Kitchen Garden Guides

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June 2017 Kitchen Garden Guide

It has been a topsy-turvy autumn and some of the plants in my garden are confused. The forsythia is flowering as was the philadelphus and there are a few flowers here and there on fruit trees. The ABC Landline forecast for winter in our area is for warmer than average day and night temperatures with a 50% chance of average rainfall. Warmer winter averages affects fruit set of anything requiring winter chill.

The Chill Factor

Cold sweetens vegetables such as chicory. The multitude of chicories in my garden are at their most delicious from now until September. They truly are also one of the most beautiful plants in the winter vegetable garden. For information and photos please look at the Gardenista website and search for chicory. Glorious!
Cold winters ensure a good crop of apples, cherries and pears which have a chill factor, which means they require a certain number of hours below 7C to ensure an even bloom period. However, during mild winters, as is forecast this year, the chilling requirement may not be met and could result in uneven bloom, and hence uneven pollination and less fruit set. The table below suggests the chill hours required by various fruits. Of course within, for example, apples, there are hundreds of varieties, each differing slightly in its requirements but this table gives a general guide.
Apple 300 - 1200
Chestnut 400 - 750
Apricot 300 - 1000
Almond 400 - 700
Cherry – 500 - 800
Walnut 400 – 1500
Fig 100 - 500
Avocado NONE
Grapes 100 - 500
Citrus NONE
Kiwi 400 - 800
Pear 150 - 1500
Peach 150-1200
Persimmon 100 - 700
Pecan 150 - 1600
Plum 275 - 1000
Nectarine 150 - 1200
Quince 100 - 500
Pomegranate 100 - 300
Olive 400 - 700


Tasmania is surrounded by sea and yet we tend not to forage the shores and shallows for food. Did you know that our soils are low in magnesium and that this means your vegetables are too (unless care has been taken to add magnesium to the soil)? Magnesium is vitally important for our health. Magnesium can be added to the soil simply by adding seaweeds to your compost or liquid feed. Magnesium can be added to your diet more directly by eating the seaweed yourself. All of the longest lived peoples of the world eat many different sea plants; think Okinawa (Japan) and Sicily.
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is a common seaweed in Tasmanian waters but it is an introduced weed, probably arriving on the bottom of ships and making a home from St. Helens to Dover. You can harvest it (or buy it) to your heart’s content because you are helping to control its spread.
Red Lettuce or Grateloupia turuturu  is another introduced seaweed to the Tasmanian coast. This one is nutritious and a colourful addition to your meal. Search the internet for photos so you can identify them. I don’t know of any plants in our seas that are toxic but, the sad thing is, some of our coastline has been raped by industry plus land and sea farming which has left toxic residues in our once pristine waters.

Winter herbs for health and flavour

Do you love pesto and lament the end of fresh basil from your garden? Well I make a wonderful pesto with chervil and almonds / tarragon and pistachios / parsley and walnuts.
There are so many lovely herbs that either grow and thrive only in winter or continue to hold their colour and flavour even in winter. The former includes the slightly aniseed chervil, with its pretty, soft ferny leaves which I grow as a block and clip by the handful, with scissors. Also in this category is coriander with its robust flavour and growth habit. A less well known and often misunderstood winter herb is angelica, with a pine-like aroma in its large, fern-like leaves. No need to bother with the stems which are traditionally candied, simply chop up the leaves and use them finely sliced with fruit or to line the bottom of a cake tin before baking. Parsley is a fabulous winter herb, readily self-sows and is useful all through winter in meals and as a wonderful source of vitamin C, in our climate where oranges are rare.
Interestingly, all these are members of the Umbelliferae or carrot family. The family also includes asafoetida, caraway, cumin, dill and lovage, to name a few.
Rocket is another herb that germinates and thrives during winter.
Herbs that hold their colour and flavour even in winter include rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, winter savory, bay and sage, although sage should be picked sparingly as it is much less vigorous in winter.

Local Crop Swap Group

Crop Swap Cygnet and Surrounds
“Crop Swap” groups started in NZ and are now Australia wide too. Check out Crop Swap Taranaki for a lovely video. Cygnet and Surrounds is a space to swap, give or share anything edible or related to food, in the spirit of abundance, generosity and fairness. No money will change hands. Whether you are a backyard gardener, home cook, forager, seedsaver, cuttings guru, pickle and jam maker or bread baker you are welcome. Check out the blog and facebook page now. Helpers also needed.

Seeds to sow in June
Sow in the garden:
Broad beans
Salad and spring onions
English spinach
Sow in trays to plant out later:
Globe Artichokes
Asian greens
Plant out
Asparagus crowns
Divide rhubarb
Winter herbs
Winter flowering annuals
Globe artichokes
Asian greens

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