Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Garden notes.

The zucchinis have been plentiful, as have the cucumbers. Basil is raging, of course.

But tomatoes? No appearance, your worship. Yet. The plants are fine, they are just not fruiting. This year's were grown from seedlings obtained from the local nursery.

I'm not sure whether it's climate or pedigree. Of course it could be faulty gardening on my part.

The best tomatoes we ever had were, in order, ones that self-seeded from original stock in the garden of our previous house whose prior owner had been an expert gardener and seedsman; and secondly, ones grown from Diggers' Club seeds. We might have to renew our Digger's Club membership and obtain seeds from there once again.

(Digger's Club is a mail-order business supplying 'heirloom' seeds no longer available through usual channels. It is based at Heronswood, a property that sits high on the hill at Dromana and rambles over acres of working ornamental, vegetable and herb gardens, all set amidst massive mature trees. It is open to the public, for a fee. You can sit on a quiet lawn in the shade and feel a breeze and catch an occasional glimpse of blue Port Philip Bay. There could be nicer spots to have a picnic but I can't think of any right now. Alternatively you could just be lazy and eat at their onsite cafe. The coffee is good.)


Speaking of heirloom, I found some Black Russian tomatoes the other day at the market. They were excellent. I made a Greek salad with them. A Greek salad with Russian tomatoes? I suppose that makes it a Hungarian salad. Maybe even a Ukrainian salad.


The crepe myrtles are out now. Ours is only two years old. It is in the garden bed in front of the house; facing north - the part that gets the most heat and not much cooling breeze, where not much survives apart from pelargoniums which you could grow in a furnace.

Last summer I thought the year-old tree had not survived. Then the buds appeared. It is six feet tall now, and still very slender. Its deep crimson flowers are magnificent against the white of the house.


Speaking of deep crimson over white, I had meant to put in a bougainvillea down the side of the house, to grow over the fence, but hadn't gotten around to it. Now there's one creeping up and over the fence from the other side. The next door neighbour had had exactly the same idea. The plant will climb along the fence and hang in voluptuous swathes and show its magnificent flowers to the sun. Nice.


Ed said...

I ws lucky enough to be joined to Diggers this year for Christmas although the Toms won't get going to next year. Love the black russians although our big succes this year are the cherry toms. I put the courgettes in pots which thankfully has limited their growth although I sort of miss being overrun by then. God luck with the Grek Orthadox salad.

breadchick said...

Ok KH, this is just unfair at this moment as I stare out my window (as far as the murky fog will allow that is) at the leafless trees with the clumps of black snow pushed up against them standing in the brown mud dreaming of sun kissed zukes, tomatoes that taste like tomatoes (even though we can now get Uglies from Florida) and fresh herbs that have been warmed by sun vs the grow light I have pointed at them...

At least the seed catalogs arrived yesterday!

neil said...

You're right about Heronswood, a lovelier spot would be hard to find. I would have thought black russians were closer to China...

Anonymous said...

lots of people seem to be having trouble with toms this year, great big plants with plenty of flowers and not many fruit. could be a lack of bees (not a problem for me as a neighbour has a hive - gotta love coburg), therefore pollination not happening. this can be done manually with a cotton bud by simply touching each flower in the morning. takes 5 mins, worth a try. paula

kitchen hand said...

Ed, you are such a Brit - courgettes! I forgot to add in the post that the aubergines are also doing fine. Large plants with magnificent purple flowers and great fruit - the long Lebanese-style ones. Mmmm, babaganouge. (And yes, good call - Greek Orthodox salad.)

Breadchick, it's all ahead of you. I'm staring down the barrel of the last month of summer and wondering where it went. And today it rained.

Neil, my geography is like my cooking - all over the shop.

Thanks, Paula - that's a great tip. I'll try it. Not so many bees this year, although they do come around when there's water in the back yard.