Veggie garden inspo – my amazing dad

Hows the view??

Hows the view??

My garden inspiration has always been my dad. He is the king of veggie gardens. I remember cold winter days, dressed in my red parka and gum boots, mucking about out in the garden with dad. I remember on hot summer days, him picking the peaches and nectarines up high in the branches for us and little sister eating fruit until she got the runs (bbaahhhaaaa). I have become accustomed to receiving bags of fresh veggies from his garden. I also endure (and love) his constant garden advice, “you should get your tomato seeds in now love” “those beetroot need thinning” “you need to add liquid seaweed/nitrogen/maure/etcetcetc to that love”. It’s one of my favourite things about my dad, his love for the home garden.

 

Zucchinis, cucumbers behind, peach tree and grape vines

Zucchinis, cucumbers behind, peach tree and grape vines

His veggie garden at home is epic. Dad always had a decent veggie patch in the back yard but his dreams of being mostly self-sustainable (when it comes to fruit and veggies that is) weren’t quite cutting it with the medium sized plot. So when the opportunity to buy the house behind his and extend his garden came up, he jumped. He claims that it was for investment purposes but almost as soon as the property settled the fence was moved and he began his take over.

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More zucchs and fennel

 

He now has multiple levels of veggie mania and there is always something new happening. The girls LOVE pottering around the garden with grandpa and picking various bits of fresh fruit and veggie heaven with him. They know the hot-spots (the blueberry bush, the strawberry patch and the madarin tree) and hit them first every time.

 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

His tomatoes are a force to be reckoned with. I snapped Miss 4 (who is quite tall for her age mind you) with them just to show the height these babies are getting at. I have complete tomato envy and dad loves to grill me on how big his are compared to mine. Bastard!

 

mammoth tomato plants

mammoth tomato plants

No garden in his (and my) eyes are complete without some chooks and his of course are pimped out in a left over aviary from the lovely euro man who live in the house before. The chooks are so useful and he really does maximise them. Pooh from their coop is shovelled into the garden to fertilise. He had an amazing discovery a few years back when tomato plants came up, grown straight out of the chook pooh he had dumped and what grew was the hardiest, most transportable tomato plants he had ever seen. I do believe it is saved seeds from these plants that are growing at a massive height in his garden today.  The chooks are fed the left over food from the amazing meals that are cooked from the produce their pooh helped to grow. It’s an amazingly effective circle, and is a beauty to watch.

 

Fennel, tomatoes and my nectarine tree in the background

Fennel, tomatoes and my nectarine tree in the background

The latest addition has been his pizza oven which was built in, along with an accompanying serving and seating area. This has been enjoyed by us, my sisters and their families. There is nothing better than hanging out on a nice cool evening with my favourite people in the world. Sitting around the heat of the pizza oven, picking herbs and veggies from the garden to put on our pizza dough made by dad. Eating them straight out of the oven hot and cheesy but full of flavour because everything is fresh. Actual heaven!

 

Strawberries for days

Strawberries for days

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So if you ever wonder why I’m so garden crazy then blame dad. It’s his fault. But do you know what? I love it. I love the proud look on his face when he talks about what’s fruiting. I love the tours we get when the garden is in full force. Pottering around seeing this and that. I love the generosity he has, providing us with fruit, veggies and seedlings from his saved seed. I love the lessons he is teaching our girls: provide for yourself; growing and caring for things; healthy food; the circle of life; and creating ecosystems. I love the shared interest we have.

 

Pottering along

Pottering along

 

So in the words of Austin Powers “dad, take a bow”, you do a pretty shit-hot job!

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Happy growing,

 

The Dietitian Mummy

The new girls on the block

The Girls: Elsa, Anna and Tinkerbell

The Girls: Elsa, Anna and Tinkerbell

Well we have some new girls at our residence. We didn’t think that 3 girls to 1 husband/dad was enough so we called in reinforcements to better our share. I think 6 to 1 will do it.

 

Our new girls have been on the cards for quite some time. I have been itching to get some hens in the garden to utilise all our food scraps, to make some delicious eggy delights and also to teach the girls about caring for animals (without having to have a real pet!).

The elusive egg

The elusive egg

So I worked hard on husband, and once he was convinced I then worked hard on the chicken coop. I scoured pinterest for coop ideas, and on the recommendation from a friend we settled on the idea of using our old swing set. I whipped up a PVC pipe pellet feeder, a chicken waterer and a “loverly” nesting box. All the while with husband shaking his head at my lack of skills with power tools and just the general clumsiness that is me. At one point I actually burst my finger open from hitting it with a hammer, much to his amusement. Anyhoo, it eventually got finished and I got excited about getting ourselves some little ladies to live in the coop.

 

Much to my surprise, South Australia had a chicken shortage, just at the time when I wanted my chookies. My visions of hearing the sweet berk-eeerrrkkk of some little egg machines were put on hold for the month that it would be to get some.

