Monday, May 30, 2011

We really are the best!

"Is there a community garden in Byron Bay?" Ms Tagalong asked the taxi driver hopefully. He should know. He had been living there since the 80s he told us. Ms Tagalong just hadn't trusted Google, surely Mullumbimby didn't harbour the closest one?

He shook his head. "There's the garden at the primary school," he offered helpfully, catching my eye in the rear view mirror, "they're always looking for volunteers."

At this juncture I hastily disabused him of the volunteering notion. "Oh I just want to take photos." At which point he lapsed into silence. Ms T was not able to ascertain if this was a surly one or otherwise. It could just have been caused by navigating the Pacific Highway, verdant greenery encroaching on both sides. Abundant growth tumbled down the hills, a playground for bushes overseen by the stern schoolmaster Mt Warning.

Bereft of the opportunity to gawk over someone else's community garden Ms Tagalong steered a walk past aforesaid primary school.

A compost heap and a few raised beds were spied through the railings. Whoops and screams from the family carnival being held on the school grounds probably explained the lack of budding horticulturalists (no pun intended)tending these beds.

So that was it. George, a long-time Byron Bay resident bemoaned the lack of community. He felt that the close-knit, hippy-fringed, Bay community had gone the way of hippiedom, really. The newcomers weren't interested in community, only in making money and so it has remained in these tourist mecca years.

So beware going off chasing the dream, fellow gardeners, it might just be here in your own community!

Byron Bay does have the most spectacular sunsets though!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Short and Sweet!

Well not really. Huge and sweet actually. But the story will reveal itself...

Last week Ms Tagalong was tapping away diligently when there was a knock on the door again. She wondered whether she would ever get the blog finished! Ms Mova was at the door, almost jiggling up and down in excitement. "You might want to hold your blog," she said,"you just have to see this."

Sighing loudly and dutifully saving the blog, Ms Tagalong followed, er um tagged along as usual.

Miss Didi's Mum had been fossicking under the sweet potato plant which by now had covered most of one bed. We had done some exploratory digging as you know, a few weeks ago, but this was archaeology on a grand scale. Ms Tagalong's jaw dropped, she expressed some expletives, well as much as she is wont to do, gasped, even.

One wonders how this huge monstrosity had been growing under the earth without us knowing? We have missed the Easter Show, we would have been the stars of the show, surely? We would have returned adorned with ribbons, clasping cups and medals galore.

But did we think of weighing it? Of course not. Ms Tagalong could make a guess; the size of a small child, 10kg-12kg at least! How many kilos of sweet potato jam would this have made? Nestling alongside this monster were many others. The camera fortunately saved the moment for posterity.

So there we are, we must be doing something right to the soil, especially the nutrients needed for sweet potato growth.

But wait, there's more. Yesterday Ms Tagalong found out that Ms Mova was looking after the monster still in her kitchen so Ms Tagalong raced around with a weighing scale,(she knew it would come in useful some day) and as we held our breath, Ms Mova's 'usband gently lowered the potato onto the scale.

Oh how Ms Tagalong felt vindicated, 10.4 kg! What an eye.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hey presto pesto!

It just takes a few willing workers, bunches of basil and a working extension cord to provide the best food we have had yet in the garden.

Our monthly cocktails in the garden has seen the advent of homemade dips, bread, snacks and cakes but to be able to snip off the basil, add the other ingredients according to whim and produce a sensational pasta pesto taste-off was wonderful.

The working bee was in full swing, tea break had been called, (actually within the first few minutes by a few shovel manning participants who shall remain nameless) but it was soon time for lunch for the ravishing oh sorry ravished, no that's not right either, workers. Ms Tagalong, nursing sore ribs from a fall on the way to bookclub the other night, stoically manned the whizzy blender, choosing this over the old mortar and pestle, and produced alternate types of pesto. We had rocket and pine nut, basil with and without garlic, chunky basil with macadamia and the very popular extra, extra garlic also with macadamia.

Apart from a few cheeky comments about meatless lunches the crew tucked in and helped by the fantastic weather the day was declared a wonderful success.

