Winter is coming

Says every other billboard, web ad, or Facebook post. And while I can’t for the life of me begin to get into a fantasy TV series, regardless of the clever wisecracks, raunch or gore involved, I am happy it is finally getting cold.

May sees us stoking the fires.

Tully lighting up the fireplace with some garden harvest of banana chillies and tomatoes on the kitchen table behind him

Saying a final goodbye to matos and chillis (sheesh they put their backs into it this season).

The final few tomatoes growing in our garden this season

Last stragglers

Lots of chillies on our bush, purple stained from the cold

Just a tiny sub-set of the amazing boon we had this chilli season – these guys a tad purple stained from the cold

Getting ready to prune old scraggly wine grape vine – overdue by a good few months.

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And although the chill is settling, frost still seems a long way off.

Cold days taking their sweet time to come on for the second year since I’ve been paying proper attention to the cycles of vegie growing is quite concerning. Last year’s April ripening melons and never ending jalapenos were wonderful boons for our kitchen. This year’s eggplants that are still a cranking are more than welcome for us. But as a canary for the state of our climate, they ring a personally, immediately real and tangible concern – an echo of the scientific harks that call out “Emergency!” so far and wide. A piece of self-held evidence to shake at the chorus of nay-sayers. Although perhaps not the most compelling one for those who love tomatoes and chillies and aren’t yet able to think much further about the less savoury consequences of a warming world.

New beds are beginning.

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Beautiful glossy autumn silverbeets, crunchy red cabbages and fat fanning tatsoi are back for another year’s run.

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Bees are on the way – which is a really exciting new prospect for us in expanding our domain more into the permaculture zone 2 of the things that give us a yield. Also, exciting because bees!

Once hanging precariously from a Marrickville Casuarina tree, now re-homed in a lovely big Kenyan hive, these fellers above will soon be Murrindindi dwellers. The inimitable Gavin Smith, industrial designer and Sydney permie demonstrator legend and an elite crew of grassroots bee pros managed to retrieve them and relocate them. They are now recovering from an infestation of wax moth maggots which have been cleaned off and sterilised, being set up with a sugar water feeder and hey presto we will have some bee mates.

A wild hive of honeybees in a tree

Our guys in their previous habitat – wowzers

As well as our general farmie enthusiasm we have a pretty sizeable welcome wagon of borage to greet them with – providing loads of pollen and nectar for months, even well into winter.

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What else? We are having a tad more luck with carrots – harvesting this knobbly and weird but pretty huge number and more. We’ll be planting a lot more soon – one thing we always buy a lot more of than we would prefer.

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We’ve learned that the lucerne seeds we sowed in spring last year were not in vain – we have loads of them coming up in our front paddock – which should make for richer, healthier soils and better meat on cows.

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We’re planning a gentle expansion into a little cash crop – growing an experimental trial of horseradish we may consider expanding into our front paddock. Tully and I (Alicia) are pretty excited and MacBoyd brand spicy treats will hopefully be coming to a fancy restaurant or snazzy provedore near you soon. I am especially stoked to have the opportunity to grow one of my much loved grandfather’s favourite plants straight from the offspring of his own horseradish crop – which we inherited via my wonderful uncle Paul and aunty Danuta.

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These 50+ babes (which will soon become hundreds) are the direct descendants of the plants he tended, harvested, blended (much to the sinus aching wailings of my Nan, way way out in the backyard away from her) and crafted into the properly hot and delicious relishes of his Polish homeland. What an opportunity for us to press repeat on this time held tradition.

Otherwise, our fire circle is getting prepped for colder gatherings. They are coming, so say tuned for some good times farm fans!

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