It’s 5.30am and there is a grey stillness to the morning. Although light the sun won’t properly rise for another 15 minutes or so. The quiet hour, the garden hour. It’s summer holiday period round these parts and a different rhythm that doesn’t get found often. Mornings have been spent in two ways of late. Either by the waters edge or here, in the garden.
After a year now of creating beds, building soil profiles, planting, transplanting, weeding, growing, harvesting and eating. This small city garden has just now gone through 4 seasons.
We’ve tracked shadows during the colder months, picked 10’s of kilos of tomatoes during the warm, and frowned over countless unseen critters and their impact on our growings.
This is something that has been a long time in the making. Where small potted plants gave way for a variety of raised garden beds. There are still lessons to be learnt, corners to build up, and plants to try out, but it’s a start, and a wonderful one at that. A tiny corner to take refuge from the noise of the day, a place to grow vegetables and ideas. A pocket of edible greens in an otherwise landscape of lawns.
It’s not perfect, and there are still a multitude of lumps to work through, but it’s got sun, soil, water, and enthusiasm. With that goes a multitude of possibilities.
This is the garden that grows.
More garden posts…
Yearning for something for a really long time, means that when it finally arrives…well it’s a bit bloody exciting.
So what did I yearn for? Sun.
Simply put, just sun.
Sunlight to grow things. I had grown what I could with 2 hours of direct sunlight for a number of years in pots on a rented shared corner of a concrete courtyard. I loved my potted permaculture garden, but with two hours of direct sunlight, well it limits things a bit.
So what can I do now? Now that I have 6-10 hours of direct sunlight?….Oh la la! The possibilities can make you giddy at the knees. Some people said wait, go slow, you’ve got years to get it going. Err, nope, no I don’t think so. I’ve waited in some shape or form for 20 years to do this.
Instead, let’s get in there straight away. Let’s definitely plan, and plan really well. And let’s not be committed to one idea, or even several ideas in the beginning. The first few years will be very flexible in their changes, lessons will be learnt and things will be trialled. It’s all deliciously new and yet it isn’t as well, I’ve been preparing, reading, learning, practising for what feels like all my life, now it get’s put into practise.
I firmly believe in the saying bloom where you have been planted…but I also believe in crop rotation.
And now with all that direct sunlight? Well. I think it’s time to get growing.
Having been throwing myself into all things permaculture minded for the past good few years, it was a little tricky looking over at all the identical perfectly mown lawns and not think of how I would like to quietly rip a good proportion of all that grass up.
Sure it wasn’t mine to rip up, but what an enticing dream it would be.
Instead of perfectly manicured ornamental gardens with impeccable weed free edging, there instead might be a line of fruit giving trees all the way up the street as far as the eye could see. All within easy reach of the foot path, all for people to pluck as they needed, and as often as taste buds sung out.
This line of fruit trees would also give a little shade to those that chose to walk the many uphills under a blazing summer sun. The ones that forewent the air-conditioned comfort of cars, that would drive on unseeing to all that food yet to be foraged by knowing fingers.
Or maybe there would be a canopy of beans to walk through, that might be right next to a forest of nuts and bananas, a pedestrian round about, with herbs circling in a mandala kind of fashion.
The possibilities are deliciously endless and certainly not restricted to the street side. So how does permaculture entwine with creative living?
Well in my mind they lie hand in hand, it’s an ability to think outside the square. To be able to create and be adaptable to the environment that you’ve been placed. Making do with what you have essentially, and in a sustainable fashion, thriving from within it. There are patterns, there are creations, and there are probably a multitude of pops of colour.
The more formal definition of permaculture…
What is Permaculture?
‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.’ [David Holgrem]
Finding a definition of creativity is a little harder to narrow down. There are so many branches to the word, and as there should be, the word in itself is a creative one of which meaning depends on the user alone.
Not restricting the word to the art world, I did like this line though when reading through the many variations…
‘Creativity is the ability to transcend the ordinary’
And that brings me back to those perfectly damn mown lawns again.
Whether you live in a busy city studio with a cat named Peter or an off grid farm that is the dictionary definition of diversity. What would you do with a street full of perfectly manicured, grassed gardens? Tell me… or even better, what HAVE you done? I’d lovvvve to know.
(This post is 1 of 3 in a series on creativity.)
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
Permaculture Principles– a mighty resource that will get you started.
Buderim’s “Eat Street”– Urban Food Street, a neighbourhood initiative that started from a conversation about over priced limes 7 years ago. This initiative now covers 11 streets, with people moving into the area, because they want to be involved.
Urban Farming- The Leaky Pipe
I’ve got a clever friend who is an advocate for urban goats. I think she might be on to something. Yes I do.
That’s a triumphant jar of lemon curd right there I tell you. I’d tried making it a handful of times and, failed the same number of times. Turns out I was following the wrong recipes. I settled on a recipe from Three Blue Ducks cookbook, (they haven’t failed me yet) and a little nervously began whisking away.
Not long later, done and set. It’s creamy, lemony, doesn’t have lumps and is quite troublesome with a lone teaspoon. Now why had it been so hard beforehand?
Never mind, I had it now, but what to do with those golden jars of goodness?
Apart from the convenient jar with a teaspoon situation, I also played around with some black rice pudding. While I wouldn’t say it’s a tried and true recipe, it is evolving and I will definitely be playing with a few variations over the winter months. If they are flavours you like, have a tinker around with your ingredients and make it to your own tastebuds.
A really easy winter breakfast.
