Thursday, 31 May 2007
What a great day yesterday was real woodfired pizzas cooked by Rob and Kath and lots of pizza sous chefs.
Best of all Julians talk and answers to all questions relating to gardening in pots.
Amidst all the munching of pizza and freshly picked salad greens there was the enthusiastic sharing of good health ideas
Talk about how bad talcum powder is , the benefits of green manure crops, recipes for gluten free pizza dough, the eco fair, Di and Jens market stalls, a trip to The Food Forest and much more.
Good luck with all your seeds and plants we look forward to seeing you all soon.
Next Hills & Plains Seedsavers meeting at Fern Ave is Wed, 25 July at 1:30pm.
Monday, 28 May 2007
Fern Ave meeting dates
Wed 1.30 : July 25th , October 24th
International Kitchen Garden day : Sunday August 26th (any ideas?)
That leaves Sept free. I want to visit someone's garden ! How about Cath Caon's or Joy's or Maggie's ?
Sunday, 27 May 2007
One of our responsibilities is to 'grow on' some of these unusual vegetable seeds. One of my responsibilities will be to highlight a few of these treasures every week or so, so that we may gradually learn about our seed heritage. Text and photos are courtesy of Eden Seeds.
Mild salad mix of greens and reds, usually includes lettuces such as Cos, Purple Oakleaf, Green Mignonette, Red Crunch, also Rocket, Tatsoi, Mizuna and Red Radicchio, ready to start picking outside leaves 25-40 days, grows all year round if sheltered, one packet is enough to start a new plot every few weeks. Add edible flowers. For autumn/winter you might add Endive, or Corn Salad. Seeds per packet: 450
SPINACH : NEW ZEALAND (Tetragonia tetragonioides) (WARRAGUL GREENS)
Spreading green vegetable, best to use young leaf tips which also encourages branching. Native New Zealand & Aust. vegetable popular world-wide. Long season, continues into dry summer conditions, hardy and disease resistant, survives frost and re-grows. Best cooked. Likes adequate moisture and sunny position. Sow in spring. 50 days. Seed count: 18/gSeeds per packet: 50
TOMATO (Lycopersicon esculentum)
Originates from the Andes and cultivated in Central America. Suppresses couch grass, high in vitamin C, companion to parsley. Prefers open sunny positions. Sensitive to frosts. Water in furrows rather than overhead to reduce disease, declines if waterlogged. Does well on light to heavy soils with good drainage and high organic and phosphorus. Sow anytime in frost free areas, can sow indoors 5 weeks before transplanting in cooler areas or after last frost. Seed count: 250-400 seeds per gram
Red oxheart shaped fruit 4-5cm wide and 5-12cm long, tasty solid flesh used for stews, bottling, drying and sauces, can be vigorous climber 2.5m. long. 82 days.Seeds per packet: 80
The hills climate varies greatly & many micro-climates exist. As a gardener you need to know & understand your own patch. In general here at Nirvana from the beginning of June to September it is cold, wet averaging 1100mm but frost are never an issue, sometimes an odd one in July, August which do no harm & are beneficial to some vegetables. Built in design protect from cold southerly weather, you get used to drizzle & fog
In the garden long before the seasons change from summer, preparations for the winter garden are well under way. The seeds of all the cabbage tribe compete for space amongst the summer bounty.
The tunnel house (a most valued space) is cleared of cucumbers, finished tomatoes (there is usually a couple still busily producing) in preparation for continuous harvest. Still producing & very happy is a capsicum preparing to go through its third winter, a couple going into their second & one from this summer’s outdoor gard
en. They all still have good crops of green & a few slowly changing to red. They will now all stay inside & produce well next summer & beyond it seems. There is one remaining tomato, the few basil plants have been joined by leftovers from the summer garden & will produce some more leaves up to the start of winter.
Seedling lettuce, celery, chard, spinach, beetroot, parsley, cabbage, broccoli & cauliflower from the garden now begin to fill the beds .of the tunnel house. While seeds are planted regularly in both gardens to ensure a continual harvest.
