Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It’s raining, it’s pouring, this old girl is…..

I have been waiting for a rainy day, for weeks, so that I can stay inside and deal with the autumn abundance. As much as I love being in the garden, there’s nothing that makes me happier than a day in the kitchen but I cannot bear to be inside if the weather is fine!

The morning was misty, with clouds hanging on the hills, as we rowed and chatted and enjoyed the simple pleasure of being on the water in a beautiful rowing boat we helped to build. I never cease to be thankful for the day I found my home and moved to Cygnet, literally at the bottom of the world.

The minute we finished our rowing, it started to pour with rain. As usual we headed to The Lotus Eaters’ Cafe for coffee after which we all headed back to our various homes. I skipped in through the door singing with joy at finally having nothing better to do than cook and preserve and steep and brew and ferment.

Not a bad effort for one afternoon…. but I have lots of apples to box up for storage and plums to stew yet! I hope it rains solidly again soon!

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Carrot and ginger pickle begins its fermenting after a kg of carrots, a large knob of ginger and a tablespoon of salt (collected at a salt pan near the Coorong) have been pounded to release the juices.
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I add a bit of the liquid from a previous batch of fermented radishes, to the carrots.
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Then I start hand grinding 1/2 kg sprouted spelt, to make bread
imageI think of it as upper body exercise as I use right arm, then left, then stand one way then another!
Periodic rests are important so that the stones don’t overheat the grains.
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Meanwhile I make a marinade for some pork (from a friend) I have decided to roast for dinner on this chilly afternoon. I LOVE Tommy German mustard…. so flavoursome.
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I love the view from my kitchen window. The milk from these cows can be bought at the local butcher, who lives just out of view of this photo.
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Next it is time to start dealing with some of the quinces. These first, barely ripe ones, with plenty of pectin, are destined to be quince paste.
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A box of radishes on my doorstep, from a neighbour,  means I need to do more pickling!
imageHalf a kg of blackcurrants from the community garden and 10 blackcurrant leaves + a bit of
sugar, covered in a bottle of Brandy will make cassis for sipping by the fire over winter.
imageI bought a huge, organic celery from the market, removed some babies from the sides, put them in water for a couple of weeks and now they are ready to plant out.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Pears, Eggs, Mulch and more

I love cool days; I can get so much done. I love where I live; it is rarely brown and dry and the creek through my garden mostly trickles and tinkles all summer long.

I had a problem with my mulcher this morning so, while I thought about how to fix it I took to the lawn mower…. then I had a bright idea, which worked and I felt very pleased with myself as the mulcher once again roared into action.

After I had reduced the whole pile of sticks and prunings to a nice heap of mulch to spread on my paths, I decided to continue my fix-it session and move the latch on the chook yard gate to a more ergonomic place. I also took out a large, spiral steel rod I have and, over and over again, screwed it into the compacted stuff in the cut-off rain water tank where I throw garden waste for the chooks. That is very satisfying as, when I pull it up, it loosens up the lovely composted waste below and puts it on top of the new stuff. The chooks have been in there with their bottoms up and beaks down, ever since, finding all the grubs and worms that have made it home since I last aerated it.

On my way inside for lunch I collected eggs, picked another armful of pears and dug up a huge, self-sown parsnip that had grown up through the debris that I had mulched. I have never had one that big in my garden before. What a great morning.

I will have been here 5 years on March 10th…. and only now am I ready to make some changes to some parts of my garden. Up until now most of it has stayed more or less the same, except the makeover I did early on to make a vegetable garden, herb garden and chook area.

After lunch my brush-cutter and I make short work of slashing the retched grass that is the curse of the Tasmanian gardener as it grows a mile a minute and forms thick clumps with hundreds of small nodules that are impossible to eliminate, if you leave it for even a few weeks. At least slashing it makes it look nice for a while!

All today’s work has been in one area; a particularly secluded spot which gets full winter sun and very little wind…. and up until now has been entirely ornamental. This was such a pretty, shady, ferny area when I came here but a couple of years ago the beautiful willow tree fell into the creek, removing all the shade. At first I was horrified and it became unkempt and ugly until I realised not what I had lost but what I had gained.

Oh lalala wait until you see what I have in mind to make it a key part of my food garden! What I discovered as I removed a temporary, chicken wire fence I constructed to let the chooks in to dig it over but to keep them from wandering further, involved tall, lush grass tangled in the whole length of the bottom of the fence…. and that the soil there, at the bottom of the slope, was fabulous. I know only too well how dry and barren the soil is just a few metres further up the slope…. so…. brain ticks…. terrace it along the contours…. with straw bales of which I have plenty…. like the slope of my vegetable garden in Adelaide.

The reason I need more food garden is that the oak tree near the chook yard has roots that have crept into some beds of my irrigated vegetable garden, turning them to dry dust, no matter how much compost and water I add. So I will have to think about what to do there…. maybe a few big pots…. or something!

Sadly there are no before and after photos to brighten up this monologue!

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I love lacto-fermented vegetables…. Here is a jar of radishes well on their way and a jar of zucchini pieces and fennel seeds being made.

 

 

 

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What a wonderful group of people come to the Cygnet Community Garden on Thursdays. I especially like the food each of them brings to share at the end of the gardening session!