“Soil is a living entity: the crucible of life, a seething foundry in which matter and energy are in constant flux and
life is continually created and destroyed.”
Daniel Hillel, Out of Earth, 1991.

19 December 2016

Hello again! Its been quite a while since our last newsletter, for those of you who track such things. Apologies for the long space . . . so many good things have been gestating and getting ready to come to life in 2017, and I managed to get quite distracted by them.

And I have to admit there were one or two opportunities to write the newsletter, which I used instead to spend some precious time in the garden, getting some beans and pumpkins in. The vegie patch is still half jungle, but the tomatoes are beginning to get tall enough to poke up from the weedy understorey, and I'm eating the first sweet carrots from that planting back in September. Or was it October? I'll have to check the labels!

Getting the garlic in

We just harvested the first of eight rows of garlic at the farm. Quite a late harvest compared to when we grow it in South Hobart. The SoHo garlic is usually ready to pull in the first two weeks of November. Just goes to show the range of timing that comes from different soil, conditions, elevation and planting time.

I write about the garlic harvest, how to do it, how to know when etc every November pretty much. So if you'd like to read about it, and be directed to previous newsletters, click HERE.

Because we'll have a couple of thousand bulbs to harvest at the farm we are bunching and hanging them in an airy spot to cure, before cleaning.
This will help the skins to dry well for good keeping, and the bulbs can extract some goodness from the green stems and leaves as they start to dry. We'll strip off the outer leaf or two to remove the dirt and plait them up for sale in a few weeks once they've dried out a bit. I trimmed the roots this year since there was a bit of dampish soil still stuck around the base of the root mass - and we don't want any rot (we had a lot of fungal problems last year). The heads of this lot aren't very big and speccy, but its a lovely clean and healthy crop.
We've also been picking the seed stalks - scapes - and selling them to the fantastic Aloft Restaurant, on Hobart's waterfront. They'll do very delicious things with them, and it gives us a good excuse to go there in the hope of being served up some of what we have grown!

The scapes in this picture were early ones, so tender and slender. Each week they get bigger and curlier, and I reckon we only have one more week of scape hunting before we harvest the plants altogether. I pickled some scapes last year - exceptional!

Gorgeous glass gem corn . . . and it POPS!

Do you remember the glass gem corn I grew last summer? There was a short story about it in our Feb 2016 newsletter. Its beautiful. And it was time recently to winkle the dried kernels off the cobs, and plant some, and store the rest.
Its not hard to get the kernels off the cobs. You just grab and twist and sort of push them off with your thumb, or dig out stubborn ones with a thumbnail. There are groovy little devices like small cogs for removing kernels if you're doing loads, but I was happy to do this lot by hand. The kernels are very pretty off the cob too!
So now I had a few big glass jars full of lovely jewel like seeds, ready for planting. Unfortunately I haven't got the garden ready for a big corn patch, so they might not get planted this season. BUT I did discover that glass gem makes excellent popping corn! I've plenty of seed, so was happy to use a few handfuls in the kitchen.
To pop the corn I melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a saucepan, then drop in a few (just 4 or 5) kernals, and keep over medium heat. When the test kernels pop, I take the saucepan off the heat, add the rest of the kernals (say about 1/3 cup) and swish them around in the hot oil for 20 seconds or so. Then back on the heat, with the lid on of course, till they start then stop popping. THEN the fun begins: my favorite topping is to melt a bit of butter and honey together (use the same saucepan), add a pinch of salt, then drizzle over the warm popped corn. YUM YUM!

Rhubarb Vodka

Yes that's right! I was weeding roughly around the rhubarb the other day, and ended up with an unintentional harvest of 3 or 4 kilos of ruby beauty.

I considered making some rhubarb champagne, or just some syrup, but thought I'd try a new rhubarb booze idea I've read about: Rhubarb infused vodka. Why not?!
Its very simple: wash and chop the rhubarb (I used about a kilo), put into a large glass jar, cover with a litre of vodka, add about 300g caster sugar. I also put in a vanilla bean, just because, you know, vanilla. Stir, then let it sit for 6 weeks in a dark cupboard. I was planning to do this for family Christmas presents, but didn't leave myself enough time (sound familiar?). So this will have to be a mid January tipple, perhaps with ice and soda, on the deck. I'll let you know how it goes . . . the progress so far is pretty delish. What? I had to stir it a few times to get the sugar to dissolve.

Best wishes for a glorious summer break

Its only two days to the summer solstice. The longest day. I always feel a bit sad about that, since its all 'downhill' after that. But we're heading into peak harvest season, with berries and cherries already ripe, and soon other stone fruit, and zucchinis and beans and tomatoes, then more and more beautiful harvest for months.

Have a wonderful summer break with your families and friends and gardens. Stay tuned for info about the groovy projects that will be coming up next year.

I've left it a bit late to plug our lovely calendar as a Christmas present. We still have some though! If you want a FIMBY gift to give, you can email me to get a voucher - doesn't even need posting! Cheers everyone.
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