Saturday, December 24, 2011

The berries are in.... but the geese are out!

The berries are in! Yippee!

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People's gardens are overflowing with them and everyone has a smile on their face.

For a joyful, playful view of Christmas, from a bunch of happy goats..... watch this delightful video

image My 2 new geese, who I thought were safely fenced into goose heaven, were found out wandering beside the pond this morning..... and Alex and I had been so proud of our handy work.... image

 

 

 

 

image ....and then they strolled into the water as I turned the corner. Oh dear.... Deb said keep them enclosed for 2 weeks and its only been 2 days!

Well, there's plenty of grass for them to mow so maybe I will just have to let them start work. Surely they will stay near the pond, since that is where the grass is.

 

Merry Christmas to all bloggers.....

to those who are enjoying Christmas in sunny Australia and picnics on the beach, to those of you huddling by the fire in the northern hemisphere.

Eat, think and be merry!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The exciting birth of the cape gooseberry

image By the end of winter the capsule that was green, then brown, has skeletonised and the seeds inside are housed in the shrivelled yellow fruit, if it is not eaten by me!
image In spring, if the capsule is in a moist place, the seeds germinate and send down tiny roots through the threads of the capsule skin and then masses of miniscule green leaves begin to grow and fill the capsule.
image Still the capsule holds tight, until the growth of seedlings inside put such pressure on the skin.....
image that it pops open, shedding its skin forever and another generation of cape gooseberry plants are born!

Such is the joy of growing food.

Life is good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Raspberries without netting.... the story from both sides

image I just picked a bowl of raspberries from the garden. I did not have to battle with netting; I have very many birds all flitting about .... so why didn't they get the raspberries? Camouflage!

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I planted raspberries along a flimsy fence I put up when I first came here, to separate chooks and vegetables. The winds that first year were ferocious so I let some very strong mallows continue to grow on the chook side of the fence to help protect the vegetables from the wind and to disguise from the chooks what I was doing inside the vegetable garden!

Lazy gardener that I am, all I have done since, to the mallows, is to trim them like a rough hedge. Now they are flowering with masses of lilac flowers. Luckily the raspberries, on the vegetable garden side of the fence, have managed to flourish. I have been meaning to put up bird netting over the whole row, as people said I would not get one raspberry if I didn't keep the birds out.

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Well, lazy gardener that I am, the net never did get put up, the raspberries are ripe and I have just picked a bowl full, with not a single berry missing from the canes, as far as I can see!

It is very hard to see, from these photos, but that is the point! It is also hard to see for the birds! From above, the row of raspberries is disguised by the purple flowers from the mallow. Magic! And so simple.

 

Sometimes.... in fact, often.... its best to wait a while and see what happens before rushing off and buying yet more stuff. I try to outsmart the birds and the pests and camouflage is one of the easiest options in a lazy gardener's compendium.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Geoff Lawton...my latest hero

The man who brought us those videos about finding the ancient food forests in various locations. I love his passion and want to go outside and DO the things in this video TODAY!!

But, why oh why does the price of $36 become $46 at the checkout? People are not supposed to advertise prices in Australia minus GST. All prices must include GST. And the shipping cost of $6.50 is outrageous. Well, looks like all I will ever see is this trailer!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Its my pastry and I'll cry if I want to....

....but luckily I didn't need to.

image Four keen pastry students fronted up in my kitchen on Saturday and we got down to work, making 3 different types of pastry. Mine was then made into a pie or tart which we baked and then, later, sat around and ate..... well, someone has to do it.... and what an excuse to eat spinach and fetta pie, apple pie and peach tart all in one day!

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The characters that gather in my kitchen for these workshops are what make life in Cygnet such a joy of the unexpected and such fun.... they would make a great TV show... and I have someone coming to stay later this week who might just be the person for the job.... more on that next week.

Here's me, enjoying myself immensely while the big Scotsman is no doubt saying something almost unintelligible, but very funny. image

 

 

Sometimes I was rather pleased that the result was as superb as I knew it could be.... but there were moments when it could have been otherwise.... like when I turned out the upside down peach tart, having only ever made it once before!

image Of course we had a short break for coffee in the garden... before heading back inside to finish the apple pie.image

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The proof of the pudding....

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Thanks to the photographer for providing me with so many photos .... again!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Foraging for Food Walk

All night it poured with rain. All through breakfast it continued. I was sure there would be cancellations. I checked my emails and listened for the phone.... then they started to arrive; early, happy, laden with home-made food and drinks to share. Before long the clouds lifted and as we stood in my lawn, while Jilli gave us her introduction to the world of weeds and herbs through human history, I thought to myself how wonderful it is here.... how lovely the people are..... how they turn up prepared for any weather...how generous they are..... how lucky I am to have Jilli as a neighbour.

image We set off to Jilli's and spent a good hour and a half delighting in her amazing knowledge of English edibles which now run rampant in our gardens. Jilli's garden follows the same creek as flows through my garden and on the banks of it she has naturalized what we generally call weeds but are, in fact, the staple foods of the peasants of England for thousands of years. Here we all are, walking beside the trickling stream and looking for the little orange markers Jilli had used to mark the plants we were learning about.....

