Monday Harvest – Apr 16 2012

This week’s Monday Harvest post finds me extremely excited.  I have at last answered the question: Can you grow sweet potatoes in Melbourne?  And the answer is….drum roll please…. a resounding yes!  Actually I should clarify that somewhat, you can grow one sweet potato in Melbourne, whether it proves to be potatoes plural, remains to be seen.  I bandicooted this 500g beauty yesterday.  (For anyone unfamiliar with the term bandicooted then take a quick look at the comments after last weeks Monday Harvest post and hopefully all will become clear.)  The little one next to it was an accidental harvest the result of digging for normal potatoes.  It appears the vine had set down roots when it had sprawled amongst the other potatoes and was starting to set tubers there.

For the record the big one became fritters (or pakoras – I used chickpea flour and garam masala) which were served with a fresh mint chutney and even the non Sweet potato loving kids enjoyed it.

When I was thinking about this post I was tossing up whether to start or finish with the Sweet potato harvest as a part of me thinks that after that the rest somehow pales in comparison.  Having said that the borlotti beans were pretty damn exciting as well.

Not a huge harvest but a really pretty one.  These I braised with some onion and tomato.

The cherry tomatoes are still producing in dribs and drabs – I’ll give the plants another week or so then pull them out.

This was the best week so far for Lebanese eggplant, I harvested these two and at least 6 or 7 others the same size during the course of the week.  The chillies are still going strong.  This long cayenne I will save seed from and was eaten in the sweet potato fritters.


I have given away a lot of basil lately, I really must make the time to make some pesto for the freezer.  The beans are still producing, not heaps, but enough for a small side dish.

As usual I ate a lot of salads, the harvests below included lettuce, celery, lots of parsley, mint, Spring onions – including one that had started to bulb, and French breakfast radishes.


I made roast vegetables one night last week, it used the above eggplants and the beetroot below.

Still in a autumn/winter vegetable vein, I also cut a fair bit of chard this week; this lot became Chard and Ricotta gnocchi.  I’ve been making Chard & Ricotta gnocchi for years but I recently discovered a recipe that includes oregano (actually it said marjoram but I have to admit I struggle to tell the difference some times) which is cooked with the spinach prior to incorporating in the gnocchi mixture.  It really works well.

And that was my harvesting week.  If you need more then head over to Daphne’s Dandelions for examples from around the world.

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52 Responses to Monday Harvest – Apr 16 2012

  1. You are still harvesting lots! Most of our harvesting is coming from the freezer. We had some beetroot apple and onion ready prepared from the freezer last night!

  2. That’s a pretty big harvest for near the end of the summer for you. I love those borlotti beans. I am kind of a sucker for beans. I always want to plant more and try different varieties. Congrats. Everything looks great.

  3. kitsapFG says:

    That is not only a good harvest from the “good eating” view point but also it is really visually appealing with all the deep rich colors. Exciting conclusion to the sweet potato growing experiment. It appears they grow quite well in your location!

    • Liz says:

      They do seem to grow well which is interesting because you never see the for sale in the shops to be grown in Melbourne. Generally I think the perception is that the climate is too cold, but clearly not this year.

  4. Looks like you had a great week!

  5. Bee Girl says:

    Beautiful harvest this week! And I love that you’ve grown sweet potatoes! Do you know what the variety is? I’ve been looking into ordering slips and there are so many choices!!!

    • Liz says:

      Unfortunately I have no idea as they were ones I bought to eat that grew shoots in the cupboard. Funnily enough I noticed another one I’d forgotten about had done the same thing today. Its an orange fleshed variety but beyond that I am clueless.

  6. Louise says:

    Hi Tomato ( and fellow bloggers)

    Your garden is looking great as is your produce. Gret looking beans and marjoram ( I struggle with ther difference too). I havent been able to blog or view blogs as it seems that China blocks all of blogger thus no entires in my ‘garden glut goes global’ so last entry is from Thailand. I always knew growing your own produce was somewhat subversive but never really realised that a humble gardening and food blog would be blocked in China. It seems they have just blocked the lot.

