Saturday, 23 June 2007


It is always the way, at least around here. I had a simple plan, years ago, to plant arrowroot down along the bottom garden fence. Somewhere I read that you should choose to plant things for 3 reasons and so in went the arrowroot - wind break from those horrid, hot north winds in summer, chook fodder later, before the rains have really made the weeds grow and beautiful, tall, lush stalks with red canna lily flowers, as well as being so tough and hardy.

I think they liked the drought because this year they are so tall and strong and dense. A few weeks ago, in late May, I decided to slash them to the ground because, even after cutting them daily for the chooks, for 2 months, there seem to be just as many as before and they were shading the areas I wanted to use for broad beans and a green manure crop. Now there is plenty of other greenery for the chooks to forage on they don't need so much arrowroot so I thought it would be so clever of me to slash it, put it throught the mulcher and begin a new compost heap together with some of the horse and cow manure we collected on Mothers' Day.

OK but I can't darn well pull the cord on the mulcher fast enough to start it so I have to wait for Roger to do it. He was away with work at the time so that old irritant, patience, had to be sought. Eventually the day came and out came the mulcher and the husband and all seemed good with the world. A couple of pulls of the cord and it was obvious something wasn't quite right but soon it leapt into life, only to belch huge clouds of black smoke and run like it was on its last legs. Roger can fix most things so out came the toolbox and there lay the mulcher, in pieces, on the operating table. There was a look in his eye I didn't want to see and words like 'rings' and 'scored' and 'rebore' indicated trouble. It would have to go to be fixed. Of course this was a Sunday and for some crazy reason the place down the road doesn't cater for people who need to bring things in on the weekend so I would have to wait until it could be taken on a weekday - very inconvenient as our modes of transport mean the trailer can only be attached to Roger's car, which he needs to transport himself and his bike to the bottom of the hill from where he then rides it to work. For this and various other reasons the mulcher sat forlornly in the carport for some time before being taken in.

They said they would ring and let us know the cost to fix it ASAP. After several phone calls to them they finally told us last Friday that it would cost $500 to fix !! Right, lets look in the Trading Post and the Advertiser classifieds to see how much a 'new' second hand one would cost and we could get it right away and mulching could begin, at last. Apart from the fact that they all seemed to be in other states, one like ours would be more than $500. I could buy a lot of compost for $500 and forget the arrowroot !

Sometimes I think that this is all too hard but the earth can't cope with everyone just thinking of themselves and doing the quickest thing, so in 2 weeks (why so long?) and $500 later, I will be able to mulch my arrowroot. Normally I sow broad beans in May but I was listening to Malcolm Campbell the other Sunday and he said they are best sown in July as the plants will be shorter (and more sturdy) and the beans will set better. If he had been close at hand I would have kissed him because now it is all OK - the mulcher will be ready at just the right time for the broad beans to go in, and once again there was a skippity doo feeling in the air !

Arrowroot :

Grown both as an ornamental for its red flowers but more importantly, the rhizomes are edible, both raw and cooked. Ground rhizomes can also be used in baking. Arrowroot was once a vital crop of the Incas. Excellent chook fodder.
Plant Cultivation :
Rhizome producing perennial that grows much like ornamental canna species. Herbaceous perennial, usually to 3-6ft. It is tender to hard frosts, but can be grown practically anywhere if its rhizomes are dug up during winter. (not necessary here). Plants commonly die back during cold months, only to leaf out and bloom during warmer months. Plants enjoy regular water during the warm months. Plant in full sun, part sun, or shade. They can be grown in pretty much any type of soil. Propagation: By seed, or by rhizomes.


Maggie said...

Thanks for that article .Now I know what a beautiful plant arrowroot comes from. Yes I think Malcolm might be right, shorter plants, sounds good.

Deborah said...

Sounds like you need a good reliable small engine expert. I can recomend Quentin. (Quentune enginering)You can drop off machines anytime weekends included.There are also a few tricks with petrol engines. One important one is after operation to put the engine over (with pull cord) so as to close off the piston to prevent moisture getting in & makes it much easier to start.
Quentin is my partner but an wiz at small engines & I've learnt heaps about them over the years.Heathfield is not far away for good reliable service.