22 February 2015

Country Garden Glut and Being Distracted

The email from my aunt arrived with a hint of desperation to it: "Please come up this weekend, even if it's hot and all you do is pick some of the tomatoes, capsicums, squash, eggplants..."

The last couple of weekends I've been distracted from the Country Garden by a country show, sailing in Tasmania (I think the photos below explain and justify my distraction there...) and enough produce in the City Garden to keep us going (beans, silverbeet, tomatoes and basil) but clearly it was time to get back to my duties in the Country Garden and save my aunt from drowning in vegies!  I stopped picking when I filled two eskies and the temperature reached 36 degrees.

The Country Garden is so lush and productive at the moment.  Over the years we've streamlined down to the vegies we know do well, and they are living up to our expectations.  But one exception to that rule that we've made this year is paying off handsomely.  We planted a few apple cucumbers and they have to be one of the most productive vegetables we've ever grown.  They taste just like normal green cucumbers but are round and yellow (in the front left of the photo above) and the plants are producing stacks of fruit.  They will definitely need to go on the list again for next year.

And here's why I wasn't gardening last week...
Dawn at anchor in a bay off Bruny Island, watching the moon go down
 Entering the Derwent River from D'Entrecasteaux Channel, 
 sailing toward Hobart
Sunrise from my floating "apartment" in the middle of Hobart

Show Time!

Last year I was inspired by Louise at Garden Glut who entered her local Ag shows in a number of categories.  I intended to enter the show near the Country Garden, but alas, when it came time I realised that the show was mainly about horses and there weren't many of the traditional categories being run.  

This year, however, was going to be different.  My friend E has gone from a tiny vegie box garden to a much larger garden and house in the country, which she is rapidly planting out with an abundant fruit forest.  In the meantime, until the garden starts producing, she has developed a strong love of foraging fruit from the side of country roads.  We've done some drives to explore around her new neighbourhood, and on the occasions when we've been in different cars, I've inevitably lost her, and when I've retraced my footsteps to see where she's got to, I can guarantee that E has stopped off at a fruit tree that I didn't even notice and is happily filling up bags full of fruit!

And so it was when I arrived at her house a month back, there were bucketfuls of cherry plums harvested from beside the road.  Luckily I'd come prepared with a big pot, wooden spoon and sugar, and with E's pressure cooker pot as well we got to work and made stacks of delicious jams, both light (yellow centres) and dark (red centres).  Then last weekend it was time for her local Ag show, and we were determined to enter.  We studied the rules and guides, to make sure that we wouldn't be disqualified for having the wrong lid or label, filled out all the forms and posted off the cheque (!) for $3.50 in entry fees.  In total we entered one each of the light and dark jams, another plum jam that E made, a Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam of mine and some of E's beautiful pickled lemons.  Then her daughter decided to enter their two chickens in the "Junior Handler" category, and the logistics got really interesting!

Finally the day of the show arrived to the biggest downpour in months.  But that didn't dampen our enthusiasm, and neither should it have: Second Prize for both of the jams that we made together and a Second and Third prize for the chickens!!  We're already planning for next year...  ;)