It is always an extra challenge to grow in an artificial environment... The main problem I have was getting the watering right, so the soil & plants flourish. In the past I have tried drippers in many combinations both automatic timed & manual, soaker hoses. I think I’ve managed to get the results right with my current system. Although those on mains water may not be able to use such a system. I use one ‘wobbler’ a garden sprinkler that puts out a low volume, over a large area of big, rain like drops. Over summer I put out about 15 mm once a week – this takes around 4 hours. In winter it’s around 1 hour every 8 days. This method allows the soil to develop, mulch to be cool & damp & plants love it.
Out in the garden the garlic is well developed –It’s always (last 24 years) planted on the autumn equinox & harvested on the summer solstice. The watercress has taken off with the onset of cooler weather. Secession plantings of carrots, lettuce & other greens, spinach, parsnips. Swedes, turnips, peas, board beans, kale, chard, and onions find themselves in little groups scattered around the various beds. As winter approaches the growth slows dramatically & the garden is a store for some vegetables, while others will be transplanted into the tunnel to keep up the supply of fresh vegetables.
Friday, 25 May 2007
I have spent a couple of hours weeding and doing a couple of jobs in the chook yard. I have had 30 bales of peastraw delivered from the Magill Grain Store and, next Wed. when my garden group comes, we are going to make some serious compost bays with some of the straw. We collected about 10 bags of assorted manures on Mothers' Day on our drive back from Sunningdale Farm and some of this will go into the compost heaps too. Mountains of dry stuff - bark, leaves etc - has been collected by (a now cashed up) Hugh (sailor son) and put through the mulcher (by me) and is filling up about 6 or 8 old manure bags. This will be added along with the 1/2 composted kitchen scraps in the plastic bin and all those weeds I dug up today, plus more (if the chooks don't eat them all first). I may also include the last compost heap that didn't do very well over summer because it was so dry and I preferred to water the garden than the compost then. By spring this should be done and will give the summer vegies a good start. I am determined to make as much compost as I can using mostly what I have at hand plus manure.
To me organic does not just mean "without chemicals", where natural ingredients are used in place of synthetic ones. It encompasses a whole other dimension of reducing our dependence on inputs from elsewhere so that, overall, we leave this life at least having tried to break even, rather than being responsible for consuming huge amounts and therefore leaving the world with a massive loss, which once we are gone we can never repay.
Consequently, our place seems to be full of and surrounded by things that might be useful one day and we can't bring ourselves to throw away. Hard rubbish collections mean we gather more stuff and get rid of very little. Even our sons come home with all sorts of things which is quite surprising, if you knew them. Alex came home last time with suitcase and inside was a tag with Prof. Paul Davies name and address ! Hugh somehow fitted a vinyl reclining chair into his small car and, I must say, it is very comfortable and rather good in the rumpus room. My main weakness is the old carpet underlay made of coconut fibre ; as a weed suppressant nothing beats it as it lasts for about 18 months before beginning to rot away and in 2 years has turned the worst weeds into compost.
Seedsaving is central to this theme and I hope it will take us all another step closer to clearing some of our debt. If everyone saved seed from at least one thing per season, we would be rich indeed. Let this be our first season of commitment to our seedsaver title.
I think this blog idea fits very nicely into the sustainable lifstyle as we can exchange ideas and have fun for the cost of quite a small amount of electricity. Blog on.
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Through the understanding of gastronomy with relation to politics, agriculture & the environment Slow food has become an active player in agriculture & ecology. Slow Food links pleasure & food with awareness & responsibility. The association’s activities seek to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread the education of taste, & support producers of excellent food.
Slow Food is the intersection of ethics & pleasure, of ecology & gastronomy. A stand against the homogenization of taste, the unrestrained power of the multinationals, industrial agriculture & the folly of fast life. Slow Food returns culture dignity to food & the slow rhythms of conviviality to the table. & seeks to protect our invaluable food heritage.