Stolen spinach

Stolen spinach

Soon though, the long wait was over and I got my chickens. Miss almost 4 was in charge of naming our little ladies and of COURSE, named them Elsa, Anna and Tinkerbell. If you don’t know where the first two names come from, you mustn’t have a young girl of any age. It’s from the movie Frozen.

 

Right now, we are getting 1 egg every second day and those little beauties are delicious. I’m looking forward to those eggs increasing in numbers and getting my teeth into some meringues, souffles and omelettes.

The view

The view

The girls love their chookies, and love watching them from their cubby balcony. The sneak my spinach from the garden through the chicken wire for them and they take turns taking the scrap bucket down to the coop. I love that they are learning about using waste, where their food comes from and caring for living souls. And yes they do have souls, if you try to tell me otherwise I will come at you with my egg cup. Don’t mess with MY girls.

Egg-selent

Egg-selent

I love my girls, all 5 of them 🙂

 

The Dietitian Mummy

Beetroot tzadziki and spinach and pine nut dip

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Does anyone else have surplus veggies at the moment? I do. Beetroot and spinach to be exact.
 

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Funny story about my beetroot. I hadn’t grown it successfully before and my sister had. I planted them out and as beetroot does, I got 3 seedlings from each seed. I asked big sister if she thinned hers out to which she replied “no I never bother and it’s always fine”. Fast forward 2 months later and my beetroot patch is going mental. Big sister came round and saw it, laughing she said “yes, you probably should have thinned it”. The result is fine, I just have a very random assortment of sizes in my beetroot. Perfectly fine for my purposes because sometimes I want some little quickies to cook up for a salad and other times I want some big mummas to roast. My main reason for growing beetroot though is one of my recipes today. Beetroot tzadziki mmmmmm.
 

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My spinach is also going bananas. It has been since I planted it and I find it hard to think of inventive and exciting ways to use it. My Miss 3.75 of course says “uurrgghhh yuucckkkk” if it is found on her plate, which results in the same reaction copied in Miss 1.75. While I was making another dip I had an idea to recreate a favourite bought dip of mine, spinach and pine nut.
 

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The result was astounding, especially seems my girls don’t seem to like sauces or dips.  I served both dips on the table with our dinner and the girls were loving them. Miss 3.75 was eating the spinach dip so fast that I was worried about her getting oxygen overload once that iron hits her bloodstream and Miss 1.75 was chowing down the beetroot so much that she resembled a vampire fresh from a feeding.  Regardless of whether your kids like the dips or not, they are scrumptious for adults.

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So here are the recipes…
 
Beetroot Tzadziki
Ingredients
About 4 large beetroot (or 8 beetroot of varying sizes as it happened)
300ml greek yoghurt
1tb chopped or minced garlic
1.5 tb fresh thyme leaves
1tsp caraway seeds
1 pinch sea salt flakes
Method
Steam the beetroot until you can shove a knife in there easily.
Once cool enough to touch rub the skin off the beetroot. Wash your hands straight away or deal with pink hands the next day (show your kids first though, they thought it was hilarious).
Put in a blender, stick mixer or food processor (whatever you have) and blend. Add the greek yoghurt and herbs and blend some more. Add more yoghurt or herbs to balance out the taste if needed.
 

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Spinach and pine nut dip
Ingredients
1 big bunch of spinach, chopped roughly
3/4 cup pine nuts
1 onion diced
1 tb minced or chopped garlic
2 tsp all-purpose seasoning
200ml greek yoghurt
Method
Cook the onion in a big frypan  gently until soft.
Add the garlic and stir for a minute or so before adding the spinach. Chuck a lid on the frypan and let the spinach sweat down and cook.
While the spinach is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a frypan (no oil). Then blend in your processor/stick mixer.
Once that is done let the mixture cool before doing the next steps.
Blend the spinach mixture, then add the nuts and blend some more. Stir or blend through the greek yoghurt, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Stop when the dip gets to your desired consistency.
Do the same thing with the seasoning. Add bit by bit until you get to the taste you like.
 
Serve both with toasted pita bread and enjoy the fresh produce!!

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Happy cooking,
 
The Dietitian Mummy.

Winter garden update

I think it’s high time for a garden update. For those who don’t remember what I started with here is the garden when I began.

 

Collecting "things"

Collecting “things”

Miss 3.5's flower patch

Miss 3.5’s flower patch

Galv bed

Galv bed

Well it’s been cold, blustery and wet here in Adelaide for about the past 2 months. It feels like to me, the coldest winter I can remember. Unfortunately a few pretty heavy storms have ripped through here (well for Adelaide anyway) and some of my plants have taken the toll. My lime and strawberries took the brunt 😦

The lime tree with no leaves

The lime tree with no leaves

Brown leaves on my sttawberries

Brown leaves on my strawberries

 

So I do believe I may have overplanted my galv bed because this is how it is looking now. There’s brussels on the left (one of my fave veggies and my first time try at growing them), celery next, poking it’s tiny seed shoots through and then the giants carrots and beetroot next. I am already shortlisting beetroot recipes in my head. My sister does an amazing beetroot tzadziki that I’ll be asking her for, roasted beetroot in salads and roast veggie bowls, beetroot puree ohhh the excitement.

