Category Archives: greenies

race, food, bikes, gender

Another reminder that green/feminist movements are as marked by gender and class as right wing politics…

I’m seeing correlations between slutwalk discourse and this little trail of articles dealing with race/food politics/gardening/environmentalism/cycling. While I’m fascinated by discussions of food and health and environmentalism as a socialist project, for a while now I’ve had a little voice in the back of my brain saying “Dood, where’s race in all this? Can we talk about ethnicity a little bit more? And not in a ‘Mysteries of the Orient’ Food Safari way?” I stumbled over The Doree Chronicles’ post ‘The Unbearable Whiteness of Eating: How the Food Culture War Affects Black America’ on Tumblr, then traced its references back. This post read as a sort of snippet of idea, in the context of a general Tumblr blog dealing with all sorts of things the author found interesting. Tumblr shits me a bit as this sort of backtracking is unnecessarily complex, but I guess that’s a consequence of personal sites which encourage a ‘collector’ approach rather than a ‘writerly’ approach.

From that little post linking food politics, race, ethnicity and the bike movement, I found Erika Nicole Kendall’s post ‘The Unbearable Whiteness of Eating: How The Food Culture War Affects Black America’ on the Black Girls Guide To Weight Loss site. This post framed the discussion within a broader discussion of race and gender and weight loss as a health issue.

This post led me to Janani Balasubramanian’s piece ‘Sustainable Food and Privilege: Why is Green Always White (and Male and Upper-Class)’ which linked the bike movement talk to race and gender and environmentalism and food politics. I like this piece for the way it links gender to food production, and I like the question:

Can Pollan not drive home the point that Americans need to cook more often without guilting American feminists?

I’m really not up to speed with food politics’ talk, but I feel as though all this talk is echoing some of my reservations about slutwalk, and some of my thoughts about food politics. It also reminds me of some things I’ve read about the civil rights movement in America in the 60s, where the peace movement in particular was also quite sexist. In that context, the ‘free love’ discourse was a double-edge sword. While the pill gave women contraceptive control of their sexuality and bodies, there was also an attendant shift in the way many men began thinking about these women as ‘sexually available’. I wonder if we should perhaps be a little sceptical of a new women’s movement (or new stream in a broader feminism) that lauds heterosexual freedom in such uncomplicated ways. Because of course the pill didn’t function the same way, ideologically, for lesbian women that it did for straight women.

I feel as though we’re also revisiting issues raised (and continually raised) by women of colour from that period and recently. For those women race was a far more pressing concern, organising their activism in a way that gender did not. And these women were very critical of ‘mainstream’ feminists for not interrogating their own privilege. Or, more simply, for not noticing that everyone signing books in the wimminz bookshops was white.

I’m of course thinking about bell hooks and Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism, but I’ve also heard Australian Aboriginal women like Marcia Langton make similar arguments. I haven’t found it, but I’d be certain there’d be some cool stuff written about ‘bush tucker’, the Northern Territory intervention (where government pensions are ‘retained’ specifically for buying food), gender and equity. I’m also certain that there’d be some really interesting stuff by migrant women writers in Australia (and elsewhere) about food, gender, class and social (as well as bodily) ‘health’. Someone has to have taken the bike movement to task as well? I mean, if I’m banging on about it on Faceplant when people say stupid things like “There is no excuse not to ride distances under 10km”, then surely someone else has made the same points more cleverly?

I’ve just had a quick look but I CAN’T find that interesting study a Victorian university group did recently where they found that if women felt safe cycling in a city, then the numbers of cyclists in that city over all were higher. I was telling this story to some hardcore environmentalist/sustainable energy types at a party the other week, and they were all “Oh shit, I’d never thought of that!” And I was thinking ‘That’s because you’re over-achieving, able bodied, young, male engineers living in well-serviced cities who dismiss feminism as ‘something for women’.’ But I didn’t say that out loud. Instead I laboured through a gentle (and brief) point that environmental movements have to be socially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable. I wanted to talk about how birth control for women in developing countries is directly related to environmentally sustainable development in those same countries, but I didn’t.

I think there are also some really important points to be made about ‘food security’ for children in poor communities and families in big cities, and how food security is directly related to educational and social achievements, and how getting enough to eat (let alone eating ‘well’) is directly related to justice and equity in relation to gender and race and all those other lovely identity markers. I don’t know much about this at all, but I heard an interesting Health Report podcast about this and started thinking about the relationships between organic gardening, social justice, ethnicity and economic power. And goddamn bicycles.

To sum up this messy, ill-informed, poorly researched and unsubstantiated introduction to my mess of thoughts, I direct your attention to Tammi Jonas, who’s trekking through the American wilds with the Jonai clan in glorious 70s campervanning style, writing and thinking about food and family as she goes. Her progress is written up at Crikey, but I quite like the posts on her blog. Tammi is all over these issues.

I’d also suggest some time with Cristy Clark who’s exploring ecotarianism in real-family settings (ie, her own), and of course do drop in at Progressive Dinner Party to see related issues taken up. If you’re especially interested in kids and food, then PDP’s Head Cook Zoe is a good source, not to mention the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, which is all about kids, food and well-being.

Is this a wichetty grub?




Is this a wichetty grub?

Originally uploaded by dogpossum

We found a bunch of these in our narrow (but fairly deep and wide) garden bed. It’s a sort of concrete tub, a long (6m), 30cm wide, 50cm deep garden bed situation. When we moved in it was like dry, dusty concrete. So we mixed in some poo, put down a good, solid layer of paper and then mulched it up the wazoo.
Today we dug up a bit to put some plants in, and found a bunch of these fatties. They looked very healthy. On the one hand, it’s good that there’s life in there (and the dirt looked much, much better), but on the other: will these bastards eat the roots of our new baby plants?

a revision of my comments about CSIRO’s approach to vegetarianism

I want to add something to my first post discussing the CSIRO diet.
Here is some very basic information I’ve found in the two CSIRO books. I haven’t looked further afield (yet).
The acknowledgments in the second book write:

CSIRO gratefully acknowledges all those who have contributed to the funding of research on higher-protein diets for weight management: CSIRO Human Nutrition; Dairy Australia; Goodman Fielder; Meat and Livestock Australia; The National Heart Foundation; The National Centre for Excellence for Functional Foods; The National Health and Medical Research Council

