Posts Tagged ‘salad


Crimes against vegetables


I do like my gelatinous substances but this is just … actually, I have no words…

From Kooky Cookery via Brain Pickings


Am I just providing safe-harbour to an enemy?

Cytisus scoparius 'Lilac Time'I couldn’t help but bring it home. It’s just so pretty!

Cytisus ‘Lilac time’ (Cytisus scoparius) is an evergreen shrub with very small leaves. Lilac-pink pea flowers adorn the bush in spring. I bought it in full-flower. It dazzled me with its charms. I failed to notice that it was in fact, a broom.

There are some good things to say about broom. They’re drought-tolerant and colonise disturbed and poorer soils, improving the soil; broom is leguminous, part of the Fabaceae family, and nitrogen-fixing. Broom stops erosion on hillsides. It’s a great food source for butterfly larvae. The flowers can be eaten in a salad. Don’t forget the prettiness!

On the very big downside, New Zealand has major problems with broom and its close cousin gorse (Ulex). Stock won’t eat it and it shades out pasture. It produces up to 30,000 seeds per square metre, every year. It outgrows saplings, effectively destroying crops of plantation trees and therefore is a major burden to the forestry industry. Apparently, only Pinus radiata can grow fast enough to compete with broom and tolerate the harsh herbicide treatments needed to treat sites infested with it. (I have major issues with Pinus radiata…but that’s a whole other post). So yeah, major problem for New Zealand. We’ve even started bringing in biological control agents to try to counter the spread.

So despite the fact that my pretty little shrub’s cousins are terrorising the country, I’ve provided a safe and loving home for this little one. He’ll only last for about 5 years. I will be watching it carefully though and chopping it back regularly to stop it seeding. I’ve planted it next to an outdoor seat framed by pittoporums, at the front of the house. Having it where I can see it every day, I’ll remember to keep it inline and not allow it to open up another invasion-front.

A note on New Zealand broom

New Zealand has a genus of its own broom called Carmichaelia. They are in the same Fabaceae family as the European species, but far-distant cousins.  There are about 20 varieties.

Am I just providing safe-harbour to an enemy? Pretty vs Plague – let me know your thoughts…


Rocket Farming

I may have inadvertently started the potentially great Kapiti Coast rocket (Eruca sativa) weed problem. And I have mixed feelings about it. We simply don’t need any more weeds around this place. But I’m always happy when things self sow, it’s the way things are meant to happen.

The rocket came from certified-organic stock, and I first planted it 2 years ago. It’s been self-seeding regularly which has been fabulous, growing all year round. Now it has started growing in my lawn, proving that it doesn’t need great soil to do well. It’s frost-resistant and drought-tolerant. It does go to seed quickly though.

Many years ago my interest in lettuce waned. It was simply a case of over-use. I was uninspired by salady greeny leafy things until a relative newcomer rocketed into my world and rocked it! Rocket – I love your peppery flavour, the zest you bring into my life. You’re a match made in heaven with tomatoes and you are out of this world with haloumi.

The flowers are really pretty and are a tasty garnish or addition to salads. And a little reading at Plants for a Future suggests that the seeds could make a mustard alternative. The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is a substitute for rapeseed oil. It can also be used for lighting, burning with very little soot. The powdered seed has antibacterial properties.

I love it rocket – it’s one of those plants that deliver on flavour, attractiveness, medicinal and industrial properties. It’s a plant I’ll be nurturing in my garden for a longtime to come.

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January 2020
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