The earliest photographs of Melville Park (1890s) show what appears to be a productive kitchen garden. Historical records also document a vibrant potato industry with, at one time, the State potato board meeting at Melville Park. And while the farm has been predominantly pastured for more than a century and a half, the rich loam over clay alluvial soil cries out for vegetables. And we will oblige.
Currently growing like the clappers are at least 20 heirloom varieties of tomatoes, chillies, capsicum, heirloom pumpkins, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchinis, summer squash, corn, beans, okra and melons, for starters. We use below ground drip irrigation with water sourced from our bore and shandied with the Brunswick River. We are a light touch concerning sprays and only use remedies in the organic arsenal. We do not use glyphosate for horticultural weed control. Our focus is on feeding the soil, which in turn feeds the plants. We encourage the presence of raptors for natural control of vermin.
We are actively researching the use of fully compostable plastics (mater-bi). We are part of a Murdoch University-Horticulture Innovation Australia project looking at the phytobiome of tomatoes. In a separate proposed study, we will use the by-products from the cheese factory as a semi-fermented liquid fertiliser used via fertigation dosing. And we are working on a robot for picking tomatoes, in particular, along with advanced non-invasive sensing for ripeness enabled by AI. We might have a competition for his/her/they name.
WE PICK RIPE for immediate consumption.
Something went terribly wrong with tomatoes in the 1950s and 60s. UC Davis researchers embarked on mechanised harvesting of tomatoes to deal with anticipated labour shortages. The ensuing breeding program emphasised yield, tough skin, post-harvest uniform ripening, disease resistance etc. They just forgot one thing - to select for flavour. As a result most modern tomato varieties have lost all of the genes that express flavour molecules. We only grow heritage (pre-mechanisation) varieties. Guaranteed you can taste the difference.
This wonderful fruit from sprawling vines are a focus at Melville Park. We concentrate on non-commercial heirloom varieties. Lakota and Styrian pumpkins, Armenian Sweet and Stripy cucumbers, traditional rockmelons, The Lakota pumpkin is great for roasting whole scooping out the flesh making soup and returning it to the pumpkin shell for serving. The Styrian is a hull-less variety and is best for oil. The giant Sweet and Stripy cucumber is perhaps the best eating cucumber there is.
The climate is perfectly suited for this mediterranean staple. We combine it with zucchini , capsicum, tomato and onion for the most amazing ratatouille inspired by Julia Childs very traditional French recipe. Mind you, slicing salting and roasting or BBQ delivers the foundation for an epic Baba Ganoush.
Disclaimer - we do not grow for heat but for flavour. Apologies if you are a chilli thrill seeker we don't cater for you. On the other hand, tabasco, serano, scotch bonnet, jalapeno, cayenne, birds eye (OK a little hot) form the mainstay of our inaugural chilli crop. And all pretty much destined for Chef Mark Woodcock's incredible lacto-fermented chilli sauce.
Leeks, onions, shallots and garlic are all on our hit list. We are focusing on elephant garlic, Walla Walla sweet onions, and
Cipollini onions. Again nothing you can buy in the regular supermarket. These and our varieties of leeks and shallots are grown for flavour. We are currently building up our seed library but will get there.
As soon as it gets a bit cooler we will be planting our permanent beds for rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish and artichokes. Our thanks to Mt Lindesay Farms in Denmark for the foundation stock for most of these
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