What to do with this plant huh?

Such is a question that is often raised by visitors to the garden.

Such is what inspired me to write this post, while I was prepping for tonight’s dinner. Admittedly it is a little more complex than the everyday dinners I usually whip up, but hey, I feel like having pie tonight. So why not? Plus, this could help a curious someone get started with using what is in the edible garden.

What’s in this recipe that can be found at the garden? Dill, basil and oregano. There are also turmeric, tomatoes and capsicums, which are up and coming plants that we’re still nurturing. Perhaps this recipe will inspire you to make something from the harvest when the time comes.

Apart from that of the pie crust, I won’t give out any measurements. Please, feel free to exercise the oh-so-Asian spirit of agar-ation and experimentation. This recipe is highly versatile and can be used in whole, part, or with other recipes. For example, the pie crust could be totally removed and possibly replaced with rice or pasta. Pan frying/baking/steaming the salmon would work nicely if that is the case. The dill yogurt sauce can also be used as a salad dressing.


Salmon Pie With Yogurt Dill Sauce, served with a Tomato Salad

Pie Crust

  • 150g Flour
  • 50g Cubed cold butter
  • 1 Egg

Very simply – Rub butter into flour. Mix in egg. Roll out and refrigerate until ready to use.

piecrust

Pie Crust, with some optional Parmesan cheese.

Pie Filling

  • Salmon
  • Finely chopped garlic, turmeric and dill (I’ve found turmeric to be a really good flavor companion to dill.)
  • Black pepper
  • Diced onions and capsicums

Marinade the salmon in the garlic, turmeric, dill and black pepper.

Rub marinade all over the salmon!

Rub marinade all over the salmon!

Cube the marinated salmon.
Lay the filling in the pie crust.
Bake at 180 Degree Celcius for about 30 minutes.

Pie filling all laid out and ready for the oven.

Pie filling all laid out and ready for the oven.

Yogurt Sauce

  • Yogurt, dill, lemon zest and a little juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Yes, it’s that simple.

Before

Before.

After. Simple Enough.

After. Simple Enough.

Tomato Salad

    • Tomatoes, basil, lettuce, olives and oregano cut into manageable pieces
    • Minced garlic
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients together and season to taste.

Onions, olives, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, garlic, oregano.

Onions, olives, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, garlic, oregano.

Here’s what the finished pie and salad look like:

Salmon Pie with onions and capsicums, and some dill yogurt sauce drizzled over the top.

Salmon Pie with onions and capsicums, and some dill yogurt sauce drizzled over the top.

saladmixed

Tomato Basil Salad!

Delish!

Here’s some “bonus content” of sorts.

Another way of using the herbs in the garden. This is bottle of dill infused olive oil that we made using some of the dill that we had brought home after trimming the plants at the garden. It can be used for frying, or to finish soups and salads. Gives a dill-y aftertaste to the dish. Very nice.

Dill Infused Olive Oil

Dill Infused Olive Oil

So yes! Go forth, be inspired to use the edibles in the garden!

18 Oct – Nature Co’s visit and more :)

By schedule, our group activity for this week is actually Sunday morning.

We re-scheduled to Saturday morning for this week as Nature Company (which is sponsoring knowledge, equipment, compost, etc to us over a 6-month period) can only come down to our garden on 3rd Saturday of the month, from 9am.

On our request, they  brought along their GTM wood chipper to help us break down our pile of cut branches and leaves from the edible garden, as well as garden waste from neighbours. It was truly amazing to see entire tree branches going into the machine, and tiny wood chips (that were not sharp to touch) coming out at the other end! Steven, one of the company directors, said that these tiny wood chips can be used as mulch. He knew we were harvesting the previous week, and said we could have put a layer of these mulch material below the top soil to improve the soil condition before growing new plants.

GTM wood chipper in action

Neighbours watching the GTM wood chipper in action

Steven of Nature Co. also shared with us how to apply organic compost and fertiliser correctly. They brought quite a few for us to experiment and learn. The tips can be a separate blog post :) Some of the tips we already knew, but it’s always good to hear them again from an expert who is also familiar with organic gardening practices in the local context.

Steven of Nature Co. sharing on compost & fertiliser

Steven of Nature Co. sharing on compost & fertiliser

We also sought his view on planting fruit trees for we had set aside a small area for fruit trees. He advised us to allocate small areas to different neighbours, and get as many neighbours to come with a hoe / rake each to help in the digging. We need a lot of help to dig, as ~0.5 to 1m soil below ground need to loosened and amended before planting in the fruit trees, or they will be stunted or cannot survive. He advised the team to supply neighbours with the hoes / rakes, as up till now, we have been bringing our own garden tools.

After the Nature Co. team left, Dennis & Lydia got the children to dig at the Ginger Garden area, to add in turmeric and Malaysian ginger plants.

kids' time!

kids’ time!

Neighbour May and her family harvested organically grown vegetables. It took them a long time to get to a successful harvest, despite growing vegetables during the Kampung (village) days. Problems they faced include snails that ate their vegetable seeds, poor quality soil despite buying “premium” soil, and inadequate watering from the irrigation system.

Always love to interact with this family. They come as a big group, and had a lot of questions for Steven’s sharing today.

Satisfied with their harvests, they actually left a pile behind saying that they had enough at home.

Harvesting vegetables

Harvesting vegetables

We also created a second food compost barrel with food waste donations from neighbours. Both barrels can still take in more food waste, looking forward to witnessing the change in the compost contents over the next few weeks.

