Monday 30 June 2008


These pretty things in my garden today.....












...are hiding the fact that we are still having a severe drought.....













...and it looks like it will continue....maybe forever.



Saturday 28 June 2008


Here in South Australia we are very lucky to have a company like Four Leaf Milling. It is rare indeed to be able to buy all your grains and flour knowing they are grown on local, totally natural, organic farms. They operate three properties in the Tarlee, Kapunda Region, 80kms North of Adelaide and totaling some 1150 hectares.

Here is an excerpt from the website: The farming operation has been looked at as one ecological unit right from the biological activity in the soil through to a tree planting program. The 'Four Leaf' property is fronted with two miles of planted trees with various other plantations throughout the property. These change the property outlook, but more importantly impact upon the environmental conditions. Many years ago two ecology areas were fenced off to allow the regeneration of native flora. This was long before it became fashionable to fence off areas of nature vegetation. These are now delightful areas with native vegetation regrowth and wildlife, particularly kangaroos and some echidnas. On the second property 'South Gums' work has been done on extensive planting’s of 1200 River Red Gums for woodlot production. Russell who now operates the ‘home’ farm has developed an intriguing operation using Cell Grazing techniques to produce prime organic lamb. He has also developed a plantation of nut trees. Particularly pine nuts, on drip irrigation.

Here is an excerpt from the latest monthly BFA (Biological Farmers Assoc.) e-newsletter which you can subscribe to here.

....."Over 40 years, what began as a passionate family hobby became a promising market opportunity for clean, fresh and organic food for Gavin and Rosemary Dunn, proprietors of Four Leaf Milling organic grain production.
Four Leaf Milling this month celebrates its national presence as one of Australia’s biggest distributors of organic products including spelt and rye flours, Egyptian gold flour, rolled oats & bran as well as chickpeas, muesli and a range of baby food.
Officially established in 1968, Gavin and Rosemary attribute their long lived success to the quality of their product lines, their knowledge of organic farming practices and their ability to follow their passions in the absence of industry norms.
“For us it was important to follow what we felt at the time, not being swayed by the norm, we never doubted ourselves”, said Rosemary.
The 100% family owned and run business has never once used herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fumigants on any of their South Australian Tarlee properties.
“We just couldn’t see the benefits for yield, health or economical gain.”...Read more

"Rolled Oats (Unstabilized)The Original Style also known as Porridge or Flaked Oats. Four Leaf Original Style Rolled oats are not subjected to steam; hence the name, unstabilized oats. The natural oat kernel is rolled immediately after hulling, which ensures the retention of their high vitamin content, nutritional value and freshness. For the best porridge ever!"

This is a pretty different kind of oats, if you are used to the processed ones available at supermarkets. These are oats with attitude! They require long slow cooking but are absolutely superb cooked by our son Hugh's method:

Hugh's Porridge

for 4 - 6 people
1 cup oats
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups full cream milk or soy milk (I like the texture of soy milk in porridge)
4 grated apples
1/2 banana / person
maybe a little honey
extra milk or soy milk or a good dollop of cream!

Place the oats, water and milk into a pan and heat to simmering. Add the grated apples, mixing in well. Don't worry, it won't be too much apple! Slowly return to simmering (so it doesn't stick). Simmer gently for about half an hour or even longer - until it is all thick and the oats are well-cooked (but they won't be all dissolved and homogeneous). Add the chopped bananas and cook enough just to heat the bananas, not to cook them.

Serve with extra milk / soy milk / cream and the option of sugar / honey but try it first - it rarely needs more sweetening because of the fruit.

A little snippet of information I found for you today:

34% of documents printed are used for less than 5 minutes, while 22% are never used!

Dreadful, isn't it.

Blogs and emails are good. Read them online, don't print them.


Cathy from our seedsavers group found this 1 day TAFE course that is being offered in South Australia where you will learn about seed collecting, cleaning and storing. It is obviously a new course because it has no fixed date or venue and the info says it can be conducted in the field, onsite or at a local TAFE SA campus, statewide, and is subject to sufficient numbers.

If you are interested read more at "Seed Collection Operations"

There are also other interesting topics offered such as Soil Carbon Sequestration, The Biofuel Industry in South Australia and Introduction to Soils.


image   I love our little native correas that are happy whether its hot and dry or cold and wet, in the shade or in the sun. They are originally an understorey plant, common under gum trees and wattles etc. Their flowers are a wonderful sight in the bush in early winter and there were several in flower when we went camping a few weeks ago.
I am recreating a patch of local bush down near the bottom of my block, amongst a few blue-gum trees. It is slow to fill in, with all the drought and heat in the last couple of years but eventually I will have it crammed with local plants, for the wildlife value and for my pleasure.


