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.

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….

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.

collaboration, community

The next step

Building is one of those biggies. We may want to extend family space, create additional space, make our backyard more multi functional or all of the above.

But what a lot of us non builders don’t realise is, when you say ‘let’s build an independent turf roof covered studio’ it’s not NEARLY that easy. If only.

Once you’ve committed to a big fat hole in the ground (100t of soil excavated), then the questions really start. What are the most environmentally sensitive materials we can use that fit our location, need, budget, accessibitly, council standards,  minimal impact. So – not easy and far far far away from simple.

You may be in a flood prone area. Or bushfire prone region. Or both at the same time. Maybe there are privacy issues for your neighbours. Maybe to make your structure meet regulations, your shopping list may be limited.

 

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BUT – there is a world of wonder and connectivity. You may end up meeting some of the more remarkable people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. When you’re genuine and treat people like extended family, they give back. A volunteer does 6 hours of working with hardwood above head height, does the dishes and then another 2 hours because they can see how much of a passion project it is. And they’re still smiling.

The food is good at our house, but not that good! All the professionals we’ve had round have been are absolute treasures. incredible stories being woven into the fabric of this building snugged into a north facing hill.

So captured here is the independent stairs, edged in wax wood (rather than any other toxic compound) back filled with gravel for drainage. That massive concrete wall to the right – a water tank doing double time a retaining wall, being on the southern side of the build will stay lovely and cool. Sandstone retaining wall, predominantly from our backyard. Labour of love is an understatement.

Putting the icing on this cake are our glorious neighbours, because without their blessing and driveway, there is no chance of realising this dream. I think we’ll have to create a tribute wall to every single peep involved with the process, as it just goes to show what collaboration can do.

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.