biodiversity in the garden, everyday

Wonder bowl

Ever wonder where your food comes from ? Thought about how much energy it takes ? Know the person who grew it ? Maybe the region it came from ?

Every now & again I do. It’s pretty cool to actually know a few answers to questions now & again.

So this photo was lunch today. Stir fried in 10 min and enjoyed with our new HelpX volunteer.

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Left overs and backyard offerings. A tiny beetroot, corn, shallots, baby eggplant, pumpkin, radish and cucamelon within walking distance. Rice grown by Randalls – an Australian organic family farm, Chinese cabbage from our truly amazing and recently renovated Flametree Co-op (I also buy our tamari and olive oil in bulk here.)

So apart from lunch looking a little lumpy, it’s also got loads of colour, texture and energy. Eat a rainbow. try to give yourself enough time to enjoy it.

Super cool thing about hunting around locally, (see if you’ve got a local Food Is Free Table people drop and swap at in your area) is you get the flavour of independence. Sometimes things that aren’t mainstream. And most certainly foods that are in season for your region.

Try to make a little time and indulge yourself.

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everyday, seasonal eating

Real food is happy food

There’s a fair amount of talk around what type of food to eat, how to eat it, when best to eat. Fresh is best, especially when it’s seasonal and if you can access relatively locally produced food – fantastic.

But like many kids ask – WHY ? My definition of real food is produce grown by people with care of the soil as their number one priority. This extends into care for their environment, care for people working with them and doing what’s right, not wasting resources but looking at the whole picture, not merely one tiny detail. It’s about nurturing and putting hard earned knowledge and skill into growing really fabulous tasty produce. Soil that is loved is nutrient dense and alive. You’ll find biodiversity above and below your feet. You can see it. You’ll tap into a life force rather than entering into commodity trading. (Which I reckon a lot of big box retailers do – they have different goals to your independent grower.)IMG_0642.jpg

I actually did this the other day – purchased a ‘commodity’ from a big box retailer for our dinner – my brain had stopped working after a particularly big day and the cogs had jammed. The packaging looked pretty and I knew the family would eat it. I  snazzed it up with home made sauce to make up for the nutrient deficit. There were clean plate rangers – but I could taste what was missing – life force. Not the end of the world I know – but I missed what I take for granted when I do put the energy in.

Food grown in season gives us what we need for that season. Who’d want to gorge themselves on watermelon in winter ? Or feel the desire to sit down to a big roast dinner when the evening temperature is 27 C?

Remember we’re living beings, not just machines requiring fuel. We need good energy, diversity, light and good water to stay vital – so does our food.

biodiversity in the garden, everyday, observe

Gardening for the Soul

Coolest thing about growing and edible garden, is you get to eat your experiments.

It’s not like doing the dishes where you have the instant gratification of clean dishes but in no time flat, hey ho! they’re dirty.

Gardening is great for the soul. Wander through an edible patch an smell the herbs as you brush by. Even just sitting on the ground outside can be considered ‘gardening’ if you’re half observing what’s going on around you. What can you hear ? What can you feel ? Noticed your breath slow a tiny bit ? Seen any pollinators ? Anyone/thing else like to eat the plants?

Not everyone has their own path of dirt (or wants one), so make the most of the local reserve/ park/ community garden. Share stories.

How else are you going to know what a baby radish tastes like unless you pluck one from the soil? Walk on the mint growing a little crazy, being the brightest of green like it’s invincible.

There are so many elements – literally – from the ground up. I confess, I’m not a scientist & never will be. But you don’t have to undertake a full analysis to appreciate what’s going on around you. The more you look, the more you see – if something is struggling, if it looks a little neglected or when your backyard wonderland is in balance.

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Hectic day ? Take your shoes off and lie down outside. Breath deeply. Check out the shadow play of late afternoon light.

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Instigate a no dig garden build with your neighbour. Small spaces stay manageable and easy to keep an eye on. Build a garden lasagne without breaking yourself. No heavy lifting, no heavy digging. Watch nature play right before your eyes, building soil and growing something we like to eat.

I’ve found through gardening no more mistakes, just constant learning – always a way to improve practice next time round. And patience. So much patience ! Gardens don’t happen overnight like sea monkeys or those crazy crystal postcard trees out of a packet.

But they are so worth the wait.

everyday

Look after your Love

I’ve been doing a fair bit of learning lately. Learning mostly that it’s not a good idea to try to do everything all the time and sometimes there are people and events that are bigger than you.

There I was thinking that building my own business revolving around growing nutritious food and sharing this developing knowledge was huge and really important above other stuff.

Then my Dad had a stroke. The quicker the response for a stroke victim, the better the outcome. Ideally, seeking treatment within 4 hours is ideal. Dad has a significant event and didn’t receive help until 12 hours later. No one really knew what to expect. At first we thought he may not walk again and didn’t know how damaged he may have been. So I did a fair bit of long distance driving, there were many phone calls to attempt to stay in the loop and supporting family physically closer to Dad.

For further information about strokes (these suckers impact on 1 in 6 Australians – which is more than breast cancer and more than prostate cancer), How to respond and where to look for help check out the  Stroke Foundation . Needless to say the planting and workshop schedules went out the window.

Then my husbands dad went through a major medical drama too.

Throughout all of this, my husbands workload seemed to keep expanding before my eyes and then pop the icing on the cake with an unpaid second job of being an owner builder in his remaining waking hours (and some of the ones meant for sleeping too).

