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Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Top 35 recipes of 2016

2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Best travel destinations in 2017

We're thinking big for travelling in 2017 - and so should you. Will we see you sunrise at Java's 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist temple, across the table at Reykjavik's newest restaurants or swimming side-by-side with humpback whales off Western Australia's coast?

Christmas vegetarian recipes

The versatility of vegetarian dishes means they can be served alongside meat and seafood, or enjoyed simply as they are. With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some of our favourite vegetarian recipes to appease both herbivores and carnivores alike.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

How to grow sweetcorn

Sweetcorn can thrive in the home patch if it's in good company, writes Mat Pember. Follow a few simple tips and say cheers to big ears.

Whole societies are fuelled by corn. Half the world would fall apart if corn ceased to exist. More than just a crop, it's a critical food commodity, and in the home garden nothing speaks more of summer than those lanky stems swaying in the sun.

Corn plants rely on each other to pollinate, so to grow corn in the home patch you need a minimum number of plants to ensure a decent return. Any fewer than 12 to 16 makes it a tricky proposition; some may be fully kernelled, but others will look like your grandfather's mouth without his dentures.

When growing sweetcorn at home, you need to allocate at least a square metre of space for your plants because they'll need 30 to 40 centimetres between them to reach healthy maturity. Sweetcorn is particularly hungry for nitrogen, so prepare the space with plenty of compost and good manure. We use slow-release chook poo pellets, which fuel the plants over time.

When planting from seed, make the holes two centimetres deep and 30 to 40 centimetres apart in a grid formation. Sweetcorn seeds have a hard coating, so soak them overnight in water before you plant them. Any that float to the surface during soaking won't be viable, so discard them.

Sow two seeds in each hole, then water them thoroughly. Given that it's summer, the patch will need watering daily to ensure the soil holds enough moisture to germinate the seeds - which should take about seven days - and then sustain the young seedlings. Once the seedlings begin to grow you may need to cull one if both seeds in a hole have germinated, allowing the healthiest to thrive.

If you're planting seedlings, do so during the morning of a relatively cool day if possible. The rule of thumb for planting is that the worse the weather for the beach, the better it is for planting. As always, water the seedlings 15 minutes before planting to reduce potential transplant shock.

Once the seedlings are up and running (about two weeks after germination), it's time to mulch the patch. It's summer, it's hot and soil can become hydrophobic if left to bake exposed in the sun.

We use heat-treated mulching pellets, which are easy to apply around young plants and expand when watered. Because they're heat-treated, they contain no weed seeds, and the pellets are easy to handle and dust free. Mulch to a thickness of two to three centimetres.

The soil type determines the frequency of watering over the next couple of months. Sandy soils and potting mixes will need watering every day first thing in the morning, while a richer loamy soil, which better retains water, will need water every second day. If you have holidays planned, install a simple drip system to ensure you come back to something green.

After a couple of months, cobs will begin to form, and subsequently their kernels. More watering is needed and an application of liquid potash will aid their development. Since the plants pollinate each other, the more plants you have, the greater the likelihood of success, and you can assist with pollination by gently shaking the plants to transfer the good stuff around. This is a good task for the kids; set the shake level to gentle and set them to work. Another way to hand-pollinate is to use the tassels of the corn (on top of the plant) to feather-dust the silks protruding from the cobs. This transfers pollen to where it's needed to fertilise each silk, which then produces a kernel.

When the silks begin to brown the corn is almost ready to pick. Check by carefully pulling aside the husks and, if you're satisfied with the offering, pull down sharply and twist off the cobs. One plant will produce two to four cobs, if you're lucky, so expect a good supply of barbecuing produce for about a month.

Tip of the month: picking seed heads
Lettuce and other leafy greens can develop seed heads for a number of reasons and, other than for the purpose of collecting and saving seeds, none are particularly welcome in the vegetable patch. So why do plants develop seed heads in the first place, and what can we do to stop them? Read on.

Stress factor
Just like us, plants get stressed. While we destress by drinking too much and going paint-balling, plants will shoot out a seed head. It's their way of saying, "It's been fun, but I'm outta here."

Why and how?
A plant's seed can be caused by transplant shock, lack of picking or the natural conclusion of its life cycle. We can't do much when a plant's time is up, but premature seeding can be easily rectified. Using sharp nails or sharper scissors, pinch out the seed heads as far down the stem as possible to refocus the plant's energy into growing food. Simple.

What to plant
Cool/mountainous
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum propagate
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Chilli propagate
Coriander seedling
Cucumber seed
Eggplant propagate
Fennel seedling
Herbs seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Parsnip seed
Peas seedling
Pumpkin seed
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seed
Sweet corn seed
Tomato seedling
Turnip seed
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seed

Temperate
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Coriander seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Fennel seedling
Herbs seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Parsnip seed
Peas seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seed
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Turnip seed
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Sub tropical
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Coriander seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Kale seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Peas seed
Pumpkin seedling
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seed
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Carrot seed
Capsicum seedling
Celery seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs (all) seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spinach seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet Corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

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