everyday, explore food, harvesting the yield, homegrown, observe, pickle it

Slowing down to grow

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The fennel time forgot next to a 39 sized shoe

It happens so often – run run run to chase a idea of who you should be, where you should be and what you should be. Sometimes slowing down can have remarkable results.

it’s important to remember to be a little kind now & again – slowing down long enough to nibble on mulberries, watch the ladybugs on the flowering parsley and check out how quickly snails can shimmy up the side of a bucket when they know they’re under threat. Making time to get on your bike.

Take this fennel for example – the last seedling left in the tray, tucked into a little pocket and quietly left to it’s own devices. Wanting space back, the beast was harvested and promptly turned into Agrodulce Pickles – half a dozen jars to be put away for Christmas family feasting. Going slow can have some pretty spectacular yields.

Moral of the story – be kind, go slow and remember the best things take a little time. A little planning and mapping goes a long way. Make it as visual as you like. Step back and check that plan now and again to make sure you’re where you thought you would be on the map. And if you’re not – adjust the plan to accommodate where you’re at.

For a dose of inspiration – check out the great story of Ruth Stout – a lady who found her ultimate garden groove well down the track of life. Enjoy the ride!

biodiversity in the garden, everyday, explore food, greens

Eat your greens

How many times did you hear this as a kid? Tedious – I know. Boiled to within moments of turning into an unrecognizable form. Ever found something lurking up the back of the fridge you just weren’t sure what it was?

When you have greens only metres from your door or picked within hours of reaching you – you know on some deep level these greens deserve respect. You need to enjoy their vibrancy – happy food.

'eat your greens'

There are a number of  places to find the nutritional composition of why – but my eyes glaze over as I try to understand the composition breakdown of greens – I’m not scientifically minded and I like my food being food – not only because of what it can give me – but because of what it represents, it connects me back to place. Back to my backyard, to the sunshine and the watering and the incredible party trick of actually making the meal happen. These greens are seasonal, abundant, a whole food unto themselves and don’t need anything fancy.

Time and energy has been invested in making sure these greens reach their verdant potential. The average lettuce can take around 8 weeks to grow – carrots several months, shallots just are and beetroot – go top and tail into the meal. When you know the energy invested into their growth, you certainly don’t want to waste anything.

Carrot tops are totally edible – they can go into a sauce, stir fried as a veg, chopped into a salad. Beetroot tops can be used as a spinach substitute. Flash in the pan with a little olive oil, pinch of salt and lemon juice. Stalks of rainbow chard – just chop finely and throw into the stirfry. Respect your veg and munch away!

 

community, everyday, explore food, explore growing

What is healthy food anyway?

As a lovely girlfriend posted the other day..

Reading can seriously damage your ignorance’

So I try to do as much as possible and across a reasonably broad range, (as long as it has something to do with food.) If I could absorb them just by holding to book – woohoo!!!

The question posed of late – what is healthy food? Does anyone consider the health of the food system when making their purchase/ trade? If it’s healthy for us, is it seasonal or has it come from the other side of the planet? Did that meal need it’s passport stamped? What’s the embodied energy of watermelon in winter?

Price matters hugely to the customer, but what’s the actual cost? Is the farmer treated fairly? I know how much effort goes into growing food, and it takes time and resources. How about all those involved with the supply chain ? Start by growing something in your community, craft a little social change, Disrupt the routine. a household compost system can fill up pretty quickly just from fruit skins – imagine this on an industrial scale.

 

There are some really incredible organizations doing really fabulous work. Check out foodwise for some easily digestible infographics. Ozharvest is loaded with information about the real costs involved, how you can start at home and how you can help them help others.

Play with your food and see how far you go.

everyday, homegrown, seasonal eating, winter

Preservation time

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We’re a few days away from the shortest day of the year – Winter Solstice and I’m trying really hard to slow down, preserving this time and preserving the orbs of sunshine* (aka – lemons and limes) currently in abundance.

It really should be sleep season to totally recharge the batteries and dream about things to come. I’m trying to be a grown up and also take this time to review what’s worked over the previous growing season, accept feedback and grow from there.

Putting something away for later makes absolute sense. It could be dehydrating some of the citrus haul for when you’d love it’s zingy freshness mid summer. It could be going all out on pumpkin recipes, since they went crazy earlier in the year. How about dusting off an indoor skill (handwork like embroidery/ drawing/ baking) ? They may sound a little out dated, but you know what ? It’s such a treat slowing down enough to enjoy the process, being totally in the moment rather than watching the minutes disappear and racing around trying to fit everything in.

Try it out sometime, it is so worth enjoying those pockets of light.

*HOW TO DEHYDRATE LIMES

Preheat the oven to 95oC. Slice limes into 5mm rounds. Space them out on a cooling rack over a baking tray. Pop in oven and rotate/ check on them hourly. Should be done in 2 -3 hours. Let cool completely on tray before storing in a jar out of direct sunlight.

Can be used in soups and stews, drink garnishes, decorations.

Don’t forget by dehydrating, you’re concentrating the flavour of the lime – so it may be a bit of a shock to start chewing on one. Other citrus can also be preserved in this way, the times may vary.

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 😉 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.

diversity, everyday, spring

Wanting what you’ve got

There always seems to be a push for bigger, brighter, shinier, faster – but only if you tune in to the white noise.

Carving your own path or wandering into the rough can be a little daunting sometimes, but only of you let it. It’s a matter of tuning back in to yourself and who you’d like to be when you grow up. I recently reread this one…

art of frugal hedonismThe Art of Frugal Hedonism – such a joyous read. Made me smile regularly. Not a work about how to chop a whole load of stuff out of your life in order to save, rather refreshingly, it’s more how to make the most of what you’ve got & why the other stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much. The blurry tin was my husband’s nana’s sewing kit, not used by her so often I think – but remarkably has the correct coloured cotton any time I need a tricky to match colour.

Which brings me to why it’s out of the cupboard – learn new old stuff.

Since joining in for a Wild Rumpus visible mending afternoon soiree at a local old school scout hall – everything with even the merest hint of damage is fair game. Wonky stitching is celebrated and becomes a highlight. Try it out in the late afternoon sunshine breathing life back into stuff destined for the back of the wardrobe. When the light has faded from the garden and you still want to be productive at home, it’s rather relaxing, drawing you into the moment. Thought of skills you’ve always wanted to explore ? Pickling is another great self reliance skill to reduce food waste. (Sometimes they even taste better this way – cabbages keep for an eon as sauerkraut and I’ve known fiery radishes to mellow in pickling juice.

Growing self reliance, I’ve even made new friends at work….

frog & sink.JPGGo for a walk, a bike ride, a read, a sit down, a stare into space instead of packing out every moment of the day…..

Instead of trying to fathom what you need to make systems more efficient, try embracing what’s already there. Did you know if you give your place a decent clean, it actually feels different & you don’t need to actually replace/ bring in stuff ? – came as a revelation to me too.

Lie on the grass look up and around and appreciate just how awesome being where we are really is.

Check out your local neighbourhood – you might just find a repair cafe/ tool library/ workshop to tinker….

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.

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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.