Plunging your hands into fertile soil is such a sensuous experience. The garden is my physical creative space and where I retreat to recharge and to think. There is a meditation created by the rhythm of the seasons. Gardening puts you in touch with the beautiful but harsh reality of the cycle of life. New seedlings are planted with such tender hope and there is joy in the budding of new fruit. There is also loss when pests attack, flocks of birds and other animals raid your fruit and vegetables, rain comes when it is not welcome or there is no rain at all and the scorching sun shrivels your produce.
I live on about a third of an acre of tough clay ground on a steep north facing hill. The whole area was mined for gold from the late 1800’s through to the 1960’s, so the soil was quite depleted when I moved here. Over the twenty years I have lived in Warrandyte I have gradually built up the soil and the garden to be productive enough to provide over 50% of the household food. There are twenty-one fruit and nut trees, and the only flat piece of ground on the block has been dedicated to the vegetable garden. I also have kiwi fruit, passion fruit, raspberries and herbs growing.
This year I lost all my apples from one tree in an afternoon when a flock of Crimson Rosellas swooped in the day before I planned to net the tree. The tree convulsed for about ten minutes emitting a cacophony until they had eaten the lot, leaving only apple cores hanging on stalks. I have had a bumper crop of about twenty kilos of tomatoes though. I have frozen and pickled tomatoes and sought out recipes to eat them in a variety of ways, most recently with the abundance of green beans growing. A very simple but tasty combination is cooked as follows:
- lightly cook the beans in boiling water
- add olive oil to a non-stick fry pan and throw in several thinly sliced cloves of garlic (had a great crop of garlic last year which hangs in the shed till we need it)
- stir in the beans then push them to the outside of the pan and fill the middle with chopped tomatoes till they are cooked (you can also throw in some chopped zucchini if you have some growing)
- stir in some parsley and basil if you have any. Add salt and pepper.
I’ve been serving it with a bit of grilled or lightly fried chicken and some corn on the cob from the garden. Yummo.
What’s happening in your patch?