In the Adelaide Hills we are working on:
· Holding on to traditions. Preserving Cultural Heritage. We have a rich & varied treasure of traditions to dip into. However many of the custodians of the treasures are now elderly & the speed of life means food traditions are being lost to convenience foods as well as cooking skills. The connection between how where & when food is grown & the end product on the plate is lost. We need to record and learn what’s necessary, so these traditions can continue.
· . Local produce Although much of our hills farmland has already been lost and diversity diminished, there are still a wide range of producers ranging from large down to small, both part & full time. All these need recognition & support. At present a handful of Hills food producers are promoted to the point of boredom so we are aiming to build a relationship between all local primary producers by conducting an area survey. .Knowing who’s out there is the first step to enable us to support our local producers & connect them to consumers. We will conduct ‘Meet the Grower’ walk, talk & taste & Develop Seasonal Food Trails.
· .Hills Seasons Australian culture shows little regard for the seasons, there are no seasonal celebrations. Few people know what’s in season at any one time. Through seasonal events .we aim to develop a sense of seasonality
· From Garden to Plate There is something special about Growing, preparing and enjoying your own food. We aim to enable people to share experiences, growing tips share seeds. Here we also have the resources of Duck Flat Community Garden at Mt Barker to get down to the nitty gritty.
For more information sees slowfood.com or Deborah Cantrill 8339 2519
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called Slow Food?
A nod to the contrast with fast food values, Slow Food is a reference to living an unhurried life, beginning at the table.
Why is the snail our symbol?
The snail was chosen because it moves slowly and calmly eats its way through life.
Why was Slow Food born in Bra, Italy?
Bra, home of founder Carlo Petrini. Is located in an area famous for its wines, white truffles! Cheese and beef. Food has traditionally been an integral part of socializing on the Italian peninsula. This town provided the perfect incubator for the Slow Food movement.
Does Slow Food mean organic?
Slow Food is in favour of the principles behind organic agriculture, like promoting agriculture that has a low impact cc the environment and reducing pesticide use around the world. Yet Slow Food maintains that organic agriculture, when practiced on a massive and extensive scale! Is very similar to conventional monoculture cropping and therefore organic certification alone should not he considered a sure sign that a product is grown in a sustainable way. Although most of the Presidia practice organic techniques! Very few are certified due to the high casts of organic certification. To become Presidia, products must be consistent with the concepts of agricultural sustainability, and beyond that, Slow Food works to guarantee that they are traditional, natural, safe, and - above all - of high taste quality. It is a goal of the Foundation far Biodiversity in the next few years to promote (and finance, where possible) the certification of Presidia products for which this certification could broaden markets or increase earnings.
What is Slow Food’s position on genetically engineered crops?
While not opposed to research by universities and public bodies, Slow Food is against the commercial planting of genetically engineered craps. We are capable of transplanting a gene from one species to another but we are not yet capable of predicting or containing the results, creating a threat to our natural and agricultural biodiversity. Another problem with GE crop cultivation is its tendency to take the choice at what crops to grow out of farmers’ hands. When pollen from GE fields drift miles dawn the road and pollinate conventional or organic fields, farmers unwittingly put labour and capital into harvesting crops they did not plant. Slow Food believes that all products containing genetically engineered ingredients should require accurate labelling, allowing consumers to make an educated choice a they support and ingest.
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
One of the great things about living in Adelaide's Mediterranean climate is that we can grow stuff right through winter, especially all the brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, the Chinese stir-fry vegetables like Pak Choy and Wong Bok, kohl-rabi plus cool-weather greens such as spinach and silver beet. Peas replace beans as climbers.
So here's a few photos from June 2004 of just such greens, planted in compost-covered beds, along with rainbow chards and kohl-rabi.
Time to get wet walking home...
Maggie has suggested we get together for a harvest picnic somewhere. Any suggestions for where ?
By then I should be picking sugar snap peas, beetroot, spring onions, various lettuce and salad greens, wombok, bokchoy, spinach, kale, coriander and other herbs, broccoli and maybe fennel and a few other things. What about you ? This week I will pull up my water chestnuts but they will all be eaten by August. Did I tell you I sold 11kg jerusalem artichokes to Wilson's last week?
