Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The last hurrah!

Actually it was probably the last halleluia as the local songsters did all the neighbourhood proud singing their little hearts out with the famous Newcastle German choir last Saturday evening. Mr Choirmaster was able to breathe a few sighs of relief for a job well done. Those of you who missed these angelic carollers also missed the pizza oven which worked like a Trojan churning out pizza after pizza. Oh no, sorry, that was the conscripted Greek who was sweating profusely placing pizza after pizza in the oven!

The Germans waxed lyrical over the pizzas and the garden. What a perfect venue yet again for a community event. With all the rain we have been having Ms Mova was sincerely hoping that the heavens were not going to open and all the displaced carollers, pizza eaters and the like were not going to want to decamp into her house. Ms Mova has confided in Ms Tagalong though that she loves her home being open to all; maybe just not that all!

Ms Tagalong was lucky to take this photo of the wonderful Junior Master Chef's Gingerbread House creation but was unlucky not to have tasted it as the hordes of children made short work in demolishing it!

Serendipitous is a word which springs to mind about that night. Serendipitous that it didn't rain; serendipitous that four skilled pizza makers turned up ready to create; serendipitous that the champagne was flowing - well we needed some fortification to hit the high notes!

It was a fitting way to remember the garden as we head off to inspect the community gardens of Mongolia and Siberia!

For those dedicated followers of this blog Ms Tagalong reminds you that she will do her best to update it when she is out and about globetrotting and stumbles across anything green and garden related but the weekly update will be a thing of the past for a year, she fears.

For those of you who like reading about travels Ms Tagalong invites you to follow her travel blog. Fare thee well fellow gardeners and a very merry holiday season to you all wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Life's little pleasures

Some of you may have been observant and noticed that there was indeed no blog last week. Just checking! Ms Tagalong is trying to get you used to the idea of not receiving one every week. As she heads out on her travels across the world, no longer tagging along, she might add, but striding ahead, it will not be possible to send an update every week.

Now obviously she also won’t be able to comment much on the goings on at the garden, well not this garden at least. She intends to pass judgement on all the other gardens and things green or otherwise that she sees, so don’t despair.

Ms Mova will as always keep you up to date with the real happenings and of course she might tell Ms Tagalong things which will of course find their way surreptitiously into the blog!

But back to the little pleasures of life. Sunday morning early, when it was cool, just after dawn, Ms Tagalong found herself wandering through the garden, picking out weeds and feeding the chickens. She looked at the compacted earth and thought it needed a forking. Not a forking what, just a forking. She picked up the fork and the ladies flocked around as if by magic, hopping on the tines determined to be the first to find the juicy worms. So Ms Tagalong spent a happy half hour watching them get their protein intake for the day with a minimum of effort on their part. The bonus was of course that the ground got a turning too, albeit finishing with a few less worms. Ah, life’s little pleasures!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


" There didn't seem to be any foul play," Ms Mova said with the straightest of faces. She was recounting the sad demise of our remaining white chicken who literally seemed to have fallen off her perch. Irreverent thoughts of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch came into Ms Tagalong's mind. Sort of a slight hysteria when faced with sad news.

Yes, dear gardeners, old whitey, our first donated oldie, is now pushing up daisies, actually, no, she has been buried to help the elderflower bush, written about last week, bloom, blossom and fruit to its utmost.

Talking about Ms Tagalong's waxing eloquent about elderflower cordial, she received a comment from a friend in England who seems to think that elderflower cordial is best served with some gin! Ms Tagalong was trying to maintain a family feel to the post, a thought that was obviously lost on my friend!

Too hot this week to do much in the garden but I am sure that Ms Mova will be happy for some mulch turning and compost turning assistance early this Saturday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cordially invited!

Frothy masses of creamy white florets on the elder in the garden got Ms Tagalong musing nostalgically and reminiscing. Warm, balmy evenings sat outside in the deepening twilight sipping elderflower cordial and thinkging of that endless summer! Of course it might not have been quite like that. Not too many balmy evenings in Old Blighty really and Ms Tagalong only ever made elderflower cordial once. But,undeterred, she looked in her old recipe file and sure enough found a recipe which a friend's mother had given her.

