Monday, March 28, 2011

Bananas anyone?

Ms Tagalong was humming the Banana Boat Song, six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch! Well two foot maybe...but priceless beyond measure at today's prices. The bats seem to be leaving them well alone, they have been so full of a bumper crop of figs. They are also having a good squabble over the guavas In Ms Tagalong's garden, leaving pink holes in the lime coloured fruit, they look like little chimeneas burning on the trees.

A quiet week in the garden but don't tell Ms Mova that. She worked like a Trojan carting grass cuttings and chopping up native grape branches and sorting out the last bed. Ms Teapenny was very interested in all that was going on ably assisted by two more escapees.

On Sunday, Ms Mova corralled some assistance and seedlings were planted out. Ms Teapenny lifted one leg to scratch and she was out on her comb! She has gone back to Ms Chicken Whisperer who has just built her a two-storey mansion. She will be missed but the garden will enjoy the lack of attention from her claws and beak.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Humble Pie

Ms Tagalong learned some salutary lessons this week. Eating humble pie being one of them. Ms Tagalong thinks that she has realised how easy it is to offend your readers when writing this type of blog. In the past there was a neat disclaimer offered-all characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

It would be rather disingenuous to offer this same disclaimer as the garden is a living, breathing reality, not an invention of the mind. However, Ms Tagalong has certainly extended poetic licence, stretched it to breaking point, exaggerated truth and downright told lies to make the story sound better or more entertaining. Quotes appear out of character's mouths and are moulded and formed to how Ms Tagalong would like them to be.

All my lovely characters, I love you all and if Ms Tagalong has poked fun gently there might not indeed have been anything to poke fun at; lies, damned lies and apologies or some such thing.

Supermoon might have had something to do with all this lack of inner self knowledge for Ms Tagalong this week. Moons make people say strange things so Ms Tagalong has been told. Several were told to her at the Full Moon Party on Saturday night but she will not reveal these, even on pain of death!

The working bee was small and fruitful. Well lots of figs were dropping just outside the garden anyway. Some very diligent helpers lovingly transplanted some seedlings into their toilet roll homes until they are planted out when a bit stronger. A labour of love with great concentration and very few cups of tea and even less glasses of wine (that came later!)

Keep them watered and we should have bumper crops of coriander and parsley this winter. Humble pie always tastes good topped with chopped atonement and coriander.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What a monster!

Well what am I talking about? Could it be the birthweight of Ms Mova's latest grandchild? Could it be a comment on the exploits of the two year old next door? No, it is actually a homegrown variety, a garden-grown veritable leviathan in the Convolvulaceae plant family. This sweet potato is known by the scientific name of Ipomoea batatas. The well-known flower called "Morning Glory" belongs to the same botanical family as the sweet potato. Well this is certainly some kind of fantastic morning glory, an evening glory maybe, delivering enough nutrition for a small army. Weighing in at a hefty 2.2kg this exotically formed monster was being called some very rude names when Ms Tagalong spied it sitting on Ms Mova's kitchen bench.

So what would you do with such another if you happened to dig in the right place in the garden? Ms I don't want to go back to work seemed very keen to find a good recipe. Something to do with thrift Ms Tagalong suspects as much as to do with utilising the wonderful produce we produce. That could have been a typo but it wasn't! Fear not, Ms Tagalong will career to the rescue (no puns intended) and provide a recipe at the end of this blog.

A quiet weekend in the garden saw Ms Tagalong digging a big hole on the verge to take the kaffir lime from her backgarden which is not getting enough sun to grow to its full potential. As she thrust down the crowbar, juddering her back and shoulders, not to mention wrists, she ruminated on how it was that she, at the ripe old 50 something plus age was labouring like a common navvy? Sweat drops flying off in all directions, wiping the mud on her shirt, she was very glad that she did not plant trees for a living. The kaffir lime, however, looks happier already and Ms Pruner across the road will no doubt be out with her secateurs, busily nipping and tucking to give it the beauty makeover it is well in need of. It will soon look like this one with its fresh growth.

African Sweet Potato Stew (Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Cookbook)Feeds 4-6 people
1 onion peeled and chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tsp grated fresh root ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
350g sweet potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
15ml mild or medium curry paste
300ml passata or diced tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
225g spinach leaves, trimmed
225g button mushrooms sliced
60ml peanut butter
30ml chopped fresh coriander
salt and pepper to taste
coriander sprigs for garnish

1. Heat oil and fry onion, garlic, ginger and cayenne gently for about 10mins
2. Add curry paste to the onion mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes and stir to coat and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the passata and stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 10 mins or so with shredded spinach added towards the end of this time.
4. Mix a few spoonfuls of juices with the peanut butter to soften and then stir back into the pan. Add chopped coriander and seasoning. Serve with rice and garnished with coriander sprigs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The end of the world as we know it

Ms Tagalong worked hard at trying to make the newly planted seeds Ms Teapenny-proof.
She shooed Ms Teapenny off the basil bed...again, and bent chicken wire over bamboo stakes and watered the poor little seeds which may never be brave enough to germinate. Actually, they have probably all been eaten by the chicken escapees who have been trimming the basil most eagerly. But there is always a come-uppance ladies and Ms Chicken Expert came along just in time and trimmed their wings. If only Ms Teapenny would appreciate that she cannot climb the fence, flapping wildly to get over.

But the most important thing to tell you all is that all this work might be to no avail. Ms Mova told Ms Tagalong that according to the Mayan calendar the end of the world is nigh. Well, nearly nigh. The 21st December 2012 to be exact. So live it up, plant and reap like there is no tomorrow, well only 655 tomorrows then. Ms Mova wasn't making this up, you know, she was told by a very reliable source, a woman of Irish credentials, with no touch of the Blarney that this was going to happen.

Actually Ms Tagalong has her suspicions that the gardeners must know this, seeds are still sitting in packets, collected ones moulder in jars, sorted ones sit patiently waiting for the magic ingredients of water and warmth to germinate. Where are you gardeners, out jollymaking, haymaking and waiting for the end of the earth as we know it?

Apocalyptic news is never welcome but if we don't get some decent rain soon, our garden will return to the dust from whence it came. Too much to water by hand we need a good grant to put this right. Reticulation systems and full water tanks remain a dream at present. And talking about dreams...

Ms Mova has been talking about moon planting again. Her face goes all dreamy, she smiles vacantly and Ms Tagalong suspects she has some floaty scarves in her wardrobe. Brings to mind Luna Lovegood really. Actually, potty is quite appropriate for a gardener now I think about it!

So remember all of you out there. Today is the day to sow those winter crop seeds, take them home if you will. Water and nurture and return to the garden when they are good healthy seedlings. Or, of course, just plant in the garden, we have soil and beds are ready. Just remember to water them assidiously or stick in a sign encouraging others to do so. The rosemary looks good!