Summer: Tomatoes. Zucchinis. Beans. Sweet Corn. Zucchinis.

24th February 2016

Hi everyone! Crazy weather, eh?! Snow on the mountain last week, then stinking hot yesterday. Now raining as I write this. But overall its been a good summer: eggplants, tomatoes, corn all seem to be pretty good in most gardens.

The rampant bounty of the tomatoes in the picture above is at Cheryl's garden in Sandford. I've seen lots of productive tomato jungles in our clients' gardens over the years, and so this year decided to see what would happen in my own garden if I let things get a bit jungly in the tomato department.

Now if you've been following our newsletters for a while, you'll know that I am, by nature, into reasonably severe tomato bondage. But this year I let a group of three San Marzano plants just do their thing without pruning and tying up. What a mess. Branches lying around all over the ground, fraternising with the corn next door, getting in the way of the path to the sprinkler. I don't like it! Tomatoes on the ground, hiding under leaves, getting slug attacked. Nope, its not my style. BUT . . . . I think the yield is probably higher than if I had done my usual control freak thing. And perhaps my clients with jungles that seem to work OK are growing theirs in raised beds, so there can be a bit of a tomato waterfall effect (rather than an estuary like mine).

So: there you have it. I will go back to disciplined tomato training, because it makes me feel better, and I don't like needing to don a head torch to go in search of my tomatoes. But grow them however you like! Maybe your jungle is super productive.

Excess fruit = Booze!

Do you have a big apple, pear or quince tree that has heaps of fruit that you just can't do enough preserving with? I'm on the lookout for bulk apples, pears or quinces over the next few months for some local cider makers.

Last year one of them got a ute load of apples from a local fimbarista, in exchange for a goodly supply of fine dry cider. So if you're keen to swap excess fruit for outstanding quality locally made booze, get in touch! I had to sample the product of course - its all about quality control! As Kimmie (my fellow sampler) said: "Its good: dry and complex, much like ourselves."

Ethical, sustainable, local, and in trouble

Remember when you could buy beautiful Elgaar Farm milk or yoghurt in returnable glass bottles? From a family who truly care for their animals and ecosystem.

You may have been following the difficult story of Elgaar farm, who have been trying to get back into production since a glitch 18 months ago put them into a world of regulatory trials and tribulations.
They reached out for help last year, and had a wonderfully successful crowd funding campaign to by a pasteuriser, which they thought would allow them to comply with the regulatory requirements. Unfortunately things haven't gone smoothly, and they are nearing the end of their capacity to keep on going, pouring milk down the drain every day.

If you are interested in learning more, or would like to sign a petition to ask for help to resolve this very sad and disturbing situation, Click Here. Get in quick, limited time.

Who wants a truckload of mushroom compost?

We're arranging a delivery of a truckload of mushroom compost in large plastic bags from Tasmanian Mushrooms. These are the guys who used to be Huon Mushrooms - they moved to Spreyton up north, and its harder to get their spent compost these days. If you've ever used mushie compost on your garden, you'll know that you invariably get a good crop or two or three of nice portobello mushrooms as a bonus.
Mushroom compost sometimes gets a bad reputation in gardening circles, because some producers inject their spent compost with all sorts of nasty stuff to kill EVERYTHING off. But the Tas Mushroom folks dont do that, they simply remove the spent compost as their hygeine measure. So its safe to use on gardens. Its made from straw and animal manures - good stuff! It is alkaline (ie pH above 7) so bear that in mind - don't put it around blueberries.
The truck will have 550 bags, and the cost, delivered to a collection point in Hobart and one in Woodbridge, will be somewhere under $4 per bag. This is cheaper than we've seen anywhere else around town. If you're interested in getting some, either for a crop of mushrooms, or to use directly on the garden, let me know. We'll take orders in minimum batches of 5 bags, you'll have to be able to pick them up on the day (in a month or so - to be decided exactly when), and pay in advance!

Glass gem corn - garden bling

This amazing stuff that looks like jewellery is actually a variety of corn called 'glass gem' which I was lucky enough to get some seed of last year. It was a surprise and welcome packet in amongst some seed from the indefatigable Bridgette from Urban Farming Tasmania, as part of a perk for supporting their crowd funding program. There were 22 seeds in the packet, and I carefully germinated each one and planted them out with unusual care. I've just picked the first few cobs, and they are really interesting colours. Can't wait to see what the rest are like!

Bridgette is currently running a seed giveaway for school and community garden projects - get onto their website for details if you have an eligible project, or just to have a look at the inspiring work they are doing all around Tassie. Who knows, maybe you'll be lucky enough to get some magic seeds to grow your own corn porn!
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