Kitchen Garden Guides

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Dr. Dolittle used to talk to the animals, some people talk to their friends or spouses, I talk to the radio. The radio is responsible for initiating a multitude of emotions with its music, news and talkback but the one that makes me speak out loudest and most often is interviews with politicians. Take today, for example. There I was driving down the hill to get some ingredients for the cake I had to make for the gardening group to eat for morning tea. All very skippity-doo and so on, thinking about the jobs I had lined up for us to tackle and also about the post I had just finished writing for the blog. ABC radio announced the Minister for Climate Change and Water and began an interview about the newly-released plans to save the River Murray and all those who depend on it - Adelaide being at her (the minister's) mercy. All very predictable were the answers as they have been busy announcing this for months! Next question : "There is a chance that the water-allocation buy-back scheme may end up buying water from people who have an allocation but have not ever used it, so will more water actually flow down the river, after the government has spent $3billion of tax-payers' money?" At this point I arrived at the shop, opened the car door to get out, and said loudly "Of course it bloody well won't!" to the minister on the radio, just when an old lady emerged from the doorway of the chemist shop I had parked next to. She looked at me and I at her. Without explaining or even speaking to her I continued on my way....sometimes I just wish I had kept my big mouth shut!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


There are a lot of things that make people feel good and there are all sorts of good feelings. One of them is something I get when I write something that I am happy with. You would think that after 49 and 3/4 years there wouldn't be any good feelings that I hadn't, at one time or another, experienced. But the feeling of putting onto paper some words that convey accurately and colourfully(?) some idea or event, and more than that, which come to some conclusions through following paths in my head that I never knew were there, is a most enjoyable feeling. Mostly I set out with nothing in mind and see where it takes me, then adjust things a bit to follow new and creative pathways which just leap out of the keyboard in front of my eyes. Rarely do I even have a topic to get me going. Sometimes I get a spark from another person's blog or something else I have read, like the seedsavers handbook which I wrote about recently or some photos from my garden. But because I don't have to, I can. That is what freedom is and that is like a magnet to me.

I am only worried that this feeling is a little too all-encompassing and will lead me to some sort of addiction to writing. I can tell it is a drug-like thing and quite incomprehensible, really. Another kind of wonderful thing sometimes happens when I am in the vegetable garden. Like today, when I came in and wrote crazy lines about that song Mambo Number 5. I felt totally euphoric, which is very nice, but why should I feel quite so skippity-doo from a couple of hours with my hands in the soil? It must be those soil bacteria Chook wrote about once, which actually do have some effect on people. But really, these two things take me so far away from what I should sometimes be doing that it is very hard to leave them.

Poor Roger. He said to me yesterday as I headed off to the blog - "maybe I will catch up with you online!" I wake up at a ridiculous time - usually around 5.30am, bursting to get up and so full of energy all over again. It must be all those fantastic vegetables, I think. So, what is to happen? Gardening and writing are a perfect match which exercise body and mind. That sounds good; lets just hope it is.


I have been watching that new Australian show on the ABC called 'East of Everything'. I am enjoying it - its a bit like 'Sea Change', and that bloke, Art, is so....appealing. Any way, in the first show it referred to a book he was writing, called "Gross National Happiness". I thought, what a great way to measure a country's success that would be, instead of Gross Domestic Product (or Gross Dire Predictions and other alternatives!). Imagine, instead of a tax form, having to fill in a happiness form which might ask you things like :
  1. How many times per week did you put someone else before yourself in order to make them happy?
  2. How many times did you tell someone you love them?
  3. How much did you give away, on average, per week? Include all garden produce, home-made preserves and other home-made goods, gifts to charities, time spent helping someone, clothes and other household items that were not old or worn out?
  4. How many times did you laugh?
  5. How many times did you make someone else laugh?
  6. Can you count on more than one hand all the times you felt like singing along with a song, in the last month?
  7. Would people say you are kind?
  8. Do you feel you have achieved anything really worthwhile in the last 2 months? 6months? 12 months?
  9. How often do you feel bored?
  10. List all the things that make you really angry, then throw the list away!

Lots of people are not happy. Lots and lots. Not really happy, inside. I think western-ness is getting a bit anti-happy. Everything has gone topsy-turvy and there are not the community bonds to hold the fabric of life together - the cloth is wearing out fast and humans were never meant to lead a solitary existence. We need a certain amount of connections, even me who is more solitary than most, to keep mending the tears in the fabric we weave, otherwise we become lost and directionless and float about hoping to get caught in someone else's web, somewhere.

It is all about the community basket of life. Inside the basket of a strong community is sustenance and hope and sharing and these things fill the basket with rare and beautiful experiences. These baskets, of which there were thousands, seem to have decayed and lost some of their precious contents - some spilled over into the bottomless pit called greed and some has been chewed up and spat out by governments making false promises while others have just not been replenished because time has called people away from their hearths, where so much warmth used to be found.

I think we have to offer 'community' and have people take it up willingly. I wrote about this in the post on the 2020 vision. I really meant what I said. Giving, not money, is the only way forward - give all Australian families a plot in a community garden near them, some seeds, a fork and a ho-mi or trowel and some gardeners who offer their time to help anyone who needs it and watch the transformation. As people gather to see their space - strangers at first - tiny seeds of friendship, hope and potential will be sown along with the vegetable seeds and all will grow, in their own ways - some better than others, until a new fabric is loosely woven and the softness of the cloth begins to attract the outsiders who want to feel its richness and it begins to draw them under its shelter.

If there is just one thing I would ever like to accomplish for the earth it is this. With a renewed sense of connection between people I think we could make some serious progress towards extending our thoughts and actions to encompass the earth at large. I just don't see how else we can concentrate fully on the severity of world degradation if we can't even hold together long enough to get a grip on any solutions. First we need to make the cement that will hold the bricks together.

Gross National Happiness. Today's solution for tomorrow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I loved this song even as a child of 8 years of age. It featured in a movie/documentary of the beautiful book "Born Free", a true story about the Adamson's raising and re-release into the wild of several hand-reared lions in Kenya. Even at this young age I was attracted to the idea of being born as free as the wind blows. This blog is about freedom and I want to start by dedicating it to this book which started me on my love of Africa, wild animals and thinking outside the square. Here are the words:

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free, where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free

Stay free, where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free