Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Bloggers' Green Conundrum

There is a conundrum, isn't there, for bloggers of green ideas. I am sitting in the Melbourne airport on my way back to Adelaide for a week of visiting friends and family. I am writing this on my battery-powered laptop and next to me is my digital camera and mobile phone. But, in my hand luggage is an Australian Organic Gardener magazine and a book about herbs. In my head is my vegetable and fruit and nut garden, the lovely walk from my house almost everywhere I need to go, my wood-warmed winter days and my porridge cooked on the firebox while I am out giving the chooks their hot, morning feed....

..... In the shiny, polished synthetic corridor beside me here, there is a crazy plastic plane buzzing around above a stand of souvenirs, which also includes a long, furry snake and boxes of billy tea. There are hundreds of lights and big plastic or illuminated signs. A huge TV blares out and people like me congregate as far away from it as we can get. There are lots of people bustling by, pulling bags on wheels and looking very important.

I could have reduced my anxiety about travelling by carbon-spewing aircraft and paid more money to buy something else which claims to make my trip carbon neutral. I did not.

So, how can we reconcile modern life with the sustainable life we try to live? If we could answer this, we would well on the way to convincing others to do the same. Should I stay put in Cygnet and never go past the shores of the island of Tasmania again? Should I discourage all visitors as well? Should I give away my laptop, my online life, my email addresses and my camera?

Such are the questions facing us, the green bloggers of 2010.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pickle helps with the photos.....

Winter is slowly turning to spring here in south eastern Tasmania. I am seeing apricot, almond and other blossoms, grape hyacinths, daffodils and all sorts of flowers I have never seen before. Everyday new buds are revealing their inner beauty and fresh green leaves are shyly peeking out from dormancy, into the changeable spring weather. There are too many photos for one post to upload so I will divide it into two......

image The brilliance of this blue..... image
.... belies its minute size!
image This japonica was first to bloom and it seems its show is never ending image The daphne's scent is as outrageously sweet as is the intense blue of the grape hyacinths
image ...and still more blue of something-wort, I think. imageimagePickle was ever helpful with selecting which plants to photograph! 
image The hellebores are such a delight under the trees image Leukodendrons are some of my favourites

Monday, August 23, 2010

World Kitchen Garden Day in Cygnet

Well if that did not inspire the walkers to go home and start growing food, nothing will..... it was wonderful to see 4 such different gardens, all providing winter greens, herbs, leeks, broccoli and other foods to the garden owners. The only thing missing in these Tasmanian winter gardens to me, from South Australia, is citrus.

image More and more people gathered in the Burton's Reserve Carpark and I was worried too many might turn up, after my chat on the radio with Peter Cundall on Saturday. The weather was fine and fresh as the group of..... gosh I forgot to count..... maybe 30 or more headed off across the estuary to the first garden.

While I was at home getting ready, I thought to take the old bell we had at our beach shack when I was a kid.... I think that is where it came from anyway.... and it proved very useful for keeping us on time!

Here is Tara....

and here we are at Tara's....image
Here is Jo....
and this is Jo's ...
This is Vojta...

everyone wanted to hear what Vojta had to say....
Here is Jilli...
imageand here is Jilli's recreation of a Roman milestone from Caesar's era, telling us that Lancashire (where Jilli comes from) is 12,820 miles in this direction!
image Here is Liz with her gorgeous old BBQ from the tip shop.... frying Bob's mushrooms and serving elderflower champagne. ...and the picnic lunch in the Cygnet Community Garden, with the flags of some of the countries participating in World Kitchen Garden Day 2010.

It was a fabulous day and I so look forward to maybe organising more walks like this is the future and to the Cygnet community gathering in its garden often, making it a real community garden.

Thank you everyone for making this such a happy and exciting day.

There are lots more photos here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

There's been an amazing flood.....

It is a cross between a tidal wave and deluge. It began ever so slowly.... just a trickle and seemed like any other environmental event..... but then the storm hit and the flood came from every direction until it was unstoppable. Now I am in the very heart of it, being pounded and inundated on every side. I have never known anything like it. It is wonderful!

There are so many things I should be seeing to in my garden but it is impossible to get out there. Maybe it is true..... there is always a tempest around me. I don't quite know how to get it all under control or whether it even needs to be controlled at all. If we don't watch out, it's going to take over the entire world....The forecast is for it to build and build all August but I don't think it will end there; it looks to me like the climate has changed permanently.

What on earth am I talking about? Didn't you see it on your news? It is front page news on the Cygnet Classifieds and soon will be in the Mercury newspaper and all over the internet. There could even be traffic jams here as people try to manoeuvre their way through. People keep asking me what I think, but I quote from a delightful book I have just started reading "How do I know what I think, till I've heard what I have to say?"

