Kitchen Garden Guides

Monday, August 29, 2011

World Kitchen Garden Day connections abounding...

image Over 60 people came on my World Kitchen Garden Day walk in Cygnet, a tiny town with a population of 800!! Most were pretty local but a few had had quite a drive and I hope they found it worth their time. As I stood on a mound of grass on the edge of the Burton's Reserve carpark, holding the sign to guide people to the start of the walk, I started my spiel....

"World Kitchen Garden Day is about 2 things; growing our own food and making connections.....providing for ourselves as a community, not just as individuals..... so today we will make connections between each of us on the walk and then also with the people at the gardens we visit, so that we see the growing of food as a shared act, bringing us all together.

First, we will see what happens with the youngest in our community.... the pre-schoolers who spend some of their time at the Child Care Centre. Then we will move to the kinder at the Primary School and then to St. James Catholic School's Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden. Finally we will end up at the Community Garden where all members of the community are encouraged to come together to sow, grow and share...."

image It was a good 10 minute walk to the child care centre where Alex met us and opened my eyes to what happens behind the gates there. I so wish I had taken a video. There is a garden for the 0 - 3 year olds..... herbs and flowers to smell and touch and pick, little groups of vegetables to nibble and harvest and chop up for soup lunches.... and the children are encouraged to do these things (under supervision of course).... sometimes they do it a little over-enthusiastically and replanting has to be done! Then there is a food garden for the 4 year olds.... bigger more structured... as Alex spoke, I could see people were really listening.... and then one woman said "This is so beautiful, can we donate time or money to help?" Wow. This was truly what this walk was all about and totally spontaneous.... purses and wallets opened and donations were made. After a few more minutes looking at the most gorgeous picture board, we moved on.


Next was the Cygnet Primary School's kinder where teacher Judy told us of how she had started this garden with another teacher several years ago. The children gardening here are 4 years old. They sow, grow, harvest, cook, eat and save the seeds. Think of 4 year olds doing all this... and they too are encouraged to pick and eat raw, whenever they are in the garden..... encouraged to pick anything as long as they eat it. Wonderful. What inspiring Helen who helps make meals from what they pick, 3 times a week. Again people on the walk wanted to become involved.... making those connections without being asked.











We moved on to St. James Catholic School where all the team had gathered to welcome us ... Ann Foale, the principal, Marcus, the programme's co-ordinator, Nicky, the garden specialist and Roy, the kitchen specialist.... plus some lovely students. It was at this point, while Marcus was explaining about the integration of the kitchen garden into everyday school life, that I realised that every child who goes to child care and/or school in Cygnet experiences growing, harvesting and eating of their own food. How many towns can boast that? Here, volunteers came forward again, wanting to be involved in this fabulous initiative.


Finally, to the Community Garden, my home patch. We walked and talked, ending up at the BBQ area for a cup of tea and some goodies, made by Liz and myself. Nearly EVERYONE stayed on for a while.... that in itself made me so happy. Bob manned the BBQ's... people chatted and guess what?? More offers of participation.... people actually wanted to come to the working bee next weekend and many hoped to make it to our weekly Tuesday morning gardening sessions.


Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and that you have come away inspired to not just be solitary gardeners, but an integral part of your community.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Window Farms

Thinking outside the garden..... sure, its plastic and hydroponic but its also creative, attractive and possible for those millions of gardenless people in apartments with huge windows, for people who live in snowy winters, for people with limited mobility, for offices instead of ornamentals....

Check out the website....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World Kitchen Garden Day, Sunday Aug 28th....

This wonderful day is brought to us by:

imageKitchen Gardeners International  (click then scroll manually through the gorgeous slide show put together by Roger Doiron, founder and gardener in chief of Kitchen Gardeners International AND instigator of the White House Organic Veg Garden campaign AND my especially good friend.


My friend Preeti, in India, is associated with a Community Garden in Mumbai. Here is their itinerary for the day.... you can read more about what they do on the wonderfully inspiring blog Urban Leaves. Find more locations of the day's events below....

Maggie from the Hills and Plains Seedsavers in Adelaide has a wonderful afternoon planned too:


welcomes you to celebrate


Sunday 28th August 1.30pm – 3.30pm

1.30pm International food and vegetable show, tell and swap

2.30pm Foods of the world afternoon tea

Bring a plate of food from your country of origin or use your favourite recipe. Also bring a cup & a chair.

If you have a neighbour or friend who is interested in kitchen gardening please bring them along.