I recently saw some honey-eaters and pardalotes there, which I haven't seen for years before, because of the invasion of the noisy-miner birds.

Grrr...that's the council's fault for clearing everything in sight!


image_thumb5 Of course there are lots of weeds down there too but that's OK because this is also the chooks biggest foraging area and, if the ground was bare, they would undermine the steep bank and cause terrible erosion, as they have elsewhere. For some of the summer I have to keep them off this area as it is so dry and devoid even of weeds. This also gives plants such as these correas time without the chooks.
Correas are actually edible and the flowers taste better than the leaves but I think the leaves would make a good substitute for bay leaves.

The Belair Native Flora Nursery has lots and I always choose those grown from seed collected as close to where I live as I can and this is always written on the labels. Those that survived last summer are the ones I will plant more of during this winter.

Friday 27 June 2008

Kitchen Gardens I Remember by Maggie

Every time I take my parents (who are now 88) out or go to visit them, I ask about their lives and in particular what they ate when they were young.
Most of the food they ate came from their own gardens.
Apples, quinces, grapes, pears, stone fruits, silver beet, carrots, potatoes, berries.
Mushrooms were gathered from paddocks.
(I remember going mushroom and blackberry picking when I was a child.
They were the best mushrooms and berries ever!)
A chicken was killed and eaten for Christmas lunch and eggs were gathered from happy chooks, fed heaps of greens as they wandered around gardens watered with rain water tanks and played with carefree children.
(I remember climbing an old oak tree and playing teasets with the tops of the acorns.
We spent hours building cubby houses near the bamboo as adults weeded and pruned and had cups of tea and chatted with neighbours.)
They ate milk, meat or rabbits and bread all delivered daily by men with horse drawn carts.
The ice man would deliver ice to be placed in the ice chest to keep milk cool.
They must have bought tea, sugar and flour from grocery stores but they did not buy much else.
My Dad always complains that the food today has no taste. He is of course right, apples are sprayed with chemicals and then waxed. It is no wonder that people don't eat much fruit and vegetables from supermarkets, it don't taste good!
I don't have a photo of any of the gardens I remember, but I have vivid memories of the taste of raw milk and cream and all the wonderful flavours of fresh peaches in summer and roast pumpkin in winter!

The fruit above has now been eaten, some was bought at the Rare Fruit Society meeting in May.
The meetings are held every second month, so July grafting of fruit trees awaits us.
Check the web site for details as there will be other grafting workshops in July.
Members bring unusual fruits they have grown, to taste at supper time, it is like opening a mysterious jewelry box, amazing colours, exotic smells and delicious flavours.


Every day in my vegetable garden I spend time with my thoughts. At first they revolve around the practicalities of what I am doing - sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, removing old plants etc etc But then I settle into the task at hand and more external thoughts sneak in, nudging the business side of the thinking out. Now that it is cool and damp (but nowhere near wet enough to break the drought) it is easy to push aside all thoughts of the problems of growing food in summer without enough water. I found that a very stressful time last summer and I am just going to enjoy winter for the moment. So I pass over those worries and see what else comes along into my head.

I think a lot about problems and solutions. I have written about lots of my ideas here many times; just read anything from the label at the bottom of the side called "food for thought". I cannot get away from the astoundingly true fact that seeds are at the very heart of all our problems and all their solutions.

Every single thing you and I eat - everything - absolutely every mouthful for 6 billion people every day - is reliant on seeds. For every mouthful of food we all eat, someone somewhere has sown some seeds, just like you and I are sowing seeds. People - real humans, out there sowing seeds. Even the meat some of us eat is reliant on seeds and often of a sown pasture because we usually eat herbivores. Even the feral meat I buy are herbivores, but these are not as reliant on humans to sow the seeds. Even a chocolate bar or bottle of soft drink are dependent on a crop sown from seeds.

Seeds represent the basis of human life on earth.

If something is so fundamental to our survival, surely this is the thing we should be doing our best to protect. Every day at least one seed variety becomes extinct. Imagine this handful of colourful and varied seeds being gradually replaced by the same hand holding the same number of seeds but there only being two varieties. That is where we are heading.

