December

It is a little confusing returning from a late Sicilian summer to a late Melbourne spring. One day I'm in a sun-baked landscape of olives, almonds, vines and prickly pears, and the next I find myself surrounded by exquisite crab-apple blossom and new foliage in my own garden. Sigh.

The memories of eggplant cooked and served many ways; of sweet tomatoes of every size and shape; of fennel crushed with sardines and fresh anchovies in pasta; and of zucchini and squash of many different shapes, sizes and colours (including one new to me called tanarumi, or something like that) are still fresh.

But now that I am back at home, it's time to assess the state of play in my garden following a three-week absence.

The tomatoes are about to go in, along with the basil plants. And here's a salutary lesson. I had the different varieties of tomatoes arranged in rows in the hot-house and had saved plant labels (why? I wonder) by labelling only the front pot. The kind person who kept them watered failed to grasp the significance of the rows and the pots have all been mixed up. The leaves all look identical at this stage so I can't tell them apart, other than the black Krim and oxheart tomatoes that were on another shelf. The conundrum now is to know whether I am planting a climbing tomato alongside a medium-growing variety, or three of the same. Hmmm.

I read in Organic Gardener magazine that if one has trouble with crop rotation (as I mentioned in my last column), a solution might be to scrub out containers at the end of the life cycle of one crop, and refill them with fresh potting mix before replanting.

I have three large pots of cornflowers that are about to finish flowering, so those pots can be emptied, scrubbed and refilled and will become home to three capsicum plants that will revel in the heat from the paving on which they sit. One of them will be the fabulous pimientos de Padrón (my seeds are from The Italian Gardener). I adore these little green beauties, which are starting to become quite prevalent in restaurant land, quickly fried in olive oil till the skins blister a bit and dusted with a very little sea salt.

My gardener moved the large pepino plant, and it now resides underneath the Little Gem magnolia and seems perfectly happy in its new semi-shaded spot. This is significant because it has freed up precious sunny space in the front garden for a zucchini plant, of which there will only be one this year. I am happy to let it romp over what is left of the lawn, but its feet will be firmly planted in good soil.

One side of the front path will be for tomatoes, basil and lettuces, and the other side will be for climbing beans and several eggplant bushes. Wherever there is space I will be popping in lettuce seeds and maybe one or two chilli plants.

The celery and broad bean tub will now become home to cucumbers. And I am going to pull out some of the rioting nasturtiums that have done such a marvellous job of filling a corner behind the globe artichokes. With the addition of more compost, this space will be for a pumpkin vine that I will try to train onto the carport trellis.

Isn't it difficult to believe that another year has just about ended? Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to everyone.

Until next time.

PHOTOGRAPHY ARMELLE HABIB

This article is from the December 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.


MORE INFO

For information on Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation and schools program, visit www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
The Producers: Box Grove Vineyard Verjus
14.08.2017
What is bee pollen?
09.08.2017
David Jones’ new food hall opens in Bondi Junction
03.08.2017
OzHarvest is fighting food waste by looking in your refrigerator
24.07.2017
Meet Your Maker: RL Foote Design Studio
18.07.2017
Our Baking Cookbook is here
06.07.2017
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Easter lunch recipes

With the cooler autumn weather, heartier flavours begin to e...

Cupcake recipes

Scaled down to little more than a mouthful, tiny cakes take ...

Thomas Keller's sandwich recipes

America's most famous chef takes the smarts and good taste t...

Grilling recipes

Dust off the tongs, fire up the barbecue, and get grilling w...

Neil Perry's Spice Temple recipes

At his new Spice Temple, Neil Perry calls on the more exotic...

Pickle and preserve recipes

When it comes to last-minute entertaining, a lovingly made p...

Sexy salad recipes

A salad can be so good when it's done just right. Check out ...

Recipes from Australia's best chefs

Peter Gilmore's snow egg, Justin North's smoked duck egg wit...

Quick winter meals

Fire up the stovetop with these wintry dishes, ready for the...

Comfort food recipes

Take comfort in superb onion rings, juicy roasts, syrupy pud...

Braising recipes

Fire up the stovetop, it's time to braise. Our braising slid...

Comme Kitchen recipes

British-born chef Daniel Southern has made his mark in Melbo...

French alpine recipes

Bask in the warmth of French Alpine-inspired food. Ideal for...

French roast recipes

With books such as Pork & Sons and Ripailles, Parisian autho...

French chocolate recipes

From eclairs to gateaux, French chocolate desserts are an af...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×