April in your edible garden
Wow the colours of autumn are just magical here right now here in Wānaka, I hope they are just as good at yours. I currently still have an abundance of cranberries, autumn raspberries, tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, chillies, leafy greens, beets, fennel, basil, parsley and thyme. All just so good!
April is a busy month in the garden – as we are still harvesting edible goodness as well as starting to prepare for putting the garden to sleep.
In this issue:
- Chillies – time to pick + how to store
- Collecting autumn leaves – a top tip for creating healthy soil
- Tomatoes – a simple solution for the gift that keeps on giving (and giving!)
Chillies - when I moved to Central Otago I didn’t think the climate would be quite right to grow chillies. How wrong was I? They do really well here and are very easy to grow. They are turning from green to red at the moment, look divine and are ready to pick.
I make a variety of yummy dishes, pastes and sauces with chillies when I can. If you are pressed for time simply pick, pop in a snap lock bag and pull out of freezer each time you need one. So handy for delicious chilli dishes over winter and sure beat their poorer out-of-a-packet cousins.
Autumn Leaves – the leaves are turning spectacular colours and starting to fall. Hiatt & Co Top Tip - I love picking a few branches worth of leaves and throwing them into any type of water-tight vessel to use as a display. There is something about bringing autumn inside. Its super quick to throw together if you have friends coming around and perhaps over these autumn months don’t have many flowers in the garden.
Another way to use your excess leaves is to make leaf mould. To do this pile your leaves in a corner of the garden or put into a wooden or wire bin. Pile them up, water and aside from watering again during dry periods let the pile sit for at least six months. Slowly over time the leaves decompose creating leaf mould – a wonderful way to improve soil condition.
You can use anything you have at home to store your leaves in. I make mine from rabbit-proof fencing wire and a cluster of three can double as a sculpture under the trees. Want to learn more? Book one of my May Edible garden consults.
Tomatoes-The wonderful gift that is this amazing tomato season just keeps on giving. I have had a few people ask me for ideas on what to do with so many tomatoes.
Firstly if you have heaps, well done on producing such a healthy edible garden! Secondly if you have the oven on, fill as many oven trays you can with tomatoes, just as they are, add sea salt, pepper and some good extra virgin olive oil and slow roast for a few hours. Easy to whizz up while cooking dinner and pop batches in the freezer.
Remember if you feel overwhelmed this month with heaps in the garden to do, just pick one section or garden bed that you know is achievable with the time you can commit and focus on that.
Until next month,