Kitchen Garden Guides

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Germinating a new idea

I have been inspired by a new blogger. Dave also lives in the Cygnet area and has started a blog called Tassie Germinations, about his vegetable garden. It is going to be great because Dave is passionate about it. I look forward to following the progress of his vegetable garden and I am wondering if it will be like following the evolution of Gavin at Greening of Gavin!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chard, for free. Forever.

While everyone else is talking about how tall their tomato plants are, I am more excited about the height of the ruby chard, which has run to seed and will provide me with thousands of seeds for sowing later.

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful and creative are the different stages of plant growth. From a tiny, knobbly, chard seed sprouts a vivid red stem and lime green first leaves. Next come oval shaped, darker green leaves which are still without their final display of texture and a brilliant red main vein.


The whole plant then shoots skyward. The red stem becomes a solid trunk, the leaves shrink and give their energy to insignificant flowers. Before you know it, there are thousands of green seed heads becoming heavy as they mature, causing the plant to topple. I tie one or 2 to a stake and remove the rest….. but it breaks my heart to pull them out before the end of their life as they have given so much.

This is the job I did yesterday, finding that, once staked, they reached far above my head. I stood and looked at them. Awesome. As I lifted them to the stake I saw new life emerging below. Seeds from last season’s chard is germinating everywhere. Seeing new life made me feel ok about pulling out the old life (or cutting them off at ground level so as not to disturb the babies).


Once you have your favourite chard growing, you never have to buy or sow the seeds again. Food, for free, forever, with no work….. that’s my kind of food and my kind of garden.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Innovative food growing techniques from around the world

Use of waste banana plant - make hole, fill with compost, sow vegetables seeds, water and get natural, fresh vegetables..

Urban Leaves on facebook.

Photo: Use of waste banana plant, make hole, fill the mixture of compost, sowing of vegetables seeds, watering, and get natural fresh vegetables..

Half a ton of Sky Greens……

Singapore’s first commercial, vertical sky farm

Vertical farm in Singapore

A clever addition to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”….. Rethink

Crazy Famers’ on Facebook

Photo: mera desh ke dharti sona ugle ugle heere moti <br />crazy farmers salutes India....<br />jai hind!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Summer pruning, early and late

I have just pruned some of my plum tree that was sending wild new growth to the sky. I kept all the fruiting branches and they will be pruned later, when the fruit is finished. This video from Diggers is the best I have ever seen about pruning. Watch to the end, where he talks briefly about early summer vs late summer pruning.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Farm for the Future

Another beautiful BBC production which, in 5 parts, takes us through the experiences and thoughts of a young, female farmer in the UK and her quest to build on her father’s observation and life-time’s work on their farm, whilst taking in ideas from others.
It is good to reconnect with people like her who, in a gentle way, put heart into what is often a very harsh, scientific debate. After all, the world would be just fine if humanity became extinct; its only the humans who need to find a way of farming for THEIR future. No other creature, animal or plant, needs farming. So, it should be all about getting along and sharing and less about fighting for our rights to pollute, mine oil, destroy forests etc

Thursday, December 6, 2012

World Soil Day

A scientist passionate about communicating the importance of soil for the health of every creature on earth…. Listen here.









Esperance farmers look into soil structure, thanks to a soil pit dug for the 2012 EDRS spring field day

Monday, November 26, 2012

So, what have I been doing in Adelaide?


imageI came over for my mother’s 90th birthday…..

We ate plenty of orange cake, in the garden…image

and I caught up with the rellies….









Then I headed to the markets to find my favourite things….



Hugh’s business Hughsli’ and his Showgrounds Farmers’ Market stall make me a very proud mother…..image






…..Maggie took me on a visit to Glandore Community Garden where they are bringing together food gardening, seed saving, bee keeping, worms, flowers and a whole lot of fun…. The other end of this tiled frog is a pizza oven! Love it!











 imageLunch at Maggie and Bob’s…. from the garden and from Hughsli and other stalls….


and below….. Hughsli production is full time and full of energy in his ever expanding kitchen house!


How to be a gardener

A nice, friendly beautiful introduction to gardening. Get a coffee, sit down and enjoy….

Monday, November 12, 2012

A platypus in my creek

Yes, its true but sadly no photos.

Lenny and I were in the garden when we heard a little plop as something disturbed the water in the creek near where we were gardening. He said “What was that?” and I replied “A platypus”….. why I said that I don’t know as it sounded more like something small, like a frog and who on earth ever has a platypus in their garden! We both laughed.

Then he called out from further up the creek “Hey Kate, you won’t believe it but it IS a platypus!” And sure enough, there he was, swimming happily this way and that, right next to the driveway, under the foot bridge, totally unaware we were standing only a little above him on that bridge.

Platypuses are very shy and its hard to get a good look at them like this but we stood there in silence for quite some time, watching in amazement. Then suddenly he was gone.

Probably the most exciting thing that has happened since I came to Tasmania!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alcoholic fruit drinks I make

I went to a Church of England Girls Grammar School …. most of which I loved, but the day I left I decided I’d had enough Christianity for several life times and believed not a word of it. In fact, from that moment on I believed in no gods at all.

However, from time to time, hymns or bits of the bible, especially the old school chapter, come into my head, to be thrust at anyone who is nearby.

And so it was a few moments ago, as I surveyed my dwindling supplies of cassis and raspberry ratafia, and my happily brewing limoncello, that I burst forth with “….these 3 (referring, in the original piece, to faith, hope and charity!) and the greatest of these is….”

Which exactly is the greatest of cassis, raspberry ratafia and limoncello is a question which remains unanswered through millennia, I suspect. I make all of them with local fruit at different times of the year.

