Here comes the end

It’s been a dry few months, a shower here or there but nothing worth checking the rain gauge for. A food gardener cannot complain about this warm start to autumn, to them it means an extended season for growing that important food for the family. To a grower it means a few more weeks of summer veg, that by mathematical chance will now linger on vines and bushes a little longer than expected. More red jalapeño than green. More ripe tomatoes for bruschetta. Alas, the seasons are simply playing with us. The unstoppable end always comes, as it does with all facets of nature.

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The nights are cooler, the clouds fewer. By late evening the heavens empty, allowing a clear vision of celestial display. The open sky brings cooler nights. Plants feel this cold, they sense the change, either that or they simply run out of energy to grow. Maybe they don’t like the cold, whatever the case may be, it’s the unavoidable end for them. Leaves discolour, bean pods dry, zucchini become stumps. Growth will halt, all progress ordered to discontinue with the hint of the seasonal shift.

We have had the autumn break, that rain we so desperately long for, but we have noticed the drop in temperature. We’ve also noticed the roar of wind that signifies the change of season.

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Like a day marked on a calendar there is an annual chore that for me is a very significant event. It’s when I begin to pull the now fully plump beans from the tangled vines. Once proud, optimistic vines of progress and growth, the bean plant is now tired, worn out and hanging on to its glory days. It’s gift to us is the food of its seed. The beans will dry, they will store for many years, and feed us when the garden hibernates come winter.

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I pull on the gauntly vines to expose hidden bean pods lurking behind foliage. It’s a brutal technique with no shortage of grunting and yanking. There is a violence, a destructive element to the process. There is no other way. It is the end for this plant, it has to be harvested, it has to make way for the next crop. It’s a process that never fails to remind me of my own mortality. It reminds me that I too will be pulled out, removed, composted, and no doubt forgotten by nature, a measly blink of the eye in a much larger story of time.

Out of touch

Flames licked the side of the large log, sitting awkwardly in the fire. The warmth from the heater was welcome as I lay motionless, huddled under a cosy woollen blanket. It had been a long day, in fact the week had been packed. There was however still more to be done. An overflowing box of green beans sat in the room, waiting for me to hang. Some beans dry on the vines, whilst others are a bit slow, and are still very fresh and green come harvest time. It’s these green beans that I string up, to hang by the fireplace drying for storage. This box is just the beginning. Over the next month I will hang many more beans to dry.

After a few weeks by the fire the beans rattle like a maraca and are ready to be podded and stored. They serve as food, cooked with winter greens like chard, kale and spinach. It’s very much a simplistic approach to food, an approach inspired by peasant existence of the old people. It’s an approach that relies on a bit of gardening, a willingness to work and knowledge of how to cook with the ingredients you’ve grown. It’s worked for people for thousands of years, and it’s a usable approach for any time in human existence, past, present and future.

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What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for other people. And it’s not one persons place to say what is right or wrong for someone else. It’s not my place to say this technique is right or better, instead I can simply say, “this is how I do it” it’s up to you to take what you will. It’s not for any of us to say one way of living is better than another. Instead we can simply take the good elements from what we observe around us and embrace them for our own unique existence.

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  • April 3, 2015 - 11:05 am

    Bec Allinson - Lovely post. The passing of the seasons is something I really miss when living in a city… it’s just not the same. You might notice the leaves changing colour, or the blossoms coming out but…. it’s not the same at all when you’re in the countryside.

    Speaking of countryside…. I’m the girl with the offer of 4 roosters from a few weeks ago (have been out of town for the past few weeks, so unable to talk in person). I tried emailing you through the blog but not sure if it got through your spam filters, hopefully this does.

    Four young, healthy, annoying as hell roosters are yours if you want them. Beautiful creatures, but they must go. They’re stressing out the 3 poor hens to the point that they’re off the lay and have had to be separated!