I'd better explain.... I am talking about the interest in growing food. Whole communities are doing it, schools are doing it, everyone wants to join in, newspapers want to write about it, authors are already writing books about it and websites like KGI and Ooooby are celebrating it online and all over the world.

Kitchen Garden Day is August 22nd and I have been out walking the streets of Cygnet in pursuit of food gardens to visit on our walking tour. People so want to join in, even people who overhear me talking in the street to someone and the man selling pork pies at the market. It truly is a flood. And it is world-wide. There are 70 meet-ups organised around the world for KG Day.... have a look here...

Yesterday I was walking home, yet again, from visiting a prospective garden. I took a different route and on the corner of a street only a hop, skip and a jump from my place I looked into the backyard of food grower's paradise! I stared and wondered..... then knocked on the door. This was my lucky day.... if only someone would come to the door. I knocked again..... still all was quiet. I turned away and walked back to the road, very disappointed, but then a man called hello! A wiry, elderly gentleman, with a distinctive European accent smiled as I blurted out in a totally muddled and barely intelligible way why I had come knocking on his door.

He said "But this is not a good time of year; I don't have anything growing." Well, if that paradise I saw over his fence is nothing, then I can't wait to visit again in summer. He told me his tamarillo was cut down again from the cold night we had recently, even though it was inside the glasshouse. Well, anyone who has a tamarillo in southern Tasmania no doubt has all sorts of other wonderful treasures and stories and experience in growing food. Anyway he agreed to have people come by next Sunday and will be there to show us around. Wonderful to meet Voiter; I am so looking forward to spending time with him by myself, in the future, and learning from him. And to think he is only around the corner from me!

So, we will start at the garden of a young woman who is in a rented house and just starting out, in a very cute way, to grow vegetables and fruit for her family. Next will be the garden of an older woman who once had a huge garden but has moved to a smaller one and her skill at making it work with natives, herbs and vegetables in only 2 years is amazing. Third will be Voiter's.... the ultimate garden. Fourth, Jilli's English garden..... with an artist's eye making it oh so beautiful and interesting.... and what she doesn't know about herbs is not worth knowing! If we have time we will walk through mine, only 2 houses up from Jilli's but I doubt we will. It can be kept for 2011 when it will be much better and I will have all sorts of interesting vegetables growing instead of just the basics that I have now.

I have visited 3 or 4 other gardens in this search, all within 1/2 km of me! And now I know of more that are further afield too, so I am hoping we might do another route another day.... I'd love to make it a seasonal thing so we can see what others are doing throughout a whole year. Gosh. I am getting ideas..... wise or otherwise!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to eat without causing harm

This is an excerpt from an excellent and eloquent piece on a blog I have just found called "Organic Farmshare". To really understand and appreciate what is being said you should go to the blog and read the whole thing....

“The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet… Agriculture is carnivorous: what it eats is ecosystems, and it swallows them whole.” Lierre Keith 1.

Homer, Ancient Greek historian and author of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”, was said to have walked across northern Africa, never leaving the shade of a tree. In a short few hundred years, irrigation and the tilling of earth for grain crops brought devastation to countless ecosystems, leaving in it’s wake barren desert. In their book, “Climates of Hunger” Reid Bryson and Thomas Murray describe how civilizations have encouraged desertification. “A fence built around a large field in the desert brought abundant wild grasses in two years, without planting or irrigation, simply by keeping out the men and goats.” The truth is, the way we grow food right now virtually guarantees desertification and starvation.

We need a new way of feeding ourselves, one that isn’t so destructive. We need a system designed not only to sustain but to regenerate our soils, our waterways and our culture...

Here is a very important point:

..........You may be vegetarian and get much of your protein, mineral and fat soluble vitamins from dairy foods. In order to provide you with milk, the cow needs to calve every 18 months. 60% of calves are male. It doesn’t take long to work out that letting these males grow to adult size will overcrowd the pasture very quickly. You may not choose to eat cows but some one has to eat the offspring of your dairy production. That’s where meat eaters come in. Think of them as serving you. If you’ve chosen to forgo dairy foods and eggs also, you may consider the vegetarian and animal eaters as serving you by providing nutrient rich manure from their animals for your plants.

I am not sure about this farm share thing but I hate websites that say contact us for more information and only put the glitzy photos and sweet music online. Obviously they are trying to make an awful lot of money out of city dwellers who want to eat responsibly and I am not sure whether this is how best to proceed.Sometimes, it seems to me, those people with more money than time will happily part with a fair few dollars for something attractive but will not support something cheaper and more community based. So, it is a way to reduce their footprint, at least.

