Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winter food from my frosty garden....

Even when the morning air is white with the cold of -3C, even when the grass is frozen and crisp under-foot, even when rusty old propellers are turned into art by frost, even when the firewood wears its white, winter coat, food flourishes in my garden..... image

By lunchtime leaves return to brilliant green and are sweetened beyond belief, from the experience....













I have never tasted sweeter, crisper, more delicious Asian greens than these which are growing by my front door, nightly frozen and laden with frost by morning.

What is this winter meal worth? image








If a cafe near your cold, winter home offered a warm, sunny verandah setting, looking out to a pretty garden and served a simple toasted sandwich of 100% home made ingredients: organic sourdough bread, chutney and Gavin's cheese, with a salad picked no longer than 10 minutes before serving to you, of lettuces, shaved fennel, sorrel, chervil, carrots and some home-pickled Tasmanian olives how much would you pay?

The salad contains no chemicals, transport, storage or refrigeration....just a few seeds sown some time ago by me and some olives sourced locally....Australian, organic flour for the bread, my green tomato chutney and Emmental  cheese from Gavin (check out his new cheese blog!), for the sandwich. Now tell me.... would you get as much satisfaction from this lunch if you'd bought the ingredients from a supermarket?

Winter in Tasmania.... no need for plastic poly tunnels.... just sow what grows.

Life is good.... if you sowed your seeds long enough ago!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seed saving.... is there a choice?

Natabar Sarangi - The Source from the source project on Vimeo

A lovely video... India, rice, one man.

Another man needs to be congratulated today too.... Cadel Evans, Australian Tour de France winner 2011...almost. What determination! We are all cheering for him here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Boys, barrows and a bush dance...

I recently met Teresa at the St James Kitchen Garden launch. She has been helping as a volunteer to get the garden going and has written a brilliantly entertaining piece about using boys' energy in a non-Nintendo way, on her blog called In A Life.


Come along this weekend....

Join us to celebrate mid-winter this Saturday night (23rd July) with a Big Green Bush Dance at the Ranelagh Soldiers Memorial Hall (a great venue for a bush dance).

Kick up your heels to tunes from the Steptoe Bush Band, Hemlock and Home Brew. The Steptoe Bush Band will be calling the dance, and the always amusing Naomi Edwards will be our MC for the night.

The night starts at 6.30pm, and entrance is $10 for adults, kids free. There will be soup, cakes and a licensed bar. 

Proceeds from the night go towards the local government election campaign for Liz Smith and Rosalie Woodruff, your two local Greens councillors who are standing again in the forthcoming council elections. Let us know if you can bring a plate of something sweet (cake, biscuits, slice) to contribute to the food.

The Ranelagh Soldiers Memorial Hall is opposite the Ranelagh shop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Complications of the simple life

Whoever called living like I do, simple, was mad.... it is very complicated to pull all the strings of this life together. Successfully living the "simple" life is a very misunderstood and under-appreciated skill. I am not being arrogant or professing to have mastered the skill; I am very much still learning, but every day brings its challenges, rewards and complications.

Just take a look at what is on my kitchen table tonight....

  • sourdough bread rising.... timed to carefully fit in with tomorrow's schedule
  • sourdough starter which I have just fed
  • mung beans soaking in preparation for making patties tomorrow
  • dried mushrooms soaking because I have run out of them in my compost bags and need some for pizzas I am making tomorrow night
  • a new breakfast is on trial so in my crockpot I have 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup barley, 1/2 cup hulled millet, some dates, lemon juice, dried cranberries and vanilla stewing away overnight
  • 2 little tubes of silver beet seedlings from Sandra, which need attention
  • the last of my Lady in the Snow apples to dry
  • a bag of dried lemon verbena leaves a friend gave me and I MUST find a home for
  • a bowl of oca, cape gooseberries and a large Jerusalem artichoke all of which need planting NOW
  • persimons from Alicia that I was meant to collect last week
  • on the stove is beef stock, made from bones given to me yesterday

and in the fridge

  • milk from Sophie the Jersey cow which causes endless complications with Frances who shares it with me.... I forget to leave her full bottles out for her to pick up if I am going out.... then what happens when one of us goes away.... and can we ever remember who has paid for what??
  • more sourdough starter that must be fed up and put into jars in time for market days
  • the last jar of last year's green tomato chutney that I made far too much of
  • jams from various people
  • stewed quinces (from the community garden) that I really must eat tomorrow
  • and.... Gavin's cheese!

and so it goes on...never mind the freezer....and there is only me in this house!! This is all without mentioning what is going on in the acre of garden and chook yard... or dealing with firewood.... Nor does it take into account neighbours and friends who drop by with / for other goods....