    Mum’s in Noorat (near Terang) but she’s willing to drive to get them to a better home/ending, so I’m sure we’ll be able to work out something. :) ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2015 - 9:53 am

      rohan - Thanks Bec! Maybe pop those chooks on gumtree. Tearing is miles away from where I live. But I appreciate the offer!ReplyCancel

  • April 4, 2015 - 12:50 pm

    Robin Follette - I am on the opposite side of the seasons, waiting for spring (it was here yesterday…) to arrive and stay. We have more than a foot of snow on the ground still and more coming, though right now it’s raining for a few minutes while the temperature drops. I am ready to break out of winter and into spring gardening and growing, canning and drying, wild harvesting and hunting. And when that is over, I will be ready to settle into winter again. Living seasonally and all it has to offer – very nice.ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2015 - 9:51 am

      rohan - Must be getting excited about the that eh!!ReplyCancel

  • April 8, 2015 - 5:12 am

    Andrea - Hi. Love what you are doing and so envious. Wish I was at the point in my life where I could do what you do. It is on the cards, just need to complete a couple of things to achieve it. Thank you for sharing and keep up the good work. Oh and try to stay warm.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2015 - 5:47 pm

    Jacquie - Love your stories & esp photos — I too am on opposite seasons and, just seeing your season come to an end makes me more eager for spring planting of all things I can in my tiny garden (city dweller).. AND you always give me healthy ideas for dinner!ReplyCancel

It was a normal start to the day. My partner got up earlier than me, as she does every weekday. She wakes me up standing by the bed with a mug of hot brewed coffee that steams in the cold bedroom air. She sat on the edge of the bed and we shared that five minutes together before the kids come in, preparation for the school day begins and the morning slips into chaos.

This morning was slightly different. I got a happy birthday kiss, a few nice handmade kids cards and a pair of old country records. I’m almost 40, I guess statistically I’m halfway to the end. I don’t feel anything like my age, I just feel me. But these past few days I have been contemplating my existence thus far. I liked me as a kid, pre-teenage years. I haven’t really liked me since then. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, there have been plenty of moments where I’ve been selfish, thoughtless and mean. I’m not a total arsehole but I’m no angel either. I’m sure all of us would be able to say that if we where honest with ourselves. I like be honest with myself, it helps me to introspective and thus make change.

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I really didn’t like the old version of me, so I’ve been working on change. I want to be part of something positive, I don’t want to be part of the problem. Anyway, a lot of this probably isn’t making much sense. I just know I carry some scars of my past, be they physical, mental and emotional. I try not to dwell on them too much, I’d rather try to better myself and move on, which is the harder option. The other option is to load up my truck and disappear forever.

Having a go at it is what keeps me going. For example, last year I built a poly tunnel to grow warm climate veg. I was too late in the season finishing the build, so I failed to get the veg in on time, and thus had a shortened season. The late summer winds also blew the structure down and I had to rebuild one from scratch. I was so devastated about fucking up and not building something strong enough to withstand the weather. But I had another go, built a new one, with stronger steel frames sourced from a generous mate. It has survived summer and now it looks like it may withstand the fierce autumn winds. As a result I have red ripened jalapeño in big numbers for the first time. The red jalapeño makes a nicer Harissa, it makes a nicer smoked chipotle too. Hell red is just sweeter and full of taste. The green ones are ok too, I still have plenty of green jalapeño that will get used in salsa picante and maybe get smoked.

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We as humans can be a great support network or we can be emotional obstacles to each other. Over the years I’ve put myself ‘out there’ and it’s brought about some great positive interaction and also plenty of negative reactions. I’m not trained in public relations, I’m not well versed in how to effectively communicate on social media, instead I’m just a bloke that kind of fell into it. And that has brought about some problems. Somebody told me recently that I ask for too many things, and that I should get off my arse and get a job like everyone else. This hurt me. Just because I no longer have a desk job, I actually work very hard, and I’ve only ever used social media to ask for help where I can’t do it on my own. I guess I’m too idealistic when I think people out there are as passionate about this cause as I am. And I’m sorry for that. I take full responsibility for that mistake. And that’s why I’ve been doing things myself. I’m working towards buying land with my own money to set up this little project I have planned to share my way of living with people that are interested in learning (btw – every veg box I sell allows me to put money towards a deposit for land). Nothing is set in stone with this project, it’s going to be a continually evolving concept, just like us humans. We change, even though we carry scars of the past. Things that hurt us, challenge us and generally bring us down. If we only worked together.

We have many problems, us humans. But we also have the potential to work together and make something good from something that’s a bit shit. Last year I didn’t have red jalapeño Harissa, but with the help of a friend I now have a jar of spicy hot Harissa to enjoy over the next few weeks. In the scheme of things it’s rather insignificant, but for some reason I couldn’t help but make a note of it as I tightened the lid on my jar of hot red sauce. Sometimes it’s those little things that make all the difference.