If, for example, we only have 2 varieties of seed left, lets say one is a pea and one is a tomato, how can we grow carrots or spinach or fennel? How can we grow wheat for bread or grow rice or coffee? If that variety of peas only grows in a cool climate, how can we grow it in South Australia, where it is hot? If the tomato does not have the genes necessary to protect it from a fungal attack, what happens when it succumbs and a whole crop withers and dies? Who is going to stop this destruction of the seed varieties and when? Do you have faith in anyone actually taking responsibility for this? Do you think "they" must know what they are doing and "they" wouldn't let this happen? Are you perhaps too busy to care right now? When will you care - when it is obvious we should have done something 10 years ago, 20 years ago, when? How about now!

What is the nub of the problem here? It always comes down to money; always, in our current society. People in Australia, for example, now spend much less on food than at any time ever in history. Less? Don't I mean more? No, every household used to grow quite a bit of their food, remake old clothes, mend toasters and so on and they were therefore able to spend more on the things they couldn't grow, per item. Now people grow none of their food and they expect to buy it for less, per item, so they can buy the rest of the things required by a throw-away society.

So, farming has been taken over by investors seeing an opportunity to grow massive amounts of cheap food for the supermarkets, and make the maximum profits. They grow many thousands of acres of a crop derived from just one variety of seed and supermarkets encourage customers to shop with them because they are cheaper than the other supermarket down the road. The supermarket only stocks food based on its price and price is linked to mass production.

I always think it is odd when people complain about the price of an apple, let's say. Maybe the cheapest one is 50c and maybe one grown locally with love not chemicals is 70c. Then, when they have finished their shopping, they go and spend $5 or more on a coffee and a piece of cake, per person! They put $50 worth of petrol in their car and buy some cosmetics and some new shoes and on the way home, hire a couple of movies for another $5. Then they order pizzas for dinner and drink a couple of bottles of soft drink, all the while complaining about the price of the apples today in the supermarket and especially the organic ones! I hear it all the time - we can't afford cheap apples never mind organic ones!

So, what can you do to save the diminution of the seeds we need for life and have fun too?
  1. For a start, plant an apple tree! I rarely buy apples - I get them from my mother's trees so I have no idea how much they cost. Plant dozens of fruit trees - they are beautiful and fulfilling things to have. Plant open pollinated ones and then, when the fallen fruits send up shoots, you can give them to friends for presents, instead of plastic presents!
  2. Forget the gym and start gardening. Start growing vegetables today and expand your garden in every direction as soon as you can. Only grow open-pollinated varieties so they can self-seed and reproduce forever. Forever is a bloody long time!
  3. Stop buying things you don't need and use the extra money to buy local produce from growers' markets. Local people save their seeds and grow varieties they know will suit their climate and soil. Like Tony Scarfo - his seeds are his livelihood. Every small grower has a huge biodiversity of life on their properties, compared to the agri-business farm and it is this diversity of insect, animal and plant life that we must secure.
  4. Think.....stop and think about the consequences of your purchases. Do you really need strawberries in winter? Do you really need another DVD movie? (Read blogs instead!). (Do I really need to go to Europe, you are all saying! You're right. I don't and I can't stop thinking how hypocritical I am.....)
  5. Join with some friends and do a few jobs together on the weekend instead of just sitting around with them, and then share some home-grown and home-cooked food together. Play cards. Get out some old board games. Get into the habit of creating fun then it becomes easier to create a fulfilling life. A simple life is a hell of a lot more fun - make limoncello!

A simpler life is a more fulfilling one; it is more fun, more healthy for you and more stimulating. Moreover while you are saving seeds you will be preserving biodiversity and that will be the saving of our civilisations. What more could you want?

Life is good. Get one today.

Thursday 26 June 2008


My life is so predictable. It is Wednesday and that means gardening day with my garden group. Today it was at Sally's. We just did some weeding and then some more weeding and then some more I went off and took some photos of some pretty stuff in Sally's garden for a few minutes. We did have other, grander plans to do with the chook run but it all needed more time and thought.

Not even a photo of the vegetable garden extension, I now realise! But Sally did have the skulls of 2 cows and a koala under her lemon tree!

Now, don't ask me why Sally has these...she has some sheep on her 10 acres and there are a few sheep skulls around, but cows? I didn't ask - my friends seem to do strange things!

In the photo at right, you can see the top jaw of a koala that died at her back door during that extreme heat we had in March. Very sad but very interesting - I have never seen one of these before either! They only eat the leaves of a few different gum trees, and nothing else, so their mouth structure is adapted especially for that.

Sally made an absolutely outstanding hazelnut syrup cake - I have put this recipe on the Gardeners Gastronomy . It is one of the best cakes I have ever eaten! And I can tell you that this garden group has made some pretty amazing cakes, every Wednesday, over the 11 or so years I have been a part of it....we should write a book, maybe.