My immediate response to this funding from particular interest groups (especially Meat and Livestock Australia) is to wonder just how trustworthy the findings of this research can be. But then I think about the realities of funding for research in Australia. It is probably not so much that the funding bodies dictated the terms of the research, but that there wasn’t funding available for research into alternatives to a high-meat diet. I’m reasonably confident that CSIRO (and the authors of this book) are reputable researchers. So it’s not as though we’re reading a diet book written by me.
This of course raises all sorts of interesting questions about the role of public bodies – government research bodies – as ‘reputable’ or authoritative sources of knowledge and information. It also makes me wonder about the way we are willing to accept ‘scientific’ research about health and bodies as ‘objective’ and ‘reputable’, but are far more sceptical of research on these topics from the humanities. I have read some really, seriously dodgy published work in the humanities on bodies and diet and food and so on – stuff that’s really theoretical supposing and not at all substantiated by solid data – but I’ve also read some equally dodgy ‘scientific’ work. I think, though we could probably accept that CSIRO is quite good at doing ‘scientific’ research, that it would be wrong to assume that this study (as with any ‘scientific’ study) is objective or neutral or reporting ‘just the facts’. This study is as guided by ideology and notions of ‘body’ and ‘health’ as any other. Science isn’t neutral; it’s just institutionalised in a different way.
At any rate, I approach the CSIRO diet with a degree of critical engagement. I want to ‘trust’ this study and diet, but at the same time, this is my body and I don’t want to fuck it up with the consequences of bullshit research.
With this in mind, here are a few issues that I have with the CSIRO diet’s approach to food, and most importantly with its recipes. Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the books have three general sections:
1. a discussion of the research into health and nutrition upon which the ‘diet’ is based;
2. a section outlining exercise, and providing some basic exercises;
3. a section of menu plans and recipes.
The books do not position the diet (and its approach to food and nutrition) within political, social, cultural context. There is no discussion about the political economies of food. There’s no talk about the social and environmental sustainability of particular diets and lifestyles. There’s no discussion about (or even reference to) class and how spending money on food is not dictated entirely by ‘lifestyle choices’, but my the basic economics of living within a budget. I do quite like the way it avoids discussions about body image and gendered notions of ‘beauty’, instead emphasising the benefits of fitness and good health: feeling good. I could also discuss the pictures (which are quite heterocentric and feature far more women than men), and I might later in another post.
Generally, the books remind me of the ABC. Sort of middle class aesthetics, careful with its gender talk (but still gendered), articulate but not alienating in its language, lots of nice san serif fonts. It appears ‘neutral’, but of course it’s not.
The one issue I want to take up here is the books’ approach to (or neglect of) vegetarianism and veganism.
I wrote this in my previous post:

There are also questions to be asked about the CSIRO diet’s funding (which was in part from Australian primary producers – meat farmers to be specific) and how this affected their research and findings. Their very brief section(s) on vegetarianism are really quite bullshitty. There’s a line something like ‘there’s no evidence that vegetariaism is bad for you…’ Which of course is misleading if not downright deceitful. A vegetarian diet is much better for you than a meat diet, so long as you’re eating well. No diet is good for you if it doesn’t have mostly fresh fruit and vegies, wholegrain foods, dairy products and then protein, and finally a small amount of certain types of fats. You can skip the dairy stuff (so long as you replace it), but you certainly don’t need to eat meat.

But I wasn’t entirely accurate. I was actually a bit full of shit, there. Here’s what the CSIRO books actually say:
The first book has this to say about vegetarianism:

Our bodies have evolved to thrive on a wide variety of both animal and plant foods. Many people eat a plant-based diet by way of necessity, but others choose to for a wide range of reasons. Population studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer – but it is not clear if this is due to their diet or their lifestyle. However, if you are a vegetarian, you need to plan your diet carefully to make sure that all essential nutrients are included (p 39-40 Book 1)

And this (within a very serious section about the importance of calcium, particularly for women:

Vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium than do non-vegetarians. Vegetable greens such as spinach and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean proucts are good sources of calcium. Vegetarians who eat dairy foods will obtain sufficient calcium (p 46 book 1).

There’s even less about vegetarianism in the second book (in a section addressing readers’ questions):

Is there a diet for vegetarians?
We have not investigated whether a high-protein vegetarian diet is as effective as a high-animal-protein diet, but we do know that vegetable protein confers a similar benefit in reducing hunger. You may want to consult your GP or dietician to modify the Diet for your needs. If you wish to substitute non-meat protein, we would suggest eating 200g tofu or 260g cooked chickpeas, beans or lentils instead of 200g meat, fish or chicken (p33 book 2).

The context of these quotes – sections ‘warning’ about the dangers of inadequate amounts of calcium (for women especially), about malnutrition generally – is significant. Vegetarianism is framed in terms of nutritional failure or of malnutrition. It is pathologised. This is the most common criticism I’ve heard of vegetarianism: that you have to eat really carefully or else you won’t get the nutrients you need, and that this is very difficult (if not impossible). My immediate response is to wonder whether most omnivorous human beings in mainstream Australian society eat ‘properly’. Eating meat does not automatically ensure proper nutrition. The meat is far less important than the other stuff you should be eating. A standard ‘meat and three veg’ diet with its emphasis on white bread, processed foods and meat rather than vegetables and fruit is not as nutritionally balanced as it might appear. There’s lots of interesting stuff written about the way this type of diet developed in Australian culture, with attendant discussions of mid- and post-war shortages, the rise of supermarkets, gendered division of labour in the home, the economics of mass-production and distribution of food and so on.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this literature (with which I am not terribly familiar) is the idea that science (and the idea of ‘Science’) defined or shaped ‘modern’ living and food. We could go on here about a movement away from diversity in food plant stocks and towards the genetic ‘management’ of food my corporations. We could also talk about the way diets are shaped by supermarket wholesale purchasing and relationships with growers. And we could discuss the role of class in ‘whole food’ or ‘organic’ counter-movements. But I don’t really have the brain for it today. Really, what I want to say here is that the ‘meat and three veg’ diet is culturally specific. It’s shaped by class and gender and ethnicity and so on. It’s not ‘natural’ and it didn’t ‘just happen’. It is a product of economics and capitalism, of patriarchy, of mass media discourse and so on. It’s also, ironically, the product of government policy and ‘education’.
So, what I really should have just said above, is that vegetarianism is presented as deviance from a ‘normal’, ‘healthy’ diet in the CSIRO diet, and that this reflects broader mainstream notions of vegetarianism. But, of course, it’s not. Vegetarianism is as difficult/easy as omnivorous eating. It is, however, more difficult socially and culturally in many contexts. Dining out offers the best example of this: vegetarian restaurants are fewer in number than omnivorous ones in Australia, and vegetarian dishes are marginalised within mainstream menus at Australian restaurants.
A prioritising of meat of course makes sense in the CSIRO diet: this is a diet focussing on high-protein diets. More specifically, it is concerned with the importance of meat in a high-protein diet. I think that the issue not so much the neglect of vegetarianism, but the over-emphasis of meat and neglect of non-meat protein sources.
What this means, in terms of the menu plans and recipes, is that the dishes are all constructed around meat. The meals are still thinking of the ‘meat and three veg’ ratio, rather than thinking of meals as a combination of elements. This basic point is one that we find most difficult about the CSIRO recipes. Each meal is constructed as one item + one item + one item. This is almost diametrically opposite to the notion of constructing a meal as a complex, harmony of flavours and elements. As an alternative, we might construct a meal that is composed of a series of small dishes, each representing one of a series of flavours: salty, sweet, wet, dry, etc. Or we might select ingredients that balance the ‘humours’ of the body: cooling, heating, etc. The meat and three veg diet lumps vegetables into one or two groups: greens and ‘others’. We might instead think of the role of brassicas and leafy green vegetables in relation to pulses and grains and root vegetables. Though the CSIRO diet does explore the sources of particular minerals and nutrients, the meals themselves are still imagined as ‘meat and…':

