Sunday, December 4, 2011

“Fencing the Vegetable Garden to keep the escaping Hens Out!”

It has been a busy few weeks for janeCOOKS, with not much spare time to blog. Today's weather meant the picnic we had planned to go to was cancelled and an opportunity opened up for me, to catch up on things and let you all see the progress we have made on our little suburban farm!

The hens are all laying an egg a day, most days and have grown into lovely, healthy, looking productive, oh and destructive birds. Basically, if it is alive and green they will eat it and so most of our gardens are now covered in chicken wire to keep em out!

We have had so many comic moments with our hens over the past months.
Dealing with broody black hens that just don't want to venture from the laying box.

Then there is our dog Logan, trying to dig her way into the Hen House to steal scraps, whilst the hens use such opportunities for themselves to escape the Hen House to greener pasture. If I was quick enough to catch it all on video for you, you'd be most amused too.
Of course once escaped, the first place the hens will head on mass (the whole seven of them!) is to the vege patch! Thus the next job began to fence the vege patch.

We cleared the grass from around the garden beds, in hope of it no longer spreading into the beds, then compacted some crushed granite to form paths, sunk some serious hardwood fence posts, slotted in the hard wood rails and covered the lot with chicken wire.

I picked up a second hand gate from the local tip, recycling sale yard and with help from the man at HG Fencing and my super handy husband, we covered it with fresh wire, attached new hinges, a latch and a home made by me sign!

Now the chickens and dog can run round the front yard, the possums and bandicoots can come and go at night and my vege patch is safe from them all!

Spring/Summer planting is now in full swing and this weird weather, with lots of sun & heat and then bucket loads of rain, has made it look like my crops are on steroids! Earlier than expected, we have been enjoying some lovely fresh produce on our plates.
Continuing on with all I learnt from The Vege Lady, I have rotated my garden beds for the new season planting and planted new crops for the next harvest.
Bed 1 currently has some corn, with more to be planted soon, so it's not all ready at once.

Bed 2 in went tomatoes, capsicum, basil and eggplants, with some companion plants, marigolds.

Bed 3 contains Bryon Bay Garlic, parsley and beans.

Bed 4 is still producing spinach and much lettuce and rocket.

A few people have asked me recently what do you do with all the excess harvest of spinach.

Here is just a couple of ideas, as well as a lovely recipe I discovered this week. All spinach needs to be thoroughly washed when picked. You can then finely shred it raw and add it to a salad or to scrambled eggs or an omelette.
When cooking spinach I usually steam it and eat it with a little butter and cracked pepper. Once cooked you could refresh the spinach in cold water, drain and squeeze the water out, then freeze to be used at a later date in a quiche, lasagna or spinach & ricotta pastries or used in a lovely recipe like this one.
I discovered this recipe in an old copy of Australian Good Food Magazine November 2009 on page 57 in a feature called Weekend with Antonio Carluccio. I tried these last night, with some fresh spinach from the garden, as a side dish to be included with our BBQ dinner. They were well received by four out of five family members! (child three has an aversion to spinach right now!)
Spinach Balls.
Makes 24
500g spinach
100g fresh white breadcrumbs (I made some wholemeal sourdough breadcrumbs instead)
2/3 cup (50g) grated parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp finely crushed garlic
pinch of grated nutmeg
olive oil to shallow fry
1. Cook spinach in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for 1-2 minutes until wilted. (I steamed mine)Drain well. (I then refreshed my in cold water to cool it down.)When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you can, then finely chop.

2 Place spinach, breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg, garlic and nutmeg in a bowl. Using hands, mix well to achieve a binding consistency. Season well. ( I didn't season as decided the parmesan would be my seasoning)

Roll mixture into walnut sized balls.
3 Pour enough oil into a large, deep frying pan to generously cover base and heat on medium. Cook spinach balls for 4-5 minutes each side, until golden all over. Drain on paper towel and serve warm or cold or added to pasta.

Give them a go, they are so very yum, and let me know what other simple and healthy recipes you enjoy, cooking with your excess spinach.


Anonymous said...

I needed a laugh this early in the morning.Your vege patch looks magnificent and I love the fence/gate too!
x Leesa

Anonymous said...

Oh Jane, I LOVE your vege patch, I want to come and
just sit in there!
My friends who have chickens also have many funny stories
so chicken must have a great sense of humour!
Tallulah likes to watch "Deal or no Deal" and runs inside
and perches on the lounge arm rest when it starts!!!

Anonymous said...

Farmer Paul and Jane. What are you hillbillies still doing in Sydney??

You look like you need more room to spread out and have a real farm somewhere beautiful like Casino or the southern high lands. Same really??? LOL, Chickens, vegies, cows and maybe a goat or two. You could make cheese and soap. You are doing an amazing job.

I love the photo's, they so make me smile.

love you guys heaps xxx R

Anonymous said...

"Great post Jane. Chicken destruction is something we can all relate to. Nice new fence."
The Veggie Club

Anonymous said...

Jane you are amazing, inspiring & utterly hilarious... You are a born star!
xx Heidi

Anonymous said...

Oh Jane
I love reading your blogs and am so pleased how your business has taken off and am really happy for you.
The photo of Paul cracked me up. I'm sure its a OH&S issue to construct a vege fence with no shoes on!!! lol
I cannot decide whether your lifestyle reminds me of "Chicken Run" the movie by the creators of Wallace and Grommit or an old Pommie TV series "The Good Life" not sure if you have seen either of these?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane
Thanks for the lovely recipe and chook adventures. All the best for Xmas.
Sandy K

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