Hobby farming out here in Gerogery West isn’t quite like what you see on River Cottage and Gourmet Farmer.
Yes, it goes close to living the dream. But it does have ups and downs.
For a start, there’s a lot of hard work involved and you don’t have people around doing the work for you while you are the TV show frontman.
Growing fruit and vegetables and tending stock isn’t as simple as you may think.
Books, magazines and the internet can give ideas but without guarantees. I tend to be mindful of expert advice, but most of what I do is based on trial and error and past experience.
Last summer, I found that our vegetable gardens thrived in March at the end of the hot months. To replicate the conditions, I proceeded to build a shade house and this year I’ve had success growing heat sensitive vegetables throughout. Some people like to be picking tomatoes by Christmas, but I prefer picking later.
I planted seeds in September and nurtured them in the warmest room in the house.
The cool, wet autumn delayed their growth and February saw fruition. Oh, I forgot to mention the fruit fly, possums and birds that like them as much as we do. Last year, we had a strong wind out west that took out four of our chestnut trees by snapping the trunk.
Our fig tree that had yielded 120 kilogram was hit too, forcing us into a major campaign of pruning, most probably resulting in very few figs and chestnuts this year.
In the kitchen, the wife has been busy making and bottling jam, chutney and stone fruit from own vegetables and kind neighbour’s fruit.
There is far too much for us, but we give the jars to friends that don’t have the time to do the same.
I have purchased a good quality meat mincer to complement my sausage stuffer.
It proved to be an asset when we made various pork and lamb sausages as well as haggis for Burns Day.
Worm juice is said to be the finest fertiliser for the garden, and it’s free.
I’ve recently installed an old bath tub and set it up following a YouTube clip of the one Costa Georgiadis of Gardening Australia made.
Now the worms and I are producing the best juice out west and the plants are smiling.