Summer's here, better late than never!

Saturday, February 05, 2011
Summer has finally arrived here in 'Glenlyon via Daylesford' in the Hepburn Shire of the Central Victorian Highlands and Angelica Organic Farm is pleased to see her at last! 

Here comes the SUNflowers...approx. 1 mo. behind last season...a welcome sight!

Our surviving crops from earlier in the season are so far growing along nicely and the new ones we are feverishly and optimistically sowing are sprouting cheerily with ease in this most exceptional of summer weather for this locale. Needless to say the weeds, grass and white cabbage moth are going 'gang busters' too!

Our much anticipated rocket - a new crop sprouted after only a few days - yay! Hopefully she will fare better than her predecessors this season weather-wise?!

The last couple of weeks have been consistently warm-hot and the last few days have been possibly the most humid we have experienced here ourselves, coinciding with the flow-on effects of cyclone Yasi having just passed through Nth Qld and Nth/Central Australia. We used to live in Byron Bay then Brisbane and can honestly say the warm, humid feeling, and the smells from the damp vegetation all around and the balmy, misty ambience is very reminiscent to us of those times. This weather brings its own challenges to growers, but personally Tim and I are also enjoying the warmth and the 'flashback' in time, particularly 'off the back' of a long, cold wet winter/spring, as well as the lift from seeing our farm becoming much more productive for this season.

Lebanese cucumbers, masters of camouflage, now 'rocking on'!

Heritage tomatoes - Striped Romans.

Heritage tomatoes - Purple Russians & there's several other types too...

We have such a short general vegetable growing season here compared to warmer parts of our country and even compared to less variable climatic places like the Melbourne area and other Victorian Central Highland locales, so what we grow during that time is therefore highly seasonal and subsequently very tasty and it's always a sense of abundance and gratitude when this time of year arrives - yes indeed. The gratitude, is especially highlighted when the season is so 'late' (and optimistically out to beat autumn frosts!) and now in the light of so much turmoil on the land in pretty much all of our major food growing districts,  hardship and destruction preceding and as known will continue for much time to come for many farmers, agriculturally-based communities and in regards to overall food sources for all Australians. What we can ALL do to support our 'food bowls' and growers, is prioritise our weekly food spending for Australian grown produce, local where possible, which is still available as we proceed over coming times.

Aubergine plants, a trial crop excelling in the current conditions.

At the farm now, we struggle to keep up with the now explosive growth rate of the tomato plants, which seem in constant need of being tied further up their bushes to support them. The zucchinis, squash, cucumbers, potatoes and herbs are just loving it too! Pumpkins are so far getting their best chance with us for years...We used to have a large vegie patch in our yard in Brisbane and the growth rates of the past couple of weeks at the farm have truly resembled what was normal for us back then.

Yellow button squash.

Zucchinis are 'GO'!

Pumpkin plants being pollinated & anticipating a fruitful season.

Mixed lettuces coming along.

As you can probably relate to, farmers talk a lot about the weather at any time and particularly rainfall. It's amazing for us at the moment to 'step back' and take stock of how our conversations have meandered and switched from discussing how to manage without much water to how to manage the challenges and destruction from its force in excess and often destructive mode of late. Tim and I never thought we'd hear ourselves even utter that we have found (in hindsight!) the drought conditions easier to manage growing-wise than the totally uncontrollable conditions brought by heavy and ongoing rainfall etc of the last several months. We are blessed with a reliable water source and are highly mindful to use minimal water for irrigation during non-rain periods and although a lot of work at these times, with irrigation we have more control regarding what the plants get and when, to meet their needs. 

Irrigation drip tapes being laid along the planting beds, 
finally being planted out with seedlings or sown with veg. seed.

What has also been a new and interesting experience for us this season is having so much more moisture just inherent in the soil BETWEEN rain events, from the very wet winter and spring and regular summer rainfall. All the plants respond well to this, with just some consistent warmth to help them along, warming their roots and giving their leaves something to photosynthesise with. The heritage vegetables we love to grow, such as beetroots, carrots, radishes and all the tomatoes, will fare well with these 'novel' growing conditions compared to previous seasons, and with a bit of luck and kindness from Mother Nature over the next few months. The next few seasons will benefit from the significant replenishment of our land's ground waters, rivers and catchments. 

In conclusion for this post, we want to extend our deepest condolences and support to our fellow Victorians still dealing with flooding and it's aftermath and to the people of North/Far North Qld, who have just been through the horrors of cyclone Yasi and who now have, in her wake, the immense task of counting her costs, cleaning up and recovering their homes, farms, businesses, lives and communities. Mission Beach and surrounds is one of our favourite places and probably our most favoured relaxing holiday destination and we will revisit as soon as we can for sure. 

Beetroot Heritage

Friday, February 26, 2010
A couple of weeks ago we planted a new crop of  beetroots. We've never been able to meet demand with enough supply so far for these highly prized root vegetables but we get better and better at growing such things each season and are expecting to have loads of various beetroot varieties for sale in the next month or so (Mother Nature permitting!).

Where the most advanced beets are up to this week... a way to go...

As you know, we like to grow open pollinated heirloom or heritage vegetable varieties as much as possible. Beetroots are one of our favourites (to eat, grow & sell). At the moment we have several types in the ground, including Detroit (typical red beetroot colour & size), Bull's Blood (black-red colour with feint rings, very sweet & delish!), Golden (fab golden colour, soft texture, great in salads) and Chioggia (originally from a fishing village on the Adriatic coast, a.k.a. 'Bull's Eye Beet', it has dark red skin with alternating pink and white rings when cut.). I'll post some photos of the different kinds once we've harvested them...they're a feast for the eyes and inspire many dining ideas!

Apart from being gorgeous to look at with their brightly coloured skins and flesh, these babies are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients such as boron and I read that the ancient Romans considered beetroot juice to be an aphrodisiac - cool :).

I'll be back onto beetroots in the coming weeks to share more info about our new crop and delicious suggestions for eating them.

Early Wonder Beetroots from an earlier crop we grew.

We're at the Abbotsford Convent Slow Food market this Saturday...will we see you?

Have a super weekend.

The Lake House Regional Producers Day - Celebrate & taste the Daylesford-Macedon Region!

Friday, February 05, 2010
This coming SUNDAY (Feb 7) is the annual Lake House Regional Producers Day from 10am to 4pm.

Angelica Organic Farm produce will be proudly on display there and we will be selling our delicious garlic bulbs and braids, colourful heirloom tomatoes, mixed herb posies, some other fresh, tasty morsels and some beaming sunflowers!

We'd love to see you there this Sunday!

Angelica Organic Farm at the 2009 Lake House Regional Producers Day


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