Monday 31 December 2007

Fresh From The Garden Today

Just before Christmas I was thinking of Middle Eastern recipes because they are very healthy, delicious, include a lot of vegetarian dishes and are perfect for what is ready to pick in our garden.
So while I was shopping I stopped a lady who I thought was Lebanese to ask her "what do you put in your Tabbouleh?"
We had a long conversation and she was very happy to tell me what she puts in her Tabbouleh, her stuffed zucchinis, how she adds mint and parsley to mashed potatoes and drizzles oil on the top, how to make kibbeh and lots of other things she likes to cook.
Now I share her recipe with you but not in the recipe section because this is a recipe you take the basic idea and add your own flavour to it.
Her secret is to use only 1/4 cup of fine bourghul wheat, put it in a bowl and add freshly chopped tomatoes, let the juice from the tomatoes soak into the wheat, now add sliced spring onions, 3 cups of chopped parsley, 1 cup chopped mint, some lemon juice, olive oil, ground black pepper, salt and maybe some cinnamon or allspice. Use small lettuce leaves to scoop up your creation.
It would not be difficult to think up bush tucker foods that could be added to this basic idea and if you don't eat wheat you could use cooked rice or quinoa.
The best part of our conversation came when she started to tell me where to buy big bunches of mint and parsley at the markets and my face lit up and I got all excited saying, Oh that's the one piece of advice I don't need, I have heaps of all these things growing in my garden.
Who needs much else when you can gather all these goodies 3 metres from your back door.
Happy New Year and Happy Gardening for 2008 and may there be lots of Sky Juice for everyone.
Click here to visit Lebanon, the recipes the culture & beautiful photographs -


Some people make you feel good when you are with them and Kathy from my gardening group and her husband Ken are just such a couple. The last Wednesday before Christmas they invited me to go blueberry picking with them down past Mt Compass. On the way I learned a bit about blueberries from Kathy who grew up in Canada, in an area famous for its blueberries (and hence her love for the fruit and the annual trip to pick them here). They love wet feet - very wet, in fact a bog is best. Ken loves the hunter-gatherer thing and is in his element picking food and his eyes shone with anticipation the closer we got to the blueberry farm.

A little way along the Nangkita road we stopped near a house, unremarkable but for the greenest lawn I had seen for years. We gathered our baskets and buckets and Kathy and I headed off towards the gate to the farm while Ken went to find the owner and get instructions on which rows we were to pick. It was at this moment that I thought maybe here was a serious contender for my NZ fantasy, but I realised I hadn't brought the camera.(Kathy had hers but I didn't know at this stage) A gigantic weeping willow, with pale green, lush foliage hung its glorious tendrils down to the ground in a huge arc, gently waving in the breeze and cooling the humid air of that hot morning. Kathy and I stood under it for a moment and wished that we too had been smart enough to buy this boggy land - useless the locals said - and start a blueberry farm. There was more garden with large, luxuriant flowers and shrubs flourishing between paths of green lawn - hydrangeas, fuschias and all those things we struggle to keep alive in the current dry conditions.

Ken appeared with a young lad who led us off towards a netted area of several acres and got us started on picking a variety of blueberries just at that perfectly ripe stage. The bushes were laden with large, juicy berries and Ken showed me how to 'tickle' them off the stems, sifting out the earwigs through your fingers. Yes, there are earwigs even in paradise ! The grass between the rows could almost be seen to grow as we walked and often there were sections of bog we had to straddle to reach the berries. Ken's excitement was catching as he and Kathy told me that these were the largest and densest bunches they had ever seen in all the years they had been going there and, because we were the first to be allowed in to pick (it was openning to the public on the weekend), the bushes were laden to the ground in places. In one hour we had picked one full row and collected 30kg ! What a beautiful morning's work. Now I have about 9 of those kg in the freezer in yoghurt containers and I have made blueberry sauce for pancakes with some and eaten some with muesli for breakfast.

For me though it is the memories that I have stored in the freezer, of spending time with lovely people who make you feel so happy, with their enthusiasm for life.

Sunday 30 December 2007


...yes, the weather has temporarily beaten me and I am back to the air-conditioned comforts of home, until the cool change...
After too many social occasions for my liking and the packing of far too much stuff into the car, three hours later we arrived at our little shack on the beach . Half an hour of intensive unpacking and bed-making was followed by the sensation we go there to achieve - total peace. The future stretches away into the distance, as does the past. There is no TV, no phone, no mobile reception, just a small space and us. We have changed almost nothing since the day we bought it about 15 years ago, arriving late that first night and finding that the previous owners had not only left us everything from furniture and saucepans to toilet paper but had made the beds with new sheets, freshly ironed !Back to the present story...

Next morning, Christmas eve, I walked over to the only shop and asked the bloke if he had any phone cards as I had promised to ring my mother on Christmas day from the public phone box. He said no (what's new? He has never, ever said yes yet!) but there was another customer in the shop and he said he was going in to Maitland (about 20km away) that afternoon and would I like him to get me one from the post office? So I gave him $20 and he said he would leave the card with the shop owner later, which he did. I had never met this man before and didn't know his name but things are different away from the city and that sort of offer soothes the cynical soul no end.