Sunday, June 3rd, 2pm
Biopark P/L Organic Farm
0412 149 146
Monday, 21 May 2007
Friday, 18 May 2007
I've no intention of telling the audience how to grow vegetables, but hope to leave them with the feeling that doing so is both worthwhile and beautiful.
So, it's a philosophy lecture, really, but the slides from my garden are gorgeous; they are printed out in glorious technicolour, laminated, Velcro dotted, and awash with gardening quotations that I dug up from all over.
And as I don't have a slide projector, I'm going to stick them up on a display board behind me, and so invent a whole new way of delivering a public lecture.
Do I know what will be in the talk? Not until I'm talking!
It starts at 11.30am at Fern Avenue Community Gardens in Fullerton, and will run for about 45 minutes.
Thursday, 17 May 2007
We are having a stall and will be selling Andrew's collection of new seeds as well as meeting lots of gardeners who might like to join us. Some people are helping but of course the more the merrier.
If you have seeds, cuttings, plants, produce or whatever to give away bring them with you or give them to someone beforehand to bring for you.
The gates are open from 10am and Andrew's talk is at 11.30am.
There will be potted herbs and Nicholas will have rare fruit/plants for sale also.
David Corkill will give a composting demonstration and talk at 2pm and the Unley Plant Rescue will also be selling plants.
We are hoping to have some of Pam Marshall's Environmentally Friendly Products information brochures available if Pam can't be with us on the day.
Tea/Coffee and muffins will be available all day.
Now I normally shy away from quiz nights because I know nothing about movies or sport, which is their primary focus, it seems, but this sounds like more fun to me. If anyone is interested in making up a table send me an email. The price is $15 and it is at the Unley Citizens Centre, Arthur St, Unley.
Other events include: Cooking Lamb, visit to Bovoliva Olive Company, Tapas Banquet, Wood Oven Day, A Feast of Local Fish and Seafood. I intend to go to some of these.
I will forward the full details to everyone by email.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Beyond the house are 190 rolling acres of organic / biodynamic vealer calves. Beyond this you can see the Murray and the lakes. Picturesque is inadequate to describe the property.The drive in is through scrub in which they have identified 45 varieties of birds. There is a trail mown through the bush for walking and, after the recent rains, everything is lush and green . Anne is a lovely person and very welcoming. Together with her husband Phil they run the property and have a stall at the Showgrounds Farmers' Market selling produce and their daughter sells quiches and cakes too. If they have another open day I would suggest you go and soak it up.
The drive to Mt Compass via Hahndorf is beautiful after the rain and there are great venison hamburgers to be had at a cafe in Mt Compass ! A lovely mothers' day.
Click on the photos link to see more.
Sunday, 13 May 2007
- TOMATO SEASON 2006-7
As I pick the last of my tomatoes I reflect on the season that was. Overall it was an excellent season for vegetables, especially tomatoes & walnuts due to the dry spring & hot summer but a very poor season for most other things due to the big dry.
The tomatoes we have enjoyed
Principle bourghese. Small prune shaped with great fresh flavour for salads. It dries well.
San marzano 2. Very long narrow tomato. Roma type. Great in sauces as well salads. Dries well.
Cour di bue. Large heart shaped. Very meaty. Excellent flavour fresh & cooked. As these are very large they have taken a long time to develop & ripen. But we are still enjoying them.
Delicious. A traditional type large round tomato. Excellent flavour. Good on toast. Its was also slow to develop & ripen.
Have also dried, bottled & made sauce to enjoy the flavours til the next season starts.
The seeds were planted on the 7th August (2days before the full moon) in my own mix of seed raising mix (sifted compost & oak leaf litter)
The varieties the seeds planted this year were Franchi, an Italian brand. Principle bourghese, San marzano 2 and Cour di bue.
Once planted they were raised inside.
Mid Sept they were moved outside to harden off.
My garden consists of small raised beds. The tomatoes were grown in 4 different beds which were all prepared in early September.