Tandoori chicken with garlic spinach
chicken with djon mustard and white wine
chicken and tarragon meatloaf
(book 1 recipe titles)

And vegetable dishes are then served with them (if at all).
In practical terms, this means that you buy the meat first, then look for vegetables to go with it. This tends to suggest that cooks will look first to their meat, then their vegetables. Which means that they’re more likely to use fresh meat and less likely to use fresh vegetables. If meat is the priority, then the veggies are the ‘add-on’ rather than the central taste and ideological ingredient. Financially, it’s challenging to build a menu around meat – it’s one of the most expensive ingredients. But then the CSIRO diet is not cheap. In part because of its emphasis on meat, but also because of its neglect of seasonal variations in ingredients. I think it’s worth emphasising the importance of cost: this is not a diet for those on a low budget.
Of course, this leads me to an interesting point: the idea of meat as a luxury good. This line from the CSIRO book works with this point:

Many people eat a plant-based diet by way of necessity, but others choose to for a wide range of reasons.

The line about necessity is key. I wish they’d expanded. What issues do they feel necessitate vegetarianism? Poverty? Religious restrictions? Geographic location? Allergies? I also wish they’d referenced some of the reasons vegetarianism is chosen. A few million spring to my mind immediately: ethical (preventing cruelty to animals, treading lightly environmentally, avoiding unjust labour and economic practices…), religious, economic… Surely vegetarianism for these ‘reasons’ is a necessity. It is necessary that they choose not to exploit animals. It is necessary that they live simply so that others may simply live. It is necessary that they honour the teachings of a holy figure by not taking lives.
Finally, the point I’d like to return to at the end, is the one of eating seasonally. The CSIRO diet does not in any way account for seasonal variation in fresh produce. It relies upon its users shopping at conventional supermarkets and having access to all ingredients at any time. We found that the preponderance of particular ingredients (tarragon!) made shopping expensive. The neglect not only of seasonal variation, but also of regional availability made shopping difficult and expensive. This is where we first began varying the menu plans: we didn’t want to eat manky out-of-season tomatoes, or to walk past gorgeous fresh asparagus.
One of the delights of a vegetarian diet is that you supplement dried ingredients (grains, pulses) with fresh produce. Your diet changes with the seasons. In practical terms, this means that you’re eating a menu that changes over the year; you don’t just keep eating the same old stuff, day in and day out, regardless of its freshness or availability. Seasonal produce – stuff that’s in season is fresher, tastes and looks better and is cheaper than stuff that is not. So it simply makes sense to build meals around ingredients which are in season rather than force-grown in a greenhouse, shipped in from overseas and riddled with preservatives and generally sapped of any flavour.
Eating seasonally does require some knowledge of the seasons, and also, by extension, of local farming practices. But this sort of knowledge can come almost osmotically if you’re not shopping in a supermarket. Supermarkets stock the same products, day in, month out. Greengrocers and fresh food markets tend to buy most what is cheapest as well as keeping in stock perennial favourites. But when you’re shopping at a greengrocer every week, you see the biggest piles of cheapest vegetables change with the seasons. Even if you’re not buying organic.
Of course, buying organic is something the CSIRO diet does not make simple. Meat-centred meals with un-seasonal menus do not support a diet of organic, seasonal produce. While the second does not refer to it at all, the first book has this to say about organic produce:

We are often asked whether or not it’s better to buy organic produce. Although organic fruit and vegetables are probably no more nutritious than conventionally grown varieties, they may taste better. Some organic leafy vegetables and potatoes also seem to have higher vitamin C contents, which may be due to the fact that organic produce is often smaller and therefore denser than conventional produce, which has a high water content. The bottom line is that eating more fruit and vegetables, whether organic, conventional, fresh, frozen or tinned, will increase your intake of protective compounds and is important for good health (p50)

There’s a whole world of wrong in that paragraph. I’ll let other people explain why.
I know I’ve rambled off-topic a bit here. I began with an argument about the CSIRO diet’s anti-vegetarian stance. But I think it’s important to point out how a meat-centred diet which neglects seasonal variation discourages the consumption of organic produce and encourages the consumption of processed foods (including canned and frozen food). I think that eating out of season is a matter of swimming upstream when you’re trying to convince people to eat more fruit and vegetables. If the fruit and vegies they’re eating don’t taste too good (because it’s out of season, loaded with preservatives and pesticides or simply sat around for too long), people won’t eat them. If the fruit and vegies they have do taste delicious, they will eat them.
I think this is at the heart of a ‘healthy’ diet. Eating well should be a delight to the senses. It should be about pleasure. This means that a ‘good diet’ not only avoids discussions of ‘restriction’, ‘denial’, ‘guilt’ and ‘suppression of appetite’, but actively encourages pleasure and interest in food. Healthy eating is about enjoying food, about taking an interest in the growing and preparation of produce. It is about the provocation of appetite, the association of food with pleasure and happiness.
It’s no wonder that hardcore cooks become interested in . An interest in cooking leads to an interest in sourcing produce. And this leads to producing your own food – even if only your herbs. For many foodies, an interest in gardening leads naturally to an interest in water and sustainable food production. But not all foodies. I think it’s worth pointing out that being interested in food and growing your own veggies does not necessarily mean you’ll end up a hardcore hippy growing organically. I think it’s also worth pointing out that availability (or lack of it) often pushes cooks to gardening. I’m thinking about migrants in particular: tomatoes in Brunswick, bok choy in Ashfield. Frugality is often a prime motivator for gardening: it’s far cheaper to grow your own organic produce from seed than buy it from the shops.
While the CSIRO diet has been very useful, I think that its neglect of these sorts of social, cultural, economic and scientific issues is a profound weakness.
Having said that, though, I think that its success is largely owed to the fact that it does not address these issues. Perhaps, then, it’s worth thinking about the CSIRO diet as a gateway drug, encouraging an interest and food and cooking and nutrition that might lead to experimentation with other recipes and food types? Unfortunately, I think that the CSIRO diet’s books discourage this type of exploration. Though the book suggests that once the ‘initial’ ‘weight loss’ part of the diet is achieved, users should move on to tailoring their meals to suit their (new) lifestyles, I wonder just how many users do stay with the diet long enough to reach that point.
Ultimately, the CSIRO diet is not so much a ‘diet’ as a manual for lifestyle change. But it is not, unfortunately, a manual for ideological change in terms of approaches to socially and environmentally sustainable food production and preparation.

