Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.
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21 October 2014

Show week! And just for a change, lets not talk about tomatoes! Oh, alright then: yes you can plant your tomatoes now! And if you have already got them in, that's fine. And if you wont get them in for another few weeks, that's fine too! The more you experiment and, crucially, observe the results, the more confidence you'll get in your own garden.

We're very excited this week to be launching our crowd funding campaign to raise some of the up front cost for design and printing of our Seasonal Garden Calendar. Trumpet sounds! Applause applause! Its going to be lovely - a month by month guide for food growers in Tassie. And because we're creating it as a perpetual calendar, you'll be able to keep notes about your own gardening, like when you planted your tomatoes, and when you picked your first one, and which variety was your favorite. Then next year, you'll see your own notes, and gradually create a garden diary that is perfectly tailored to your very own patch.

FIMBY Seasonal Garden Calendar

And here it it! The link to our Pozible campaign! The site gives you information about how it works, and what rewards you can choose for your support. There's rabbit poo, fertiliser, worms, as well as calendars of course. My personal favorite is the "instant homesteader" where we'll take your vegies and fruit, and process it into jam, chutney, sauce, booze, bottles, paste or whatever, and give it back to you!

We'd be very grateful if you can share the campaign with your own networks. Every little bit helps. Its a short campaign (4 weeks) so we hoping to share it wide and fast.

And huge thanks to Philip Bohm who made the cute video at short notice, with much skill and patience! Phil's currency is wine, artichokes and rabbit pie. Great deal!

Too much coriander? Hey Pesto!

I sow my coriander seed in April-ish when I'm planting peas to grow through the winter. I scatter the coriander seed around the peas and lightly scuff the surface to cover them. Then magically through late Autumn and Winter a little coriander forest germinates and grows, with a (usually) peaceful relationship with the peas (if there's a fight, the coriander seems to win!). Its a great way to get lots of coriander leaf, since the cooler weather keeps the plant producing leaves for longer.

As the days get longer and the weather warms up in Spring, the plants start to gear up for reproduction. You'll notice the plants start to "bolt" or send up flower stalks. You can leave a few plants to complete their life cycle of course, since coriander flowers are delicious and pretty sprinkled on salads, the bees love them, and then you'll get heaps of seed to use in cooking and for starting the whole wonderful cycle over again. Coriander sown in late Spring and Summer tends to bolt more quickly.
If you do have a coriander forest about to bolt, and you want to save some of the leafy goodness for curries and stews and soups and dips, you can harvest and freeze the stuff in ice cube trays. Then, hey pesto (sorry!) you have little cubes of corianderness that you can keep in a cliplock bag ready for any culinary occasion.

Simply stuff the leaves (and soft stems are good too) into a food processor
and add peeled garlic cloves, salt, a glug or three of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Whizz it up, and pour /spoon into ice cube trays. For freezing I don't add any nuts or cheese, but if you're going to use it fresh you can add almonds or cashews or pine nuts, and once its all whizzed up, stir in some parmesan or fetta or other cheese to your taste. You can do the same with parsley, mint, or blend some of them together for green splendour!

The three sisters

With the relatively warm winter and spring we've had (recent cold nights notwithstanding) the soil at our place is definitely warm enough to plant the three sisters tribe. This is a guild of complimentary plants that were grown together by North American indigenous people for many thousands of years. Corn, beans, squash (or any member of the cucurbit tribe, eg zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber). I wrote about this planting scheme in our newsletter last year, which you can find HERE.
I haven't been quite properly organised this year really. I planted some beautiful painted mountain corn seeds in soil blocks - a bit too early as it turned out. They speared up so fast, and started pushing their roots out with alarming vigour. So I found a couple of spaces in the garden, and planted them a while ago. They're doing ok! I will wait till the broad beans are finished (they're so early this year) before planting zucchini and bush pumpkins.
And I'll wait till the peas are finished (they're almost done too) before planting some climbing beans on the trellises that the peas were using. So the three sisters wont be adjacent to each other this time around, but still hopefully exerting their positive influence on each other! 
I am planning a three sisters planting at our new farm too! We've just fenced a 400 square metre patch of lovely chocolatey loam that the marvellous Don has chisel ploughed and rotary hoed for us. We bought the place from Don and cherish his ongoing interest and help. We've used electranet fencing to (hopefully) keep out the abundant wallabies and rabbits. Last weekend I formed up the first beds, and planted corn and bean seeds.
Next weekend, after we've sorted out irrigation from the little dam, we'll plant some pumpkin vines to ramble as far as they want in the lower section. Its a luxury to have plenty of space. We've chosen shelling beans for the farm, since we wont be there every day to pick them when they're producing. So, borlottis, red kidney beans, and some interesting varieties that we haven't grown before, including soy beans and 'pea beans'. Can't express how grateful and fortunate I feel for this patch of paradise.

Groovy bean trellis

Speaking of beans, I visited Annie in West Hobart last week to drop off some tomato seedlings. We first met Annie and her garden about 5 years ago. It was great to catch up, and hear about her recipe for pickled garlic, chinese style (we'll put that in a future newsletter for sure!).

Annie has already got scarlet runner beans growing. She says she has to grow LOTS of beans, because when she cooks beans, she cooks ALOT! Annie has set up a very cool trellis system for her beans: a top and bottom wire, connected with zigzag stretchy twine. Once the young bean tendrils find those strings, they'll twine very happily right to the top. And maybe halfway back down again!

Headway horticulture program -  Open Garden

During the year I've been working with Headway as tutor in their horticulture program. We've been working with a delightful bunch of people at the Lindisfarne respite cottage, learning about propagation, fertiliser, soil blocking, micro greens, soil texture, compost making and more. We've also been getting the garden there growing, with help and donations from Bunnings and Best Mix Garden Supplies (formerly Totally Organic).

Last Monday the gang hosted an open day at the garden, as a way to thank all the people and businesses who have helped. The garden was looking (and in fact WAS) spectacularly abundant. We picked and prepared lunch for the guests, and cooked copious quantities of kale chips. The broad bean salad was a hit, so I've put the recipe below. 
It was pretty hilarious double podding broad beans with a group who in some cases have limited dexterity in the hands. Bright green inner leaves of broad beans shooting across the room like pretty little missiles! Much laughter, and much eating!

Broad bean salad

  • Pick and wash a bunch of english spinach leaves. Tear into pieces, and massage well with some olive oil and salt. Use this to create a bed of green on a large platter.
  • Pick and pod a bunch of broad beans. Dunk the podded beans in boiling water for a minute or two, then drain and spread out to cool. Then double pod the beans by making a slit with your thumbnail, and squeezing (carefully!) the inner leaves out.
  • Boil some new potatoes, and let cool a bit. Cut into pieces.
  • Fry up some bacon pieces (omit if you're vegetarian)
  • Hard boil some eggs, preferably from chickens with names that you know. Cut up into pieces.
  • Layer the potatoes, broad beans, egg and bacon over the spinach. 
  • Dress with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper if you wish.
  • Garnish with coriander flowers, finely chopped parsley and mint, and broccoli or rocket flowers.
Tuck in, and feel proud of what you've produced!
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