Kitchen Garden Guides

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gardening in public…

I know I keep going on about it, but Carol and I have done an amazing job with the Cygnet Library garden. I spent a couple of hours there on Saturday, weeding, spreading a bit of mulch, planting some new things and watering and I felt like I was 10’ tall. I am so proud of it.

Every plant was chosen for several reasons – first it had to be edible, next it had to cope with VERY shallow soil and lastly, it had to be pretty. And I am pleased to say that, so far, they all score 10/10. Another reason was…. it had to be cheap or free!

We only had a budget of $150 and we spent every cent of that on plants, fertilizer, signage etc. Now we are running on empty but the Cygnet library-goers are regularly donating to a box I put on the counter inside and that is all I now have to keep the garden up to scratch.

It is completely different gardening on a narrow strip of ground between the library and the carpark, compared to in my private acre. I really quite like seeing people constantly coming and going, cars driving in then out and every now and then someone coming over for a chat. Today a German tourist came and sat on the bench and used the free wi-fi provided by the library. We were both pleasantly surprised that it was available even though the library was closed.

A local came and said hello and I picked her a lettuce and some herbs. You see, the garden is for everyone; not much use growing herbs and food if no-one eats it. I wrote a new sign on plastic milk bottle that I put upside down on a stake. It tells you what is ready to pick and encourages everyone to join in. Right now you can pick a few broad beans, some lettuce, kale flowers, all sorts of herbs including marjoram, thyme, rosemary and Vietnamese mint plus edible flowers like marigolds.

The red cabbage is forming a heart now and the black currants are ripening well. Don’t tell anyone but I ate 2 deliciously ripe ones today. I planted out a caraway plant and lots of garlic and plain chives which will clump up and flower later in summer – autumn. I am always looking at the garden with an eye to what will be finishing soon and choosing a few more things to put in to take their place when the time comes. This is how the donations are used.

I am hoping to take this theme up and down the streets of Cygnet, wherever I can get permission to add food to a piece of ground, no matter how small. I have already asked at the Commonwealth Bank and look forward to the reply when the bank opens again!

Happy food gardening!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Water…. like it is meant to be

If you imagine Tasmania, you probably conjure up pictures of glorious forests, pristine, stony rivers edged with tree ferns and a coastline of hidden bays, far removed from the rush of most of the rest of the world.

It is hard to think of a less frantic place to spend Christmas. I set up my market stall tent by my pond and 4 of us had lunch there yesterday, cooled by a light sea breeze and surrounded by the sounds of frogs. I was the only person who knew each of the others! All residents of Australia now, the 3 of them came from different lands originally…. One South African woman, one German woman and an American man. Perfect. Paradise. No photos.

I think I live in paradise. But today I went to the core of paradise, only 10 minutes or so drive from my house. It is a long and complex story but the gist of it is that the town water supply used to be a gravity fed, mountain spring but now the water is pumped from a busy river and then treated. Some of us would prefer to gather water from a pristine river where no humans or farm animals live upstream, and such places still exist near my home in Tasmania. So we headed to a secret location today, armed with buckets and jugs.

The track was rough but manageable and when we arrived at the end we heard the sound of the rush of water cascading over some rocks into a large, deep pool. After filling our containers, we took our shoes and socks off and sat on a rock with our feet in the icy water, hoping to see a platypus. None appeared but the 10 minutes of silence filled my head with tranquillity. I didn’t take my camera but it looked like the photo below, only the river was not quite so wide.

So, I now have a few weeks’ supply of water the way humans evolved to drink it; full of minerals form the rocks and filtered by nature with no added chemicals. I will keep it stored in a large, ceramic urn (that I found at the tip shop).

How many places are there left where you can find total wilderness so close to home but also, a short walk to the shop and you can buy St. Agur cheese!?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Growing buckwheat between the vines in NZ

Managing biodiversity when growing a monoculture crop is not something every vigneron thinks of doing but there are benefits for the quality of the crop, for the farmers and for those who drink the final result.

This piece is taken from an excellent website called

Anna Flowerday

At Te Whare Ra Estate in Renwick, near Blenheim, (north east of the South Island) owners Jason and Anna Flowerday have found an innovative way to use the space between their vine rows - they've planted buckwheat.

Although a strange sight to visitors driving past the rows on the way to the cellar door, growing buckwheat on alternate vine rows had a range of benefits and was a natural way to glean optimum conditions for grapegrowing, Mrs Flowerday said.

The vine rows had about 3 metres of space between them, about 10 hectares of land.

"For us, it's a big area between the vine rows," Mrs Flowerday said.

"So it's about creating something effective for the best use of the land."

Among other species, buckwheat attracted small native wasps by the name of Dolichogenidea tasmanica, which helped get rid of the leaf roller caterpillar pest.

The technique, adopted from what began as a research project nearby at Seresin Estate, allowed them to avoid using chemicals on the vines, Mrs Flowerday said.

"It's about looking for a natural solution to a problem."

Other plant species did a similar job to the flowering buckwheat. However, buckwheat had increased the abundance and longevity of the wasps, it had a short sowing to flowering time, could be managed to produce flowers over the entire grape-growing season, was relatively cheap, and could be killed by frost, which prevented it from becoming a weed.

Buckwheat also attracted a number of other beneficial species including hover flies, lacewings, and ladybirds.

Mr Flowerday said biodiversity and working with the environment naturally was key to maintaining a good vineyard.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Somewhere over the rainbow….and other snippets


imageThat little green house across the cow paddock from me is definitely basking in gold, at the end of the rainbow…. image
….and it came down in my gum trees; can you see it? It was a glorious sight, after the rain.
The Dover Bay Mussels people were at the market as usual. You can’t beat $5 / kg!! So we had mussels for dinner….
….wonderfully delicious and easy after my hectic Cygnet Market stall.
My stall takes up most of the Town Hall stage now and I have a love / hate relationship with it!
Photos taken during a quiet moment but often the whole stage is full of people! 
imageUnpacking deliveries at home, repackaging bulk stuff and then packing for the market is a never ending job. I still enjoy opening the boxes though! image
Some of the goodies….
I must admit that I do make bloody good sourdough bread! Left is wholemeal wheat and right is spelt and quinoa…..
Then there’s all the garden produce. This was a scrumptious meal of freshly picked broad beans, leeks, garlic and herbs (all from my garden) on sourdough toast.

At The End Of The Rainbow

© Kathy Lesley

After a terrible rainstorm
In the sky, I saw a rainbow.
All the bright, beautiful colors made me feel so warm
As they dipped down so low.

I thought back to that legend of old
Sitting on my grandfather's knee.
"At the end of the rainbow is a pot of gold,"
He would say to me.

Every time I would see a rainbow
In that big, beautiful sky so bold
I would cross my fingers and make a vow,
"I would be the one to find that pot of gold."

So one day I bid my family and friends good-bye
As I started on my journey, following that rainbow.
I walked away quickly, knowing if I lingered I would cry.
I left to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But as I travelled so far and so long,
I could not find the end of that elusive rainbow.
Feeling very sad, I began to hear a song;
A song from my childhood so sweet and low.

By the song I was sold.
No more did I need to roam.
In all that time I was searching for that pot of gold,
It was with my family and friends, at home.

Source: At The End Of The Rainbow, Home Poem