bob willis and the texas playboys’ Tiffany Transcriptions

ttbw.jpg Suddenly, I want this Western Swing classic. I know most of the songs, either via jazz or my western swing faves.
Initially recorded for a furniture company to play in their shops (!), this collected set apparently has greater live and vivacity than their other recordings. I don’t much care, so long as the band continues to remind me of the Hot Club of Cowtown… though it should be the other way around.
It isn’t as hot here in Sydney as in other cities and I have largely recovered from the world’s worst stomach virus. Three days of throwing up. Two days in bed. One day partly up and out of bed, mostly sitting or lying on the couch. Today I had a real lunch and kept it in my body. For about two hours. It was pretty cool, though – I had digestion going and everything. My ps are visiting. It’s been hard. I have been foul. But then, I am ill. They’re acclimated to Hobart and think this is hot. We know it’s not in the 40s, so we think it’s nice. Apparently it’s broken 30 in Hobart this week.
I have recently begun saving water from my showers. The Sydney water restrictions aren’t as tight or as well policed and publicised as in Melbourne, so collecting water makes me feel badass and way wicked. Also, it’s free water for our new baby plants. I have plans for a rough tomato/basil patch near the compost bin. But the seeds didn’t come from Eden Seeds, which is just plain weird. I will chase it up on Monday if I’m up to it.
Bought new songs on emusic yesterday. Suspect it’s not so good to buy music when so trashed. But it could shake my collection up a little.
Just finished Alison Bechdel’s Essential Dykes to watch out for. It’s great, as you’d expect. Have eye on Fun House.
Humidity is high. But that’s ok.

