Gardening, Food, Art, Music – What Else Do I Need?

After spending a very productive day in the garden yesterday, I went shopping this afternoon.

The short version of the story is I probably shouldn’t be allowed out alone. I came home with a Tahitian Lime (Citrus x latifolia). As most of you are likely aware, Hobart is the southernmost capital city in Australia, and we can get quite fierce winters, with frost and occasional snow. Trying to grow any kind of lime is tempting fate here, but I recently heard about a tree in a nearby area that yielded 9 kilos (just under 20lb) of fruit.

While I was in the garden yesterday, I had a look around and thought about where the warmest place in my patch would be. So today I bought a very healthy little tree that’s been grafted on dwarfing lemon rootstock. And I think that’s the trick with selecting trees for your climate – look carefully at your site, determine what it can and can’t accommodate and choose trees that are grafted onto rootstocks that suit. The plan with this lime is to overwinter it in the greenhouse and plant it out in spring into a tub against a concrete wall that gets a lot of sun. Fingers crossed! I’ll keep you updated.

And around the corner from the garden centre is one of my all time favourite food shops – Ziggy’s Supreme Smallgoods. These folks make and sell their own smallgoods as well as local and imported cheeses, pickles and (mostly Polish) biscuits and canned goods. I restrained myself to Cabanossi and Ukrainian sausage, Chicken Kiev, Chorizo (both for later in the week), fresh sliced Ziggy’s bacon and a couple of cheeses – because cheese! So tonight’s dinner was a veritable feast of the two sausages and one of the cheeses, served with thin sliced, toasted home made sourdough and slices of fresh apple. It was bliss!


Hobart is the place to be at the moment. Dark Mofo, one of my favourite festivals is in full swing this week but it’s not the only thing happening.

Tomorrow night is the grand opening of The Gentle Void, a new art and performance space in Campbell Street. The idea behind this new gallery is to give room to alternative voices and provide a welcoming space for audiences. I’m really looking forward to seeing the opening group show, featuring artists from around Australia.


And finally, Thursday night I’m taking a night off from the Uni books and playing the UNLOCKED gig at The Waratah Hotel. It should be a heap of fun and there’s some lovely performers on the bill, including the very talented Cassie O’Keefe. I’m really looking forward to it 😀


As to the title of this post – what else do I need? A book, always a book – and that’s where I’m off to now.

Wherever you are on this beautiful planet, go gently, be safe and be happy ❤


Winter Bits – Potatoes, Strawberries and Raspberries

Hi everyone,

It’s been a busy week in the garden despite (or because of) all the rain we’ve had down here in Tasmania. Last year because I was late getting my last crop in, I determined that despite the frosts we get in this garden, it could be possible to grow potatoes year round with careful preparation and the right site. So today I’m putting it to the test!

A few weeks ago, a dear friend gave me a Pink Fir Apple potato. She’d been given a handful of tubers by another gardener, who claimed this is the absolute, all time best waxy potato for boiling, steaming or salads. The long, knobbly, pinkish tuber is an heirloom variety that can be traced back to 1850’s France. It’s been sitting on the coffee table in my loungeroom for month or more, starting to get a few small buds from the multiple eyes.


The Pink Fir Apple is a late season maincrop variety so I’m really stretching the boundaries planting it now but while I’ve been off work sick, I’ve been doing some research. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about wicking barrels in preparation for the dwarf fruit trees, which should be arriving next month.

Along the way, I discovered Dan and his Yorkshire Dales Allotment Diary and something I’d never thought about before – growing potatoes in plastic pots! I remember growing them in drums when I was a child with my father and a couple of times in grow bags over the years but I’d never considered putting one or two in a pot and gradually earthing up as the shoots appear. Now the greenhouse is gradually emptying – it is no longer the House of Basil 😦 – I’ve got room to put a few tubs in to overwinter.

Frost is the big issue for potato crops and every autumn I get “volunteer” spuds coming up in random spots. The first good frost of winter and they’re done. And there’s no denying it, potatoes take up a lot of garden bed space! But in the greenhouse they are protected from the 8-10 hard frosts we get here each winter and by the time spring comes I can move them outside to finish off.

