Category Archives: Uncategorized

Worms get a feed

I’ve had my Tumbleweed worm farm for about 2 months now and all seems to be going well. My husband loves to say to our friends – ‘ Indira has worms’.

The worms have settled in and are now usefully converting our kitchen scraps and garden cuttings into highly nutritious worm juice and castings.

They’re fussy eaters though. Mine prefer potato and pumpkin peels, tea bags and egg shells. We can’t dispose of all our kitchen waste through the farm but since we’re only a two-person household we don’t generate that much either.

Keeping them cool on a sunny balcony has been a challenge . Since the sun hits the farm most mornings I’ve erected an umbrella to provide added shade. I also give them a good wetting down with the hose every week to keep them damp. Worms enjoy a very moist environment.

Most importantly my balcony edibles have never looked so lush. The worm juice is boosting their resistance to pests and diseases and encouraging faster growth.

A happy little ecosystem.

My Edible Balcony book in stores today!

Well… it’s been a long wait but today has finally arrived. My book is in stores across the country. After a wonderful launch last week with Malcolm Turnbull doing the honours and the ABC’s Tony Jones acting as MC, The Edible Balcony was welcolmed into the world of book publishing.
It’s a nervous time for a first time author… will people buy it? Will they like it?

Here’s a lovely email I just received from Caroline who read an advanced copy of the book during the weekend.

Dear Indira,
Thank you so much for your fabulous book. My husband works for the company that owns penguin, so when I saw that your book will be released on the 31st of October, I asked him to order it for me. And tadah: This Friday he came home with the book, 3 days before it’s in the stores.
I feel very honoured to be probably one of the first people, apart from your dear and loved ones, to read The Edible Balcony. And what shall I say? I finished it this very same weekend! I just couldn’t put it down!
Thank you  so much for sharing your experiences and recipes.
Similar to you, I had always grown herbs on my balcony. In the first autumn after we moved here, I added a few citrus trees to the bed that is attached to our balcony: lemon, lime and kaffir lime as well as a lemon myrtle. These followed two small olive trees to cover our sunshade. It actually sounds more and bigger than it really was, they more or less took care of themselves, while my herbs were regularly eaten up by caterpillars overnight.
Last year I tried some tomatoes, but as we were incredibly busy with wedding plans, they certainly did not get the attention (and water) they needed. We had one tomato!

This year though I decided to go for it. I had taken part in the CSIRO Energymark project and one thing that shocked me was how much water is wasted for food of which most ends up in the bin anyway (Australia is the world’s second largest waste producer per capita). Coming from Germany to Australia 3 years ago, I never understood how a country like Australia, in which there is always a region with perfect weather to grow food, could import so much food: cherries from USA, mangoes from Mexico, asparagus fro Thailand, garlic from China and so the list goes. I also never understood why people don’t grow more fruit and vegies. Even in Germany we grew herbs, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and even tried zucchini. And this with one month of summer, if at all.
Like you, my first step (in August) was to find out what is suitable to grow on a balcony. And like you, I did not find much out there. Apart from your blog!

I was totally hooked up, read all edible balcony entries in one afternoon. It inspired me what to try out and gave me the confidence that I could do something! I joined the diggers, ordered seeds, started a worm farm and got out there and planted my seeds. Spring onions, tomatoes, rainbow silverbeet, carrots, heirloom radish, pak choy, nasturtiums, beans, soy beans, lettuce, chili, zucchini, rocket, beetroot. Sounds familiar ?
When I read your book over the last two days, I felt as if you had written down my feelings and thoughts: The exact description of the last thought before falling asleep, the first when waking up, running out onto the balcony first thing in the morning to check for new shoots and caterpillar/aphid/slug damage. Coming home from the office or interstate travel, checking on all the progress with a glass of wine in my hand. The excitement I feel with every new plant glimpsing through the soil.
Thank you thank thank you for your inspiring and motivating book. Thank you for sharing your successes but thank you even more for sharing the errors and failures! It makes it so much more believable and motivating to see that not everything is always running smoothly. It feels more like a friend giving advice, rather than a teacher. I am also looking forward to try out your recipes (tonight we will have the moussaka eggplant stacks).

I wanted to write you this email as a first feedback from a passionate fellow balcony farmer on your beautiful book. The layout reminds me of a mini (well, balcony) version of Stephanie Alexander’s kitchen garden companion. Please keep up your great work and thank you very much for finding those words to fill the empty computer screen at 4 am. I know I will get back to these words whenever I have a setback on the balcony or if my motivation is dropping.
All the best for this new year of balcony gardening and all the best for your future as a book author.

Warmest regards,

Thanks for those very generous supportive words Caroline! Welcome to the food gardening club! thanks Indira

My new book – The Edible Balcony – in shops October 31st

Join popular media personality and foodie Indira Naidoo as she embarks on a mission to transform her tiny thirteen-floor balcony into a bountiful kitchen garden. She soon establishes a productive urban oasis that takes just ten minutes a day to maintain, yet provides her with an ever-changing selection of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables.

Featuring 60 delicious recipes showcasing her home-grown produce, plus plenty of practical advice, The Edible Balcony charts a year in the life of Indira’s balcony garden and gives a season-by-season account of the triumphs and challenges she faces. This warm and engaging book will inspire even the most reluctant green thumbs to channel their inner gardeners and reconnect with nature, while also saving money and reducing their carbon footprint

The Newmarket Hotel, Melbourne – The Best Chef’s Table in Australia?

I’m always on the lookout for good food experiences in great spaces…. and this weekend in Melbourne I think I may have found the location that gets my vote for the ‘best Chef’s Table in the country’.
This is the private dining space at the Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne.
It’s like a Caravaggio painting.
A long wooden table with red vinyl and chrome swivel chairs seating up to 16 people…. buttressed by the glass-fronted kitchen and a roaring open fireplace to the left of frame.
And suspended above it… a magnificent installation of  hanging long red chillies, garlic bulbs and dried artichoke heads.
A food chandelier. Truly inspired.

And all behind this non-descript heritage facade on Inkerman St.
The Newmarket is the brainchild of the same group of food entrepreneurs who gave us Melbourne’s Albert Park Hotel , the Middle Park Hotel and The Royal Saxon Hotel at Richmond…..
…and their architects Six Degrees.
The space is a mix of hip and retro…with these dramatic concrete arches, painted blue ceilings, skylights
flowing outdoor spaces 
…just made for gathering with friends.
A raunchy wallpaper frieze from the original building has been lovingly reproduced
va va voom….
Which brings us to the food…. a modern take on Cal-Tex (Californian Mexican)… rotisseried rare breed meats (goat, lamb, beef), wondrously soft tacos, salads and wood-fired flat breads to have individually or shared.
We start with the oysters. Squeaky fresh and filled with ozoney sea-water
Tom Thumbs and Rusty Wire
…and saucer-sized angassi’s which were a meal in themselves
wood-fired cheese and tomato flat-bread
fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil leaf and pomegrante seed salad
And the dish to make men swoon….
beef rib-eye roast with jus, corn relish and corn puree.
Can Melbourne set the food bar any higher?
You just have to come here with a big party of friends.
This is a place where memories are made.