THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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The Kitchen Garden Guide - May
Late autumn is my favourite time of year in the kitchen garden. The harvesting and preserving pressures are finished, seeds have been collected and stored, there has been some rain, everything is green, self-sown treasures are popping up everywhere, and the sowing and planting pressures of spring are months away. Now is the time to work on the soil, to reshape beds, to make compost, to prune, to protect tender plants and to sit on the verandah in the sun and watch the light as it changes day by day. Brassicas are flourishing, Chilean guavas and cape gooseberries can be picked by the handful as you pass by, grape leaves are turning and apples are abundant. Life is good, here in southern Tasmania.
Shorter days and frosty nights
Some plants (and people) love shortening days and freezing nights and will thrive throughout winter. Such vegetables and herbs include alliums, such as garlic and garlic chives, onions, walking onions and potato onions and as well as brassicas and broad beans, but also some surprising things, like lettuce and Asian greens. Two varieties of winter lettuce that readily self-sow in my garden, oakleaf and freckles, are coming up now. I prick some out and transplant to fill gaps elsewhere and some I leave to grow in situ, with no protection at all. Bok choy, mizuna, daikon radish, frilly mustard, chicory, endive and others also thrive in the cold, without any protection and even in a little shade. Winter is a beautiful time for the food gardener and forager.
Nettles are abundant too, in cool, damp spots, making excellent soup, pesto, tea and a brew for the garden. In France, nettle tea is regularly used as a tonic for plants that lack vigour, where packets of dried nettles for that purpose can be found in garden centres. In your own garden, don a pair of washing up gloves and cut nettles with scissors, leaving enough to regrow. Put the whole lot, stems and all, into a bucket with a lid. Cover with water and leave for a couple of weeks. Dilute and water over anything that needs a lift.
For preparing to drink yourself, pick as you need, check for insects, dirt and dead leaves, then with tongs, put the whole lot into a coffee plunger, so it is stuffed full. Pour over boiling water and leave to steep for at least 10 minutes. Press the plunger down and enjoy. Refresh once more before starting again.
As with all herbal remedies, some people may experience side effects. Start out by only having one cup of nettle tea to make sure you don’t have any reactions to it.
Pesto made with half fresh nettles, half parsley plus walnuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese is the perfect quick lunch, spread on toasted, home made sourdough or scooped up with carrot or celery sticks.
Cook one onion in a pan until soft. Add lots of nettles (leaves roughly picked from stems), one large potato, one large carrot, one litre of good, light stock and cook for 15 minutes or until the potato is well cooked. Blend and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt or a drizzle of olive oil or neither.
Tasmania is surrounded by sea and yet we tend not to forage the shores and shallows for food. Did you know that our soils are low in magnesium and that this means your vegetables are too (unless care has been taken to add magnesium to the soil, usually by using dolomite lime or Epsom salts)? Magnesium is vitally important for our health. Magnesium can also be added to the soil simply by adding seaweeds to your compost or liquid feed. Magnesium can be added to your diet more directly by eating the seaweed yourself. All of the longest lived peoples of the world eat many different sea plants; think Okinawa (Japan) and Sicily.
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is a common seaweed in Tasmanian waters but it is an introduced weed, probably arriving on the bottom of ships and making a home from St. Helens to Dover. Search the internet for photos so you can identify it. I don’t know of any plants in our seas that are toxic but, the sad thing is, some of our coastline has been raped by industry plus land and sea farming which has left toxic residues in our once pristine waters.
The regulations for taking seaweeds from the beach, according to the DIPIPWE website, is 100 kilograms per day. Seaweeds should never be taken directly from the sea.
Garlic varieties are many and each has its own ideal planting time. I like to plant an early, a mid and a late season variety. May is mid season. Garlic is reasonably shallow rooted so a friable, well-drained 15cm of soil will do. Poke the best cloves you can find into the soil, about 15cm apart, cover over, water once then leave them alone. All the information you need can be found on the Tasmanian Gourmet Garlic facebook page and website.
Plant in the garden now
• Perennial leek bulbils including elephant garlic
• Garlic cloves
• Potato onions
• Seedlings of Asian vegetables
• Flower bulbs
Sow in the garden now
• Broad beans
• Bok choy
• Mustard greens, especially frilly
• Miners’ lettuce
• Corn salad (mache)
• Shungiku (edible, Japanese chrysanthemum)
• Salad and spring onions
• Stinging nettles (for teas and pestos all winter)
Sow in trays to plant out
• Broccoli raab
• Red onions
Sow to stay in the hothouse or outside in frost-free areas:
• Sugar snap peas, podding peas
Books, my gift to you
“You may wonder why I always give you books for presents…” is a statement I have often been known to say, especially to my own children and their friends, when presenting them with a book. As a child I could never get enough books. I used to bury my head under the bedclothes, with a torch for reading, long past a sensible “lights out” curfew from parents. “Books, my gift to you” is a saying that has been brought out of retirement since the introduction of grandchildren into our lives. We have often been befuddled with the array of toys that children seem to want. For little mister four-year-old, who answered “Monster trucks” when we were silly enough to ask what he would like for his birthday, the decision to revert to the old favourite was a good one. He ended up with eight or nine monster trucks on his most recent birthday, many of which didn’t last the distance of the party. When presented with a book, he sulkily said – “no books”, but then happily sat down with Granddad for a session of cuddles and reading. Reading to children is essential for their learning as well as being a wonderful way to bond. The cuddles and the contact are special, the benefits of which last longer than the life of a monster truck.