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  • March 24, 2015 - 4:23 am

    Rachael - Rohan love…asking for help and support is a beautiful thing, and a key part of building community! It also reminds us why we do what we do. Never feel bad about sharing your dream and trying to inspire others to participate in making it a reality. Call us on it, continue to call us on it…I know it’s exhausting but keep on fuelling that fire that drives you, and when you get stuck, when the flame is burning low, call on those around you to fan the flames back to life. This is bigger than you and I, and that’s why the call is so strong. Because you know it’s important. You know it’s right. Never stop asking, and never stop dreaming. And Happy Birthday! xReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 4:36 am

    Tony Smullen - Rohan:

    Mate keep going and don’t let the knockers get you down. What you have done is really fantastic and just to let you know you are helping the rest of us see whats is possible when you have a dream.
    Keep on working on your dreams and remember never take no for an answer there is always a way.

    TonyReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 5:16 am

    Emmy Herring - I second Rach, never stop asking for help Ro! We love you and the work you do, and we believe in you 100%! Keep going and always remember you have lots of supporters. Happy happy birthday :) xxReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 6:06 am

    Melissa Lousie - You are a fucking delight. And extra delightful on your anniversary of birth! Another trip around the sun is certainly worth acknowledging!

    I just found your blog yesterday and have been madly reading through your archives every spare minute I get! I LOVE your views and passion – and believe me – others share the passion too… it’s just sometimes hard to hear your supporters among the dickheads. Dickheads are really loud.

    Never stop asking for help.

    We all need to open ourselves up more, ask for help when we need it – offer it when it is needed. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH NEEDING EACH OTHER! In fact I firmly believe that our disconnect from each other is part of why we’re all so screwed up. We compete instead of help. We take more than we need instead of sharing. It’s ugly, and your bravery in putting yourself out there is an example for us all.

    Hand on heart – your words and way of life are a real inspiration to me.

    - A city girl saving her pennies to create a country life xReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 7:13 am

    Roz - What Rachel and Emmy said! I won’t reword their comments as they say it well for me too. Best of luck in saving for your land.ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 7:36 am

    Linnie - Respect. I hope you enjoy your (friggin-insane-looking) Harissa / I had a crazy chilli crop this year. Chilli jam done, now looking at Harissa recipes. I’ve had so many failures in the veg patch but I don’t care – that’s how i learn. I’m forty. Been doing this 6 years since my kids were born. We hone our craft. We feed our people. And we learn to be at peace with the earth. Pretty simple really. Feels good. Love reading your post. Your words help tie people together.

    Hip hip hooray xReplyCancel

    • March 24, 2015 - 9:16 am

      rohan - Thank you guys!
      I do just keep on going, and I do value your support and encouragement.

      Peace
      RoReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 10:29 am

    Merrily - F’um. And especially, especially, don’t shut down and stop asking for help. Keep asking. Keep inspiring us and making us uncomfortable with the status quo in equal measures. It’s what you do so well.ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 10:49 am

    calum - My wife often wakes me up with a coffee too. Love is the source of these gentle moments. Love is also at the heart of your project as well. Keep going.ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 1:27 pm

    cindi beanblossom - happy birthday! keep up the good work, and be true to yourself. you encourage more than you know….ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 9:43 pm

    Jessie - Tall poppy syndrome strikes again. Someone is shitty that you have the guts and the confidence to ask! HELLO! Rohan, NEVER doubt you are part of a tribe. Your tribe is made up of like-minded people all ontheir own individual journeys to reach their chosen mountain peak and some will cut you down in order to advance their own banner. Forget the comments, offer help if they ask it and be the better man.
    My husband and I believe whole-heartedly in what you do. We want to be part of your tribe (or conversely, want you to be part of ours) and I know there are many out there who feel the same (proof in the pudding in the above comments I’d say).
    Happy birthday to you too. I never realised, we’re about the same age (’78 here) and yes, those 1/2 way there thoughts rest in my mind too. I intend to make it the BETTER 1/2! :D ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2015 - 9:57 am

      rohan - Thanks Jessie! I’ll just keep doing what I believe in and enjoy my way of living! Thanks for your supportReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2015 - 12:41 am

