Summer: Tomatoes. Zucchinis. Beans. Sweet Corn. Zucchinis.

9th February 2016

Hi folks! Didn't it rain?! The photo above shows Mick on the raft he built, stealthily working through the cumbungi on our farm dam. The water was the lowest we have seen (before the rain of course) and we thought it was a good chance to pull out the cumbungi, or cut below the waterline for the stuff we couldn't pull.

The next week it rained, and rained and rained. We got over 160mm at the farm in 2 days. Hoorah! The dam spilled, and was still spilling days later. The frogs got busy, singing and fornicating, and then there was frog spawn everywhere!
And since the big rain we've had some nice warm days. So everything is growing like the clappers, which is delightful. I watered the garden this morning, anticipating a fairly warm day. Really just to top up the moisture in the top layers, and keep the pumpkins from wilting. The deeper soil reservoirs have been replenished. Things seem to grow better after rain - not sure what it is, but the same amount of water from a hose just doesn't get the same vibrant response. And there's nothing like the smell of warm soil at first rainfall. That smell has a name: Petrichor.

Brutta ma Buona

That phrase (Brutta ma buona) means 'ugly but good'. Its a good description of my poor old greengages after all the rain. They split. Which is a bummer because greengages are notoriously biennial bearing. In other words, they have an excellent crop one year, then a pathetic crop the next. This year was a good one.
So, the rain was fantastic, but it split my lovely crop of greengages. ALL of them. Oh well, they still tasted good - delicious in fact. We ate a lot before rot set in . . . maaaaaaybe a few too many, and then I made jam with the rest. The satsuma blood plums which were ready at the same time have tougher skins, and didn't split, so I've bottled heaps of those.  And made a batch of Worcestershire sauce using Fimbarista Hazel's recipe (which is very similar to Sally Wise's recipe - scroll right down the page). And made some cordial.
And I might have left a few to go rotten on the bench.
The splitting meant that there was a certain urgency to the plum processing this year. Which is good in a way, since it means I HAVE to deal with them. A friend offered me some plums the other day, but I politely declined, letting her know that I was quite oppressed enough by the harvest in my own backyard thanks!

What goes around . . .

How's THAT for a picture of voluptuous beauty? I was home the other day and James from Hobart City Farm dropped by with this ripper tomato, the first they had picked. I gave James some seedlings back in October of this variety ("Richard's Italian") and he very kindly gave me back the first progeny. I had grown the seedlings from seed gifted to me by Fin, of Fimby Garden Fairy fame.

SO, I made roast tomato and garlic sauce with this specimen - it weighed in at over half a kilo. Then I used that sauce to make some vegetarian lasagna for Cara, who is Fin's partner. The lasagna was part of a trade with Cara who has designed a very beautiful logo for Wielangta Farm (you'll have to wait for another day to find out more about that exciting development!). Go have a look at Cara's website: beautiful things lurk there. The whole story reminds me that gardening, and many other things in life, works in cycles. Loops. Feedback circles.

If you now have a hankering for some superb heirloom tomato action, you're in luck! Hobart City Farm have an online shop, and if you get your order in by 12 noon tomorrow (Wednesday) you could be sinking your teeth into a juicy lush tomato by tomorrow afternoon. If you miss the order deadline this week, it opens again next Monday. They have lots of lovely eatables. Hurrah!
Here's a thing: just in case I don't get the next 'fortnightly' newsletter out in time:
We'll be rocking on down to Koonya for the garlic festival - might see you there!

Fimbarista File

I received a lovely email today from Ilka at Geilston Bay. We set up a new garden in Ilka's FRONT yard late last year. It was a great job, but had a few little technical hitches (like we put a star picket through the water main and had to call a plumber!). I was grateful at the time for Ilka's patience with the follow ups needed to get the irrigation right.

Anyway, In Ilka's email she said "Just wanted to send you an email to thank you again for everything with the garden, I am loving it so much. I love going into the garden (for a bit of peace, or with the kids!) to check on the plants every day. Things have grown amazingly well."

She attached photos. You can see that, as she said, the "pumpkins have gone nuts".
Unfortunately, I only have one "before" shot, and its a very boring photo of a single raised bed with soaker hose irrigation spiralled on the surface of the empty soil. But imagine that the edible jungle you see above was just dry grass before we installed the five raised garden beds. What a contrast! And here's the kicker: the date on my boring 'before' shot is 30 November 2015. So all this rampant growth has happened in just over two months! Well done Ilka-of-the-green-thumbs!

Dreaming and scheming

Do you daydream about a vast propagation house where you can grow countless cuttings and sow marvellous varieties of seed? Have you seen the ad on gumtree for the 5 huge greenhouses available at Brighton, for cheap cheap rent? One of our FIMBY team, Michael, has. He is interested to know if anyone else out there would be up for a conversation about sharing a greenhouse or two. If you're sitting up alertly and your eyes are sparkling at this point, get in touch and I'll put you together with Michael for a chat!
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