Zucchinis, beans, zucchinis, zucchinis.
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11th February 2014

Wow, the weather is still (always?) a talking point. This time heat, wild wind, and now perfect still warm days. I guess in a place like ours we just never take it for granted. Kind of refreshing I suppose, and it means that when we do have glorious conditions we all appreciate them!


I've been talking recently to Emma who is involved with her family business making and importing biochar, among other products. "What's Biochar?" I hear you cry. Well, its basically charred biomass, or crudely put, burnt stuff.  But the biochar that Emma's got hold of is anything but crude. Its used as a soil conditioner to improve nutrient retention, water holding capacity, microbial and root activity and good things like that.

I'll have a more in depth story about this interesting product in the next newsletter. But in the meantime, I'd like to put out feelers to find a couple of people willing to give part of their gardens over to a biochar trial in the next few months. We aim to plant three blocks of vegies that are identical in all ways except for the soil conditioners. One will be compost, the second compost plus charcoal, and the third compost plus biochar. Then we can measure and photograph, analyse, and importantly TASTE the results when its finished to see how the different treatments worked.

If you're interested in participating, let Christina know. For each trial, we'll need three plots of at least two square metres that have the same soil, drainage, sun exposure, wind exposure and recent cropping history. Lets get all experimental!

Zucchini anxiety

When you turn away for a moment and they suddenly become enormous, it's better to pick them and either give them away or put them in the fridge, than to leave them and think "we'll have that for dinner tomorrow". Because one more warm day of growth can turn an averagely big zucchini into an intimidating marrow. We try to pick ours when they're small, like the stack shown below.
Small zooks are fabulous cut into a few pieces, cooked medium heat with a bit of butter, garlic, basil and salt and pepper. MMMMMM!
But if marrows ye get (see whopper above), then slice lengthways, hollow out the seeds, fill with fried onions, mushrooms, bacon (if your carnivorous), lentils (if you're not), top with some cheese, cook in moderate oven for about 40 mins, and hey presto you have zucchini pizza! Also MMMMMMMM!

Fimbarista file: Helen and Marg

You'd rarely meet people with a more 'can do' attitude to gardening than Marg and Helen. And they're completely delightful ladies in all other respects too! We met this energetic pair back in 2009 when they lived in Blackman's Bay, and helped them build and establish a vegie garden in a pretty cramped space. We used scrap roofing iron and wood, and lots of laughter and girl power. The amount of wonderful produce that grew in this little space was astounding, as the pictures below show.
Their Blackman's Bay vegie patch was set within a much larger, and totally stunning ornamental and sculpture garden, lovingly created and curated by Marg and Helen. So imagine our surprise when after a few years of edible harvests they told us they were moving house. And so they did, to Old Beach, and proceeded to transform their new patch in their inimitable style. In a very short space of time they established an entirely new layout of ornamental plantings, installed some new raised beds for vegies, and created another stunning garden.

Another place where art, sculpture, beautiful plantings and details combine with energy, vision and a bold attitude to create an extraordinary garden. The good news is: We are going to visit their garden on our next garden tour! Woot!

Next FIMBY tour

On our next FREE garden tour we will be venturing "over the bridge" to the far away lands of Old Beach.

On Sunday 9th March
Starting at Old Beach at 10.30am

for morning tea at Marg and Helen's.
Prepare to be inspired!

Our second stop is currently a mystery location! Would you like to host a bunch of friendly, food bearing Fimbaristas for a look around your garden? We're looking for another stop not too far from Old Beach, northern suburbs or eastern shore location. Let Christina know if you're keen!

Hand tools workshop - yes please!

We have had sufficient interest in our Hand Tools workshop, to be run by Bridget Stewart, to settle on a date. We're looking at the last weekend in March, in Hobart, and the cost will be around $15 for FIMBY people. Bridget will talk and demonstrate all about hand tools - how to look after them, how to choose the right tool for the job, and how to use them efficiently. 

If you've expressed interest, and if you have a preference for Saturday or Sunday, let us know soon and we can try to accommodate your preferences. Yeehaar!

Corn is a'coming!

Do you, like me, find corn silks a thing of beauty and quiet admiration? This photo is a few weeks old now, and since it was taken the silks have started to dry out and get brown and begin to cling to the top of the developing cob. Did you know that each individual 'silk' strand in that bunch goes down to a different kernel on the developing cob? And each one needs to receive a separate pollen grain for all the kernels to develop properly. 

So when you get cobs that look a bit gap toothed, it means that the silks weren't adequately exposed to pollen. Now, corn pollen it pretty heavy, and transported by wind rather than insects (since corn is botanically speaking a grass), and so that's why it's traditional practice to plant corn in a block rather than a long line of single plants. Block formation increases the chance of pollen falling from the tassles at the top of the plant onto the silks of its own or neighbouring plants' cobs.

I also favour a bit of interference in the form of giving the plants a gentle shake when the tassles and silks are out and fresh. You'll see a small cascade of light yellow, almost white pollen drift out of the tassles and coat leaves, your arm, and hopefully the silks around you. Pollination baby!
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