Part of a community.

So we have been trying to help create a community around the gardens and produce of Somers. This is in many ways a pragmatic rather than idealistic approach. After all we could spend all our time becoming totally self sufficient or we could swap and share with our neighbours.

To this end Jess and I are trying to reach out and be helpful in the locals schools and trying to create a self-sustaining sustainability-focused community that eats really really nice stuff!

One of the things we have been doing in Somers is trying to create a Produce Stall/Bartering Hub at the local primary school.

The stall is on again tomorrow so I though I would share the messages I send to about 20 families around Somers to gather produce, effort and good will. Here is last years flyer and then an email I sent out today.

Flyer Stall

Hello Hello Hello

Re; 3A produce stall MONDAY 19.3.18 (tomorrow). 08:30 – 09:45 outside assembly.
It is Sunday 18.3.18. There is water falling from the sky. Apparently this is called “rain”. (I asked google.)
Tomorrow we will start a new project with 3A (Mrs Pilgrim’s class). We will run the Produce stall with maths and accounting help from the kids of 3A. It is an imaginative supplement to Mrs Pilgrim’s and Miss Shemmell’s classes. 3A will hand over the keys to the money box later this year.
This will be a more chaotic, more educational and more fun Produce Stall. Lots of the 3A kids are bringing some produce from home but we want to ask you for your support. 
You have been among the greatest supporters of the Produce Stall last year and we want to say thanks. 
This year we have fine tuned the system a little bit.
We start at 08:30, the 3A kids join us at 08:45.
We will run it this Monday 19.3.18 and Next Monday 26.3.18. We will run it every Monday in Terms 2 and 3 (except the first and last weeks of term).
If you, or anyone you know, have any spare fresh garden produce, eggs, flowers, plants or seedlings please consider sending it along.
All the produce will be sold by the kids and the money ploughed straight back into the school.
Any left over produce will be donated to school projects; plants to the individual classes garden beds, flowers usually to the hard working folks in the office (unless it is someones birthday) and produce usually goes to one of the Healthy Eating Projects. (e.g. Free Fruit Tuesday or a healthy cooking project.)
If you have excess produce please bring it along or send it with your kids.
 
If you don’t have anything to donate please come along and buy something from the kids.
 
If you know someone that may be interested in donating (neighbour, relative or friends) then please tell us about them and we will include them in our communication.
Please spread the word about the stall and the garden. We believe that word of mouth is by far the best way to get people involved. Even if you are not a gardener, even if you have no time to help in the garden.
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Dry as a bone.

We ran out of water. We slowed down everything. The dam was empty. We decided to wait for rain. It didn’t come. A number of crops suffered or failed. We learned a lot.

The dam wasn’t full to start with. It has never overflowed. Simple conclusions; need more water and need to use water better. A lot of time and effort has been put into this and the plot suffered a bit more.

Such is life.

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New Starts

Time passes. Life happens. The garden grows.

There is so much to write about. I’ll just get started.

It is time to plant garlic again. We have been prepping one of the large 6 metre by 6 metre beds for garlic. Today we finished it off with an early meet up at 7am at the plot. It is hot today.

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Our compost building is not producing enough just yet so we invested in a load of mushroom compost and off we go.IMG_2777

This is 31-36 A-F.

We worked in the summer green manure. We broke it all up. We top dressed with mushroom manure and covered it in donated hay.

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Done.

Bread. How I got a started.

Lots of people are beginning to ask me about bread. So I am going to tell you how I got over my fear of yeast and sourdough and hopefully it will be of some help.

The short version is that I know nothing but I know a few women who know a lot. So big thank you to Janya Clemens who not only gave me the leaven I now use but also put me onto my favourite baking book.

This article includes two recipes from two books written by serious people. The first is written by a chef who cannot bake that uses dried yeast. This is a great recipe for a beginner.

Every other book makes it sound complicated. But it’s not. It’s like the best games; a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

The second recipe is how I got started on sourdough and remains the backbone of how I make my sourdough today.

Nigel Slater needs no introduction. He says he cannot bake. His book, “Appetite”, is a masterpiece of comfort food. His bread recipe a masterpiece of simplicity. Its basically, 1000gr flour, 700mls water, three teaspoons of salt and two teaspoons of dried yeast. See? Simple. Try it.

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So that is a demystifier. Sourdough is mystifying so I needed a little more detail and baking nerd Dan Lepard came to help, via Janya, with his book “The Handmade Loaf”.

The crucial thing here is not to be scared. The serious bakers do talk in another language. The big difference with Dan Lepard is that he was a baker in a top restaurant France when he was always expected to do other work for the chef. (Oui chef. See Dan’s varied recipes here.) So he does micro-kneading. This means only 15 seconds of kneading repeatedly through the day. The specified times are best followed closely at the start but after a few loaves, you will realise how it can be very flexible. Also, note that he starts with 500gr of “white leaven”/sourdough starter here. That means that you need to grow a little more sourdough starter in the days before the day you plan to bake. I do it overnight the night before. He grows his sourdough starter in a white flour to get the “white leaven”, I have found that you can grow the leaven in most flours but mine seems happiest in the darkest whole rye flour I can get. The other BIG thing is your success with this will vary with the vibrancy of your sourdough. You will grow to learn how to tell when the yeast is very active in your jar. The dough is more likely to rise well when the leaven/sourdough starter is full of bubbles like this;

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I don’t understand the “%”s that he uses I just go with the weights. I don’t “Upturn” my loaves. I have altered this recipe quite a lot already and almost always use heavy bread tins. If you cannot read the recipe get in touch and I will tell you more or, even better, find the book in a shop or the library.

