When we asked if any locals were growing ginger, the first response came from John Robertson of Ainslie (Kitchen Garden, June 7). The second came from John Landos, of Ainslie; he and his wife Jacquelyn live in a villa at Goodwin Village. He invited me to visit the village and arranged for me to meet Gillian Helyar, who is the organiser of one of two residents' vegetable gardens.
We met in the main building, next to the popular indoor cafe and were joined by another gardener resident, Felicity Siro. They took me to see vegetable beds across a croquet lawn and beside the indoor swimming pool. The beds were full of snow peas, broccoli, rainbow chard and mint. Any resident is welcome to garden there and harvest edibles.
Gillian invited us to see the garden from her fourth-floor apartment with its magnificent northerly views, with Mt Ainslie to the east. She and her husband Keith had lived in Wagga and moved to Watson where they built a solar-passive house. There, they were guerilla gardeners planting potatoes and onions on the nature strip where self-sown pumpkins grew. They moved to Goodwin three years ago.
Then we went down to the gardens. There are 12 large raised beds, each allocated and tended by an individual resident. They include one tended by Gillian and another by Felicity and beds are filled with cauliflower, broccoli, spring onions, carrots, broad beans, peas, garlic, rainbow chard and bok choy.
Plants are purchased from the Capital Regions Farmers' Market and from IGA Ainslie when they have pots of edibles from Reid Tiny Farm. One community bed is devoted to herbs for all and there is a heavily laden lemon tree.
Felicity Siro moved to Goodwin in 2013 from Narrabundah where she gardened. During our visit she harvested cos lettuce, radicchio and rocket to make a green salad to accompany the penne pasta and a bolognese sauce made by her husband, Sandor. Felicity says she tends to improvise with recipes according to what ingredients are to hand and a favourite is a lentil and spinach soup published years ago in The Canberra Times. She makes cumquat and orange jam from a prolific cumquat tree on their balcony while Sandor contributes Hungarian dishes.
A glasshouse in the garden has tools for general use, a carefully kept rainfall chart from the rain gauge and an open bag of sugar cane mulch in a compost tumbler. Seedlings are raised here and John starts tomato season in mid August by sowing Tiny Tims as, due to their small surface area they ripen quickest. He plants saved seeds of Kotlas, a mid-sized tomato from Eden Seeds. For the late season he sows Grosse Lisse from saved seed. The plants are protected overnight in his garage or are taken on the couple's regular trips to Tuross where it is a few degrees warmer and with no frost.
John has five blueberry bushes in his front garden which produced five kilograms of fruit last season, red and black currants, raspberries and strawberries. His villa has a gate that leads into the community garden. In a raised bed in his courtyard ginger was about to be harvested. It has produced an excellent clump of roots and knobs. In the early 1970s John did an Asian cooking class at Canberra CIT in Reid. He and Jacquelyn make a simple dressing to go with their Thai beef salad (with lemon grass added) or with salmon steaks.
zest and juice 1 lime
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 red chilli, sliced thinly,
1cm knob ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1. Mix together. Quantities can be altered to taste.
bunch of rainbow chard (or silverbeet or spinach)
1/2 cup cream (can use evaporated milk or milk and a bit more flour or another egg)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
sheet of puff pastry
1. Put cooked and chopped spinach in a pie dish and add crumbled feta. Beat the rest together and pour over the spinach/cheese and mix a little. Top with a layer of puff pastry, brush top with oil or melted butter, cut the top decoratively and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook in oven at 200C for 15-20 mins and sit pie for a few minutes before serving. Serve with a tossed salad.
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