“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

16 April 2015

Hi everyone, are you enjoying the Autumn sunshine (when it comes)? I feel like the leaves on the crab apple are shouting "AUTUMN AUTUMN AUTUMN" like a siren, but we've had a few days where the temperature has insisted "WINTER IS COMING". As they say in Game of Thrones.

The preserving has juuuuuust about finished for the season, with just a few quinces and pears still lingering on the bench, and a tray of tomatoes ripening slowly. I resorted to buying a bunch of roadside field tomatoes this year to make sauce to get us through winter. You don't have to give up on your tomatoes just yet though, they should keep ripening in the garden and on the bench for up to another month. See more info in the story below about what to do when its time to clear them out.

April dinner, Tassievore and tasty

I was driving home from Kevin's place a bit earlier today (went to pick up garlic from our biochar trial) and was tempted to return via a shop and get some take-away dinner. But I'd scored a box of walnuts from Kevin, and I knew there were pears from my sister sitting on the bench at home, and leafy greens in the garden: walnut-pear-rocket salad is one of my favorites! So I decided to see what I could rustle up quickly and easily for dinner when I got home. Coupla eggs from the girls. Some little 'mercy' zucchinis (I was going to pull out the plants a week or two ago, but had mercy because they still had flowers forming. So I cut off all the mildewy leaves, gave them a dose of seamungus and a stern talking to, and now have a lovely little late crop of sweet baby zooks). I cooked these my very favorite-est way, with garlic and soon-to-succumb-to-the-cold-weather basil. Recipe is on our website HERE.

So, anyway, I had a super delicious, totally Tassievore dinner that made my tummy happy and my spirit smug! And I took a pretty picture before I started cooking, even though the Tassievore challenge is finished now and I no longer have that excuse for indulging in photographing my food. I didn't cook the beans, will try them another night, but they look good, don't they?!

Tomato blues (greens)

Yes its generally been a rubbish year for tomato production here in Southern Tassie. A few people have scored well, many have had mediocre crops, and some have pretty much missed out altogether. But I usually have tomatoes on the vine and in the garden well into May, so you can give them a few more weeks to redeem themselves if you don't need the space.

If you're desperate to clear them and make room for some brassicas or English spinach or peas or broad beans or spring onions or something, then you can snip off all the dead leaves, then pull the whole vine out with the tomatoes attached. Hang this up somewhere out of the weather (we hang ours on the veranda) and the tomatoes will continue to ripen slowly.
The photo above is from Noelle's garden last year - she had some late self-sown tomatoes with magnificent crops of green toms in late May. We did the hang-em-up trick, and not all of them ripened, but she got a few over the following months.

Saving tomato seeds

While we're talking tomatoes, if you grew a particular variety this year that you really love, you could save some seed before they're all finished. Simply select a few good, really ripe fruit, preferably ripened fully on the vine, and squeeze the pulpy bit with the seeds into a glass or jar. Eat the rest. Then add a bit of water to the seedy pulp.
Swish it around, and leave it on a sunny windowsill for a few days. It will get a bit manky: this is good! The gel coat around the seeds will break down in this process, which will increase germination rates next Spring when you're ready to plant. After a few days, rinse the seed with a few changes of water, drain them carefully, and spread out on a tray or bit of paper to dry. When they're thoroughly dry, store them in a paper envelope, labelled with variety, date, and any other info you might forget.
Our good friend and energetic gardening hero Eleanor, sent me the information above about a day of workshops in Oatlands on 30th April. They are aimed at older gardeners, and run by volunteers from Still Gardening. FIMBY has strong links with this mob! Eleanor says there will be a FREE BBQ with marinated chicken and good quality sausages, and salads! There is so much good stuff happening up there!

Book review

Well, this book isn't actually released yet! But for a sneak preview, have a look HERE.  Written by South Hobart local and writer Helen Hayward, who is also a Fimbarista, this delectable book "For the Love of Food, Stories and recipes from extraordinary Tasmanians" is a rich compilation of stories from 41 people involved in growing, cooking, sharing, eating food around Tasmania. There are some household names there, and also some humble nobodies, like Fimby's own Christina!
The book will be released in early May - keep your eyes out for it. I've seen some of the final draft, its sumptuous! Helen is a sensitive and perceptive interviewer, and a talented writer. I love her regular writings about family life - honest, gutsy, intelligent. You can check out some of her writing HERE. I highly recommend subscribing!

All tooled up

I'm about to make an order for a bunch of hand tools, and can get one for anyone who wants to join in. It saves a little bit of postage, at least for the McAtool (shown at right) to get a few at once. We use this sturdy tool HEAPS especially in raised beds. Great for hoicking out stubborn weeds, mixing poo or fertiliser in, making seed drills, pointing at things in the landscape!
We're also planning to get some of these Ho-Mi's, recommended by a few people I know, and favoured tool of the amazing folks at Allsun Farm. Both tools are $25 each, and postage is $7 for the Ho-Mi and around the same for the McAtool if we get a few at once.

Let me know pronto if you'd like one!

Keep your salad bar handy

One of our design rules when we're planning a new garden, is that you should be able to harvest your herbs in your socks. In other words, keep the herb growing areas close to the kitchen door, so that in the middle of cooking an omelette its still possible to grab some chives or parsley for the perfect fresh addition.

The same idea can apply to other oft-picked vegies, like lettuce or other leafy greens. If you have a warm spot near the front or back or side door, you can grow quite a few lettuces, or rocket, or spinach, or mizuna, in a pot, without needing much space. And most of these leafy greens are really quite decorative when they're growing.

The frilly delights in the photo above are just by our front steps, so I see them every time I enter the house. A good reminder to use them!

Romanian Cabbage rolls (Sarmale)

This is a fantastic Autumnal dish, presented here in an authentic Romanian recipe (thanks Nica!). As usual, I was the delighted recipient of a sample of these that Nica had cooked. But they smelled so good that I ate them before I took a photo! So I've ripped off a photo from the internet that looked alot like the ones Nica made.


- one cabbage, medium size
- 500g sauerkraut 
- 500g mince (beef, pork or mixed)
- one onion, medium size
- 150g rice
- dill and lovage as much as you like (just use dill if you don't have lovage)
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 300g tomato juice
- salt, pepper
Put the whole cabbage in a pot full of water and simmer it for 20 minutes. After this, peel at least 15 leaves, taking care not to break them.

In a bowl, mix the onion (finely chopped, rice, dill, lovage, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Fill each cabbage leaf with a bit of this mixture, fold it and roll it.
Get a pot ready by covering its bottom with extra chopped cabbage and the sauerkraut. Put all the cabbage rolls in the pot, cover them with a few extra cabbage leaves, pour the tomato juice and complete with water until everything is covered.
Simmer for around two hours. Instead of boiling, the cabbage rolls can be placed in a roasting tray, pour the tomato juice and water and cook them in the oven for around two hours.
Serve them with sour cream. Eat. Close your eyes in ecstasy. (I added that last bit!).
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