Then I drove over to Glenys',which is only about 10 minutes from Sally's, as I am supposed to be looking after her garden at the moment!

Now, Glenys is the queen of the red cabbage! I love going to her place and drifting around the garden when she is not there and checking out all the little things that are happening that I don't always see when we are there for gardening as a group.
I thought of Ian's beautiful post where he talked about all the friends he chatted with, in his head, while weeding and as I started to weed Glenys' vegie patch, in the welcome warmth of the winter sunshine, I felt she was there with me and it was really pretty special.

On my way down to the berry patch I managed to tease Glenys a bit, as I tend to do because she is so gullible, until she laughed and realised I was at it again! Poor Glenys!

...One Wednesday we made this pond for Glenys and it is looking pretty good, I think....
As I stood there alone, surrounded by all the plants and trees and projects that we have helped Glenys with over the last couple of years, I felt again a close connection with these friends and their gardens and with the essence of life itself.

These types of friendships are rare. If you are lucky enough to have some, take time to envelope yourself in them and treasure them with all your heart.

On the way home I passed this field of leeks, in the Piccadilly Valley, growing almost right up to the edge of the road

Community Gardening

Look at this great service the Unley council provides. Are you able to contribute to it? If you live somewhere else, perhaps you could set up something similar in your area.


The other day I found another blog that I think is very nice and the first post I read was about the harvesting of yacon. It is a very timely thing because I have been wondering about that myself. Read about yacon there. And check out the rest of the blog too.
Funnily enough I have been meaning to say something about yacon for about a week and keep forgetting. So here it is : if you have never felt the young leaves of yacon and you have it in your garden, now, this very minute is the time to do it. People usually grow vegetables to eat them and herbs to eat or make into teas or lotions and potions but there are some more, rather subtle ways of enjoying some of these plants.

Of course some have glorious scents and some have surprisingly awful scents, and the colours can just make you gasp but I am a kind of touchy feely kind of person and I like to run my fingers over things, especially all the parts of plants. Things are not always what they appear to be in the plant kingdom, I have discovered. Yacon is one such case. The leaves get quite large and they just feel like....leaves! But the new growth, which looks exactly the same, is indescribably beautiful to touch. Every day now I go and feel those leaves because I can't believe how gorgeously ......indescribable they are!

My 3 favourite scents are the blossom of the lemon tree and that of the deciduous....oh no, such a nice name it has and I can't quite remember it but I will in a minute....yes, it is Philadelphus (or mock orange but it is nothing like orange blossom scent!) and also the Acacia iteaphylla (Flinders Ranges Wattle).

My favourite vegetables for their brilliant colours are those amazing red and yellow capsicums and purple stripey eggplants that I photographed during summer. But for me the one plant I grow especially for its colour and form is that lime-green chicory with the curled central leaves, from a couple of posts ago. A whole bed of that would be breath-taking. The leaves are rarely eaten by anything and grow large and soft and gorgeous.
Also I am delighted and amused by the crimson okra plants with their oak-like leaves, soft creamy hibiscus flowers and deep crimson pods pointing firmly upwards, when you'd think they would hang down!
There are many, many wonderful things about growing food and I think vegetable gardens and fruit trees should be more appreciated for the beauty that can be found in them....
I have written a lovely post about gardening at Sally's on Wednesday but now Live Writer won't let me publish it! Grrrr...

Tuesday 24 June 2008

More Splashing Ducks At The Adelaide Himeji Garden by Maggie

Ripples of bushes
Ripples of leaves
Ripples of color
Ripples of light
Ripples of water
Ripples of stone
Ripples of stillness
Ripples of calm

Click on the Photos link (under Our Links) to see more of The Adelaide Himeji Garden.
A garden of imagination and relaxing pleasure, rocks, ducks, flowing water, wonderful trees and water plants.
See where Kate's ducks go for a big splash day or to just chill out.
You will find the garden on South Terrace near Hutt Street.

Click here to read some history of the garden when it was presented on Postcards.


Well, I was going to put various things in the heading, after "in my.." but they amounted to stuff in my life, so there you go, that's that explained. Useful!

It is funny how the amount of enthusiasm you (or maybe its just me) have at the end of a day is quite substantially influenced by how your day has been. Mine has been a very skippity-doo kind of day and so I feel deliriously "pumped", as son Hugh would say. I am pretty sure it is not because I slept well or ate well or any other of a million scientific explanations but the fact of the whole matter is that good day = good feeling = lots of energy. I wish it was the beginning of the day, because there is not much left of it to put my energy into, at least not outside where I love to be, as it is dark already.

