Top 5 – Things I enjoyed about Summer this year

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:

Catalina Pickling Cucumbers

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.

Mixed capsicums

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.

Brinjal curry - Eggplant

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…


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37 Responses to Top 5 – Things I enjoyed about Summer this year

  1. Sarah says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a busy summer – plenty to harvest. And you’ll be able to enjoy the hot summer all through the winter too, with your amazing array of preserved fruit and veg.

    • Liz says:

      i reckon i’ve done alright putting stuff away this year. I’m hoping I wont have to buy a jar of tomatoes this year but i still have a lot of bottles to preserve before that will become a reality.

  2. Nina says:

    I’ve been busy at work and also melting in the heat so I haven’t been commenting much but I’ve tried to keep up on the reading.

    The heat killed off your whitefly?! I so wish. I reckon they are worse than they’ve ever been. Great clouds fly up from the tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini whenever I look sideways at them.

    My tomatoes are dying off too but still producing – I’ve managed to make quite a few jars of passata. Everyone who has tried them, loves your bread and butter cucumber recipe. A real hit, thanks! I’ve still got some cucumbers coming on but they are slowing down, now.

    My various chilli (I don’t have as many varieties as you) are prolific. The jalepenos are amazing, they look like rich jewels on the bush.

    I’m puzzled that I haven’t had even one eggplant form from the flowers though the capsicum (same family) which are growing right next to them are doing really well.

    Well done with your preserves – my corn and basil are doing really well right now – but I need to find the time to do something with them. Sigh.

    • Liz says:

      Lovely to hear from you. Maybe it wasn’t the heat that put paid to the whitefly, perhaps the sparrows late populated my garden in early summer were worth their weight in gold? Really pleased you like the B & B cucumbers – I love that recipe too. Its adapted from one in Stephanie Alexanders book so really she should probably get most of the credit. Thats weird re your eggplant. Last year I had the opposite problem – lots of eggplants but no capsicums. Are capsicums self pollinating but eggplants need bees? Hope the work business lessens for you.

      • Nina says:

        I have no idea about the pollination needs of eggplants and capsicums but bees (or the lack thereof) aren’t the problem around here! They are flocking to the large pottery bowl full of water under the tap. It’s nice having ’em around – though the wasps are something else again. 🙁

  3. I wonder whether we will get a summer this year?

  4. Bek says:

    I’m with you on the cucumber, though I wish my eggplants will hurry up and be ready to pick asap! I feel I’ve been waiting forever. Those preserves sound wonderful, looks like you have quite a stash!

  5. Jodie says:

    Love the eggplant masala recipe.. I have a brand new crop of eggplants coming through (I replanted some small plants in the planter on the vacant block and they have gone nuts). I have been running out of inspiration so this will help.

  6. Your preserves look very nice…

  7. KL says:

    Wooooowwwwww!!! that’s indeed lots of preservations. Did you put up any post where you discuss about how to do all these preserving and tinning process? It will be really helpful to know. It seems like you will be self-sufficient throughout the winter, or do you still have to buy those from outside?

    • Liz says:

      I’m hoping to bottle enough tomatoes to get us through the year but we will see if I actually manage it. The recipes for the sauce (ketchup) and the bread and butter cucumbers I have posted in the past. I haven’t posted on using the Fowlers preserving kit yet as I’m just getting a feel for how it works.

  8. I am drooling over all that bounty as I prepare to go out in the snow to take hot drinks to our chickens! The idea of chilli powder on cucumber sounds delicious – I will certainly be giving that a try. Well done on all that preserving!

    • Liz says:

      I picked up the salt and chilli trick in India, they sell whole peeled cucumbers on buses sprinkled in the salt and chilli mix.

  9. Michelle says:

    Ten days over 30°, that would be a real scorcher around here, we rarely get more than 2 or 3 days in a row that warm.

    The Eggplant Masala recipe looks like a winner, I’m going to have to remember that one when I get some eggplant about 6 or 7 months from now… My favorite eggplant recipe is a Turkish stew with lentils, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and pomegranate molasses – I wish I had some now.

    I wish I knew the secret for growing coriander in the summer, I guess you just have to sow it weekly or more often, but who can manage that?

    • Liz says:

      Really glad you reminded me about your Turkish stew as I have been meaning to mke that for ages but had naturally forgotten at the vital moment (ie the point where I have eggplants to go in it.)

  10. Daphne says:

    I think of that as hot too. I do like living next to the coast because it moderates my temperatures.

  11. Diana says:

    Sounds like a long summer season there!
    No wonder the warm-loving plants really love it.
    I just transplanted some scotch bonnets seedlings that I have received from you.
    Hope they will survived the weather which is getting warmer and less rain here now.

    • Liz says:

      I reckon they should be OK. I do find that they have a tendency to dry out though so you will probably need to keep the water up to them a bit.

  12. Alyse Mae says:

    Bring on the cool change!! Although my Capsicums and Chillies have decided they are going to flower again and profusely! Hopefully the flowers will make something of themselves. Its been a good summer for preserving and your jars look lovely.

    • Liz says:

      Thankyou – it has been a good summer for produce I think. i think they should still set fruit – I’ve certainly harvested chillies into June in the past.

  13. Louise says:

    My goodness, your preserves look beautiful.

  14. Balvinder says:

    I am waiting for spring and then summer to come, so that I can enjoy the fresh flavors. I am craving for eggplant masala. I make it the way you have made it.

    • Liz says:

      Its so nice that way isn’t it? i think I may have to make a big batch tomorrow and freeze some – that way I can have it whenever I like.

  15. kitsapFG says:

    All good things! I love the cucumber season too (when it is a good one!). I was getting hungry just reading about yours and how you like to enjoy them.

  16. JohnMich says:

    Now all you need is two or three weeks of rain with some bursts of two days getting 8 inches and you will think you are on the Gold Coast!

  17. rosblogger says:

    I love your capsicum and chilli variety. I grew the long yellow chilli capsicums/chillies (not sure what to call them). There are still many to harvest. They are so tasty done on the bbq. Unfortunately, the long hot summer did nothing for my beans (or lack thereof) out the front of the house so I will be growing them down the back next year where there is slightly less sun. Wow, you must be busy doing all that preserving – I wish I had the patience… Looks great!

    • Liz says:

      I enjoy it i have to say – the preserving that is. i think I will do some peppers on the bbq tomorrow – lovely idea.

  18. Leanne Cole says:

    I was going to say nothing, but I am glad you have enjoyed the summer. I am not a summer person, though having said that I have enjoyed some parts of it. The preserves look fantastic. I love home made preserves, just don’t have the patience to make them.

  19. Clare says:

    Can’t wait to try your eggplant preserves. Even here in the upper Blue mountains we’ve had enough warmth to pick quite a good harvest. With the coriander I’m finding that crushed up green coriander seeds is a good enough substitute. Stirring some through guacamole as I type!

    • Liz says:

      I like the idea of crushed seeds, particularly in curries etc – having said that I wouldn’t mind some guacamole either….

  20. mac says:

    Delicious eggplant masala and beautiful peppers, you remind me of the bishop’s hat pepper seeds I bought last year but didn’t get around to plant it, I’ll go look for it now!

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