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.

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.

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).

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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.

collaboration, everyday, explore growing, homegrown, observe

Why we do what we do….

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Thanks you so much beautiful Kelly for your patience !

….I’ve been struggling to write a decent business plan of late, so whilst watering this morning, I came up with a brain dump of why all this important to me….

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO……

Short answer – because I’m curious.

I want to see how seeds grow, what happens in the light, I love the play of water on the garden.

I don’t want to create more waste to be a problem and I like to know how (at least part) of my meal is grown.

I want to be outdoors and not too far from home.

I love seeing how soil comes to life when you feed it properly, when you get the layers of mulching right and the garden helps do your job. When opening a bed, there are so many worms partying and their little bodies glisten metallic shades in the sunlight.

I love it when it’s quiet enough to actually hear the bees and the winged life early in the morning.

I love being able to harvest something I’ve helped to grow, sharing with people in our local area & knowing that local businesses love supporting our adventure.

Having food in your lunch box knowing that it’s come from only meters away is pretty cool.

I’m in awe of all the amazing people I been fortunate enough to meet, being so generous with their time and skills and experiences helping me on the journey to growing food.

I love the passion these people have, it’s not just an occupation, it’s a way of being.

I love that I don’t have to dress up to go to work, it’s more about being sun smart and protecting yourself from the elements.

(Sometimes I start work in my pajamas and that’s ok)

It’s really cute hosting morning tea, feeding those volunteering with us, being able to reciprocate a little nourishment.

My respect for the humble salad has grown exponentially – what goes into a mix isn’t just leaves; it’s a whole kaleidoscope of energy and resources and people power. None of this matters if you don’t feed the soil and look after the lifeforce which make this possible.

It’s really awesome when work is pretty much equal parts play and productivity. How awesome when you can encourage people to play with their food, play outside and there’s a little incidental learning along the way.

 

 

 

biodiversity in the garden, explore growing, homegrown

The Way of The Watermelon

 

AAhhh the taste of summer. The vine seems to grow for months and then finally you notice the tiniest glimmer of a fruit. Check back in a week or two and it seems as if someone has got the bike pump out and inflated the sucker !! The thunk of a super ripe and ready to eat fruit when you slice into it. Sitting on the back deck spitting seeds at each other.

Prepare the bed-  plant- water set forget. That’s how it happened over the far side in our backyard. Plenty of sun too. Several months later (around 4), peel away the vines and ta da!!! Gifts from the garden. Of course, none of this is possible without your friendly neighbourhood pollinators. Keep your backyard chemical free so you’re not poisoning their food supply. Without our pollinators, around 80 % of the foods we like to eat would disappear.IMG_0825.JPG

 

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The whole anticipation trip is so worth it. I planted maybe a little late, so our watermelons haven’t been ready until the end of summer.

And to think, by planting these in a marginal area (further away from the house and letting them go – watermelons can easily take up a good few square metres per plant, of the fossil fuel saved. No trucking them in from interstate for less than a dollar per kilo retail. I guess what you’e really trucking is sweet water. Maybe encourage a local school or a community garden to get them in nice and early. Find somewhere for the watermelon to roam.

A fresh slab of this cheery fruit on a really warm day is reward enough. Beats an icy pole hands down.

 

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…..

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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.

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.