August Update; Aquaponics, Fruit Trees and Bacon

As you read this email the ink is hitting the paper on issue two of Pip and thanks to all the amazing people who have contributed articles from around the country it is a really inspiring read.  The magazine will arrive as a huge pile of boxes next week when my shed will turn into a mail house and some serious envelope packing sessions will begin.  Ready to earn some pocket money kids? Then they will be sent off to travel around the country to land in the letterboxes of all you wonderful subscribers out there.  And if you’re not a subscriber yet, check out our special offer below and become one.

This month has been a full one. I have been witnessing the magic of aquaponics, I’ve been planning and planting out our orchard/ food forest and finishing off processing our pigs, oh and pulling the magazine together.

Alex has been like a mad scientist out in the greenhouse with the aquaponics, measuring levels, with test tubes of colourful water looking for nitrites and nitrates and ammonia.  Although we don’t have fish in yet, we have planted some strawberry runners and they have grown like mad in just a few days.

Day one after planting.
Three days later, small fruit.
Three days later, full of leaves.

We purchased the fruit trees for the orchard and we’ve started planting it out. I have dug large circles around the trees that we have planted and loosened the soil, and started planting understory plants, like strawberries and yarrow for ground cover, tansy and mint as fragrant herbs and some flowering bulbs as bee attractants.  I have dotted a few nitrogen fixing legumes between the trees and I can see it starting to take shape.  We’re holding a fruit tree growing workshop here next week for anyone in the area who’s interested,  see below.

The big thing we’ve been doing this month is finishing off processing  the pigs. Processing two whole pigs is a huge job and one that involves a lot of work and a lot of research.  We found it was really difficult to get any straight forward and consistent advice.  We’ve been reading cookbooks, looking online, researching the best way to do things.  I would read one recipe and think right, ok that’s the way to do it, then I would read the next and it would totally contradict it. The main books I used were; The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book by Matthew Evans and his team in Tassie (2012, Murdoch Books Pty Ltd)  Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall’s The Original River Cottage Book (2011, Harper Collins).  I really liked the simplicity of The Gourmet Farmer book, the recipes were pretty low fuss, simple recipes with useful notes and a bit of an explanation that helps you make some of the decisions you need to think about while processing cured meats.

Cook books and salt.
Pork, fennel and vietnamese mint sausages.

What I would like to share with you is the bacon recipe that I thought worked the best. I have made bacon before and I have had other people’s homemade bacon and it has always been dry-cured and ridiculously salty, so much so you couldn’t really eat it straight, it needs to be soaked in water before using.  So this time I thought I would try the wet-cured bacon.  I got this recipe from the Gourmet Farmer Deli Book.

Look in issue 2 for a chorizo recipe.

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