Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Beetle Shack Gardening Column - January 2013

Hello friends, 

Dave has finally relented and prepared not only one gardening post for us but a series of gardening posts (i'm a bit excited). He's rather long winded so I hope you don't nod off in the process of reading - the rant at the end is a bit excessive but we live with what we get, right?



G’day all – I guess somewhat of an introduction is in order. I’m Dave - for better or worse, the other half of Em, the fine young lass who organises this small corner of the interwebs.
Apparently there is interest out there for a bit of gardening know how, and Em has somehow managed to convince me to write a (semi) regular post on the subject – it took a bit of badgering, but she got there in the end; Em’s good like that – perseveres like a dripping tap.
Now I’ve got to admit from the outset that I am by no means an expert – I’m continually learning new things in the garden, making mistakes, finding out what works and what doesn’t – but what I can do is tell a few stories from my garden and hope they provide some help and inspiration.
The only thing that really drives me in the garden is a desire to grow food to eat – so you won’t see too many fancy flower beds, except where useful in attracting beneficials to the garden (perhaps that will change over time?). That’s not to say there is not an aesthetic aim in our garden – I reckon a well laid out vegie garden is a beautiful thing to behold. Similarly, functional spaces that incorporate places to congregate in the garden with friends I think are important, so maybe I’ll include from time to time bits and pieces that we have included in ours.
There are so many great things about growing your own food organically – it actually makes me quite excited. Perhaps a bit weird but I’m down with that. Amongst the best reasons is the subversive nature of growing my own food and the sheer pleasure of our little garden giving the big finger to industrial agribusiness; that definitely sweetens the smell of home-grown tomatoes, garlic and basil roasting in the oven. Everything that I can put on our plates from our own garden is one less trip that we’ve made to the supermarket, and one less buck that the big players who are destroying the planet will get from me. I could rave on about that for a whole lot longer but I’ll leave it there for the moment (but be warned, I may veer back this way again the future).
So with that, let’s get into it. I do hope that someone out there will find this interesting – if not, I’m sure the friendly ladies over at GOMI will let me know.

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Em thought a book list would be a great way to start, firstly for full disclosure as to where all of this information really comes from, and secondly as the three mentioned below are all great books that I have found incredibly helpful & inspiring... I’ve spent many an hour pouring over these three in particular. Thinking about this further, it really isn’t the best idea to start my column by confessing to all of the books that I draw my info from, but alas, I have learnt to do what I am told!

THE SELF-SUFFICIENT LIFE & HOW TO LIVE IT - the complete back-to-basics guide
by John Seymour; published by DK Publishing
(the edition I have was published in 2009 and is revised and updated from previous versions)

This book really is in a class of it’s own; as the name suggests, it’s nowhere near just a gardening book. The title promises a lot and it absolutely delivers. I’d say it goes pretty close to being the definitive manual for “down-sizers” the western world over. I’m pretty sure that even if you have never given a thought to growing your own food, a few hours with your head buried in this book will be enough to get you packing up to the country to set-up a small holding and live off the land - and this book contains all the wisdom and advice you’ll need to do it; from when you start, through to years down the track, told in a readable tone with wit and humour.
Em bought me this book for a birthday one year and it’s close to the most used present I’ve ever received.

WHOLE LARDER LOVE - grow, gather, hunt, cook
by Rohan Anderson, published by The Penguin Group

This book is a beauty! Rohan lives in Victoria, Australia and I’m sure many of you have heard of him through his recent media coverage for this book, or his blog. All of the photos in the book are taken by Rohan and are a beautiful, raw, stunning glimpse into the way he has chosen to live his life. Full of great recipes and tips for (as the name suggests) growing, gathering, hunting and cooking your own food - not at all pretentious, just earthy and inspiring.

THE LITTLE VEGGIE PATCH CO’S guide to backyard farming
by Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember, published by Pan MacMillan Australia

This one is pretty new - a 2012 Christmas gift from the parents in law in fact! It is a simple little book full of great ideas for the backyard gardener, from novice to old hand, with tips on what to plant when and how, along with seasonal produce to cook and turn into edible/drinkable delights. It’s probably the perfect accompaniment to the city / surburban dweller who wants to grow some food, but is not ready to give up the city for the country just yet.

….

There is plenty of double up between these books (and pretty much any other gardening book you’ll pick up) which along with the infinite fount of knowledge that is the internet, you might wonder why one would bother buying any books at all. Well, I for one reckon there is massive difference between reading something off a screen (yes I’m talking to you kindle, ipad and e-reader lovers!) and the sensual tactile nature of a bound book that you can hold in your hand, refer back to and take out into the garden with you. That can age with you and showcase the experience you’ve gained in getting out amongst it. Along with that comes the inspiration of reading about others stories and ideas from the page - something that I’ve never got from reading off a screen.
But alas, I can hear the crowd figgetting and whispering amongst themselves, so I’ll get off the stage and relieve you all of my Luddite rant, for the time being anyhow. Bonsoir.

32 comments:

  1. Thanks for this series. We now have kids and a garden and I find myself wishing I knew what to do with either! Hopefully this will help with the garden side.

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  2. Yay! Welcome Dave! I have really been looking forward to this series and I know Phil will really dig it too!

    Keep on keepin on. Totally ruling.

