Thursday, 31 January 2008
"Greens and onion-family members are the most shade-tolerant of vegetables. Of the onions, scallions & chives will tolerate more shade than bulbing onions. Corn Salad aka Mache, and Miner's Lettuce, would both make good salad greens. Lovage (basically a perennial celery) - Comfrey - Sorrel - Horseradish - Lemon Balm - Borage - Garlic Mustard can be an invasive weed, but if you have a taste for strong-flavored greens you might like it - Lady's Mantle - Mint - Nasturtium (a permaculture book I read said the viney type can be trained up trees) - Calendula - Sweet Cicely (licorice-flavor), Tansy.
Stinging Nettles are highly nutritious and said to be delicious steamed - cooking takes the sting out, but you'd have to gather them with gloves on. I mean to plant some when I have a shade patch free of weeds and grass - I don't want to have to weed around them!I used to have a semi-shady patch of a tuber-producing Betony (Stachys) from Peru, called Oca, but lost it a few years ago when I was going through some big changes and didn't have enough time for my garden.
However, since most of our domesticated vegetables were originally bred from species that prefer open sunny ground, you'll find more shade-lovers among wild plants. Peterson's guide to edible wild plants has nice long list of plants you might find in moist woods - I won't copy all of it. Some of them don't reproduce very fast and it would take years to cultivate a patch before it would be big enough to harvest from. Ostrich fern produces edible fiddleheads. Wood sorrel makes a nice green nibble or salad ingredient. Violets someone already mentioned. Wild ginger. Spiderwort. Wild leeks, aka ramps, are hugely popular in some parts of the country, not sure how far north they can grow. Honewort is the native cousin of the Japanese Mitsuba; I've yet to find Honewort seeds for sale but I've seen Mitsuba in some seed catalogs.
Many of the strawberry species - European alpines & musk strawberries, or native wild strawberries - prefer some shade and might do better for you than the domesticated strawberries. Wintergreen and Salal might do well for you; I'm too far south for them.On a larger scale, Redbud flowers and young leaves another salad item. Pawpaw prefers some shade, makes wonderful exotic fruit, and there are cultivars bred to produce more fruit than the species naturally tends to. Spicebush berries are a lot like Allspice; I must say that the ones I've planted have yet to produce any fruit after 4 years, and I've read that there are male and female plants so you'd need several.
Most of these, being unfamiliar, might or might not suit your taste, but I've left out of the list a lot of things that either grow too slowly to be worth cultivating unless one is very patient, or tend to be described as edible but not necessarily tasty."
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
After a lot of hunting through "The Collage" for boxes that would fit in the drawers it looked like this...............
......and, several hours later, seeds for autumn and winter sowing are sorted.
Spring and summer seeds are on the way and will go into the next drawer.
I have a plan to make this room, which is next to the laundry, into my gardening room, by putting a door through from the laundry and putting in drying racks, a tiled floor, one of those big, solid old troughs etc etc. I haven't told Roger yet. I am sure he will be ever so pleased !?
The idea was to put a long, thin terracotta pot (with hole sealed) into the ground, fill it with water and plant lettuce seedlings around it, banking on the porosity of the terracotta to keep the surrounding soil damp. See original post. This pot can be refilled as required from a tap on a tank, even if it only drips out using gravity.
It has been 11 days now and here are some things I have learned so far :
- This works.
- The surrounding soil is damp enough to grow vegetables up to 30cm (1 foot) from the pot. Next I am going to plant another row of greens out at the extremity of the damp zone.
- On hot days the water goes pretty quickly but the lettuce stay firm. (At first I covered the whole lot with shade but removed it after a few days.)
- It takes a while to get used to how often to fill the pot. Keeping it full all the time is not necessary if you don't need it to be wet so far out.
- Growing something in the pot is very attractive and means there is more food grown per area. If not growing anything in the pot then I would use a lid to reduce evaporation. I have recently put another creeping plant in the pot to reduce evaporation but, on the other hand, this will use a little bit of the water.
- The rate of growth of these lettuce has been at least double that of other seedlings I planted in another place at the same time, with a drip line.
- Having the thin drip line dripping into it once a week (that is 2 litres) is not enough to keep it full but may be enough for the lettuce - if I didn't have the water spinach in the pot.
If you have a tank this would be a great way to make use of the water without a pump.
If you are using mains water it fits in with the regulations beautifully as you are allowed to fill up a container any time you like.
I am thinking of setting up a whole line of pots connected with 13mm (or even thinner) tube and having them as the basis of watering soft summer vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumbers, even beans. It is similar to Scarecrow's wicking system and a little less labour-intensive. Also excellent in small places.
