Does anyone know what plant this is?

mystery-plant-bed

Can anyone identify this plant which is about 30 cm high and has small yellow flowers?

It’s living in our vegetable beds. Matt thinks it may be a companion plant. It doesn’t look like what I planted there – eggplant, pumpkin, leek, rockmelon or watermelon!?! So I’m not sure what it is.

 

What is a bouquet garni?

peppermint-leaves

A bouquet garni is a french cooking technique for a bundle of herbs tied together with string. It adds flavour and aroma to a dish.

Cooking School Provence says:

A bouquet garni should include a minimum of three herbs or aromatic vegetables, but you can use as many as you like. Add bouquet garnis to stews, roasts and pot roasts at the end of the preparation stage, just before the main cooking starts. Remove and discard the bouquet garni before serving.

There are three main steps to preparing a bouquet garni:

  1. Select a good base with a 4 to 7 cm segment of either celery, fennel or a leek leaf. Alternatively you can use a small square of muslin cloth. 
  2. Add herbs to the bundle. 
  3. Wrap the herbs up in the base and tie up the bundle with a piece of kitchen string. Le Cordon Bleu recommends you “leave a long tail to the string for easy removal”. Some chefs tie the bundle to the pan handle.

Variations

  • classic base: parsley and a bay leaf or thyme
  • meat dish: add celery and rosemary
  • chicken or pork dish: celery, rosemary with tarragon or sage
  • fish dish: fennel, thyme, dill and a bay leaf

Multimedia

Book review: What Katie Ate

what-katie-ate

What Katie Ate is a visually stunning cookbook. The majority of the recipes have a full page colour photograph, along with first class retro styling.

We cooked two recipes – Barbecued ginger ale pork ribs and Sheila’s retro beef curry (circa 1974) – both packed with flavour. You may be tempted by pulled pork sandwich with apple cider slaw, Beef and Guinness Pie, rhubarb franigpane tart, mini raspberry and chocolate meringue kisses.

what-katie-ate-sliders

The book covers a good selection of recipes, including breakfasts, lunches, salads, canapes and drinks, dinners, sides and sauces, and desserts.

The only downside is that the typewriter font (Trixie) is hard to read.

what-katie-ate-pie

What Katie Ate – buy on Amazon.com
What Katie Ate – buy on Fishpond.com.au
– by Katie Quinn Davies

Gardening charts for Australia

To get motivated and organised in the vegetable patch it helps to have gardening charts. Start your new year off with good intentions and hopefully you will be blessed with an abundance of yummy fresh organic produce.

 

The Diggers Club Sow What When poster – This full colour poster displays over 60 commonly grown vegetables and herbs, including instructions for whether to sow into trays or direct in the ground, which months to sow, spacing between plants and in the row, growing days to harvest. Cool, warm and hot climate zones are covered with additional heat and cold zone maps helping you determine your exact growing area. In addition perhaps the most useful and unique cross reference information relates to the distinction of soil temperature. 59cm x 43cm. $15 for the public, $12 for members from The Diggers Club. Also available as $20 rolled or $9.50 folded from Green Harvest.

 

Sow When poster – This chart will help you with sowing times, sowing method and seed depth for flowers, vegetables and herbs for cold, temperate, subtropical and tropical categories. 450 x 610 mm; $15 rolled in poster tube from Green Harvest.

 

Companion Planting poster – Cross reference chart to 75 of the most common herbs, vegetables and flowers, showing beneficial and antagonistic companions and also a list of insect-repellent herbs. 450 x 610 mm; $15 rolled in poster tube from Green Harvest. Also available from The Diggers Club.

Companion Planting chart (IDEP) is based on permaculture principles and produced by IDEP Foundation, a non-profit non-government organisation in Indonesia. It includes some natural insect repellant tips. Free A3 poster on companion planting [PDF 350KB]
Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Planting Chart – provides month-by-month suggestions for growing an extensive range of seasonal vegetables across hot, temperate and cooler climates. This A1 poster is beautifully illustrated in the style of the Kitchen Garden Companion book. $20
Moon Planting Cycle Calender – A perpetual guide to vegetable gardening by the Moon cycles. At the start of each month, align the new moon symbol on the moving disc with the date of the new moon for that month (just find this date in the newspaper or a website or diary). Then simply check the recommended activities for each day of the month – soil preparation times, ideal sowing or transplanting times, and fertilising times. Also includes companion planting tips. A4-size laminated cardboard. $12.50 direct from Moon Calendar. Also available from The Diggers Club.

Have I missed any garden charts for Australia?

Pest detective

Bugs

We have black and orange spotted bugs that have gathered in great numbers on our squash and pumpkin patch. They tend to congregate in the shade of a leaf, with three sets of differing gangs. I couldn’t tell if they were doing any damage although the plants there are struggling to produce any vegetables.

I decided to purchase the pest bible “What Garden Pest or Disease is that?” This comprehensive tome covers both organic and chemical solutions to most garden problems. As I flicked through the pages trying to find our bug, the full colour illustrations made me squeamish and unconsciously itchy.

“I think it’s an orchid beetle,” I said.

“If it’s an orchid beetle, what’s it doing on the squash?” Big M replied.

“I dunno. It’s the closest one.”

“You might have discovered a new insect. You’ll be able to get it named after you!”

“There’s already a moth in my surname.” I frowned. (An ugly brown bagworm moth).

“Yeah, but not a beetle.”

In the end I decided that perhaps they were just baby stink bugs? They were easy to remove – just hold a bottle half full of water underneath one and tap. They drop in. Although the bigger ones are a little more cluey and climb on top of each other. With a sharp tap they drop in, and with just a few swishes of the bottle and they drown quickly. I lost count of how many there were.

Update: I’ve moved to using a bucket half filled with water to remove the bugs and it still works no problems. Still a few stragglers I’ll have to get on the weekend. Kenny from Veggie Gardening Tips has confirmed them to be ‘squash bugs’.