 

A forest of carrots and beetroot

A forest of carrots and beetroot

Helloooo in there celery

Helloooo in there celery

My big pots are going well for some, like the spinach that I can’t keep up with. Just when I think I’ve used it a little too much and it’s cut right back, it pops back even thicker than before. No problems with that I say! I don’t eat a huge amount of red meat so getting iron in wherever I can is a must.

 

Spinach bottom left

Spinach bottom left

The broccoli in the pots isn’t going so great. It looks pretty sad actually. And the one stalk that has grown has gone to seed for some absurd reason. The dill that was poking through in between is still there but hasn’t done a thing. I’m guessing it’s waiting for some sun and will then start growing. The lettuce is going okay, it’s enough for our winter eating supply but I’m hoping that it will boost up before summer. I’m not sure if there is enough soil to support it though. There’s always dad’s lettuce patch though he he.

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Dismal broccoli

Lettuce backup

Lettuce backup

 

One pot that is going great and I am loving is the carrots and peas. There’s carrots that Miss 3.5 planted and then around it are peas growing up a wire “sculpture” I made. We both reckon it looks like a lady with a dress so we are hoping the peas cover it to make it a nice thick green dress.

 

The lady's dress

The lady’s dress

The back section of broccoli is going MUCH better. Bigger stalks, and more broccoli which makes me happy. I planted some other seeds and meant to write them down that night, but promptly forgot as usual so it’s another mystery seed game.

 

Mystery veggies

Mystery veggies

We also have another addition to the garden. My brother-in-law built this amazing cubby house for the girls and let’s just say they are in love. It’s already been named as Elsa’s frozen castle in the sky.

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Next step for the garden is my chickens. I can’t WAIT, like seriously can’t wait. We go through about 18 eggs in a week so having a fresh supply will be much appreciated.

 

Garden helpers all rugged up

Garden helpers all rugged up

Happiness is an amazing cubby in the sky

Happiness is an amazing cubby in the sky

So there you go, winter gardening update. Can’t wait to post when I actually have some produce to show!

 

Happy gardening,

 

The Dietitian Mummy.

Make the garden grow, making the garden grow…

Well hello, I have been awol for a while, very very busy, but have squished in some time to report on my garden and how it’s going.

 

Finally sprouting

Finally sprouting

Any of you mums out there will probably understand my title and are probably humming my girl Dirt Girls song in your head right now. Possibly one of my favourite kids TV characters out there. I don’t know if you know but in my eyes, getting your kids (and yourselves) to get involved in growing your food is one of THE most IMPORTANT things you can do. EVER. Getting your children to understand where their food comes from is a wonderful thing and helps them to know where healthy foods come from. It’s tragic to hear (from my man Jamie Oliver) how many kids out there don’t know where veggies and fruit come from. Everything is better with veggies that you grow yourselves, the taste, the colours, the texture, the CRUNCH, and when you are presenting it to kids who eat with all their senses, it ticks all the boxes. Not to mention teaching them an array of other qualities like responsibility, patience and environmental consideration. LOVE it.

 

So that being said, here’s this house’s vegetable garden “journey” (gak, I hate that word, sounds like a reality TV show)…..

When we moved into this house (that we have actually lived in before, a long time ago) I was disappointed to see that the veggie garden I had established was now gone and pretty much covered with grass.

Halfway through

Halfway through

I attempted to revive it and grow in it (and failed), and was even called black thumb by my sister (which cut deep guys). So after much discussion and thought, I decided to go upwards and meanwhile kill that awful grass underneath for good.

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It took a few weekends of snatching time when I could, when babies were sleeping, or having outings with sisters or being entertained by daddy, to get the old garden out. I don’t have a before, before but there was a hideous limestone border and grass riddled through the soil. I did a back section too.

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Then I got some cheap big pots from cheap as chips and random small ones from around the place that I already had and started planting. I found the galv raised bed t Big W on sale and filled that one too.

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Mum and dad gave me the lime tree for my birthday this week just gone!

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So we are planted out for winter, and yes this crazy lady has a picture plan of my garden. Mostly because otherwise I forget what was planted when and then go to look back and have no idea. At the moment we have broccoli, leek, carrot, beetroot, spinach, lettuce, brussel sprouts, peas, snow peas and buck-loads of herbs!

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I have artichokes planted along my back fence and am going to plant out some seedlings that I have planted in toilet rolls at the moment.

And what do ya know I’ve got sprouts coming up, and boy is Miss 3 excited about it. Even Miss 1 copies us and bends over the beds and looks at them with us.

Happy days!