the colourful season

radishes

beetrootrosemary chilli

So many good things are in season at the moment-summer really is the season of colourful plenty.

Delivered vegetable boxes are colourful and full of things that challenge my culinary skills, (yes, that still includes beetroot…)

My window boxes are cheery, and garden growings include an abundance of chilli this year. My teeny tiny potted garden is happy to grow chilli, and I’m happy that it’s happy to do that! The rosemary is also happy, which really does make a difference to a pan of roasting potatoes. (Also makes a well scented haven for any critters that decide to take up residence.)

Tomatoes, look I still get ambitious but they really don’t work for me in pots. Needs a whole lot more sun than I can offer them and when they finally do decide to give it a crack, some overly confident grub usually marches in at the crucial moment.

Some other seasonal goodies to look out for at this time

* plums, peaches, passionfruit

* broccoli, basil, beans

*potatoes, peas and onions

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Where ever you are, what are you enjoying this season?

flowers

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just how hot is hot?

I did a post at the end of summer on my tiny gas metre box garden. Nothing flash. Just a few pots of greenery that keep me centred. The chilli plants happily flowered and grew, they even got through the Noah’s Ark of winter rain thrown at them. Then they turned red, actually they are still turning red. Slowly changing from subtle green, to come on- I dare you red.

Now when I planted these little fella’s I wanted something a little feisty. The packet said hot, actually it said piccante. It was an Italian heirloom variety. So anything labelled piccante, and I have high hopes.

Not gaspingly, oh for the love of god, find me a river and submerge my firey mouth.

 But, hey…Oooo, yep, that’s a bit hot right there.

Something like that anyway.

So they have been turning red, and I’ve slowly been collecting them on my kitchen window sill. A little fiery red mountain growing. Each day I wonder, just how hot they are.

these look like a completely different variety, but I'm sure they came out of the same packet.

Blueberries are also flowering. Last season there was just a tiny handful of flowers that seemed to take six months to actually develop the fruit. This year with quadruple the flowers, I’m hoping the fruiting doesn’t take quite so long.

Rosemary is also happy. I just have to remember not to remember it. It’s never happy when I give it too much love and attention. Neglect, and the odd whisper of I’m still watching you, and it seems to thrive.

There are some other pots as well that look empty, but have sleeping seeds in them. What’s in there though and I wouldn’t have a clue. I planted them one evening and then got rushed inside. Distracted for the next few days, I never quite made it back out to write what I had planted and where. So now, wouldn’t have a clue what was in there.

Never mind, who doesn’t like surprises….especially the plant kind.

Now, speaking of surprises, I think it might be time to find out just how hot that chilli really is…

Just how hot is hot?

a tiny gas meter box garden

This, to many people with lovely edible gardens, back yards, ample sun, and green fingers will probably not be the post for you. This is a story of a couple of happy pots that despite their partial sunny aspect, and unlikely sitting position (on top of a gas meter box) are surviving.

When we first moved here, I was desperate for some greenery. I spent quite a bit of money on containers, seedlings, soil, potting mix, mulch, and hangers to go off the fence. The Monkeys and I trawled the streets looking for more containers we could grow things in. Carting them back home with high hopes of a sea of green down the side of our flat. Time went by, and I did grow things. I tried to companion plant, I looked up seasonal planting guides and tried to make smart choices with what I chose to grow. Some things grew, some things were eaten to stumps by usually slimy creatures of one kind or another. I looked up natural ways to get rid of pests. I went out at night with a torch to protect my little patch of green. I would check on these same pots as soon as I woke, looking anxiously out my window to see if they had survived the night.

Unfurl yourself slithery beast from those delicate green tendrils. Begone, and never darken my gas meter box again!

Time went by and I had got to the point where I was putting more and more money into my poor little pots. I was getting nothing back in return except for disappointment and frustration. Getting the right levels of acidity, sunlight, depth of potting mix was getting too tricky. Edible gardens in pots was just too hard for me with the partial sun aspect and resources that I had.

I gave up.

I planted flowers. Flowers that would hopefully attract bees. Maybe that would be something, a tiny something I could do.

