As I sit here typing this we are having out 10th day over 30C in a row. Now I know there are places where that’s a cool period but for us Melbournites it definitely counts as a hot spell. It wouldn’t be so bad except its pretty much killed off my tomato plants (actually a lack of watering probably did that, but still…..). Having had a hot summer though has had its plus points. For me it was:
Cucumbers – I grew a lot of cucumbers this year and consequently have eaten a lot of cucumber this year. I love cucumber salads but I also like them whole (peeled or unpeeled depending on the toughness of their skin) and sprinkled with salt and chilli powder – really refreshing.
Hot Dry weather killing off the pests - I think the hot dry weather has meant insects numbers have been reduced this year. Perhaps it was my imagtion but the whitefly seem to disappear as the weather warmed up, I haven’t noticed many aphids and only the occasional cabbage white flutters around the garden.
Growing lots of different pepper varieties – This year I have grown loads of different chilli and capsicum varieties and I’ve really enjoyed it. I like the different colours, the different sizes and shapes, the different flavours and the different levels of heat. Loads of fun and they are really attractive plants. If you can only grow one vegetable plant then I think chillies would definitely be worth considering.
Eggplant Masala – My eggplants have down really well this year and my favourite way to eat them is as eggplant masala. I really love this cooking method in which the eggplant is cooked whole on the bbq to allow the smoky flavour to penetrate and then added to a curry sauce. Really, really good but if someone has the secret for growing coriander and eggplant simulataneously then I would love to know how it is done. My coriander seems to be bolting before it has even produced a leaf at the moment.
Preserving stuff – Where my parents live is about 4 degrees cooler than Melbourne on average (this is especially true at night). As a result a hot summer for us usually means the perfect veggie growing weather for them. As they have an extensive veggie patch that means heaps of veg available to preserve. So far this summer I have preserved: 1.5 litres of plum jam (from mum & dads plums), 16 jars of Bread and Butter Cucumbers (from my garden), 3.7 litres of tomato sauce (ketchup), 4 litres of Madras chutney (from a mix of home grown and bought ingredients), 12 Fowlers number 27 jars of peaches amd 21 (and counting) Fowlers no 27 jars of tomatoes (mainly from mum & dads garden). I have a large bag of onions, a box of tomatoes and a bag full of eggplants ready to go as well. That would be a project for tomorrow then…