Kitchen Garden Guides

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Greeting of Gavin and a second Voyage of the Vegetable Vagabond

Recently Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin, started doing some interviews with bloggers, and posting them on his blog. I think this is a great idea because it is so nice to hear the voices and stories of people whose blogs we all read, wherever they are in the world. I was the guinea pig and you can hear the chat I had with Gavin here....If you'd be happy to chat with Gavin, so we can all get to hear you and about you, send him an email:

image During our talk, I mentioned a trip I went on in 2008, where I stayed with bloggers all around the world, who I had never met, but had communicated with on our various blogs. I called it Voyage of the Vegetable Vagabond. Here is the story of the day I went to Gavin's. There are 37 blog posts from that trip, with photos of the people and vegetable gardens I visited and fabulous local foods I ate, but to start at the beginning you have to go to the oldest post and read from there.

I am giving a talk and slide show of my trip to the Cygnet U3A group in a week or so and this has started me thinking....

In 2012 my son Alex will be graduating with a PhD from Oxford University and I plan to go to the graduation.... what mother would not! And in my mind is another Vegetable Vagabond trip.... and this time I WILL write the book, complete with stories from the first trip too.... Who will I meet this time? Who will offer me a place to stay for a few days in exchange for me digging in their soil and cooking in their kitchen? I have a side bar full to overflowing with my favourite blogs from all corners of the earth.... I'd love to meet some of you and share laughs and stories and local food with you, wherever you live. I am pretty sure it will be in the second half of 2012 but the dates  are not set yet.

image Here is the bloggers picnic Patrick and I organised in the Oxford Botanic Gardens...most of us had never met before but felt we knew each other from reading each other's blogs.

Please do send me an email if you think you wouldn't mind me dropping in to see you and we could start making some plans....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adelaide Re-skilling Festival Launch

So often these days we humans only seem to gather together to buy things. What a great idea this re-skilling day was.... a bunch of people getting together to share what they know how to do. I saw the advertising for this day and it was so simple and soooo cool.... "come and share something that you can do". That was about it! And come they did.... one bloke brought his car that runs on old oils; someone was making sauerkraut; others were making and playing instruments; yet another doing quilting etc etc. It was the launch of a nice idea and I hope it takes off.... The Adelaide Re-skilling Festival.

Adelaide Reskilling FEstival from esm on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

If Detroit can do it, we all can....


Detroit's Industrial Collapse Gives Birth to Flourishing City Gardening Movement

Urban Roots Trailer from Tree Media on Vimeo.

New documentary highlights the incredible rise of urban gardening in one of the least expected places.

April 14, 2011  |  

The collapse of industrial cities continues: Detroit, once ranked the 11th largest city in the United States, has seen it’s population decrease from 2.2 million to just over 700,000 according to the 2010 census. This Earth month, Tree Media, the creators of The 11th Hour, are releasing Urban Roots, a film that highlights the hopeful emergence of urban farms in Detroit, as a struggling city finds a new voice, and asks the question, when everything collapses, what happens next?

Urban Roots is the latest documentary from Leila Conners, Mathew Schmid, and director and Detroit-native, Mark MacInnis. Urban Roots centers on the rise of urban farms in Detroit where people are taking matters into their own hands. Citizens are working together to create self-reliant communities based on organic food and have transformed many abandoned lots into community gardens and farms. The people of Detroit are taking back Detroit: one garden, one farm at a time.

Read more....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seeds, glorious seeds; what more could you ask for....

... so the song from "Oliver" goes... well, it would've if I'd had a say!

I must have written this same kind of post a dozen times, with reference to that song! To me, seeds are the elixir of life. I am never happier than when messing about with seeds.



Here are some of the tomato seeds I have collected this year and it is interesting to see how different the colours of the fresh seeds are. It has been a shockingly cold summer for tomatoes here and these tomatoes have all behaved differently...



