Monday, November 9, 2009

Preparation and weeding

And so it went on. Weeding and preparing. Preparing and weeding.
For inspiration Ms Mova, Ms Tagalong and potential manure carter went to a
permaculture seminar on August 20th. Geoff and Nadia Lawton from the Permaculture Research Institute inspired all with their talk and slides of permaculture gardens around the world. Visions of Davidson plums and macadamia trees for a top layer, shading coffee bushes and olives and a lower layer of portulaca flashed like the cliched dollar signs in cartoon characters' eyes. We waxed philosophical about the ways to incorporate ideas of sustainable living into the community. To see more

Ms Mova was itching with ideas, fairly bursting with designs for developing water catchment by the use of swales. 'You just follow the contours of the land and build retaining walls to catch any rainfall.' Ms Tagalong tried to point out that we had no contours, there were no hills or slopes, just a flat concrete patch. To no avail. 'Prayer mounds, meditation spots, I can see it all, a tranquil haven.'

Meanwhile the mounds of weeds grew.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fast forward.....

Ms Tagalong has just been unable to contain herself and bring you up to date gradually. Fast forward to the here and now. This weekend's occurrence has been so exciting that I just have to share it with you. Ms Mova and I planned this and talked about it but never really believed it would come to fruition. Miss Havisham and Estella have arrived!

In true Miss Havisham fashion she shamed Estella into being the first layer and an egg was promptly laid about an hour after arriving. But not to be outdone Miss Havisham dusted off her cobwebs and laid one the next day and the next together with another from Estella. Our resident animal expert cat chaser was feeding the chickens cockroaches, only about 50 of them, from the feed sack today so the next eggs should survive nuclear explosions. Spinach was picked, oodles of it, so I think a recipe for eggs Florentine might be in order!

A classic treat, eggs Florentine make a perfect Sunday breakfast or brunch.

Ingredients (serves 4)
8 thin bacon rashers
20g butter
2 bunches English spinach, trimmed, washed, dried
Dash of white vinegar
4 fresh eggs, at room temperature
4 slices ciabatta, sourdough or English muffins, toasted
Hollandaise sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
6 black peppercorns
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp lemon juice
To make the hollandaise sauce, combine the vinegar, peppercorns and shallot in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until mixture reduces to 2 tsp. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve.
Place the vinegar reduction and egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan that is half-filled with simmering water. Use a balloon whisk to whisk, while very gradually adding the melted butter in a thin, steady stream. Whisk until thick and creamy. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover with foil and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the bacon rashers and cook for 2 minutes each side or until crisp. Transfer to a plate. Melt the butter in the pan until foaming. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until spinach wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add vinegar to a deep frying pan filled with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and bring to a gentle simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup. Use a large spoon to stir the water to create a whirlpool. Gently slide the egg into the water and poach for 1-2 minutes for a soft egg, or until cooked to your liking. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Cover loosely with aluminium foil to keep warm and repeat with the remaining eggs.
Place the toast on the serving plates. Spoon the spinach and bacon over the toast slices. Top with the poached eggs and drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Notes & tips
Tip: Adding vinegar to the cooking water when you are poaching eggs will immediately set the eggwhite as it cooks, giving the final poached egg a better shape.
Check out's latest collections including Thai recipes, pizza recipes as well as cookies & biscuit recipes. And it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas puddings and Christmas gift ideas either!
Notebook: - July 2007, Page 119
Recipe by Sarah Hobbs

Enjoy the garden produce! I hope Ms Tagalong hasn't spoiled the story for you? I will resume, I promise.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ms Mova and Ms Tagalong

I knew some kind soul would come up with a name for 'the friend'. Ms Tagalong and Ms Mova decided another flyer would be sent out to the unsuspecting public in Tighes Hill asking for time donations, trusty wheelbarrows, sharp spades and blades to tackle the ever increasing bitou bush and burgeoning castor oil plants.

So the blitz day arrived and so did some of the neighbours. A steady stream in fact. We sweated and puffed and panted as we tore out the pesky weeds, mattocked out the stumps, laid carpet and newspaper as mulch and spread around the little top soil we had. At the end of the day we could definitely see improvement. Weeds and grass were pulled away from the long-suffering callistemon along the front of the property.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The next bit

Comments have been made about lack of photos. Ms Mova's friend,(she will take suggestions for a good name!) is sadly having problems with uploading appropriate photographs or any photographs for that matter. She will try to upload this post and then try to edit by adding photos. It is just so important that you see how much difference we have made!

If not, we will have to wait until Windows Explorer has decided that a photo uploader is not malicious.

So, where were we? Ah, yes, waiting with bated breath for responses from the flyer. Ms Mova kept saying that people were calling her or dropping by. Secretly, her friend thought she might be making these up, a bit like invisible friends, but then she started producing email addresses.

Sometime amongst all this excitement, Ms Mova contacted a local representative from Transition Towns. to talk about how we should go about forming a garden group, well really a guerilla garden group, as the provenance of the land was rather questionable.

Ms Mova's brother made the best scones ever for the meeting but this didn't seem to answer our questions. Obviously another flyer was needed. A call to arms or a call to scythes, machetes etc. to try to tame the bitou. If we wore dark glasses no-one would recognise us, absolving us of the need to announce our intentions.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Behind the gate.

Ms Mova's friend was shaken, but not stirred and the 'garden' sat there neglected for a few more months.

One day the terrible looming spectre of the imminent planting of box brush trees in the local park fired up Ms Mova to discuss the possibility with her friend of taking around a letter box drop, no pun intended, to discourage the planting of the aforementioned lophostemon confertus

This particular species seems to be a favourite of local councils as they can hack it nearly to death to sculputurally shape it around power lines and it still stays alive. Unfortunately it doesn't do much in the way of satisfying permaculture needs. No comfortable shade, no fruit, no nothing really, just sheer tenacity in the face of adversity.

Ms Mova's friend, affected by Ms Mova's passion said she would design a flyer about the trees and whilst she was about it should she invite expressions of interest in a community garden? Ms Mova was definitely agreeable and the first flyer was taken around the immediate neighbourhood. It would be a lie to say that judgements were not made about the possible level of interest demonstrated by the care or lack thereof of the property. Ms Mova's friend (she must have a name?)was secretly happy that no-one was judging her level of interest as the front of her property resembles Steptoe's junk yard on a good day. She is blessed with a partner who takes the idea of recycling very seriously and nothing goes to waste. Everything will be useful one day. If only she could think of a use for the e-waste which seems to be reproducing, finding itself in such a favourable environment.

So how much interest was generated and what happened next? Tune in for the next exciting episode.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How far have we come?

The lightbulb went off over a year ago. Two friends were discussing the streetscape, the sun, the shade, the rain and the lack of space for vegetables and fruit growing. One friend, the mover and the shaker, used to stirring up people in government offices mentioned to the other about the wasted space adjacent to her house.

To give them their due the industrial owners had attempted to landscape, planting callistemons and casuarinas along the front of the space and enclosing all behind a lockable fence. Behind this fringe of greenery lurked a bitou bush heaven, a haven for discarded supermarket trolleys (later to become a multi-purpose carrier and mover) and a refuge to truanting children whose very occupation is to throw rocks on the roof! How boring life must be.

The mover and shaker rattled the chain around the fence gate, flourished a key and in we went to inspect. This is what we found.

How to set up a garden in 20 easy steps!

20 steps? Well every good garden needs steps and we may need more than 20 to get this up and running. Did I say easy? Nothing is easy as Grem is wont to say.