bikes, cockatoos, plants and the freakin’ humidity

I can’t figure out what I’ve done with the comments. They’re busted. I think this blog needs an overhaul, anyway – it’s been ages since I did the templates. Probably also need to update to new MT. Or new blogging tool.
News:
– We are biking tourista grande! We are riding our bikes everywhere. I am trying to find a nice way of putting them on a map. Bikely isn’t very helpful (it has a craptastic site). Am considering special cycling blog. Nerdy enough? NO! But we have discovered some lovely river-side bike paths (Cooks River) and some sneaky off-road shady tree lined bike paths (somewhere in… Petersham? Parallel to… Hewson Canal ?). We have also decided we don’t like riding through stupid Darling Harbour (well, across that bridge – the Piermont? – it sucks) because not only are pedestrians dumb, but tourist pedestrians are stupidly dumb. I am also having brought home to me just how un-bike-aware Sydney drivers are. It’s like they freak out when they see a cyclist – they swing out really wiiiiide to get around us. Or they crawl along behind us. Melbourne motorists have mad cyclist-aware-skills. Also, Sydney drivers pull up at traffic lights at the very last minute. This is terrifying if you’re just in front of them, pulled up with one leg down, waiting for the lights to change (but also makes the point: do NOT hug the curb at lights – TAKE THE ENTIRE LANE).
If you’d like to come bike riding with us, drop me a line. I am very unfit atm, so we go slow. Especially on hills. We have taken many friends for their first-in-10-years bike rides. They’ve liked it. We’re kind and are quite happy just to poodle along, chatting and sticky beaking.
We also avoid busy roads and we like to explore and ‘just have a look’. We like a combination of urban streets (lots of windows to look in) and leafy bits. We’ve been surprised by how leafy Sydney is, and how many nice, quiet streets there are right here in the inner suburbs. There are also some really great bike paths. Even the city (on a Sunday) isn’t so scary. Though I don’t ride on the actual road.
We also like to stop regularly for cake.
– It was recently very hot here in Sydney. But now it is only quite warm and incredibly humid. It’s been drizzling all afternoon. That’s good, because we rode to Bunnings in Ashfield today (via Harbourfield) and bought plants. When we got to Bunnings we were (once again) shitted off by its shitfulness: no bike loops (well, duh – it’s like _the_ most car-centric place ever… after Ikea), inept staff, etc etc. But we bought plants. A grevillea and some sort of native climber (whose name I can’t remember). I wanted Telopea and Protea, but they are fuck-off expensive (as in $50 for small pots). So we said “fuck off!” and got the common-as-muck moonlight grevillea and cheapy native climber. Then we rode home. It was so hot. It was overcast, but I got burnt badly. Because I am a dickwit.
When we got home we rested. Then we cleaned our house. Then we planted the plants. I actually supervised (because I am still injured – and will be for at least another couple of months, if not forever (the future isn’t looking too good for my poor foot injury, but I don’t want to talk about that because it makes me cry. A future without dancing will do that.) The Squeeze dug. In the light rain. He was sweating more than it was raining because it’s so warm. The holes are great, though. And the dirt drains nicely. Anyways, we planted those suckers.
Now we need another grevillea. I did see something I liked: some sort of grevillea (or was it a narrow-leafed banksia?) which had dark purpley/marooney leaves. It was neat. I was thinking a couple of those with a bunch of knee-high purple grasses (which were just near by) would be wonderful. But I can never go past the grevillea. And I wasn’t sure the purple one flowered – it didn’t have a very useful tag. I did want to get something indigenous to this area, but, frankly, we’re a bit short of accessible nurseries here. You have to have a car to really get sweet lowdown. I am going to check out the Marrickville markets some weekend soon – I need a cheaper source of plants. And I also want to stay away from the Bunnings type plants. I want something that’s not force-grown in big green houses or big plantings. I want tough plants grown in some poppa’s back yard in cheap pots. Something street-wise and rough.
Anyways, I’m going to get those natives happening down the front, in front of the main bedroom windows. The climber will climb up the railing on the front steps (but I’ll clip it to stop it getting onto the top rail). I’d really like to plant up the grass down there with some taller native grasses, but I don’t think our land lord would like that. I’m also thinking about veggies and herbs again. I just can’t live without my herb garden any longer. And this weather is so plant-perfect. We’ll see.
ct.jpg- Today we saw something awesome. As we were digging in the garden (well, The Squeeze was the one actually digging – I was standing under an umbrella in his crocs supervising and carrying the watering can) a bunch of rowdy cockatoos landed on the facade of the olden days flats on the opposite corner. There were about six or eight of them and they were obviously feeling their oats. Feeling all charged up by the cool and wet (after a little research, I’ve discovered they like to flap about in the rain to bathe themselves). They clambered about on the front of the building shouting for a while. Then they flew over to the olden days garage on the other corner. That’s when things got good. They’re such big, flamboyant birds. All yellow combs and huge white wings. They were very loud and social and clambered about all over the place, using their beaks and claws to get about. They were also digging about in the cracks of the buildings and the power pole. They spent some time pulling the power pole to bits (literally – they pulled great chunks off the top and threw them on the road) and shouting. Then they started pulling bits off the garage’s facade.
They started just digging in the cracks and pulling off bits of plaster. Then they started pulling bricks out of the facade. Real bricks. The big chunks of masonry and plaster and brick fell down with big crashes and the cockatoos shouted and laughed and called across to each other. They were spread out all over the facade and the power lines and power poles, upside down, ride side up, combs up, wings out. It was awesome. Eventually the guy in the flat above the garage stuck his head out the window to see what was going on. The cockatoos kind of sneered and shouted at him and carried on. Until one pulled a massive brick out of the wall and nearly dropped it on another who was trying to pull the window awning off. Then they got a scare and had a shout at each other, then flapped up to the power pole. And then down the street. It was like a rowdy bunch of… large, rowdy birds… were moving their way down the street, shouting and talking and pulling shit to bits. It was fully sick. I didn’t think to take a photo til far too late. So just take my word for it, ok?
It’s nice to live in a city with lots of native trees and plants, and, consequently, lots of native birds. Unlike noxious-weed-Melbourne, which is chock full of stupid introduced plants.
– Today we rode up the bike route to a little cafe in Dulwich Hill. It was full of skanky yuppies. The food was ok. Then we decided to ride on to the Bunnings in Ashfield via Harbourfield. I got burnt. We both got freakin’ hot. We rode back from Ashfied. We are badarse.
Yesterday we went in on the train to Town Hall station to collect The Squeeze’s bike from his office. Then we rode across Piermont Bridge, down the side of Darling Harbour. We spent some time looking at a ship. That was neat, but not as neat as the books in Piratica. They’re the best because they’re pirate ships. Captained by women.
Then we rode along the beach, looking at yuppy warehouses flats. They were boring. We rode past the park where they were having Jazz On The River. The grass was all brown, crackly sticks.
Then we rode on to the Fish Market. The market was hot and crowded and The Squeeze didn’t like it. So I foraged some sushimi, prawns and octopus. Then we rode on.
We were pretty freakin’ hot by then, and I was feeling weak, so we caught the light rail (which is just like a kind of piss-weak tram, but with REAL conductors (so you have to buy tickets) and which you can TAKE YOUR BIKES ON !!1!). That was a nice, short trip to Lillyfield.
From Lilyfield station we rode up the hill across Paramatta Road, then up a little hill and taking a right turn at a little cafe (which was called something like Lily and Somebody or something. It had its name written in white in ‘American Typewriter’ font on the window and was closed). Then we rode along the bike lanes to an old building which looked a bit like an old train station or some sort of feed station (a sort of Victorian loading or despatch dock).
Then we kept on riding along the ridge til we got to… um… a park.
Then we turned left on a road which had no cars at all.
Then we… rode a bit. Then we went down the Hewson Canal bike path, which is very nice and shady, but made me think ‘don’t ride here by yourself ever, ladies.’ We saw no one on that very nice bike path but three tiny little girls with bright white hair and one giant, bald dad.
Then we rode on and up til we got to the road that goes under a bridge – the end of Marion Street (which I think of as the road near the corner where I nearly stacked it on our first Big Ride).
Then we continued on and got onto another bike path past a giant dog park with about a squillion dogs roaming about.
Then we rode on to the bike path that runs along the canal that goes into the ocean.
Then we rode on. I can’t remember what happened there, but we ended up coming out on Old Canterbury Road at that weird stop sign. Then up Old Canterbury Road to Dulwich Hill. I was especially badarse on that last bit.
Basically, I am badarse because I’m not scared of hills any more. The Squeeze is badarse because he rides his one-gear bike very slowly, just behind me (but not too close or he gets yelled at). Going slow is harder than going fast.

need greens

I need a good nursery. We walked through Petersham today and saw two (one in Lewisham – but I’ve decided Petersham and Lewisham are the same place, even though one has Sweet Belem and the old theatre/roller skating rink and one… doesn’t), both were expensive, one was dodgy. It’s nice looking at nurseries when it’s been raining. There’s a Bunnings in Ashfield, but they suck. I need one that delivers for a reasonable fee (not $48 thanks Bunnings!).
This is what I need:
– some bales of straw/sugar can mulch for mulching. Probably two bales, maybe three. $27 is too much, thanks.
– some plants. Cheapish. I’m after about 4 small lavenders, 4 rosemarys, at least 3 natives (grevillea, banksia, protea combo), a passionfruit vine, a pretty scented ‘traditional’ vine (jasmine, etc) and some other stuff, including citrus trees for pots
– some pots. I want seedling punnets. If I buy some seedlings I’ll get some for free. But I don’t want seedlings, I have my own – they are now fighting and trying to climb out the cramped conditions in the home-made greenhouse tub (rectangular clear plastic tub – perfect mini-greenhouse for seed sprouting, less than $10 each at BigW or a junk shop. Better than a bought one, as they stack properly in our small bathroom/laundry situation). I will also need a couple of large pots for the citrus. I want some small pots for the new seedlings as well
– some potting mix. Decent stuff, probably two bags at least.
– I could also be tempted by some tools (secateurs, etc)
I could do with a feed store for the mulch, but where will I find one of those in inner Sydney?
If anyone knows a decent nursery, I’ll be your best friend forever. Must be within PT of Summer Hill.