Ms Glamourpuss and Ms Tagalong harvested some frothy blooms this weekend. Actually Ms Tagalong is not sure why Ms Mova was so keen on the elder. Possibly she was hoping for a good show of elderberries to make some elderberry wine; perhaps the cordial will curtail her plans somewhat.

But, following the recipe and proportionally changing the ingredients, a whole litre bottle of elderflower cordial is now in the fridge awaiting fellow gardeners' approval at our next get together. Served chilled with a twist of lemon or lime it really will be refreshing on one of those dog day afternoons we seem to have had recently.

1.5 kg granulated sugar
1 litre water
15 elderflower heads
2 lemons
2 limes (I used all lemons)
2 teaspoons of tartaric acid (I used cream of tartar)

Put sugar and water in a large saucepan and dissolve sugar.
Bring the liquid to the boil
Drop in the flower heads and bring back to the boil
Put the fruit slices in a bowl with the tartaric acid and pour on the syrup and flowers.
Stir well, cover loosely and steep for 24 hours.

This will keep for 2-3 months or longer if refrigerated.

Talk about cordially uninvited, this evening Ms Tagalong was inspecting the alarming proliferation of yellow and black ladybirds on the zucchini. Ms Renovator joined her and together they collected some in a jar. "We don't want them to eat all the eggplant like those other ones did last year," said Ms Renovator and Ms Tagalong tried vainly to feed them to the ladies. They looked curiously at them crawling over the jar lid but were not in a bit interested. Ms Tagalong vowed to look them up and see what organic methods there were of control. Ha! She will now have to go and let them out of the bottle onto the plants again.

The yellow spotted ladybird is actually a kind predator, feeding on fungus. Looking at the amount of powdery mildew on the zucchini this is actually their dinner, breakfast and lunch. So fellow waterers, just beware watering leaves in the evening and hopefully this will reduce thanks to the wonderful ministrations of both the adult and larva stage of this pretty ladybird. If however, you see one of those pale orange 26 or 28 spotted ones you will need no permission to squash it without ceremony. They will eat the plants and destroy our eggplants!

And if you think that no post is complete without a mention of the ladies, you would be right! This week Ms Mova was sent a link by a friend to a 'chook cam'. Mr Ideasman, somewhat cynically Ms Tagalong felt, said that this could be anywhere, the real chickens who produce the eggs are in a huge shed! Check it out and see what you think! Mmm maybe a webcam for our chicken coop?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rhubarb, rhubarb again!

If you have been a faithful reader of this blog and even if you are a faithless one you might have noticed Ms Tagalong's obsession with rhubarb.

It is that time of year; the crowns of rhubarb in the garden are sprouting very large, very healthy looking leaves. Unfortunately the stalks don't live up to the promise, being short, stumpy ones with very little rhubarb colour. Luckily Ms Tagalong spied some rhubarb in the greengrocer's and managed to make some rhubarb and ginger crumble. With the addition of chopped fresh ginger and brown sugar it looked delicious ready to be covered with crumble. The lack of oats did not deter Ms Tagalong and she improvised with some muesli. If only she had checked the oven temperature! Alerted by the charcoal aroma, Ms Tagalong managed to scrape off the black peanuts and raisins off the top and it was really still rather respectable.

There was another swarm of bees in the garden this weekend, this time of a two legged variety, diligently labouring away during the hot and sweaty day. Ms Nimblefingers, particularly, was galvanised into a frenzy; maybe fueled by the wonderful homemade pizzas Little Miss Pretty and friends had concocted for the pizza oven.

Others helped turn the composts, build another, sow plants and seeds and water the new seedlings which will need regular dampening if they are to survive the long hot summer. A stinking hot day of 38 degrees this week was fortunately followed by some cooler breezes culminating in some welcoming rain. No watering needed today and a replenishment of the tanks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tiny tots

Ms Tagalong thinks there is nothing more appealing than a cutely dressed toddler with a watering can in hand. They are pictures of concentration as they direct the water to the plant. Just look at these examples of loving attention to the silver beet.

Ms Tagalong can see, as always, there are a few tearaways racing around the path more interested in bicycles and speed than the slow growing plants. How lovely to think that this might be a regular occurrence and that our local youngsters could embark on some of the lovely projects that Ms Tagalong found on this website.

Ms Tagalong must have been a teacher in a former life because she was very attracted to several sites showing sowing varieties and other entertaining things to do with children.