The Jaune Flambe ripened first by far but were not all that flavoursome (although people tell me they usually are). Next came the Rouge de Marmande which outperformed all the others by miles.... or by kilograms. Every Rouge de Marmande bush was laden to breaking point with hands of big, luscious tomatoes that have ripened  quite well late in the season, giving me at least a few bottles of passata for winter and plenty of fried tomatoes to have with my mushrooms for breakfast. Those which were here in my hothouse when I moved in a year ago I named Kate's Medium Prolific. They have ripened sporadically but I have never seen so many medium sized tomatoes on a plant before. Last year they continued ripening right into winter in the hothouse but this year I planted them outside as well. Hillbilly  is popular here but failed to impress me this year, there being few fruit and lacking flavour. Green Zebra I found to be less than ordinary, having a squishy texture and very watery.


I love vegetables that form beautiful seed heads like this carrot. Who would expect one carrot to shoot a spike up to 3m into the air and top it firstly with a mass of fine, white flowers and finally settling to this cap of soft, faun seeds? Nature is incredible.




This is the first time I have seen garlic bulbils "in the flesh". The garlic we usually grew in Adelaide did not do do this....well, mine never did! So, as well as a good, strong heads of garlic, I have ended up with  solid balls of baby garlics, wrapped in brown paper, each on a nice little stick.



I will be planting them out into foam boxes this week. This is a cheap but time consuming way of increasing your planting stock for future years.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More than just a stall...

So (as Pattie would say!) I had a stall at the Cygnet market today, for the first time. I forgot my camera so you'll just have to read my words and use your imagination.....

A big, friendly, old hall full of nice wooden trestles, tables, boxes, cake stands  and electrical appliances.... a narrow, blustery lane outside filled with open vehicles, the odd dog, people in coats shuffling back and forth to the hall with stuff to sell.... gorgeous aprons, pork pies, cakes, herbs, vegetables, fruit, plants, freshly dug potatoes, tulip bulbs, art works, herb teas, hand-made soaps, jams and pickles, wooden bowls and dibbers, organic dry goods, books, ho mi's and everything in between.... the heater is on and I am glad it is an indoor market!

I am the new kid on the block and other stall holders come over to say hello, once they have their own ready to go.... everyone is friendly and interesting.... there are accents from the whole world of traders; some like me, very new to this game... trade begins between the stall holders before the market is open and I have already swapped a jar of my apricot jam for a tomato jam, the likes of which I have never had before .... and I have 10 large tulip bulbs for a bag of my pasta ..... and I have a baguette and a loaf of 5 seed bread for some post cards and some seedlings.

It is amazing how exciting it is to swap stuff, without money changing hands. I will treasure those things much more and remember the day I got them, simply because I did not use money, but instead formed a bond with the growers / makers. And it works in other ways too.... my stall was not just my own goods; I had already swapped and bartered my way through cloth bags, kilograms of fresh hazelnuts, 20 packets of parsnip seeds, 4 jars of honey and paper bags of plums in the days leading up to the market. One end of my trestle was shared with Rod, who turns amazing bowls and dibbers from Tasmanian wood, and in front of the trestle were boxes of produce from the community garden, collected and carried in by Mary and Laura who kindly stayed on and helped make the day not so stressful for me!

The customers were a mix of friends, acquaintances and unknowns but everyone had a smile and time for a chat.... some had far too much chatting to do but the skill of a stallholder, I am learning, is to be therapist, advisor and friendly face while, at the same time, selling your wares in a timely manner so you can move on to the next face and not lose anyone by not acknowledging them.

The regular stallholders said it was a slow day, but it sure was busy enough for me! I only had time to nip over to the pork-pie stall just before they sold out, to get a bite for lunch and apart from that I hardly left the 3 metres of trestle. Luckily, though, Rod's daughter Amy who was at the market selling husband Cam's wonderful breads, came up to me at one point and asked if I'd like a coffee from The Lotus Eaters Cafe.... and do you think I'd say no to the best coffee in town?? Oh, that reminds me, they said they'd like some more of my tarragon next week.... and for that I will get a free coffee and hopefully an eccles cake too.

This is a very different life to living in Adelaide. Barter and swap is everything here. The people form the core of the economy, not the money. I have been here now just a year and already I feel like I am one of those people....