Finally, meet one of our youngest gardeners, Aza! He is 10, but knows quite a bit about growing and transplanting edible plants. He and his younger brother were allocated a small plot this morning, so that they can grow the plants they want to grow :)

One of our youngest gardeners, Aza

One of our youngest gardeners, Aza

11 Oct – Sweet potato harvesting & more :)

We had 9(+2) neighbours joining in the group activities today. First activity for the day – sweet potato harvesting!

Neighbour Mr. Teo said that the Japanese sweet potato plants were yellowing, and it was time to harvest the sweet potatoes. It was our first time harvesting the tubers, and not the leaves – and we had waited 6 months to do so, so you can imagine the excitement!

Sweet potato harvesting in progress

Sweet potato harvesting in progress

The leaves were removed first. Then, the soil was carefully raked to pick out the sweet potatoes. There were 2 types – Japanese sweet potatoes, and white sweet potatoes. Apparently, the Japanese ones (which are purple in colour) taste better. But alas, where were they?? The photo below shows a typical sized white sweet potato which we retrieved. It was around 8cm long, and maybe 5cm wide? The purple ones were way thinner and smaller… like pencil thin even.

Neighbour Mr. Teo was really surprised. He said the soil was good, the fertiliser was applied regularly, and we do water the bed regularly – why are the tubers so tiny?

White sweet potato

White sweet potato

Mr. Teo then proceeded to harvest at least seven mid-sized melons to give away.  Neighbour Dennis showed us how to use dried leaves from the garden to remove the sharp spines from the melon and its stalk. It became our second group activity, and was totally unplanned!

It was really fun, and we could involve the children (ages between five and ten).

Using dried leaves to clean out the sharp hairs on the winter melons

Using dried leaves to clean out the sharp hairs on the winter melons

Our third group activity for the day was to check our food composting barrel. We have more kitchen waste to add – vegetable cuttings, fruit peels, fruit enzyme, tea bags and used coffee grounds.

The barrel had been remained closed for about 1 week. This gave it time to heat up – and everyone was really happy to feel the heat when we put our hands into the barrel!

We added the bags of kitchen waste to the barrel.

It was then closed, and the children took turns to turn the barrel. It looked fun!

Ideally, the barrel should be turned once every 2 days to mix the organic materials and infuse them with fresh oxygen. Composting using this method can complete in a matter of weeks, as long as no new material is added.

Kitchen waste donated by neighbours

Kitchen waste donated by neighbours

adding kitchen waste to the barrel

adding kitchen waste to the barrel

Barrel turning :)

Barrel turning :)

the barrel's contents. after turning :)

the barrel’s contents. after turning :)

Nature Company’s monthly sessions (to Dec 2014)

Nature Company is sponsoring and providing technical guidance to Pavilion’s edible garden project over a 6-month period.

They, and their irrigation partners from HKS, are planning to come down on: 18 Oct, 15 Nov and 20 Dec (all Saturday, 3rd week of the month).

Their focus is to:

  • advise on how to apply compost & fertiliser correctly
  • check on our compost heap (and maybe also our new food compost barrels!)
  • check on our garden soil
  • check on garden irrigation
They are also providing NatureGro compost & fertiliser products to help us make the garden better.

The core team is interested to learn tips & tricks on how we can keep our garden going sustainably long after the program ends. I’m sure the tips & tricks are applicable in our home gardens too!

So neighbours & interested friends, do join in these monthly sessions, as well as our usual weekly group sessions, if you are interested :)

4 Oct – a busy morning

We have easily about 20+ people at the garden today! Including the irrigation guys from HKS Engineering. Some came to check out the garden. Some came to donate kitchen waste for composting. Some came to see what they can learn. Some just came to watch and observe. Some came to chat!

some of the neighbours at the garden

some of the neighbours at the garden

The morning started quietly enough, with 3 adults and 2 children. The older child, who is all of 10 years of age, was adamant about transplanting his lady finger plant in the edible garden. He just wanted to know where to plant. His younger brother was jumping all over the place, but was also a little gardener. Both brothers shared that they grow different types of edible plants at home, including chilli, lime, lemon, peanuts, and even apples! They subsequently brought more plants from home – peanut and chilli :)

Neighbour Mr. Teo brought out one of his dried red lady fingers, and explained how to dry it further (2 days in the sun) before harvesting the seeds to plant.

Neighbour Mr. Teo explaining how to dry the okra before planting the seeds

Neighbour Mr. Teo explaining how to dry the okra before planting the seeds

the boys transplanting their peanut plant

the boys transplanting their peanut plant

May and her family came to check out their vegetables in the wicking bed. The veggies are looking really good.

A couple of other neighbours came with plastic bags filled with kitchen waste. We had sent out sms-es, Facebook updates and emails to neighbours in the estate – to ask for kitchen waste to start a compost bin. After all, our three small barrels were given to us by Comcrop @ SCAPE, to support us in creating & sustaining an organic garden. Now that we don’t have to worry about rainwater collection, it’s time to put our barrels to composting use.

Neighbour Dennis said that with some water in the bin, we can let the covered bin stand for about a week. After that, we need to air and stir or roll the barrel every other day! Sounds fun :)

The bags (and bottle) of kitchen waste

Some of the bags (and bottle) of kitchen waste

the barrel being filled with leaves, tree bark, vegetables and fruit peels

the barrel being filled with leaves, tree bark, vegetables and fruit peels

The HKS guys listened to the neighbours’ feedback on the irrigation system, and said they would be back next week to look into what’s lacking.

They are really nice – they even brought hot soya bean drinks for the neighbours! All on the house. The children really appreciated the drinks, and even brought some home to enjoy :)