The joy of nightshades

Watching things grow is quite the challenge.
The more you watch the slower they seems to change,
When you give them space they appears to grow up over night.
Patience, persistence and perseverance are necessary.

This year is the first “real” vegetable garden we have. By real I mean a garden with various “crops”. And by crops I mean rows of different vegetables. Last year was an experiment to see if I could grow anything, the kale survived and so did the shiso. Which reminds me I haven’t planted the seeds I collected.

Seeing our first eggplant appear on the plant was quite magical. I thought it was a shadow at first it appeared so silently. Now there are two.


Solanum melongena (eggplant/aubergine)


Capsicum annuum (jalapeno)

All the plants seen here are members of the nightshade family, the tomatoes, the eggplants and the peppers. We have jalapenos and green bell peppers.  I didn’t plan this, it just happened. Some people have health issues/intolerance with plants in the nightshade family. Potatoes are under the nightshade umbrella too. I have never had an issue with them.


Solanum lycopersicum (tomatoes)

Cherry tomatoes seen here are starting to ripen up. There are huge numbers awaiting their moments of brightness. Can’t wait to pick some more. Almost enough for a salad.   I read somewhere that if tomatoes are starved of water then they are sweeter? True or not? It has been a hot dry summer and I am trying to keep up with the watering. Time for a nap!


Something has been eating my spinach

Help me find the culprit! I was having such an easy start to having my own vegetable garden. The plants were growing, I was watering daily, I hoed the rows, removed weeds. Life was sweet. Then I noticed that my plants were shrinking. No, they were being eaten. The whole leaves of the spinach plant are being eaten. Very methodically. I am sharing my garden with perhaps a possum? Are they vegetarians? I think I need a net. Not so happy now.
There’s more. I checked my kale plants and the underside of the leaves were covered in a white flying bug. Horror! I checked the internet and decided to blast them with water. I tried that last night. That might work. We shall see. Progress is being made. I am learning to share. That is why I decided to add spinach to my juice. I thought I had better start eating it or else I might miss out. I was waiting for the plant to get a little bigger but plans changed.
I can see weeds in my photo. The joys of closeups. Time for some weeding meditation this evening.

Why Wednesday

The sound of the autumn cicadas fill the air and I know the summer is soon to be over. I am enjoying the sound of the cicadas. Their numbers are manageable. When there are too many it just becomes just a loud constant noise and I cannot hear myself think. Today the cicadas are welcome.

Carrots, cucumber, ginger, silverbeet, parsley, orange, beetroot, red shiso.


Buongiorno Tuesday

Watermelon has all gone. I miss it already. Watermelon masked the bitterness of the green vegetables. Watermelon gave generously in volume and flavour. Today cucumber is the substitute for watermelon. My proportions weren’t right. I came out with far less liquid today. 15cm (6in) of cucumber is better. I had only half that today. Living and learning.

Green shiso, red shiso, parsley, mint, silverbeet, beetroot, orange, carrot, ginger.


Kowiniwini Heritage Potatoes

I bought my first box of heritage potatoes this week. I chose Kowiniwini. Lovely little purple and white striped potatoes morsels. They came in a box and had been prewashed. I did wash them again, and gave them a token scrapping but I didn’t want to remove the lovely colouring.
I chose roasting in olive oil and rosemary, I did pre-boil them before roasting to reduce the roasting time. And wow what amazing little potatoes. They held their shape well, they tasted incredible, just a hint of nuttiness and I loved the size, tiny potatoes.  I got carried away with my roasted vegetables that I didn’t take photos of the cooked results. I added sweet potato, beetroot and carrots.They were gone in an embarrassingly short space of time.
I will be on the lookout for more varieties to buy and then have a look at growing my own.
Here’s to heritage vegetables and long may they prosper!

Koanga Institute is The Permaculture Institute of New Zealand