Friday, July 31, 2009

winter gardening

Long week this week. Spent three days in Condobolin for work. It is a LONG drive. Condo is like a different planet this winter - GREEN and lush and soggy. Clover and grass and fat cows. Red dust is replaced with red mud. Going for a run along the river bank my shoes fill up with mud until they are heavy and clumpy. This winter (only) I am seduced by the hidden fertility of the central west. I know it will evaporate in a puff of hot dust by the end of the year. That beautiful red soil. All you need is water. Just add water. Pity there is no water.

Anyhoo, I was late getting off to Condo on Tuesday because my FRUIT TREES arrived from Woodbridge. Yay! Regular viewers will remember I ordered a Coe's Golden Drop to be friends with the Greengage plum. This was promptly planted in the waiting hole out the front.

And joy joy joy, welcome little Beurre D'Anjou, Beurre Hardy and Beurre Bosc pears. These are in a trio planting.

I must admit, pre-preparing fruit tree holes makes planting a BREEZE! These holes have been waiting since autumn when they were dug and filled with compost, manure and all sorts of other nice things.

In other news, here is a peak at the onion seedlings jostling for space with the salad seedlings in the glass house. I have more to squeeze in very soon - there are all sorts of things ready to move from the heatpad inside to the glass house. If I get organised soon, I will have a sheltered space down at the community garden to start shifting onions into........if I get organised that is.

OH, and here is photographic evidence that Mr Bacon has survived well into July! Crumpled, a bit ragged but DEFINITELY alive.

That is all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Frosty Sunny

Truly inspired by Eliot Coleman, I have been experimenting with cold frames. We had another crunchy frost this morning.

Look - I am not kidding!

But here are my veggies - safe and sound. Soil all warm and decidedly unfrozen. We have eaten all the biggest beetroots, and the silver beet hasn't quite recovered from that minus 6 frost - so I am hoping that the cold house will keep the soil warm enough to kick along some growth.

The only problem with going down this track is that I need to open up the sides for ventilation on warm days, and close them up again at night. In the meantime I can experiment with ventilation and structure in preparation for those EARLY TOMATOS! The goal is for first tomatos by Mr Duck Herder's birthday (23rd Nov)
The rest of the day included a trip out to Crookwell to see the Kiloren garden as part of the open garden scheme. I really liked this curvy wall.

And after that, a reconnaissance trip to Chris and Leanne's new farm at Laggan to inspect a prospective site for my pine nut orchard. Mission accomplished - along with many pots of tea, general farm inspections, lovely food and excellent mirth and company.

All in all and excellent day methinks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On the Menu at Bruce's Restaurant.

Behold the winter magnolias.

I have a new word to describe the indescribable. And that word is Bruce. Bruce is "Nature, The car park Fairy, where I go when I meditate, the Divine, The unknowable, the mechanics behind serendipity and synchronicity, the thing or place I feel most connected to when I feel connected and the giver of presents (presence) when I feel more present.

SO it follows that my joyful commitment to growing our food and seeking out wild foods and being a seasonal eater is all about dining at Bruce's all you can eat, cook your own open all hours (and seasons) buffet restaurant. The next logical step would be that I am therefore continually out to lunch. And I am not sure that many folks would dispute this proposition.

Anyhoo, this all brings us to lunch. And what did we have for lunch today? Mr Duckherder had a freshly picked salad (three types of lettuce, baby English spinach, rocket, Italian parsley in a home grown garlic and lemon with local olive oil dressing) and a left over chop from a sheep that lived and died less than 2 hours down the road, while I had my famous SUPER SOUP. Again (see previous post) but this time made with freshly picked nettles and parsley instead of English Spinach. Oh, and a nice crunchy piece of toast.

