"The tomato offers its gift of fiery colour, and cool completeness."
Pablo Neruda

13 March 2017

Well the tomatoes have kicked into ripening  mode, and I'm making my second batch of sauce as I write this. I simply slice up the tomatoes into quarters - or in tenths in the case of monster ones - and put them in an oven tray in a single layer. Scatter over lots of garlic cloves (don't bother peeling) and salt. Then roast in a moderate oven till they collapse and the edges start to darken, and the garlic is soft. About an hour usually. Put it through a food mill, then bottle, and water bath in the vacola. So yum! I had a bit left from the first batch that didn't fit in the bottles. Ate it with a spoon. So so yum!

Territorial: like in "How to train your dragon"

Lissa from SLT and I are working with some students from Clarendon Vale Primary School in the wonderful new Community Garden right next door to the school. We've helped the kids plant some of the garden beds out with brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, red cabbage) and of course the new seedlings are getting munched by the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly, as happens in warmer months.
We did a 'find and squish' mission, and managed to clean up the seedlings of eggs and larvae. But to help deter the butterflies from laying more eggs, we made some decoys to put around the garden, since the butterflies are territorial. One of the boys knew what territorial meant, since he'd watched the movie "How to train your dragon." We were most impressed!
To make the decoys, you just need something about the size of an adult butterfly, that can withstand weather, and either hang it or stick it to a stick or piece of bamboo, or the edge of the garden bed, so that real butterflies flying by think that the territory is already taken.

For our garden session last week, we printed a page of butterfly drawings (CLICK HERE for template) then cut them out and sandwiched each individual one in some clear packing tape. It wont be a perfect solution, but together with regular 'find and squish' patrols, it should help give the young seedlings a chance to grow big enough to survive the greedy grubs.

If you have a large brassica patch, and can't net it off to stop the butterflies, then you can resort to using Dipel, which is a biological control agent for the grubs. Buy sachets at plant nurseries, and follow the instructions. The grubs have to ingest the stuff, so it wont kill non-target insects like bees and ladybirds.

Living Local Tassievore Feast - 1st April (no joke)

The Tassievore challenge is underway again, encouraging people to eat local, buy local, grow local and support local businesses. An important aspect of this is knowing where your food comes from: who grew it, do they care about their soil, or their animal's welfare? Are they able to make a decent livelihood growing our food?

We tend to have a very Tassievore diet just as a matter of course, since we source our vegies and fruit, berries and eggs from the garden, our meat from our rabbits or beef/lamb/pork in trade or purchase with friends and colleagues. And now that we can grow sweet potato, the roasting tray is complete!

I saw a post on a facebook group recently, complaining about the fact that when this person went to buy some fresh asparagus from the supermarket, they only had imported stuff from Peru or somewhere. The  writer concluded that they really supported Hill St Grocer, because they focus on local produce. Now, that's a good outcome in a way . . . but I wonder why the person was looking for fresh asparagus in Autumn anyway?? Its quintessentially a Spring crop, as anyone who grows their own would know. So it made me realise that we can be lead astray by following recipes that look nice, but may have out of season ingredients, rather than starting by looking at what's in the garden, on the bench, or at the farmer's market . . . THEN go looking up recipes.

That 'produce first' approach is of course what drives the awesome people who are organising the Living Local Feast for 2017. Lissa, who is the epitome of awesome, is putting out the word to anyone who might have some excess home grown produce or home made treats to spare and share. Please get in touch with Lissa via the event page if you can help. And don't delay in getting your tickets - its a delicious event!

Its on this Saturday!

This is the BEST country show, we reckon, and not just because we're stewards in the hall of industries!

There's the giant pumpkin competition for a start, and the woodchopping, and bullock team demos.
And of course the hall of industries! Last year I was on fruit and Mick was on Vegetables. This year I've been moved to needlework. NEEDLEWORK?!?!? Ah well, gotta take it as it comes I suppose. And I have been known to whip up a tote bag from an old pair of jeans and an animal feed bag. Hope to see you there! Weather is going to be glorious!

Sharing space?

I recently got a message:
"Hoi Christina, do you know anyone with an empty back/front yard or verge who'd like someone to fill it with vegies? I don't have access to productive / garden space AND IT IS KILLING ME!!! I'd ideally like to gardenshare with people of like-values."

Nick is living in Howrah at the moment, so if you're in the area and you have space that you'd love to have filled with vegies, let me know and I'll pass on contact details.
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