Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Growing from seed is pretty rewarding stuff. I’ve grown tomatoes for a long time as they are super easy. I have yet to master the art of saving seeds, but I have a few books on the subject so am hoping to learn. When we were down at the old farm awhile back my ex boyfriend’s mother and I attempted to save some heirloom tomato seeds but we didn’t get the process right. It still looked pretty.

Seeds

The proper way to save tomato seeds:

  • Choose the best ripe fruit from the best plant
  • Scoop out the seeds and jelly membrane into a clean container
  • Add a small amount of water
  • Partially cover the container and leave in a warm place out of direct sunlight to allow fermentation
  • After a few days remove the foamy mould on the top and then thoroughly rinse the seeds
  • Lay seeds out and allow to dry for roughly a week
  • Store in an envelope in a dry dark place

The Backyard Farmer has an illustrated guide if you need more info.

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My brother and sister in law bought me a bunch of lovely heirloom seeds which I first planted in rich seed raising soil in protected little containers, and then transferred to the ground at the old farm and Nonno’s.

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Unfortunately most things I planted at the farm got eaten by bugs and rabbits, but my beans did really well, and I was able to fill my hat to the brim with crunchy green beans.

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All photographs by Sophia Kaplan.

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My first issue of Wilder Quarterly arrived last week, thanks to a very good man.

Wilder

It’s a beautifully designed US magazine all about the natural world. This issue has stories about foraging for mushrooms in Finland, planting a winter garden, Kyoto’s Moss Temple, migrating butterflies and heaps more. I have a subscription now and I’m excited to keep reading.

Wilder Quarterly

Check out their blog here.

Cover images from Wilder Quarterly.

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Photographs by Gavriel Maynard.

I was in the UK and France earlier this year visiting some friends and my little sister who is currently studying in Bordeaux.

I spent a couple of days in Reading (half an hour out of London) with some family and we got to visit one of my favourite gardens, the Harris Garden at the University of Reading where my grandfather was Dean of the Faculty of Science for a period.

Harris Garden Plan

The modern botanical garden was established in 1972 and is set on the home paddock of a now demolished Victorian house which in turn was built in the landscape garden created by George, Marquis of Blandford between 1798 and 1810.

The above pictures are film, the rest are just from my phone.

This garden is quintessentially English. Very lush, with paths winding through, crossing over, and gently tapering off. There are structured lawns with hedges, flowering meadows and herb gardens. I found a bunch of wild garlic which we discreetly dug one head up to use for dinner that night. It feels quite magical and makes me nostalgic, I felt like a child again.

 

Garden plan from Friends of The Harris Garden.

All photographs by Sophia Kaplan.

Eric Madigan Heck is an incredible photographer and I especially like this Mary Katrantzou Autumn Winter 2011 ‘Surreal Plains’ shoot. Flowers are a theme through a lot of his work.

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Photographs by Erik Madigan Heck.

Earlier this year my brother got married and I helped the lovely Nhu Christy with the flowers.

The bride and groom are both big foodies so along with the incredible catering from Aria and fresh pizzas from Rosso Pomodorro we tried to incorporate this into the flowers as well, using rosemary from the garden as well as fig branches from the markets. My sister and I wore simple flower crowns and we had big ‘buckets’ of blooms around the gardens.

Check out my sister-in-law’s food blog The Gourmet Forager for more pics from the day.

Photographs by Tealily Photography.

I’ve never been to Japan but my interest in visiting is growing. Here are a few things I’d like to see.

This is a rather weird and wonderful little film for Japanese department store Laforet in Tokyo. It was created by agency Hakuhodo.

Currently showing (from November until March) is this pretty breathtaking light tunnel. It’s located in a botanical garden on the island of Nagashima.

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From one tunnel to another, incredible wisteria in the Kawachi Fuji Gardens, Kitakyushu.

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And last but not least these cute shots of the semi wild cats of Fukuoka Island by Fubirai.

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Photographs of the light tunnel from Juxtapoz Magazine.

Photographs of the wisteria from Buzzfeed.

Photographs of the cats by Fubirai.

For the last two years I have been living in a semi-converted warehouse in Sydney.

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It’s a big fun space, but has no backyard or balcony. I have been dreaming since moving in that our landlord will put a rooftop terrace above our kitchen where we could grow all sorts of herbs, tomatoes and passionfruit, but I think it will remain just that, a dream.

In the meantime I have been steadily building my indoor plant collection. I definitely have a tendency to go a little overboard at the nurseries.

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It’s interesting to see what thrives and what doesn’t. Kentia palms are one of my favourites. All my Kentia palms are from trips to Lord Howe Island where they are native and only allowed to leave the island under strict conditions. They are very hardy, but do have a tendency to get some sort of scale disease if they aren’t taken care of properly. I also have a lot of peace lilies which remain happy even in low light areas of the warehouse. They need very little attention, my problem is usually giving them too much fertiliser which makes the tips of their leaves brown. Succulents also work well, but ferns not so much. I think it gets too dry and hot or cold under the tin roof for them to thrive.

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I also have a desk set up under one of the windows where I can get my hands dirty potting pants with my stash of sand, soil and other tools.

warehouse

Last year my mother took my sister and me to Melbourne for the weekend to see the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. It was a powerful showcase of that incredible era of creativity.

While in the city we visited the Royal Botanical Gardens. Despite being the middle of winter, the gardens were in bloom.

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My sister and I snapped away at everything.

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Photographs by Sophia Kaplan.

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