Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free Range Debate

In the Weekly Times today there is an interesting debate article discussing how egg producers have let fly with their criticism of Coles' decision to phase out house-brand cage eggs by 2013. They spoke out at this year's Australian Egg Corporation Limited annual general meeting, held in Adelaide last week. Read more
Alison's chooks enjoying the good life.

Also check out the Free Range Farmers website.

Another reason for those of you with a garden (no matter how small) is to consider getting a couple of chooks. Not only are they easy and cheap to maintain and buy - if you get a couple from a cage-egg farm where they sell off the girls after their first year of intense production they sometimes cost a mere $2. You’ll be giving them a whole new life and they will still repay you with beautiful, fresh eggs.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Broad Bean Bonanza

Yesterday I harvested the last of my broad beans. I say ‘harvested’ rather than picked, because I reckon there was a good 10 kilos in the box by the time I’d finished. Not a bad result from around 45 plants. We have been eating and giving away the delish little green things for a couple of months now and I really cannot eat enough of them. After picking the broadbeans I then stripped all the leaves from the stalks and added them to the compost bin underthe fig tree. Now I just have to chop up the stalks and add them to the other six bins. Their garden bed will be gently turned over to ensure the barow-load of chock-full-of-worms compost I added to it is mixed well in the soil – it’s a bit like folding in flour when you bake a sponge cake. Then I will look at planting more basil, lettuce, silverbeet and Asian greens.
Meanwhile, we are enjoying eating broadbean pesto – simply substitute the beans where it says basil in your recipe. Last night my husband made a yummy risotto and used the broad beans instead of celery (I had given the last of it to the chooks, ooops) and it was fantastic! Braodbeans are also wonderful mashed with a little garlic, black pepper and olive oil and spread on hot toasted sourdough.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Summer Love

Well it’s summer now and the sultry days are already drying out the sodden soil. Time to start giving the garden more love - tough love, that is.

This means mulch, mulch, mulch. And donning rubber gloves to remove the zillion and one slugs and snails that are relentlessly skulking through the veggie beds. Every couple of days I collect a bucket or two of the varmints and feed them to the girls who react as through they are being fed nirvana (perhaps they are) and gobble them down. It’s also important to water the veggies in between the rainy times to ensure that the tomatoes avoid blossom-end rot.
I’m also forking the soil in between fruit trees and veggies to ensure that the rain penetrates the often dried up mulch and dirt and gets to the roots.
Remember to add liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks to keep plants lush and growing. Weeding is also a critical task, but when you love your garden it becomes rather fun to dig out the weeds. (A good weeding soundtrack is anything by AC/DC as it keeps you going!)
With summer days here it’s also good to relax and take the time to wander about and smell the roses, admire the passionflowers, nibble some basil, pick some salad greens and enjoy the different varieties of apples.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gardening in gumboots

The heavy rains my surfcoast garden has enjoyed over the last couple of weeks has been wonderful for deep soaking the soil, filling the 9000 Lt water tank and flushing out the gutters, but bring on the sun! I’m more than ready now to ditch the gumboots and raincoat needed while weeding and harvesting for a week or two of warming, steady sunshine and toes on the grass. The chooks too are tired of mud rather than the dirt baths they prefer. On the positive side, everything has shot up like a triffid. Those yummy broadbean plants are now taller than I am (OK not difficult) as is the celery which is being used as living stake for the snowpeas. The sugarsnap peas and climbing beans are also towering. The other bugbear is the wind which has blown down loads of passionfruit vines, beans, celeery and climbing roses. But it's summer in a couple days so fingers crossed balmy weather is on the way...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open the POD bay doors Hal…

Even better than cult SF film 2001: A Space Odyssey is joining a Sustainable Gardening Australia POD. There are PODs all over the country  chock-full of people looking to share ideas and their passion for growing great food! If there’s not one in your neck of the woods, then take a deep breath, contact SGA and start one. I did, so it must be easy! There are so many advantages to meeting new people and having fun swapping seeds, plants and ideas. I’ve just cycled back with a basket of bok choy and broccoli seeds from one of the Jan Juc gals whose garden is a Monet-like swirl of irises, vegetables, fruit trees and lush vegetables. Live dangerously. Contact Liz and get involved in SGA today.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Home Companion

Many good things come from across the ditch – Spilt Enz, Sam Neil, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and now A Home Companion: My year of living like my grandmother. Written in a friendly and accessible style by Wendyl Nissen, it’s a rollicking look at a year spent living like her nana. Five years ago Wendyl forsook a high-powered career in journalism. She swapped shoulder pads for chooks, made her own soap, beauty products and relished cleaning everything with baking soda and vinegar. Some things worked and some didn’t, but she obviously had a ball. A Home Companion goes beyond the 'greenwash'green veneer. It charts her successes, failures and daily challenges and it’s s a genuine reflection on how we can all achieve  more sustainable, healthy and happier life. I’ve been so enthused, I’m going to give the soap recipe a go as soon as I can track down some solid coconut oil. You can also purchase Wendyl Green Goddess products that emerged from this amazing time. A Home Companion makes a great gift for anyone looking to live the good life in an urban environment - don't loan it out as you probably won't get it returned without a tussle.