Now, the reason I called this post "Rocks of civilisation" is because of Bob's lovely and thought-provoking post about filling the jar of life with rocks, pebbles and sand. If we look at this idea from a community perspective we could, and should, have a set of rocks that help us to live in a civilised way with one another. One of the rocks would be trust, like in my experience of the phone-card-man. Trust has slipped down the list of characteristics that indicate success these days and it should be up there with other big rocks like sharing and caring. Things like monetary success should be in the pebble or sand category, along with ...what? Help me out here and share with me some ideas for a jar of rocks for a civilised world...

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Simple Pleasures

Christmas day here was a quite, peaceful and relaxing day with delicious no fuss food direct from our garden and farm.

Lunch was a simple ploughman's type on the veranda overlooking the orchards.

Highlights being my own goose liver pate , fresh green salad that included our first of the seasons beans and cucumbers with the added zing of fresh blackcurrants .All served with my latest sour dough creation of 4 grains.

This was slowly savoured.

By late afternoon we were ready to try the chestnut cake ( A recipe from Wendy E. Cook's book, The Biodynamic Food & Cookbook) It was great , rich, moist ,delicious and easy to make. This cake will become a regurar dish here.

By this time Quentin had prepared the goose. Here this is our most common roast as this is the meat we produce. The goose was cooked to perfection , Stuffed with chestnuts and served with wonderfully roasted vegetables especially the suberbly sweet parsnip from the garden.

We could only manage a small taste and look foward to a few more meals featuring roast goose, pate and not forgetting the chestnut cake.

Who knows if you pass by at the right time you may get to share some.

Rocks - The Important Things in Life

My Best Ever Present

After a busy day preparing lunch and cleaning up I sat down last night to look at a book my son and his partner had given me. The title is Community Gardens written by Penny Woodward and Pam Vardy.
It is a Celebration of the people who participate in community gardens in Australia.
As the back cover says "let the people be your guides, their touching stories of the events that brought them from more than 20 countries to Australia".
The book contains many unusual edible plants and the homeland recipes of these extraordinary people.
Have you ever grown Orach or Perilla or Purple rice plant or Molokhia or Malabar spinach or Long-leafed coriander!
Community gardens in inner city areas give people a place to connect with others, a place to grow some vege's and their favorite herbs, a place to relax and connect with the joy of the soil and what it can grow for them.
As Peter Cundall says in the foreword " it proves beyond doubt that the most precious resources of any country are always the people and the soil".
Check out your local library if it does not have a copy ask them to order it in.

Tuesday 25 December 2007

The best ever Christmas present!

This year, I received the best ever Christmas present from my husband Chris. He was very romantic and wrote me a poem to tell me what the present was. Here are some bits of the poem:

"Yes time was what she craved, more than a thing.
I knew it at once, my ideas they did spring,
To a gift that would let her take time from the home,
and let her go into her garden and roam."

...but how can he give me time when I am looking after the baby full time AND have to get all of the cooking and cleaning etc done? There just isn't time left in the day! Chris can't help because he's already at work way too many hours each week and he's exhausted by the time he gets home.

"Yes, my Christmas gift is of labour aplenty,
and you don’t have to pay for it, not even a twenty.
It’s my gift to you so do not feel gilt,
just enjoy it and make sure the plants do not wilt."

So he's paid a cleaning lady to come once a month specifically to give me a day in the garden. I'm VERY impressed!

He even took away the reindeer names to make room for my veggies!

"Now Tomato, Now Pumpkin
Now, Onion and Rocket!
On, Carrot! On, Chilli!
On, Potato and Chive!
To the top of the lawn!
To the top of the compost!
Now dig away! Dig away!
Dig away all!"

How lucky can a girl get? Chris is definitely a keeper!

Happy Christmas and Holiday Time to you all

Another year another season. Wow! it is so cool to have this mild December weather and how wonderful to have so much rain this week.

Well some folks are having a break from blogging but for this slow typist it will be a good chance to tell my stories of my garden, my cooking adventures and things of interest in Adelaide. So get yourself motivated, find someone who is a computer genius, who can put your story online and join me to talk about what's happening to the tomatoes and what you are cooking with all the zucchinis and basil.

I have planted 6 different varieties of mild chilies and am waiting to see what they are like, I like Mexican food so I shall be trying some new recipes. Maybe even smoking and drying some chilies. Does anyone have a good recipe for Chili Jam?

Have a great Day whatever you are doing or not doing.