So welcome our local Parents Group and long may your little sprouts be involved with sprouting!

And back to the wonderful pizza oven; its magical qualities have been the subject of many a conversation since its inaugural firing or is it the smell of the contents that entices?

When food is mentioned out comes the idea of the oven. Next book club will be served with pizza in the garden; working bees will utilise the oven; and of course the end of month cocktails now won't work unless pizzas are available and films to be shown!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It was a feast for the senses. Actually it was a real feast... Our inaugural pizza oven bake off was held last Friday night. Our end of month cocktails in the garden with a twist, not of lemon, but of difference.

Mr Ideasman sat happily in front of the oven at an early o clock to make sure that it was hot enough to cook all those expected pizzas. Ms Tagalong had panicked and told everyone to eat before they came...just in case. She needn't have worried. Although the thermometer didn't perhaps reach optimum pizza temperature it was certainly well on its way and with only a few additions of wood during the evening it managed to churn out many a pizza to the voracious hordes!

Birdspotter was in heaven. He stood there with his bird, glass in hand, pizza in the other and a tawny frogmouth oversseing the frivolity from the top of the bean tepee behind him. To top everything off, the evening that is, not the pizzas, a movie was shown. If you have never seen Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe let it be said that there were very few dry eyes at the end of it.

Ms Tagalong overheard Mr Ideasman the next day talking to Birdspotter. They were laughing. They were talking about the disappearance of difficult local neighbours and the early firing of the pizza oven. We haven't had any further problems they said! Ms Tagalong realises how obscure this remark is if you haven't seen the film but far be it from her to spoil the story!

So back to the pizzas. We cheated this time by using store bought bases but plans are afoot to make sure that a whole batch of pizza dough will be there for the next firing. It might just be at the next working bee the weekend after next, so make sure you are available.

It was such a successful night, Mr Ideasman proved that he is not just full of ideas, they are implemented, completed and on the whole are successful. Ms Tagalong had to put that in just in case he developed a big head!

Although the Throsby Big Brunch was not strictly limited to the Community Garden Members, indeed not limited to the Tighes Hill Community Group but to all the villages surrounding the creek Ms Tagalong feels it would be remiss not to mention it.

Two sunny hours of feasting, chatting, talking and laughing were abruptly curtailed by a huge downpour which sent all scurrying back home drenched but hopefully still smiling! What a success. This year was bigger and better. More people, more tables and definitely more food.
Ms Tagalong spotted a magnificent cake crowned with fresh flowers and filled with home-made lemon curd, breakfast pastries comprising eggs, bacon and worcestershire sauce lovingly baked in filo pastry, tasty gazpacho, mulberry and macadamia muffins and even heard about a honey and mulberry cake (tis the season, don't you know)which never made it to the feast due to the untimely shower.

It was a busy weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homely comforts!

The lavender is beautiful at the moment. The three bushes we have may not quite give you the impression of being in southern France but they are prolific in their flowering. Gathering bunches to place in the house, saving the seeds for iconic lavender bags really brings the French countryside into your home.

Conversation this week has revolved around turning the compost. In fact it was the highlight of the weekend. Ms Tagalong was off gallivanting on Wallis Lake and on her return she asked Ms Mova what she had been doing. With such delight she told her that there was quite a group oohing and aahing at the hot compost as it was turned. The sweet smell of success!

In the spirit of all things chicken, Ms Tagalong's sister-in-law sent her a 2012chicken calendar which she is just loving! And walking into Ms Mova's kitchen today there was the beautiful gift of a glass chicken. Thanks to Ms Renovator who had had her eye on it for a while it now has pride of place on the dining table.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bring on the heat!

Ms Mova lost no time in passing on her newly found knowledge on permaculture by leading a composting workshop in the garden last weekend.
She was flocked by residents wanting to know how they could heat their decomposing matter to a degrading 70 degrees. Ms Tagalong has been looking at some of the methods of composting and is very excited to learn that If your compost is too cold and isn’t heating up at the beginning of the process, the best thing you can do is wee on it. Yes, urine is the bomb source of nitrogen, which will heat things up in your pile. If this seems inappropriate under the conditions, just get yourself a bucket with a lid, wee into that, add a bit of water and pour it on.

