March

March is a month of change this year – which is a good thing.

In the last week I reached my goal of 30 bottles of tomato sauce.  The crop has peaked in flavour and size so I use the smaller tomatoes to make chutney.  This chutney is tangy with loads of herbs and spices.  It supports a cheese board admirably, but for me, I think it is unsurpassed as the flavour hit in a toasted tomato chutney and cheese sandwich.  Grand reward for hard work on a cold day.

Remember the garlic patch pic from last month?  It’s amazing the effect of a bit of rain, albeit a very small amount.

You definitely start to evolve an opinion on how much and what sort of rain you require.  I’m definitely a fan of the 2 days of steady drizzle, the sort that resembles the curtain of rain that seems to permanently delineate Durham County in the UK.  Rain days like that are gentle and regenerating.  Out here we tend to get the 5 minute dump and drench type rain.  With a metal roof it is deafening and we find ourselves riveted into silence. And then we find an excuse to race out and ‘rescue’ something just to be part of the chaos. One day we will have an outdoor undercover area to watch from, raise a glass of vino and be very adult about it all.

The garlic patch is underway.  We have created the first planting beds and added some Ag Lime as all the growing guides state ‘garlic loves lime’.  Broad anecdotal statements aside, our soil analysis results show we need to adjust our soil ph.  Tomato, Potato – same outcome (GhostBusters II movie). The 10m x 1m beds will take 1,500 cloves of 5 different varieties of garlic.  Planting is scheduled for 5 & 6 April – the first best planting period for root crops after the full moon.

March Book List

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I finally got my butt to the local library and enrolled then came home, jumped online and ordered a pile of books to read over Easter.  I actually think it is better than having a voucher to your favourite bookstore.  In those instances you are really careful about what you spend the windfall on – at the library absolutely no control required.  It was open slather.

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Sheep and dogs – a comedy everyday

 

Greater confidence begins with a ritual of telling oneself solemnly every morning, before heading out for the day, that one is a muttonhead, a cretin, a dumb-bell and an imbecile. One or two more acts of folly should, thereafter, not matter much at all. http://www.theschooloflife.com

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February

 

Its now mid to late summer and February is the month for tomatoes.

By end of month we are harvesting 3-4kg of fruit every other day and my focus shifts to washing, roasting, pureeing and bottling whilst the fruit is at its finest.  There are so many ways to bottle tomatoes, its another entry for another time.  Perhaps you are blessed to have been raised in the craft.

Fundamentally and most paramount it all comes down to the tomatoes.

We eat so many of them with the type of ‘one pot wonder’ cooking I do. The plants are hardy and generous.  I think no shop bought tomato can compare on flavour to those homegrown. I also suspect our keenness in growing them is an impatient response to waiting for our trees to grow something that resembles fruit.

Short term gratification indeed.

I find the whole process an absorbing mix of learning and honing horticultural, cooking and preserving skills, daring experimentation and diligently (aspirationally!) recording outcomes. I like assessing and working on a plant, to maximise its potential, and the reward, as you harvest and bottle potentially wonderful meals for the year.

Effort and reward – I do wonder who is controlling whom here.

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The first Longview Garlic patch

Watch this space – it’s the new bed for the Longview Garlic crop this year.  This 1,000sqm space has to be mowed (with my trusty skateboard and blade aka the ride on mower), sprayed, fertilised, limed and ripped (yes I will be on the tractor) to make space for the bulbs to be planted in April/May weather permitting.  Whilst I don’t aim for organic/biodynamic certification I am very conscious of limiting my use of sprays and additives to those identified as suitable by these farming practices.  I now have to work this out so feel free to tell me what you know – what fun!

February Book List

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Read Ruby Wax!

“We too often fail to state our needs as clearly as we should, say yes to everyone else’s demands, and then from this grow increasingly ragged, angry and bitter. A lack of selfishness can turn us slowly into highly disagreeable, as well as ineffective, people.” http://www.theschooloflife.com

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Gallery

January

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Quietly crisping up

Its serenely quiet and the gate has started to shimmer in the heat of the day by the time I take this shot. Through the gate I see grass turning golden and as the land dries out we start to watch the horizon for tell tale smoke plumes – where is it, how far away, which way is it headed; and welcome rain clouds – how far away are they, which way is it headed, will we be lucky?

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Bespoke zinc doors – bless Kevin McCloud

Oooooh I am starting to see some design influence coming out in our build. To be honest we are totally rubbish at interior design, we build and create spaces, filling and decorating them is far from our fun zone. These doors represent weeks of thinking, discussion and learning a new craft. This is the fun part of building our own place, we can take the time to work things out and adapt ideas to our skill set. And for the first time I’m getting a glimpse of an end picture pieced together from years of scrounging ideas from magazines, tv shows and online pics; of a large kitchen with deep colours and blended materials where no one thing stands out and the light does not hurt your eyes pre morning coffee.

View from West paddock back to house build.
Summer morning

This is one of the 2 trees on our place when we purchased. We have since planted about 250 and could easily plant that number again. The sheep are fantasitcally undiscerning between native v exotic in their inquisitive tasting of the leaves. We are becoming masters of building tree guards and sadly only by trial and error. At this stage I’m grateful they have not resorted to climbing (a la Shaun the Sheep pyramid) to gain a leafy morsel.

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Longview garlic

You know when you start playing with something and its good, then an idea sprouts… and then you realise you could make it happen you just have to start. Beginning is all it takes.  I have no idea of the outcome, it will be imperfect as odds always are.    This is Longview Garlic. Not only did I grow it, its edible and I can grow more.  I’m a producer of garlic.  Now that was not in the original game plan.

Number 1 on the 100GoodThings list

Books.

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I don’t watch much TV

 

“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad”

Seneca, On the Tranquility of Mind, 12.5 Source: The Daily Stoic, 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

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