Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

A Spicy Love Affair; Clarence Cuisine with Casey Challacombe

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

A Spicy Love Affair; Clarence Cuisine with Casey Challacombe

Article excerpt

I HAVE to admit my thumbs have only the slightest of green tint to them but my affair with gardening is still in its honeymoon phase.

I married into a family with a long history of living off the land but I hadn't been responsible for my own patch until 18months ago. Since then I have grown some spectacular vegetables taking my love of fresh local produce to the next level. One of the habits associated with any new love is the research phase. I have collected books, magazines and read DIY blogs into the wee hours of the morning. I joined chat forums and Facebook groups and soon found myself giving advice to people starting out on their own veggie patch journeys.

One Facebook group I have come to check daily is the Clarence Valley Online Home Grown Community for Fruits Veg and Eggs, quite the mouthful in more ways than one. Nearly a thousand locals have come together online sharing their harvests and bartering anything from free range eggs, native finger limes or trombone-shaped squash.

While I've traded coffee and cake for a few goodies, it's keeping up with what's in season, stealing ideas and the advice that I thrive on reading.

A fortnight ago, a mother came on to the Facebook page as proud as punch that all her daughter wanted for her seventh birthday was a veggie patch. Scores of suggestions quickly popped up with easy-to-grow vegetable options, offers of seeds, seasonal advice and, of course, the opportunity to share the story of my first love once more.

Just over 18 months ago I fell in love with radishes. Spicy little, brightly coloured packages of unfailing love.

No other crop has shown me such success nor been as forgiving as my first packet of heirloom radish seeds. Ready for harvest in less than a month, they are the perfect beginner crop and as they grow partially above the ground they proved to be a treat for my two-year-old daughter as well.

The only problem is having enough patience between the two of us to not pull up every splash of colour we see. One year into growing radishes, proud as punch of my crop and in support of the slowly shrinking, fresh produce section of the Grafton Show, I dropped an assortment of 12 of my roundest and brightest radishes making sure to have different colours in each bunch. …

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