At last I finished the repiquage (pricking out, thanks Ian!) of my second sowing of Bill's baclueie lettuce and now they rest happily in the garden between some fennel and some beetroot, all nicely watered in with worm juice. Good night sweet lettuce....This week I have been madly pricking out, potting up and sometimes planting out all sorts of seedlings that seem to be ready to burst out of the foam boxes.See the side bar for details. Of course, before I could plant them out, I had to remove any left-over bits and pieces from the space, like spinach and fennel from last year that was just there doing nothing but forming part of my theory of naturalisation of this ecosystem called the vegetable garden. I don't take things out until they have completed their life-cycle and only then if I have something else to put in - except of course if I eat it; but I mean things like fennel and spinach that have gone to seed and then even died off. It is habitat for something so why remove it? My garden is messy.
As yet not planted out are about a thousand cavolo nero (kale) seedlings that I have kept in foam boxes, away from the vegetable garden so they didn't get attacked by aphids and white fly. This proved to be a wise move as they look so much better than those raised in the garden. Now it is nice and cold overnight, the aphids and white fly have gone so I think it will be safe to plant them out, if only I can find somewhere to put them. Still in foam boxes and not quite ready to plant out are some leeks, some small cabbages from Ken in NSW who I sent some other seeds to as a swap, and some White Gwenda lettuce from Diana via Cath's garden. Evidently this is Cath's favourite so I will see how it goes for me. Mostly I grow Joy's cos and oakleaf.

3 or so paragraphs about the 1 hour in the garden and you are no doubt wondering what are the other things that have made me feel so totally, fabulously and surprisingly skippity doo today - really for the first time this year! Well, I spent a few hours this morning with a friend and we had a great time together; laughing and carrying on like school girls! It has stayed with me all day and added something to all the other good bits. Next, I finally got some horrible administration out of the way that I have been meaning to do for ages and in the end took less than 2 hours. Why I didn't do it ages ago I have no idea. Lazy, I guess. Then I went to Italian...and did more about food and liking it and wanting to do all sorts of verbs, like travel and cook and ride a bike and do gardening. I had to concentrate pretty hard and didn't have time to make the lady laugh, who sits next to me!

I am heating something up for dinner so consequently that means I can spend more time here, writing this. Again I wish I had done this in Live Writer but at first I didn't intend to put in any photos. The Cootamundrra wattle is just beginning to flower - and looks all lacy and soft, weighed almost down to the ground with yellow flowers. I know it is actually a weed here in SA and we have removed all the others, but this one stays for the moment as it separates the garden from the road. Then there is a leukodendron - I love those red ones called 'Safari Sunset', and some ordinary yet lovely pansies I bought in a fanciful moment recently. There is a zucchini plant that has come up, rebelliously, and is producing lots of lovely, cruchy little zucchinis that I have been eating raw like apples, when I am in the garden.I love a good rebellion; there should be more of them but people have got so accepting of things and so ordinary...shut-up Kate. OK, sorry... The red flowering shrub is....a suckering pest of a thing that I can't seem to be able to kill, despite lots of attempts, but still beautiful and mind has gone on Wednesday morning I remember it is Tecoma capensis (I think)!
Sometimes my life is skippity-doo.... let your imagination take you there too.

Monday 23 June 2008


Around my place at the moment the flirting that is going on is reaching unprecedented levels! You see, here in Adelaide we have a range of ducks - native and exotic - and they are getting up to a lot of mischief; so much so that I heard on the radio a while back that all sorts of cross-breeding is happening that hasn't happened nearly so much before. I live opposite a golf course where there is a large dam, so there are lots of water ducks of various sorts living around this area. Also, being surrounded by some native bushland and lots of big gum trees, there are also wood ducks.

Never a day goes by when the wood ducks, in particular, are not out flirting with each other; the males often almost falling off the gum tree branches in their desire to impress prospective partners of their agility and whatever else female ducks find attractive. First comes a faint male twitter....Hi gorgeous one, in distant tree from a tree far-off across the golf course. Sooner or later I hear a female reply that says something like....I am here but I am busy building a nest....Then there is some movement that catches my eye and I see the male has moved to a closer tree and calls ...Hi again. I was just passing and thought you might need a hand with your nest.... She thinks....How sweet. Maybe I could use a bit of help...but she says...Thank you that would be good but really I can manage by myself. Anyway, what have you got to offer that is better than all the other male ducks?....Now, he preens his feathers, straightens his tie and flies across to a branch of her tree and answers... Well, I can protect you from all the dangers of being a wood duck in this big, wide world. And now I can see how beautiful you are I hope we can get together more often, and be friends, and maybe ......She is not easily fooled by his suave talk but he does sound rather wonderful and so she asks him to come closer for a chat, beak to beak.....All seems to be going well until he gets just a little bit too familiar and suddenly, without any explanation, she flies off and leaves him a little bemused but even more determined to succeed.....This scene evolves, with lots of chatting and laughter and different types of duck-talk, and one day in the future I will see a whole tribe of baby wood ducks waddling about and know that somewhere she found love. Whether or not it was with the kind, flirtatious duck or a strong, handsome duck, we will never know...