So, I used spent potting mix from the basil crops, mixed it with a few handfuls of old mushroom and put some in a IMG_20160610_111227clean 30 liter pot. I cut the Pink Fir Apple into four pieces, each with an at least one active eye and covered with a layer of the potting mix. Importantly, I remembered to label the pot!

IMG_20160610_120641Then, I did a few more pots with the early Pink Eye, possibly Tasmania’s favourite potato. I’ll keep you up to date with the progress, but my aim is to grow potatoes year round, or as close as I can get to it. Potatoes take 100-140 days in summer depending on the crop, so I anticipate I’ll be testing the first of the pots in mid-late September.

While I was mucking about in the greenhouse today, I checked up on another of my gardening experiments. About a month ago, I took my three first year Tioga strawberry plants and trained their runners into prepared pots. Strawberries need to have their crowns above the soil, so I cut pieces of soft, flexible wire to pin them to the top of the soil. I’ll be reusing these in spring to layer herbs such as thyme, oregano and marjoram.

The results were impressive. I now have six more Tioga plants and about another eight or so that are just starting to put down roots.


I grow my strawberries in pots because of slug problems and generally only keep plants for a few years as they produce less and less the older they get. Again, the key is making sure the pots always have a dated tag, it’s too confusing otherwise!

IMG_20160609_111344And yesterday, I discovered not only a ripe and utterly delicious strawberry but IMG_20160609_112056(for me) a first in my garden – ripe raspberries in June! While they were delectable, the flavour wasn’t as good as the summer berries. And no wonder really, these are (supposedly) a summer only variety! Along with the raspberries, there was a load more chilies – mostly Habaneros but there’s still Cayenne, the wrongly labelled Inferno and the last Jalepenos of the season. I’ve started cutting back a lot of the chilies now and retiring the weaker plants to make room for new plants in the spring.

Weirdly, the Poblano Ancho, Hot Portugal, Razzmatazz, Serrano and Rocoto are still ripening, which I suppose also underlines how mild overall the weather has been. While it’s been wonderful to have such a long extended growing season, it worries me too.

Many of the crops I grow – the brassicas, winter salad greens and especially the fruit trees – really need the cold weather. The apples, apricot, nectarine and even the espaliered peach need a certain number of chill hours in order to stimulate flower production at the end of winter.

Well, I won’t have long to wait for some cold weather – tomorrow’s forecast is for a possible thunderstorm, hail and snow on higher peaks. Maybe winter is here at last?


Winter harvest!



I caught a break in the mad weather we’re having to take a few pics of the garden and a short film of the Ladies Who Lay, who were looking quite bedraggled this morning. Being down in Hobart, I think we haven’t had as bad a time of it as friends up north or on the east coast. Nevertheless, the tropical low that’s torn down the eastern seaboard of Australia has left it’s mark here too. The rain gauge was overflowing and my water tanks are (thankfully) filling again, but normally free draining areas are starting to pool, particularly in the chicken’s run. I’m also worried about the rhubarb bed as the crown’s are overdue to be lifted and divided. But as the changing weather patterns keep telling me, it will be what it will be and we’ll cope with it 🙂

Italian Purple Savoy Cabbages with baby weeds!

Italian Purple Savoy Cabbages

Further to my post last night, some of these photos will give you an idea of how much things have grown in the last month. Especially the weeds! It’s hard to imagine I had most of the beds clear three weeks ago, but with the mulch it’s fairly easy to remove them and the chickens love the tender new shoots.


Some of the Kale in the foreground, looking to Silverbeet, the remaining Leeks, mini Broccoli and Garlic in the next bed. And thriving weeds!

Also, I checked the new asparagus bed, which I top-dressed with seaweed and aged chicken poo from Cluckingham Palace. I’m thrilled but also slightly disturbed by some of the shoots the bed is still throwing up.


The crazy asparagus bed

Given I’m in Hobart, asparagus should be well and truly dormant by now but these barely six month old crowns are still throwing up new fronds – and some ridiculously big ones too! Since planting them out in March this year when it was still very dry (and abnormally warm), the plants have thrived. To get an idea of how much growth they’ve put on have a look at them here.

