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19th November 2013

Hi everyone, hope you're all enjoying your garlic scapes! Its lovely to get feedback from people about the newsletters, and in the last few weeks I've heard from quite a few people who have tried scapes for the first time.

Its been wet hasn't it? But OH MY isn't it a lovely thing to pull weeds out of the soft soil after a week of rain? We have more rain coming, which will make decisions about garlic harvesting a bit tricky . . . but there's no doubt the rain makes everything grow like the clappers.

Its already more than a week ago, but we had a stimulating weekend at the Sustainable Living Festival, and it was so fun to catch up with smiling FIMBY customers who dropped by. Martine from Woodbridge helped manage our stall, and she was there particularly to let people know about GrowCover -  a great product that she distributes in Tasmania. Check out her delightful Facebook page to find out more about her adventures in Woodbridge, and to see fantastic photos of her garden as it evolves.

Managing Broad Beans

Now that you're probably harvesting broad beans (if you haven't already been for months like Tonia and David) its a good idea to nip the top growing point out from each stalk. This helps to direct the energy of the plant into the developing pods, rather than just endlessly growing leaves and more flowers which wont set useable pods. You can eat these nipped out tops . . . they're OK sauted in butter briefly with lots of parsley.
Its also good practice to nip the growing top out of the plant when its a young 'un, about 20cm tall. This encourages the side shoots to develop, so you have a shorter bushier plant with more productive stems. If you've never done this before, try it next time and see what happens. Or you could even get all experimental and try it with half your patch, and leave the others to see if they get all tall and spindly. Even dwarf broad beans seem to grow very tall.
If the plants are leaning over and bullying your other vegetables, you can restrain them a bit by banging in a stake at each corner of the broad bean patch, and running a few courses of baling twine or string around the outside. Then just tuck the broadies inside the string to keep them to their own patch. Especially when its been wet wet wet like we've had it, the plants can get quite heavy and lean around all over the place.

When the harvest is over, you can just snap the stems off close to the ground, and plant your next crop in between the broad bean stumps. This has a few advantages: it doesn't disturb the soil or chop up earthworms, thus preserving soil structure. The roots of the broad beans will eventually rot and give up the nitrogen that they've fixed for the next crop. Good things to plant after broad beans are hungry late summer crops like sweet corn, zucchini, small pumpkins, cucumbers. 

Fimbarista File: Green Design

Architects and gardeners Uta and David Green contacted FIMBY back in 2011 with an elegant and efficient design for a netted walk-in garden enclosure. As the picture above tantalisingly shows, they had created their design along dome tent principles, on a scale large enough for vegies and fruit trees, and using polypipe so that there was no wastage from standard lengths. FIMBY gave input on the design and layout, and planting plan, of the garden beds. It was a very satisfying collaboration!

We are planning a garden tour of Uta and David's place in early 2014, so keep your ears open for that invitation - its very inspiring. If you can't wait for inspiration, check out their website for home designs that will leave you salivating.

Bandicooting spuds (or "What I had for dinner last night")

In Tassie, lots of people plant pink eye potatoes in August so they can have a harvest for Christmas lunch. Its a great tradition in some families. But on a sunny November afternoon, when thoughts turn to evening salads involving broad beans (coz that's what we're all eating in November, right?), thoughts also turn to new potatoes. Don't they? Its not just me, is it? And we don't want to pull out the whole potato plant to get a few creamy new potatoes, do we? So many rhetorical questions.

If you watch your potato vines, you'll see them flower (purple for pink-eyes, white for dutch creams or bintjes) and then finish flowering, and sometimes set little tomato like fruit at the top of the green vine. DON'T eat these fruit - they're poisonous. 
But when the vine has flowered, even though its still green and growing, you can "bandicoot" a few potatoes for an early summer salad. To do this, you wiggle your hand in under the mulch near the base of the vine, and feel around in the soil carefully. Chances are you'll find a few plump spuds near the surface which you can pinch without disturbing the growing plant too much.

Later in the season the top of the plants will die off, and you can harvest the whole plants' booty in one dig; usually about 6 - 10 good sized potatoes.

Bandicooted new potatoes have very tender skin which just slips off when you wash them. They wont keep for ages, but you usually eat bandicooted spuds the same day you steal them!

Last night's dinner was based around the first bandicooted pinkeye's of this season, plus some broad beans, grilled garlic scapes, peeled broccoli stems, snow peas, lettuce, soft boiled eggs and borage flowers for a cucumbery edible garnish. What is not to like about having a vegie garden?

Christmas ideas

Well Christmas is just around the corner, already. Sheesh. That means the summer solstice is approaching too. Yay long days! 

There are loads of lovely garden-y ideas you can make for Chrismas: pot up some sunflowers, or basil, or herbs, or plant some beans in a pretty pot. If you're organised you can grow things from seed, otherwise go and get a punnet of seedlings NOW from the nursery and pot them up so that you've got a month or so of growth by Christmas. One year I made "pots of pesto" as gifts, with a basil plant in a pot, and a packet of pine nuts, a chunk of parmesan and a pesto recipe tied to the pot with a ribbon.
Here's another idea: why not give your loved ones a FIMBY VOUCHER for Christmas?! Genius! You specify the amount from the modest to the sublime and we can help your lucky recipient get the summer garden into shape.

And here's the give-away . . . 

Just to get you in the mood, I'm giving away some great presents to the first three people who order FIMBY Vouchers. You could be the proud owner of one of my upcycled feed bag or coffee sack totes or laptop sleeves. They're lined with lovely fabric I've collected over the years, and are completely fabulous (if I do say so myself!). At the moment I have totes and laptop sleeves from coffee sacks, rabbit and chicken feed bags (check them out below). If you have a fave feed bag (or old tea towel, or rice bag, or any suitable upcycle-able fabric) and you can get it to me, I'll make a custom bag for you with it.
Feedback about this newsletter is very welcome. Let us know if you want more or less info, or links, or photos. Is fortnightly a good frequency, or should it be more often, or less? We'd love to hear your thoughts.
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