organic farming in difficult places

Read this fascinating blog about organic farming in Kiberia – remaking garbage dumps into gardens (follow the links to the ‘Kiberia slum’ especially).
Then read this awesome article about keyhole gardens or make a freakin’ neat bag garden with this little chick from Uganda:

Or you can make you own keyhole garden (via Send a Cow).
I’m getting into this action at the moment as we have a decent garden which I’m planning to build up with some herbs, some natives and possibly some veggies (though, realistically, herbs + a couple of citrus trees will fare better with us). Our landlord is a bit particular about the house, though, so I have to give a plan of where I want it/what I want to plant to the real estate agent. I am still deciding (that’s the best bit, really), so I’m delaying. Meanwhile there’re a zillion seeds germinating (hopefully!) in our bathroom, and we’ve put in a compost bin – without permission!
There are two flats in this house (a front and a back one), and we only have two bins between us (one recycling, one general waste – still no freakin’ green waste bin!), so we need to keep our waste to a minimum. We find that with composting and generally avoiding massively packaged food (which we should all do anyway – nasty sugar, salt, artificial shit – don’t buy that prepackaged pasta sauce – make your own! Don’t buy skanky jarred sauces – make your own! They taste better and they’re much better for you), we don’t produce much garbage generally. Between the two flats we’re not filling our bins each week anyway.
I’d really like to get to a market or even a nursery to buy some plants, but we don’t have a car, so it’s going to be a challenge getting the mofos home. But we’ve hoiked heaps of shit home in our backpacks before, so we’re not afraid. I’d also like a few bales of straw to mulch the garden beds, but that might be even more ambitious. Frankly, I’m thinking about getting into growing my own mulch – cheaper, easier. There are a few seed options, but I want to think about it carefully first.
Any how, here’s my seed/plant list (btw, I buy all my seeds from eden seeds – gotta love those hippies with their 24 hour turnaround:
Plants:
passionfruit vine: fast growing, good screening plant, lovely flowers, great fruit (and I want to try a variety that likes these warmer climes)
lemon tree (pot or ground, but probably pot)
kaffir lime tree (same)
lime tree (same)
Some native action:
I’m thinking small trees (our garden is sloped and I want to screen the front rooms from the (busy) road – probably banksia, grevillea, etc. I’d like to use stuff indigenous to this area, though, so I’ll have to do some research. I’d also like to add in some smaller plants – grasses and things that smaller birds like.
So we’re looking at about 4 small trees (I’m thinking 5m max), some shrubs (4 maybe) and some grasses (as many tubes as I can afford, in as many types as I can find). All low-water ones. I’m also keen for some sort of vine (a climber not a sucker) to twine up the front steps. There are a couple of natives I quite like, but I’m considering something ‘traditional’ and quite strongly scented, as it’s a ‘federation’ type house, and really needs a ‘traditional’ element, even if I do go nuts with the natives.
The other week we were at the Ashfield shopping centre (checkin’ out the new hood), and the council had a stall where they were giving away ‘free trees’. Your average punter is never hugely interested in these – they think they’re being sold something. But I’ve seen council stooges doing this before, and I have a scam: I make them give me as many as I can before they start to balk. So we scored 3 or 4 tiny tubes of anonymous natives. I have planted them in the garden, discovering the dirt is gorgeous.
Any how, I’d put the natives in the front part of the garden, and the herbs and veggies up the side. The side is quite sloped, which is nice – good drainage. I’m considering some sort of decorative mass-planting approach: eg using a few lemon grass plants as a feature, a few rosemary plants as a low hedge up the path, lavender under the clothes line (smells good on the laundry!), some masses of parsley (I’m really fond of parsley as an ornamental – it’s so green and fiesty, and comes in a few useful varieties. I also use it a lot in cooking), and of course a heap of oregano, basil, mint, marjoram. This time I’m going to take care with different species of mint and with the oregano/marjoram – those fuckers are incestuous and you end up with a general mass of ‘plant’. I’d also like a couple of chilli plants.
I am a little bit interested in growing some ginger – it could be warm enough here. They have a whole big garden bed of native ginger at the university, so I’m going to casually hack out a heap of shoots one afternoon and take them home to pot (I’m wary of putting it into the ground as it can go nuts). I am going to brazen my way out of any challenges: “it’s ok, I’m staff, this is for a class on indigenous food, nothing to see here.”
Seeds I’ve planted in the home made greenhouse (just get a plastic tub from Big W, and fill it with the little seedling planter things – punch a few holes in the tub, but tape them over when you don’t want moisture getting out):
marjoram
parsley (flat Italian)
sweet basil
bush or European basil
Thai basil
lemon grass
some lavender cuttings
garlic chives
… and something else.
I don’t actually have much hope for my seeds, as I’ve gotten really slack and useless with germinating seeds (not like in the olden days), but still. Seeds are best, as you get nice, tough plants, and it’s about $2 for a pack of seeds that’ll make a zillion plants, as opposed to $5 for a pot of a couple of pathetic young plant that’ve been abused and force-grown in scary mass greenhouse situations. But I think I’m going to need to go to the nursery for some stuff.
Incidentally, we haven’t actually broken ground on the garden beds. Why not, when spring is so obviously upon us (and my, it’s nice being back in the subtropics, where there’re proper ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons, not this bullshit ‘European’ type seasonal arrangement)? Well, partly because I’m trying to figure my way through some sort of raised bed arrangement – it’s always a good option. I’ve been on the lookout for railway sleepers (less ambitious than you might think – we’re near a railway yard – more ambitious than people without cars should be, perhaps), old bricks, etc. I’m wondering if I’m hardcore enough to flog bricks from building sites – I’ve seen a few lying about. I know it’s wrong, but well, I just don’t care. My main concern is not getting caught. As I did today on the bus with my ‘student’ bus ticket. Damn.*
Have I mentioned that I now work three jobs?
1. working at the lovely bookshop.
2. DJing
3. teaching stoods at the Big Rich G8 Uni
I like all of them, but teaching is currently no.3, because I’m not sure academia is for me any more. Working at the bookshop is no.1, mostly because there are a lot of books there, the people I work with are lovely, and … well, there are BOOKS there. It’s not a chain store.
DJing is second, because I get to play music that I like. That’s great. This job pays crapperly, but teaching has the worst hours and most exploitative working conditions.
Teaching is interesting when it’s going well, but I’m not enjoying the broader institutional structures. I’m having trouble adjusting to a G8.
Also, I am thinking of becoming a professional explorer (kind of like this, but more with the arse kicking), because I am good at reading maps and walking. I think I’ll make The Squeeze be my Tenzing Norgay, because he is both strong and brave. He is also aesthetically pleasing, which I think will help when we are somewhere particularly inhospitable. Like North Sydney. Having conquered all of Paramatta Road from Summer Hill to Glebe, our next expedition will be to either the Glebe Markets or the Burwood Markets. We will need to employ pack ponies, I think.
*the stooge at the campus newsagent gave me the wrong ticket and I only noticed once I was on the bus. Then I just kept throwing them craps til the 5-0 busted me today. I didn’t cry, but I did try the ‘poor tourist’ card. The man was very nice, but also very strict. But it was the most hardcore bust I’ve ever been in – I’m surprised no one was gunned down by The Man. About 20 cops/traffic gumbies stood in the road (in the CBD!) and waved down the buses, then boarded and did a spot ticket/pass search. Any dodgy action, and we were off the bus, onto the curb. Then the bus was waved on, and we were left there on the side of the road with millions of The Man. But I didn’t cry. I considered it as a scam, but changed tack. Mostly I was worried I’d be late for my horrid 9am start. But I got there in time, escaping with a $100 fine. Dumbly, I failed to give an inaccurate address – I could’ve gotten away with it as my ID was all Victorian. But I don’t think I’m hardcore enough for that shit. So I took my fine like a badass and got on the next bus they waved down and strip searched.