Cassis is one I love to drink on cold winters nights, by the fire. Mine is thicker than usual, with the black currants whizzed up in a neighbour’s Vitamix and unable to be strained completely but which I have become rather partial to. Another neighbour suggested brewing in brandy, which I did and it is much richer than when done with vodka.



Raspberry ratafia I made with less sugar, as the recipe suggested adding more sugar later, to taste, when the brewing was finished. I decided not to add any more as the aroma and pungency of the raspberries was very special…. one reason being that I let them stew in vodka for 6 months, instead of one! This is a pre-dinner drink which I usually sip slowly whilst getting dinner…. and the raspberries were delicious with ice cream!



image Limoncello is definitely a drink for a hot summer’s night. Being made of lemon peel, it lends itself nicely into being made in winter, to drink in summer. We used to always have it at the shack, sitting outside watching the sunset, after a blisteringly hot day. Poured over ice it is perfect…. I am still waiting for such a day, here in southern Tasmania and am having to adjust my opinion of when is a good time to drink limoncello as there is still some of last year’s left, while this year’s is brewing!

Some people mix them with various things like mineral water, white wine etc but I sip them all neat, in shot glasses or tiny, crystal, stem glasses. I think that they lose some of their alcohol when left to brew, even if the lid is good, which is fine by me; I just want the flavour.

You can find my recipes here.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Evening light

It has been a warm and humid day, with the sky mostly black with rain-laden clouds, periodically dumping their load before shooting off across the sky again. Suddenly, just before sunset, brilliant sunshine burst out, leaving odd patches of heavy cloud lying across the hills and mist drifting down the valleys, while my garden was bathed in a sunlight bath.











The sun shone only for a few minutes though…..











Just long enough to grab my camera….



Friday, November 2, 2012

Pam Warhurst on TED…. she started by just doing it


Cygnet is small. I thought it would be easier. Its not. But friend Carol and I are determined. The Cygnet Library garden is in our sights. How can it be this hard just to do something so worthwhile? But, we will succeed and bring Cygnet and Todmorden together.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bruny Island Bird Festival, part 3!!

Oh, so much to show and tell….


The yellow throated honey eater, in all its glory, at last seen, not in the forests, not on any walk, but out in the garden where we stayed.image








The red apronned cake cook, below,….. whose raspberry cream cake and hazelnut, morello cherry cakes were unbeatable….. easily found at the CWA stall in the Saturday Market at Adventure bay! image








The superb blue Lenny, patiently trying to fit 2 bags of sheep manure and half a dozen plants into the car for the return journey!











Nearly home….. Where else can you end your holiday with a view like this?! My house is just near the water in the middle of the picture.

Bruny Island (Bird?) Forest Festival, part 2

I saw much of the weekend with a plant lover’s eye. While everyone else scanned the tops of very tall trees for very small birds, in a world of bird sounds, I was excited by the beauty of the Tasmanian bush and the amazing flowers now in bloom.



This is the Tasmanian Laurel, a large shrub dotted throughout the forests and now covered in masses of white flowers. I had my big zoom lens on to capture those elusive bird and could not get far enough away to get good photos of the whole shrubs.


It is truly a sight to see, the Tasmanian forest, in flower!









The floor of the forests, and even the paths, were dotted with various tiny orchids…. if only I’d had my macro lens!



The Tasmanian clematis is also in full bloom, climbing trees and cascading in masses of white stars.

The clematis and laurel are readily available to home gardeners and I look forward to planting some in the understorey of damp areas of my garden soon!






Of course, wallabies watched us with interest. A white (not albino) wallaby remained shy, with a young one in tow.




image Suddenly we came to a clearing where a boronia plantation has been harvested for the last 10 years or so, providing industry with the rich scent of the brown boronia, a flower about as lucrative as saffron, evidently!

The scent of these plants, when in flower en masse, carries across the land on the breeze. Sadly only a few flowers were left this day.

Trickling water, ferns and moss, tiny, tiny things, enormous tree trunks and soaring leaves…. peace for the soul…















Monday, October 29, 2012

Bruny Island Bird Festival, part 1

The Bruny Island Bird Festival started on Thursday…. as a storm brewed across the water. Then the sky opened and it poured all day and into the night but we braved it and attended the welcome BBQ, in marquees around the Adventure Bay hall. The food was wonderful and the speakers made us enthusiastic to join in the guided bird walks and various talks on Friday.


Luckily, Friday morning saw quite a bit of sunshine, making our shore birds walk a delight. On the foreshore at Adventure Bay there are many flowering gums, perfect habitat for the Swift Parrot (a threatened species), which we frequently saw, but failed to capture in a photo, on our walk.



While Lenny continued on the shore birds walk, I left halfway through to head off to a talk by Chris Tzaros about photographing birds. It was very inspiring and not too advanced for amateurs like me. Here is a photo Chris took of a Swift Parrot.

Swift parrot CTzaros341 feeding.jpg

However, the best chance we had to photograph some interesting birds came when I did not have my camera with me! A raptor hovered above the beach scrub, a flock of plovers took off from the beach in front of us, a late flash of light making them appear brilliant silver and a beautiful, large sea bird flew overhead, with the setting sun illuminating its coloured under sides, while we walked on the beach this evening….. Never go anywhere on Bruny Island without your camera!! Small compensation was this little (blurry) Scarlet Robin on a fence post, I photographed at the Bruny Island Berry Farm earlier in the afternoon.


Then, just as we returned from our walk this evening, front after front sped down the mountains, bringing rain and wind across the sea again.