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.
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.