Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

Waiting for winter June 11, 2011

Filed under: Cooking,Garden — belladonnabess @ 6:19 pm

Not that I’m complaining, but May has been unseasonally warm and June is continuing with little sign of change. My plants are a little confused, but all forms of fungi appear to be thriving, since along with the unseasonally warm weather, it’s been wet too.

Feeling: grateful. I wasn’t expecting a lovely sunny morning, and I’ve barely seen the sun in weeks. So I was out working by 9 today and got lots done.

Squelching: everything is wet.

Eating: I’m eating a lot of venison and vegetable casserole at the moment. See ingredients list in the recipe below for the vegetables I’m eating from my garden (I didn’t grow the venison, olive oil or tomatoes, but I grew the rest).

Also eating: a few white alpine strawberries, lettuce, Jerusalem artichoke

Flowering: my first jonquils are out, with more in bud. Also, feral broad beans that came up where I dumped the old plants from last year.

Disturbing: by far the largest trapdoor spider I’ve ever seen. It was twice the size of any other I’ve encountered. Cute in a “big fat spider” sort of way. It wasn’t pleased to be disturbed and ran away looking a bit startled.

Digging: I’ve removed the top layer of dirt, complete with all the weeds, from the path between the raspberry bed and my vegetable garden. This path was the source of a lot of weeds in the two gardens; this should make next season a lot easier. I’ve put down pea straw and a few pine needles over the remaining mud.

Weeding: most of my vegetable garden and the raspberry bed are ok. The “orchard” and the terrace with the blueberries, asparagus etc are a complete mess still.

Planting: cavallo nero – seedlings bought at the market. Also, over the last few weeks I have transplanted feral chard and planted more kohlrabi.

Anticipating: my first kohlrabi is probably only a couple of weeks away. Nothing else is close. My leeks are still too small, no other brassicas are doing much. So I’ll be continuing with the same food for another 1-2 months unless I run out and have to buy something.

Actually, I may have to buy something just to save my sanity. Pumpkin, potatoes and silverbeet are not my favourite vegetables, but that is what I have most of. Next year I hope for better, as by next summer I will have a new freezer with abundant space for freezing my summer and autumn abundance.

Until then, this is what I’m doing to make pumpkin, potatoes and silverbeet more interesting.


Venison and vegetable casserole

Brown 500 g chopped venison pieces in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot.


Remove, and add 1-2 chopped onions and some garlic, and some more olive oil. Cook until soft.


Add chopped celery and one chopped lovage stem, then tinned tomatoes. Also add about 2 tinfuls of water and tomato paste if you want to. And some salt – about a teaspoon but you can check later and add more.


Peel pumpkin, chop into 1-2 cm pieces and add to pot.


Chop and add some or all of the following, in approximately the order listed below. I haven’t bothered with quantities. Other vegetables, such as parsnips, would be lovely, but so far I have failed to germinate a single parsnip.

  • beetroot (peeled)
  • potatoes
  • oca/ yams
  • carrots
  • herbs including parsley, dill, thyme, pizza thyme or lovage leaves
  • silverbeet stems
  • silverbeet leaves
  • pak choi or other random brassica leaves


If you work through chopping as you are cooking, and you are as slow as I am at preparing vegetables, you then need to leave it for about another half hour I think. You may need to add more salt. Or water – it is best to have it somewhere between a soup and a casserole in consistency as it sticks if it gets too thick.


With the quantities of vegetables I use, this makes about 8 meals.