Saturday 22 December 2007

Lamenting lost apricots

We have a little bench under an apricot tree at the back of our garden. Once there were 3 large branches hanging over the place where the bench is but one of them caught your hair every time you tried to sit down and it got pruned back quite a lot. Then the second branch got damaged while the fence was being put up and eventually it died leaving only one productive branch over our side of the fence. Last night, the weight of the apricots in the wind caused that last branch to snap off. (sob sob)Usually picking apricots is a bit like that game they used to have on one of the radio stations called "beat the bomb". They would think of a dollar amount as the maximum prize money. It could be as little as $20 or something like $3,000. You could ring up to play the game and they would start calling out dollar amounts getting higher and higher until you said "stop". You would then win that amount of money. However, if the amount they called out got above the maximum, a bomb sound would go off and you would get nothing. The more greedy you were, the more money you could win but the higher your chances of getting nothing at all. Our apricots are like that because you want to leave them on the tree as long as possible to let them ripen. Just when you think it's ALMOST time to pick them, the Rosellas come and eat the whole lot. In the morning when you go to work, there is a tree full of apricots but when you got home that night, there is not one left on the whole tree. I have tried several types of bird net over the tree but was never successful in keeping them out. One year, I even trapped a bird inside the netting for a few hours! At least this year I was forced to say "stop" and got some apricots, even if I have lost our last branch. A small consolation!


I have been keeping track of the rainfall here at my place since 1996 and here are my annual totals in mm :
1996 : 713.5
1997 : 583.5
1998 : 682
1999 : 776
2000 : 922
2001 : 849
2002 : 511
2003 : 674
2004 : 813
2005 : 802
2006 : 470.5
2007 (so far) : 701.5

The problem this year has therefore not been so much here in Adelaide, but rather record low rainfall all down the Murray catchment, from Queensland to NSW, Vic. and eastern SA. Since at least half the water in our taps comes from this one river, as its the only one we have in SA, (the rest comes from reservoirs around Adelaide) and the fact that we are at the end of the river, without a national water authority things are in a bad way. The problem will not be alleviated in the slightest by restricting the watering of our gardens because, in total, Adelaide people use less than 1% of the water taken from the Murray and that includes use in parks, schools, offices, pools, laundries and showers etc. That is everything not including industry - by far the biggest wasters of water and they have not been given incentives to recycle or re-use or reduce their water, and have no restrictions!

Oh no my blood is beginning to boil again! Well, you asked for information, Pattie, and you can begin to see why I am so furious... Governments sell water licenses which allow irrigators to take water straight from the river for their crops and the governments make money out of this - lots of money. The more licenses they sell the more money they get so, guess what ?? They have sold too many and when there is not enough rain to fill the river we have to stop watering our gardens and the poor old irrigators begin to lose their fruit trees and livelihoods because of incompetent management of life-sustaining water, our water.

So march in the streets and shout out to those who shouldn't be in power but are, to catch all run-off from the metropolitan area before it gets to the sea. We have enough rain in Adelaide for all our water requirements and we must not waste it.

If you have read that wonderful book Adelaide: ecology of a city, by Prof Chris Daniels and associates, you would know that Adelaide's rain, pre-settlement, rarely reached the sea. The high sandhills along the coastline meant that there were miles and miles of wetlands on the eastern side, providing habitat for wildlife during summer. Some water eventually meandered along to the Port River and then out to sea but most filled waterways and mangroves and swamps all year round. Only in the 1900's did governments begin to call this "storm water" and build concrete channels to flush it all out to sea so that developers could have a field day making money "reclaiming land", like at West Lakes.

Now it is time to "reclaim the water" by catching the water flowing down all those concrete drains, cleaning it up and selling it to industry to use so the rest of us can grow our vegetables in peace again. It seems so simple, yet they are talking about desalination plants that will cost billions and ruin our precious sea-life and cause more problems that they will solve. I think I had better go out into the rain to cool my head off...


Before you get stuck into your ham this Christmas, read this article in the Organic Advantage Newsletter, edition 94, by the Biological Farmers Association of Australia.

Findings from a co-joint report by the World Cancer Research fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research of a “convincing link between processed meats and colorectal cancer” is good news for Australian organic meat retailers.
The report states there is solid proof that high levels of processed meat containing nitrite and other preservatives increase the risk of cancer in the colon and rectum; two key organs of the digestive system.
Nitrites are barred from use in the processing of organic meat.....
read more (this link doesn't seem to be working)
Personally I avoid all processed meats except for 1 small ham I buy at Christmas (free range Berkshire, from "Feast" stall at the market.) and organic bacon. Roger loves sausages so I buy him organic ones at the "Barossa Foods" stall at the market (no preservatives). To me they all taste like salt and not much else. I once bought an organic ham from a butcher on Magill Road but it wasn't very good. If anyone knows of organic or free range ham done traditionally, put a comment here. This photo shows how dreadful some food has become.....It makes me feel sick, literally, to think that people put this into their bodies !

Friday 21 December 2007

Rain, Glorious Rain!

The baby's asleep, my step daughter is with her grandmother and my husband's at work. At last I've had a few minutes to myself and they've been wonderful! I've been sitting on my back veranda (with the chooks pecking at my shoelaces) watching the rain and finally getting the time to enjoy my garden.