This pot was $10 from Bunnings but I would look out for something similar in discount shops or garage sales etc. The walls are very thin - I am not sure if this is necessary or not. I wanted a deepish one that was narrow at the top so it didn't use up too much space and didn't evaporate so much.
So I have added a search engine which will search this blog and all "Our links". So easy to add this now - its free and even I can do it.
Just type in the box and away you go!
I have also made the "group discussion" open to anybody, not just members, like Glenys suggested as no members seem to be using it.
ps I have enrolled in a year long course with the WEA to learn Italian. Anyone want to come too?
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
The poor old ones on the left are out in the main garden...under 50% shade...in a 'normal' bed. The ones on the right are in a wicking bed under the Almond tree.
Both lots received water on Sat (our watering day). The ones on the left have already needed to have their container (for watering) turned on today (Tuesday)!
Both lots of plants are the same age...although not the same type I will admit.
It's on these hot days (36C+) and still no rain in sight that I'm glad I've experimented with these wicking beds.
Basically the beds are built over a plastic membrane layer at the base, this is raised to form a small pool of underground water, fed by a length of drainage hose, that wicks upwards to where the plant roots can use it.
As the pool dries out oxygen is drawn into the soil and when they are watered again the oxygen is forced out. Make no sense at all??
For full descriptions and photos see my blog entries here:
I'm about to re-build most of these beds to make them deeper for Autumn crops but even these shallow ones are holding water well.
I'm also going to try a box version for growing salad greens as this heat just saps all moisture from the containers.
I have been given a few kilograms of tart small blood plums. I have cooked some just to have for breakfast, I shall save some to eat fresh.
One year I made plum sauce but you usually do not eat much plum sauce.
So I am thinking plum chutney, something to serve with cheese and crackers or something to serve with a curry or to give as gifts.
So I invite you to post any good chutney recipes you have .
I have lots of leeks and chillies and I always adapt recipes adding my favorite spices but I would like a chutney recipe with good shelf life.
The photo above comes from a site called Musings from a Stonehead. Click on Musings from a Stonehead to view the site.
The experiment with the lettuces and the terracotta pot full of water is going well and I couldn't resist putting water spinach in the water which is growing like a wild thing.
The crimson okra are a bit like the valotta - not there one minute, then gigantic the next!
It required some shoes as walking on the roof of the room below burnt my feet. It was worth it - as you can see in the photo of the basketful of delicious peaches. This tree lives only on the runoff from the top story roof as we dont have any gutters there and I never water it. It came up only 3 years ago and now look. There were lots of peaches down lower but I let the parrots have them because we have an extravagantly enormous crop of peaches this year.
Now I had better go and clean the windows on the other side - who knows what I will find there!
Monterosso is one of five small towns in a national park called Cinque Terre ("chin-kwah ter-ray", it means five worlds). There are walking tracks between the towns and on Saturday we walked from Monterosso to Vernazza, and then thought the area was so beautiful that we continued to Cornigila and then to Manorola. Cinque Terre is very steep, to the point that at least half of the walking track was a stairway. Nevertheless the locals have terraced some of the hillsides and built picturesque vineyards (I guess these predate the national park status of the area). All the villages are built on the ocean, so as we approached each one over the hills we got fantastic views of towns nestled between the rolling countryside and the vast Mediteranean Sea.
The 8th Annual Hillside Herbs Chilli Festival
This will be held at Hillside Herbs - McLaren Vale (1st Left, Sand Road, McLaren Vale) on the 9th and 10th of February.
The leaflet says chilli plants, chilli products, sizzling sounds, fiery food, chilli eating, pungent pods, chilli ice cream, chilli chocolate.
Hillside Herbs are growers of quality Herbs, cottage Perennials and Sun loving Succulents
The leaflet says they are open 7 days a week from 10am till 4pm phone 83238385
I have not been there but shall be going to the Chilli Festival.
I bought a lot of chillies from them at Herb Day and they are all growing really well, I just have to work out what to do with them to get maximum flavour.
Their are 2 cuisines of the world that use chillies and spices as flavour bases for there foods, which are unlike other cuisines, where some fresh herbs or spices just enhance a dish.
Mexico and India blend a myriad of flavours together.
Mexicans use all these dried and smoked chillies in their cooking. The cuisines of the Aztec and Mayan Indians are exciting and sophisticated.
And then there is India, I heard a famous Indian chef speak about the spices of India and he said if he lived many, many lifetimes he would still only have a little knowledge about the blending of herbs and spices.
