January is like a pause month. The energy is different because the hectic rushing around before Christmas is over. School hasn’t started yet. I can slow down a bit and catch my breath before school begins. January saw me travelling and enjoying the slower summer pace.
I didn’t do much in the patch this month. It was a month of observation and day dreaming for me. I gathered from what was already there. Sometimes I get carried away with wanting to plant all these new seedlings without stopping to appreciate what is already growing in my patch!
On a warm day, I can pick a mint leaf, rub it together between my fingers, smell that minty freshness and feel alert again.
It is easy to grow. Mine grows in pots, in a shady area of the patch. It is grown in pots because it can be invasive and spread. Even in a pot, mint’s stems can find its way to the ground. It would make a good ground cover if you were willing to have mint everywhere!
At one point we had chocolate mint growing in a small area where there was grass previously. We then put turf in this area for the kids. The chocolate mint was no longer. However, I am re-looking at this area and considering the mint ground cover again.
I have also noticed that when mint is in pots does like a drink especially on a hot day. Like any plant in a pot, I guess! When it has been in the ground it tends to be lower maintenance.
This month, Mint featured in my watermelon smoothies and iced tea. A handful of mint leaves adds a refreshing taste – perfect on a warm summer’s day.
Chilli and Garlic
In my front garden, I have a chilli bush that was nicknamed ‘The Ring of Fire”. Not because this is what the chilli is called but because it it being grown in an old ceramic toilet. 🙂
My first harvest of garlic ever was towards the end of last year. I have this garlic hanging up ready to use. Now that I know how easy it is to grow garlic, come March I will be getting ready to plant garlic. I planted mine in a pot to help with any waterlogged soil issues. Garlic bulbs will rot in waterlogged soil.
A favourite salad dressing of mine is Asian inspired. I could use my home grown chillies and garlic – yay!
To a jar, add:
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
- 2 mild chillies (de-seed if they are really hot chillies – actually if they pack a heat punch, just add one!)
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Juice of two limes, can also use lemons
- 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons of water
Pop the lid on and shake that jar up! Taste it – you may need to add more of any of the above ingredients to suit your tastebuds. For me the above amounts are perfect.
I will drizzle this over a big bowl of chopped carrot, snowpeas, cucumber and red capsicum.
Another herb that grows in a pot happily until I’m ready to use it. It is growing in a pot because patches of lemongrass used to grow in the back part of my yard. It started to take over. The clumps were growing larger and larger. The leaves can be sharp when you brush against the plant. Having the kids play and run in that area made me decided to pull it out of that area and grow lemongrass in a pot.
If I were to grow lemongrass in the ground again, I would plant it in an area that it could grow wild in.
Lemongrass is simple to propagate. Just stick the end of stalk in a jar of water. Wait a while and watch as the magic happens. It will grow roots that curl around the bottom of the jar. When you have roots, you can plant into a pot or the ground. It will die back in cooler weather but as soon as it gets warm again, it will take off.
Lemongrass makes a refreshing tea. I first had Lemongrass and Ginger tea at a Thai restaurant. Just add lemongrass leaves, slices of ginger to a teapot. Fill with hot water. The flavour of the ginger will get stronger the longer the tea brews. It becomes quite spicy. If you don’t want this to happen, then remove the ginger after a few minutes.
If you follow veggie patch ramblings, then you know that Ceylon Spinach is my fall back green. I always have it in my garden. It can be too mucilaginous (AKA slimy) for me to eat raw. Cooked however, is a different story. I like adding it to stir fries. I started making my own ricotta cheese a few months back. I like adding chopped Ceylon spinach to the ricotta. Add this to the top of giant mushrooms and bake for 30 minutes.
The kids like using the berries as a purple dye in their outdoor play. They smoosh the berries between their fingers and use the juice as dye. It does come out in the bath!
Recently I tried using this dye on canvas. We were having a craft afternoon and doing various projects. It did produce purple when first applied to the canvas but the next day had turned brown. My daughter said it looked earthy.
Ceylon Spinach is easy to grow. So easy that it can take over. I’m looking at growing it on a trellis in other part of my garden to keep it under control. I will just lift a bit of ceylon spinach that already has roots and transplant it to where I’d like it to grow.
Cranberry Hibiscus cuttings
I got some cranberry hibiscus cuttings from a recent visit to Epicurious Garden. I spent a morning propagating these. I wasn’t too sure if they would be OK as they did have a trip back from Brisbane. But as I cut the stems, they looked healthy and alive enough. I popped hormone powder on the ends of the stems. In they went into the waiting pots. Almost three weeks later, so far, so good. I’m looking forward to these growing into little plants so I can use them as a pretty edible landscape plant.
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WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR JANUARY HAPPENINGS IN YOUR VEGGIE PATCH? WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW! PLEASE LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
Interesting in learning more about Cranberry Hibiscus? Then check out Green Harvest’s Growing Guide.