Gardening Magazine

The Sweet Spot

By Gardenamateur

Stepping out into the garden this fine late November morning, I was struck by what a sweet spot the garden is in at the moment. Everything is growing well, all the vegie crops are already being picked and producing more every day, and all the woes of a Sydney summer seem like they're an eternity away. Late spring is just about the perfect time of year to be a gardener in this part of the world.

The sweet spotAs is my custom, here's an iPhone "Panorama" shot taken 10 minutes ago of all the happy campers in their park.
The sweet spotI'm often struck by how different the human eye is from a camera. From inside our house, looking out, this big yellow star of a zucchini flower is what catches your eye. It said to me "if you don't come out with your camera and take a photo of me, you're missing out". And yet in the panorama above you can barely notice it.

This is the first year I have grown Lebanese zucchini, and they're different from the more conventional 'Blackjack' zucchinis which I tend to grow most years. For one thing, as you can see here, the plants are very susceptible to powdery mildew, but this doesn't affect the crops. In fact, this light dusting of mildew almost looks nice. I'm sure it'll end up being much worse, and I'll pull the plants out prematurely in midsummer, but right now, in this late spring "sweet spot" I can live with spotty leaves.

The sweet spotZucchini flowers don't last long, but they are fun, and besides, you can always fill them up with ricotta cheese and herbs, coat them in tempura batter and do some fancy dining with them.
The sweet spotThe reason I'm growing these pale green Lebanese zucchini is mostly just to try something different, but also because I think these smaller zucchinis have a better flavor than the bigger, dark green ones.
The sweet spot"Lebanese" this, "Lebanese" that: it's an accidental theme this year, and here's my Lebanese eggplant looking young and healthy. Lots of flowers but no fruit yet. They'll appear in summer.
The sweet spotBut wait, there's more! Lebanese cucumbers, too, climbing up my frail, spindly teepee of skinny bamboo. These things don't merely "crop", they "glut". We've already harvested several and have given a few away, but fortunately Pammy loves snacking on little bits of chopped up cucumber, so she's my main customer. 
The sweet spotIt's taken a while to turn a dozen or so tiny little mixed lettuce seeds into this delicious salad starter pack, but the idea of having a nice mixture of salad greens in a pot that's within a few steps of the kitchen is working out nicely.
The sweet spotI haven't grown silver beet in years, but by chance I ended up with half a punnet of seedlings and in just a few weeks here they are, very big ready to go. I love cooking Indian food, and so a lot of these leaves will go into things such as a lamb or chicken saag, or a vego palak paneer.

I suspect this whole crop won't be here in two weeks' time, but right now they are looking splendid.

The sweet spotCall it a portent of summer pests to come, but here's the only problem popping up during this gardening sweet spot. I suspect it's slugs, because I can't find any snails nearby, but someone is munching on my pot of basil and they're having a delicious old time of it, too.

I've moved the pot to another spot and I'm on the lookout for culprits. So far no luck, and more leaves eaten last night. 

Maybe it's caterpillars? In that case, in my current sweet mood of spring gardening contentment, I am adopting the benign policy of feeding our garden's future butterflies some tender young Genovese basil, and I hope they appreciate its flavor.




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