I took a photo of the triangle veggie patch near my back door and put some labels on it. (You might have to click on the picture to make them big enough to read.) I've been watering this patch every couple of days with the bucket and drippers I got from Bunnings for $30. It's been really good. My tomatoes are doing well on the other side of my garden. The ones in the picture on the right are Rouge de Marmande. (These are the ones I bought in winter at Mitre 10 since they were advertised as "winter tomatoes" but they still waited until summer to fruit.) They have a wonderful flavour and we can't eat them fast enough to keep up with the rate they're growing! I've just started growing them up a wire attached the the veranda roof since I didn't put in a tall enough stake for them.

The cherry tomatoes in my triangle patch (left) were self sown. I didn't water them for a long time and thought they were going to die, but since I've put the dripper stake in with the Bunnings bucket, they've taken off. Not a lot of fruit yet though. I must get around to tidying them up, staking them and cutting out those dead leaves. If only Peter would stay asleep a little longer...

Thursday 20 December 2007


I sit here, like on a strand of a cobweb, with everything inter-connecting around me and the little movement I make helping to stir a thought on someone else's line. This is what the internet is and does and why, no doubt, it is called the world wide web (www).

As sweat trickles just about everywhere down my body, after too long outside, and I sip my cold water infused with pineapple sage leaves, I want to discuss mulch. I have some ideas why people are finding fungal increase on their plants and other seemingly mulch-related problems. As I was out gardening in the vegie patch I noticed some things about how I use mulch and, now that this is second nature to me after 20 years of solitary gardening and making thousands of discoveries about vegetable things, I had not thought to mention them before. So here are my observations and actions:
Mulch reduces evaporation: for this purpose almost anything will do. Where my chooks forage I use lots and lots of rocks and stones as mulch and nothing else.
In the decorative garden which consists of shrubs and trees and also around fruit trees, I use 3" - 4" thick 'biscuits' of peastraw laid side by side like tiles. These plants are large and established. I usually lay this in October when the soil has warmed up. This year I did it in August to conserve every drop of moisture in the soil. Any weeds not fed to the chooks are just laid back on the soil too (see below).
In the vegetable garden I put thick but narrow biscuits of straw all along on top of the dripline to reduce evaporation there, where the water is, but around the plants I fluff up the peastraw and only put a light layer, just to shade the ground. Sometimes I add to this as it breaks down over summer. This way any rain we get (ha, ha, ha) can soak straight into the soil and moisture doesn't sit in the mulch itself and cause fungus to multiply.
With tomatoes I only put mulch over the dripper line and leave the rest of the ground bare as tomatoes are more susceptible to fungal attack, I think.
I use pea or other straw or hay and dead weeds for one reason only - they are light coloured and reflect the worst of the heat away from the soil and stop the roots cooking when its 40 degrees. In the shops they sell all sorts of stuff as mulch and these are wonderful for cold areas or in winter here but they absorb too much heat for a South Australian summer (except perhaps for parts of the hills) and often they set like concrete and become water repellent in our dry heat. If you have this problem break it up a little with a hand tool and then sprinkle over some straw - either from a bale or from a bag of the chopped straw you can get at the nursery.
If you have lots of weeds during winter and spring you can save the world by laying them down as mulch then you won't be introducing new weeds which always come in anything you buy in. And you won't be contributing to agriculture and all its adverse effects.


I received this email this morning:

Dear Kate:

Sorry for taking so long in getting back to you and yours on this. I’m mostly to blame, but it did take longer than anticipated working with Mother Earth News and matching prizes with entries. The good news is that you are one of the winners (of the Grow-off Show-off competition) and we decided to award you the $100 gift certificate to Johnny’s Seeds of Maine. You’ll be happy to hear that the cash prize went to a good cause, two in fact. We’re dividing it between a school garden project in El Salvador and a garden project helping poor women in Nepal. You’ll be written up in their February issue. I’ll get the gift certificate out to you as soon as I can which will probably be next week. Congratulations!

Kitchen Gardeners International

Wow, isn't that lovely. Go and start choosing our seeds at


I love Wednesdays because, as I wrote in the previous post, it's garden group day. However that was meant to be all over for this year with that lunch at Kathy's last week. Then, a couple of days ago Kathy rang me and said that she and her husband were going blueberry picking at a place near Mt Compass on Wednesday and would I like to come. They had made friends with a couple down there who had bought some land cheaply because it was a bog and couldn't be used for anything ! Well, blueberries grow naturally in a bog so they planted a few acres and now they have huge, luscious blueberries this time of the year. Unfortuately I forgot the camera but the upshot of it is that in 1 hour we picked 30kg of blueberries !

