Hello world!

October 3, 2008 by

Welcome, I’ve started this blog to share our adventures of setting up our urban farm.

In April 2007 my family moved in to a very well loved, old weatherboard in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The year before we had moved from our home in East Gippsland.

We had missed the bush, so we thought we would recreate a little country oasis in the city.

I spent many hours designing and redesigning our urban farm. Like most gardeners, I look at a plan, then go with what feels right.

What we have today is a wonderful little oasis, growing and changing every day.

Please enjoy the following photo’s and stories.

Best Wishes

Deborah and Pete

Urban Farmers

If you wish to apply to volunteer at our urban farm property please read, Volunteering at our Urban Farm.


This season’s flowers

October 26, 2011 by




There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…

October 18, 2011 by


We’ve been neglecting our blogging duties due to commitments, and we haven’t exactly been active…

However, further proof to the amazing self-regulating powers of nature in the permaculture garden, our little “urban farm” has been ticking along quite nicely.

The good rains we had last spring and summer (courtesy of La Nina) look set to continue this season, and with 4 years worth of soil-building using composting, worm-farm, and mulch crop techniques (not to mention the ubiquitous chills and their contributions) have left us with a thick, rich humus full of life.

All we have done for 18 months or so is a little tinkering around the edges. We haven’t planted anything, as everything is self-seeded.

Having said that, we are looking forward to spending more time in the garden, as it is such a lovely space to be in, and sinking our hands into this beautiful black soil is an experience that is truly exquisite.

And hopefully we’ll get it together enough to share it all with you….

A History of School Gardens

August 8, 2010 by

I wanted to share this YouTube video about the history of school gardens in the USA. Well worth a watch.

School Gardens, Library of Congress.


Protected: SAKG Specialist Tour July 2010

August 1, 2010 by

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Kumquat Recipes

July 20, 2010 by

As promised here are the recipes from a recent kumquat cook up. I am about to try some more kumquat recipes out as I am helping to harvest and preserve kumquats from a huge old tree that is being removed due to a new house being built. We are going to attempt to relocate the tree (it might just work) but either way the fruit needs to go. I worked with dozens of children today cutting the little kumquats from the branches. I think I will be dreaming kumquats tonight.

The first recipe is so yummy. I found this recipe on the net, following it is my take on it and conversion into local measurements.


Lemon Curd (Kumquat version)

Makes 1-3/4 to 2 cups

5 tbl. butter
2/3 cup lemon juice [or 1 cup kumquats – that’s about 5-1/2 ounces or 156 grams, plus 1/2 cup orange juice]
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1-1/2 tbl. grated lemon peel, yellow part only

If using kumquats, stem and seed them then whirl them with the sugar in a food processor until smoothly pureed. In a 10-12” skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and add lemon juice (or kumquat puree and orange juice), sugar, whole eggs, egg yolks, and peel. Stir with a whisk to blend well, then return to low heat and stir until mixture thickly coats a metal spoon (8-10 minutes). Pour into small jars; let cool; then cover tightly and refrigerate. This can be kept in the fridge about 2 weeks.

Kumquat Curd

Deb’s Version

Makes 2 cups.

5 tablespoons Australian Organic butter

160 grams of Locally gathered kumquats (about 1 cup)

½ cup of citrus juice (any), I used what I had on hand = 1 tangelo, 1 Meyer lemon, 2-3 mandarins.

2/3 cup of white sugar

2 free range eggs

4 free range egg yolks

1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of finely grated lemon rind

1. Take the stem and seeds out of the kumquats, do this over the food processor bowl to collect all of the juice. Place all the kumquat pieces into the food processor with sugar and blend until it becomes a smooth puree.

2. In a medium to large double saucepan on a low heat, gently melt the butter, then remove from the heat.

3. Add Kumquat puree, citrus juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and rind. Whisk until combined, place back on heat on the lowest setting.

4. Stir continuously until mixture thickens usually 8 to 10 minutes. When curd thickly coats the spoon it is ready.

5. Spoon curd into washed and sterilised jars, place on lids, label and store in fridge.

6. Use within 2 weeks if it lasts that long!!!!!!

The following is an easy to make cordial from Jackie French’s web site.


Extremely Delicious Kumquat or Mandarin Cordial

This is very easy to make, and so delicious I’m astounded that I invented it. I’ve been trying to come up with a really good citrus cordial for years. But this is lovely stuff: just slightly bitter and not too sweet but as no pulp is cooked there’s no marmalade taste.

Slice 2 cups kumquats or mandarins in a bowl. Add two cups sugar and leave till it’s liquid – about 4 hours with the occasional bash with a spoon.  Drain out liquid and add two scant teaspoons of tartaric acid to it and boil three minutes. Bottle.  Keeps for weeks but throw out if it looks cloudy or bubbles or looks or smells odd.


Jackie French’s Kumquat Cordial

Deb’s version.

8 cups of chopped kumquats with stems removed

8 cups of sugar

8 level teaspoon tartaric acid

Mix kumquats and sugar together, cover and allow to soak. Use a potato masher to crush up the mixture every hour or so.

