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

Phew, its been windy! And now we're getting some much needed rain. Great when the night time temperatures stay reasonably high. Despite the wind everything is growing like mad now. Fruit and berries blossoming and setting fruit, newly planted carrots, lettuce, beetroot, spring onions getting some decent size. Things have really put on a growth spurt - I've noticed new canes springing up from the silvanberry that are around 20cm long, and I'm sure they weren't there last week. 

And we've started harvesting the first of our broad beans, together with regular garden snacks of peas. And cabbage, and spinach, and the broccoli as it starts to flower (broccoli flowers are delicious). And a handful of stray baby potatoes (left over from a long ago planting) as I was weeding the mulched area down near the quince tree. I love it when general garden pottering yeilds a few handfuls of this, and a bunch of that, which together with a few eggs and maybe some shaved cheese adds up to a spectacular fresh dinner.

All harvested while looking for a spot to plant some beautiful painted mountain corn.

Strategic weeding

All this rampant vegie growth goes hand in hand with accelerated weed growth, doggone it. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to keep up with it. But if your weeds are growing, you've got fertile ground! So don't despair - get STRATEGIC!
Strategic weeding means putting your effort where you'll get most return, for the situation that most needs it. If you've got big strong fast growing things like broad beans and cabbages, don't stress about keeping the ground under them 'clean' - as long as your vegie has it leaves in the sun, it wont be too bothered. The weeds will just be "green manure" to dig in, or compost fodder when the crop is finished and you prepare the bed for whatever comes next.

You're better off spending your weeding effort on slim, non-competitive things like onions, garlic, spring onions, and of course new little seedlings that are emerging and slow to get going. In the photo above you can see some red onions in the same bed as some red cabbage (how very colour coordinated of me!). The onions have been kept reasonably well weeded, but the cabbages are surfing a sea of green.
"But what about weed seeds?" you ask. Its true, if you don't keep on top of all weeds in your garden, and if you let them flower, you will be adding to the seed load in your soil and compost.

One of my favorite gardens is Eleanor's in Oatlands, which we featured in a newsletter last year (HERE). Eleanor is ruthless with all weeds, and never lets them flower, and NEVER composts weeds that have potential seed heads.
Because of this impeccable approach, the only 'weeds' you find in her garden are things like chard (above), or rocket, lettuce, or parsely, growing in cracks in the pathways, and any nook or cranny they can find.

Of course, if you have the inclination to keep your garden weed free (and I know some of you who read this are so inclined) then good on you! The strategic approach is for the rest of us who have a bit less time or diligence than grand vision!

Oatlands Open Day

Speaking of Oatlands, the Oatlands School and Community Garden mob are having an Open Day next Tuesday 14th October. We'll be there will bells on, and a raincoat if necessary. There will be garden stuff galore, inspiring people and plants to talk to, raffles, and of course the amazing Eleanor!

The lovage is coming

Here's another plant that has made spectacular growth in just a week or so: lovage! I got quite a surprise today when I ventured down to the silvanberry / quince / rogue potato patch. My management method for this area is to mulch with a very thick layer of straw, about twice a year. I was wondering if I had covered the dormant lovage too deeply. But there it was, growing lushly, and I'm sure it wasn't there a week or two ago when I was ooohing and aaahing over the quince flowers.
Lovage always reminds me of Nica, our Romanian fimbarista who found us in a search for lovage. See the original story HERE

Nica has provided another recipe, and another glorious sample, of her recipe for stuffed capsicums that uses lovage (as it seems many Romanian recipes do!). I shared a stuffed capsicum recipe in a previous newsletter - this one is different in that you don't need to pre-cook the stuffing, and the whole thing creates an incredible rich sauce as it cooks. Divine!

Ardei Umpluti (Stuffed Capsicums)

500 g mince (pork, beef or chicken depending on what you like)
125g rice
2 onions, finely chopped
1 bunch lovage (you can use dill or celery leaves) finely chopped
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 Tablespoons oil (if you use beef or chicken)
4 capsicums, medium size
500 ml tomato juice
salt, pepper

In a bowl, mix mince, onions, rice, lovage, oil, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Remove the top of the capsicums (keep the tops), remove seeds and clean the inside. Fill them with the mince mixture, put the caps back on, and place in a pot standing upright. Add the tomato juice and top up with water if needed to the top of the capsicums.

Cook for one and a half hours gently on the stove top or in the oven. For extra taste, serve with a teaspoon of sour cream, dolloped on a cut half of each capsicum.

Yes - do the sour cream bit. I tried it and it's soooooooo good! Thanks Nica!

Protecting the babies

If you're unable to resist punnets of pumped up little seedlings in nurseries, and you've 'accidently' come home with some frost tender zucchini or pumpkins or cucumbers (oh yes, it happens, we all know it happens), and if you can't resist planting them in the garden even though its still a bit cool . . . then you might want to consider some protection for the vulnerable little things.

Mum uses these glass flagons (I think they were sherry flagons!) with the bottom cut off. Our fine friend Fin was lucky to find some at the tip once, already without bottoms. They are a fabulous little greenhouse for one.
So if you're partial to a drop of sherry or vermouth or whatever else they sell in flagons these days, or if you can get your hands on some empties, consider them a valuable resource. You can cut the bottom off by scoring around the base with a sharp thing, eg angle grinder, then heating the scored area over a candle flame, then rubbing an ice block on the hot scored bit. Bang! or Pop! and the bottom comes off. File or sandpaper down the cut edges so its not so nasty and sharp. 
WEAR GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION since sometimes its more like Smash!

Do you bamboo?

Recently on the way home from a FIMBY job, Michael (FIMBY Garden Fairy No.1) and I had a conversation about bamboo. That marvellous useful giant grass. Strong, great for teepees, wind breaks, screens, animal fodder, and some varieties have edible shoots. Trouble is, its very expensive to buy, and hard to get cheaper bulk orders from wholesalers on the mainland through quarantine. So, we're looking for anyone who has a bamboo clump or two growing around Hobart, who might be happy to let us divide off a few culms (stems) and rhizomes (roots) to try to get some growing.

We're happy to swap a garden consultation for the bamboo, or a bottle of wine, or some seedlings, or something. If you or someone you know can share, let us know!

Its quite hard to cut through bamboo rhizomes - they're like steel cable - but with an axe, a reciprocating saw, a mattock, and plenty of huffing and puffing, we managed to get a few divisions from a stand of gorgeous black bamboo recently. Big thanks to fimbarista Heather who introduced us to her brother-in-law who had the bamboo.

Lemon Espalier

And here's another segue (I'm full of them today) - Heather has a lovely young lemon tree that they are espaliering in their garden in Moonah. When I took the photo she said "don't say this is how its done because we're just making it up". 

I fully endorse the 'make it up' method of gardening, its how we learn! Go Heather, GO LEMONS!

And finally - a request for help

We've decided to go ahead with producing a FIMBY garden calendar! Wooop! Our current plan is to get them printed by the beginning of December, so they'll be available as Christmas presents for ALL your friends and rellies!

The design and printing costs are reasonably substantial, and although we aim to break even eventually, the costs need to be paid up front. So we're going to run a short and sweet crowd funding campaign through Pozible. This is where you guys can pre-order calendars, and other amazing FIMBY stuff, to help get some cash flow for printing. Stay tuned for the campaign launch next newsletter.

In the meantime I am looking for some HELP from someone who knows about video editing to assist with a short video for the Pozible campaign. If you, or a savvy child of yours, would be able to coach me through an area I know very little about, I would be very grateful. I can swap FIMBY advice and help for the techo services! Cheers!
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