14 April 2014

Pickled cucumbers from the garden

It's that time of year again when many of us are starting our gardens so we can eat the freshest and tastiest of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Hanno started preparing the soil here on March 3, and over the following weeks, home-sown and bought seedlings started going in slowly. Last week some of last year's garlic was planted along with kohl rabi, turnips, lettuce, kale, Amish paste tomatoes and more ruby chard. Already planted and growing well are green beans, tomatoes, passionfruit, bok choi, peas, silver beet, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflowers, cabbage, capsicums/peppers, Welsh onions, sage, borage, parsley, pumpkin, daikons, thyme and yesterday I repotted an avocado and a bay tree. I wonder what you're planting.

For those of you who emailed asking whether Hanno will continue to do our lawn or will we get someone in to do it, here is your answer. A close up photo would reveal a smiling face. When we discussed it, Hanno said he wanted to continue to look after his own place, and that sealed it for me.

It was raining here yesterday, the remnants of a cyclone up north. That steady, gentle rain makes the plants grow like nothing else can. It feels good knowing the soil is wet and the tanks are full. Most of the hard settling up work is done now, we only have a bed of potatoes to plant and then the follow up plantings whenever there is a vacant spot. Of course there is still the occasional weeding and watering but that's not a chore, I think it's relaxing.

A few tomatoes are growing and we've just added some Amish paste tomatoes for sauce. These are the French tomato Rouge de Marmande.

Ruby chard.

I call this petticoat lettuce, I'm not sure of it's real name. We added a couple of these solar light to the garden when we noticed bandicoot holes in the lawn and a few eaten plants. They did the trick. No more holes.

The chooks were all corralled into the corner of their run when I went out yesterday to take these photos. There is Patrick on the far right, he should be showing the frightened girls what to do but he's still too young and silly.

 And this is why the chooks were scared. A young peacock from over the back fence.  I soon got rid of him.

The last pumpkin left on the vine.

Borage ready to burst into flower.

 There is an abundance of passionfruit.

Sprouting broccoli.

Peppers and daikons.

A bag of last year's garlic, just out of the fridge.

Garlic being planted.

From the vine ...
to the basket ...

to the kitchen ...
 and the fridge.

When you grow your own vegetables you tend to collect recipes for things you didn't make before, such as pickles.  We had so many cucumbers last week, far too many to eat fresh, I decided to pickle some in spicy vinegar. Those I made up yesterday could sit in the fridge for months, although they will probably be eaten much sooner than that. 

You don't need any special equipment and recycled jars will do to store them. Take your clean jars and either boil them or put the jars in a slow oven (150C/300F) for 15 minutes to sterilise them. Keep them all warm until you're ready to pack the cucumbers in the jars. The jars should be warm for that.

I think I used about 12 cucumbers but you can pickle any amount, just adjust the quantity of spiced vinegar you make. The night before, peel and slice all your cucumbers and place in a large bowl. Pour over about a tablespoon of salt. Don't worry, you won't eat the salt. If you don't drawn the fluid from the cucumbers it dilutes the vinegar too much in the jars.  Mix the cucumbers around with your hands, making sure the salt is well distributed, put a clean tea towel over the top of the bowl and leave it overnight. The following morning there will be a lot of fluid in the cucumber bowl. Pour it all into a colander and let the salty water go down the drain. Run clean cold water from the tap over the cucumbers to make sure all the salt is removed. Leave the cucumber in the colander for about an hour to drain. 

You can make your own variation of this spiced vinegar. Depending on whther you like it very vinegary, or sweet, or spicy, add more or less vinegar (make up the volume with water), sugar, spice. Make it to suit your taste. You don't have to include any spices if you don't like them.

This is how I made it:

  • 2 cups good apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds or pickling spice
  • a few peppercorns
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes
Place the above in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves.

To make up the pickles, pack the cucumbers into the sterilised jars and add enough vinegar to cover them. Put on the lid and allow to cool overnight before storing in the fridge.

I hope all my friends up north came through the cyclone with no flooding or other problems. It looks like we'll all be able to dry out a bit today. Take care, everyone.



  1. This sounds delicious! I love most pickled foods (I found myself snacking on pickled sushi ginger today when I was cooking dinner...oops!). Thank you for sharing such great photos from your life, you sure have a lot of lovely projects going, and I love how frugal you are - always finding resources or potential in the space you've got :D I hope you have had a lovely weekend! x

  2. I'll have to make some of those pickles up. We used to can some with a bit of onion and turmeric as well. Named Bread and Butter Pickles.....have no clue why. Since the husband is diabetic, he doesn't eat sweet pickles and I haven't bothered to make them for just myself. I will now!

  3. It's all so luxurious. "An abundance of passionfruit" - when I think of how expensive they are in store - sounds just perfect!

