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The first of the season trombochino, just picked and went into a Green Green Polenta.  The first of the season cherry tomatoes, just picked and into soft boiled egg and tomato on toast for breakfast. The first of the season capsicums – these ones are Hungarian Wax.  I’ve picked the first of them green to go in a breakfast frittata, but they will get sweeter as they mature to yellow.  And the first of the season button squash, not ready yet, but it will only be a few days.

It’s very exciting. The season is changing, as they constantly do, but this spring transformation is always one I look forward to. I still have strawberries and mulberries here, and the first of the blueberries very soon. We’ve been eating paw paws regularly for a few weeks now, and still a few weeks to go.

I’m still picking the last of  the broccolisnow peaspeassilver beet, kalecelerybroad beans and cabbages of various kinds.  There’s heaps of lettuces of several kinds,  lots of rocket, parsley, coriander, and dill, and I’ve just harvested all the  mustard seed for making seeded mustard, and for adding to pickles and curries.  Carrots and  leeks and spring onions and beets are all still in season, along with ginger and turmeric.  And though the wallabies (again!) got most of my asparagus, there’s been enough left for several meals.

But all the winter vegies are now giving way to the summer ones – zucchini  and trombochino ,beans,  tomatoescapsicums, and the cucumbers aren’t too far off. And I keep sneaking a look under the compost at the  new season potatoes.  They’re not quite ready to start bandicooting yet, but it’s not long, and they are such a treat it’s something to look forward to.

I am never very inspired to freeze or bottle fruit or vegetables. But the end of the season for each one, I am always looking forward too much to the next one.

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I have been soooo busy lately, my garden and in season pages are way out of date!! An end to the crazy busy is in sight, and I’m dreaming of a time when I can get a bit more inspired and creative with my blog.  But meanwhile, just so’s the last In Season post is a late winter one, I thought I’d recycle last year’s, with some updates.

We’re eating broccoli and snow peas at just about every meal now, and started harvesting cauliflowers.  We have silver beet and kale coming out our ears. I didn’t plant cabbage this year, as I had so much self-seeded chinese cabbage.  This is the time of year to appreciate all the brassica family.  Not too much longer now and keeping the cabbage moths off them will be too much of an effort. It’s also the time of year to make the most of spinach and silver beet.  Those big green leaves need a lot of water!

The raddicchio are hearting. I realise I haven’t posted any recipes for them – something I’ll have to rectify! The peas and the broad beans are flowering and it won’t be long before I can start picking brussels sprouts.  This is the peak of the season for leafy greens here, so there’s lettuces of several kinds, beautiful crisp green celery,  lots of rocket, and as much of the leafy annual herbs – parsleycorianderdill as we like. Asparagus is just about to start.

Parsnips are fantastic this time of year, and carrots and leeks and spring onions and beets are all still in season.

The citrus season is getting near the end, and the berry season not too far off.  But we still have lots of lemons, the last of the mandarinsnavel oranges,tangelosgrapefruit and the very last of the limes.  Avocados are at the peak of their season round here, with several varieties all harvesting at once. Custard apples are in season, and the strawberries are flowering. We managed to salvage some bananas from the bush turkeys, but it’s probably just cruel to mention them!

Our macadamia nuts have finished but they are still picking them locally so I’m making the most of the last of the season.

So that’s the ingredients I’m basing my cooking around at the moment, and it’s giving me lots of options!
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Time has flown! And I haven’t done an “In Season” post for months. This was first posted in April 2010, and it reminds me how the seasons turn, a familiar cycle that you can look forward to every year, every year a little bit different, every year a lot the same.

Finally there are enough lemons ripe to make chilli jam!  And still plenty of chillies and more coming on.  There’s still lots of limes – I’ve made one batch of hot lime pickle, and I’m hoping to get time to make another batch this weekend, so I have some to give away as well as enough to last us the year.

The rest of the citrus fruits are just beginning to colour.  We’re picking the very first of the early season mandarins and grapefruit and  tangelos.

I had given up on carambolas – a neighbour’s tree was loaded but ours showed no signs of fruiting and I thought it had been too hard a year last year.  But it has surprised me with a late and laden crop. The guavas are ripening and we spend our evenings listening to the flying foxes chattering and screeching in the tree. It has distracted them for the moment from the bananas.

I am picking pecans and macadamias, and almonds and walnuts are also in season.  Fresh nuts are a different thing and I love  pulling out all my nut-based recipes this time of year.

In the garden, there are still plenty of capsicums and eggplants,  and still too many cucumbers, zucchini and squash. We are picking the first of the season’s pumpkins, and they will take over as the glut vegetable in the next couple of months in the lead-up to Halloween (in the southern hemisphere in early May).

This year has been a low year for tomatoes.  Normally I would be making tomato sauce around now, but I planted too many last year, with the result that this year I have too few places to put them where they have not been recently.  So, predictably, I have more than usual diseases and lower than usual yields.  That will teach me.  Still though, we are picking enough for eating if not for bottling.

