Michael Pollan says: "You are what you eat eats". Your vegies need to "eat" from healthy soil to be nutritious to you.
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13th May 2014

Frost, snow on the mountain, clear liquid light, stunning autumn colours everywhere - it must be May in Tassie! When you have a garden you become acutely aware of the cycling seasons. When you publish a fortnightly newsletter it really highlights how big a change can happen in a few short weeks. I'm amazed that we're already at "pull out the tomatoes and hang them up" time again.

I feel like I've written about the end of tomato season before. Oh, yes, I have! Previous FIMBY newsletters, starting right back in 2009, have addressed the most common seasonal questions several times over. If you're trapped inside by cold wet weather and feeling like a bit of research, take a look through some of our old newsletters which you can find HERE on our newsletter web page.

You can look up the relevant month for activities you could be doing now. For example, we talked about pulling out tomatoes in our May 2010 newsletter.

And don't forget to ask (email is good) if you have questions about what's going on in your garden. We're always happy to share experiences and ideas.

Cape gooseberry

Here's an interesting creature: the cape gooseberry. Its a member of the solanacae family, so it's cousin to tomatoes, potatoes, chilli, capsicum and eggplant. The photo above might be a bit deceptive - the little paper lantern wrapped fruit are only a few centimetres across, and have the most delicious, tangy, sweet / sour taste. I can't decide if I'd use them in a salad or a dessert. People do both, apparently. But for me they never make it out of the garden, and almost every day I'm carefully examining the lower branches to see if there are any more ready to pick and eat on the spot. The empty husks are accumulating!
The plant is a tender perennial, meaning that if its planted somewhere warm, say against a stone wall, it will probably survive winter for a number of years. I've got mine in a pretty open spot in the garden, so we'll see if it survives till Spring. 

Its a slightly straggly, sprawling plant, about a metre or so wide and tall, and the lower trunk section gets woody over time, very much like a perennial chilli. You can see the family resemblance in the picture at left: slightly furry leaves like an eggplant, flower a lot like a potato, growth habit like a chilli or capsicum, fruit (inside the wrapper) like a little tomato. 
Gonna plant some more of these next Spring! They grow easily from seed, even becoming something of a weed in warm places. So I've read. And they're pretty!

Wall Garden in SoHo

We're excited about a collaboration with the newly established Art Factory in Macquarie St, South Hobart. Together with Jorgen, an artist and gardener who has worked with FIMBY from time to time, we are going to install a vertical garden bed made with pipes on the wall, inspired by this pic.
We're currently assembling materials, so if you have any large diameter sections of plumbing pipe lying around, or plastic pots, or seedlings, or dark paint (for the wall behind the sculpture), or a solar pump for recirculating water from our bathtub sump, OR if you'd like to be involved in a working bee to build the thing, let us know and we'll keep you informed of working session times etc.

In praise (or braise) of red cabbage

What a gorgeous colour! And the leaf stems are so rhythmically arranged. I love red cabbage, and they're just starting to get big enough to harvest in our garden.

This one is a little small, but I had a kitchen vegetable emergency: the "capsicums" that I had picked in the dark and started to cut up while listening to music turned out to be chillis. I noticed in time . . . but then had to find something milder that would go with the braised pork hock that was coming to perfection on the wood stove. 

So a quick trip out to the brassica patch (in the dark again) yielded this sweet little spunk. Gently braised with some onion, and a dash of soy sauce, sherry vinegar, a spoonful of braising liquid from the pork hock . . . YUM!

It not too late to plant more cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower at the moment. They are hungry things, so make sure the soil is rich and full of organic matter. A regular watering over the next month with liquid fertiliser (like fish emulsion or your own compost tea) will help get new seedlings going before the soil gets absolutely cold.

Forest garden workshop at Oatlands

Our friends at the school and community garden in Oatlands are hosting a food forest workshop this coming Sunday 18th May. They are doing fantastic things at the school and community garden up there, and its a great place to see and learn about growing vegies in a frost-challenged zone!

The workshop is from 11am - 2.30pm and a light lunch will be provided. If you're keen to go along, please contact Eleanor on eleanorbj@yahoo.com

Transend garden

Our vegie garden program with Transend continues, and last week's session included the first major harvest from the raised beds we installed back in March. Big bunches of beautiful rainbow coloured "easter egg" radishes, rocket, cress, lettuce,
dill, coriander and parsley all contributed to not only lunch that day but take-home goodness for the gardening team. You can see some of this in the photo above, with Christine, Steve and Richard all beaming in the sunshine. Our regular mentoring sessions, based on FIMBY's garden craft curriculum, are a delightful exchange of info, questions, shared experiences and encouragement. Watch this space for more delicious harvests and learning.

Bargain Bay tree!

We're doing a garden design for Vivienne and Des at the moment, in South Hobart. They have this magnificent bay tree in a beautiful ceramic pot FOR SALE. Bay laurels will grow to a HUGE size in the right conditions. So finding a happy one in a pot is very handy if you love the savory leaves but don't have space for an evergreen monster.

Its over 6 feet tall, and is very healthy, and quite heavy! They would like around $60 for the pot and tree (BARGAIN!) and you'd have to come and get it with a helper for loading it up. If you are interested let Christina know and I'll pass on Vivienne's contact details. First in best decked out with laurel wreaths!
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