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Let me take a break from bringing you recipes from my garden, to tell you about a neat way to grow plants when you have very little outdoor space. I recently came across this post and I was hooked.

I live in a town house and have a very tiny garden. While I have plants from summer taking up most of that space I need to start seeds to harvest lettuce and other greens in the coming months. With inspiration from the  Gardening Services Auckland site, I made my hanging wall garden with gutter planters.

Here is a step by step of how I put it together.

Buy a length or two of gutter or as they call it in NZ, spout. I bought the lightest in the store which was made from aluminum and it came in 10‘lengths. Depending on how many pieces you are going to cut it, buy that many pairs of end caps to seal the sides.

Take a vehicle that will fit the gutter as they don’t cut metal in the home improvement store. Luckily I was helped by a gentleman in the parking lot. I was trying to fit the gutter in my small car but it was sticking out on both ends by more than a foot. He came over and offered to help me and asked me to put the back seat down so one end of the gutter could be fit into the trunk of the car. I told him Oh! no my back seat doesn’t go down, because I only had the car for nine years and that had never happened before. He very sweetly asked if he could show me how it was done. In one click he pressed a button which I swear wasn’t there before and down went my back seat and in went the gutter!

Anyways…

I cut the gutter into 2’lengths.  As you can tell by now other than wanting to create a hanging wall garden I had no plans on how to go about it. Everything I did was on the fly. I drilled holes for drainage and a couple more at the end to run a wire through to hang from my fence. I had plastic glitter wire from a past craft project which I ran through the outermost holes and hung the gutter by looping it through a lattice trim on my fence.      

                                                   

Then this happened. The trench did not stay up to be able to hold soil.

Luckily the front top part of the gutter [this is the first I am getting up close and personal with a gutter] actually has a lip which is folded over creating a gap. I threaded some wire through this and pulled the gutter and lifted it and tied the wire to the top of the fence. This also gave some central support to the system.

I fit the end caps, Voila! a nice hanging trench. 

I laid an inch or so of mulch to cover the drainage hole instead of the standard rocks as it might make the whole contraption too heavy. Then I filled it with soil and voila a soil bed is ready. 

I am also planning to grow my winter greens in these planters, at least some of them till my garden patch becomes available. I still have a patch of Okra, another patch of basil, peppers and roselle [gongura] and another patch where I am supporting one cucumber plant on several tomato plants! Once I pick the last of my cukes and the okra are pulled out I’ll be able to grow lettuce in those patches. In the meantime the seedlings will be getting ready in these gutter planters. Hopefully it will work out as I am trying this for the first time. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have come across this idea. I’ll post pictures when I have something decent sized growing in the trenches.

Would love to hear from you if you attempt this. The way I put it together may not work for you. Please be careful as this will get heavy when the soil is watered, so be mindful of how you hang it.

Thanks for dropping by

Best, S.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This might as well be called the ’Better Late Than Never Salad’! I made this salad with this season’s spring vegetables at least a few times in the past few weeks, wanting to post it. Alas! we kept pecking away at all its various components, I didn’t have much left behind to photograph! So before the summer season begins let me make another attempt and swat away those pilfering paws, just enough to take some pictures!
These days we are pampered by the continuous availability of fruits and vegetables from all parts of the world without regard to which season we are in. I had completely lost sight of what each season’s bounty was. Growing up in India, we only ate seasonally and that too as farm fresh as possible. Every day we would shop at the humble vegetable shack at our street corner for our daily fruits and vegetables. We also had the luxury of having vegetables carted to our front doors, not to mention our regular vegetable lady who sold her produce from her basket which she expertly balanced on her head as she stopped by every house in our street. Several varieties of greens, mud still clinging to its roots were staples in her basket. It doesn’t get any more ‘in season’ than that.     