2 of beds grew a green manure crop of oats & broad beans which were dug in the first week of September. My Compost & garden lime were also added.
The other beds both had grown a mix of winter greens & carrots. My Biodynamic compost & lime were dug in.
All the garden & tunnel received 2 applications biodynamic 500 on September 10th & 24th.
Some of the seedlings went into the tunnel house on September 21st (new moon) for early crop. Very necessary in the coolest parts of the hills.
The seedlings, along with a Delicious seedling purchased at the seed savers Seedy Sunday were planted out on October 21st (new moon).
The seedlings were watered in with casuarinas spray/nettle mix*. 2x a week for the first 3 weeks .In previous years this has helped keep them healthy in the tunnel house as there is limited space for rotations. I used it outside in the garden as well this year.
They were mulched with wheat straw. All were given one deep water per week from November to March.
This has been an excellent season for tomatoes due to warmer spring & long summer I am still harvesting from the garden. Seeds have been saved ready for next season.
300 g casuarina needles cover with 10 litre water simmer slowly in a covered vessel for 20 minutes .Strain and dilute 1:4 with water.
Add 10 litres of water to 1kg fresh nettles (Urtica dioica) Leave until rotted (8 days -4 weeks depending on temperature) strain. Can be stored. To use dilute 1:9 with water.
The mix I use is
2 litre casurarina tea, 1litre nettle tea diluted to 9 litres.a type.
Saturday, 12 May 2007
In addition to the medical uses, Comfrey has always found popularity as a fodder crop for all kinds of grazing animals. A nurseryman, near Lewisham, England, was the first to discover the agricultural possibilities of Comfrey. James Grant, in 1810, claimed yields of from forty to sixty tonnes an acre from five to six cuts per year. Constant cutting was the key to such enormous yields. The variety most grown for agricultural use at that time was Symphytum asperum or Prickly Comfrey, with prickly leaves and vivid blue flowers. This was one of the symphytums raised by another London nurseryman, Conrad Loddige, from plants sent from St. Petersberg, Russia, by a Joseph Busch, who was the previous owner of Loddige's nursery and who then, in 1790, was head gardener at the Palace of St. Petersberg, from where he sent the plants.
The plant used by herbalists remained the English native Symphytum officinale. This had cream, white or yellow flowers and a variety "phylum officinale var. patens had purple flowers. Today in England and Europe, there are many Comfrey hybrids resulting from chance crosses between Symphytum officinale and Symphytum asperum.
The 1870's to early 1900's saw Comfrey peak as an agricultural crop in England. The press was full of discussion on yields and varieties and numerous monographs were produced. The agricultural journals of the time were filled with discussion on the uses of Comfrey, its propagation, yields, etc. Due to the enormous interest, Comfrey was analysed for the first time by a Dr. Auguste Voelcker, consulting agricultural chemist to the Royal Agricultural Society of England. His conclusions were that "Comfrey has the same feeding value as green mustard, turnip tops or Italian ryegrass grown on irrigated land." This kind of report only added to the existing boom in the plant.
The root and leaves, generally collected from wild plants, have been used medicinally for centuries. The main constituent of the root is mucilage, of which it has even more than marshmallow. It can also contain up to nearly ten percent allantoin, a useful amount of calcium and vitamin Bl2 Comfrey is mainly used as a demulcent, astringent and expectorant. As the plant abounds in mucilage, it is frequently given for intestinal disorders. It forms a gentle remedy in cases of diarrhoea and dysentery. Its use has been extended to lung troubles as well as whooping cough. Pulmonary troubles were often cured with Comfrey, as was internal haemorrhage. Generally for the above conditions, a decoction of the roots is used.
The leaves are of much value as an external remedy for sprains, swellings, bruises and for the manufacture of poultices for inflammatory swellings. Comfrey ointment is excellent for wounds, inflammations and especially external ulcers.
The action of Comfrey in aiding the knitting of bones which have been fractured or broken has been variously ascribed. An important reason is that by reducing inflammation in the immediate neighbourhood of the fracture it allows union to take place more quickly.