There are some birds that like to have a bit more excitement in their lives than just the one partner and even once the babies are born, they are off chasing females from every corner of their world. I saw a TV programme about them recently. Dad says to Mum...Darling, I am just off down to that new tree I told you about to get some treats for the children....She calls back, while stopping the babies from falling out of the nest...OK, take your time and maybe you could call in and pick up some worms while you are out.....He flies off, does a big arc around the forest and lands just a few trees away from his family, where a younger female greets him and leads him to a hole in the tree....Meanwhile, back home the wife is entertaining a visiting male in the same way, who has been waiting patiently for the husband to leave in order to approach...Sometimes, as they showed on TV, the husband returns before the other male has left and a lot of explaining has to be done to avoid a nasty confrontation.These birds have one mate for life, that they live with, but every year they flirt and carry on with several other birds, just for the hell of it.

Then there are the ducks that mate in our pool - who knows if they are the same couples or individual ducks with various partners, often they look quite different to each other - but there is lot of it going on. Quite a few of the ducks around Adelaide are a cross between native and exotic now, as I explained obviously humans are not the only species that sometimes takes a chance and does a bit of flirting here and there!

Sunday 22 June 2008


For many reasons some of the peoples of the world have lost the art of growing their own food. Their land has been in a war zone and decimated, their land has been taken over by multi-national agri-business, their land has been subject to flood, drought or other natural disasters or they have lost knowledgeable family members to AIDS or other diseases. These people want to help themselves and not rely on food aid from afar but they don't have the means to get started.

So Kitchen Gardeners International have identified such a group of villagers in Kenya and want to raise a small amount of funds to give these people a new chance to feed themselves and their families. Feeding themselves is like feeding ourselves - there are so many benefits to individuals, family groups and whole communities. I have written about that once or twice before.

So, please go to this link and read for yourself what your small donation can do for these people who need a tiny bit of help from us to get started growing their own food. KGI wants to increase the power of the "I" in KGI so that all kitchen gardeners on our planet can help each other re-learn the lost arts of survival, starting today and leading into the future.

Life is good. Let's share it.


Saturday 21 June 2008


imageSometimes the garden has a magical look in the late afternoon and evening, especially in winter when the sun's rays send a soft glow through the trees. Our winters are relatively mild compared to blogs I read in cold parts of Europe and America, where there is snow as well as unseasonable frosts that damage seedlings and cause a lot of heart-ache amongst vegetable gardeners in those areas. Today, for example, was probably about 16C and a typical day for June, with lines of light showers floating across the plains like white washing blowing on a clothes line. We can see them from our house and marvel at how defined they are - sometimes a narrow strip of rain, sometimes a cylinder, either side of which sunbeams sprinkle shiny streams of light onto the earth below.

I started out wanting to write about the vegetables in my garden but now I want to write about the feelings in my garden and how they can be so like a turbulent relationship; one minute everything is so fantastic and I pick baskets full of colourful jewels like last summers crops of capsicums and eggplants and greens etc and then the next day, it seems, the aphids have moved in and decimated all my gorgeous little Russian kale seedlings, making me very disappointed and despondent and on the verge of giving it all away and becoming a consumer again! Up and down, up and down, like a child on a swing.

When you first start out trying to get along with nature and the garden and the whole earth thing, you tend to want to dominate it all and you want everything to happen fast and nothing to go wrong and when it inevitably does, you don't know why or what to do. Eventually, after about a million failures, you begin to stand back a while and see what happens. So, when the aphids came to my place, I waited for the ladybirds to arrive and deal with them.....I waited and waited.....and, I don't know why, but they never came! Maybe it was the unseasonably warm and dry conditions - that is what I think. Now it is cold enough that all the aphids have gone and the garden and I can relax.

image This afternoon I felt very at peace with the vegetable garden, for the first time probably since last winter. The seeds sown recently are all coming up and look so fresh and clean and alive. There were the raindrops glistening on the leaves; then there is the way I like to pick a spinach leaf and pour the droplets from the grooves onto my tongue and feel and taste the lovely rain that, only seconds before, was high above me, in a cloud, having evaporated from some far off place and travelled all the way here, to my garden, before coming back to earth again. The perfect recycling system, that is what rain is. Some people then go inside and wash their vegetables. Why would you wash off that purest of all water? I don't understand most things about humans, I am afraid.