Kathy grew up in Canada in an area famous for its blueberries and told me it was below sea level and had a dyke, like in Holland, and high rainfall so bog was an understatement. Anyway, this place at Mt compass was heaven in a drought - so, so green with a garden to die for, a huge weeping willow in the middle of the greenest lawn I have seen for years and so cool on that hot and humid morning. A bog is my new heaven !
Of course that afternoon was our seedsavers picnic and we all met at the Economic Garden. It was a feast for the senses because, after 1 minute of rain, there was that smell of moisture on a parched landscape. Obviously the Botanic gardens have a bore or something because it was all so green and healthy. I have noticed before that the fragrance of herbs is intensified in the heat and this was certainly the case yesterday.

All the usual suspects were there and Denis, one of our newest members, came along too. If you haven't been to the Economic garden you are missing one of Adelaide's gems. It is planted out with annual and perenial herbs and vegetables and any plant that has been grown for economic use, such as papyrus, bamboo, gourds etc. They grow unusal varieties of vegetables like the purple okra and paprika capsicums and there are beans, citrus and pumpkins growing on an espalier, which forms the backdrop to the whole thing. As you can see in these photos it is packed with plants grown in a most enjoyable arrangement.

Although it was hot and unusually humid, the green lawns along the paths and the magnificent and gigantic shade trees, such as planes, moreton bay figs and others made it so perfectly cool...oh,no don't get me started on how plants are the solution and not the problem, again , and we should be preserving our green environment instead of killing it by not watering it and making our part of the world even hotter! Governments...Just thinking about the pleasure of being there in that garden stops my blood boiling with anger.

Anyway, after some sustenance, we went off to see the new house for the Amazon Lily and that shows what you can do when architect meets glass-house maker.

Now we won't meet again until February when Deb has invited us to Nirvana - another cool spot for a hot day. Aren't we lucky to be able to enjoy all this together. Meeting with all of our seedsaver friends has been another thing to have made 2007 so wonderful for me. Merry Christmas to you all and see you in the new year.

Wednesday 19 December 2007


Last Wednesday morning we didn't do gardening in the normal way. Instead we headed off with our trailers to pick up peastraw for $2.50 a bale. As I looked in the rear-view mirror as we hurtled down the red-dust road just out of Callington, a movie came to mind, about trucking in America, and that line where one bloke radios to another and says "10,4 big buddy, looks like we got ourselves a convoy" !

One by one we loaded cars and trailers with bales that were spread, at times, so far apart it was quite a walk in between. I said "hop in the trailer and I'll drive you up to the next bale" but Lou and Glenys looked into my trailer and, for some reason, decided that being able to see the ground through the bottom of the trailer signified a risky proposition and kept on walking. People these days have no guts !

After all this hot and dusty work it was time to escape to cool and green Bridgewater, where Kathy, who didn't need any more peastraw, had been preparing an end-of-year lunch for the rest of us. We exchanged our mostly home-grown gifts, like these lovely bunches of dried lavendar from Glenys' garden. It was Glenys' beautiful garden that I was watering recently and wrote about at the time.
We won't be meeting again on Wednesdays until the end of the school holidays. It has been the best year that I can remember, of this gardening group, and it's all because of our newest members, Kathy and Glenys. One night in 2006 I handed out some little flyers that Sally and I had made, at a Soil Association meeting to try to find 2 new members, when 2 past members left and reduced us to 3. I only handed them to women who I thought looked young and energetic enough to participate in what we do. A week or two later there were 2 responses. Kathy, a Canadian, living at Bridgewater said she didn't even own a spade but wanted to start a vegie garden. Hmm. no experience - I didn't think she would be hard-core enough. Then there was Glenys, who needed some help and ideas also with growing vegetables but didn't want to commit to every Wednesday. Hmm. I didn't think she would last long.
Kathy now spends weekends buying tools and turning compost and can be seen most week-days carrying pails of coffee-grounds, which she collects from organic cafes, down the mall for her compost heaps ! And Glenys has become fully committed and an inspiration with her artistic bent and gardening skill. So, here's to the 5 of us and may we have many happy years in each other's gardens in the years to come.

Tuesday 18 December 2007



Click for map of Botanic gardens showing Economic garden at number 4 (top left)

Lets get together once more before our gardens die, no I mean before the end of the year. Don't worry about seeds etc except if you have arrangements with someone . Lets just sit down in the Economic Garden of the Botanic Gardens and have an old-fashioned picnic. Maggie says there are lots of things to look at there and elsewhere in the gardens - I can never sit down in a garden for long before I am off looking into something.
I have made the gingerbread men and panforte and I would like to share them with you. I have put the recipes on the blog too. In fact, it would make christmas fun again to have people to give my goodies away to who would love the joy I have in giving them.