So this is where sharing comes in, we each tell what we know and what we have learnt about the growing of everything in our gardens.
And as we blog we meet more and more people from different parts of the globe and our lives become richer.
Monday, 28 January 2008
This is Shiso growing in our garden.
I was going to write about Shiso but found this great article and 2 great vegetarian recipes at From the Foodhoe Files.
Foodhoe Foraging is another great site to visit and tells of amazing dishes from some great restaurants. The recipes look great & food photography is fantastic.
I shall be adding these to my favorites list.
The recipes are by Eric Gowers and his book Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.
Eric has a website called The Breakaway Cook.
Saturday, 26 January 2008
I have ancho, pimento, caysan, anaheim, hot wax, Thai chillies and purple tiger.
I have been thinking of using them in Mexican dishes but I found this image when I was looking for chilli images.
It is a Thai lunch special from Fremont in Seattle. A Pad Thai recipe with things like zucchini, beans and spring onions all of which we have in our gardens at the moment.
I think it looks pretty good so as I can not get to Seattle this week I shall try a vegetarian version with the Thai chillies I have growing.
Click on Brad Hole's Review in the Seattle Weekly.
Friday, 25 January 2008
For those who haven't 'met' me yet I'm Scarecrow and live in the Mid North of SA. I've been allowed to contribute and share your blog...thank you for allowing me the chance to share some information with a 'local' (well almost) group of fellow food growers.
You've recently been given some links off my blogsite and here's another of my favourites. I've been checking the links already on here so I hope I don't double up on some, so apologies in advance if that happens!!
The Alternative Kitchen Garden Podcast page
Each week Emma Cooper from the Fluffius Muppeteus blog (which in itself is an interesting read) hosts a podcasted Garden Show.
While it is English based it's quite a novelty to be able to download these short programmes each week and listen to them in the garden or in the evenings (we don't watch TV anymore). Past podcasts are on the site for downloading.
Thursday, 24 January 2008
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
We both received the KGI newsletter a day or two ago and immediately thought of the project mentioned there as one that, firstly has a direct link to KGI, secondly, needs seeds and thirdly, is run from Maine where Johnny's Seeds are situated so making the best use of the money, without wasting half on postage.
Here is the first paragraph of the newsletter..
My name is David Buchanan and I'm a KGI member as well as a member of its board. Roger has been busy building our nifty new community site the past few weeks and asked me if I'd be willing to help out by writing this month's newsletter.
Despite my love of winter in New England, this past month I traded my snow shovel for a pickax and flew from Portland, Maine to the delta grasslands of Buenos Aires, Argentina. For the past three weeks I’ve been working with two schools on the outskirts of the city to design and build kitchen gardens funded through KGI's mini-grants program....read more
Together with "Community Gardens" they are introducing me to different uses for the plants we all know. The radish is one of these and, although my father ate little red radishes dipped in salt every day, I could never understand why. I put it down to the fact that his taste buds must be dead because he also loved bread with tomato sauce and never had a glass of beer without a pickled onion ! And that was a lot of pickled onions eaten annually - I think that single-handedly he kept the local pickling company "Spring Gully" in business! I am diverging...
I have daikon coming up again all over my garden - all year round it germinates and grows and for a few months I have cursed the day I sowed those first seeds and allowed some of them to go to seed. But I now know more about daikon and radishes in general. In short, all their parts can be eaten, and are in many parts of Asia. In fact it is the most widely grown vegetable in Japan where the leaves, stems, seed-pods and seedlings are all used, raw, cooked and pickled.
The immature seed-pods of the radish are picked while still green and are able to be easily snapped in half. They evidently have a wonderful texture and flavour, varying from mild to hot, as you would expect. Joy Larkhom says they are great raw or in stir fries and that people who don't like radishes often love the seed pods. This sounds like it would worth trying to me. Varieties best chosen for eating the pods are 'Rat's Tail Radish' (which has no large root at all) and 'Munchen Bier' (a German radish that has a huge crop of pods) but any part of any radish can be eaten.
...."The world needs longer showers! Showers are relaxing when you’re frazzled, stops your joints aching as you get older, and some of us get our best ideas when we shower too. The ‘4 minute shower’ campaign is great for governments who don’t want to spend money on proper water recycling and storage, but a short shower isn’t going to help the planet at all.I’m a bit suspicious of a lot of so called ‘green tips’. Badly made backyard compost can lead to global warming methane and cockroaches (The methane is the global warming culprit, not the cockroaches). And sometimes keeping your old stuff is a heck of a lot more earth friendly than buying new ‘green’ versions of cars or clothes....."