The large, lime-green leaves of my favourite chicory are bursting with life and its tiny, new leaves curl around in a cute spiral inside, before gradually unrolling as if it was yawning and stretching and waking up.

Then I just stood there in my favourite spot and looked at the sea, off between the trees, as the sun's rays behind the thin veil of cloud turned the whole scene ever so softly and silently pink. I am so lucky; so, so lucky.



It is a surprisingly touching thing for me to be able to stand in my vegetable garden and see the sea, especially when it is displayed so beautifully and is there, just for the looking, connecting me with the two parts of the earth that I love the most.

Peace. Harmony....


I have found another lovely blog. From Here to Eternity is the musings a woman wanting to become as self-sufficient as possible, in France.

She says: I’m starting out again in life, sadly without my three wonderful children (two boys aged 24 and 22 and a girl aged 16), who remain in the UK to finish their education. I moved to Southwest France with the aim of becoming reasonably self-sufficient. As there is only one of me I felt becoming fully self-sufficient would be too great a challenge....

From her blog you can connect to other blogs of people in France as well as elsewhere.

Of all those in the list mentioned above this one deserves to be explored further : Smelly Smallholding

Friday 20 June 2008


As I sit at home here eating a croissant and sipping my espresso coffee I do marvel at the variety we have at the Central Market. I can buy anything edible there. You would hard-pressed to mention some ingredient that is not available, at some time of the year, from any cuisine in the world.
But this is not in the slightest what I want to talk about this time, so why I wrote it I have no idea.
You can see the labels that Wilsons put on their produce - who grew it, where, if it is certified organic, what it is and the price. But you often see comments such as these on the labels too which always makes shopping there a bit different. The second one refers to the fact that Tony works so hard at growing his vegetables that he literally often can be seen out gardening in the moonlight! And that's fair dinkum. Unfortunately the broccoletti bunches were all gone - actually Tony was busy unloading more from his ute.
With this whole visit to vegetables gardens of the world trip in mind today, I went to the market a bit later to try and catch up with Tony Scarfo - our delightful local, organic market-gardener who happens to come from an Italian background. Seriously lacking in this trip is some connection to Italy. I am determined, therefore, to leave no stone unturned in the search for someone to visit in Italy, somewhere. Sadly Tony couldn't help me directly but had some great ideas and while we were standing there by his ute talking about them along came one of his other customers - a lovely Italian bloke called Carlo. He is there in the photo on the right of Tony.
It transpired that he was from the city (I forget now which one) and has no links to rural Italy either but also had some ideas which we three discussed in the animated Italian way. The best bit though came when I asked Carlo if by chance he grows any vegetables now. Now this was obviously something that sparked his interest because he smiled a beautiful smile and proceeded to tell me that yes, he grows mountains of stuff and yes I would be welcome to come and look at it all anytime. Moreover, he lives near Maggie - not far from my place.You know how some people just have good vibes? Well Carlo is one such person and I really look forward to seeing his garden soon.
Now that is not all to this market saga. My whole 50th birthday party plan is revolving around Wilson's, as luck would have it. You see, James, who serves there is also a photographer as well as running 'Pedal Powered Products' both of which will be very handy for enhancing some of my plans! What's also interesting is that Victoria, who also works at Wilson's, has a boyfriend who I met last week, has a catering business making organic finger-food - some of which I sampled this morning at Wilson's. So that's most of the business end of the deal sorted at the One Stop Wilson's Party Shop !!
Life is good...and getting better by the magical minute!
(Blogger has gone completely mad and won't let me leave any spaces between my paragraphs, hence all the little dots! Also it won't let you click on the first photo to enlarge it. I forgot to use Windows Live Writer again but you should try it if you have as much trouble as I do with Blogger and have a son who works for Google but won't help me get it fixed! Hey Alex!! Either that or switch to Wordpress - grrrr)

