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!