Why this web site seems to be about cooking
When I retired I began to take an interest in gardening. We had plenty of land and a reasonably well established, but rather boring ornamental garden that we had inherited from the previous owners. Not that it was neglected when we bought the house, it just became that way through our neglect, our work life was busy and intense, particularly the few years before we retired as we actively manoeuvred the direction of our company to ensure maximum interest from potential purchasers.
So we come to gardening and travelling. After a few years of ornamental gardening, it was time to grow a few vegetables.
Nothing in my life is ever done in any way other than properly so when I decided to try a vegetable garden, with the full support of my other half, “the arches” a netted structure with raised beds was created, soil was brought in and compost, mulch and manure was added.
It appeared to us, at that time, to be a huge structure, that we believed would produce more food than we could need. The netting was necessary because in our area, a semi-rural part of north-western Sydney, “if you don’t net you don’t get”. We have bats, possums, parrots, rats, rabbits visiting and our own ducks, chooks, geese and donkey who are all more than happy to do a little trimming and pruning.
Once the structure was completed we began to learn about gardening, and how much work is actually involved in producing the food that you want to eat.
Once the garden was actively producing vegetables I was left with the problem of what to do with them? I have learnt that when you grow your own vegetables and walk around the garden gathering potential dinner, the question is not what do I feel like eating, it’s what can I do with what I’ve got? So with that in mind I decided to create this blog.
Growing vegetables is all about eating. What is the point of growing plants without eating them. My vegetables don’t come in neat packs of controlled quantities from a supermarket – they come in bulk, when they are in season they grow.
I have also learnt what grows easily and how to eat, cook and preserve a whole raft of vegetables or varieties that I have never tried – beetroot in all of its colours and flavours, fennel, turnips, radishes, all sorts of chillies, kale, globe artichokes – every season I add more to the mix. I have extended the garden to include a potato bed and for next season a bed just for melons will be in place, made using layers of newspaper, straw, manures, soil, compost and mulch and left to season until the time is right to plant. The herbs have had to come out of the main garden area and are now in a special place of their own near the back door.
To keep the garden thriving everything is attached to an automatic watering system that comes from our collected rain water or dam water and is fed from our own compost.
I have become quite good at compost – a couple of times a year we make a full cubic metre of hot compost in one go – weeds, manure (donkey, poultry straw, plus whatever I buy on the side of the road – usually involves a trip in the ute to poultry farms around Mangrove Mountain, just North of Sydney), wood chip (fallen timber and prunings that have been through the mulcher, shredded paper and autumn leaves. It gets turned using a machine once a week, is watered frequently and is beautiful soil in about 6 weeks.
For many years I have had a cook book where I wrote out or cut and pasted recipes that I had tried and like. Some were given to me by friends or were collected from relatives – hence some are named after the donor.