Telling the difference between Dandelion and....
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Cat's Ear, for example....
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Jilli's newest composting method is this  woven design from Suweto.
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Then back at my place for a shared lunch....
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image Jilli had made stinging nettle soup, using the large, English nettles from her garden but I have the smaller, Tasmanian nettles in mine. The soup went so fast that this is all that was left on the hotplate of the gas BBQ for a photo!image

I made a dip which started out being chickweed pesto but, oh lalala, I had an embarrassing number of disasters while making it and thought it was ruined..... but people loved it and even asked for the recipe!

image Amanda is a blogger who came all the way from Hobart and brought this fabulous elderflower cordial (quite different to Deb's divine nectar but equally as delicious), amongst other things. She has a great blog called Gourmet Gatherer. Since she is new to blogging, do call in on her and say hello. I was lucky to get this photo of Fern and John with the cordial because it too disappeared in no time!

image We finished the afternoon with coffee and Judy's soft and perfect scones.

Jilli provided us with handouts for the weeds we happily now call friends, and even recipes to make sure we enjoy them in our everyday lives as well as a comprehensive reading list.

 

This kind of knowledge is invaluable for we Australians who have no tradition of eating from our own wild places, having scoffed for too long, over the last 2 centuries, at the Aboriginal people who knew the land and Australia's own wild edibles. We must now learn to eat weeds from other countries, gathered in our own gardens, and to find what knowledge we can about edible Tasmanian plants.... including a native elderberry and a raspberry found in the forests.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A piece of paradise and history for sale in Tasmania....and incredibly affordable

We went to this coffee shop for a Ploughman's Lunch on our way back to Cygnet recently. Sally served up the best lunch we'd had for ages and topped it off with a side of beetroot relish. It was so good we asked her if she had it for sale..... and when she said yes, and that she had grown the beetroot too, we bought the lot to sell on The Garden Shed market stall. We sold out in one day!

Evandale is breathtakingly beautiful, just like in the video.... oh how I would have loved to buy the business. I so hope someone falls in love with it and keeps it going.

Good luck Sally!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Chance Meeting....

I was at a market with Hugh; I bought some vegetables and some olive oil from a bloke and we exchanged a few remarks.... he was busy but I told him I was taking the oil back to Tasmania.... I gave his wife my business card and then we moved on..... Next day, an email invited us to visit Patlin Gardens and a friendship was begun.

image Pat and Lina grow vegetables organically, but uncertified, between rows of olive trees at Angle Vale. Pat understands health, of himself and of his soil and plants. He said he used to use chemicals when he lived somewhere else and they made him sick so for many years now he has kept away from them and vitality oozes from his skin. There is passion in his voice. He has a lovely smile and a quick wit.

We spend hours wandering his 20 acres, chatting, understanding each other and I learn so, so much from him.... I learn a lot about olives.... varieties, growing them, eating some of them fresh from the tree.... and about the olive oil making process. I learn about zucchinis, of all things, and which to grow for the flowers and which to grow for the flesh....I learn about growing garlic for year round flavour.... I learn about sowing for a continuous supply. I learn an awful lot about growing for a weekly market, where it is no good having vegetables ripen mid-week and I grow to admire this man and his strength to do all this because he wants people to be healthy.

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image He cuts open a yellow beetroot and tells us about the way he talks to people at the market to try to get them to try new things and get them to feel the goodness in his vegetables and to understand about eating good food. I ask millions of questions but every time he shows me an unusual vegetable he looks at me quizzically..... and every time I know what the vegetable is, even if it is in its infancy, and I think he is surprised and we share some mutual admiration.

image In the front yard are other fruit trees, all with understories of herbs and salad greens. This is how we should all be growing our food; maximising space, using herbs as pest control, as well as planting as diversely as possible.

 

 

image  They let the oregano flower then pick it and dry it, tying into bunches for the market. There are boxes of the bunches in the shed, along with boxes of their first garlic harvest, and the smell is intoxicating.

 

 

image Inside the house, Lina has been preparing orders for her chilli sauce and olive tapenade. We are invited to sit down and share some olives and beer and it is a wonderful thing.... anyone who can get me to like beer must have magic in their veins!

I cannot explain well enough how privileged Hugh and I felt at the generosity these market gardeners offered to complete strangers. I am bringing back 20 litres of Pat's olive oil and plan on dealing with Pat and Lina from now on, with The Garden Shed and Pantry olive oil supplies and, hopefully, their pickled olives too, if Tasmanian quarantine allows. They hope to visit Tasmania and I have asked them to stay anytime.

If you are at the Showgrounds Farmers' Market, do say hello to Pat and Lina at their Patlin Gardens stall and do mention you are a friend of mine. You can safely eat everything they grow and know it is grown with a passion for health, between rows of olive trees, just to the north of Adelaide. Their business card says.... there are seasons for a reason.... and on the back, there are reasons for the seasons....you won't find out of season produce or food grown using plastic at this market stall.