Ms Tagalong will ask the Ms Freedom who has come down from The Channon how that compost pile was actually made. Do you think she will tell me the truth? Is that steaming pile reaching its temperature due to some nitrogen input?
If you, adventurous reader, wish to add to the process, just make sure you wear dark glasses and come into the garden at midnight.

Ms Freedom has been making a huge difference in the garden, tidying,arranging and potting like a never tiring fairy. There have been whispers of expertise in mosaics so watch out for yet another workshop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Beeware! Bee alert and beehave!

Bee on the lookout, that's what Ms Mova said, early this week. Ok, the desperate punning will end!

Ms Tagalong had blithely walked by this dripping cone of bees hanging out of the trees by the gate to the chickens without even noticing them. She is just so observant.

An expert was called in; beekeeper jacketed and hooded to take the rogue swarm to its new home. Apparantly the swarm in Ms Mova's wall had decided it was getting exceedingly overcrowded, don't you know, and wanted to find a home with a view, some space to spread out in and close to a good source of pollen.
So they did. Images of white beehives did come to mind with combs dripping with honey but unless we had a member of the community who would like to do the beekeeping it was not going to be a good idea. So they have gone to a good home.

But stand up and be counted if you would like to keep bees, it is possible that the wall swarm might buzz off again as the expert reckoned there was still a lot of overcrowding even after the seemingly million bees moved out.

Ms Tagalong arrived to join the crowd in the garden when the last couple of hundred bees were making their way into the box. The main swarm had caused the branch on which they hung to break so many of the little buzzers where crawling arond wondering where their queen had gone.

Lucky we had the expert who knew how to tempt them in!

Seems as though bees are in the news worldwide and causing a stir with the new plastic beehives especially for urban gardens. Having heard more disturbing news about the plastic soup out in the Pacific perhaps we should steer clear of plastic use when we can.

Enjoy your crumpets with honey this week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Green Man

This is not, for the benefit of my English readers, the name of a local pub, but something Ms Tagalong saw at Hunter Valley Gardens. She really liked it and is thinking of how we could incorporate something similar in the garden.

Just imagine! Constant surveillance! Dark, spooky shadows at night and a happy cheerful person during the day to engage and entrance the children. Who would dare to enter to swap chickens under his watchful eye?

Last week's Cocktails in the Garden saw Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman meeting and greeting new garden members, sharing some wonderful prawns and chatting around the fire. Yes, we like prawns, members can bring them any time!

We spotted a possum and its baby tightrope walking, their brush tails curling down from the wires and scooting along into Ms Mova's favourite trees, the brush boxes along the side of her house. A perfect end to a perfect evening.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smashing beans!

Ms Tagalong has never had a penchant for broad beans, their floury texture and rather bland flavour has not inspired her to incorporate them into her diet. But maybe Neil Perry can convert her?

His springtime appetizer, featured in the weekend edition of the Sydney Herald, of buffalo mozzarella, smashed broad beans and ricotta salata on bruschetta sounds very appetising indeed.

He also mentions how good they are over freshly made egg noodles. For those of you who know that Ms Tagalong has recently made fresh pasta perhaps she will be even more adventurous and try the egg noodles sometime. Sometime soon, she thinks, as the broad bean season doesn't last forever. So take Neil's advice, after podding the beans blanch them in boiling salted water then refresh in iced water and drain. Then here comes the tricky part, peel the beans and just use the innards to mash with a clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. The addition of 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and parsley finishes of the smashed mix nicely.

Spread on toasted bruschetta, top with buffalo mozzarella and some ricotta salata. Now if you don't know what that is, join the club. Ms Tagalong had to look it up. It seems you can make your own but maybe that is a stretch too far for most of us.

So now the broad bean glut has been taken care of, Ms Tagalong must comment how good it is to see no black flies/aphids on the beans. It has been her earlier experience that broad beans and black flies were like the proverbial horse and carriage.

Talking about smashing; the rain at the weekend, whilst thoroughly watering all the garden, did knock a lot of the new seedlings about. Ms Waatif (What-are-all-the-initials-for?) arrived with replacement seedlings this evening and was happily planting while Mr Ideasman was putting a few minor design faults to right with the pizza oven.