Then there are the things I refuse to use /buy/ eat / throw away.... oh lalala, sometimes I wish I didn't care so much.

Life is good, and complicated; especially the simple life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

School Kitchen Garden Launch in Cygnet

Thursday afternoon saw the launch of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Programme at St. James School in Cygnet.


It was a lovely, sunny afternoon.. 

Marcus is the co-ordinator and a local permaculturist and teacher

The indoor area is perfect for Tasmania and laden with seedlings

Don't you love these painted, indoor garden beds!
image Roy, the specialist in the kitchen, cooked up a storm for the day, with his catering image Tools! How lucky they are to also have incorporated the programme with the horticulture course for the older students, allowing sharing of tools and some facilities.
With the construction of the outdoor beds coming on well, and the seedlings looking fabulous inside, its going to be all happening this spring, at St. James If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, contact the school for how you can help instil a love and understanding for what it means to grow food, cook it and share it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

World Kitchen Garden Day

World Kitchen Garden Day is an annual, decentralized celebration of food produced on a human-scale. It is recognized each year on the 4th Sunday of August.  It is an opportunity for people around the world to gather in their gardens with friends, family, and members of their local community to celebrate the multiple pleasures and benefits of home-grown, hand-made foods.

World Kitchen Garden Day - 28 August 2011

Here is the logo.... when you organise a get together you can download it and use it to attract attention.

How people celebrate International Kitchen Garden Day and with whom is up to them. Some choose to do so in public ways with large gatherings of friends and neighbours, whereas others opt for a more intimate celebration with close family. Here are a few ideas for some activities you might consider organizing depending on the level of involvement you would like to have:

-a walking tour of gardens in your area
-a kitchen garden or local agriculture potluck
-a kitchen garden taste-test
-a harvest or planting party
-a benefit for a local food/gardening charity
-a kitchen garden "teach in"
-a single food theme party
-an activity at a local farm

Cygnet World Kitchen Garden Day Plans:

I am organising a walk again this year. Last year we walked to 4 private gardens but this year I am taking you to some new developments that have sprung up in the public domain here..... Cygnet Child Care Centre where Alex does a wonderful job of introducing the littlest members of Cygnet to growing and tasting foods from their own garden, St. James School (yet to be confirmed) which has recently started a Stephanie Alexander School Kitchen Garden, Cygnet Primary School (yet to be confirmed) and the Cygnet Community Garden which will hopefully have reverted to garden instead of duck pond by then!

We will meet at Burton's Reserve carpark at 11am on Sunday August 28th and finish up at the Community Garden for a shared lunch from 1pm.

See what they are organising in India at Urban Leaves ....

where this young lad was worried about his pet snail eating his spinach leaves, at a recent celebration in the garden!









lady libertyIn the USA its all about freedom.... freedom to grow food where you want to.... you won't believe this video.... it makes me feel sick to think that growing vegetables can be a finable offense!!

You can watch the video and read more here

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wild and woolly winter wonderland....

Storm force winds, ocean swells of 9 - 12m, snow down to 200m, roads closed with snow and ice, flooded rivers and high tides and still we garden!! No snow at my place but at Sandra's (who is spending her first winter in Tasmania, from Brisbane!!) it looked like this......

 imageThis is Sandra's house last week...  imageand the terraced veg garden
...the seedling raising table
....all the seedlings survived!!

Then, Sunday afternoon was SeedSaveUs at Erika's and it snowed there too but the big flakes did not settle..... mostly they were blowing horizontally as we surveyed her garden!

These must be the coldest water chestnuts in the world!
But inside the straw bale house it's deliciously warm...

...and another fabulous spread.
Then we got down to the serious business of talking about tomatoes.
We swapped seeds.... hard to believe its almost time to sow tomatoes when its snowing... and produce and seedlings and information but I forgot to take any photos. What a dill I am!!!

Tomorrow is community garden day again and, can you believe it, its STILL raining and windy and freezing.... a week solid of rain!!! Surely they won't make me swim through the garden, which is now almost completely under water?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Radio quotes today on 936 Tasmania.....

"We are the only species that works all our lives in order to buy food that will kill us...."


