Sunday, April 27, 2008

Celebrating the Brussels Sprout!

Two weeks of school holidays. Two weeks of rain. I do wish they hadn't coincided so precisely! It will be at least a week before the ground dries out -- and I have bought some sweet pea seedlings, 'Social Climber', to underplant with Pansy 'Turkish Delight'. And Brussels sprouts. The Geek and I love Brussels sprouts, but raising them from seed in Sydney is difficult: they have to be nursed through our hottest summer weather before they can be planted, and our cool season is probably not quite long enough to get a crop. These seedlings I have are beauties, and someone else has done the hard work for me.

Overcook any member of the cabbage tribe and their health-giving but odoriferous suphur compounds will make themselves known, and that's why many people dislike Brussels sprouts -- they require careful cooking. A friend of ours was once a tutor at New College, UNSW, where there was a strict rule against food-fights in the dining room. He opined that Brussels sprouts, as prepared by the College caterers, were not food. We shall cast a discreet veil over the scene that ensued.

To cook Brussels sprouts so as to produce a food:
Buy the smallest ones you can, but preferably 3cm in diameter or less. Peel off any loose leaves and feed them to your guinea pigs. Microwave them (the sprouts, not the piggies) for about four minutes. They should be just-cooked, not crunchy, but certainly not soft or sloppy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gifts for Gardeners

My friend 'Corymbia' recently pointed out the Maxwell & Williams Botanic Floral range. I drool, and drool again! But I'm not buying anything because I don't actually need it. On the other hand, I might mention those mugs incessantly to my relatives until my birthday. It's important to highlight our beautiful flora, especially if it means replacing our mugs, which date from The Geek's flatting days and showcase corporate slogans and unkind remarks. (Why do we have a mug labelled 'Super Secretary', anyway?)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Permaculture Goes (More) Mainstream

As usual, we went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show as a family last weekend, which meant no gardening that day. As always, we were keen to see the District Exhibits: large artistic arrangements of the produce of a particular District into a scene, often topical.

The times are a-changin' -- one of the District Exhibits was promoting... permaculture! There was a food forest and a mandala for all to see, and the words "PERMAnent agriCULTURE" in natural coloured wools on the back-drop. The surface of the permie duck-pond was of wool, and the mandala paths were of wheat. When I commented to one of the attendants, she said that there was a big movement in that direction. She was from the Young area, centre of the cherry industry, so I suppose she knows what she's talking about. Fascinating! I wish I could find a photo, of it to show you.

Oh, and The Sprig got to milk a cow! He was thrilled. The Twig found the cows intimidating, but they both loved the Farmyard Nursery, which has benefited from some lateral thinking. No longer do we have to queue up with our increasingly-antsy kiddies to pat the lambs in a confined area -- they are letting the lambs roam over the whole floor, so the children can walk straight in and touch them. Congratulations to the Royal Agricultural Society on this advancement. It's a far cry from the heaving mass of children I remember from my own childhood.

Congratulations to the RAS, too, on dropping the silly 'Great Australian Muster' slogan. We all know what mustering is, and it doesn't happen at the Show!