Thursday 19 June 2008


The latest food fashion is the "food of the poor" or peasant food, or local food or homegrown food.
Well, the real poor of the world have no food so its a pretty silly thing to say really.
What chefs and food writers are talking about is homegrown produce, picked daily after being grown seasonally. Prepared in the kitchen and eaten to provide sustenance.
Thinking globally this would include quick stir fried greens in Asian countries, green bean curry and rice in India, polenta and green vegetable casserole in Italy, Colcannon in Ireland, Sauteed greens and herbs in Mediterranean countries, Southern fried beans and greens from the USA, Greens and barley from Tibet, Green veggie pie from Cyprus, veggie soups from Japan, cabbage and potatoes from Russia, wild greens and herb salad from France.
The common thread in this collage of words is green.
Green veggies from many veggie families have sustained people for millions of years.
"Eat up your greens"!
"I don't eat greens"! spoken by adults and children in affluent countries.
Greens keep us healthy, they provide enzymes to digest food, cooking will destroy some vitamins and enzymes so it is important to eat raw greens with cooked foods.
The Italians always serve a green salad , served with a balsamic, olive oil dressing, to which is added fresh garlic and herbs (fresh enzymes and vitamins plus calcium and heaps more).
When you think of going green, go really green.
Check out a variety of greens to grow and learn how to prepare them.


Today, as usual, I took my mother's dog for a walk on the beach. It was the first time this year that I needed to wear my beanie and that my toes went numb from walking in the sea. This is when I am happiest! I had a nice cosy, comfortable feeling because life is good, winter is here, the aphids are finally dying off and leaving my brassicas alone and the wind blew all the cobwebs out of my head!
I thought these shadows of me were pretty cool!

After lunch with my mother we went outside and checked on her pea. And guess what! My mother's pea seed is up through the soil and showing a nice strong green tip!

We just never know what is going to happen from one week to the next, do we.....Life is good, take it as it comes and be thankful for it.


image These crisp little flat breads are delicious and so easy to make. They have cumin seeds in them and consequently have a lovely aroma. I wish I had taken photos of making them but I didn't think of it. The whole meal only takes a few minutes to cook, once you have the dough ready, so you really need 2 people - 1 to grill the puris and 1 to cook the rest, otherwise you will end up burning the puris as they puff up and brown very quickly.
I will put the recipes on Gardeners' Gastronomy. Of course you can serve them with anything but for some reason I always forget about them unless I am cooking this seafood recipe I adapted from Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey.
image Here are Hugh and Amelia having that picnic I mentioned before. You can see the lovely salad they made from the things from my garden and the trout Hugh smoked and bread etc we bought together at the market. They took the photos especially for the blog - Amelia loves reading it! That is amazing, I think.

This hill where they are picnicking is just a short walk from our home. The view of the whole of Adelaide and the coast from north to south, from this ridge is almost 360 degrees.
image image

Wednesday 18 June 2008


As I was doing this and that in my vegetable garden today I realised that so many of the things I am currently growing are from seed or plants that someone has given me, through our seedsavers group mostly.

Here is the list:
Broccoli, originally from Kath but also some from Sally (garden group)
Green wave mustard,purple peas, water cress, miners' lettuce, parsnips and carrots from Deb
Corn mache, rhubarb and artichokes from Veggie Gnome
Silverbeet from Rosemary (friend)
Coloured silver beets (or rainbow chard) and some lettuce from Andrew
Cos and oakleaf lettuce from Joy
Celery from Kathy (garden group)
Cabbages from Ken (blog exchange)
Parsley and chervil from Glenys (garden group)
Tatsoi, Egyptian broad beans and tarragon from Robert (friend)
Galangal and horseradish from Maggie and Bob
Garlic and some fennel from Tony Scarfo
Beetroot (someone from seedsavers, but who?)
Probably I have forgotten someone and something - I am sorry!

Now that is a pretty lovely way to get your food. Every time I pick any of those I think of the person who gave it to me and somewhere there are people growing stuff from seeds or plants they got from me. If only people who shop in supermarkets could instead feel the joy of eating this way the world's problems would reduce and people may even stop fighting with each other and start swapping seeds and recipes instead!

I am sure it must be good for our collective mental and physical well-being to not only grow food from bought seed but to go one step further and connect with our neighbours, friends and garden groups to swap seeds, plants and stories. If only we could opt for my 2020 vision instead of our Prime Minister's, then we would be well on the way to changing lives and rebalancing the communal psyche.

....I just thought I would put on this photo of my Japanese bunching onions - almost too beautiful to eat. I picked them and a basket of Asian greens for dinner. I am cooking a recipe from Rick Stein's 'Seafood Odyssey' that I call Indian coconut seafood and it has these lovely puris that you make and serve with it - a kind of quick, crisp, flat bread. I add lots of Asian greens but they are not in the original recipe....actually neither are the spring onions.