Breakfast Black Rice Pudding with Rhubarb and Lemon Curd
1 cup of black rice
2 tbls coconut oil
2 x pureed soft pears
1 bunch of rhubarb
coconut milk/ or natural yogurt
1 tsp of vanilla essence
lemon curd (recipe found here)
Overnight soak your black rice with cups of water. In the morning, cook the rice up, adding 2 pureed pears to sweeten it a little when you start cooking. Cook it as you normally would rice using the absorption method. Once it’s cooked, stir through two tablespoons of coconut oil.
At the same time and in another pot add your rhubarb. Cut into 1 cm pieces and cook until soft. Turn off and add either half a scraping of a vanilla pod or tsp of vanilla essence.
Serve with coconut milk, (or natural yogurt) fresh fruit and lemon curd. The curd gives it a little zesty sweet kick.
Our gardens couldn’t be more different. Mine in small pots, neatly aligned along a big city urban fence. A tiny garden that grows intwined with the sound of other city dwellers, the soft murmur of traffic and the occasional summertime song of hidden cicadas.
Her garden? It meanders. Through seemingly endless acres, aligned with a neighbouring rugged, blue coastline. The gentle honking song of Cape Barren Geese flying over head at dusk and dawn, and frogs…lots of frogs.
Now who’s garden am I speaking of? Well that would be Tanya from Ecolosophy (remember the one I wanted to face plant into last year?) I caught up with her recently to hear how her garden was growing and also to find out who won the giveaway.
Oh Brydie, we’ve been pretty lucky this year. Ordinarily at this time of year, our patch would have been burnt to a crisp by a few blazing hot days with northerly winds and no rain but so far we’ve had an exceptionally mild summer in Esperance, most days mid twenties, rain every so often, not a single day so far over 40 (please don’t jinx me weather fairy!) The Patch is churning out tomatoes by the bucket load so I’ve been making lots of slow roasted tomato sauce. I’ve been as inventive as possible but the yellow button squash have (FINALLY) come to an end so I can relax on finding new and exciting ways to hide them in the family meals.
My black frilly kale and I are at a standoff of sorts because on one hand, I learned how to make kale chips…and they’re lovely but on the other hand my kale just keeps getting prettier and prettier so I’m loath to remove a single leaf. Most of the greenery in the Patch now is assorted pumpkins, melons and gourds that are the obsession of my other half.
Every summertime there is a quest to grow the worlds largest vegetables (so far the biggest pumpkin has only got to about 50kg which is a few hundred kilos off the world record) but we do grow a nice big New Guinea Bean (here’s a snap of last years beans with my boys) We eat them when they’re small (about zucchini sized) but then we let them grow and grow and grow.
That bean picture is amazing. I’ll bet the boys were impressed with them. I’m certainly impressed! Now tell me also, who won the giveaway?
Well quite a few of your lovely readers popped in to the Ecolosophy Shop and had a wander through. And one of those lucky shoppers has won themselves a sweet eco giveaway of Ecolosophy goodness. Can I get a drum roll please?….. the winner is…..Diana Sayes.
Excellent! Well done Diana*. Tanya your garden is once again enviable and sadly, I’m now hesitantly going to go back to my small collection of pots…hmmm, three tomatoes anyone?
* Diana- Ecolosophy will be sending out your lovely little package soon.
When meals are made up of bits and pieces like chocolate, pickles, thyme, plums and wine, you know life is treating you ok.
Last year I challenged myself to an Eat Local challenge throughout the year. While this year, I won’t be continuing with the same challenge, I will still be eating as much locally produced food as I can possibly get my hands on.
Summer holiday time is a great time for local and seasonal goodies. Wonderful things given as gifts, deliciousness made available because of the season, and sometimes just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
These are a few of the things that have been gracing our bench tops lately.
Gifted Spencer Cocoa, (cocoa beans grown in Vanuatu and made in Mudgee, NSW)
Pickles bought at Moruya Markets, with cucumbers grown a couple of hundred metres down the road.
Thyme from my window sill.
Plums from an organic laden orchard I was lucky enough to visit.
A wonderful bottle of Elysium wine. Bought direct from the makers, this company uses Australian natives for their wine making.
So good, all of them.
I didn’t enter a super market for any of those goodies, and damn, that felt good. It makes me so incredibly happy to be eating a fair chunk of our food like this.
Have a look around you, see what locally produced food you can find, let me know and let’s spread the word even further. I’m always on the look out for more small and local producers, and they in turn are always on the look out for more consumer support for their products.
Happiness really just might be, in supporting and eating local.
I’d tried to keep away from the bread for this challenge, but as I’m coming to the end of my year long challenge, it seemed appropriate that a bread dish slipped in.
This bread has actually been made a few times as it seems to hit the spot and eager mouths make short work of it in this household, (which you can’t really ask for much more than that can you?)
Now a big factor in what I make is really what arrives in my vegetable box once a week. I like cooking, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get completely bogged down with the old faithful line of (and lets face it often relentless) …”what are we having for dinner?” Getting a locally sourced vegetable box, helps make that decision, as you really do just have to use what they give you!
So where did it all come from?
Flour- Demeter Mills, Gunnedah
Salt- Murray River Salt
Zucchini- Rita’s Farm, Sydney
Thyme- my window sill
Rosemary- my courtyard
Olive Oil- Lisborne Grove, Hunter Valley
Interested in taking the Eat Local Challenge?
Just how local is local? Well this depends entirely on you. Only you know how you and your family eat. Raise the bar just a little from what you already do. If making sure the majority of your meal includes solely food produced in your country, than make that your challenge. If you want to make it a little trickier, go for produced in the same state…trickier still within 160km.
My aim is to really know where my food is coming from for at least one meal a month, (where I will be posting here in the last week of the month).