Friday, November 25, 2011

Lamb and Broad Bean Tagine

From the Taste website ( Tried - Tested - LOVED!

Photography by Steve Brown

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbs olive oil
4 (about 300g each) lamb shanks
2 large red onions, halved, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbs ground cumin
1 7cm cinnamon stick
2 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes (La Gina brand)
250ml (1 cup) beef stock
375g (2 1/2 cups) shelled fresh broad beans (1.2kg fresh)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
190g (1 cup) couscous
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
1 tsp finely grated fresh lemon rind
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh continental parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Heat oil in flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add 2 lamb shanks and cook, turning, for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Remove from dish, repeat with remaining shanks. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, cumin and cinnamon, and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic

  2. Return lamb shanks to pan. Add tomatoes and stock. Cover, bring to the boil over high heat. Place in oven and cook, turning shanks occasionally, for 1 1/4 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, cook broad beans in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Rinse under cold running water. Remove the skins. Place the broad beans in a bowl and set aside.

  4. Uncover lamb and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until lamb is falling off the bone and sauce reduces and thickens. Add the broad beans for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Meanwhile, place couscous in a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water while stirring with a fork. Cover, set aside for 3-4 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff grains with a fork. Add lemon rind, season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.

  6. To serve, spoon couscous onto serving plates. Top with lamb shank, spoon over sauce and sprinkle with parsley.


This recipe uses a lot of Broad Beans. We were taken by surprise and had enough time to cook a second batch of broad beans before adding a the end of cooking.

I recommend adding the broad beans only within the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to keep their beautiful colour.

Great recipe to get through your broad bean crop quickly.


New Additions To My Garden

Treloar Rose
Hybrid Tea Bush Rose

 Available at Bunnings and online at
Cost: under $20


Hydrangea Macrophylla 'Jon01'
Strawberries & Cream

Available at Bunnings.
Handy Fact Sheet:
Cost: $10 - $22

Tip of The Day #1


When washing your garden tools, always use cool water that is running slowly. Never use warm water as it will encourage rust to set in. Rub with your hand over the tool to ensure that it is thoroughly clean. Allow to air dry outside. If tools are put away in a warm shed immediately after a wash this will also encourage rust to grow on your tools.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Potting Mix Drama Fix

I have two of my very favourite varieties of tomatoes in my vegetable garden at the moment. One is a standard Burnely Bounty and the other is my absolutely top ranking cherry tomato, Pink Pearl. I can't tell you how keen I was to grow Pink Pearl again. Awesome flavour.

However, something occurred a week or two ago that sent my heart into full panic.

My Pink Pearl cherry tomato bush was completely limp!

And it happened just when my internet was down, my usual flurry of information hunting could not be carried out. So in desperation I rang Mum.

We hypothesized all the possible causes:
  • a worm/bug
  • an infection,
  • a twisty tie having been tied too tightly, etc.

So I ventured out into the garden to fully investigate the problem with trowel in hand.

But here is the curious part...

As I begun to dig down into the pot around the roots of my tomato plant, it found it incredibly hard and dry.

Now WHY should that be so unusual?

Because of the amount of water I was pouring onto it daily. I believe in a really good saturating drink of water for every plant. The water catchment pool underneath was even dry. So what happened to all of that water???

The problem was staring me right in my face.

It was the POTTING MIX.

It was the new type of potting mix that I had used: Debco's PotMate Vegetable & Herb potting mix.

PotMate contains a wetting agent as well as a controlled release fertiliser, trace elements and growth simulants. Pot Mate recommends that to get the full benefit of their potting mix, gardeners should not blend it with any other potting mix.

Shame on me, I HAVE been blending with other potting mixes using the Debco PotMate to great effect throughout my rasied bed vegetable garden.  But this time, I obeyed the instructions on the bag and went the whole hog on the PotMate for my favourite tomato. Nothing could be too good for my favourite plant.

But it does seem to be a wetting agent or water retainer additive problem.

Inserted garden hose to water deep down.

I gave my tomato a big drink of Seasol at the time of digging around the roots, and then inserted two hose pipes deep into the pot to ensure that the water would get down lower.

My tomato plant bounced back to life over night! And is now bursting with tresses of cherry tomatoes, one week later.

Why did my other plants not suffer dryness with a blending of PotMate?
Because I mixed it in well to give effective drainage. The compost, general potting mix and cow manure were all working together to grab that moisture and get it to the roots properly.

BLEND, BLEND, BLEND your potting mixes for the best results♥
Debco PotMate is still I lovely product, but needs to be handled in the right way for beautiful results.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mulching the Flower Garden

This month I have decided to focus on my front garden's watering needs and invested in a forest mulch to help reduce watering costs and to reduce weeds. My front garden is made up of bushes, roses, bulbs, ground covers and other flowering plants.

The best way to care for your garden is to ensure that it not only has good drainage but is also able to store enough moisture in the soil around the roots especially during the warmer months of the year.

Leaving your soil exposed to direct sunlight will cause considerable evaporation. And that is never good news for your plants during summer.

Adding mulch to any garden is like saying 'I Love You' to your plants.

What One Cubic Meter (m3) looks like.

I ordered one cubic meter (m3) which is a front-end-loader's scoop full (mounded trailer sized amount).  This surprisingly turned out to be a very generous amount and I was able to cover more that what I had expected, even with ensuring that the mulch was applied as thickly as recommended.

My order (including delivery) cost only $75.
If my car could have taken a free lone trailer I could have saved $25.

Keep your eyes open for Spring specials at your local garden soil suppliers. Spring is the best time to buy your mulch to save money.

Mulching Tips
  1. Water your plants well. Add a wetting agent if needed.
  2. Remove weeds.
  3. Dig in any compost to enhance the soil, if required.
  4. Clean up any dead leaf matter from native Australian trees (eucalyptus, paper bark, wattles, etc.), as they can slowly poison your plants like a toxic cup of tea.
  5. Dig up bulbs (at the end of Spring or early summer) to thin out or store, if appropriate.
  6. Apply your mulch thickly as it will reduce with time.
  7. Do not allow the mulch to come in direct contact with the base of the plants. Your plants need oxygen circulation.

Mulch Options

Don't be confused by all the different types of mulches on offer.  Some just "add nutrients" or contain added Blood and Bone.

I'm a firm believer that you don't need to buy anything "added" as your plants have individual nutrient needs.

Your native plants will have different nutrient needs compared to an acid loving Camilla or Protea. And those types of plants will need different care than any water-loving European introduced species.

The only exception would be a succulent/cacti themed garden, which would ideally benefit from pebbles.

A standard mulch (usually called a Forest Mulch) is ideal in most gardens.

Happy mulching!