There’s a local lore in Southern Tasmania, that if you want to successfully grow tomatoes in your food garden, you must plant them on the one and only ‘Tomato Planting’ day of the year – otherwise known as ‘Show Day‘. This is the day when the entire greater Hobart region grinds to an absolute halt and nothing other than tomato planting or show going, happens. This whole shenanigans of ‘show day’ was quite the calamity for us ‘just arrived in Tassie’ mainlanders 5 years ago! We were baffled at why we had to live in limbo for a whole day when we first arrived, biding our time at the Hobart airport hotel, waiting until normality resumed on the following day to collect our key from the Real Estate Agent! Yes, show day is a huge thing in Hobart – whether you’re show going or not, because it also dictates the one and only day of the year that you should, if you want any chance of a good tomato harvest, plant your little seedlings into the Earth. A day earlier and you risk Jack Frost pummelling them to the ground, a day later and your harvest will not ripen in time through our short windowed ‘growing season’.
Therefore, like all good ‘lore’ abiding Southerners, yesterday we visited our local seedling growing friend, Lindy of Island Herbs for a good mix of local climate loving tomatoes and also courted some self seeded cherry tomato seedlings from Nanny and Poppy’s greenhouse soils where their boomer cherry tomato plants kept producing right into late Winter, having only just recently given themselves over to returning back into Mother Earth’s cradle.
:: Placing plants around the space in their pots before beginning to plant so as to plan out the area first ::
Marlin and Papa spent a recent weekend converting our simple garden shed into a space with deep filled garden beds made of fallen fence palings on our property. I cannot tell you the number of applications these old abandoned fence palings have been put to good use in. From compost bin bays, to garden borders, orchard net supports, park benches and even a clothing rack to hang and fold clothes on in our bedroom. He’s quite the ingenious man our Papa and we’ve been greatly inspired through the years by some of the creative ideas and notions in Alys Fowler’s book ‘The Thrifty Gardener‘. Alys is one of my favourite food garden authors and my other two favourites of hers are; The Thrifty Forager and Abundance.
We have planted a mix of predominantly heirloom variety fruits with a sprinkling of various chillies and capsicums throughout. A handful of tiny bite size fruits and then the majority being larger ‘beefsteak’ style tomatoes with a few plum/roma shaped tomatoes as well. Our mix includes; cherry tomatoes (I’m unsure of the exact variety of these as they are self seeded), yellow pear, tommy toes, marianna’s peace, amish paste, st. pierre, money maker, apollo, debarao plum, black krim, black russian, hungarian heart and tigeralla. Hopefully the tomatillos will come up again from seed in the garden – I’m sure they’re already doing so underneath the jungle canopy – otherwise we’ll plant a few of those seedlings as well.
Last season we missed out on making one of our favourite condiments for the Winter – green tomato chutney. We normally mix tomatillos and the last of our season’s green tomatoes, but unfortunately last year our tomato crop was less than impressive – bordering on near non existent. I’m guessing we most likely ignored the local lore and thought if we planted a few days either side of Show Day, what could possibly go wrong!
:: I remember reading years ago in a Waldorf article, how the 6 year old child needs heavy duty, meaningful work; raking leaves, wheelbarrowing and carrying fire wood as a few examples. I know that this Grade 3 farming year will deepen this work a little further and I think it will be wonderfully therapeutic for Chilli! ::
Heading into the Grade 3 farming year with Chilli, it’s wonderful to see not only her interest, but also her ability in the farming and cooking tasks around the home, increasing. She’s become quite the little cook, whipping up cakes, muffins, breads and other treats, all on her very capable own. I’m looking forward to journeying into this growing season with her in this more focussed way. Including preserving tasks in her school program, means we should get to a lot more of the recipes we like to include in our Autumn repertoire, but occasionally don’t get to through day to day busyness.
The base of our Grade 3 farming studies next year will be the Seedlings course from Spiral Garden, alongside the Herbal Roots Zine program and also bring in elements from Earthschooling and Christopherus homeschooling programs. Everyday food growing, seasonal preserving, making compost, keeping chickens for eggs and watching springtime sheep shearing are all part and parcel of our daily life. We are deepening our own farming practises over the coming year and also therefore the opportunities Chilli will have for learning more about these activities in her Grade 3 studies. My parents keep sheep and goats for us that we will be raising for meat, we are looking at the possibility of a milk cow homed at a friend’s property, we have begun expanding our chicken keeping to be able to process our own meat chickens and I am hoping we will have the opportunity to attend a farming and cooking workshop throughout 2017 at Fat Pig Farm’s new school and restaurant facility. We’re planning for the year ahead to include building bee hives as well as a wood fired pizza oven. I know that Chilli will also love the Earthschooling Fibre Arts block contained in the handwork program for Grade 3. I’m hoping we will be able to visit a local spinner who also dyes her own wool, as well as a local weaver. I’m envisaging a little bit of a ‘Pelle’s New Suit‘ project for her! The spinner lives behind our first property here in Tasmania and keeps her own alpacas whose wool she spins and dyes. These alpacas were such a beautiful part of Chilli’s early childhood and first experiences here in rural Tasmania, that it will be lovely if we can include these in our fibre block for Grade 3 handwork.
:: Before planting our tomatoes, we headed into the bush areas of our property and collected sticks to fix in the soil and plant in front of. These of course, as our tomato plants thrive through the coming months, will become our stakes for tall growing, strongly supported food plants of beauty and greatness! ::
:: Chilli enjoyed being able to use a handsaw for the first time on her own, in a real world application ::
:: Papa spoke with Chilli about how the water sits on top of the soil and takes a while to filter down to the roots of the plant. They discussed when we water plants, why it’s important to do so with a sweeping motion, giving a light water and returning a few times. Chilli was amazed to dig a little into the soil and realise for all the water she and Marlin had put onto the soil, just below the surface was very dry! ::
:: Our rustic, scrap craft gardening, tomato hot house ::