And finally, what you are all waiting for, the latest news from Ms Mova at her permaculture course -sorry to disappoint, no news as of yet, but do look at where she is and what wonderful things she is going to learn.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pretty lettuces all in a row!

There are many working bees in the garden. They live in the stone wall behind the pizza oven. Ms Tagalong could see them curiously flying around as Mr Ideasman put the finishing touches to the mosaiced (spelling?)oven. Thought you might like a sneak peek!

But of course there are working bees and working bees. This last weekend saw a few intrepid gardeners working up quite a sweat in the unseasonably hot weather. It is supposed to be Spring, Ms Tagalong heard the poor little seedlings say. They really enjoyed the friable soil though and smiled at the water retention. It is a long way from the heavy clay we started with. Loading on the compost, leaf and grass mould and lashings of poultry manure, Ms Tagalong thinks that we have a good season ahead of us.

The row of eggplants looked a little lonely so a row of pretty lettuces are now keeping them company. Ms Mova constructed a tepee of bamboo for the zucchini and cucumber to grow up, and the centre is adorned yet again with some pretty leafed lettuce.

Roofman has been using his skills building a deluxe edition henhouse with windows, skylights and decking. All mod cons don't you know. Four of the ladies couldn't wait for the renovations to be complete and spent the night in there on Saturday.
Not much to perch on. Talking of chickens, which of course we often do, Ms chicken Whisperer down from the wilds of Inverell brought tales of Teapenny and Lucky. Lucky they have quite a few roosters! Not so lucky Teapenny has been unable to turn a blind eye! Creeping up on her blind side one of the roosters has worked out how to have his wicked way by sneaking up.

Not much to do in Inverell, apparantly!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The healing power of green

Many members of the community garden decamped this weekend with nearly disasterous consequences for our feathered friends who fretted and fumed waiting to be let out to forage. In a bid to gain some inner peace and knowledge and vicariously learn some inside tips on tasty vegetarian cooking from Kurma Das the local cohort had wended their way in convey down to Mangrove Mountain.

Growing vegetables, Spring time, blossom and quiet spaces. Impressions of Mangrove Mountain will remain with those of us who spent time observing the gardens. Ms Mova was not content with observation, she strode off in her wellies determined to learn all she could about bush regeneration. Ms Runaround wasn't; running around that is; she was coping with 48hour Facebook withdrawal symptoms!

A guided tour of the vegetable garden culminated in reverent observation of the rhubarb beds. Did you know you can actually sow them from seed? Talking about seeds our imparter of knowledge informed us that we should buy seed in bulk from Royston Petrie and not worry about waiting for plants to go to seed. I'd hate to be the one to break it to Red as she is so good at collecting seeds!

There was quite a parade of fashionable wellies this weekend but Ms Tagalong thinks that the red roses interlaced with skulls probably took the biscuit.

Legs Eleven, who actually looked like Legs Thirteen at the rate she grows, was in fine fettle and crowning her successful completion of the herb spiral she kept us all entertained all weekend. Can't wait for the next working bee to harness all that energy!

We all were there at Mangrove Mountain for different reasons but as a very wise woman said to me at the end of the weekend, "You don't always get what you think you want from an ashram but you always get what you need!"


Monday, September 5, 2011

It's all afire

Spring may be here but the comfort of a warm brazier at night in the garden is still appreciated. It was not even a balmy night but it was a very pleasant end to the week with hot soup, snacks and drinks to celebrate one of the gardeners turning 29. Well, Ms Tagalong thinks that's what she said! It set everyone to reminiscing about the events the garden has seen in the last couple of years with the film nights taking a favourite poll position. Roll on those warm nights so that we can run some more for friends and families in the neighbourhood to enjoy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's always black and white!

Being a person who deals in various shades of grey most of the time, perhaps it was refreshing to see this maxim in evidence in our own community garden.

In vain Ms Tagalong looked for the second plump white hen last week. She sought her here, there and everywhere but was only rewarded with some anxious squawking coming from the compost bin area. As she moved closer a very panicky black, skinny hen ran screeching and flapping over the fence. Must be a bantam Ms Chicken Expert confided. Strange shape, Ms Tagalong thought, but how about that a white swopped for a black. Told you this was easy! Too skinny for the pot, this little wonder had been transplanted into our chicken community.