I have been looking for roasted wattle seeds in a packet, not a jar, to send to Pattie in the USA. The main brand of bush food herbs is Outback Pride, which is a South Australian company, run by the Quamby's. They were featured recently on Landline - one of the best TV shows around, about rural Australia and farming, in particular. Their story is certainly something to be proud of and you can watch the Landline article online. The gist of it is this:

Something happened to one of their sons which made them rethink their lives and what was important to them. Gayle grew up in outback SA and they decided they wanted to help the Aboriginal communities to regain their pride and become useful members of their settlements. Their idea was to start up a true bush-foods business with these people as its beneficiaries by including them in the work. In each of several areas in outback SA they have started 1 acre plots of herbs which are native to the area. The local Aboriginal people are invited to tend the herbs, with free instruction from Mike and Gayle, and to pick the product when it is ready. The Quamby's do a 4000km round trip once a month to visit the plots ! The workers are paid by the amount they pick, when the Quamby's arrive. Half the pay goes to the individual and half to the communities.The produce is then taken back to Reedy Creek where it is packaged. The Quamby's have invested all their superannuation in this and, as yet, have no return in cash, but plenty in seeing the smiles on those Aboriginal faces.

There are no fences around the crops and the whole plot is open to the community to eat as they choose because the main idea is, after all, to improve the lives of these misplaced people whose diets are atrocious and lack any sort of fresh food. The children have made the first move and nibble on the berries and fruits on their way to school and gradually others are joining in, especially those tending the plots. The interviews with the Aboriginal workers shows what a difference this work has made to the lives of everyone in the communities, as they truly have regained their confidence and are proud to be doing something involving their own culture.

The next step is to get some funding to make these tiny plots into viable ventures. Governments have agreed it is a great thing the Quamby's are doing but as yet no money has materialised in the 2 year's since they applied for a grant ! Unbelievable - what is this state government doing ??

The Quambies are amazing people and now I know why the company is called 'Outback Pride'.When you are shopping this week pick up a packet (or a jar) and open your tastebuds to real Australia and your wallets to real Australians.

Monday 17 December 2007


On the Farmgirl Fare blog there are the best recipes and descriptions of making so many beautiful breads that I have ever seen. In fact, I think this is the best food site around and I hope it wins again (although I haven't looked at any others yet). Those cinnamon scrolls are calling to me across the miles....


December is a time of anticipation in my mother's garden as all the fruit are growing and some, such as the apricots, are beginning to ripen. Every time I visit her we go and inspect the fruit trees and talk about things like when we will need to put the bird-netting on, how she is going with her coddling moth control and how many mangoes there still are.

She keeps her trees very small, otherwise the fruit would all be out of her reach. The Moorpark and Trevatt apricots are colouring well and there are hundreds on these small trees.

Coddling moth is her biggest problem and she has found that the best method of control is hanging tins in the apple and pear trees into which she puts port. The local bottle shop have her down as a cheap drunk, I think, because this time of the year she is always there getting flagons of the stuff !

This year it looks like there will be a bumper crop of mangoes as, once they get to a certain size they usually don't fall off. Last year was a bit lean but the previous year she had 40. I haven't counted the trees but they include: about 6 apples - all different, 3 navel and 1 valencia oranges, 2 or 3 plums (satsuma and others), 2 different apricots, 2 Elberta peaches, 1 fig, 1 grapefruit, 1 lemon, 2 mangoes, 1 banana (new), 1 feijoa, 2 nashi, 1 packam pear and probably something I have forgotten.

All year round there is something to pick - now it is the valencia oranges and next will be the apricots.

She also grows a few vegies, like peas and asparagus and tomatoes and lots of flowers like sunflowers and ranunculus and bulbs of so many different varieties. Living on the original Torrens flood plain means the soil is exceptional - that's why all the market gardens used to be near there when I was a child, and the water table is very high. This means that once the fruit trees get their roots into that they grow like there's no tomorrow and rarely need watering, even in this drought. It seems, though, that the water table is lower because there are parts of the (unwatered, yet green) lawn that are sinking.

I have put a few more photos in the photos link. It is no wonder that she is so bright and lively at 85 because she eats more fruit than most families, including mine !

Friday 14 December 2007


Well, the water restrictions here in Adelaide say that even house numbers can water using a trigger hose or dripper system from 6am to 9am Saturdays or 6am to 9am on Sundays for uneven street numbers. Or you can also water for 3 hours in the evening (5 to 8pm) on the Saturday or Sunday depending on your house number.
If you have a seniors card (60 years plus) you just ring SA Water and you get an exemption. There are times for seniors to water.
You can water, using a watering can or bucket anytime. We are using more water by flooding the garden with dripper hoses than we did when we used the hand held nozzle hose. I think the dripper hoses do a better job than sprinklers or hand held, as the water goes to the plant roots and not on the foliage.
I do think that plants do not like all the chlorinated town water and if you have tank water to use on your garden your plants will be very happy.
What would I like for Christmas, rain, rain, rain or as Brett says "sky juice".
Okay Santa please give that present to all our Global Friends!