There will be thousands of people all around the world celebrating kitchen gardening and strengthening their communities.

Read more at:


I cannot work out how to insert my poster for what is happening in Cygnet but here are the details in plain writing!

World Kitchen Garden Day 2011

Sunday August 28th,11am - 1pm

Come on a walk to 4 kitchen gardens in Cygnet.

Hear what the knowledgeable gardeners have to say.

Meet at Burton's Reserve Carpark, Channel Highway, Cygnet in time to begin the walk at 11am.

Stay for a BBQ at the Cygnet Community Garden from 1.30pm. Bring something to cook on the BBQ as well as some salad or bread to share. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided.

Parking is in Burton's Reserve, opposite the Community Garden so access to your car is easy at the end of the walk.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hobart Botanic Gardens as the seasons turn.....

I have hardly left Cygnet since I returned from my trip to Adelaide in May. Why would I? Anyway, last Friday I went to Hobart to see my friend Erica whose birthday it was and I spent the day happily playing in the city; shopping, eating and walking in the Botanic Gardens. It was balmy weather and I so enjoyed a full day out and about.....

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...which commemorates French exploration of Tasmanian waters beginning in 1772. 

















Spring has sprung! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An old cow ....part2: Kate the cave woman exposed

I have to make a confession; deep down inside this vegetable vagabond lives a cave woman whose eyes shine with glee when she sees the hunter return home with an animal for dinner.... not a plastic-wrapped fillet from the supermarket but an animal with bones and skin and flesh and even innards, opportunistically gathered as described in the previous post .

Once it is cooked she tears off a leg and attacks it with gusto, without plate, cutlery or ceremony. She relishes every last morsel, leaving nothing for the vultures....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An old cow for dinner

I try very hard, passionately even, to do the least harm in an educated and informed way. I am not vegetarian; I am a locavore; an opportunistic gatherer of food. Tonight I am having beef stew for dinner. The cow gave milk for years to a local family then spent the rest of its 10 years munching the grass in the same paddock it had always lived in. This winter has been extraordinarily wet and the old cow's legs were having difficulty with the mud so it was decided it would be kindest to end its life and remove the daily stress of walking over the extremely wet and boggy land.

I was given some of the meat. I hate the thought of that cow's body being turned into blood and bone at the abattoir. To me, the ideal use for a dead cow is to share it amongst friends and eat it. Then the remains are turned into blood and bone at the abattoir and sold by the trailer load.

Barely a drop of fuel in that 10 years was used to care for, kill, butcher and share this cow. Same could be said of the turkey I ate at Christmas time and the rooster, pork and beef I have bought since I came to live here. A few animals kept by caring people,  on farms almost visible from my garden and killed at the Cradoc abattoir only a few kilometres up the road. I eat small serves of meat and these opportunities to buy from friends and neighbours are sufficient for my needs.

Compare the above with someone who gets their protein in other ways than meat and tell me that it is less harmful to the animals of the earth. As I see it, the more processing and transporting that is done, the more harm is done. Processing and transporting and big ag require a lot of mining to get the ore to make the metal to make the machines and all the parts have to be brought to some location and assembled before anything can happen. All this requires land to be cleared, buildings to be erected and people to drive daily to work at the mines and shops and factories..... and so on and so on. (This piece is not about employment, it is about doing harm to the earth and its life.) Consider a bag of tofu and all the people, machines and oil involved in getting it onto your supermarket shelf; all the invisible deaths due to land clearing, oil extraction, manufacturing and road kill....

I have lots of friends who are vegetarian and I do not for a moment want them to think I am criticising them. No. Everyone has the right to choose. But they must be informed choices, not emotional ones, if those choices are made in order to do least harm. We are especially lucky here in this part of the world to have food growing all around us. There is not one right answer for everyone in the world so it is necessary to weigh up each situation, remembering to look out beyond the final product on the shelf, all the way back to its source.

Eat, think and be merry.

Monday, August 15, 2011

SeedSaveUs at Ann's

image It was a lovely gathering at Ann's, in Woodbridge, on Sunday. All the usual suspects were there plus some new faces, which was great. Everywhere I go here seems to be so lovely and Ann's is no exception..... creative veg garden made from semi-circles of rainwater tanks, painted dark grey to be more aesthetic that glaring tin..... imageclever use of polycarbonate sheeting and foam boxes to make a perfect seed-raising house.... a beautiful creek that was so overgrown with blackberries that Ann did not even know it was there when she bought the land....a new orchard, a pretty house, full of light and warmth.....and, of course, a water view to die for.