"People say they don't want to spend time grubbing away in the soil to grow their food cheaply but are happy to work all their lives in order to afford organic food and special hand-made things that other people have made, and pay top price for them!...."

"That's what makes us special!"

Life is good...even if it is a bit strange....

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Here is a decent size piece of cheese, the photo being stolen from a friend's blog Olives and Artichokes. It would not have cost the earth and its taste would have beaten hands down anything made here in Tasmania for 5 times the price and 1/5 the size, with a fancy name and plastic packaging. But help is at hand! Gavin makes cheese, good cheese, great cheese, even, and I am soon to have some......

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where is our acorn gene...

It seems to me that humans, on the whole, have lost the "acorn" gene. The squirrel gathers acorns and keeps them safe ready for the winter. Squirrels and all other plant and animal species seem to know in advance, of changes in their environment.... you see fruit trees flowering early or late, not just one tree, but all in a region.... baby birds of one variety hatching all at similar times, and those times vary year to year.... late ripening tomatoes (from a colder than normal summer) somehow managing to defy the frost, and ripening through into June when normally one frost and they are gone.... All these are signs that everything else is adapting to constant change, planning for these changes and altering their daily behaviour.

But humans? Oh no! They expect everything to stay the same. They do not prepare their nests / collect food / follow the seasonal changes / adapt in any way to patterns in their surroundings. Scientists study things that stay the same as well as things that change and, for the last 200 years or so, humans have relied on technology to react to these findings and create ways to allow humans not to have to adapt to change but instead to change our environment to fit our needs.

Genetic modification in agriculture is an example of humans trying to adapt its world to its own needs so ordinary people can still buy cheap packets of flour, bags of eggplants and litres of soy milk on the shelves in the supermarket (so they have more money left for entertainment and stuff), oblivious to desertification of the planet, destruction of biodiversity and consequent climatic challenges to agriculture and farming communities and, ultimately, themselves.

Can we have lost the acorn gene so fast or is it still there, lying dormant? It seems to still be visible in some humans and these humans are trying desperately to, firstly, make the rest see the changes all around us and find ways of adapting to them, and secondly to realise that we are causing the changes through our own short-sightedness and lack of the acorn gene which makes squirrels plan for the future....

A disease has crept in and is sweeping the world; a disease which has laid dormant this gene for planning and adapting, for their future, in humans. It is called money. If you have the money disease, you can ignore everything else. It develops like a computer virus..... working away behind the scenes, infiltrating every corner of your existence, making you feel busy and useful; too busy to stop and think about what you are doing and where it will lead. And, like with the computer virus, its insidious nature means it is sometimes not apparent until its too late.

So, before we self-destruct, lets put money aside for a while, open up to our minds and get out our innate "acorn" gene, think about what really would be best for the future of mankind and take a small step on a new path. If 6 billion people took one step on a new path, wow, what an impact that would make on our future.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Caution; thinking required.....

Make the connections. Change a little every day.

Life is good; let's keep it that way.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bananas and climate change; a symposium in Peru

Bioversity International always has interesting news and information on everything to do with biodiversity and food....

Bioversity International uses agricultural biodiversity to improve people's lives.
We carry out global research to seek solutions for three key challenges: Sustainable Agriculture, Nutrition, Conservation

Peruvian bananas

Representatives from 21 countries met last week in Peru for the first international symposium on ‘Banana and Plantain in Latin America and the Caribbean’. Peru, especially the north west, is an important organic banana growing region.

The meeting focused on the impact of climate change on banana and plantain diversity and finding alternatives to prevent or mitigate its negative impact.

“The symposium opened with some great presentations, with many questions coming from the smallholder farmers who are the real beneficiaries of climate change research” said Miguel Dita, Bioversity's banana expert in Latin America and event co-organiser.
For more information visit the
symposium website (available in Spanish only) or read 'Desert Bananas', a report by Andy Jarvis (CIAT/CCAFS) one of the keynote speakers at the event.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amazing local women.... and then there's me.....

The wind that blew Dorothy's house away to the land of Oz was nothing compared to last night at my place. I felt like I was on a ship caught in a storm at sea..... buffeted this way and that, the wind howling through the gum trees down by the road before crashing into my bedroom like a series of giant waves.... the rain and hail hitting the windows, hammering the tin roof and no doubt filling my already gushing creek.

By 4.30am I gave up on sleep. By 5am I was sitting up in bed with the hood of my thickest jacket covering my head and a hot coffee in my hands. Sunrise is not until after 7.30am so I could not see outside, except that it was very black when I nipped out to the verandah for a couple of pieces of wood for the fire.