Little Miss Pretty sat recording all the events and smashing macadamias, Red and her husband fell to with gusto and enthusiasm (or was that after the red wine totty?) despite the distinct lack of bacon, Ms Nimble Fingers worked like a trooper as did Ms Magic Fingers, despatching the rather large pile of lawn clippings onto the last bed. They were ably assisted by Mr Ukelele and Mr Ideasman

Ms Ishabaw, Red and Paint Pot Pat diligently weeded, planted out and chatted amongst the beds. And Ms Mova? She was moving of course. Forking, digging and moving piles of grass, earth and mulch along the outside fence to the garden. Ms Tagalong did say that it might be easier to just lay paper down and pile manure and cuttings on top but Ms Mova likes digging and that's all there is to it!

And as if the day could not have been more perfect for Little Miss Pretty a saddle necked russet and white guinea pig was perambulating along the gutter by the community garden. Cajoling and sheer ingenuity coaxed it from under a parked car and the guinea pig, already named Jiggles, had an instant new home. Anyone missing pets should contact Pets R Us. Whatever will it be next?

Ms Tagalong crowned the day by using up the last of the tamarillos and making a savoury roast tamarillo tart served with spinach, avocado and chick pea salad. Just had to include the photo for your delectation!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Autumnal fruits 2 and Mothering Sunday

So here we are in Autumn and another week closer to the shortest day! The mists are still not upon us but the dew is thicker each morning and cooler on the feet. These beautiful tiny flowers on the casuarinas caught Ms Tagalong's eye in the morning sun.

Ms Tagalong walked into the garden yesterday and found a mother's meeting gathered companionably around the table talking over the wonderful Mother's Day events. It seems a lot of eating transpired but sadly not too much home cooking. But all was not lost, Ms Ishabaw walked down the road in search of some wonderful herbs for her feast. We knew she was coming; we could see her trousers stalking along viewed under the casuarinas; the chickens knew too and raced from one end of their pen to the other absolutely certain she would be bringing them treats. They were right.

Ms Tagalong planted garlic yesterday - long after Anzac day - dear readers, but what can you do? She took the remains of the last home grown bulb and painstakingly divided the cloves and placed them carefully in the ground. They are now planted behind the herb sign. We really must rotate the bed signs and refresh the soil.

Ms Mova was chinwagging and looked up to say, "Well you do really plant when you say you are going to. It takes me hours to think about it let alone do it! " Ms Tagalong smiled and left them to it. Mother's Day takes a lot out of you.

Later in the evening Ms Mova came knocking at the door. She had been busy; she brought around an eye-catching gift of tamarillos. Not strictly community garden produce but her garden produce. Besides being delightful to look at, these beauties are very versatile as was found out by searching for recipes and uses. Mr Ideasman said he hadn't had one since he lived in New Zealand as an
exchange student - so that was some time ago then. We cut one in half and scooped out its innards, a la kiwi, tangy and different. Ms Tagalong then decided to throw some into a chickpea tagine, perfect flavouring for a warming dish on this cold, wet, windy evening.

Just a reminder for Ms Designer that our readership are still agog waiting for the recipe for the Peruvian speciality of sweet potato jam. No pressure!

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Autumn Morning in the Garden

Ms Tagalong wandered into the garden early this morning expecting mists and mellow fruitfulness but the sky was cloudy and the early morning chill had all but gone.

The chickens were arguing in the pens, jostling for first off the post position as the doors were opened but Ms Tagalong had photography on her mind, not the stomachs of chickens.

She saw the sculptured pathway of the soon to be mosaic pathed road into the chicken enclosure. Little elves have worked hard manoeuvring the mulch into hills somewhat resembling the eagerly awaited swales which Ms Mova has so long craved.

She spotted a table full of healthy pawpaw plants ready to be planted and the fruit to be savoured next year with some of the limes we are attempting to grow.
On second thoughts the limes are kaffir limes and the fruit is not quite the same! Ms Tagalong might have to donate some of her limes off her prolific lime tree. Well, prolific might be an exaggeration, but at least she can count the limes this year.

Next through the camera lens was the neat rows of onion seedlings planted behind this year's exuberant garlic chives.

Sweet potatoes continue to burgeon and Ms Tagalong was rather upset to realise that the ends of the plants which she had gaily thrown to the chickens last week, once dug up can be replanted to form next year's tubers. Ah, well, live and learn.