Then school holidays kick in. I love holidays, but I think my work productivity drops by at least 50%. You get up a few hours earlier to harvest and deliver to take your daughter to the city for the day, as public transport was facing ‘significant delays’. Not too bad in the scheme of things – just a constant juggle to see how stretchy those hours are and how much you can cram in.IMG_0534.jpgBut you know what ? Days are long, weeks tend not to be, kids aren’t kids for too long and parents aren’t going to be around forever.

So a few balls were dropped (try – disbanded) as I realigned my priorities to make more space for love.

School went back today and I was actually disappointed to see the end of our unstructured days and super loose weeks. I guess without work, you don’t appreciate the holidays, the gifts people give you by rocking up week after week to help you build your dream business. The curious and super supportive peeps who want to see your school volunteering ideas flourish. So at bottom of the day, make sure you look after yourself, appreciate those around you and give energy where you can.

…..3 months after my Dad’s stroke, he’s now a lot stronger and there’s a few steps being taken here and there. If he hadn’t been looking after himself with good food, exercise and good company (not to mention brilliant neighbours), his story may have had a far less positive outcome.

Enjoy what you’ve got, where you’re at and drink plenty of water in the crazy heat – just like the plants do 🙂

 

 

 

 

explore growing, produce

Summer Daze

So far there’s been a few  consistent elements to our summer.

Watering  – heat – humidity – cucumbers – my desire to read – watering  – afternoon naps (so decadent !)

Tricky trying to get back into the rhythm of working outdoors in the heat of summer. My brain goes a little mushy and my family are all too aware of the adverse effect of elevated temperatures on my sense of humour. So the trick – get up early, do the essential stuff and celebrate the small wins.

Like cucumbers. It’s like watching the beanstalk Jack planted reaching for the sky. Good food, daylight, water and away they go.IMG_0521.jpg

These gorgeous cucurbits have superpowers ! They can hide from the untrained eye remarkably well. They take on colourbond fencing an mold themselves to available space. They are beautiful when cut on the cross section.

Best of all – they of all the good things of summer. Refrigerate before eating and even more refreshing.

Drink it – chop one up, throw it in the blender with ice cubes, a little water, mint and a smidge of honey – best summer drink.

Pickle it – using 1 part white vinegar, 1 part water, 1/2 part sugar (combine all and heat until sugar dissolves.) Whilst you’re waiting for the liquid to cool, slice up your cucumber, pop in a sterilized jar. Then pour the liquid over pop the lid on, let it cool a bit on the bench and stick it in the fridge. A great sharp flavour to wake up the tastebuds in a salad or on a sambo.

Transfrom it – into tzatziki with a beautiful plain creamy yoghurt and a drizzle of olive oil. The key here is to make sure you strain the grated cucumber for a fair while as you don’t want your dip being watery.

Go out and enjoy these elongated gems of summer, just try not to water the plant in the evening as powdery mildew could set in on the leaves.

Make a teepee from several plants and enjoy their shade and fruit.

community, everyday, explore growing

Oh hello, New Year !

We’ve slid into the summery bliss of 2018 with heat, humidity, cucumbers and zucchinis.

We harvested just before Christmas, our two colonies have been busy indeed. For this they have our gratitude.

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There’s been time for reflections and daydreams, making time to water before the garden turns into a crisp, making time for family, reading, reading some more, the occasional nap and feeling revitalized for the adventures ahead.

Growing your own food can be incredibly rewarding. Knowing people love what you do, are on the same values page and continue to support you with their hard earned dollars is humbling and great encouragement you’re on the right path.

I read a fair bit. More and more so about food politics, how to grow stuff, how trees talk, the interconnection of everything and how we’ve got a lot to learn about so much. Seems small scale urban agriculture can play a massive role in establishing food security, reconnecting neighbourhoods with real nutritional food and give people a sense of place.

There’s a lot that could be perceived as overwhelming. There’s also a lot to be optimistic about.  I’ve chosen just to start / continue)where I am with what I’ve got and learn from my environment. Small steps in my own backyard.

My word of the year is EDUCATION. The more we’re curious, we ask questions. We feel empowered to try new stuff and and know it’s a learning curve. More fun than standing still.

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This is the foundation of what one day will be our demonstration site. Turf roof covered, north facing, super snug studio. Volunteers are helping us get this out of the ground – energy exchanges make a rich currency around here.

So our focus is educating ourselves, sharing knowledge (volunteering is a great way to see/ experience/ contribute/ learn at large without spending a cent), growing, eating and sharing beautiful produce and regularly taking time to appreciate where we are.

Join us on the ride.

everyday

Everyday objects

The nice thing about routine is exactly that. A routine. Something you do on a regular basis, using regular tools. When you use something regularly, it’s nice if you actually enjoy the task maybe there’s even a little ritual involved. Like putting the espresso pot on the stove top every morning.

Take the humble chopping board for example. This one has a story. One based on love. Weird you may think for a lump of wood. I use it every day I’m home for approximately the last 17years. I know that’s how long it’s been, because we bought this 2kg block on our honeymoon in Tasmania at the markets. It feels good. It’s a real material and no piece of plastic is ever going to come close to having this living energy.

The scissors – big handles and SHARP. The first few times I wasn’t paying attention, I managed to accidentally jab myself and draw blood. I use these scissors every time I harvest and they always do a beautiful job. Haven’t had to sharpen them in the 6 years I’ve owned them. Purchased from a little local hardware store in Japan, they are a functional beautiful souvenir from a fabulous adventure.

The thermos, whilst not everyday, is magic – of so my sister says. Capable of keeping broth really warm for two days, it makes me smile. Treasure found in a op shop that’s stood the test of time.IMG_9912

How about you ? Do you have everyday objects that bring a smile, you’re thankful for every time you use it ?