After 4 – 6 hours place in a food mill over a heavy based saucepan, put kumquat and sugar mixture through the food mill. Add tartaric acid to the mixture in saucepan.

Bring to a boil, continue to stir for three minutes, bottle in sterilised bottles, keep in the fridge, keeps for a few weeks (this is what Jackie said), throw out if it looks cloudy, bubbles or looks or smells odd.

Melbourne Mango

July 12, 2010 by

Last year I assisted a grade at a local primary school to plant a mango.

Some might question my sanity at encouraging the planting of a Mango tree in Melbourne, here’s hoe it came about.

When I first meet this grade they had no background (and not a lot of interest) in gardening and I needed something that they wanted to do within the gardening program, something that they could own.

I asked the grade what would they like to grow and they told me MANGOES. This interest then allowed us to discuss different plants needs, how to create ‘rooms’ within a garden that might help grow plants that are not traditionally grown in that area and how we might be able to create a climate that a mango might be able to grow in.

We choose an area that in a sheltered North East position with a large amount of solid paths and walls near by to release heat in the colder months and surrounded by plants needing similar conditions.

I would like to report, 8 months on …….. the mango is still with us. It is struggling a little but I am seeing it in the same light as Avocado trees which in my experience look a little sad for the first cold season but once they are into the warmer months flourish.

Regardless of what the future is for this Melbourne Mango, if only it is to give a group of children interest in gardening then it was well worth the effort involved.

If anyone knows of any Mangoes growing in Victoria, SA or Tasmania please let me know.

Happy Gardening


Veg Out

July 8, 2010 by

Just wanted to share some photo’s I took on a visit in early July to the Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda.


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July 4, 2010 by

I’m taking a short break from cutting up kumquats. Finished the first stage of kumquat cordial and I am about to start making kumquat curd, I will report back on the results.

I love these little fruit. So undervalued that many families have trees full of fruit and leave it to rot on the tree. I kept noticing kumquat trees overflowing with fruit around my neighbourhood, especially one huge tree that I drove pass nearly every day. A few weeks ago I decided to knock on the door and ask if I could pick some kumquats in exchange for giving them back marmalade. No one was home so I left a note and a few days later a lovely woman, Yvonne called me and said I welcome to come and pick as much fruit as I liked.

Yvonne is a very skilled ‘county cook’ and makes jams, pickle etc but she just couldn’t keep up with this kumquat tree. Not only did she share her kumquat bounty but also gave me a jar of her homemade marmalade, her recipe and lots of hints. I am so glad I knocked on her door!

I took a bag of kumquats to Nona, a large bucket to school for fund raising jams and I was still left with a large bag for my own kitchen.

I made marmalade, syrup (for crepes) and pickled kumquats (from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion). Nona made her world famous marmalade (well at least it is famous to all who know her). I took a sample of each one of our creations and dropped them off for Yvonne, no one was home so I left the little thank you treats next to her front door.

Yvonne rang today to say thank you and to remind me there is more fruit to pick. So I headed off again today to fill up my basket with these cute little fruit.

Best get back to fun (can’t really call it work) and make the curd.

I will put up some pictures and recipes soon.

It’s raining…..

June 5, 2010 by

It may be a miserable and gloomy day ….. but the seedlings are loving this rain!

What a pity that all our tanks are full, as we could really stock up for the summer. I have heard the BoM are predicting a wet winter. Perhaps this also points to a particularly dry and hot summer next season?

Here’s a recipe I cooked up this morning:

I roughly chopped an onion and fried in pan at low flame. I then added chopped zucchini (maybe the last one for the season) and some mushrooms and a chopped spring onion, then seasoned with salt and pepper and oregano. After a few minutes, I added some fresh chopped spinach and olives; let that cook for a bit before adding the egg (3x eggs with a dash of milk, and salt). Turned off the flame, and put in the oven to cook at 180°C. When it looked ready, I brought it out and topped with fresh rocket leaves and sprinkles of grated pecorino cheese.

Serve on toast, with a freshly brewed cup of organic/fairtrade coffee…

We really are using the last of the autumn veg at the moment (except for pumpkins of course)…

What to do with all these pumpkins….

May 29, 2010 by

Fence pumpkin

Want a good recipe to have with all those pumpkins?

Pumpkin Soup with Sage Pesto

  • 1kg diced pumpkin
  • 2x potatoes, diced
  • 2x large onions
  • 1.5Lt chicken stock

Chuck the above ingredients into your pot and bring to the boil, then simmer until the vegies are soft. Blend, then season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Serve into bowls, and add a spoon of the following pesto:

  • 8g Sage
  • 20g flat-leaf parsley
  • 1tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • pinch rock salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50g Good quality parmesan, romano, or pecorino cheese, grated.

Blend all the ingredients together (except the cheese) until you have a green paste. You may need to add more oil, maybe salt too – see how you go. When its blended, add in the cheese and stir it all through.

You could look at adding a dollop of cream into each bowlful too. Maybe even sour cream. Experiment. The amounts of the ingredients can also be altered, depending on what you have available, and how many people you want to cook for.