There is still lots of turmeric and ginger for curries and Middle eastern recipes, and enough lettuce, rocket and amaranth for salads and basil for pesto.

And I am picking and drying bulk beans now for the year’s supply.  The change to up-gardening required me to experiment with substitutes for the standard varieties of beans for drying, which all seem to be dwarf beans rather than climbers.  I have four varieties this year – perennial Madagascar beans that yield large maroon mottled beans perfect for minestrone, blue lake that are great fresh as green beans but also good for drying as small white seeds like cannellini beans, purple king that yield a good substitute for kidney beans, a lighter colour but a similar flavour and texture, and brown seeded snake beans that make a good substitute for azuki beans.  All are so prolific that I can easily grow enough to last the year (with a partner who’s a bean fiend)  in a very small area.

The local Farmers’ Market has new season avocados, apples and pears from the Tablelands (within 100 mile zone). So that’s the produce I’ll be basing my cooking around for the next month.

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We thought it was going to be one of those super bumper years for mangoes, like 2010, when the trees were flowering, but it’s turned into just an average good season. Mangoes  are biennial, and this is the good year, but it has been a bit wet around flowering time to be a huge year.  Still though, we have enough that mangoes have to be one of the two fruit.

The other one is a close contest. We still have  paw paws going strong, though it is getting to the end of their season. Our peaches are finished, but the local farmers market still has them coming from within my 100 mile range, from higher country up on the tablelands, along with nectarines and plums.  Our grapes had a very hard time in the wet last year, and I pruned them back really heavily to get rid of funghus diseases. The result is a smaller than usual crop.  Lychees are ripening, and the pomegranates are just about to ripen, and it’s a really good year for them.  I really love using them. They add a lovely acid sweetness and jewel colour to salads and sauces and baking. I’m picking lots of tamarillos.

But I think number two has to be bananas.  The turkeys still get most of ours, and to make matters worse the geese have decided they like eating the palms. But this is the first real seasonal peak since Yasi.

With vegetables – zucchinis and all their relatives are in glut at this time of year.  I’m specially liking growing tromboncino for the first time.  Eggplants are always difficult for me – flea beetles are one of my troublesome pests –  but they are just coming into season now. I have lots of capsicums coming on, and enough chilis to be thinking about drying and pickling some. We’re eating green beans  just about every day, and the bean jars are starting to fill with shelled dry beans for storing. I’m picking the first of the snake beans now, and we like them so much better than every other kind that the Purple King and Blue Lake will probably all get left to mature now.

I think I’ve got  cucumbers right this year, for a change. Usually I’m scaring friends away with bags of them by now too, but this year I have two or three different varieties bearing at any one time, and a nice amount for eating and gifting.  We eat some kind of cucumber raita or tzatziki most meals.  My ginger and turmeric have been liking the heat and rain, so with them and the chilis, and some coriander and cumin, I have most of the ingredients for curries from scratch.  My tomatoes are doing really well this year.  I’m making pesto from the basil, and I have lots of lemon, lime and Thai basil too. The first of the sweet corn is just about ready, and I’m just digging the last of the spring planting of potatoes.

But the pick of the lot, the five, would be: tomatoes,  basil, beans,  zucchini, and cucumbers.

So this is the harvest around which I base my cooking this time of year.  I’d love to hear what’s harvesting in other places.

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Strawberries are still the star fruit in my garden, but the tussle for number two is hot.  There’s still a paw paw a day most days, and though the fruit fly sting most of our stone fruit, there are enough early peaches and plums on the tree to just share them with the chooks – they like the stung spot with its little grub the best. But I think number two at the moment has to go to blueberries.  My bushes are young but I’m lucky enough to live in a blueberry growing region, and the season is short.

The vegetables in season in my garden have all of a sudden changed.  The cabbage moths and grasshoppers of summer have arrived, ending the long broccoli season and making the silver beet less enticing.  I still have some kale but not for much longer. The broad beans are all finished and it is time to let the asparagus grow out.

But the zucchini  and trombochino have started to really come on in the warm weather. The first round of beans are all bearing and I have three different kinds to choose from. The annual keeping onions and garlic are all in, and I’ve just started to harvest the first of the new season potatoes, which are a real treat.  We don’t treat potatoes as a staple in our household, partly because neither of us do enough of anything really physically demanding enough to use that many carbohydrates every day, but mostly because after fresh, new season potatoes, stored ones are so uninspiring.  And I’m starting to pick tomatoes every day, just the Principe Borghese,  Roma, and yellow cherry yet but I’m watching the Brandyvine ripen by the day.

So that’s my late November 2 and 5. I’d love to hear what yours are.

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The easy way, they all say, is two fruit and five veg a day. It fits the Witches Kitchen definition of good food.  If you eat mostly fresh, local, in season produce, the rest isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference, to your health, the planet’s health, or your wallet’s health.

My 2 and 5 change every day, but I thought I might try to pick favourites for the week.  The things that are really at the peak of their season.