Ms Mova collared Ms Tagalong over the weekend. You know that hen, she said, it isn't. It started crowing this morning and if you were in any doubt it was starting to try to have its wicked way with our ladies!

Tail feathers? Mmm, maybe the wonderful person who thought fair exchange was no robbery trimmed these so the illustrious gardeners would take a little longer to register the bantie undesirable.

How long before we get some complaints, Ms Tagalong wonders? We also wonder about the fate of our white wonder, we do hope it wasn't for the pot.

Another tale of ruffled feathers this morning when Ms Chicken Expert found that all her hard work yesterday of removing the ground straw from the coop so that the chickens wouldn't lay down there had been undone. Ms Tagalong could envisage another chicken lover saying oh no poor chickens, they have no straw!

Nothing to do with chickens but Ms Mova and helpers manned, ahem, womaned a stall at the local markets and apart from a domestic taking place at the next table threatening to scare away their punters they had a successful time and raised some well-needed funds for the garden. So many people do so many good things, a very heartfelt thank you to all!

Just not to the black and white interchanger. You really have to see the shades of grey!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ms Hopalong and the Golden Girls

Ms Tagalong became Ms Hopalong this weekend. Lying in the gutter looking up at the stars and possibly thinking of England she clasped her ankle in agony and wondered how she had missed the tow bar of the nearby car. Fraternising and socialising with fellow gardeners she knew undoubtedly that she should never have had that second glass of water.

Ms Hopalong took advantage and had breakfast in bed, cups of tea made and commiserations from various friends, family and neighbours. By evening time she was ready to start hobbling around and to make homemade pasta with the recently unearthed, never-before-used pasta machine. Having carted it around the globe she knew it would come in useful one day!

One takes the the beautiful free range eggs for granted these days but the golden yolks never fail to make an impression. Making the pasta dough Ms Runaround and Ms Hopalong oohed and aahed at the sheer glory of the golden strands.

It was not as hard as expected and the fettucine fell into strips and cooked so fast it was really a miracle. For those who have never tried this, Ms Hopalong wonders whether she can ever go back to the dried variety, it melts in the mouth and the simplest of sauces just tastes divine.

For those readers overseas we just had proof of the wonderful connections forged by community gardeners. Mr America was over researching links and benefits of community gardens. At a convivial supper he met representatives from many of the local community gardens and made plans to visit them before his return.

Giving us a potted history of East Brunswick Community Garden and its connection with Brunswick East Garden in Melbourne opened up the possibilities of global links to gardens around the world. Ms Hopalong's brain started working overtime thinking of twinning and tripleting with gardens she might visit on her extended travels next year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working bees

No, Ms Tagalong is not talking about honey. Now there's an idea, perhaps we should have a beehive in the garden? She is not sure she fancies the white overalls, netted hat and smoker but does fancy the lovely organic honey.

So back to working bees. Ms Tagalong seems to be making a habit of not attending these at the moment. However, Mr Ideasman had constructed four pillars for the pizza oven last week, so perhaps she could revel in that achievement.

What news? A new keen gardener turned up, Ms Mova said, desperately wanting to involve himself with some men's work and some men as he said he was always surrounded by women in his work. Unluckily for him no other men turned up in the garden on Saturday. Ms Mova and he worked companionably for an hour or so until he gave up and went home. Ms Mova even said she tried to keep deepening her voice but I am not surprised it didn't fool him. I don't know why male gardeners were so thin on the ground. Ms Tagalong would never dare to make some kind of sexist remark about rugby games or football(soccer) or even a beer drinking contest being in the offing.

So while all the shovelling and wheeling, planting and sowing was going on,
Ms Tagalong was recovering from some super food courtesy of her sister and her food coach. This healthy dahl recipe was served,enjoyed and of course complemented by a dessert. Ms Tagalong innocently asked if the sticky pear pudding was part of the healthy recipes. The sister smirked and said of course if you don't have the cream and ice cream!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Look out for Templeton!

We've been told that there could be a very plague of Templetons running backwards and forwards from the chook pen. They must be coming under cover of night, sinking their buck teeth into an undiscovered egg and racing home. Ms Tagalong started thinking along the lines of the following conversation. Dear readers, substitute chicken for goose and don't think that we have any eggs doing any hatching in the near future. That needs a rooster, I've been told, and Ms Mova and Mr Ideasman did their very best to ensure that those quarrelsome ones were moved on to a more receptive pen.