round up

Enough of the random posts. Just join them all together and make one long stream of consciousness post.
Right now my stomach is feeling unsure. It began feeling unsure yesterday after I had chicken salad from the joint in Summer Hill. I wouldn’t have eaten there if it hadn’t been 4pm and I hadn’t forgotten to have lunch. I’d also walked to the hardware store (again – I freakin’ love that place) and then round the long way to the shops, mostly so I could look at the flour mill that’s up for redevelopment. I am fascinated by the fact that there’s a giant flour mill just down the street, and that it’s joined to another flour mill in Dulwich Hill by a special-duty train line. That one’s been made into flats, though. But I’m still really interested in it. It seems I’m not the only one into flour mills. There’s always someone leaning over the railing on the bridge over the railway, staring at the giant white flour mill (the one in Summer Hill). It’s a pretty good view – a long view, from a height. And it’s so freakin’ big. And you just know that the people having a stare are thinking about what they’d do with the site if they owned it. I don’t know why they’re bothering – it belongs to a gang of crows who’ve been terrorising the pigeons in that neck of the woods, and they’re not likely to cede it to a bunch of no-winged two-leggers who’d like a little light industrial inner-city living.
So yeah, my stomach feels a bit odd. I can’t decide if it’s dodgy chicken salad or anxiety. It could quite possibly be low level anxiety. This is the first day I’ve had to myself in the new house with no real jobs to do. I guess I need to go up to Ashfield to get groceries (we have none). I’d really like to get into the city to a) go to see some Art, and (more importantly), b) find that tapestry speciality place. But I’m apparently crippled by… that thing that makes it difficult to leave the house. I think I might chalk all this up to hormones, as I’ve actually been feeling quite wonderful ever since we got here. I really like traveling and I love being in a new city. I like all the walking. Plus Sydney’s fabulous weather is making me feel so good. I hadn’t realised just how draining Melbourne’s grey skies and nasty cold were until we left. I am remembering how nice it is to live in a warmer climate. But I’m not so struck on the increased humidity – I am also remembering its effects on my allergies.