  4. I hope that very soon my vege garden will look like yours!!! We have horrid soil here (think shale upon clay) so we have had an organic gardener helping us. Our NO DIG beds are "cooking down" right now and will soon be ready to plant in (hooray!) We have a large wicking bed and some smaller wicking beds made from old wine barrels now too. Our growing space has tripled I think so our food production will increase too which means less money on groceries and more money off our mortgage.

    1. You're right to concentrate on your soil first, Ellen. Hopefully the no dig beds work well for you. Good luck!

  5. Your garden is looking so great! (and Hanno is looking rightly pleased with his mower :)

  6. Rhonda, we planted a couple of cucumber seeds a couple of weeks ago very late in the e season to see how long they would grow for before the cold kicked in and soon I will have to make some more Bread and Butter cucumbers to use them up. During summer I had Gympie Gold cucumbers growing but they didn't yield as many cucumbers as the usual green cucumbers which actually suited us as we didn't get overrun by them but had enough for our daily salads. It is good to see that Hanno is feeling better.

  7. Question: why are there red planter pots at the top of the posts in your garden? I am assuming it is to deter some type of pest, but I was just curious.

    Laura in Northern CA, USA

  8. I love seeing your garden! And all the lovely produce from it, of course...
    glad Hanno is enjoying his lawn work ;)

  9. Nice to see Hanno on the new ride on....it looks like ours, we are happy with it...

  10. Oh Rhonda.. What a wonderful garden.. I can't wait for our season of fresh veggies.. I want to try your cucumber pickles recipe.. It sounds so good.. We are thinking of planting and you are pickling.. Kind of strange, eh?
    Take care my friend.. xo

  11. I showed my Mister your plants and we were commenting on how different it is in your hemisphere and ours. We are just entering planting season; but, we are planting cold crops right now -- it could snow one more time before May. So, on Good Friday, potatoes go in. Next week, broccoli, cabbage, English peas, and so forth. We are cleaning out our bee hives; the bitter cold this winter left us with just four hives -- down from 15 last summer. It is scary because we all know how our pollination depends on these wonderful little ladies.

    I have to share; my sister was here visiting today and your book was out from where I made laundry detergent. She picked it up and thumbed through it and was quite fascinated! Maybe another convert! LOL

    Have a joyous day!

  12. g'day
    glad hanno is happy to keep doing his own lawn & maintain his own place, i think its important if he still can, to stay active
    selina from kilkivan qld

  13. Hey Hanno! How cool is that ride on lawn mower. :)

    Rhonda I'd be interested to know where you got your solar lights. I -- very foolishly -- bought some el cheapo ones a few years ago and they barely lasted a season.

  14. Wow, what a beautiful garden. I've had quite a few gardens over the years, but none quite a lovely as yours. I'm also wondering about the pots on top of the posts. :)

  15. Oh Rhonda, every time I read your posts about the garden, I want to run outside and plant something. My husband didn't like it too much (because usually there's where it ends, I plant something...), but now a friend gave me an early birthday present: a ready made square foot garden. I'm so happy, and my husband thinks it's great, mostly because it will look neat and organized. So that's my plan for the day: get some seeds started! Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and inspiration.

  16. Thank you for sharing your cucumber pickles recipe. I am trying to get a vege garden going but it is so very hard when your land falls in shade most of the year. Your blog is inspirational.

  17. Such a rich harvest. It looks wonderful. I see you use turmeric in the pickled cucumbers. I love turmeric and use it a lot. It is said to be very healthy. It is great to put in the cooking water with cauliflower, together with curry powder. I love it ; )
    Have a wonderful day, greetings from The Netherlands.

  18. Here in Tasmania our tomato season is coming to an end and I planted 1 Rouge de Marmande which produced 48.4 kilos of fruit which I made sauce, relish and gave away 3 supermarket bags full. I also had 2 sweet bites and 2 moneymakers for salads. Nothing like home grown tomatoes.

  19. Hi Rhonda, A silly question perhaps, but why do you put terracotta pots on the ends of your garden posts? I have tried to google, to no avail. Just curious. xx

  20. Hi Rhonda,
    How long before your grandsons are enjoying "cutting the grass" with Opa? Have fun!
    All the best,

  21. Thank you for pickled cucumber hints. My girls are also frightened at the moment - not a peacock but a large goanna who has been eating our eggs as well. Not sure how to move him!

  22. Pretty garden pics! I think you've got the hang of your new camera :) I have garlic coming up well now outdoors, potatoes planted under a thick layer of straw mulch, spinach, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, and mustard green seeds in barrels waiting for the temperature to warm so they can sprout, and lots of other seedlings started indoors!

    I think the hens will like having a rooster around, provided he's a good one - it seems like a very natural way for them to live and ours seem to enjoy it.

  23. I am coverting your very long growing season, there is no way I could sow what you are at the beginning of the autumn it would all die in the cold. I am only just starting to sow seeds for our spring/summer.

    I always have a glut of cucumbers at the end of our season and pickle some using a very similar recipe.

  24. Hi Rhonda, The lettuce in your photo looks like Oak Leaf Lettuce. Hope this helps


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