Have you ever wanted to grow some delicious, yellow tomatoes ? Well, Joy has 12 seedlings just waiting to be adopted. She and her family grow them every year as they are descendants of those brought to Australia by her father, many years ago. European people seem to do a lot of this when they migrate - bring with them the best of their old country to plant in the new. I grew them last year and they went on and on producing even when they looked dead and gone. Unfortunately I didn't save any for seed, but I knew Joy would, and I look forward to adopting one or two again this year. Joy has a wonderful knowledge of plants, including vegetables and happens to be our oldest member ! So these tomatoes have been in her family's care for a long time. Hills and Plains Seedsavers will have Joy's phone number on their members sheet or you can leave a comment here. Hopefully Joy will be able to bring the seedlings to the picnic on Wednesday.

This photo is of Joy digging up some of her famous lettuce seedlings for me. Everyone must have Joy's oakleaf and cos lettuces by now. If you don't, I am sure Joy has some spare seeds. The seeds are so reliable that I reckon you get more plants germinating than the number of seeds you plant !

Today we are going to crack 5000 visits to this blog since I put the hit counter on in September. Just goes to show how the internet really does expand horizons. Now, that can't all be Maggie and me !I have gone from a solitary vegetable gardener for over 20 years to experiencing the enthusiasm and camaraderie of not just the Hills and Plains Seedsavers and the 2 newest members of my Wednesday garden group but also connecting with gardeners and cooks all over the world, in a little over one year. Where will we be this time next year ? Today the world, tomorrow the universe!

Thursday 13 December 2007


In November Pattie, from FoodShed Planet , invited all blog readers to band together and see how much the internet can unite people in a common cause to help their fellow humans. Don't let the year slip by without giving it some thought. Please help dig some wells for the people who don't even have enough clean water just to drink. You don't need a pick and shovel just a big heart. It is stinking hot in Adelaide today but we can turn on a tap and quench our thirst whenever we like. Imagine watching your children dehydrate before your eyes....

We can all donate to the one project and really help it along by clicking on RYAN'S WELL and making a donation, then typing into the comments section :
"FoodShed Planet Friends for Kajiado".

If you don't want to donate online, you can give me the money next week at the picnic and I will donate it all from the Hills and Plains Seedsavers.


Barbara Damrosch and I agree on many things and this is one of them, and I quote from her latest article as reproduced on KGI today:

"....I happen to think Prince Charles, long a champion of organic farming, is one of the world's most underestimated public figures"....

There are some excellent figures to be consumed in her article, (Before you eat up Read up), relating to amounts of pesticides in summer fruit (in the US) and other foods, which everyone should know about before they gorge themselves on all that lovely fruit currently available at the markets and greengrocers.

One of my favourite books happens to be Prince Charles', The Garden at Highgrove, and I applaud him on his environmental attitudes. He is often a speaker at organic events and has a breadth of knowledge that I wish some high profile Australians had.


Click for map of Botanic gardens showing Economic garden at number 4 (top left)

Lets get together once more before our gardens die, no I mean before the end of the year. Don't worry about seeds etc except if you have arrangements with someone . Lets just sit down in the Economic Garden of the Botanic Gardens and have an old-fashioned picnic. Maggie says there are lots of things to look at there and elsewhere in the gardens.

I have made the gingerbread men and panforte and I would like to share them with you. I have put the recipes on the blog too. In fact, it would make christmas fun again to have people to give my goodies away to who would love the joy I have in giving them.

Date: Wednesday December 19th, 2pm

Wednesday 12 December 2007


There are a couple of magazines that I subscribe to these days and I so look forward to them coming. The first is called SUMPTUOUS but this is not a good name as it is a magazine entirely about South Australian food and wine - the growers, cooks, shops and activities, like crabbing. There are a few recipes but I love it because I get to know all about who the local producers are and where I can get their stuff, what shops or market stalls are opening and who the people are who are going to run them, and inside looks at things like the Adelaide Produce Market, at Pooraka, where all the trading is done between the growers, wholesalers, retailers, processors, transporters, exporters, restaurateurs etc. In the latest edition, Deb's berries at Nirvana are mentioned in the page on 'The Best of the Berries'. It is a pretty glitzy magazine now - it wasn't at first - but at least it is 100% local content .

The second subscription is for the ABC's ORGANIC GARDENER . The editor, Steve Payne, pulls no punches and it is great that the ABC allows people to express their views so freely as the articles are often very critical of the government's ineptitude at tackling things like salinity, the drought, climate change, large-scale agriculture etc. It is a wonderful thing about Australia that we can and do voice our opinions loudly, even in a magazine subsidized by the federal government itself. This is a generalisation, I know there are exceptions.

I feel an allegiance with Steve Payne and his passion for the care of our earth and its people as well as his insistance that plants are the solution, not the problem, and gardeners are being unfairly targeted by ignorant politicians, during this drought. I have been thinking of adopting this little quote that I heard someone (not Steve) say on the radio recently, as it says it all, in one neat package. (I feel another blog item coming on, when I have the articulateness (?) to do it justice which is obviously not now!)It is obvious by the title that the magazine focuses on organics - at home, on the farm, and elsewhere in the world. Although I don't believe in buying many products, organic or not, at least all the advertising is relevant to the readers and means we get the magazine at all.