Templeton: [looking at a solitary unhatched egg] Why didn't, uh, this one hatch?
Goose: [gloomily] It's a dud, I guess.
Templeton: What are you going to do with it?
Goose: [sternly] You can have it! Throw it away and add it to that nasty collection of yours! Be careful - a rotten egg can be a regular stink bomb!
Templeton: [patting the egg] I know what I'm doing. I handle stuff like this all the time.
[Templeton rolls the egg away]

So lads and lasses on the chicken roster be sure of eliminating possible rat food please by searching high and low for the hidden ovoids. Ms Mova found a veritable farmer's market in the very small box on Sunday. The little darlings had fought their way through the undergrowth and happily laid and laid!

If you don't want the eggs or your chickens are laying better than ours just collect the eggs and place them in the egg boxes on Ms Mova's fuse box for others to take. Now where is that recipe for frittata?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fire and water

A hardy few gathered around the burning brazier trying to pretend it was a balmy evening for cocktails in the garden. Sat in hats and wrapped in blankets we called it a night very early on. Ms Tagalong had wanted to go to see Ms Chicken Whisperer who had come down to Newcastle visiting from very cool pastures.

'And how are the chickens settling in?' Ms Tagalong questioned. Ms Chicken Whisperer laughed and told of the amorous roosters in her new home.

Last seen by Ms Tagalong, Lucy was pretty patchy looking, naked even, having been pecked and picked on by the rest of the flock. Are there flocks of chickens? Maybe this nudity had spurned on the randy cockerel who chased her up and down trees to try to have his wicked way. So instead of being bottom of the pecking order Lucy might change her status and become the loved matriarch of her new family, beloved wife and concubine of the chief rooster.

Members of the garden and other local yokels mustered along the foreshore to plant some trees for National Tree Planting Day. Disappointedly only 6 trees arrived as
two others had been euthanased and the rest were held in quarantine. The dreaded rust! However, not to be outmanouvred, rocks were moved, others were levered into position and the ground was crow barred into submission, filled with topsoil and made ready for quarantine end.

In fact Sunday was such a whirl of social events that Ms Mova and Ms Tagalong let the girls fend for themselves. Plenty of eggs for Monday's collection?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spirals and mounds

Have you ever seen so splendid a spiral? Ms Tagalong was admiring the growth of the mustard greens in the spiral outside the garden.

Then later in the day Ms Tagalong came across Legs Eleven the designer and planter of this admirable spiral.

“Have you seen the outcome of your hard work,’ Ms Tagalong questioned.

‘No I haven’t, she replied. Smiling her lovely smile and flashing her patterned legs she moved off to talk to others at the local community café. Many people had emerged from the perpetual rain of the last ten days and it was crowded, full of locals and friends of locals to come and enjoy the coffee and camaraderie.

Ms Tagalong just loves the friendship and connections that have been forged and made in the community through the café, the garden and even the community group. She is really hoping that the next working bee in August will see the completion of the pizza oven. She visualises the walls of the stand growing upwards, the clay being spread over the shaped 44 gallon drum. On walking back from the café yesterday Mr Ideasman was delighted to spot two steel plates for the oven doors lurking under a bush in the front of our garden.

It just goes to prove that there is always a use for everything and it just goes to show that you must never throw anything away! Ms Tagalong had to put that in as Mr Ideasman was breathing hard over her shoulder and just wanted her to feel better about the mounds of items still waiting for homes in their new house and garden.
Any ideas for new edifices in the garden? I’m sure we have enough to make most of them!

Just follow the rainbow to find the treasure of our locale. Nothing to do with the garden, I know, but I couldn't resist the break in the rain.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ms Mova steps up to the plate...again!

Ms Tagalong was walking back to her house on Saturday, she felt like she was stepping back, or even side-stepping her responsibilities. She mused as she stepped whether this would be what it felt like to relinquish the reins, albeit shared.

Battling to get a workable kitchen by the time Mr Ideasman went back to the hallowed halls of academia, Ms Tagalong had taken a short break from painting and had been to view the progress of the working bee.