                                                                                                                                                                    Nowadays with a return to a more localized way of eating, I am learning that artichokes, fava beans, asparagus, leeks and peas are typical spring vegetables, here in the U.S. I saw tender new baby potatoes in the market which must have just been harvested. So I put all these vegetable together along with greens from my garden and some dumplings that I made. I found eggless, spinach gyoza wrappers, which gave me the idea to make dumplings with fresh peas and mint which are growing like weeds in my container. I tossed it all together with a simple dressing for a wonderful ‘taste of spring’.

For the dumplings

About 15 Gyoza wrappers [I used Twin Marquis brand, which is vegan]

1 cup blanched fresh or frozen peas

½ cup finely chopped leeks

1 tablespoon butter + extra for sautéing the dumplings

30 mint leaves

Salt to taste

Preparation

Saute the chopped leeks in the butter over a low flame for a couple of minutes. Add the blanched peas, salt to taste and puree the mixture. This is the filling for the dumplings.

Thaw the dumplings wrappers according to packet direction. On each wrapper place a couple of mint leaves in the middle and mound a teaspoon and half of the pea puree on top of the mint.

Keep a small dish of water close by. Dip your finger in the water and go around all over the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and seal all around so none of the filling escapes while cooking. Cover the dumplings with a cloth to prevent it from drying.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and drop about 5 dumplings at a time and cook for about five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and arrange on drying rack. Finish all the dumplings this way. Then lightly saute in some butter till blisters appear on them.

           

                                                                                                                                                                     For the dressing [reduced wine vinaigrette]

1 cup light white wine of your choice

½ cup finely chopped leeks

1 tablespoon salted butter

Additional salt if required

Preparation

Put the wine and chopped leeks in a small pan and let it come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook it down to about ½ a cup. Remove from stove and whisk in the butter to form a creamy dressing. Add salt if required.

The salad vegetables

Fava beans, shelled, boiled and peeled

Artichoke hearts, steamed

Asparagus, steamed

New baby potatoes, boiled

Spring greens from my garden

Carrots also from my garden

Putting the salad together.

Arrange the vegetables and spring greens, top with the dumplings and dress lightly with the vinaigrette.

Enjoy the taste, flavors and freshness of new born vegetables in this spring salad.                                                                                                                                                        

Thanks for dropping by.

Best, S.

 

 

Thai soup stock made with some of the herbs from my garden, to be frozen for later use.

An annual rite of passage for these plants is to be brought in to protect them from the winter cold. They will adorn my bathtub until spring of the following year. A good amount of the kaffir lime leaves have already found its way into my freezer and a few will go into my stock. The Jasmine and Curry plants are as you can see, in hibernation mode.
I tap the pots several times to get rid of the bottom feeders that cling to the pots. I move them onto stands and spray the underside of the pots with a homemade insecticidal soap, so any remaining creepies, crawl out. I keep it on elevated stands, away from the ground and check for insects for a week or so. Then one more final spray and I bring it in. I downsize the plants to just a few leaves for photosynthesis.
The Thai basil is an annual in this zone, so it is time to strip it of all remaining leaves before frost renders them unusable. I am going to chop up the leaves and mix it with oil and feeze it. Haven’t done it before, so I am curious as to how it is going to turn out. A few of the Thai basil leaves will go into my soup stock. The seeds, I’ll preserve for next seasons planting.

I pulled the lemongrass out. The tender inner core I will chop and store. The tough outer leaves not suitable for cookin, will flavor my stock.

A couple of the Tabasco peppers will go into the stock as well and the rest will be dried.

                     

I put the above highlighted pickings from my garden along with some garlic and cilantro stems in a pot, added 5 cups of water  and made a stock out of it. Cooled and strained, it is ready  for the freezer. Next time a Thai soup will be a cinch, but most importantly I feel like I have put to good use, the last remnants from my garden.

                                                                                                                                                                     I I did not want to throw away the strained flavoring, I crushed it, added a cup of water and heated it to make a secondary ‘frugal’ stock’. Added galangal, a few vegetables at hand and tofu for a simple flavorful soup.

                                                                                                                                                                  

Thanks for dropping by,

Best, S.   

Sending this to ‘A way to garden’ for the fall festival.

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