The Jan / Feb edition mentions a book that I would like for Christmas, called COMMUNITY GARDENS. The book tells the stories of community gardeners drawn to Australia from more than 20 countries and the reasons they came here. It describes the plants they grow and the uses and recipes for them. It brought the judges (of the Australian Horticultural Media Association Award 2007) to tears - oh no, I probably won't get past the introduction without a hanky! This edition also mentions the fact that France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is introducing radical plans to cut pesticide use by half, suspend GM crops, freeze the building of new motorways and airports. The aim is to tax pollution more and income less. Thank heavens someone is taking a lead.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Eleventh Hour Tapestries




It is many years ago that I first visited The Weavers of Oakbank, South Australia.

Mary Cassini and her partner were busy at work in their converted "Pikes Brewery" gallery and studio at Oakbank.

At the time I remember Mary showing me one of her Eleventh Hour Tapestries. It was so intricate and so beautiful.

I remember it was the "Healing of the Nations". As you view it online notice the words, and the leaves and the fruit, symbols for all of us. 

Click on 3 Minutes World Silence to be transported into a quiet space.

Make sure you open The Eleventh Hour Tapestries to see Mary's amazing craft.

More importantly write in your calendar 11 am on the 1st of January each year and join many people all around the world in 3 minutes silence "for everyone to remember the future and wish for peace', an idea started by Mary.

TOO BUSY....a little ditty

I skipped across the kitchen again,
The cool weather is always my friend.
Everyone says they're too busy,
Its making me feel quite dizzy.
While I potter in my garden a while
Most don't even have time for a smile.
Christmas presents abound in my home
I make them and grow them, you know,
Sometimes my rellies despair
But really I just couldn't care.
I don't have to queue up in shops
But of love I give lots and lots,
Some people! they just don't get it
So I say OK, lets forget it -
We'll give to a charity or two
It's quick and easy to do.
They leave it to me to work out
Time is not what their lives are about.
I am glad we can choose our own friends
Because rellies really are the end !

Sunday 9 December 2007

Th's the Season of Red

December is in the air. The mornings are filled with the smell of chestnuts flowering. This unique smell also heralds the start of the berry season. The bottlebrushes are in full flower.

Along with the feijoas

In the northern hemisphere, Christmas has it red holly berries but here in the Adelaide Hills we have yummy raspberries, red currants & gooseberries

This is a busy time for us harvesting, packing & selling our berries. I don’t do anything special at Christmas but I thought you may like to see a photo of a gingerbread chook house I was given a few years back

I hope you all enjoy your picnic in the botanical gardens. I’ll catch up in the New Year or you could always drop into our farm shop, opened each day from 9am to 6pm between now & Christmas & get some yummy berries or interesting preserves.

If you pop in after 3pm you may be able to share some ice cold Elderflower champagne. Thinking of which for those who party at Christmas I’m looking for 60+ empty champagne bottles for next years batches. I’ve always used beer bottles but If I give away a bottle of elderflower I have to ensure I get the empty back (for Quentin’s Beer & they don’t make good bottles anymore.) You can get crown seals for champagne bottles so I think they are the go (look nice as well)
Last week I harvested my garlic see pictures.

Happy 20 to 2 Day

It is nearly 20 to 2 my new favourite time of the day.
Last week I was racing around the house, making soup, writing a blog article and doing some washing. Then crackle, crackle, I had boiled the soup over and fused the cook top. So the power to the oven and and the cooktop was turned off and our favourite clock in the house, the oven clock stopped at 20 to 2.

We both were unaware of how many times a day we check the time on that clock. Its easy to read without our glasses, its close to the kitchen sink and more reliable than our battery clocks.
For the 1st few days we kept forgetting that the clock was set at 20 to 2 and went about our daily tasks actually believing it was 20 to 2.
Sometimes it felt confusing, not knowing what was real time but most of the time we had heaps of fun and joked and laughed as our routine changed and the time remained 20 to 2.

Things like:
  • Okay I"ll go to the shops now its 20 to 2 and the mothers will not be doing their crazy driving 3:30 ritual. There are 8 schools near where we live and the roads get really busy and you waste petrol being in queues.
  • Hey we best have lunch its 20 to 2.
  • Time to stop work, its siesta, its 20 to 2.
  • Time to stop watching TV - its late, its 20 to 2.
  • Why are the dogs following me around, they get fed at about 4 o'clock and its only 20 to 2.
  • Hey its only 20 to 2, there's heaps of time to spend in the garden before it gets dark.
I decided early in the week that I like 20 to 2, its a nice quiet time of the day for us. So from now on I am going to take the batteries out of a clock and set the time at 20 to 2.

Why? - well as a reminder that:
  • habits are hard to break.
  • maybe we should not let time govern our lives as much as it does.
  • there should be more siesta time in everyones lives.
  • we should all live in the moment and not try doing to many things at once.
  • there should be a quiet time in the day for all of us.
What is your 20 to 2 special time?