She needn't have worried. Ms Mova had everything and everybody in control. Tasks had been designated, doors to sheds were being constructed, seeds being collected, fruit trees being weeded, old pumpkins pulled out and beds were being turned and mulched. In fact Ms Tagalong contributed by eating a piece of delicious 2nd birthday cake and drinking a lovely hot cup of tea. Nothing like it to take the fume of paint out of your passages!

After a decent interval both Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman ventured back to the garden and found to their delight and perfect timing that lunch was ready. Having no kitchen yet to cook in this was the ideal way to spend our lunch break, eating the most delicious lunch food ever according to Mr Ideasman, we chatted and offered our ideas. Our ideas only, no assistance that day!

What a great turn out, what great progress in the wintry garden and even the rain stayed away and allowed some industrious footings for the new chicken coop, mulch and grass clippings moved and old compost placed onto the newly dug beds. Oh my! Ms Tagalong almost smelt spring in the air and could happily have forgone the painting but unlike Mole and his spring cleaning she and Mr Ideasman trudged back to the renovations.

So far have we come, Ms Mova, from those humble beginnings and all thanks to you, your perserverence and enthusiasm, your commitment and devotion to duty unlike the flighty Ms Tagalong who ditched out of yet another working day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Short and sweet

Short and sweet, Ms Tagalong was thinking as she strolled along to the garden last night wrapped up and scarfed against the elements. A short and sweet blog this week.

And there they were struggling up the steep camber of the road. Three little chips and a not so old block biking back from an adventure.

'Are the chickens laying?' Ms Tagalong was asked. 'Come and see if they have,' said Ms Tagalong. Three oh so polite little chips and the not so old block from whence they came followed Ms Tagalong into the garden and into the chicken pen. Chip one fetched six eggs from the main pen and chip two found another one in the littlest pen. Chip three boldly grasped a chicken, a child from a chicken home obviously, with no qualms and inspected it curiously. Ms Tagalong noticed the covert look at the chicken tractor, made with loving care by Mr Block, and disdained by the community chickens. Time for its return maybe!

We all foraged through the garden and found herbs and chillis for Mrs Block to make supper with. Ms Mova joined us chatting but the cold wind proved too much even for hot little bodies who put back their sweaters and decided it might be time to bike home. The chickens huddled together all in the one pen strategically placed against the wind. They were probably glad not to have their feathers ruffled.

Ms Mova has not checked the forecast for this weekend's working bee but she assures me that the food will be hot, hot, hot. So come one and all to assist and complete the pizza oven around which we will be able to make merry in the months and years to come.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Winter wonders

We are in the middle of winter here; the chickens have shorter days to scavenge and forage so you can imagine how distressing it must have been for the poor little lady scurrying up and down in the second pen the other day wondering why she hadn't been let out with the others. Well, Ms Tagalong, nearly didn't let her out either.

Looking for a few moments reprieve from the stress and strain of moving, Ms Tagalong crept into the garden with an overalled Ms Shorts last weekend. Checking the pen for eggs Ms Tagalong was alerted by Ms Shorts to the distressed chook in the adjoining pen. Maybe Ms Mova had sleepily opened the pen and ignored number 11 who when released scurried rapidly out and hid amongst the privet bush. Surprised, Ms Tagalong would have expected her to run to the water, she crouched down and saw her scratching about and rolling eight hidden eggs.

So that was why we had so few eggs lately!

Ms Tagalong heard a colleague at work championing the flavour of strawberries that she had bought at one of the not-to-be-named supermarkets. She hugged herself joyfully and thought about the little strawberries she had spied on the plants in the garden. If the chickens can be dissuaded from taking a peck along with the snails and slugs, flavour would not be an issue. Ms Tagalong’s colleague would not be able to believe her taste buds, but shhh.. we shall keep it our little secret and wait for them to ripen naturally, no retardant gas, no picking too early.

Advice from whats cooking America says Strawberries do not ripen after they have been harvested, so choose strawberries that have been picked fully ripened. They should have bright red color, natural shine and fresh looking green caps.

Many myths and legends abound. Do we have any newlyweds in the neighbourhood? If only Ms Tagalong had known this last year she could have served cold strawberry soup at her nuptials like they do in regional France for an aphrodisiac. But then.. it is never too late. If you see someone crouching, keeping guard over the berries it might just be a French provincial chef or indeed, Ms Tagalong!