September 2021 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the September 2021 newsletter from Sophie's Patch in the Adelaide Hills, SA. Each month I share what has been happening in and around my patch of garden in the Adelaide Hills, as well as some of my adventures further afield.  I hope you enjoy reading it. Sophie Thomson.

sophie with cauliflower

In this Newsletter

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – Royal Adelaide Show 2021 and my Grow Up show garden – cancelled. 

It’s been a huge month at Sophie’s Patch, but not quite in a way that I had anticipated. Last month I was so excited to share my plans and progress creating my feature garden ‘Grow Up’ at the Royal Adelaide Show. We were preparing to install it down at Wayville with trucks and cranes booked for  the 18th August ... and then on the 12th August, it was announced that the Royal Adelaide Show would not be going ahead. To be honest I felt gutted, but not because I wanted to have fun creating the display (which I would have), but because I believe the messaging about the concepts in the garden were so vital and timely. 
Then to add to the angst, a column I had written several weeks prior about the concepts and elements within Grow Up went to print in the Saturday 14th edition of the Advertiser, just two days after the show was cancelled. While it may have seemed confusing, it was simply that the magazine section of Saturday’s paper where my article appears gets printed on a Wednesday, and the show was cancelled on the Thursday. What crazy, bad timing!

The tension got to me, and I did a passionate, slightly fired up post on Facebook. It’s here in case you missed it …… it seemed to resonate with people which is great. We need to speak up to bring about change. Please take the time to follow the links to read all about the concepts within the article as they are just as important as ever,  or head straight to my website to read them at 
orchard in blossom
Our property remains strewn with all the Royal Show props which I didn’t have the energy to pack up. However, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, as I have just been given permission by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society to set up the props I am storing here at Sophie’s Patch and do a video walk through to explain the different elements within the garden. It won’t be a show garden, however it will enable me to get the messages out there, and it will be a teaser of what to expect next year with Grow Up 2 in 2022.  Stay tuned as this will happen within the next month. 

Around the Patch

grape hyasinth
Spring is doing its thing around Sophie’s Patch, and just as the sap rises in deciduous plants and they burst into flower and leaf all around my garden, my glee and excitement is going through the roof. Every wander around my garden reveals another plant saying, ‘Look at me, look at me”. I genuinely love all seasons in my garden, but right now, spring is my favourite! It’s the succession of blooms that take my breath away, and even though I often describe them as spring bling, knowing all too well that their show can be fleeting, it still inspires my soul!
orchard in blossom
new england honey eater

In the Vegie Patch

vegetable garden
vegetable garden
The main vegie garden at Sophie’s Patch was given a major upgrade a couple of months ago and now the produce which was planted at the time is starting to pump. The overflow vegie patch has also had a revamp in the last few weeks and had its beds raised too. These have now been planted. During both of these vegie patch renovations, we still had our 11 outside wicking beds and 11 inside the polyhouse, as well as other beds of produce, and these have been keeping us well fed with plenty to share.
vegetable garden
vegetable garden

Orchard news

grafted fruit trees
The 240 fruit trees, which Wez Redden grafted onto rootstocks for me to take to Kangaroo Island's bushfire affected gardeners next winter, have all been planted into rows in our paddock. The soil is beautiful, even though the position is very exposed, so now I just have to water them and hopefully most will survive.

Seed Raising

Seeds of summer crops have been sowed in punnets and are growing on a heat mat in the polyhouse. Those that were sowed a few weeks ago have shot. Last year I was overzealous and germinated my summer crops in the polyhouse too early, and yet I couldn’t plant them out till the risk of frost was over in early November. As a result, the seedlings actually went backwards and so hopefully my timing is better this year. 

The Flock

While my flocks were on strike during the cold of winter, they are back laying eggs. We have chook eggs, duck eggs, and goose eggs, and all get used. The latter are something I celebrate, just like I do spring blooms, as you only get them in spring, and they are incredible to use in the kitchen. When I posted a picture of my first goose egg about a month ago, someone messaged me to say he sells them for $6 each. We love them for use in all sorts of dishes from frittata and tortilla, carbonara sauce…… and then there are the desserts! Goose eggs make amazing custard, delicious impossible pie and fabulous sponge cake.
eggs and baking
When I filmed for Gardening Australia this month, we did a short piece on how to use goose eggs in the kitchen and here are some photos of what we dined on for morning tea. Of course, Zeus got a gig, and it turns out she is a natural on camera. She even looked right at home in our mandatory crew shot. Attendees at our next few special events and workshops will get to try some of these delicious goose egg treats. 
Sophie and goose
film crew

Upcoming Events

Australian Native Foods Workshop at Sophie's Patch

Friday 10th  and Saturday 11th Sept 9.30 - 12.30
native food presenters
Want to learn more about which native food plants will grow and thrive in your garden and how to use them in your kitchen?  Learn from passionate pioneers of native food production in Australia, Mike and Gayle Quarmby. 