Cars must have been bulging at the seams as they sped across the hills from Cygnet to Woodbridge because the seeds/plants/produce table in the hot-house was overflowing with things to share, as was the food table inside.image
















Thanks to everyone who came and I so look forward to seeing you again soon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What do you do with Sprouting Garlic?

image You'd think after 53 years I would have changed a bit.... well I guess in some ways I have but I tell you what, I still keep far too many home-grown garlic heads for eating. Here I am, by myself, and yet I have a shelf full of left-over garlic in my sauna (ok, that's another story... but its well insulated, dark and dry!). I eat heaps of garlic; barely a day would go by without some garlic consumed but I always overestimate how much I am going to be able to eat before they start to sprout, or maybe I think that THIS year they really won't sprout because I have read about a better way of lifting and storing them.

So, the gist is, everyone who grows too much garlic finds it sprouting in the cupboard at one time or other in the year and, desperate not to waste a single clove that grew in the garden for so many months, suddenly needs recipes using heads, not cloves, of garlic!

When I was in France I was invited to a neighbour's house for dinner and was served home made garlic soup. I loved it so much I asked for the recipe, which was kindly written down for me, in French. The thing is, French women know how to cook. They don't need many directions or quantities in their recipes and so it was that this garlic soup recipe sat in my care, untested, and in French for a couple of years..... until now!

Last week I had a bucket full of sprouting garlic, a recipe to translate and a plan: test out the soup , make up a bag with 4 heads of garlic, a sprig of thyme and a copy of Marie-Sylvie's recipe and sell them at the market! Hey presto, I sold them all on Sunday and am still enjoying the soup I made to test it out.... not sure if my friends are noticing I am literally consuming a head of garlic per day though!!

Well, here it is.... It is beautiful, surprisingly simple and not at all overpowered by an intense garlic taste. I even had an email from one happy customer who wrote to me via the email address on my price tags.... and called the soup she had just made and eaten, sensational. Nice.

Thanks Marie-Sylvie..... bon appetit.


(Marie-Sylvie, Pindrat, Sept 2008)

Ingrédients : Ail - environ 1 tête par personne

Pommes de terre - 1 moyenne par personne


Thym 1 petit bouquet de thym

Sel et poivre

Crème fraîche (petit pot)

Eplucher l’ail, le couper en tranches fines et faire revenir doucement dans huile ou graisse de canard, il ne faut pas qu’il roussisse.

Eplucher et couper les pommes de terre en lamelle ou morceaux pas trop gros. Les ajouter à l’ail.

Saupoudrer de farine.

Ajouter la branche de thym

Saler et poivrer

Mettre environ 1 litre d’eau pour 4 personnes

Laisser cuire 25 / 30 mn

Mixer, ajouter la crème fraîche et servez très chaud dans une soupière où vous aurez préalablement mis des croûtons frottés à l’ail.

Garlic Soup

Translated from Marie-Sylvie’s recipe, Pindrat, France 2008

1 head of garlic / person

1 potato / person


a sprig of thyme

Salt and pepper

Crème fraiche or: cream mixed with sour cream

Peel the garlic, finely slice, fry very gently in oil or duck fat. Do not brown.

Peel and dice the potato and add to the oil.

Sprinkle in some flour, add the thyme, salt and pepper.

Slowly add water; about 1 litre for 4 people.

Simmer 25 – 30 mins.

Puree then add the cream mixture to taste.

Serve very hot perhaps with croutons. (I shredded a slice of my sourdough bread into my bowl of soup.... perfect)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bold winter statements

Why have I come rushing inside on this beautiful winter's morning? Because I have to show you what I saw when the sun came out, after the mist and rain cleared; colour, deep, dramatic and bold.

First, the kales and cabbages... you can see why some are called ornamental kale, but I should also tell you that these are some of the sweetest, softest and most wonderful salad leaves imaginable, in my winter garden....

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Next, radicchio, chicory and all those other Italian bitter "greens" which are a jumble in my brain. The winter colours of this family is especially astonishing when the days are short and grey. They shine like beacons and consequently are very difficult to photograph...



and then rhubarb and some ornamentals.....




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One minute white with frost.... then as the sun warms the air, brilliant colours return...

Spring onions are a great winter
   imageimageherb which I use copiously

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