seasonal eating

Where’s the value ?

It’s a tricky one – grow your own food, whether it’s sprouts on the sink, a few herbs in pots or an array of plants taking over your outdoor space – it all takes a little effort.

Food needs to be shown a little more respect and respect for the people growing it – yourself included ! Shop at a local organic store, food co op or market. As a general rule of thumb, they will be supporting local growers, supporting local and independant businesses. they will be supporting organic growers who focus on nourishing the soil as much as growing tasty, nutritional, seasonal produce.

Sure, I could buy as punnet of red tomatoes for a few bucks, but how awesome finding a plant loving the sunshine offering up little rubies? (FYI – green ones are edible too, just a little tart. They also make an incredible green tomato chutney.) I found self sown dill along the path, chickweed growing crazily and pesto made in the kithcen from basil and parsley to top my vego curry.

Leftovers rock. Batch cook, enjoy that night, keep some lunch in the fridge and stick the rest in the freezer for another day.

Sure I could go out and buy a curry for somewhere between $10 – $15, have it presented to me in single use plastic (which will take approximately another 500 years to break down) OR I could put my super tasty lunch in a glass jar, top it up with fridge and gaarden foraged toppings, wrap it in cloth and sit somewhere amazing in the sunshine getting my vitamin D too. Hey presto – no waste lunch.

Yes it takes a tiny bit of planning, a little bit extra to carry and a quick wash up at home – seems way smaller than ($10 per day x 5 = $50 per week x 40 weeks = $2000 in shop bought lunches !!!)IMG_9135.jpg

So the value is in a little planning ahead, repect for the food you’re eating and really thinking how every element of a shop bought lunch reaches you. Make a party of it and invite your friends. Or just treat yourself to a little lunchtime holiday and explore the neighbourhood.

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Cooling down now

…..its’ getting closer to winter by the day. Seeing sights of the basil bolting to seed, growth on many plants is slowing down, yet the lemons are ripening up beautiufully as are the limes. Air temperature is dropping (10oC this morning), as is the soil temperature.

Make sure to use mulch to act as an insulation layer to keep the residue heat trapped. Just like putting a blanket in the bed, keeps the heat in and the cold at bay. (And in summer the mulch protects the soil from the suns heating rays, keeping the temperature stable.)IMG_9012.JPG

Nature is remarkable. Just as we start to get a little snuffly, the lemon tree produces the goods. Citrus juice in water, lemon zest in cooking, eat the white pith from these thick skinned beauties and wonder why you’ve never tried this sweet sensation before.

Just because it’s cooling down outside, certainly doesn’t mean you should start slowing down. Plenty of jobs to take on…..

Feed you worms, the citrus trees, the soil, mulch everything that stands still long enough ! Rope some friends into a wander through a parkland and check out the turn of the season.

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.

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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.

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Diversity on the dinner plate

In this day and age many rush, rush, rush and stick with the familiar. Apparently approximately 100 plants supply 90 % of our diets ! So when harvesting for a customer, I was mindful to make sure they had a decent cross section of what’s currently available in our seasonal garden. Produce from 15 plants at a quick glance, and all (bar one) you could eat raw. (Edamame are bested boiled/ steamed for 5 minutes before popping the beans out of their pods and into the mouth).

Herbs are a wonderful way of enhancing a meal, bringing seasonality to the fore. Basil all through summer (you can freeze your surplus pesto), chilli for waking up the tastebuds. A combo lettuce and herby salad only needs the lightest of vinaigrettes so the flavours are not swamped. And texture ! Give your mouth a party and wake up those tastebuds.

Don’t forget the ‘marginal’. Once you’ve juiced your fruit, zest that lime. You can add the nutritious and flavoursome slivers of the outer to sauces, meals or dehydrated and used with a sugar or salt. Watermelon rind can be pickled and enjoyed in the next round of salads once the fruit has long ago been gobbled up.

Make sure you make the most of your chemical free produce and be inspired by variety.IMG_8832.jpg

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Never stop learning

 

 
Life and times in the garden. Plant watermelon seedlings (x 3), turn your back in high summer and watch the plant consume the garden. Check for flowers, be sorely tempted to rip plant out as you think it’s not going to give any fruit. See the occasional flower, check in several weeks to see fruit swelling, hiding under leaves. Epic production wiht virtually no intervention (the occasional prune). Plants die off (exhausted !) to reveal 3 garden beds. Freshly top exposed space with locally made compost. Fresh delivery of mulch (so fresh it was lovely & warm to walk on) in order to make hugelkultur beds on the far side for next spring/ summer. The plan is to let to let the cucurbits and melons have their way wiht space to go wild.

Feed the soil, feeds the plant. Feed the plant, happy plant (over time), patience plus happy plant = happy people. Sleep well after moving countless barrows of warm mulch and listen to the endless rain soak into everything.

Welcome autumn.