    joe dirt - at the end of the day I suppose only you can decide if you are actually working as hard as you possibly could be to achieve your stated dream of buying your own land… Don’t get me wrong I am sure pottering in the garden, shooting rabbits, walking in the woods picking mushrooms, rebuilding old shitty American pickups and shooting pictures for your instagram account and blog are all hard work and take up a lot of your time, but it’s not going to get you a deposit and it sure as hell isn’t going to pay the mortgage. I guess that all people where saying in get off your arse and get a job comments. Hey wouldn’t we all love to live that life, but I think most of us realise that you can’t have the dream without the boring 5 to 6 day working week that actually gives you a pay check at the end of the dayReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Sander - Rohan, look at the negative comments as a good sign! This means that people that are not yet convinced of the shit we’re in are also reading your blog! Once in a while you will plant a seed in their minds and maybe one day they will have the courage to leave their shitty deskjob and live a more valueable life like you do.
    It is hard to do things different than the other 95%, but if you feel happy closing the lid of the jalopenos at the end of the day that is all that matters. It are the scars that make you wiser and that led you on this path.
    Your stories keep me inspired and hopefully one day soon I will have the courage to quit my deskjob (although it is hard to hunt for your own meat in the Netherlands…☺)!
    Happy birthday, Rohan! And make the second half of your life the best half!ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2015 - 10:51 pm

    lemmiwinks - Hey dude, you’re just learning from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over it.ReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2015 - 9:56 am

      rohan - I try not to but sometimes it just gets to you. Keep on truckin!ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2015 - 8:04 am

    Wijatnika Ika - Hi Rohan,
    I love your blog.
    your post was very good as always.
    I wish to had those kind of adventure in my country.

    Ika from IndonesiaReplyCancel

  • March 27, 2015 - 9:38 pm

    Rob Wilmot - Get that plot of land Rohan. Without your own piece of dirt you’ll wander in the wilderness for ever. Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • March 29, 2015 - 6:05 am

    The Weekend Edition #37 | The Frugal Cottage - […] Scars & Killer Harissa by Whole Larder Love. I love this blog and the pictures. Killer Harissa sounds […]ReplyCancel

  • March 29, 2015 - 10:18 am

    al - Good on ya: I rarely comment on anything but have been reading your blog for a while now and love both what you do and how you put it out there: inspirational stuff it truly isReplyCancel

  • March 29, 2015 - 8:39 pm

    colleen craig - Hey Rohan, I’ve never commented on any of your stuff before, although I love your book and follow your blog religiously. Screw the haters and naysayers…you can’t focus on them. Just follow your own passion and vision. As long as you do that, things will work out–I believe that!
    And on a side note: I know this is totally beside the point, but what kind of jalapenos are those? We have a CSA and farm market in the states, and grow lots of jalapenos. But I’ve never seen any that look like that; plus ours don’t really get that red. I’d love to grow them if you can share.
    Thanks! ColleenReplyCancel

    • April 10, 2015 - 9:54 am

      rohan - Thanks Colleen. These ones I’ve left until the very end of the growing season so they get mega ripe and red as they make a better tasting harissa. I grow them in a sun heated poly tunnel. Works a treat.ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2015 - 10:46 am

    betty - hi, I’m just a single mum wanting the best for my kids and me and was looking at getting a vege box and read some of your words. i dont comment like this but i was a little moved and it made me sad to think that people tell you to get off your arse and get a real job and don’t like you asking for stuff that is going to help you out. maybe they’re the arseholes! coming from a european background, it is very normal that we offer each other food, veges, and all manner of wood and recycled goods if thats going to help someone out. sometimes its not even excess food/goods…. thats community and humanity sharing an ethos that makes the world go round. it makes me sad to think that people can’t just help each other out with unconditionally, without attaching a negative vibe to it. it is one of the things i love about my culture and i wish it was normal for everyone. anyway, don’t apologise for who you are. ever. i don’t even know you but its great and brave that you are on a new path and journey that is fulfilling you the way you want.ReplyCancel

    • April 8, 2015 - 12:52 am

      rohan - There seems to always be someone with a negative agenda. I think we just support the ideals of better living and do what we can in our personal lives to reduce our impact on the environment and eat healthier real food. That is all we can do really.ReplyCancel

Tonights meal was the bomb. I had to share it with you because it’s everything I want to achieve in life (in regards to food and life-style etc).

It was a simple meal, really nothing flash at all. But it was delicious. It made me happy. It was a happy meal to eat. And best of all, most of it came about from effort on my behalf, i.e. I grew it.

Zucchini grilled, fresh garden rocket, dill leaves, jalapneo and onion all plucked from the backyard garden. It was dressed with home made red wine vinegar and topped with my Jamon lardons which I fried.

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This meal if everything to me. It’s what I want to share with people when I set up The Nursery Project. I want to make this with complete strangers and get them excited about real food and how to grow and raise it.

