9 Mar 2011 - 4:54 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

I think of it as doing the landscape a favour. Every time I eat a blackberry (and I’ve eaten a LOT lately), I’m saving one from the birds, which, in turn, saves the seed from being spread. Rhubarb and blackberry crumble with lemon-scented custard. Blackberry cobbler. Blackberries on brekky, on ice-cream, on lips and staining my hands. I eat them until I’m as full as a butcher’s pup.

Blackberries show that at least something has thrived this season. The quince, however, is looking a little bedraggled – too much humidity seems to have given it a russet disease. The tomatoes just aren’t going anywhere resembling red. The corn is barely okay. Thank goodness for the blackberries and the first apples of the season to go with them.

I spent a couple of days on Flinders, an island off the north of Tassie that shines bright in the imagination and brighter in reality. Rocky outcrops. Lush grazing land. Remote beaches. A community rich in spirit. I feel as if I’d have moved there if I hadn’t already put down roots.

Went with my mates Nick and Ross to research the next A Common Ground regional lunch that’s coming up in April. Found several stunning locations. I discovered a delightful grower or three, including the Lettuce Lady and a winery and a whole bunch of ingredients to make the event totally unique: Cape Barren geese, if things go well; some of the famed local lamb; organic garlic; garfish; manuka honey; green lip abalone; plus mutton birds, cockles and deer. We won’t know until the last minute what the menu will be, but it will be enviably local.

My farm’s soil tests are back. Remarkably, there’s a decent amount of organic matter in the ground, though we can do better. There’s phosphate, probably in the form of super phosphate fertiliser from years ago, and it’s locked up, so we need to get more life in the soil. And the whole place is acidic, which means a man with a tractor needs to spread something to get it back in balance. That and a few micro elements should get the place humming at its best.

Already, I can see changes in the ground from my attempts at growing and rearing things. Slashing the thistles has cleared most of them up in the main paddock. There’s clover growing where none was before. The grass is much longer since the sheep were moved to yonder hill, and it appears as if this winter will be less difficult on all the livestock. That said, the hay is already stacked in the barn and the worm farms are hopefully thriving, and it’s nearly time for spraying a seaweed solution onto the grass and trees. That is, after I’ve shifted some pig fencing, organised more firewood and mowed the long grass from around the house.