Turn on the the TV and you are bound to come across one cooking show or another. Between flicking on the cartoons in a morning, I stumble across reruns of Ben’s Menu, or Good Chef, Bad Chef, the afternoons have the up to date versions of these shows, along with Justine’s Everyday Gourmet, and the evenings have MKR. Meanwhile where has Huey gone?
For me, this kind of TV viewing inspires all sorts of culinary delights and menu planning, and gets my mouth salivating long before I am due my next meal. It is on this premise that I began researching our next kitchen garden.
Creating a kitchen garden in Autumn is ideal as the hotter temperatures have subsided (mostly) and the more moderate temperatures, rainfall and shorter days means the growing environment is more gentle on your budding plants. This also means it is an ideal time to get down and dirty and do the manual labour as the temperatures and conditions are more moderate for us too!
Autumn is the time to plant winter loving, frost resistant plants. In our temperate climate in NSW these include coriander, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, thyme and winter tarragon. Appropriate vegetables to plant are; broad beans, English spinach, green beans parsnips and peas.
Think about the kinds of meals you want to create in later Autumn and throughout Winter and plant accordingly. Hearty stews, soups and casseroles usually require a healthy assortment of root vegetables and aromatics and many of these plants are suitable for planting at this time of year.
English Spinach tolerates being frozen solid and will still manage to grow and be delicious! The winter variety of spinach, ‘Prickly Spinach’ can be identified by a single prickle on the quite large seed.
Broad Beans also thrive through the coldest months of winter. However if you live in an area where there is no frost at all, peas can also be planted. The planting for all of these is exactly the same. Dribble the seeds into the shallow drill and backfill. By using potash over the soil after planting the seeds the plants will grow resistant to pests and diseases.
Garlic is another tough winter crop that loves the temperatures of below 7 degrees over approximately 2 months of winter. To plant, remove the papery covering from the bulb and break off the biggest cloves. Place them with the base plate on the surface of the soil with the pointed end facing up and push them into the soil, without watering them in. Garlic is a versatile plant that can be harvested and frozen when in surplus.
Parsnips are deceiving! The leaves are not looking the best, but the vegetables flourishing below are massive. They have grown so fast that they are tender and delicious. It is incredible what is can be harvested throughout the year.
Other great choices to plant right now are: Celeriac, Japanese Radish, Carrots, Beetroot, New Zealand Butter Swedes,Chili Peppers and Red Russian Kale.
When you plant and harvest at appropriate times of year, your garden will be forever giving, and as they are grown naturally (and organically) everything will taste better too. There is higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals in food grown this way also- so it’s better for you!
Food that tastes better, and is better for you? What’s not to love? Now….just to find some spare time, and a patch of land!