autumn, biodiversity in the garden, diversity, everyday, explore growing, seasonal eating

The more I grow the more I cook (or at least play in the kitchen)

IMG_1186.jpgAnother awesome adventure in abundance !!!

Knowing where to go for your seasonal best is imperative for good health. Better still is learning what on earth to do with it once you’ve got it.

Citrus are care of our backyard – just in time for the vitamin C boost as the seasons shift, cabbage are from a friend who had the patience to watch them grow long enough (think he said 15 weeks) – soon to be turned in to sauerkraut and workshopped, mushroom grow bags are from a recent workshop at a community centre and apples are care of a local farm growing the most incredible fruit (and making cider on site!). – these are just eaten straight, added to porridge & I’ll soon attempt to make vinegar from the apple scraps. Sweet potato were bandicooted from under the fig tree.

So this incredible produce is abundant only at certain times. If you pick 12 kg of limes, it’s a good idea to know how to use them !! In juice, store in the fridge, juice & freeze, freeze the whole fruit, preserve them in salt & trade a few ūüėČ Time invested in growing throughout the year pays dividends,

So lunch yesterday – sprouted broccoli in¬† the pan with steamed pumpkin (basically the pumpkin turned itself to soup), fried egg from a friends place, pesto made with parsley, rocket, basil, preserved lime, olive oil & almond meal.¬† I’d never buy that stuff – but learning to make do with what you’ve got certainly expands your culinary horizons. It’s a bit of being curious, a little brave a fair amount of rational and a whole lot of resourcefulness.

Likewise, letting growers play to their strengths has obvious rewards, the subtleties and knowledge to produce consistently is so under rated.¬† Once you start on your own growing adventure –¬† your appreciation of everything considered vaguely edible grows exponentially.

autumn, everyday, explore growing

Coming up for air

Every now and again my head feels a little like this…..

plotting & dreamingA little all over the shop. It seems to make sense if I can lay it all out – systems mapping at it’s finest. Get comfy, spread it all out, no electronic interruptions and gently sift through the layers.

I actually really like this time of year, (and this workspace) because it allows me to look up and look out.

Trying to plant a market garden for family, wholesale customers and households in the community can be a little of a challenge when you’re new to the game.

Kinda like weaving a tapestry in 4 dimensions.

Luckily for me, I’ve got a beautiful network of super supportive people, so even if something goes a little pear shaped there’s leeway for the novice and the impetus to give it another red hot go.

IMG_0489.JPG

I’m really thankful for autumn it’s pretty much here now- the light melts away from 3/4 of the market garden, so the seasons dictate how I work and when it’s time to come up for air.

It’s just about time to review what’s worked well and where there’s potential to change. Also a bit of plotting & scheming for when the light comes back.

And time for planning that winter road trip up the coast with the family – awesome.

autumn, community, explore growing

Learning from the curious

The opportunity to learn should be a right, but quite often I like to think of it as a gift. What a treat to meet someone that spark’s curiosity (or to be the one inspiring others) so much they want to find out more, give you their time and energy to grow.

This is exactly what happened to me last week, but time moving as it does, it went by in a blur. We had a gorgeous group of permaculture students through, seeing how we’ve implemented and overlaid permaculture design principles to our home. Could have happily chatted all day long, as it was – we only had 1 1/2 hours to engage, inspire and faciliate the site visit. I heard we got a tick in the inspiration department, so yay.

 

I LOVE questions. Sometimes it’s tricky to hear everything when we’re all spread out (hot tip 47 – bring people in closer for an outdoor discussion), maybe not everyone heard (hot tip 48 – repeat question so whole group benefits), slowing down to really embrace the minutes together (hot tip 1 – have a plan of the way you’d like to share).

IMG_1024.jpg

So why the mulch ??

We had a question about managing our grass. (Not galahs) Grass fields are great for games, not so good in the market garden. Our answer – manage by mulching – sheet mulch the area.

For this you need a few things – newspaper (our neighbour drops hers over the fence once read – her contribution to our garden), mulch (free woodchip from a local arbourist), moisture (if you’re lucky) and time. Start at the highest point¬† you wish to eradicate grass from with a pad of around 10 sheets of damp newspaper. Lay the next batch of 10 sheets down, overlapping the 1st set by a good 10 cm. And on you go – ’tiling’ the grass underneath. Cover all with a good 10 cm layer of woodchip and you’re done. The main aim is to deprive the grass of light, making it extraordinarily difficult to grow. Tile from the top so the water can still penetrate to the soil, but keeping the light off the grass. Beware of trying to do this job on a breezy day.

