Monday, October 24, 2011

Slugs and snails and puppy dog's tails.

Well, slugs and blackbirds really. And also little boys.

A station wagon worth of market plants. All ready to plant in your edible garden.
Slugs and blackbirds are giving me a run for my money, eating seeds and newly germinated seedlings. At times it feels like an uphill battle. I have my brilliant friend and horticulturalist, Sam, helping me one day a week, but the rest of the time it's pretty much just me against the slugs, birds, escapee chooks and all of the other challenges a gardener faces, together with the usual things I have to fit into a day as the mother of two gorgeous garden fairies.

But a little (big) boy is about to help me win the battle.

I started this thing hoping to grow it slowly, to have a viable business to give me full time work when the littlest garden fairy starts school. But things have been going well. The people of Hobart are giving us great support at the Farm Gate Market, and a couple of amazing chefs have come along for the ride with us, offering support, sharing their amazing knowledge and advice, taking the good with the bad while we get the garden sorted.

So, now we've decided it's time that I gain the help of my partner in crime, the gardening chef.

The gardening chef in action.

For 11 years he's worked at Mures Upper Deck, creating gorgeous dishes with Tassie seafood. As our garden has grown he's started spending long stretches before work wandering the garden seeking out the lushest, most interesting leaves, flowers and veg for his plates. He cultivated, sowed, jealously guarded and nurtured his own patch of salsify, and this patch, I think, gave him his first real taste of fork to fork cooking. He roasted the salsify, blanched and blackened the kale then served them both with a few slices of melting Tallegio cheese. It was good. Bloody good!!

He is neat, organised, disciplined and precise.

I am chaotic and hopefully knowledgeable enough to counter my lack of discipline.

He cooks. Awesomely.

I garden. Rampantly.

He's decided to give up the head chef caper and take up some work in one of our favourite restaurant kitchens where he can be part of weaving magic with the best produce to be found in Tassie, and spend the rest of his time in the mud. With me.

So, between the two of us, some kitchen garden magic will flourish. And, either out for dinner, or at the Farm Gate, we'd love to share the fruits of our labours with you.

Shungiku, or Chop-suey-green flower. We have seeds, plants
and cut greens of this available at market. Tasty!

We'll be at the market this Sunday, the 30th of October, hopefully with the gardening chef and garden fairies in tow, for the Farm Gate's second birthday celebration.

Littlest garden fairy admiring a sundew, Drosera sp. in our 'scrub'.
This is why we want to use the minimum land to produce the maximum food.
To leave room for these important treasures.

The biggest garden fairy gathers and labels our eggs for market.

Calendula officinalis, double form.
Use petals in salads, on cakes or medicinally
in tea or ointment.
We grow it to attract beneficial insects.
And because we like to make posies.

Tiny 'National Two' radishes.


  1. Oh Paulette! that is so super dooper exciting! YAY to you two for having the courage to go for it!

  2. Wonderful news Paulette! Congratulations to you and the chef and good luck with your new expansion!


  3. Thanks for the encouragement!! I am so excited, one more week of the old routine, then a new, self determined path! But the girls are crying over Daddy not being in the old job where they get personally made sundaes bought to their table by their Dad/chef.
    The new place does serve the very BEST desserts I've ever eaten, so they'll be happy again soon....

  4. Oh, the kids always cry initially with big changes.

    And what an exciting one this is! You guys are just amazing and I'm so inspired. I am plotting my next visit to Hobart. Trying to tie it in with a Farm Gate...

  5. Thanks Sally, and I'm sure she'll stop crying when she has her first serve of ricotta dumplings with salted caramel sauce. And they have been known to give little girls samples of such delights as sorrel granita, made from our French sorrel, into a lemony, green dessert component.

    It will be great to see you sometime!

  6. This is excellent news. Congratulations and good luck with the new venture! Must be nice having another pair of hands to help :) Can't wait for my first Farm Gate visit when I get back. It would be different for sure!!

  7. I can feel the excitement and see the smile in your words, Paulette..... oh for such an opportunity to grow food with someone as connected as oneself. My chef/entrepreneur son who I am staying with in Adelaide is like that and we dream of some kind of partnership in the future... but neither of us wants to move!

  8. ps I have tried twice and not been able to get salsify seeds to germinate... any hints?

  9. Another pair of hands is a wonderful gift Pauline, except that he doesn't stop for lunch. A little retraining required I think.... Your travels look amazing!

    It is exciting Kate, it's a pity about the physical distance between you and your son, who knows where the wind will take you both! I think the key to salsify, and most daisy family members is fresh seed. And I've found black salsify (scorzonera) harder to germinate. It's not too late to try again!