I haven't prattled on about the joys of nettles this year, because my garden hasn't produced them in the same quantities as last year. This is both good and bad. Good because a profusion of nettle is generally associated with soil that has a bit of "indigestion" from too much raw or uncomposted organic matter. SO this year, my soil balance is a little better than last year. Bad because I miss out on my favourite winter green. Good because luckily, Anne and Robs plot has a PROFUSION of nettles and I am sure they wont mind me pinching some. (Ok, well lots)

Last words:

"This is what Nature (Bruce) is serving now, so now is the time to eat it" Quote from an old man out gathering wild foods in a French winter, taken from Eliot Colemans "Four Season Harvest.
That is all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

naughty people


The community garden was vandalised again on Wednesday night. This morning we spent a few hours digging up all the t-sections where the taps join the irrigation system. The fence was cut again, the shed broken into, plots and row covers generally pushed about and a few other silly things. Worst of all, in mindless wonderment our little vandals had fun pushing the taps too and fro. If this is done with enough enthusiasm, it breaks or cracks the join where the metal post on which the taps are placed screw into the t-joints in the irrigation pipes. The only way to assess the damage is to dig down and have a look. There are about 16 taps in the garden- so that's lots of digging.

Rather than angry I feel sad that these folks are so empty on the inside that it feels good to trash our meek little garden. Luckily the fruit trees were left alone. And obviously whoever it was didn't know the real value of fresh winter veggies......poor things.

In other news, I put another cost of gum turps/linseed oil on the bee box bits. Still a few more costs to go methinks.

And here are some shots from around the backyard.

Italian Parsley loving the cool weather.

Brave little China Flat Peach. This is a low chill variety - which didn't actually loose its leaves this year, and it about to flower already. It may be that it is just too cold here for this little one. This is however its first winter here in the ONC, so it may just need a year or two to adjust.

Chickens in the orchard. You can clearly see where the fences are around the tree trunks! The pitchfork is sitting the the compost filled hole awaiting the arrival of my three pear trees. Most of my plantings along this north facing fence line are duo or trio plantings (two or three varieties in the one hole). Notice the hessian avocado shanty. That little avocado is valiantly persevering with the cold weather.

The orchard from a slightly different view, plus ducks and duck pond (which needs cleaning!) The pink tree guard is guarding a goldmine peach.

And finally, there is no picture, but I am going to share with you my recipe for the quickest, yummiest, healthiest winter soup in the world:


  • About a half to one cup of green frozen peas
  • A medium to large bunch of fresh English spinach (say three whole smallish plants)
  • A desert spoon of miso or soy sauce.
  • Bring peas to simmer/boil in saucepan with small about of water.
  • When hot, add roughly chopped spinach
  • Replace lid and leave for a few minutes for spinach to wilt.
  • When wilted, add a dollop of miso or soy.
  • Blend or wizz to make a smooth amazingly green soup.
  • To serve, a drizzle of olive oil on top. Slivers of roasted peeled capsicums look great too.

Yum yum.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lacuna Sabbath

we now resume our normal broadcast..........

Somewhere there I lost the blogging mojo. But here we are again.

The love affair with onion seedlings continues. I have Pukekohe Long Keepers, Gladalans, Creamgolds, Red Brunswicks and Ailsa Craigs all coming along nicely. The cold nights are slowing down growth a little. The seedlings coming up on the new all you beaut heated seedling mat (above) have overtaken the ones sown weeks ago in the greenhouse (below). I guess its all about soil temperature.

Queen Atalia update.

The girls seem to be going well. On warm days there it lots of foraging happening. I notice the scouts buzzing around the place looking for new sources of nectar. At bee club the other night (also attended by the charming Mr Bredbo Valley View Farm) there was some talk about more natural less chemically inclined ways of preserving supers. I have been putting off painting my new boxes waiting for inspiration on this very topic. Some folks are using boiled linseed oil. Another fellow is using melted beeswax and natural turpentine. The boiled linseed oil thingy sounded OK until I discovered that rather than "boiled" its cut with mineral turpentine, which is a hydrocarbon. Which kinda defeats the whole purpose of not using paint......

So yesterday I tried painting the super pieces with an equal mix of raw linseed oil and natural turpentine. I think it is going to take a few coats, but I am happy with the result so far. The smell is nice rather than toxic.

I have discovered Eliot Coleman's "Winter Harvest Handbook" and am DEEPLY inspired. Its specifically focused on winter food production without artificial heating in places much much MUCH colder than the ONC. While I have been getting better at growing more food over winter, this book is just FANTASTIC. I am keen to get on down to the community garden to set up more wind protection.......
If you buy one gardening book this year, I reckon it should be this one.