It’s not so much that I’ve been shouting at innocent blokes, but more that I’ve been trying to rub my nose off my face and had trouble concentrating. It could be PMS, but I actually am pretty sure it’s allergies screwing with my mood. I’m trying not to take antihistamines as I seem to be on them every single day, but it’s not really making me feel nice.
I’m also at home because I’m waiting for tradesmen #62 000. Actually, it’s more like tradesman #9. Really. I am liking living in a house where the owner actually fixes things. The things we’ve needed fixed have been fairly inconsequential… well, except for the River of Effluent… but they’ve been fixed immediately.
1. windows painted shut? fixed (Charlie, from Greece – my favourite)
2. fence built? done (whatsit from Malta – initially my least favourite, but later one of my top 5)
3. forgotten bathtub spout? done (young fulla who’s name I can’t remember. ok)
4. garage door doesn’t close? not quite fixed, but at least a couple of blokes came to look at it (one of whom was Mal, whose parents were from Italy).
5. garage door still not closing? still not fixed (another bloke who failed to return and give me his life story, though he did provide a few interesting tips on the tensile strength of various metals).
6. sound proofing? quotes done (including…. can’t remember his name either. But he was Greek by descent and he lives in the outer suburbs but works in Marrickville. He recommends the cakes in Leichardt)
7 and 8. River of Effluent? dammed. (“Maria! Send tradesmen, please! The garden is full of effluent!” 2 young fullas of skip descent, up to their knees in human waste, giving our drains a good routing. White neighbour-cat carefully discouraged from helping)
9. Today it’s another sound proofing guy. Apparently the owner is going ahead with it (which is wonderful). He was supposed to be here between 9.30 and 10, but it’s 10.39 now. He and the garage door guy have failed to return.
Part of me is worried about all this tradesman action. I don’t want to use up all my credit now when I’ll certainly need it in the future… or will I? We have obviously moved up a rental bracket, to that wondrous place where wiring isn’t illegal and life-endangering (we have a trip switch! No plug points have caught fire! We have had electricity for at least three weeks!) and where plumbing is generally sound, barring the usual hiccups of a house that’s over 100 and recently had new pipes installed. No water mains have burst, filling our veggie patches with boiling water. No windows have broken, letting in arctic winds. And the stove works wonderfully. There are no mice (knock on wood), but I have seen one large cockroach in the house. I remembered why I actually wear thongs. After I dealt with it The Squeeze proceeded to sing ‘la cocka roacha!, la cocka roacha!’ around the house for about five minutes in a Tom Waits voice. It was entertaining, but perhaps too entertaining so close to bed time – it was difficult to sleep with the thought of Tom Waits serenading me in a Mexican cantina.
So I’m wondering if we’re tempting fate with all this tradesmen action.
This hasn’t stopped me asking if it’s ok to dig up the garden and plant zillions of herbs. Ordinarily I’d just do it, but the landlord seems pretty house-proud, so the rules are different. Our back neighbour (who lives in the back part of this federation home) is a chef, so he’s also quite keen on a herb garden/veggie patch. He is now My Friend, partly because I am still in post-move aggressive friendliness mode and will not allow otherwise. He is also the owner of aforementioned friendly white cat (Alby).
Alby is convinced he actually lives in our part of the house as well, and follows me around all day. He divides his time between sleeping in front of the front door in the sun, trying to climb into my laundry basket, romancing me with quite lovely accapella and playing in Rivers of Effluent. I am mightily allergic to cats, so there’s no physical contact, a lot of “No! Don’t go in there! Get out of there!” This has, of course, made me both the most interesting and the most appealing part of our neighbourhood.
The other day Alby was joined by Fluffy Tailed Black Cat from round the corner, and they both proceeded to play in the mulch and attempt domestic incursions. Alby failed (I think he’s a bit dumb – he’s very pretty, being white with pale blue eyes and a pink nose – but he’s not so smart. He’s also quite young), but FTBC had a little more luck. I was making the bed when a pair of large black ears was followed by a goofy black face over the other side of the bed. As I picked him up (physical contact! Aaaargh!) he let out a sort of ‘mrprrft’ purr-burp and kept up the chainsaw action as I clamped him under the armpits and hefted him outside.
I have also seen a giant orange and white tom with a mangled up face. Both Alby and I gave him a deal of distance as he marked out the new trees as his territory. We were both willing to concede him sovereignty.
On other fronts, I am working at Gleebooks doing functions (thanks Glen!). I like it a LOT. I was too late for sessional teaching this semester, but have lined up some contacts for next year. I have already DJed one set here in Sydney and am set for a blues set this Sunday. It seems there aren’t too many DJs here, which is a shame. But I’m really enjoying dancing, so I’m not sure I’m ready to DJ a whole lot. I will set limits.
Last weekend we went to Canberra for Canberrang, the Canberra lindy exchange. I bought a Tshirt and DJed one set. We stayed with an old school friend of mine and only attended two night’s worth. I think I prefer shorter events – Fri, Sat, Sun nights max. Any more is kind of too much. We went on the bus and it wasn’t too bad. It was also very cheap. On the way back it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. It was like Europe. With eucalypts and kangaroos. We had a good time, over all.
We have quite a few friends here in Sydney, and have already had interstate visitors. Next week we get more. And the next week The Squeeze’s matriarch arrives, so we will get our tourist on, big time. Which I’m looking forward to. I feel like the OPERA HOUSE is out there doing fun things without me every day. Then we have people coming up for SLX in September. Then my mother in October (perhaps). Then we’re down in November for MLX. Then it’s christmas, which we may spend in Melbourne, but we aren’t sure. So it’s all systems go. Sydney is apparently one of those cities people really like to visit. Partly because it rocks – there’s just so much to do. And also because the weather is nice. Which is where it pwns Melbourne.
I like Sydney, but I am a bit sad that there are so few fabric shops. I have seen two in Marrickville, and I have been given the sweet lowdown by a dress making Hollywood lindy hopper, and will get on into the city (Haymarket) to find more. Then there’s Cabramatta, but that’s miles away. At any rate, none are a short bike ride away, so it seems I will have to find new hobbies. Or rediscover old ones. I have also found a yoga studio quite near by, but it is some sort of arty made up bullshit yoga, and not straight out iyengar. I need to get on that ASAP as I miss yoga already. Also, I haven’t ridden my bike once. This means that I’m getting more exercise, but I am missing my bike. Poor blacky, stuck in the shed all day, bored and lonely. The Squeeze has been riding to work in the city and comes home with stories about having his arse kicked by the hills and making friends with other bike riders. This city is disturbingly friendly. Everyone seems so delighted that we’ve left Melbourne for Sydney – there’re lots of “How do you like it?”s and chats with strangers about cake. There are fewer conversations about the weather, but I suppose that’s because it’s so nice here there’s really nothing to say beyond “pwoar – another freakin’ beautiful day, hey?”
Alright, that’s enough blathering. I have to go…. well, not do anything, really, but I might as well think about doing something other than making internet. You know the rules: get out of bed, change out of your pajamas (or pa-yamas! if you’re Tom Waits a la cantina), leave the internet alone after a couple of hours. It is, unsurprisingly, a beautiful day, and there’re fabric shops to stalk.

greenies

Now I have a bit of time on my hands (and the inclination), I’ve been getting into the gardening a bit.
We have some very sad natives planted in the front garden, but I’ve a solution for their neglect. I take our empty juice bottles (the big two or three litre jobs), fill them with water then turn them upside down, necks dug into the ground near the plant. The water slowly seeps down and out, doing a neat slow-drip watering job. Ta-da! The plants have been a lot cheerier, even with this piss-weak bit of attention.
V_Pea_PurplePodded.jpg I’ve also had a chance to order some seeds from the wonderful Eden Seeds which arrived yesterday. It’s not exactly the best time of year, but we’ve put some rocket in a planter and I’m going to have a look at a couple of peas tomorrow (Oregan something or other and purple podded peas). I can’t believe I forgot to get beans… though they’re not always that happy in the warmest weather.
purplebeans.jpg We love the purple beans/peas, even though The Squeeze can’t really tell that they’re purple. I love the way they have purple flowers and then such amazing purple pods. They’re so lovely. That little picture up there is from the Eden Seeds catalogue, but this picture here is from our garden. That’s my hand there.
I’m looking forward to this action.
There’s also a range of purple beans which change colour when you cook them (to green) which I’ve had my eye on, but didn’t chase up. They’re called Magic Beans. (!)
Meanwhile our self-sowed (grr) cherry tomatos are taking over, crowding out the new lemon verbena plant I put in, and threatening the little baby purple chilli plant. The herbs I planted a while ago are going great guns, especially the lemon basil and the Vietnamese mint and flat leaf parsley. Usefully these are herbs we use quite often. Everything else is plodding along happily and the new yellow passionfruit vine is very happy in its big pot. Remind me to post photos of the insanely big purple passionfruit vine. It’s starting throwing ripe fruit onto the concrete and I’ve already had almost enough passionfruit for the season. It’s amazing shit, though. If you’re in Melbourne, we should arrange a handover so they don’t go to waste (we tend to give people bags of the things all season).