I love my back garden, but it’s a rental. I won’t be here for ever. In fact I’ve started looking at patches of land where I can set up the Project. Land IS NOT cheap man! And now that I’m buying this land with my measly finances I’m kinda freaking out.

What if no one comes to learn? What if the Nursery Project is a complete dismal flop? I guess I just have to continue on and hope for the best. The main goal is to set up a place to share ideas and knowledge. Worse case scenario, I’m sure I’ll cover that goal.

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  • March 10, 2015 - 9:39 am

    Bec A - Looks great! I’m about to cook up a big dish of.. I don’t even know what to call it… with some of the lovely ingredients from the Veggie box we got from you on the weekend :)

    I sure I’m not the only one, but I really hope The Nursery Project becomes a reality. I’d love to come, and I’d really, really love my carnivore of a partner to go and learn how to kill and prepare his own meat. If he’s gotta eat it, I’d much rather it be a rooster from the backyard that I know had a great life, or how to shoot some feral rabbits etc.

    I try not too be too preachy (who doesn’t love a preachy mostly-vegetarian?!) but it bothers me when he buys conventional chicken and bacon :( ReplyCancel

    • March 10, 2015 - 11:35 pm

      rohan - It’s hard to keep the preaching down. It’s my biggest flaw!ReplyCancel

      • March 11, 2015 - 8:14 am

        Bec A - Hah, was telling Mum about you. She wants to know if you want 3 (possibly 4) roosters heh. She let one of her clucky hens hatch a clutch. 3 roosters out of 4. And she’s skeptical about the last chicken.

        Anyway, they’re yours if you want them! She could probably get them to Ballarat some time…ReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2015 - 11:20 am

    Pat - Looks really good, as much for what’s not in it as what’s in it. Simple, clean, crisp food for the soul.

    People like you remind me to keep chipping away. I need to get some wicking beds ready for tomatoes and cucumbers next year. Neither did as well as they should’ve this year in the raised beds (not enough watering is my bad). Good work.ReplyCancel

    • March 10, 2015 - 11:35 pm

      rohan - Do it! If you can automate that watering system all the better I say!ReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2015 - 12:57 pm

    Alyssa Galea - People will come. I’ll come. Promise.ReplyCancel

    • March 10, 2015 - 11:35 pm

      rohan - They will. Even if they come in small numbers, at least I will be able to reach out to a few!ReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2015 - 2:10 pm

    Jacqui - How satisfying it is to eat a wholly self produced meal! In the UK, Hugh f whittling stall set up a Landshshare project which linked up people with land they couldn’t use with folk who were looking for land to cultivate. Maybe there is a similar project in your area. Best wishes x
    http://www.landshare.netReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2015 - 4:09 pm

    Stormi - Right there with you! Yard to table and in a rental too. I have kicked this very idea around in my head, a place to grow, harvest, cook, eat, and share food. We should talk. Your plate looks delicious!ReplyCancel

    • March 10, 2015 - 11:36 pm

      rohan - This is my dream. By the end of this year I hope to have enough deposit to buy some dirt and set the Nursery Project up!ReplyCancel

  • March 10, 2015 - 4:10 pm

    Zelda - Wow, that looks delicious! How satisfying to have produced all the ingredients yourself, congrats!ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 12:48 am

    Lisa Cavallaro - Hi Rohan,

    Thanks for sharing. Big fan of your work and dream.
    Can I suggest that you connect with Nick Ritar Milkwood Permaculture? I had the opportunity to meet Nick when we were both living in Mudgee. I have followed him since – inspirational plans and executions. His workshop model may assist your plans, I see a cross pollination opportunity

    Lisa
    Ground to Table. 0417077475ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 7:42 am

    Sarah Raaen - This looks freaking delicious, Ro – and one day we will all be sitting around those big tables in the mess hall creating and enjoying this meal and many others with the hella fresh produce from your land. Never fear, they.will.come. I sure as hell will!

    I say it again, dude, you’re living the dream.ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2015 - 9:25 pm

    Jessie - Well I can promise I will be there to learn so you have at least 1 student and I suspect many hundreds more.
    Land is frightfully expensive and the more accessible it is the dearer sadly (but understandably). Good luck on the search.
    Drooling over that meal. It looks awesome. A truly happy meal!ReplyCancel

  • April 4, 2015 - 10:16 pm

    Lisa B-K - Keep on keeping on. Yr work inspires as we head into spring where I live.ReplyCancel