16 June 2020

Valuable and useless vegetables

We're learning hard lessons lately. The ongoing drought and coronavirus have taught me that to be resilient enough to bounce back time and time again, I need to strengthen my systems, learn as much as I can about what I want to do here and then put in the work to make it all happen. We have recently gone from a very productive vegetable, herb and fruit garden to a much smaller setup of flowers, herbs, fruit and a couple of vegetables. When I work through this season and my new systems start to evolve, those hard lessons might save me in the future.

One of the lessons I stumbled across years ago was to only grow the fruit and vegetables we eat. Even though it's enjoyable and rewarding, gardening is time-consuming and can be difficult at times, even for experienced gardeners. Growing vegetables that look different but are harder to grow isn't worth the extra work when you can get the result you want with something easier.  For instance, a few weeks ago I found a few vines I hadn't planted starting to colonise a large area around one of the roses. I thought it was a cucumber and left it to see if we could use it.  When it started to flower, the flowers were smaller than the cucumbers we usually grow but I let it mature to see what it really was.  This is it below - an African horned cucumber. The seeds were probably dropped in our garden by visiting birds.
Apparently, the skin goes yellow when it's mature and it's FULL of seeds.  It tastes like cucumber but the horns are spikey and there are very fine prickles along the stems.  It's very difficult handling it in the garden so all the vines were pulled out.  Good riddance to bad rubbish. In a few weeks time, when I'm ready to plant cucumbers, I'll choose a delicious apple variety, either Crystal Apple or Richmond Green. Both are well worth growing.

We did use many other fresh vegetables in our meals this week.  We have a newish supermarket close by called Fresh and Save and they have great bargains most weeks.  This week they have many vegetables for $2 each or per kilo, such as red or green cabbage, broccoli, parsnips, mandarins, apples, grapes and pineapples 2 for $2. Last week I got some very fresh zucchinis and leeks there and made this zucchini slice, which was really delicious, even if I do say so myself. 🙄   

I made a big pot of vegetable soup yesterday and that should keep us going for another three days. Made with beef marrow bones, beef, onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, swedes and parsley, this soup is nutritious as well as being a flavour bomb. Having some of these healthy meals in your meal rotation gives you the nutrition you need without having to look for recipes. This soup cost about $15 to make - taking into account the bones, beef and vegetables, the herbs came from the back yard. Not bad - $3.75 for a main meal for both of us.

What are the repeat meals you make in your kitchen that your family love?

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