I managed to get back to sleep for an hour or so, much later, and decided at 9am that I was not going to the community garden today at 10am. I was sure no-one else would be there anyway so I threw some more wood on the fire and settled down to writing some emails and reading some blogs. At 10.30 I was still in my pj's, luxuriating in the unexpected free time, when the phone rang. I could hardly hear for the noise of the rain on my roof.....

"Hi Kate, its Jane. I have brought a load of mulch in my ute and wondered if you are coming to the community garden today to help me unload it...."

"Not sure if you have noticed Jane but its a bugger of a day for gardening and....."

"Yes but it'll only take 1/2 an hour and I have the wheelbarrows out ready...."

The community garden is only at the end of my street ..... surely Jane had gone was about 4 degrees and pouring....but her enthusiasm is infectious and rarely have I come across someone even more passionate about it all than me .... so.....

"OK Jane. I will be there in a few minutes."

Seventeen layers of clothes later, I left home. By now two others had turned up at the garden. They must be mad too, I decided.

The 4 of us did not even mention the weather as we slogged away. I mean, there was no point at all; it was cold and wet and bloody obvious! It didn't take long to unload the stuff and then wimpish me suggested everyone might like to come and sit by my fire and have a coffee and congratulate ourselves but...... Jane and Laura said they'd just pop down to the IGA and pick up some more cardboard for another project we are working on and Alex said, sarcastically I thought, that she'd brought some native plants to plant and it was a GREAT day for planting them.

"Alex, its not a great day for anything but coffee by a fire" I suggested but already she was out of earshot and heading off with her home-grown tea trees and bottlebrushes. 

We worked away and the sun came out for a moment before once again the rain beat down, but we got the job done, discovering an overgrown pile of mulch which we dug out and used, along with 5 large car tyres, completely hidden by weeds.... perfect.... the trees were now mulched and guarded from enthusiastic brush-cutters.

Three more community gardeners popped in.... two stayed for tea on the verandah. They are definitely mad as well.... There we were, stalwart gardeners in very wet pants, and 17 layers of woollens and coats sitting out on Liz's verandah in the cold Tasmanian winter drinking tea as if it were summer.

I congratulate these women and especially Jane, who rang a few of us up and got us out for a memorable morning's work.... my wet and muddy jeans hang in front of the fire, my old black ski hat hangs there too and my new gardening gloves have made a muddy puddle on the hearth tiles .... I am sitting here on the couch in my long johns which are nearly dry and, finally, I have coffee.

Life is good; sometimes unexpectedly so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recently in my garden kitchen

We talk about our kitchen gardens, where we grow food, so I thought I'd call my kitchen a garden kitchen, where I cook food from my garden.

image My sourdough bread is so forgiving... the only really important thing is taking good care of the starter....
Not from my garden... oh well.

Cherry clafoutis.... my bottled cherries plus garden-laid eggs!
image Finely sliced red cabbage, fennel, sorrel, carrot, oil, herbs,lemon juice, my tamari seed mix....

oh lalala!
image Brussels sprouts, kale and chicory from garden to plate in 10 minutes... just look at the colour!
Cook veg then toss in a pan with cooked potato, garlic, grated lemon peel, shredded, cooked chicken, toasted fresh
image breadcrumbs, herbs (I used sage and winter savory), a light dressing of olive oil and verjuice/lemon juice.

Bon appetit!
Baked pasta.... cook pasta, layer with anything... eg my bottled tomatoes, basil pesto I freeze in ice cube trays, roasted pumpkin pieces, herbs, then all topped with a mixture of yoghurt, eggs, a little parmesan then grated nutmeg. Bake until settish. image

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our Daniel


How lovely it was to see Daniel grow in confidence and maturity during the last couple of years I was in Adelaide.

I first met him, with my friend Maggie, at the Urrbrae Agricultural High School Saturday markets, where his enthusiasm for his stall was so endearing and his knowledge amazing.


With his mum, he soon joined Maggie and I in our Hills and Plains Seedsavers group and young Daniel could be seen mixing with families, newcomers and the rest of us old farts, with not a care for the age differences.

Now he is a TV star appearing frequently on Gardening Australia with Sophie Thompson. I think this is the best episode yet....Daniel is relaxed and happily chatting about what he is doing in his winter garden in Adelaide. You will see this on Gardening Australia tonight or here, now.....