Field Notes (Winter 2016)

Winter is not over. It is actually only August 13. Despite having an instagram feed full of friends having weekend snowball fights in parts of Tassie and southern NSW, Winter sort of felt over in Sydney this weekend. With still a little over three weeks on the calendar and a little over a month until the equinox, the sunshine and expansive blue skies inspired seeding of seeds, the weeding of weeds and the doing of other little odd jobs out in the yard.

I’ve been listening to the brilliant Stephanie le Menager on the Cultures of Energy podcast while writing this post, she reminds us that “what we are is always a co-constitution of matter. We are what we are because we are in the thick of many lives.” Certainly playing out in the soil full of ants, worms and other little critters that entanglement is easier to remember. Also not blogging as much this year and not doing as many “events” either on site or in other places, we’ve been spending more time out in the thick of the garden and that has been better too.

Here’s some little snippets of what we’ve been up to in the colder months, prepping for the longer days to return.

WORKING BEE: We began the year with the idea that we would have monthly Working Bees but that hasn’t quite worked out. Nonetheless, we’ve probably managed about 4 this year. Our June working bee was great, we moved some of the beds that were sited to cater for full shade plants and weren’t good for food growing into part-sun positions for summer. Below is a picture before the move, with Tas in the foreground. The second image is of Sophie and Peter moving the soil with a tarpaulin.


IMG_4836SOIL BLOCKS & SEED RAISING: After getting the soil blocker from Gundaroo Tillers we have had more success with growing seedlings. I think it is not only about the soil blocks that make a good medium for the raising of seeds, but the novel ritual of making the blocks and that you need soil mix but you don’t need special pots or anything. Below are some lettuce seedlings Craig raised and Susie planted out. Unfortunately a few weeks later the chickens got out and totally dug them all up! But these are just one example of many. Craig has also had some great success raising seedlings in the aquaponics system. I shall have to track some of these guys over the coming months.

IMG_4834 IMG_4835LITTLE HELPER: Stan has always been quite extraordinary in the garden insofar as he has shown great interest in chickens (feeding them, collecting eggs and, more recently, trying to pick them up), ants, worms, grass, flowers, beans, lettuce, mint and so on. But at the same time he has not always been able to really help. But today he really started to get into it by helping Susie break up chunks in the soil. It was certainly a more literally hands on and less time efficient way of prepping a new bed than using garden tools, but it was fun, relaxing and cute. He also walked the pumpkins around the yard in a pram, reminding us that not every action has to have a clear goal or purpose.



PUMPKIN: We always have success with pumpkins. Many of them are self seeding from the compost and they just seem happy and we also have the space to train them on the driveway and around the grassy areas. So this year we probably got about 20 pumpkins with minimal effort. My new favourite recipe is a pumpkin-walnut pasta sauce from the SBS cookbook Feel Good Food, which is surprisingly good for interesting vegetarian dishes although it isn’t vege specific!


GARLIC AND GRUMBLE: We have heard bad things about the chemicals that need to be sprayed on garlic in order to get it though Australian customs. And there are periods where getting locally grown garlic is difficult. So we thought to give it a good go this year and have put several dozen cloves down. Looking forward to seeing what comes of them in summer. We also went to see Betty Grumble in her amazing ecosexual climate change striptease catastrophe show Sex Clown Saves the World at the Red Rattler just before she went over to make it big in the UK! So proud of having been involved in the development of that theme in her work via Betty’s contribution Christmas Climate Change Variety Hour.

IMG_20160811_084305IMG_20160610_214432935…more reflections on Winter when it’s actually over…