“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
Pablo Neruda

20th October 2015

Phew - its been a bit longer than two weeks since our last newsletter. What with Spring in full force and all . . . weeds growing like mad, the wind bashing everything up, and the temperature varying wildly between record hot and sudden light frost.

Like many of you I've been rigorously examining the weather forecast, trying to discern when to plant the tomatoes. Last Friday it was a nice day, and I had a rare gap in my diary, so in they went! Then Saturday was a brutal wind, but the little babies were pretty safe wrapped up in wire cages with high mulch around them. If you haven't put yours in yet, don't panic, don't worry and know that it will all work out fine even if you wait a few more weeks.

I've also snuck in my first batch of sweet corn seedlings, and planted some beans. I figure the soil is pretty warm now, after our record hot October, and I've seen sunflower seedlings germinating all over the place around Hobart and even Campbell Town. So summer plantings are good to go!

Its a full newsletter this time: lots to report on, tell you about, share and celebrate. And an invitation to come on down to the farm for a sticky beak!

Orchid bounty

We recently started a Garden Craft program with the gorgeous Sara in Howrah. This is a 10 month extended mentoring program, where we come to your place and garden with you once a month, bringing seedlings, seed, fertiliser, trellis materials, and our enthusiasm and support for your vegie gardening journey.
At Sara's place we're also doing a progressive garden refurbishment, replacing some old and poorly placed wooded beds with new raised beds on top of old carpet which will help stop root invasion from nearby trees.

At our first refurbishment session, with Fin the garden fairy's help, we removed a HUMONGOUS clump of orchids which were in the way of the new beds.
We loaded the massive clumps of orchids into the ute, and a few days later I enlisted the technical knowhow and hands on help of Wendy to deal with the orchids. Wendy is a stunningly brilliant and inspiring gardener in Sandy Bay, and knows about orchids.It was an all day process to break the orchid clumps up into reasonable sizes, disentangle the roots, clean up all the old debris on the bulbs, rinse them, and then pot them up in a mix of orchid bark and shredded bracken fern.

But the effort was worth it: we've split the bounty, and all three of us now have a collection of beautiful cymbidium orchids in pots, some of which will flower next year with luck. Wahoo!

Doing it well

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Mick in Port Huon to chat about his vegie garden, and the lovely flower garden which is his wife's domain. They moved to Tassie just a little over a year ago, and Mick has wasted no time in setting up a cracking production zone with vegie beds, fruit trees, berries and chooks.
Mick has made timber framed garden beds, filled with a mix of manure, compost and vegie mix soil. He's devised a nice simple netting system to keep his curious (and potentially destructive) chooks out of the beds. Timber uprights attached at each corner, with some rope nailed to the top of the uprights, creating a frame over which to drape some netting. Its easy to lift up for weeding and harvesting.
Of course, the wind can be a bother with unsecured netting, so Mick has come up with a lovely simple solution: he ties rocks into the netting on the wind exposed sides of the beds. Not huge rocks, they are still easy to lift up with the netting, but are heavy enough to keep the netting edges on the ground. And less fiddly than planks or rocks just sitting on the edge of the netting (which is what I have always done). Yay for good low tech ideas!
Its on again, weekend after next! The Sustainable Living Festival is always a fantastic event, full of ideas, inspiration, collaboration and activities. We'll have a stall there as usual, and Christina is speaking on a couple of panels.
We're also installing a "pick your own" microgreen salad bar this year, which will be delicious, nutritious and simple. I'm nervously trying to have 50 or so trays of microgreens, of several different varieties, all ready at the perfect stage for the festival. There's quite a bit of variability in growth rate with temperature, soil, seed quality and so on, so HOPEFULLY they'll be in the goldilocks zone (just right) for the festival. Come and say hello.

A good old fashioned chinwag

Last Sunday we had a lovely evening event catching up with a group of growers, eaters and advocates of real healthy food and communities. It was very low key and informal, a chance to swap stories of stuff-ups as much as successes. We asked people to bring a plate, and the food was amazing!

Paulette from Provenance Growers wrote about it on her blog, in her usual delightful and generous style. Worth a read. We'll do it again soon I reckon!

Margate Primary School Fundraiser: TOMATOES!

This is one for any of you who haven't yet secured your tomato seedlings!

Margate Primary School are holding a fundraising activity, selling heritage tomato seedlings – over 40 varieties. There will also be a selection of heirloom pumpkin, zucchini, peas, beans, cucumber and fruit trees/currants/berries and preserves from the school's Stephanie Alexander Kitchen.  

The event will be held on Saturday 31st October from 10am – 2pm in the Margate Primary School main carpark.
The Stephanie Alexander children at Margate have had a hand in planting seedlings and making jams and preserves to sell at the event.

So if any of those things are appealing, get on down to Margate and know that you're supporting a great program.

Down on the farm

So: you've heard me talk about the farm we have at Bream Creek, and our adventures planting olives and carobs and chestnust and hazels and making cuttings of nectar bearing plants and trying to keep wallabies and rabbits from devouring everything we plant. Right? Correct answer is yes (if you've been paying attention).

Well, would you like to come and have a picnic at the farm and eyeball all these thing for yourselves? And, while you're at it, help to weed the garlic that is coming along nicely? How about if we offer to reserve you a kilo of the finest garlic harvest (probably in December) in return for an hour or so of weeding help? Interested?

Of course you are welcome to just come along and pick daffodils and collect some kindling to take home and eat picnic food and sip wine or cider or beer or cordial, and chat from the sidelines while some of us do some weeding!

This Sunday 25th October, anytime from 11am to 2pm.
At our farm (I'll send directions when you RSVP).
At Bream Creek, about an hour's drive, or a bit less, from Hobart.

You could follow up the farm visit with a jaunt to nearby Marion Bay beach, or the Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed at Dunalley. Or the World's Best fish and chips at Dunalley. Weather forecast is looking nice, bring dogs, kids, bikes, soccer balls, frisbees, gloves (if you wanna do some weeding) and open hearts!
The garlic is growing strong, and so are the weeds!

New Fimbarista Baby!

Congratulations to Michael (one of our garden fairies) and Lesli on the birth of their beautiful little daughter Manuka recently. We're so excited and can't wait to meet her.

Dolmades, Romanian style

Here's a recipe from our Romanian friend Nica for everyone who is trying to use the last of their going to seed cabbages. Dolmades are usually made with grape leaves, but you can substitute cabbage leaves as a yummy alternative.
- half a kilo of mince (any meat will do)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 100g rice
- 4 table spoons of tomato paste
- dill, lovage as much as you like (only dill will do if you don't have lovage)
Mix everything, then fold small amounts of the mixture in vine leaves. Cover the bottom of a 18cm diameter pot with vine leaves, then place the dolmades next to eachother without  any space between them [Nica says put them 'like a traffic jam'].

Depending on the size of the leaves, there should be two layers of dolmades. Cover the dolmades with another layer of vine leaves, then mix V8 juice [a vegetable juice] with water and pour the mixture into the pot until everything is covered. Bring them to the point of boil, then simmer for almost two hours.  From time to time check the level of liquid. Instead of V8 you can use a mixture of tomato paste with water. The tomato paste has to be simple, without any special aroma (like basil, for example). You can use the oven, too. Fold them tight!

And eat them with cream or sour cream! Delish!!
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