Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Earth Garden

A few years ago I stole borrowed my ma's and pa's Earth Garden books. The First Earth Garden Book (1975) is full of right-on peops with back-to-the-land hair, relaying how to knit houses out of cucurbit tendrils and make sourdough out of potatoes and sip elderflower bubbly while half-naked in the moonlight. It's totally up my alley. Yes, I can leach the tannins from acorns and grind them into a serviceable ... erm ... "flour" and mold them into a sorta biscuit shape and eat them with very few clothes on!* Yes, I can clabber my own raw, unhomogenised breastmilk and go totally DIY camembert!** And oh yes, stinging nettle gnocci, you're the lunch for me.***

It wasn't long after I devoured the parental Earth Garden books, that I discovered a very much up-to-date Earth Garden magazine in my local newsagenterie and an Earth Garden presence on ye olde Pfaczbuch. As an enthusiast for all things trellised, foraged, grown, tended, transformed from SPC fruit tins, and wombat-themed, I was hooked.

So you can just possibly imagine my joy when the latest Earth Garden No. 167 arrived in the post today ...

... and among the fantabulous articles on foraging for chickweed and making rocket stoves out of junk and eating gingko leaves and the surprisingly complex business of harvesting autumn veg, and brewing your own perfume, and chocolate beetroot cake recipes, and tiny houses, and fowl-wrangling, was Tim's and my disquisition on vintnering feijoas.

Feijoas, although green, torpedoid and delicious, have a habit of rotting all too soon after falling from the tree. Last year, with several kilos to despatch before they self-composted, we made 10 litres of feijoa wine, which turned out, in my opinion (but not in the opinion of my mother, my friend Eleanor, my mother-out-law, or my friend Lucy), quite delicious. At any rate, it hits you with that fruity feijoa-y fragrance, and then, when you drink it, turns out to be kind of dry and (this is the bit that amazed me, because who would have thought you could just chuck fruit juice and tea leaves and yeast in a tub and leave it to transmogrify) it tastes genuinely winey.

So we wrote about it. The science of feijoa fermentation must be shared, dagnabbit. And our account was published, just in time for feijoa season, if this little guy in the front garden is any guide ...

* an actual 1970s Earth Garden recommendation, which I actually tried. Disappointing. But good to know that, with enough oak trees, I wouldn't lack for calories after an apocalypse.
** not an actual 1970s Earth Garden recommendation
*** this wasn't recommended in a 1970s Earth Garden publication either, but I read about it somewhere, and I would totally do this. Nettles are the schizzle.


  1. Congratulations. And anything which can stop them self-composting faster than Superson is a winner in my book.
    And yes to nettle gnocci too. Such an elegant form of revenge.

  2. Thanks, Elephant's Child! I love feijoas, but as you say, they sure lack keeping qualities. Having learnt how to turn them into wine, there is now no quantity of feijoas that is too many for me to deal with. Goes for most fruit, actually.

  3. Congrats! That's great to be spreading the home brewed love. I myself have an aversion to fejoas, but I'm sure your wine was fab.

  4. Thanks, Bek. If you don't like feijoas, you probably wouldn't like this wine. There's quite a bit of mead action happening round here, on account of the bees.

  5. That mead sentence looks like a complete non-sequitur. What I meant was, "But not to fear: even if you don't like feijoa wine, and still want home-made wine, and happen to live in our house, which you don't, you'd be okay, because there's lots of mead ..."