon, coriander (cilantro), chives, chervil, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, sorrel and stevia. One of the biggest attractions for me is being able to grow things like sorrel and stevia that I never see in the shops or farmers market.
I love having a few leaves of super lemony fresh sorrel to enliven a green salad. And it’s amazing in pesto (recipe below). The stevia I’m not so sure what to do with so if you have any ideas please share them in the comments below!
My Salad Garden
This garden bed is slightly larger and had been pretty good at keeping us in salad leaves most of the year. I love not having to buy bagged salad any more because it’s so expensive and perishable.
When I’m rushed for time, I do sometimes lament the fact that I have to go outside and spend a few minutes picking leaves. But as soon as I’m in the garden, I’m always thankful for those little moments of peace.
Rocket (arugula) is my all time favourite salad because I love the peppery flavour and the fact that it’s so easy to grow. I also have a new found respect for good old butter lettuce and cos which I just pick a few leaves at a time and they keep on growing.
I do have some radishes which I’m still trying to love. If they weren’t so easy to grow I wouldn’t bother. But I strongly believe that it’s just a matter of finding the best way to prepare them!
Silverbeet or chard is something I’ve come to love because of its easy-to-grow nature. Mostly I sauté it in butter and garlic in a covered pot until it’s just wilted down and finish it with a squeeze of lemon and a generous pinch of sea salt.
I was late planting tomatoes this year so we have lots of green tomatoes and nothing ripe. Yet. Fingers crossed we’ll get something before the first frosts come.
My Salad Garden Part2
This bed contains my most recent plantings. A mix of lettuces and Asian greens like tatsoi and mizuna. They’re mostly new to me so I’m excited about finding new ways to use them.
I should also report that since I’ve stopped being a ‘slacker’ on the salad washing front, there haven’t been any more incidents of diners finding caterpillars at my table!
My Raised Veggie Beds
I had these in our old rental house in Cooma. And while I did have to bribe my brother to help me move them, I’m so glad they didn’t get left behind. If you’re renting (like we used to) or if you have poor soil (like we do now) raised veggie beds are the way forward!
At the moment these have carrots, beets, loads of garlic (just planted so won’t be harvested until next Summer), zucchini and some self-sown parsley. I did plant some spaghetti squash seeds and delicata pumpkin both which I’ve read about but haven’t ever seen or eaten. Only one plant has survived and because Fergal loves to play with my labels, I’m not sure which one it is. Looking forward to having that puzzle solved later in Autumn!
Fish with Sorrel Pesto
Sorrel is one of those annoying ingredients I see referred to in cookbooks from time to time but never see in the shops. It wasn’t until I planted some seeds and grew my own that I was able to experiment with this super lemony fresh-tasting herb. Don’t worry if you don’t have a herb garden full of sorrel. There are plenty of substitutes in the variations below!
enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
2 fish fillets
2 handfuls sorrel leaves
2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
1 handful pine nuts
extra virgin olive oil
green salad, to serve
1. Heat a medium frying pan on a medium high heat. Rub fish with a little oil and season with lots of salt. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking.
2. Meanwhile, for the pesto, whizz sorrel, Parmesan, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add a good pinch of salt and add some olive oil with the motor running until you have a saucer paste. Taste and season with more salt if needed and some pepper.
3. Serve fish with a big dollop of pesto on top and salad on the side.
no sorrel? – basil or flat leaf parsley are the best substitutes or try mint or coriander (cilantro) for something a bit different. A big squeeze of lemon can make the pesto taste more fresh and lemony.
dairy-free – replace Parmesan with an extra handful of pine nuts or different nuts like almonds, cashews or Brazil nuts.
vegetarian – serve pesto with pan fried eggplant ‘steaks’ or some cooked quinoa or other grains. It’s also really lovely with poached or fried eggs or as a fresh topping for a simple omelette dinner.
carnivore – replace fish with chicken thigh or breast fillets or a good quality pork chop.
more substantial – serve with mashed or roast potatoes. Or serve fish on a bed of cooked grains such as quinoa, brown rice or farro.
What about you?
Are you into growing your own food? Got any tips on veggie growing or veggie garden design you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Just pop a comment below…