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!

 

everyday, reusable packaging, salad days

Prepare, pack and play

Packaging it’s a biggie. I have been known to be lured in by the packaging before finding out what the product was. I’ll flip through the design books on packaging and remember from my study days a beautiful book titled ‘How to Package 5 Eggs’ – a Japanese book all about using traditional organic materials woven to create the most beautiful and functional way to carry goods. People are paid big bikkies to lure customers in. My sister very nearly gifted me a box of beautiful Japanese wrapping papers for my birthday, so the packaging would be the gift – that’s how much I admire the art of presentation.

The down side with so much of the outer wrapper today, is that it is designed for single use. Plastics last for far too long in the environment, so we have to find alternatives or do without. Bit hard to deliver salad without packaging of some description.

Furoshiki  was the inspiration behind how I now package bulk salad orders. Take a big fat square, wave your magic wand over it, a couple of strategic knots or folds and turn something from regular to gorgeous. Bonus is that cotton cloth is totally washable an reusable. Customers of the bulk salad mix have loved this step forward, not wanting to be the recipients of more materials to manage.IMG_9908.jpgCustomers hold onto these wraps to return the following week.

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…not furoshiki wrapping in the garden, but a totally reusable and washable way of getting produce to the house.IMG_9284.jpg

Orders wrapped with name tags and waiting for pick up. They even feaature their own carry handle.

A little planning and preparation will take you a long way to play !

(NB- This technique also worked really well for a long car trip with the kids recently – magazines from the library, snacks and drinks wrapped like this – undo and hey presto – wrap to protect the kid and car seat already on their lap before play.)

Find ways to bring reusable beauty and gifting into the day.

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.

 

biodiversity in the garden, explore growing, produce, salad days

Salad days

Last day of winter, and there’s markers of the seasonal change all around.last day of winter

Brassicas (broccoli here) flower merrily, days are longer minute by minute, grass is growing a little quicker. Rainbow colours planted to stir fry, salads in next level for diversity, grab & go meals, shallots for skinny places….

The tip of this garden gets the most sun, so quick greens were planted. As days grow longer, the other planting will catch up. It’s all a bit of a dance, weaving time, space, light and flavours.

Have you ever tried broccoli leaves ? They were my go to green last night – cut the stem out, chop & pan fry – remarkably yummo !

Going for garden domination on the right there is our beloved rhubarb. Originally divided from the school garden, this one can have it’s roots traces back at least 35 years.

The possibility of small spaces requires a firstly a little imagination and observation – good strong starting blocks. What do you want to pop into your salad bowl ? What can you start from seed ? What do you let flower ? Can you eat the flower and which ones do the bees love ? What to snack on as you check the pulse of the outdoors ?

Time to explore and have fun.

explore growing, harvesting the yield

Bowl of Gratitude

So this is lunch – and with it I think of everyone I have to thank for my journey to here and all the awesome opportunities presented along the way.

Those little veggie tadpoles – mung beans sprouted with seed from our local Flametree co op. Green dip is radish top pesto made from thinning the radishes growing a little too closely to their neighbours. Red one is beetroot ‘dip’ made from beetroot we grew & blended with awesome other stuff. Then we’ve got hummus, again made from scratch made with chickpeas from our local independant co op, giving us an option for our food purchases rather than the standard duopoly.

Best thing about buying dried goods like legumes and seed, you’ve got them on hand to sprout when you like. Salad underneath is from a few metres away in the backyard, providing a base for last nights left-overs. salad bowl - home madeThis bowl also represents skills I’ve learnt over the last few years, building a little self reliance into our household and local food economy. Yay for food activism !! These skills aren’t tricky, but now people are starting to realise they’re well worth having and practicing regularly for their own health, their financial independance and cultural knowledge.

I’ve had amazing suport from my family putting up with my experiments for the most part (“…you love the garden more than you love us ! – ask spoken by our younger child when 1st bitten by the gardening bug. )

Mentors, peers, community in the real world and online. First rule – be brave and ask loads of questions – if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Most people are super happy to share their knowledge to the curious and for that I’m forever grateful.

carrots, explore growing, pickle it, produce, save your food

Minimising Waste

It’s a massive issue. Imagine – collectively we end up sending 20% of our weekly groceries straight to landfill. Imagine all that embodied energy. Carrots can take up to 2 weeks to germinate from seed. They take several months to grow – water evenly and regularly or they’ll split their seams and look terrible. Don’t woory – still edible – just give them a good clean. I end up roasting or simmering these ones. Continue reading “Minimising Waste”

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.