Gayle will tell the story, Mike will give the plant knowledge and do a cooking class.

All participants will go home with one of each of Mike’s specially selected male and female native pepper plants.  

Find Out More

Keeping Happy, Healthy, Poultry with Adrian Burgess

Saturday 18th September 9.30 - 12.30
man with chicken

Dreaming of a productive patch with a flock of chooks, ducks or geese .... or all three? Come along to join Sophie and her poultry guru Adrian Burgess for a morning talking all things poultry.

Sophie will talk about how her flock works for her and the rewards they give her.  Adrian is a poultry expert and judge and he will cover the essentials of poultry care including shedding, predator protection, feeding, egg stealers and health problems. His talk will also be driven by your questions and what you want to know.

Find Out More

Citrus Workshop with Ian Tolley

25th September 1.30 - 4.30pm
couple smiling
An afternoon with renowned citrus authority, Ian Tolley OAM CF 

Ian is Australia’s Mr Citrus and there is nothing he doesn’t know or can’t answer about citrus! So we are excited that he agreed to participate in an exclusive, limited numbers, Sophie’s Patch event to answer participants’ personal citrus questions.
Find Out More

Spring Open Garden

Spring Open Garden – the dates are set for Saturday 6th, Sunday 7th and Monday 8th November and we are currently sorting out the details, so stay tuned and all will be shared in next month’s newsletter.

Out and About

While the Royal Adelaide Show for 2021 may have been cancelled, I am just as passionate about the concepts within it, and one of those is the need for green canopy and shade trees. Shade and green space will help keep our city cooler, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and provide numerous other environmental, economic and wellbeing outcomes. So, a few weeks ago I was delighted to help the City of Charles Sturt with their Growing Green Community Forum. Their Growing Green: Tree Canopy Improvement Strategy 2021-2045 is ambitious and aims to increase their city-wide tree canopy cover to 45%. They are committed to increase tree canopy cover across their council area and to do this they will not only increase their efforts, but work with residents, landholders, businesses, and developers, as a lot of the land within their Council area is privately owned. The guiding principles in their strategy apply to every council area, and every backyard for that matter too, including planting more trees, protecting existing trees and appreciating trees more. 
change slide
I have done a lot of work with the City of Charles Sturt over the years and found them to be leaders, whether initiating the native bee project along the River Torrens , facilitating sustainable verge planting programs, or encouraging community gardens and gardening. This Tree Canopy Improvement Strategy is a long-term project and I look forward to working with them and making a difference in our city. I love this slide from the presentation.

Coming Up 

clare show banner
While things are very changeable, I am looking forward to getting out and about in country SA over the next few months. You will be able to catch me at the Clare Show on Saturday 16th October and I'm heading over to Eyre Peninsula in early December for more public talks. I will also be doing work with the fire affected communities of Brukunga and Harrogate, and will be back on Kangaroo Island with some more fruit trees for fire affected gardeners over there. 
Stay tuned to my calendar for other events closer to the time, and don’t forget that our next open garden is over Easter Saturday to Easter Monday 11th to 13th April. 

Group Tours

We are taking bookings for group tours of our garden in spring. As I have mentioned before, I think doing a group tour of my garden is the best way to see it.  It is much more intimate and interactive as I take these groups on a personal tour of my garden followed by afternoon tea or coffee with delicious home baked cakes made from our home grown produce. If you can get a group of 30 or more people together from your social, interest or council group or plant society, contact me 
tour group


couple with book
I am delighted to have two copies of the wonderful book ‘Where birds sing and wildflowers dance’ written by Jason Tyndall for Nature Play SA to give away to newsletter subscribers, selected at random from our mailing list. This extraordinary book is subtitled ‘A companion for exploring South Australia’s National Parks’ but it is so much more. It is full of information and inspiration that reminds us of our need to reconnect with nature, and it gives hope for the future, that each one of us can make a difference. The photographs are stunning, the illustrations amazing, and the poetry extraordinary – and all this done by Jason himself. ‘Where birds sing and wildflowers dance’ is a resource to take with you when you go exploring in Nature or your garden, or to refer to on your return, and yet it is also a coffee table book. Available directly from Nature Play SA via 
Happy gardening!



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