Time went by and the pots slowly called to me again. I really wanted to grow something on that darn gas meter box and falling down paling fence. I didn’t have an acre, or a backyard. All I had was a bricked sideway apartment block.

I thought I would try with just one pot. Don’t worry about the rest of the pots sitting stacked up. Just focus on the one.

Rosemary. I popped in some worm castings, gave it some daily whispered love to its green stems… and bless my Birkenstocks if it didn’t grow!

It is growing, still growing. I tentatively added a blueberry, and it still survives. My dad gave me some mint. Despite being eaten to green stumps by minute caterpillars, it’s still with me too. (I went out and plucked the caterpillars off twice a day until there was none left.)

Mama, why are you throwing the caterpillar towards the road?

It needs to go for a WALK!

I got optimistic and planted some Italian chilli seeds, within a week green shoots were coming up. Big green leaves…hmm, I might not have the greenest thumb around but unless I’m wrong, Italians don’t grow chilli in the shape of cucumber leaves. (Presuming that’s what it is)

I also had a geranium in a fence container, two capsicums sprung up as a surprise package and seemed to suck out all of the life of the geranium while it looked pretty good. They then battled for top dog, couldn’t decide who was going to be boss so it seems they both have given up and are now looking a little exhausted from the whole ordeal and worse for wear. Never mind, I can console myself with my little patch of greenery to the right.

My little green gas meter box garden.

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* If anyone can answer a couple of my ‘I’m not so sure’ questions, I would be very thankful.

1/ What should I do with my chilli/ cucumber plants? Should I haul one out? Which one? (Given, that it’s a miracle they both look happy, and I’m a little nervous about moving either while they look so…alive.)

2/ Is it really a cucumber? Zucchini…god forbid in that tiny pot, pumpkin?

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Some people love chilli and some people hate it. Some people start sweating profusely and some just get a little light glow when they eat it. Most of the time I really enjoy it. It can enhance a meal, and take it to another level. Or it can also blow my socks off, make my eyes water like two taps, and make it impossible to converse with. As the subject at hand is only… dear god, how am I going to get through this meal! (Like a recent situation at a mexican restaurant with friends.)

My new favourite chilli sauce is a Louisiana Hot Sauce that my brother gave me. Damn, it’s good. I’m rationing it out as I don’t want it to end. It’s a little sweet, a little peppery, a little hot and a whole lot of tasty. Turns every meal that I’ve put it on into a mmmmm meal.

The recent Mexican meal certainly wasn’t the hottest I have eaten. That particular chilli was a sambal eaten in Sabah, Malaysia. A tiny little family run hole in the wall in the jungle. It looked hot, you could see it was hot. It sat in the middle of the table taunting fellow diners with its fiery temptation. I liked hot, I’d built myself up for this…I could do it. I was also not stupid, I knew that there was a small dish for a reason. Small dish means take a small amount. So I did. You could not have got a smaller amount of sambal on my tongue. It was minuscule, a pin head size. I took it straight, I wasn’t scared….So. Hot. So. Darn. Hot. My eyeballs shot out. My tongue was instantly numb. My hand reached for the glass of water. Then the jug. I’m not sure what I ate for the rest of the meal as my tongue was still lying in a comatose state against the side of my mouth. With taste buds stripped. I straightened myself up and continued on with the enjoyable meal with my companions. Hey, you should really try the chilli…

Sweet Chilli Sauce

200gms long green chillies

8 small red chillies

2.5cm long knob of ginger

7 cloves garlic

2.5 cups white vinegar

2.5 cups sugar

3 tps salt

Blitz the the chilli, ginger, garlic in what ever you have at home. A couple of seconds is all it needs. Pop it in to a pan, cook off for a minute, then add vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir, and keep it at a rolling boil until it thickens a little (30-40 mins.)

Now this little number is a bit hot, but not crazy hot and it still has flavour. After seeing a demonstration by Sally Wise at the Taste Festival and seeing how quickly she pulled this together, I was inspired. I’ll never, ever buy sweet chilli sauce again. There is absolutely no need. Whack a bottle of this in the fridge and it will keep for ages. Now if you don’t like it so hot. Simply take the seeds out of the chilli or at least some of them, (I didn’t though for this batch) as the heat is in the seeds.

Now go make something delicious to serve it with.