Positive benefits of books
The gift of a book is a special thing – it isn’t just giving an “easy present”. For me it is much more, something that opens out and out, spreading waves of consequences. Like ripples on a pond, ideas from books flow into and link to other experiences and past and future awareness and understanding. Almost everything one reads has a connection to something else. A really good reading experience will fire our imagination and make us want to learn more. Giving books can be a close and personal connection, like a compliment. When someone recommends a book or article they have read and says to you “I read such and such – I think you will enjoy it”, it’s like saying to the person – “something was good, gave me pleasure, jolted my thinking, or my consciousness, or my conscience. It made me feel good, happy, sad, joyous, hopeful or wonderful, and I thought of you. I would like to share something special with you, because you are special and wonderful, and I hope that it will also give you pleasure or enjoyment.” It truly is a compliment – the gift that keeps on giving, especially when it opens up new experience, or jolts a quest for learning about something new – “…which is why I give this gift to you …”
Authors and writers looking for an outlet
Authors and writers are special people. They trade in ideas, discussions, arguments, feelings and learning. The current climate has presented many challenges for writers, especially as the shape of the publishing industry changes from print to digital and with the disappearance of many bookshops. Authors and writers are not disappearing – although outlets for their products are becoming harder to break into due to increased competition. An author may not be able to access a deal from an established publishing house and may choose to go it alone, either by self-publishing or by arranging a deal of using the services of a publishing company. Fee-for-service is one way to go and may include some promotion and support from the publishing company. Some writers are banding
together to sell their own books independently.
One such possibility is the Tassie Indie Author Book Fair, on again this Saturday 8 May, at Brooke Street Pier, Hobart, between 10am and 3pm. This is a two-way arrangement – if you are an independent author or if you are interested in finding a wonderful story (or several) join with others who are interested in reading and writing.
The Tassie Indie Author Book Fair had its inaugural fair in 2019 and was one of the casualties of the COVID-19 shutdown. Happily, it is on again this year. At least sixty tables, many of them occupied by independent writers, will offer a wide array of books in as wide a range of genres. There will be some distributors, publishers and editors, some book clubs and writer’s groups and at least one book outlet shop, Hobart Bookshop. There is likely to be something for any interest. You may wish to talk to a writer or listen to a book reading. Whatever you do, give yourself a gift that keeps on giving – a special book from a Tasmanian independent writer.
Why is it so?
Some weeks ago, I heard an interview on ABC where the person said, “if you are going to get dementia, get it before you turn 65”.
Now I know why, but it is almost unbelievable.
A recent article about The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, (you can read the complete report – see link below – Comparing aged care and NDIS support: A funding analysis) states, the Royal Commission “described Australia’s aged care system as “unacceptable” and “unsustainable” and raised the issue of the NDIS receiving higher funding per recipients than aged care residents. The commissioners recommended increased funding to the sector “based on need” and “not rationed”.
No one would deny that the disabled needed more help. Many of them, with that help, can lead much more fulfilling lives. But the figures are staggering. “The NDIS maximum is almost $500,000. As of September 2020, NDIS participants with high needs (41% of recipients), have average annual support of about $200,000. Those with the highest impairments average a package of $493,170.
“For those with moderate needs (42%), annual support was $61,000. The average package for those with low needs (16%) was $22,000”.
By comparison, the aged care maximum is $139,000. And “in aged care, about 67% of participants received basic home support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), which is about $3,000, on average, annually.” This is the service for those not getting an ACAT allocation. With all these anachronisms the whole area is a nightmare I will try to explain!
The Aged Care Assessment (ACAT) “Is organised by an Aged Care Assessment Team and is required for a person who needs to be approved for Government-funded services including a nursing home (aged care home), home care, residential aged care, transition care or respite care.” An ACAT assessment is used to make a recommendation for the type and level of care that will best meet a person’s needs. It goes from level 1 to 4, 4 being the highest. The assessment looks at a range of factors including: “your health and medical history, your physical requirements, such as how well you can get around and do everyday activities, your psychological needs, for example, how you are feeling and whether you have experienced depression or mental illness.”
The whole philosophy behind the assessment and allocation of funds is to enable people to stay in their own homes, and given the figures, 81% do so with a range of help.
LASA, (Leading Age Services Australia), CEO, Sean Rooney, said, “Given CHSP clients account for two-thirds of all aged care recipients, this amounts to a substantially lower level of overall funding being made available.”
Those receiving home care packages (ACAT) receive on average $32,000, with packages ranging from $12,000 (Level 1) to $56,000 (Level 4). The 19% of aged care participants who receive residential aged care receive, on average, annual support of about $103,492, with an estimated top level of support of about $139,000.
“Overall, we see less funding per aged care recipient, and this results in fewer available hours of care when compared with NDIS participants, ….,” said Rooney. “This often leaves aged care recipients, particularly in home care, contending with unmet needs.”
Rooney said, “We support NDIS recipients receiving their funding and care…..however we believe older Australians should receive funding based on their need. Without aged care recipients having access to adequate levels of funding support … the level, quality and outcomes of the care and support they receive may suffer,” said Rooney.
As you can see from the above it is all a nightmare to navigate just when you finally come to realise that you need more help to stay in your home, thus saving the government money for as long as possible by not going into Aged Care.
Given the published waiting times, once assessed, of 12 months (last revised 28 February 2021), it is never too early to start thinking, researching or doing something about it if you or your loved ones are in that age bracket.
And back to where we started. If you are unfortunate enough to get dementia before 65 and qualify for the NDIS, you get about four times the amount you would get if diagnosed by ACAT when over 65!
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