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  3. Love it, guys! Creating a veggie patch is high on our to-do list this year, so can't wait to follow this series. Love the little dig at GOMI too - what a miserable lot ;)

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  4. Awesome! Thanks Em for taking up our suggestion for this series.
    Love your voice, Dave. Thanks for doing as you're told and kicking this off for us ladies. :)
    Ronnie xo

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  5. Bonsoir Beetleshackers! I'm a little bit excited about this series too I've just gone and ordered two of the books from the library, have been meaning to get Rohan's for ages (third wasn't available yet). I'm with you on the paper version Dave. I find Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion a good one too. I'm often taking that into the garden with me.

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  7. The little veggie patch co is amazing! I have both there books! I have heard heaps about whole larder love I must get a copy soon! great post looking forward to reading more about your garden!

    Steph

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  8. As someone born with a black thumb but who desires to grow some of our own food I am going to be lapping up this series!
    Nice to 'meet' you Dave :)

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  9. Good convincing Em! Some great resources there, look forward to hearing all your Mr's tips and tricks in the garden

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  10. I too have started my own garden, so far all trail and error. I have gained all my info from watching my Dad and the internet. Yes, I know, not books. As much as I love books, I am more than a little addicted, when we moved it took a whole ute plus more to more all my books. I have made a deal with myself no new books so I can help the environment and save money.
    But I would love your take on the three books you recommend.

    http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/

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  11. Brilliant! Love a gardening series. And as a former city slicker now living in the country I need all the help I can get. I'm working on our garden at the moment. Green fingers crossed! Following now x

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  12. Great post Dave. I love the way you tell your story! Not at all long winded Em. Thanks for sharing! Yeah for the whole Beetleshack family. Kind regards, Barbara

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  13. yay for dave! great post. i reckon one can never have enough gardening books too. looking forward to more in this series.

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  14. Dave. Hi. Why are there ants in my corn, Dave? Why? kind regards, sarah.

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  15. There is no substitute for a book. I subscribed to a magazine I like via the iPad and darn if I don't go out and buy the actual magazine instead. I can't help it.

    Looking forward to more gardening posts, Dave. Whole Larder Love is my new bible. Can't quite see myself living the dream with a limp animal hanging off my rope belt, but all the rest I'm well up for.

    x

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  16. Thanks Dave, been waiting for your garden blog to kick off. Your relaxed style compliments the subject. We are waiting with baited breath for the next installment.

    Thanks Em, for encouraging him to go through with it.

    My husband gave me "Whole Larder Love" as a birthday gift. Have you tried the "Atomic Kasundi"? It's a winner. Thanks for the other suggested reads. Go the garden!

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  17. Great post!!' love to hear from you Dave and how I inspiring!!! We managed to grow a gigantic tomato patch last year which is probably the easiest thong EVER but we are slowly learning and attempting to start a compost this year!!! Thank you sonmixh for all the reads and tips!!!!

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  18. Great post Dave! I am always inspired by the beautiful photos of your garden that Em puts up and all the past Gardening posts. I am really looking forward to hearing your take on things and will be sending this post onto my husband (he's not much of a blog reader but I think this one will interest him ;))
    We have the 'Little Veggie Patch' book and it has been really helpful in starting up our veggie patch.
    Looking forward to the next installment!

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  19. Hello Dave! Great post. I liked what you said about the tactile nature of books vs reading electronically, I feel passionately about that. I worked in a bookshop for years, maybe that's why. I love opening cookery books and finding splashes and crumbs from previous baking sessions.

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  20. Lovely post Dave. Great work Em. Xo

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  21. Look forward to reading these, love to garden and at the moment it's all in pots but looking forward to the day when a proper veggie garden will exist! :)

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  22. Adore WLL.. 100% with you on the books thing. For a start it doesn't switch off mid recipe and I am sorry but pictures printed vs pictures on a screen? No comparison.. I can almost touch and taste it from the book :)
    Great post x

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  23. dreaming of an acre or more but currently living in melbourne city, still manage to grow tomatoes, loads of herbs and salad greens, chillis, bay the essentials, i love it, i even love watering it !! looking forward to hearing more dave, also can you talk about your poultry ? .....

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  24. Thanks Dave. Looking forward to this series, and already pestering the local library to get hold of these books. My motivation for a lovely productive garden is much the same as your's. 2013 is the year to start, and your series has come along to get me started at just the right time!

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  25. Great work Dave! Can I take credit for teaching you to do as you are told? I certainly can't take credit for your awesome gardening ability. Well done - in life and cyber space!

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  26. I've been hanging out for this gardening series. Welcome Dave! I'm hoping there's some info / how to guide / pictures of that pizza oven and those concrete blocks. Our block is crazy steep - and those concrete blocks look exactly like something we could use ... can't wait to see more!

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  28. Gardening books are on my reading list for this year. Thanks for the suggestions! Look forward to your future posts too.

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  29. Hi Dave! Am loving this series already, I know my other half will too. thank you!

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  30. Radness, I loves finding me a fellow garden nut. It's not weird at all, not to me anyway. I'm always getting carried away with our veggie garden. If only I could convert the whole back yard to food growing!

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  31. this is fantastic - thanks Dave! i love the book list and was oh so close to buying the John Seymour book, but now that I know it's a good rescourse I'm going to snap it up! We will be moving on to acreage at the end of the year, and plan to grow our own and divert from the big conglomerates - your advice will prove priceless I think! wonderful pictures too!

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  32. You've bravely entered this somewhat female dominated space!. Brave man! Jest aside I like your motivation for food in the backyard grown at home.

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em