So it’s just over two years now since we’ve been here at Kupungarri. A period of time that’s gone both quickly and slowly in that way that time in a remote community does.
It’s had its challenges: a dozen snakes; 500 km shopping trips; blurred lines between work and social life. But to be honest we can’t really complain. The remoteness has provided us with both the time and reason to do a lot of work around the yard.
And work we have. Over the last 18 months we have created our own vegie patch, a banana circle, two no dig garden beds, converted to empty into wicking beds, made a garden pond and planted out a little mango grove. In total we’ve grown over 50 different edible plants with various degrees of success.
One of the most successful transformations has been along the front fence. What for year and a half had been nothing but a patch of grass ( see photos below) was converted earlier this year into a couple of veggie beds.
Planted out with tomatoes, pumpkin, kale, mustard green, lettuce, marigolds, chicory, dill, coriander, shingku, and carrot. The beds add a splash of colour against the dry season landscape as you can see in the background (beautiful but harsh).
Well until last weekend they did. With school holidays upon us we headed into Broome for a weekend away. Sprinklers and timers set we were expecting to come home to the same lush garden we left.
In my rush I didn’t put one of the sprinklers on properly and it come off. Leaving us with a garden bed of wilting tomatoes and marigold and dead shrivelled chicory. It was frustrating but there’s always an upside…the chicory roots.
I’d planted them out as an experiment of sorts to help break down the soil. The ground when planted was dry and heavy with clay and chicory with their long taproots and extensive hair roots breaks through the soil and aerates it. The roots can also be used as a coffee substitute. My frustration had subsided and now I was intrigued to see how effective this experiment had been.
Come the following morning I was up early (to beat the heat) in the yard watering digging up the chicory roots.
Some of the roots were tangle and small from not being thinned out but the impact on the soil was better than expected. I don’t have a photo of the soil before, but as you can see from below the soil is now lose and crumbly.
With a little scrubbing, and some scissors to remove the hair roots, I was able to get a few longish roots and took them inside ready to roast in a moderate oven (180 C) for 30 minutes or so. And then I burnt them, but was able to salvaged some unburnt bits.
I ground it up and brewed it in our stove top.
The ‘coffee’ was nutty and earthy with a slight astringent after taste. I didn’t mind it, Deirdre’s still to be convinced. A project to be perfected.