In October, a friend gave me six vegetable seedlings. She described them as a cross between a Pea and a Bean, a heritage vegetable brought to New Zealand by Dalmatian people who settled in this country more than 100 years ago.
The seedlings have flourished and are growing skywards on the bean frame next to my scarlet runner beans. We pick young Peans and enjoy eating them raw. It is hard to say whether the Pean is a cross or whether it is a distinctive vegetable in its own right. I’ll let some pods grow large and see what eventuates.
As is the way in summer, we now have a proliferation of beans. Tired and hot at the end of a busy week, I had no idea what dish I might create as I picked the green, butter and runner beans, Peans and green chilli for dinner tonight.
However, a recipe evolved and Friday night dinner happened for three adults, and three grandkids who must have sausages and sauce. Kids and vegetables – that is another story.
Slice 1 onion and saute in olive oil until soft
Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 green chilli finely chopped
Slice 1 red pepper (normally I would char-grill beforehand and peel) and saute with the onion
Add 1 450g tin of chopped tomatoes. Stir and simmer.
Top and tail and cut the beans and Peans. Add to tomato mixture.
Simmer gently until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
Season to taste.
I added some leftover black Kalamata olives that had been marinated in a chilli and red capsicum dressing and then served this dish with crusty ciabatta bread.
As an after thought – I could have added some crumbled feta cheese. But – next time.
The Pean has earned its place in my vegetable garden and kitchen.
Gardening 101. Do not, do not turn your back on the summer garden plot. Himself and I took a five-day break and the veggies threw a party.
Cos lettuces bolted to seed. Cucumber had a marrow growing competition with the zucchini. Pineapple sage bush transformed into a monster. Runner beans did a vertical sprint. Vine ripened tomatoes got saucy. Yellow quinces just wanted to carpet the grass. And the chooks fell in love with the red juicy tomatoes and grubbing among the green herbs.
Vine ripened tomatoes
Chickens have taken to eating tomatoes
Cos lettuce go to seed
Lebanese cucumber oversized
This cook has the last say. Olive oil, oregano, black pepper and roast slowly in the oven for about one hour. Slip the skins off when cooled. Use as required. I freeze the pulp in meal lots to use with pasta dishes at a later time.
Early this morning I went for a walk. The cat stopped following me once I left the sanctuary of the garden and sat down to sun himself by the gate until my return. The chickens gave up following me in disgust because I had no food bucket. A rabbit crouching in the long grass and I startled each other. A white tail bobbed off at speed under the trees. A bird, hidden high in the branches, made its presence heard. Further along the path, a loud squawk was accompanied by a flapping of wings as a beautifully coloured cock pheasant took flight (or fright) from under the ferns.
No animal life stirred in the stream as the sun gave life to the day and as its fingers of light reached through the trees. Eels have retreated deep into their watery stream bed to dream of their long swim through the rivers to the coast and of their arduous journey to the spawning grounds in the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean. The trees yawn and stretch their limbs and preen themselves in nature’s mirror, readying for another day.
My humble stream moment makes me think of poems by two esteemed and eloquent New Zealand poets
Coping with the heat and humidity. That is what I am doing.
Earlier this evening, cold drink in hand, I kept company with Dr. Kay Scarpetta as I turned the pages of crime author Patricia Cornwell’s latest novel, Depraved Heart. At page 256, I stop reading. There is no more ice in my freezer and no more chilled drink in my fridge. That puts an end to that.
Time to venture outside to say goodnight to my garden, to give the plants a cool drink. It is pleasant during the stillness of the twilight hours. The first star makes its appearance, there is the occasional bird twitter as they settle in the trees and the shadows deepen as the dark cloak of the night descends over the land. After shutting the hens in their coop, I set the possum traps. These creatures of the night will soon stir from their daytime slumbers intent on foraging and ravaging my fruit.
Still the humidity persists. Feeling listless, I check out the online International Scrabble Club and play a couple of games, check out Facebook and am now writing this daily prompt. It may be a late night.
It is that time of the year again when the branches of theLuisa plum tree hang low, heavily loaded with large, luscious, blushing yellow-fleshed fruit, best eaten fresh from the tree. Kids love to pick and snack on the juicy sweet fruit. And so do possums. These pest animals are picky eaters of the ripest part of the fruit.
In previous posts I mentioned how possums are a pest animal in New Zealand. They roam and forage during the night ravage a range of native forest species as well as bird eggs and chicks. Home gardens and orchards are not immune.
Possum control is ongoing. For safety reasons, we neither lay poison nor night shoot with a spotlight. We set Timms traps which kill a single possum at a time. Before I bait a trap with cinnamon-dusted apple, I put the cats inside and shut the hens in their coop while the traps are set. Doggy neighbours have an friendly woofy role in our life. Dog ownership has expenses and responsibilities that we choose not to take up even though we know the presence of a dog acts as a pest deterrent.
Our older son had a flourishing orchard until his dog Rosy became ill early in 2015. She hated possums and took her guard duty seriously at night and was quite the goofy family pet by day. Unimpeded after Rosy’s death, possums stripped many mature fruit trees bare of leaves and fruit buds. A heritage peach tree later died. Since late last year, son’s new two-year old dog, Chief, has been quick to pick up Rosy’s mantle of Pest Control Officer and is guarding ‘his’ orchard with success. Most of the fruit trees are showing signs of recovery.
Picking and preserving under-ripe plums is at the top of my To Do list.
Who does not know and love this poem, I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud penned by William Wordsworth? It is a poem that has never been far from my mind. I came across some photos while decluttering stuff that has piled up over the years, photos taken on our trip to the Lakes District during the English summer months a few years ago. Decluttering can wait. This pleasant memory demands attention. As a gardener, I identify with the natural landscape features, the floral and starry elements and I feel the poet’s delight at the scene before him.
There were no daffodils dancing in a springtime breeze for us the day we visited Wordsworth’s garden and cottage. Up the garden steps built by the poet himself and I went. From our vantage point while sitting on the garden bench, we gazed at the village and lake nestled among the hills and for a while as travellers do, rested and refreshed, delighted by what we saw.
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:-
A Poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
Today, as I showed a friend round my garden, we stopped by the self-sown pumpkin plants that have scrambled freely over a sunny spot. It was a visual delight as bumblebees, two to three at a time, crawled deep into the throats of the pollen-rich golden yellow flowers. Bumblebees flitted from flower to flower in their continual quest for nectar. Each precious insect played its essential ecological role for our benefit. Such hard-workers. I like these furry foragers, working in my garden. They are very welcome.
Two to three bumblebees getting pollen
Bumblebees pollinate pumpkin plants
In January 2007. I got lost in thought about the value of the beneficial insects. Years ago, Himself and I cleared a rambling Buddleia (B.davidii), an invasive pest plant, from our roadside boundary. Unfortunately, we disturbed a large colony of bumblebees nesting in the ground among the sprawling tangled root system. Beautiful bumblebees by the hundreds flew into the air as the tractor pulled the enormous trunk from the ground.
The prolific Buddleia flowers were obviously a great food source of pollen proteins and sugary nectar. The bumblebees were kind to us that day when in our ignorance we wrecked their nest. Quite a different story though when we’ve encountered and dealt to aggressive wasps in their nests.
I appreciate how various beneficial insects pollinate edible plants. Like the pumpkin blooms, the courgette, the cucumber and the watermelon flowers also seem to be attracting the bumblebees.