The rabbits being mostly sheltered from the north easterlies are doing fine and I suspect wondering what I’m fussing about – they are getting more than their usual ration of greens at the moment because of all the sudden growth. I should point out too that after consecutive days of frost last week, yesterday and today have been very mild. I was out in my wet weather gear and sweltering!

I’ll leave you with my lovely little hens, who are still laying enough eggs for my needs despite a statewide shortage of free range eggs ❤

My heart goes out to all the folks who are inundated across not only Tasmania but the entire east coast of Australia, as well as France, Germany and parts of the US. Wherever you are on this beautiful planet, take care ❤


Hi everyone,

Winter has arrived with a vengeance – hard frosts last week and now milder temperatures but heavy rain and flooding with a big east coast low running down from the sub tropics. And the beginning of winter is also the renewal date for my WordPress account. What better way to celebrate than write a blog post about renewal ❤

I’m still recovering from the horror virus that’s doing the rounds and having to take it quite a lot easier than I anticipated the past couple of weeks. But I’ve been busy finishing off one Griffith University unit (Television Studies) and starting another (New Media: Communications in the Electronic Age), though my brain really isn’t up to being terribly academic at the moment. While it’s seriously throwing out my schedule, being ill has reminded me that sometimes it’s more important to sit back and watch things grow for a wee while.

Whenever there’s been a respite from the cold and more recently the rain, I’ve made a point of going down to spend time with the bunnies and chickens and simply revel in the garden and its amazing renewal with the recent rain – and just watch things grow for a little while 😀

Some of my favourite plants are the small, often forgotten little herbs. Most people who cook grow them, but often we take them for granted but at the right time of year, in the right light they are incredibly beautiful to look at.


This is the tiny and delicate Orange Peel Thyme (Thymus richardii ssp. nitidus) which comes originally from Sicily. It has a gorgeous thyme fragrance, mixed with orange zest and grows like a mat, making it ideal for containers or rockery edges. I really like it with chicken dishes but it also works well with apple jelly.


Above is the delectable Lebanese Oregano, also known as Greek Oregano or Zaatar Leaf (Origanum syriacum), undoubtedly one of my favourite culinary herbs. The soft blush on the leaves is typical of this upright herb, that grows into an open shrub that can get quite straggly if it isn’t cut back each year after flowering. The taste is quite intense and different to either Marjoram or Oregano and it is a wonderful herb for barbecue meats, roasts and chopped finely over baked vegetables.

And after a few days without looking at the vegetables and quite a lot of rain – look what I found! This was the first head from the late summer/autumn plantings and it was delicious, lightly steamed 😀


Of course, as I’m sure all you fellow gardeners will understand spending time even just walking around your patch makes you think of all the work that needs to be done. Gardening is a never ending job, always a work in progress!

All the rain has meant the weeds are coming back in force and it’s going to take some dedicated time over the coming weeks to stay on top of it. Spent raspberry canes need cutting and in some cases, dividing and transplanting into a new raspberry bed. The rhubarb is ready to be divided too and the plum and nectarine trees need some final pruning to tidy them up now they’ve finally dropped all their leaves.

Also, I’ve got new fruit trees arriving soon and there’s a lot of preparation to do for them. I’m quite excited though as most of the new trees are on dwarfing rootstock and all will be going into half plastic drums that I’m going to set up as wicking containers similar to the balcony boxes I did back in January. I’ll be doing a blog post about it and photographing the process. (The balcony boxes are doing well by the way, with onions, chicory and coriander still going strong and three about to be replanted with winter greens – rocket, spinach and vitamin green).

Watching the frost pattern last week also made me consider planting some out of season potatoes in pots in the greenhouse as an experiment. Another project for another blog post when I’m recovered 😀

Meanwhile, the baby bunnies are growing very fast and will be ready to be sold next weekend as pets or grown on for butchering in another month or so. While some people have issues with this, I like to take responsibility for at least some of the meat I consume. And I do the slaughtering and butchering myself so I know they are humanely dispatched. This will be the last litter for a while as I don’t like to put either of my doe rabbits through the stress of winter birthing and rearing. I find it’s better all round to wait until spring.

I’ll leave you with the first Marigold in full bloom – the only one that grew from an old packet of seed.


Take care wherever you are and whenever you can, take time to watch things grow  ❤