The two fruit this week are strawberries and pawpaw. Neither of them travel too well, so I’m having them as a smoothie for breakfast, as fruit salad, in porridge, and as a slice and in baking.  There’s still a few citrus around, but they’re on the way out, and there’s early stonefruit just starting – we ate the very first of the plums this week. We have lots of tamarillos pretty well year round, and bananas when I can stop the turkeys from getting them. But strawberries and pawpaws are the ones to take advantage of while they’re on.

The five veg this week are:

Broad beans – I picked the very last of them this week. It’s been a good season for them this year.

Asparagus – they only have a short season, and this is the peak of it.

Broccoli – I keep expecting the cabbage moths to arrive, but they haven’t yet, so I am still harvesting broccoli every day.  It is always a good crop, bearing heavily for a long time. But not for much longer now, so I’m making the most of it.

Zucchini – I’m picking the first of the new season’s zucchini already.  I know that within a few months I’ll be over them, but right now it’s very exciting.

Kale – It was a tussle for number 5.  Kale won because, like all the brassicas, (cabbage, caulis, broccoli, kohl rabi) it will be all over once the cabbage moths arrive – not worth the effort to protect in the home garden, expensive to buy organic, and the supermarket stuff will all be heavily sprayed.  I only have a few kale recipes up but that’s not a true picture. We eat some version of greens as themselves as a main or side dish  several times a week. Kale is great simply braised with a little butter and garlic, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I add it to every stir fry, soup or frittata.  And it’s a super food, a fantastic source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-cancer glucosinolates.

So that’s my 2 and 5 this week.  I know it will be exactly opposite in the northern hemisphere, more like my May list, but I’d love to hear whether it’s very different in other parts of the southern hemisphere.

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Aren’t they gorgeous?  These are the strawberries in the new patch.  It really does make a huge difference to the yield to replant strawberry runners in a new patch, with fresh compost and lots of mulch.  These are the plants I potted up in midsummer, in their the first year of bearing in a new, sheet composted bed.

It’s so good to have strawberries, after months of citrus and custard apples.  I do love the winter fruit but the change of season is so exciting.  We have the last of the citrus but the first of the berries (strawberries and mulberries here, and blueberries very soon) and the very first of the season’s papaya.

The season hasn’t quite changed yet for vegetables though.  I’m still picking lots of  broccoli, snow peas, peas, silver beet, spinach, kale, celerybroad beans and cabbages of various kinds.  We’re eating cauliflowers and finally the brussels sprouts. There’s plenty of lettuces of several kinds,  lots of rocket, and as much of the leafy annual herbs – parsleycorianderdill as we like, all strarting to go to seed though, so soon I’ll be harvesting coriander, dill and celery seed for the spice rack.  I’m also harvesting mustard seed for making seeded mustard, and for adding to pickles and curries.  Carrots and leeks and spring onions andbeets are all still in season.

The only vegetable that is really new is asparagus, and it isn’t around for very long so I make the most of it.

So that’s the produce I’m basing my cooking around at the moment.

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A neighbour is killing a couple of their free range male ducks today, and putting on a duck stone casserole dinner.  Stone casserole is another version of Stone Soup, and when I went looking for the link I realised that it is a way we often get together – a great way to have a low stress dinner party. My post about Stone Soup was at the Autumn Equinox, and here it is, the Spring Equinox.

The day and the night are equal length now, and we are heading into the long hot days of summer.  It’s a good reminder to think about mulch, water, and bushfire readiness.

I’m taking a basket of in season vegetables – silver beet, kale, peas, broccoli, and celery –  along with some lemon thyme and a loaf of sourdough.  And a bottle of red wine.  I have heard talk of a lemon meringue pie.  A couple of people are likely to bring a guitar. This is the life!

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We’re eating broccoli and snow peas at just about every meal now, and just about to start harvesting cauliflowers.  We have silver beet and kale coming out our ears  and as much cabbage of various kinds as we can eat.  This is the time of year to appreciate all the brassica family.  Not too much longer now and keeping the cabbage moths off them will be too much of an effort. It’s also the time of year to make the most of spinach and silver beet.  Those big green leaves need a lot of water!

The raddicchio are hearting. The peas and the broad beans are flowering and it won’t be long before I can start picking brussels sprouts.  This is the peak of the season for leafy greens here, so there’s lettuces of several kinds, beautiful crisp green celery,  lots of rocket, and as much of the leafy annual herbs – parsley, coriander, dill as we like.

Parsnips and carrots and leeks and spring onions andbeets are all still in season.

The citrus season is getting near the end, and the berry season not too far off.  But we still have lots of lemons, the last of the mandarins, navel oranges,tangelosgrapefruit and the very last of the limes.  Avocados are at the peak of their season round here, with several varieties all harvesting at once. Custard apples are in season, and the strawberries are flowering. We managed to salvage some bananas from the bush turkeys, but it’s probably just cruel to mention them!

Our macadamia nuts have finished but they are still picking them locally so I’m making the most of the last of the season.

So that’s the ingredients I’m basing my cooking around at the moment, and it’s giving me lots of options!
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