Winter? Spring? How about Sprinter?!

31st August 2016

Last day of Winter (according to our arbitrary correlation of seasons to months). Welcome to the tantalizing in-between season we like to call Sprinter! Sunny but cool days like the last few make us think the season has turned. Then BAM back to cold, frost, snow, and then the WIND begins . . . all quite invigorating / devastating depending on how you feel in the moment.

Its been well over two weeks since our last "fortnightly" newsletter - sorry about that! I've been busy with loads of great things: dear friends and international visitors to show around, inspiring workshops, and writing grant applications for very cool projects. Then trying to catch up on FIMBY jobs with our patient and ever-cheerful clients.

I did manage to get my tomato seeds planted into trays . . . but they're quite slow coming up. I haven't got bottom heat, so they are on a sunny windowsill, and get lots of verbal encouragement from me. Looks like San Marzano is the fastest variety to germinate. I have two little babies so far! I have a small number of very exotic varieties from lovely Fimbarista Jill this year. Can't wait to see if they come up, and what they turn out like.

In the next week or so I'll get some cucurbit seed going too: pumpkins, zucchini, cucumber; and maybe some chilli and capsicum. Its such an exciting time.


Here we are, Juliet and I, with our cheesy grins, sitting in amongst the artichokes back in 2008. This was one of the pictures our friend Tania took using my trusty old Nokia phone, which we used on our very first brochure. FIMBY has evolved constantly since these beginning days, and been fortunate to have a procession of wonderful employees and associates who have helped us do our thing. Danny, Ben T, Hazel, Claire, Craig, Tim, Zarven, Ben A, Christine, Jorgen, Elias P, Fin, Michael, Elias S, Amber and others whose names elude me just now.

This month we counted 8 years since the beginnings of FIMBY, and another shift is happening. FIMBY will continue providing advice and consultations, and doing design and workshops, and extended mentoring through our Garden Craft program. And writing this newsletter, and the monthly column in the Mercury's Home Magazine, and the monthly online cool temperate garden guide for PIP Australia magazine. What's changing is that we're going to move out of the space of doing garden setups and 'garden fairies' work.

But never fear! We have a swag of wonderful ex-employees and associates who are keen to do gardening work, landscaping, building of garden infrastructure and so on. We'll happily recommend them to clients as needed, and can work very closely with them to provide a seamless service, as we have done for years.

This change will allow me (Christina) to spend a bit more time developing ideas at Wielangta Farm. SO. MANY. IDEAS. So exciting!

Oatlands Garden Weaving Workshop

More cheesy grins - this time from the happy crew who came along to the Oatlands Garden Weaving workshop earlier this month. Our dear Fimbarista friend, Eleanor, invited me to run the workshop, and managed to get past my protestations at being a very amateur weaver. Like many others, I had been inspired about weaving with natural fibres after attending a workshop with the amazing Gwen Egg . . . more than 20 years ago! I've done lots of weaving since, but only for my own enjoyment.
Anyway, Eleanor persisted, and I'm glad she did - it was a very enjoyable day! I gathered some mulberry prunings from the neighbours, and some willow from the rivulet, and some fruit tree prunings from Nik at Woodbridge Fruit Trees, and some Italian tying willow (very bendy stuff!) from Kevin . . . and bundled up the cumbungi leaves from the dam at the farm, and off we went!

The participants brought along their own leafy and branchy contributions, and with a bit of instruction, and lots of encouragement, they made some lovely bean teepees and cloches.
I stayed overnight with Eleanor and Barry, and that was totally the icing on the cake!

Birthday give-aways

Its our birthday month (still, just) and to celebrate we have some plant give-aways for anyone who is quick off the mark. I have a few potted up cuttings / seedlings of:

French tarragon, cape gooseberry, English gooseberry, rocoto chilli, aloe vera, fig, raspberries, creeping thyme, lemon thyme and some succulents.
Feel free to drop me an email if you'd like some, and I'll let you now if they're still available. First in, first served!

We still haven't set a date for our 8th birthday celebration, but will keep you posted!

Workshop inspiration

A few weeks ago, I attended a 2 day workshop with Graeme Sait, founder of Nutri-Tech Solutions, and rather inspiring speaker. There were around 50 of us there, and the 2 days was a condensed version of the usual 4 day training that Graeme provides all around the world. The event was organised by local gardener Simon, who just did it because he had found Graeme's info so inspiring himself.

Basically Graeme is interested in soil health, and how it relates to plant health, human health and planetary health. The workshop was information dense, and presented a somewhat bleak picture of the world in a climate change reality. However the silver lining is that farmers, and gardeners, can help to turn things around by getting more humus into soils, which takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it safely, and beneficially, in the soil.

One thing that Graeme said that I really liked was that home gardens are the ultimate wellness tool. Because we can manage our soil to ensure optimum nutrient balance and uptake in our vegies, fruit and nuts, and therefore feed ourselves well. In addition, there are all the stress-relieving, health giving effects of gardening activity.

I recommend having a look at the blog entries on the NTS website - there is some fantastic informatin there to stretch your brain!

Urban farmer wants land

I re-met a gardening colleague, Paul, at the Graeme Sait workshop, and we got chatting. Paul is a landscaper and horticulturalist, and has been inspired recently by Curtis Stone (the gardener not the chef!) and his Urban Farming model. This involves growing food on other people's land, in urban areas. Sort of a distributed farm. Its a great model, and one that I've fantasised about having a go at from time to time.

Anyway, Paul is ready to start, and is looking for urban backyards that have reasonable sunny aspects, that are currently unused, and with owners who are willing to have an agreement about the shared use of the land. They don't have to be large expanses . . . if you're interested in finding out more, let me know and I'll pass on Paul's details.
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