Category 13

Recipes For The Apple Harvest

apple

It’s apple season again! Apples eaten in season and fresh are definitely the best for flavour, crunch and vitality. If you have a healthy apple tree at home, you may well be wondering what to do with them all. Never fear, there are lots of ways to use up your apple harvest and preserve the excess.

With an endless choice of varieties that cover almost the entire alphabet, apples can be grown in every state, and are harvested from January to May depending on where you live. If stored carefully you can be eating fresh apples all year round.

Whether you’re lucky enough to have your own apple tree, can snaffle a few boxes of seconds from the markets or wild harvest the trees in your neighbourhood, the apple bonanza is upon us. Here are some ideas from several Australian apple growers to make the most of this year’s harvest.

Food Traditions: Sharing A Love Of Food

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Food traditions are vital in binding us together as families and as communities. From our very first mouthful, food deeply connects us to other humans. It connects us to our parents and grandparents, connects us to our friends, and can connect us to our children in how we share our food knowledge, habits and values with them.

Food expresses our cultural identity and helps define us. In some cultures eating is always a social activity. Sit down at an Arab or Chinese dining table and you will not eat from a single plated dish per person, you will eat from shared, communal platters. Immigrants take their food traditions with them to new countries and cook the food they know as a way to preserve their culture. If you grew up with the smell of Nonna’s slow-cooked sugo wafting through the house, it will have created a bond with your family that will be there for life.

For many of us, food traditions are not part of our social fabric anymore. They have been lost amongst a busy life of full-time work, running a household and trying to navigate a healthy diet. But it’s not too late to resurrect or create a food tradition in your family, household or community, whether it’s a regular Sunday meal with extended family, creating a family cookbook, or one of the more involved food traditions outlined below.

An Unusual Retrofit

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You won’t find many homes in the inner city that have intentionally shrunk to make way for a larger garden, but that’s what happened behind a bright red door in Northcote, Melbourne.

Alistair Tuffnell and Christine Baro live with their cat Peppino in a two bedroom workers’ cottage. When Alistair bought the house twenty years ago, it was rundown, dark and all he could afford in the area. His partner Christine moved in three years later and they had big plans for living off the land.

‘We went to Tassie where we were going to buy a farm, but that didn’t work out,’ says Alistair. ‘So all of the things that we wanted to do down there, we thought, “stuff it, let’s do it here instead.” ’

Grow Your Own Carrots

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The humble carrot may be easy and cheap to buy, but the absolute pleasure of picking a few fresh carrots to crunch on straight from your garden and the taste sensation you will receive are well worth the investment of your time.

With a bit of good planning, it’s possible to have a supply of carrots from your garden nearly year round, and what a food to have on hand—this versatile vegetable is an absolute powerhouse of nutrition. Raw, steamed, baked or juiced, carrots are packed with vitamins any way you eat them. And the humble carrot has a beautiful secret that only carrot growers will get to discover.

Making A Mushroom Garden

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Learning how to grow mushrooms from scratch is a little bit like learning a magic trick. And yet once you have the basic skills and principles sorted out, it’s really very doable.

Cultivating mushrooms is an excellent way to vastly increase both the diversity and the nutrition of your homegrown produce. And conveniently, mushrooms can be grown in disused areas with little light, so they slot into a home food system without competing for the same space as your other growing projects.

Blue oysters, garden giants, enokitake, pink oysters, turkey tail, shiitake, reishi, pioppini—a whole world of mushrooms can be grown down the side of your house, the place where not much else grows, as well as in buckets in the empty space under the porch, under your stairs, or even under your couch. Don’t have much light? Mushrooms don’t mind. If they have a stable temperature to grow in and can be moved to a humid environment to fruit in, they’re happy.

In The Garden: March – June

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March: Brussels sprouts (seedling tray), broad beans, beetroot, broccoli (seedling tray), cabbage (seedling tray), carrot, chives, coriander, daikon, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, pak choy/ bok choy, radish, rocket, shallots (plant bulbs), silverbeet, turnips.

April: Brussels sprouts, broad beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, chives, endive, fennel, garlic (plant cloves), kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, onions, pak choy/bok choy, parsley, peas, radish, rocket, shallots (plant bulbs), silverbeet, spinach, turnip.

May: Broad beans, beetroot, carrot, chives, fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, onions, parsley, peas, radish, shallots (plant bulb), silverbeet, spinach, turnip.

June: Broad beans, garlic (plant cloves), mustard greens, onions, peas, radish.

Save your seeds: Basil

basil

BOTANICAL NAME: Ocimum basilicum, O. gratissimum, O. sanctum and O. canum.

ORIGIN:

There are several species of basil, all of them native to either Africa or Asia.

DESCRIPTION:

There are both perennial and annual basils, and their shape and size range from almost prostrate to mighty bushes two metres high.

CULTIVATION:

Basil is predominantly a warm season plant. In cool climates, plant for summer cropping. Perennial basils thrive after a winter pruning.

Eat your weeds: Oxalis

oxalis

Oxalis is of the Oxalidaceae family which has over 850 different species worldwide, with about 30 species in Australia, seven of these native. A number of species are grown as ornamental plants. Oxalis is from the Greek oksos meaning sour, referring to the taste of the leaves and stems.

A common weed, oxalis is actually part of the sorrel family and is found in most parts of the world, being especially diverse in the tropical areas of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Oxalis originates from the highlands of South America where it has been cultivated since Incan times. The Incas domesticated many of their prized crops from pernicious weed species creating vigorous, low-maintenance vegetables that were able to thrive in adverse conditions.

Permaculture animal: Native Bee

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Mention bees and people invariably think of the European honey bee, Apis mellifera. However, this species is only one of 20 000 species of bees worldwide. Australia is home to about 2000 species of native bees and most of them are very important plant pollinators.

Native bees have a symbiotic relationship with a permaculture garden. Many of permaculture’s non-interventionist techniques support native bee populations. In return they support us by providing valuable pollination services, which help to produce high crop yield and good quality seed.

Permaculture plant: Broad Bean

Broad beans (Vicia faba) are prized as much for their fleshy beans as they are for their potential use as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. This ancient food of early Mediterranean civilisations is still widely cultivated across the world today. Sometimes known as ‘fava beans’ (fava from the Latin word for bean), they’re a popular staple across the Middle East and Africa, and are commonly eaten as a snack across virtually every continent.
Growing

They may not grow to Jack and the Beanstalk proportions, but broad beans are almost as easy to grow as those fabled magic beans. Pop them in a sunny spot come autumn (in temperate regions—they’re not suited to tropical climates) and see them burst forth with vigour, quickly overtaking other plants you’ve mollycoddled through seedling-hood.