Footnote Frivolity***, Gardening on a Budget, Going Green, mustbethrifty house, Second-hand Scavengers

Planning, planting, & waiting for the harvest

While home improvements have limped along at the rate of our mortgage-handicapped savings accounts, the garden around our new home has flourished. Water-tanks are the main bit of hardscaping. However, we have also put in some Colourbond-and-rescued-cypress garden beds, constructed by a local up in Hurstbridge.

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And I’ve saved the neighbour’s broken pavers, turning them into a garden path.

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More importantly, I’ve been adding as many perennial edibles as I can. It started with turning an ivy-infested patch into a herb garden and ended with me feverishly researching every and any edible plant that might survive in Melbourne. Quandong, anyone?

The plants we have so far includes:

 …almond, apple, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, basil (perennial), beans (runner, and butter), blackberry (thornless), blueberries, cape gooseberry, caper bush, celery (wild), Chilean guava, chives, choko, cranberry, elderberry, fennel, fig, garlic, greenfeast peas, horseradish, kiwiberry, lemon verbena, lemon, lemongrass, lettuce, lime, marjoram, midyim berry, mint (Vietnamese fish, Vietnamese hot, common, and apple), native ginger, nectareze, onion (spring, Egyptian walking), orange, oregano, parsley (curly-leaf), passionfruit, pepino, pepperberry, pomegranate, potato, radishes, rhubarb, rosemary, sage (pineapple, common), salad burnett, samphire, strawberries (alpine and normal), summer squash, tea camellia, thyme, tomatoes…

 Most of these plants are nursery-bought*, a few have come from veggie-swaps. The fig is one of Dad’s strikings.

I’ve tried positioning plants based on their needs. For instance, the orange and the lime has been placed against a north-facing fence**, whilst the cranberry is partly shaded and receiving the occasional deluge from a downpipe. Working with nature, instead of against it, means less watering, fertilising, and need for pest-control. In other words, a garden that is less resource-hungry.

Years will pass before we bring in a decent harvest: the antithesis of today’s have-it-now culture. It’s definitely a bit of wishin’ and hopin’ in a My Best Friends’ WeddingVeggie Garden kind of way.


*Note to self: must learn how to strike cuttings, etc.

*We had to remove a unruly neighbours-be-gone hedge first. I’m looking forward to planting out the rest of our food hedge.

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Clever Cooks, Thrifty Asian

Going vegetarian without going hungry

According to Sandra Reynolds, ‘[t]he easiest way to reduce your food bill is to have two meat-free meals a week. You will save a minimum of $30 or even more, every week, by doing so’ (via The $120 Food Challenge).

My main beef with vegetarian, however, is that it doesn’t make me full. So how do I make a vegetarian meal more satisfactory? Continue reading

Gardening on a Budget, Thrifty Asian

Striking betel leaf cuttings

It’s lunar new year this weekend and one of my favourite snacks to eat from the street-festival vendors is bò lá lốt, beef wrapped in betel leaves. I’ve recreated it at home, using Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen’s recipe (via Secrets of the Red Lantern). Nguyen and Jensen use pork mince and pork fat to enhance the flavour, but Luke Nguyen also has a pork-free version up on the SBS website.

Because betel leaf is a such rare commodity in Melbourne, I’ve struck my own with the stalks leftover from cooking. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gardening on a Budget, Second-hand Scavengers

Growing herbs for next to nada

According to Frugavore’s Arabella Forge, growing your own food saves time and money, as well as giving you access to the freshest of produce. Unfortunately, fruit trees and veggie plots are a big investment (time, space, money, etc.) but as I’ve explained before, growing herbs should be a ‘fiscal no-brainer’. After all, why pay four dollars at the supermarket for a sprig of herbs, when you can pay four dollars at the nursery for a plant that will keep on giving? In fact, why pay four dollars at all when you can grow your herbs for free? Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gardening on a Budget

Herbalicious

‘Herbs are absolutely at the cornerstone of all genius cooking,’ says Jamie Oliver on one of his 30-Minute Meals videos. ‘If you have herbs in your cooking, you have more flavours and sensations and dynamism in your cooking.’

Delia Smith agrees: ‘One way to prevent life getting dull when you’re saving money on cooking is to stock up with a few herbs and spices…It is the subtle addition that gives a touch of luxury to the simplest dishes’ (via Delia’s Frugal Food).

And it’s true. Herbs can transport your chicken thighs and watery tomatoes to Morocco (cumin, tumeric, ginger and cinnamon), Italy (parsley or basil), or Mexico (coriander and chilli) without subtracting $$$ from your wallet or adding to your waistline. Continue reading