Over time, these layers eventually return to their original material – soil.

Job done – no grass and more soil and a few more people inspired to try stuff out.

Big shout out to Milkwood Permaculture for the really fabulous work they do.

autumn, explore growing

Looking forward

You also need to look back, see where you’ve come from to make sense of the forward journey. So on my way back from the market garden,heading south¬† this is what I check out…..

Feels a little like structured chaos.IMG_0795.jpg

As of a few days ago, when I pause for a cuppa, looking north is a whole new adventure…..

IMG_0806.jpg

That ply sheeting (which thankfully was sealed before the rain came) is the base layer for a whole new ecosystem. A roof to grow which if the engineering and the headspace required are anything to go by, is going to be absolutely incredible. Amongst the treasures going up, 50 m2 of no dig garden beds. An increase of 10% on the market garden ON THE ROOF.

Right now it feels like a helicopter will land any moment.

As I look up the hill and see little no dig beds, seedlings, figs trees huddling together, I have to think of far the garden has grown instead of how much work there still lies ahead. Such a humble start –¬† a dozen pots hugging a northern wall 6 years ago and enough grass slashed to make a human sized nest for the whole family.

At least the roof top is clear and tidy.

autumn, biodiversity in the garden

When I grow up…

…I wanted to be a florist. Full of colour, creativity and bringing people joy. A fragrant workplace, full of wonder.

Funny how ideas manifest into reality. Our market garden has¬†flowers which inspire curiousity, taste great, some have healing properties and most importantly fabulous for the pollinating insects in the garden. Flowers have been in use at mealtimes, ceremonies, rituals and healing across many cultures around the planet. The first recorded history of their edibility was 140 BC! Here in our backyard market garden, flowers¬†provide nourishment for the bees and others¬†which in turn pollinate our edible garden. Without bees working away, we’d lose around 80% of the variety from our diet!!!IMG_8981.jpgIMG_8980.jpgSuch joy and colour, we’ve just got to remember to quietly crouch down and look around.

Fabulous garnish on cakes and salads.

IMG_7965.jpg Just remember to find out where your flowers come from. A reputable source will look after the environment to maximise the health of the plants. Chemicals will disrupt the web of life neccessary for health and happiness.

Appreciate your locale and see what other life also appreciates the blooms.

IMG_8245.JPG

Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

autumn, soil

Making your bed

Bed is a happy place, when you get it just right it verges on magic.

That’s what was happening today – preparing for magic. Checking the pH of the beds to make sure they’re in the optimum range of pH6 – pH7.5 means the nutrient buffet is open and ready to be feasted upon. If you start sliding up or down the scale (acid or alkaline, it makes life a whole lot trickier. All of a sudden the menu is very limited and even more nutrients are locked up because the magic key to their availability lies with their compadres – the nutrients no longer available because the soil is too acid or alkaline. Growth is possible, but the results may be pretty ordinary.bed prepThese shallots weren’t reaching their potential, whereas a friend has grown the most incredible looking shallots planted around the same time. So – where to find the problem? Moisture in good supply-check.¬†Sunshine – check. It’s a young bed so a fair bit of food is in the soil. Pull out the trusty pH kit (available at produce stores and many hardware shops). A quick test (no fancy technology or batteries required) and ta-da !!! Problem recognized. Kinda like the princess and the pea. One little problem and it can ruin a great bed. So we transplanted this batch of shallots and so far, they’re happy (- maybe it’s still the transplant shock.)

Moral of the story – a little bit of homework will save you weeks of waiting. Be observant. Get your hands in the soil. Take records of what you find and grow.

autumn, harvesting the yield, produce

Here we are

…….in this day, at this moment. A break in between the seemingly never ending rain, enjoying cooler autumn days, pockets of sunshine, garden observations. ¬†Cucumbers have finished, zucchini not enjoying the cooler weather, kohlrabi plumping up nicely, rocket seedlings happy.

Thankful for lessons learnt (not much enjoys a really hot day!), opportunities arising and being brave to try new techniques.

We covered another hugelkultur be (basically an oversized, slightly rawer, slower version of a no dig bed) so it can mature and be ready for cucurbit city next summer. Lovely to share some of the last of summers bounty with friends volunteering, harvesting long awaited salad mix (after the learnings of summer – not planting enough, too hot, not enough attention….)

Flowers through the season, adding a colour happy colour to the salad mix after being appreciated for their service in the garden. Enjoying and being thankful for the diversity of our garden offerings to share with locals and trade for what we value.