Winter is Coming … and We’re Ready!

Our main Lockdown Project at home has been to build a Greenhouse to tide us (and Blackheath Community Farm) over winter. We are totally in love with it!


Our new greenhouse


In an ideal world we would have used recycled materials but, given how difficult it was to access them in Lockdown, we decided that supporting our local Blackheath Mitre 10 hardware store to stay afloat was equally important. They also delivered all the materials to our door, which made it super easy. At least the metal shelves are recycled!

Our first batch of seedlings are now under way – purple sprouting broccoli, Florence fennel, red cabbage, spinach, baby bok choy, 5 varieties of onion, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and kale. We’ll be sowing lots more over the coming week – some for us, some for the Community Farm.


First seedlings in the greenhouse


Our greenhouse at Blackheath Community Farm was donated to us and we were thrilled to save it from going to landfill when the previous owners no longer wanted it.


Greenhouse we rebuilt at the Farm


Today we spent the day at the Farm planting more broad bean seed, spreading organic ‘dynamic lifter’ before the rain (because gardens need a heavy feed every spring and autumn) and preparing for the forecasted cold snap later this week by transplanting frost tender plants from the garden into pots in the greenhouse.

First were our 6 chilli plants, including our enormous super-hot African Bird’s Eye Chilli ‘tree’! It fitted perfectly into the half compost tumbler that we’d rescued when the tumbler collapsed … turns out it’s perfect as a large planter pot. We then dug up some self-seeded tomato plants and some strawberries that have unripe fruit on them, and are keeping our fingers crossed that we can keep them growing and producing fruit in the greenhouse over winter.



When we first started the Farm, before we had the Greenhouse, we built a cold frame out of straw bales and old windows. It worked brilliantly to help us get our first batch of winter seedlings established.


Our first cold-frame at the Farm


Today we brought windows back to the Farm and built a cold-frame around our cucumber. We’re really keen to keep it going so that we can save seed from it.


Cold-frame protecting our cucumber


Like the cucumbers, other late starters because of the drought were our pumpkins. We don’t know whether they’ll pull through over the coming week. Nevertheless we trimmed some of the vigorous growth back so that most of the plants’ energy can go into ripening the existing pumpkins.


Harumi’s Japanese pumpkin


Taking inspiration from African and Indian cuisine, tonight I cooked up the young tender pumpkin leaves that we trimmed. Hard to believe that I never realised they were edible … there is so much food that is wasted in our culture! The leaves are apparently rich in Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, vitamins A, E, K, and B6, protein, iron, calcium and many minerals, and helped add variety to our Lockdown diet.


Chopped pumpkin leaves


Combined with the foraged saffron milkcaps I crispy-fried with garlic, and the Asian Dumplings we had in the freezer, we had an absolutely delicious meal tonight.


Stir-fried pumpkin leaves and crispy fried saffron milk caps with garlic


And PS. Looks like our morel mushrooms really ARE morels … cut one open today and it’s hollow inside.


Morel mushroom


Stir fried pumpkin leaves

2  cups tender young pumpkin leaves (thoroughly washed, de-veined and finely chopped)

1 cup cubed potatoes

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 chopped spring onion/shallot

1 ½ teasps chili powder or paste

1 teaspoon turmeric powder or paste

2 tablespoons oil (coconut if available … I just used olive oil)




• Saute onion and garlic in the oil

• Add cubed potato and when they’re half-cooked add chilli and turmeric. Mix well.

• Add chopped pumpkin leaves and some water if necessary.

• Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid on, checking to see if additional water needed.

About Lis Bastian

Lis Bastian is the Senior Lead for Blue Mountains City Council’s Planetary Health Initiative. She is the editor of the Local News Platforms and has been a writer, editor, news presenter and teacher/lecturer covering both cultural and environmental issues for over 30 years. She has been pioneering Solutions/Constructive Journalism in Australia since 2012.

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