    But I remembered that you are a website, not a blog so I can catch up on others like you too even if I cant tell you of all the fabulous things I am seeing here food and garden wise…

  7. maryhysong says:

    I’m going to experiment with growing sweet potatoes again this year; they don’t really like the soil here so some may go in tubs of potting soil. Great harvests; especially love those beets!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Mary, the beets look great but I have to admit prefering the boring plain red ones from a culinary perspective though. Still these do look pretty – especially the stalks.

  8. L says:

    I’m glad it’s not just me who struggles to tell the difference between oregano and marjoram. I still have no idea! I’m really excited for you about the sweet potato – it looks like such a great specimen.
    And those borlotti beans! I saw some fresh packaged ones advertised in delicious. magazine today – $4.99 for 300g! And you get them fresh from the garden 🙂

    • Liz says:

      $4.99 for 300g – and I put them on my spreadsheet as about that a kg, will have to revise it. Unfortunately growing sweet potatoes aren’t going to save me much though – 59c a kg locally. Lot of fun though.

  9. Daphne says:

    Beautiful harvests. And so varied. I love the beans. I’ve always been partial to dried and shell beans.

  10. Oh fantastic Liz-big congratulations! Let’s hope this is the first of many!!
    BTW have you posted the recipe for the Chard and Ricotta gnocchi with oregano-sounds delicious!!

  11. Kate says:

    Your beans look very much like some cranberry beans I grew last year. That’s a smart thing to do, growing so many different things so that you don’t have too much of one thing!

    • Liz says:

      Sometimes though I would enjoy a few more – I don’t think you can ever have enough tomatoes and I woud have loved to have enough borlotti to dry.

  12. Barbie says:

    Gnocchi, Sweet potatoes? You had me at hello! 😉 Seriously, what a harvest week for you!

  13. leduesorelle says:

    I like to think marjoram is the sexier cousin of oregano… borlotti beans and sweet potatoes in the same week? Be still my beating heart!

    • Liz says:

      That’s interesting I would have put it the other way round. Marjoram has the more anglophile name while oregano screams balmy Meditterraenan nights to me.

  14. Mark Willis says:

    Liz, what’s wrong with those tomatoes? Some of them look brown… But theo ther things look abolutely lovely (especially the beetroot).

    Marjoram and Oregano look very similar, but Oregano tastes a lot stronger. Marjoram tends to have rounder leaves, whereas Oregano has pointy leaves (also more hirstute – hairy – ones).

    • Liz says:

      Nothing’s wrong with them she says defensively…he he he…actually they are supposed to be that colour the variety is Black Cherry. They are often pinker than that though. I suspect that my oregano is on the mild side due to not getting heaps of sun so perhaps thats why I am struggling to tell the difference.

    • Mark Willis says:

      Ah, I understand now! I grew some Black Cherry toms in 2010, but I found them very prone to splitting, especially after rain, so I haven’t grown them since.

  15. Julie says:

    That’s one nice sweet potato you have there, although I don’t think it can upstage those pretty borlotti beans. I’d be interested to see that Chard and Ricotta gnocchi recipe too.

    • Liz says:

      I would love to post it and I will eventually, the problem I have is that while I love it Miss 5 doesn’t like them so I can’t make them too often, but when I next do I’ll try and right down the recipe then.

  16. KL says:

    It’s great to see that you are harvesting so much. When will your winter start? How cold does it get?

  17. Norma Chang says:

    That’s one good looking sweet potato. Glad you were successful. What variety is it? Love your borlotti beans, they are so pretty.

    • Liz says:

      I wish I new the variety, its grown from one which I bought at the supermarket, forgot I had and it sprouted in the abck of the cupboard.

  18. Great potato! It’s amazing how a few beans, a couple of roots, some herbs, eggplants, tomatoes – and there is plenty to make a dinner. Gardening is so rewarding!

    • Liz says:

      It is good – we are on a bit of an ecomony drive at the moment so having things to make dinner with each night makes that so much easier.

  19. mac says:

    Beautiful varied harvest, those borlotti beans are pretty, I’m growing them for fall harvest, this would be the first dry bean growing experience for me.

