Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chapter 22: Christmas carrots and champagne calamities

one of our sunflowers destined to become part of our sunflower and pumpkin seed bread next week

Christmas and New Years have come and gone. Santa's reindeer enjoyed one of our very best purple carrots, and to celebrate the end of a fantastic year we popped open our first bottle of mulberry wine. It tasted nothing like wine should, in fact it tasted more like a rough whiskey. The kind of hard liquor that burns a hole in your stomach and puts hair on your chest. Not sure what went wrong there. None the less, we awoke alive on the other side of 2011. Perhaps it would make a better cleaning agent for burnt bottomed saucepans, blocked drains, a pesticide or even a biofuel for running our car...

There are only 8 days to go before our Funky Frontyard Farmer's challenge begins, when we attempt to feed ourselves for a full week almost entirely on what we have grown from our suburban block. Nature, unfortunately does not always work to such deadlines, and some things have not quite gone to plan. Last year we bagged at least 5kg of mulberries, our freezer and our children could not possibly fit in another single mulberry. This year, due either to the ridiculous amount of rain and lack of sunshine or our neighbours hacking off a major limb of the tree last year, we have experienced a mulberry famine, having picked less then a measly handful; Joe is berry upset.
Day after day Joe has been crawling around on the shed roof amongst the mulberry leaves, searching for any sign of new growth. It is one thing seeing your grown man climb a mulberry tree, it is altogether another thing to hear a grown man sobbing in a mulberry tree. Oh well, our mulberry tarts and smoothies for the challenge will simply have to be struck off the menu. On the upside, it means that we wont be able to make any mulberry wine this season. Shucks!

Joe's lamenting has extended beyond the mulberry tree and he also wanders forlornly amongst the citrus orchard, which is months away from fruiting. He sighs as he passes the green grapes, potatoes and capsicum, none of which are likely to be ready for the challenge. And yet there is still hope, the tomatoes have just started to turn red, the beetroots, carrots, pumpkins and zucchinis are all doing wonderfully, and the silverbeet is promising to be a staple... it makes a delicious topping on toast, lightly pan fried with fresh mushrooms, garlic, white wine, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Turk's turban pumpkin's - coolest pumpkins in the patch
 Needless to say we are all feeling rather nervous about the success of our challenge but have defiantly chosen to press on, if only for the sake of loosing those Christmas kilos.

 Cash Crop - Off to Market
About a month ago, G took it upon herself to plant all of our silverbeet in the herb bed. Consequently, we have had so much silverbeet growing in our garden we can't eat it quickly enough. Even the chooks are over it. So, with too much Silverbeet to eat, Jo and I decided to head off to the Glenbrook markets and try our luck at selling it at a local produce market stall.

Our silverbeet was a success! With 6 big bunches to sell at $1 a bunch, we had sold 3 bunches before even reaching the stall. Wow! 3 bucks! Like they all say, its not about the money, although N and G oogled over our 3 gold coins with amazement that their parents were able to make money so easily.

Mushroom Success

A few weeks ago we decided to try our hand at growing mushrooms. We bought a mushroom kit from the local nursery and set it up in the garage where it is dark and cool. We have tried it in the past with no success, but this time, we have had excellent results, having already harvested 30 or more mushies, with plenty more to come.

Of course, with this recent success, Joe has plans to turn the garage into a boutique mushroom farm, having heard rumours that you can grow mushrooms from spent mushroom compost from industrial mushroom farms. After a spot of research, Joe has located a mushroom farm only 10 minutes away in an abandoned railway tunnel. stay tuned.

our home grown mushhies and silverbeet

breakfast, yum!

if your children won't eat their vegetables, lie to them...we told ours they were ice creams.
 Lavender Champagne - Part 2

4 lavender champagne bottles, sitting in the garage. 4 lavender champagne bottles, sitting in the garage. And if one lavender champagne bottle should accidentally explode, there'd be 3 lavender champagne bottles sitting in the garage...

Jo bottling the champ's

The Lavender champagne taste test opened with a bang last week. After one bottle exploded 3 days after being bottled, we were trepidatious in opening our homemade champs. The first 2 bottles were a little flat and tasted too sweet (too much sugar added - should have stuck to the recipe). But our last bottle went off with an impressive bang! So impressive in fact, that there is a dent in the ceiling and champagne still all over the roof. I guess we'll never know how good that last bottle would have tasted so we have deceided to make it again to find out.

Next week our challenge begins on Sunday the 9th January, and ends with a funky frontyard party on the following Saturday. We aim to post a blog each day of the challenge to let you know how things go.Stay tuned to read all about our challenge week and an exciting funky frontyard farmers finale announcement.  


  1. How exciting...Can't wait to hear about your week..I shall tune in everyday....I was interested to read about your Mushrooms, One of my projects for 2011 is to grow Mushy' it as easy as buying a kit! I must look into this.. I too have a mushroom farm about 20 min down the road, Look forward to hearing more on this...All the best for the challenge...

  2. Hi Goosberry Jam, the kits are very straight forward. They include the mushroom spore and a bag of compost. simply add them together, spray with water daily and keep in a dark place. A cupboard will do. Slugs will eat them if thay can get to them. All this said, I bought a kit from bunnings ages ago and it didnt work.
    Sus out your local mushroom farmer and see if they will give you and old pillow or two.

  3. I think this is exciting too. I just found you written up in Gardening Australia and had to have a look. So sorry your Lavender bubbly wasn't the success you had hoped for but I'm sure the next one will be fine. I remember those explosions from my childhood when my Dad, who made a variety of dangerous things, had some major disasters. He never gave up though. Good luck with your challenge. Are you vegetarians? I guess you will be for that week, anyway.

  4. Hi Carol thanks for your Lavender bubbly commiserations. No we are not vegetarians, although that would be convenient during the challenge. We often eat vegetarian and will happily go veggie for the week, although we are thinking we may even go down to our local creek on a yabby hunt...a bit of delicious fun. Thanks for the good luck wishes, only 3 days to go!

  5. Good luck for tomorrow guys!! I'll be keeping tabs on your progress... but how's your luck? You had to do this challenge amid one hundred year floods, didn't you? That's something that normally only happens to people like me!! That just makes the challenge all the better... a test of your stubborn abilities!