Monday, August 9, 2010

All I want is a nice piece of wood

I guess people here think I am funny.... everyone always has, but now I am even funnier, it seems. Now that people are thinking of climate change, peak oil and all that, they are trying to be greener and more sustainable but somehow something has got lost in the translation. And this is why I am funny and need a piece of nice wood.... while so so so many people are out buying BIG, very big and very expensive stuff to make them look greener...... I just think it would be nice if I could balance a few more pots of herbs on my kitchen window sill..... and a nice, straight piece of wood would do the job perfectly.

Some couples drive for an hour to work every day, so they afford to buy even more green stuff ..... but I so enjoy walking to the shop with Pickle to buy milk, meeting up with all kinds of friendly faces on the way, not to mention seeing if the tide is in or out and walking through the community garden to pick some extra leaves for dinner.

They know shops they love to tell me about, all at least an hour away, where they like getting their green stuff. I like the green stuff that mostly grows in my garden. I leave Cygnet as infrequently as possible.... they think its funny to not have gone far afield in nearly 5 months. I think its funny that they have to buy their food when they have been here for years, sometimes on 20 acres or more.

They look disappointed that I am not more interested in their green stuff because someone has told them I am a green kind of person. Obviously I must not be well-informed or maybe I am a fraud and not green at all. I would dearly love to tell them that I have read all about their green stuff, that I think their green stuff is still stuff and it just has a green veneer.

They don't know where the community garden is, what a food forest is, who David Holmgren is or that the library needs volunteers to fix shelves and read to children.  I want to tell them that the best thing they can do is stay home and grow their food, get to know their community and start sharing. But it seems rude to denigrate their long hours of work, their expensive acquisitions, their "naturally" dyed hair and years of pursuing a dream.

So.... I watch with interest and disappointment that even these diligent, intelligent, well-meaning people still don't get it. In the meantime, tomorrow I am going out to my shed to see if I can find a piece of wood for my window sill because I have so enjoyed having lush pots of herbs in the kitchen during winter and I'd like to have more and not to have to go outside in the cold at night to pick some for my dinner.

Is that so funny?

Saturday, August 7, 2010



clip_image002Everyone is invited to join us in Cygnet, Tasmania to celebrate World Kitchen Garden Day 2010

11am: meet at Burtons Reserve Carpark, Cygnet for a walk to some local home food gardens.

1pm: meet at the Cygnet Community Garden for a BYO picnic. Gas BBQ supplied. Drinks available at bottom pub.

Join in World Kitchen Garden Day and help us:

- celebrate the positive role of organic kitchen gardening in society, health and cooking

- raise awareness about the benefits of eating local and to encourage people to explore local food options in their areasclip_image004

- build community spirit, at local and international levels, around the universal experiences of gardening, cooking, eating…. and having fun

Come and celebrate the pleasures and benefits of growing your own food. Just turn up or for enquiries ring Kate 6295 0658 or email:


World Kitchen Garden Day is two weeks from this Sunday and we could use your help to make it a success.

Here are three things you can do depending on your interests, talents and internet access:

1) Sign up for our global event on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same: the more people who are aware of the day, the better. (5-10 minutes)

2) Help get an informal Kitchen Garden Day gathering started in your area using  You never know what other gardeners there are in your local area who might want to get together until you try.  Putting a marker on the map doesn't obligate you to be the organizer; it just lets other people in your area know that you're open to the idea of meeting up.  And even if you're the only one in your area, you'll still appear on our global map and will be showing your solidarity.  If you're not so big on the internet, you can use this invitation template to make an invite of your own to distribute the old fashioned way, in person.

3) Submit a short dispatch from your own little part of the big kitchen gardening world.  We'll be bringing these together and sharing them to show both our diversity and what we have in common.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New friends and lots of fun in the garden


image Tash invited me over for my birthday and made me a lovely birthday cake! image

Look at the size of that broccoli head!!!!
imagePickle helping to un-collect kindling!


A visit to Jan's.... berry heaven!
image Pickle helping to clear the path to Monet's bridge! image

Late afternoon sun catches the willow

A spooky man unveiled....

Late afternoon sun and reflections.

The scenic route from my letterbox to the house

My new inspiring read.... a birthday present from Liz.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


You can find a Mitre 10 hardware shop in almost every town in Australia. They have a catch-phrase : Mitre 10/10 every time

I cannot understand why.

They are useless in the extreme.

They never have anything you want and no-one who serves there knows anything or cares.

Here in Cygnet they are called "Minus 5 out of 10, every time". How can a hardware shop in rural anywhere only have stakes as high as your knee or as high as the ceiling, and not care??

I think there ought to be a new political party running in all seats, for this next Federal election - the "Replace Mitre 10" party.