Today, these effects are attributed to the allantoin contained in Comfrey. Allantoin has a powerful action in strengthening epithelial formations, and is a valuable remedy, not only in external ulceration, but also in ulceration of the stomach and duodenum. Many preparations for chronic wounds, bums, ulcers, etc., use allantoin extracted from the Comfrey root, although, like many a green medicine, allantoin is now manufactured artificially.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Its time to ‘put down the horns’ i.e. to make BD500 & some of the compost preparations. In May each year members of the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group meet at Nirvana to share these tasks. It’s always a fun afternoon with usually some new chums as well as the experienced members. This year was no exception & last weekend we all got the tasks done filling around 200 horns as well as preparing 502- 506 (507 is made in summer when the valerian flowers) these where all buried in the earth to develop over winter, when all that is below the earth is most active. In 6 months we will met again to unearth them.
Another task was to make a ‘cow pat pit’ this is a type of small compost made in a bottomless box buried in the ground (originally a barrel) it is comprised of a barrow load of cow manure, some finely ground egg shells & some basalt. This is mixed well together until the texture changes. This is usually done with a spade, however inspired by watching ‘How to save the World. one man, one cow, one planet’ on biodynamics in India where they mixed it in their hands. There where a few keen to try. I had a turn & it was amazing how good it felt & after only a few minutes of finishing the manure smell on the hands had vanished. The rest is simple the manure is put in the pit & 3 sets of BD compost preps are inserted into the manure it’s then covered & left for 3 months or so.
Incase your wondering what it’s used for; it’s an ideal for carrying the influence of the compost preparations over the land. For home gardeners it’s a great way of making your whole garden a compost heap by controlling the breakdown of organic matter & the build up of humus. Its also useful to add to small garden ‘composts’.
The other major important job of a biodynamic gardener is putting out the autumn 500 & this autumn as offered excellent conditions with soaking rains & warm soils. So I’ve been busy in the afternoons stirring & putting out both 500 & ccp on the orchards & gardens.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Another enchanting tidbit I found was the obligatory Potimarron Festival! Why not? This little squash is heralded every September in Lunéville, France which is in the eastern part of France near Nancy and Strasbourg in the Lorraine region. “Although the potimarron is the guest of honour, the day is a celebration of home growers, small farmers and everything that grows in the garden.”
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Funny how some people love the heat of summer and others, like me, smile from ear to ear when the chill sets in. Whether its foggy, raining or sunny, so long as the soil is wet and the air is crisp I am happy. So, if you thought I seemed like a pretty happy sort of person up until now, you ain't seen nothin' yet !
All my little seedlings are popping up - peas, broad beans and earlier sowings are growing well - Kath's broccoli, fennel, kale, red onions etc. And I have basil self-sown and growing under my plastic domes ! Skippety doo !
Saturday, 5 May 2007
Marshmallows are encouraged under the Nectarine and Peach trees; hung in the branches they ward off curly leaf. Nasturtiums under the Apple trees keep off woolly aphids; Stinging Nettles don't do our Lettuces any harm. Wild Turnip, wild Oats and Barley grass from the Mallee hay we use for mulch are easily pulled up and go to the compost heap.
Kikuyu lawn clippings also make a layer in compost container, which is aerobic and takes layers of weeds(?), plant refuse, pigeon manure and soil.
What to me and many others, is a horrible, noxious weed, but to Chelsea Flower Show in London, is known as an herb; Horehound, also makes compost
TLS Nov-Dec 1992 p9."
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.
Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.
Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.
As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call “colony collapse disorder,” growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.
Along with recent stresses on the bees themselves, as well as on an industry increasingly under consolidation, some fear this disorder may force a breaking point for even large beekeepers.
A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation.
The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the offseason to be normal.To cope with the losses, beekeepers have been scouring elsewhere for bees to fulfill their contracts with growers.
He is hoping the Aussie bees will help offset the loss of one-third of the 7,600 hives he manages in six states. “The fear is that when we mix the bees the die-offs will continue to occur,” Mr. Sundberg said.