Sunday, July 25, 2010

Garden spectaculars

Going into the garden early in the morning is always one of the extra special pleasures of the day. Clutching a warming cup of tea you walk up to the chicken run. The ladies await, clucking gently to you, pushing themselves up against the coop wire, jostling for early lead position out of the coop. The day is quiet, no buses or boy racers grace the urban streets. Out they come in a fluster, looking for scraps you must have brought in or race, splay-legged to the compost piles to scratch under the protective netting for some goodies which they are not supposed to have. They have them!

Admire the vegetables. The broccoli is magnificent. Untouched, unblemished the drum-like flowers raise above the pale greenery. Sparkling with dew in the early morning sun they look far too good for broccoli soup! Eat your heart out George Bush, you don't know what you are missing. But then there are probably a lot of things you don't know that you are missing, like millions of brain cells. But no, do not let politics intrude on this lovely morning as I circumnavigate the beds. Pumpkins ripening on the wall. Rocket, lush and spicy, ready to pep up that salad; ruby radishes peeping invitingly from the dark dirt; Tiny Tom tomatoes unseasonably ripening on the vine; purple mustard lettuce (possibly!)again tangy in salads; coriander, rosemary, perennial basil, chocolate mint, mint and tarragon aplenty.

One herb is rather special. Can it be called a herb? Certainly an immensely powerful medicinal herb which has been used for centuries. I could wax lyrical for pages but will let you click on the link if you wish to find out more about the wonderful comfreyand its ability to do most things! Our plants are ready to sprout up in spring and provide us with several cuts for composting and feed.And so the splendour continues. How wonderful to contribute to slow food and eliminate those food miles racked up by the vegetables in the supermarket. It is a joy in the evening as the sun fades to pick my herbs for cooking and to collect saladstuff to give to my daughter who being Ms Glamourpuss certainly doesn't eat enough 'greens.' I did tell her about a community garden starting in Redfern, she reports nothing has happened as yet and commented that is where the drunks and reprobates hang out! It takes all sorts!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The new ladies!

I have been sending such good waves of love and affection to the new chickens. I have been trying to make them understand that they are in a lovely, friendly new run with plenty of loving care and fresh food every day. The six little ladies were left outside the garden in a very small pen and obviously felt a little unsure of developing relationships with our four who in no uncertain terms were establishing the new pecking order.

Well, actually I have been harbouring murderous thoughts as not one seems to have laid an egg yet! Thoughts of cooking pots, chicken soup or coq au vin float around with the universe of love. I fear the gift may well be six chickens who have lived out their useful egg-laying lives and were in need of a sanctuary.

Personalities are slow to rise. Our poor black sheep, the white hen, seems to lose an inordinate amount of feathers around the run and in the pen. Anyone out there need a new doona? Ms Mova and I went in last night to check the little darlings were locked up. The second pen's door had fallen shut during the windy day and through the gloaming I was sure I counted ten hens in the big pen. They were sat on perches, scrunched up on top of the laying boxes and answered me sleepily when I talked to them. Actually two were absent. Ms Chicken Expert was concerned that when she went in this morning to let them out, two were happily getting an early start on any delivered scraps and careless insects. Ms Mova and I mulled this over and wondered why they hadn't come racing up to us the night before. We think they must have cuddled up together in the tiny pen the six new ones arrived in. They have taken to laying in there, a clear sign that they are the chief chicks.

Think omelettes, Ms Tagalong, not chicken soup!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday!

It was a slow start to the day. Ms Mova was contemplating the 60 sausages that might still have been sitting there morosely at the end of the day when people starting drifting in. A slow dance of tottering feet and heavy lifting saw the water tanks raised into place one by one. Ms Tagalong guided and steered but it did interfere with her photo taking. Tanks in place they were secured by a very agile gardener, one minute scrambling like a monkey over the top, the next slithering underneath snakelike. It seemed like a good time for a tea break.

After a slow start the orchestra warmed up and the principal violinist Mr Ideasman was leading the young muscle recruited for the day. Rhymthic sawing and hammering replaced the umming and ahing and scratching of the head as the pergola slowly took shape. Who knows what it looked like before? Surely not as good as it does now! Shade and protection from the rain with the wonderful bonus of adding to the water collection.

Our last working bee saw a lot of our older members rushing in to help. For this one we thought that perhaps child labour might net us some different results. We set them to work seed collecting, digging, stirring witches brew, sawing and tying. What a wonderful untapped work force! Someone should talk to Nike! Little Miss Pretty was happy to have friends and I think this somewhat curtailed her ability to work but she was very gracious and granted me an interview on her participation in the garden. Top of the list for her are the toys and the play opportunities but she loves the plants! One thing which brought a tear to Ms Tagalong's eye was the participation by all family members, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Spread the word I say.

Ms Mova and I were talking about future plans for the garden as we hit this wonderful first year milestone. Previous ideas of swales may have gone out of the window or over the fence but we have many replacements such as a cob oven, gardening speakers, cookery demonstrations and workshops. Any more ideas anyone?

Those of you who follow my every word may be wondering when is she going to mention the chickens? Well hold on, I think they deserve a full entry all to themselves. So dear readers, I am sorry if I lured you here on false pretences when all you wanted to hear about was stories of the 'ladies' and their latest doings. Keep posted!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bush Tucker

As the debate rages over what to plant in the 'nature' strip outside the garden I offer these wonderful colours of fruit, bush tucker from the coast.

Purple lily pillies, damson-blue native ginger fruit, plum pine fruit and lime-green geebungs.

Whilst walking we foraged for more bush tucker and came across these Botany Bay greens much resembling spinach and tasting very similar. Cooked up for dinner we had a veritable feast, well some greens to go with the pumpkin risotto anyway!

Having been away I have not been in the garden this week, I have been enjoying the large, huge community garden of the mid-North coast, appreciating their plants and wildlife but word has reached me that Madam Fifi and friends are going to be joined by 6 new friends!

There's no stopping Ms Mova when she has no Ms Tagalong! Stay tuned for photos and the latest on how they are settling in next week.