Note that both of these recipes use 1000gr of flour but the Dan Lepard one has the extra mass of flour in the sourdough starter. Sourdough rises more slowly and less aggressively and thus I find that on a good day I get three large loaves in three “700gr” tins with both recipes.

Go check Dan’s website; https://www.danlepard.com

Or go see the recipes that he has already released in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/profile/danlepard

Organic Garlic. Want some?

Garlic. We have Garlic. It’s very early. It’s very tasty. It is very strong. That’s the way we like it.

If you are interested in some early season fresh organic garlic grown in Somers then get in touch. Contact Doug Lynch 0403989373 or Jess Brady 0413054636 (Instagram @growingbythemoon)

This is what it looks like a few days after picking.

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The smaller bulbs are around 50 grams and the bigger ones 100 plus grams. The ones shown here are pretty typical. The fat purple individual cloves are visible.

We have a glorious and fortuitous surplus. You could say that we have ample garlic. Last year we gave most of our surplus away as Christmas presents but this year we are going to feed it into a local co-operative. I know I had run out of my stores and I had to buy a few bulbs from Benton Rise or elsewhere.

Our Australian Purple crop has jumped up and declared itself. We are very happy to get such a crop early. We had deliberately planted a little early within the moon-planting calendar in the hope that this might happen. We use a moon planting schedule for everything if we can. The plot is entirely organic. The garlic were treated with lovingly prepared biodynamic preparations. The cloves are big. The bulbs are fragmented.

I have braided/plaited some of it. We plan to snip off the roots, clean of the soil when it is dry. Cut it into bulbs and make it available by the kilo to our friends and their friends. When it is all ready to go I shall get some close-up photographs up here.

We won’t make any profit but if we can cover some of the costs of the raw materials (pea straw, BD preparations etc) then it would really help out with the ongoing project to feed our families the healthiest food we can grow. Our main hope is that

Hopefully, lots of very nice food will be made from this crop in homes around the peninsula.

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Sourdough. Who wants to try it?

We made a load of sourdough bread for the Somers Arts Fair. It was the first thing to sell out. Folks were very interested and complimentary.

The best thing is that people were keen to try.

You can make your own leaven for sourdough. It is not that hard BUT if you have never done it befire you may end up looking it to a jar of weird smelling stuff and going

“Is that right? That can’t be right.”

I have a beautiful leaven that has its roots in Latvia. It has lived in Australia for decades. It has nearly died. It has been frozen and re-animated. It has been shared and it has been loved.

If you want to try Sourdough baking, and I highly recommend it, you are very welcome to have some of my sourdough starter or leaven.

Contact Doug Lynch 0403989373

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Progress. Productivity.

We had a big structure building session. We used recycled materials we bought from that crazy yard sale a few months back beside the Willow Creek Vineyard. If you saw it you wouldn’t be forgetting that place too soon.

We have a repeating system of heavier grade climbing plant supports. We found chicken wire and star pickets just a bit too messy.

A lot of old material was pulled out, mulched up and put in the compost heaps.

New cucumbers, peas, beans, etc

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Would you like some Organic Somers Garlic?

Garlic. We have Garlic. It’s very early. It’s very tasty. It is very strong.

That’s the way we like it.

We have a glorious and fortuitous surplus. You could say that we have ample garlic. Last year we gave most of our surplus away as Christmas presents but this year we are going to feed it into a local co-operative. I know I had run out of my stores and I had to buy a few bulbs from Benton Rise or elsewhere.

Our Australian Purple crop has jumped up and declared itself. We are very happy to get such a crop early. We had deliberately planted a little early within the moon-planting calendar in the hope that this might happen. We use a moon planting schedule for everything if we can. The plot is entirely organic. The garlic were treated with lovingly prepared biodynamic preparations. The cloves are big. The bulbs are fragmented.

I have braided/plaited some of it. We plan to snip off the roots, clean of the soil when it is dry. Cut it into bulbs and make it available by the kilo to our friends and their friends. When it is all ready to go I shall get some close-up photographs up here.

If you are interested in some early season fresh organic garlic grown in Somers then get in touch. Contact Doug Lynch 0403989373 or Jess Brady 0413054636 (Instagram @growingbythemoon)

We won’t make any profit but if we can cover some of the costs of the raw materials (pea straw, BD preparations etc) then it would really help out with the ongoing project to feed our families the healthiest food we can grow. Our main hope is that

Hopefully, lots of very nice food will be made from this crop in homes around the peninsula.

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Garlic e-scape

Good and unexpected news; the Australian Purple Garlic seems very keep to produce “shapes” which is very timely given that our supplies from last year have finally runout. These little guys are a bit of a delicacy for some folks. We shall be seeing how much of our garlic addiction can be satisfied by these little guys.

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