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
I’ve just read Kate’s post on this . (I’m a bit behind as the conections are very slow at present)
While Quentin was recovering & I was flat out keeping up with just the grass growing I thought I needed an apprentice but we realy don’t earn enough to pay wages. Willing Workers on Organic Farms are fine but you tend to repeat the basics on short visits. Over the years I’ve had a couple of ‘once a week wwoofers’which worked well for both parties so I decided that’s what I wanted this year.
Then I got an email from someone wanting to learn more about gardening. We met today ,so I will share my skills each week to a very willing gardener. More than a skippity doo feeling!
After arriving at the Botanical gardens on Sunday we found the native walk was cancelled as the guide was ill. While some dispersed to check out various parts the ones who could not really decide where to go first where greeted by Botanical Gardens Guide Kate who stepped in & we where off around the Aussie plants. I was immediately engaged as we cast our eye on a huge leaves 2-3 meters long, being the spear lily (doryanthes palmeri)
I immediately saw the potential as screens & fences. I’ll have to get one or two. These where used to make fish nets. We passed & discussed many trees including the kurrajongs family, bunya pines, ribbon gums & many more finishing with the King –the River Red Gum complete with bee hive. (Not native)
We then had a relaxed shared lunch on the lawns (For the record Kate had a carton of ice coffee)
Next we investigated the economic gardens, enjoying the herbs, gourds, trellising & discussing aspects of gardening and pipe bending!
I will keep the next meeting up to date, that way you don't have to look through 'dates' to find it.
The moon phases will update daily - another free thing I first saw on another blog and this morning I searched around and found it and there we go. I never know where on earth we are with the moon, without going out every night to see. I know I have the moon calendar that I bought too but having it on the blog is rather cool and then I can go to the calendar when I need to.
Monday, 21 January 2008
A couple of nights ago I sat amongst a group of people I didn't know, at a friend's place for dinner. The hosts and most of the guests worked together at the Waite Campus . Anyway, they do agricultural experiments and stuff and talked a lot about work. I sat there quietly (yes, I can be very quiet, you may be surprised to know!) thinking of Pattie's challenge and realising this was a place to start. Nobody asked me what I did for at least 3 hours - not unusual, I find, and I didn't offer as there is always this feeling I have that I am less of a person in the eyes of such people, because I don't have a career. (I, however, see this quite differently!) My young neighbour at the table didn't noticeably gasp with horror when I replied to her question about what I do, with "I grow vegetables". I had thought about what my answer would be if anyone thought to ask me and I decided to get right on with "the challenge" !
We talked for quite a while, she was so lovely, and I gave her the blog address (maybe she will read this too) and then my neighbour on the other side, who had heard the odd word about gardening, asked me about her garden, or lack of, and I thought this would be my chance, as she had once tried to grow spinach. We spent ages talking and she became so excited about the whole thing. However, she lives too far away from me for me to become her "companion gardener" but maybe I should have given her my phone number. Anyway I didn't . How far are you prepared to go to help someone start a new garden? 5 minutes drive, 10 ? 20 ? I would go 5, or better still, in walking distance. It's one thing to start helping someone, it's quite another to keep it up for some months or longer and, for that, it needs to be convenient. Luckily and by great coincidence, the bloke who sent the email to me is only 5 minutes away!
Add new gardeners to the Victory Garden Drive list at www.victorygardendrive.blogspot.com!
Sunday, 20 January 2008
The Unley Computer Share Project is a local initiative. Unwanted computers are collected and volunteer technicians prepare the computers for re-use.
These computers are provided free if you need a computer.
For further information
phone 8272 5881, or
"Mas du Diable is a very special place, set into the North East foothills of the Cévennes mountains, in the Languedoc region of Southern France. Perched high up in a mountain crevice looking out over the valley with mountains as far as the eye can see."
They are a part of:
Association Kokopelli which is involved in the protection of biodiversity and in the production and distribution of biodynamic and organic seeds.
Saturday, 19 January 2008
First and by far the the leader is Farmers Union Iced Coffee. Totally South Australian and, as the ads have been telling us for at least 20 years, "It's Farmers Union Iced Coffee or it's nothing". Here is Hugh on top of Mt Hotham with one of them that we took all the way from home. Moreover, its the 375ml carton I must have - not the 600ml (1pint) - irrespective of those specials at petrol stations. I won't be lured into being greedy and I won't share! I want my own, in cardboard, without a straw (unless I'm driving). This I am drinking now.
Then I dug a hole in the ground - that's when I found the worms - and, eventually, put the pot in it and filled the pot with water.