    • Liz says:

      It was my first drying bean experience too and now I realise I want more – isn’t that always the way? These were bush beans but next year I definitely want to find some climbers.

  20. Looks like you’ve got the blogging world green with envy over your sweet potato and beans. It seems with every successful experiment of yours I have to look around my own garden for other spot to plant – I put some ginger in a few weeks ago, now I want sweet potatoes too! I can’t believe how much your still harvesting, all my summer crops have come out except a cucumber, a capsicum and a couple of eggplants. Most of my winter crop is in, but still have some seedling to go.

    My cherry tomatoes also went that funny colour towards the end of the season, they still tasted good though. Love your photos too this week – not that I don’t always – the one with the beans is fantastic!

    • Liz says:

      I’d definitely give sweet potatoes a go if you have room – I found the vine quite invasive – they certainly seem to like to spread – but I reckon you could get them to spread upwards without too much problem. You’ll probably need to wait until Spring now as they do like the warmer soil.

  21. Liz says:

    I just looked up Sweet Potatoes on wikipedia and they reckon that 95% of Australia’s sweet potato crop is a variety called Beauregard. So I presume that’s what I am growing.

  22. Andrea says:

    How exciting finding you had grown a sweet potato and not just a healthy vine and when cooked everyone enjoyed its taste! Just love the color of the beans and that pretty cup their in, how many plants did you grow?

    • Liz says:

      I grew about 6 plants but I put them in very late, I am going to seek out a climbing Borlotti for next summer – I believe they exist.

  23. Andrea V says:

    Liz, I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago and am thrilled to be the recipient of your Melbourne vege gardening knowledge. The recipe ideas and viewing your artistic photography are a delightful bonus. I live in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges and have recently commenced gardening at our new home, as a novice I can assure you that your advice is well received! I would also like to add my request for the Card and ricotta gnocchi recipe it sounds like something Miss 4 and Master 2 would devour after helping collect the goodies from the garden. Would love to read other Melbourne back yard blogs, would you mind pointing out the ones you know? Thanks again for the great read!

    • Liz says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it. I really appreciate the feedback and thanks for leaving a comment. It looks like my kids will have to endure chard and ricotta gnocchi again soon – he he he, at least its good for them….as for blogs: The New Goodlife includes lots from her garden, Veggiegobbler is heaps of fun, Dancing with Frogs talks about her plants as well as lots of other things, Ballynoe Cottage is fabulous and hopefully Phoebe will post again soon – you should find links to all these on my sidebar (provided they have written a post recently). Also worth a look are Hazel Dene & The Bok Flock. There are a couple of Sydney blogs I really enjoy too if you want to look north- 500m2 in Sydney and Garden Glut are both great. Finally Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls (also on my side bar) is in Adelaide – really informative and I don’t think the climate is that different, although they do get a lot warmer for longer. Hope I haven’t forgotten anyone – if I have sorry – I should really be in bed – very tired today.

  24. Diana says:

    So many picking there! Congrats with the sweet potato. I was moving around containers trying to make our container garden look a bit presentable that I accidently twisted out many baby sweet potatoes growing out from the bottom container to the soil. I did not expect that the roots already reached the bottom of the pot. Because the pot is about 50cm deep. I never made pesto. has been in my do list for long time. You reminded me I have some sweet basil tuck somewhere in the corner.

    • Liz says:

      Wow 50cm is deep, now I’m wondering if I will have them that deep down into my soil. Funnily enough we had pasta with pesto for dinner tonight. The kids always enjoy it and I find it really quick and easy.

  25. Oh wow, I am jelouse now! Soo many healthy fresh veggies, all from your garden. I had planted just recently sweet potatoes,after following normas Tutorial, so I am already curious how they will fare over the monsoon here. They plant grows very quickly on the surface. Again I have to say, your beans look adorable! I wish I could get those here.

  26. Dave says:

    Great news about the sweet potatoes! And I’m with you – borlotti beans are exciting too. I’m going to try growing them this year, so wish me luck.

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