Kitchen Garden Guides

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Interesting, isn't it, how we have so easily assimilated technology into even the simplest of lives. And so it was that Sophie and Greg arrived at my door, on their bicycles, one evening recently, having contacted me via the world of bloggers. A delightful pair they are, riding around parts of Australia and then the world, gathering notes on living simply, for a future book. Visit them at

image Cygnet is a magnet for just the people they needed to speak to so I had arranged for a get together over dinner at my place, that evening.

We ate from the garden, talked from the heart, told our stories and aired our thoughts about the why, how and who of trying to live simpler lives.


Greg took copious notes and asked everyone as many questions as he could think of, ending up with enough information already to write a book!

So, what are simple lives? The answer is actually very simple too; living a simple life requires you to be connected to a community so that you can share tools, seeds, "stuff" and food. It means re-humanising yourself. It means caring.... about your neighbours, your friends, your environment and your impact on all of these. It is not about being a hermit, surviving alone.

How does one begin? Most people start slowly and unintentionally..... growing a few vegetables, reading labels in the supermarket, catching a bus to work or joining a community garden, buying a magazine on sustainable home improvements or organic gardening etc etc. Very slowly the meaning of life questions you thought were going to be answered by frantically driving your children to their next activity, working late to get more money and buying new furniture or gadgets, still rear their heads and remain unanswered.

One evening, about 6 years ago, I went to a talk. I have now forgotten the topic because what happened was that, in the interval, I met people. Some of these people made me think very differently; opened my eyes to the bloody obvious..... and that was that there is a whole lot of people out there, in my city of Adelaide, who thought just like me. I realised I was no longer a hermit, growing my vegetables, NOT enrolling my children in structured activities, refusing to use chemicals in my home etc etc; I had found community.

Simple lives are just that.... plural. The hardest part of the journey is finding them. The internet is a good place to start. Make a blog. Read blogs listed in other people's side bars. Leave comments. Get connected to the online community and you will find that your neighbour may well be there too!









Good luck Sophie and Greg. Have fun. Take in the vibes.










Life is good; get there fast and then take it slow.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The joyous lavender farmer

Barb gardens in Provence and is in search of some lavendula plants. She happens across M. Barjot and the Vallon des Lavandes. Barb writes beautifully; do read her story here....

lavender field

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mr. Barjot                                                                                                                                                                           



.....and while you are there, you may also like to read about the little frog that sang for rain - Consulting the Oracle

Thanks Barb!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Red and Green

image Green is the changing colour of tomatoes; in particular those on a bush which came up by itself in my garden in January. I did not give it much hope of delivering a crop of ripe tomatoes, since there could be frost in March. However, to my astonishment, it has the biggest tomatoes of all and the most. I have never seen so many perfect, large tomatoes all at once on a plant. Moreover, it has produced the most ripe tomatoes this season, of all my tomato plants and I am picking several ripe ones daily from this plant. In this photo alone, there are more than 15 and with the warm weather this week, they will ripen quickly. Unlike other plants that are starting to reduce in vigour, this one is powering on, full of vitality. Needless to say, I have saved many of its seeds. I wonder how well they will produce next year.



  It is interesting the way certain colours appear in certain seasons. April in my garden is the red season.... from the red chard going to seed, to the out-of-season sweet peas, autumnal Virginia Creeper, red onions, Lady in the Snow apples to late scarlet runner bean flowers, strawberries, Bulls' Blood beetroot leaves, dahlias, bottlebrushes, nasturtiums and things called red, like red cabbages and Red Russian kale....

....and finally, 3 red capsicums. Hooray! But in my excitement, I ate 2 and forgot to photograph the third and now its dark!! I will write a note right now and do it tomorrow.

Wherever you are, enjoy the beauty in your food gardens.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Maybe I am running a bit late but I have just discovered how delicious and versatile millet can be. It is totally by accident because the organic, Australian millet I sell, which comes from Four Leaf Milling, is approaching its use by date and I have 10 kgs of it!! Previously I have put it in soups and made porridge with it....

At the same time, I cook a week's meals for a vegetarian family here in Cygnet and, having lots of parsley, tomatoes and lemons at the moment, I thought I'd make them a big bowl of tabouli.... meanwhile the wheels of my brain started working as I ran my hands through the tiny, golden millet seeds....

My 17,000 cook books are totally devoid of creative millet ideas so it was to the internet I ran and found this wonderful recipe for Toasted Millet Tabouli. So far, I have only toasted the millet and simmered it for 20 minutes, until the liquid is all absorbed but I had to go outside to pick some herbs and when I returned the aroma of toasted millet lured me to the cutlery drawer. I fluffed the grains with a fork, as one does for couscous, then tasted the result..... oh lalala! Why do we buy bland couscous when we could be eating this??

It is a really good idea to eat a variety of grains and to reduce one's dependence on wheat, which, broadly speaking, has been developed for ease of farming rather than for its health properties to humans, in the last hundred years.

This fluffy, toasted millet will be a regular on my menu from now on.