Sunday, 30 March 2008

April Events At Nirvana Organic Farm

GUIDED FARM TOUR of NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM for those who missed out the other weekend & others as part of Stirling Autumn Garden Festival
13th April 2-4 pm Adults $8. Children $4.
An ideal opportunity to gain an insight into a successfully run biodynamic farm .This Garden Quality Farm demonstrates an integrated system incorporating orchards, poultry, native habitat & wetlands, home food production & hardy cottage gardens all rolled into a unique lifestyle.
Life in the slow lane. Advanced bookings only. Or Book your own tour anytime.*

VEGETABLES FOR YOUR TABLE.
Sunday, April 20th 9.00 -12 .30 $35
Autumn is an ideal time to build or renovate a vegetable garden. This morning will be a practical guide to establishing & maintaining productive & healthy vegetables.

FOUR SEASONS HARVEST
Sunday April 20th 1.30 4pm $35
Our climate offers many opportunities of growing food for your table all year round. Discover what plants to grow, and when. Practical tips & ideas to provide food year round.

For Bookings Contact
Deb Cantrill or Quentin Jones
NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM
184 LONGWOOD RD
HEATHFIELD 5153
PHONE 8339 2519
WEB: nirvanaorganicfarm.blogspot.com

For those who missed out on the latest Biodynamic workshop. It was a STIRRING experience.Got the grey matter working and discovered amazing facts about mycorrhizal fungi & how Rudolf Steiner spoke about this in 1924 & how science today has 'dicovered' such facts.

Seedsavers Stall at Expo

Click to view full size...

EARTH HOUR

Did you participate in Earth Hour? The idea was for everyone to turn off their lights from 8 -9pm as a show of the concern for the state of the earth and climate change. From New Zealand to Australia and around the globe, time zone by time zone millions of people showed concern by switching to candles or lanterns for lighting during this 1 hour vigil.

If you are familiar with the skyline of the city, you will see just the dark shadows of the city buildings in the centre of this photo. We took this photo from a tree-less spot along the road from our house.

Roger and I walked along Mt Osmond Road and saw that some houses seemed to be in semi-darkness, with cars in the driveway so maybe they were participating. Others had everything blazing, in total ignorance, no doubt. The Adelaide City Council did a great job of turning off all the lights that usually flood the city buildings with light from dusk til dawn. We even had trouble seeing where the city was because it was in darkness.

However, it was blatantly obvious that no other councils seemed to be participating as Adelaide lights lit the sky for 50km, from north to south (see this photo that I took from our house). The government of South Australia showed their lack of understanding of how this could have brought people together in a common cause and shown that those in power were at least acknowledging that there is a problem. But no, yet again there was no doubt no thought even given to what they could do in support.

We walked back home and cooked our dinner - cheese and tomato omelets - by candlelight. In the lounge I had hung from the fireplace 2 solar lanterns that normally live out on the verandah and I thought, why don't we all just have a supply of these that we put out during the day and bring in at night? It was nice to be in a soft glow, for a while, and I think we might use our solar lanterns inside more often.

Here is a photo I just took with the flash, of the lanterns back outside - you can see I am up early (and the government expects us to be out watering our gardens at this hour (6am))! We have 6 of these and they glow with a soft yellow light every night, after some sunshine during the day. Perfect to hang in the lounge or a hallway at night.

Partnering cities:
Aegina, Greece
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Burlington, Canada
Calgary, Canada
Chandigarh, India
Chisinau, Moldova
Curitiba, Brazil
Denver, United States
Edmonton, Canada
Galway, Ireland
Geneva, Switzerland
Gold Coast, Australia
Halifax, Canada
Honolulu, United States
Jakarta, Indonesia
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Lautoka City, Fiji
London, United Kingdom
Mexico City, Mexico
Miami, United States
Minneapolis, United States
Montevideo, Uruguay
Newcastle, Australia
Northampton, United Kingdom
Pasay City, Philippines
Pecs, Hungary
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Stratford, Canada
Warsaw, Poland
Wellington, New Zealand

Official cities include:
Aalborg, Denmark
Aarhus, Denmark
Adelaide, Australia
Atlanta, United States
Bangkok, Thailand
Brisbane, Australia
Canberra, Australia
Chicago, United States
Christchurch, New Zealand
Copenhagen, Denmark
Darwin, Australia
Dublin, Ireland
Manila, Philippines
Melbourne, Australia
Montreal , Canada
Odense, Denmark
Ottawa, Canada
Perth, Australia
Phoenix , United States
San Francisco, United States
Suva, Fiji
Sydney, Australia (watch the video of turning off the lights on Sydney's landmarks)
Tasmania, Australia
Tel Aviv, Israel
Toronto, Canada
Vancouver, Canada

Official cities are registered as WWF flagship cities and have local government support to participate. Partnering cities are those that have organised participation via community channels and grassroot activity. Earth Hour started in Sydney a year ago with support from local media, politicians, businesses and around 2.2 million Sydneysiders.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Next Seeds for Health Course

Diana Bickford's next organic gardening course is starting soon at Fern Ave, Fullarton. Details below. Many of the Hills and Plains Seedsavers have done this course and would recommend it to anyone wanting to grow some of their food. Diana is an inspirational person and a leader in vegetable growing in South Australia. Here is a message from Maggie: This is a really great and fun course there is always so much to learn from Diana, Kath and all the people who attend the course. Please tell your friends. I have done this course twice and could do it again. And Fern Ave is a great place to spend a morning.

Cancer Care Centre Inc

SEEDS FOR HEALTH

AUTUMN 2008 Organic Gardening Course

Held at the beautiful Fern Ave Community Garden, Fullarton

This 7 week ‘hands-on’ organic gardening program is for those who are interested in improving their health by learning how to grow your own organic vegetables….. and having fun doing it.

This program is practical and is held in the organic Community Garden at Fern Ave, where you will experience the joy of home-grown produce. After each morning’s session, we enjoy a delicious Organic Lunch from our garden plot.

During the program you will start to sow “Seeds of Health” as you create your own ‘Take Home’ projects and also work in our ‘Cancer Care’ garden. There will be an interesting field trip along with some sessions including inspiring guest speakers.

Week 1

2 April

As ye shall sow…. So shall ye reap

Intro to Organics & Permaculture

Seeds to Sow … a home-grown project

Week 2

9 April

Kitchen garden inspirations

plus more seeds to sow…… Wheatgrass - What, why & how

Week 3

16 April

The Good Earth - care of the soil with organic practices …. cultivating healthy soil – healthy plants – healthy people

Week 4

23 April

By Design - from balcony gardens and beyond…..

plus All you need to know about heirloom seeds and the Hills & Plains Seedsavers Network

Week 5

30 April

Compost – with Tim Marshall.

Tim, author of ‘Recycle Your Garden’, demonstrates why this is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for the health of the planet right now.

Week 6

7 May

Field trip to The Food Forest, Gawler - an inspiring model for sustainability and permaculture (twice awarded prestigious Premier’s Food Award for Sustainability)

Week 7

14 May

Seeds for the Future - Kitchen Garden productivity

Course is held Wednesday mornings 10am – 12noon

( with delicious, organic ‘lunch from the garden’ 12 – 1pm)

COURSE BEGINS Wednesday 2nd April until Wednesday 14th May (7 weeks)

Course facilitator: Diana Bickford

COST : $50.00 for Cancer Care Centre members

$80.00 for non-members

BOOKINGS TO CANCER CARE CENTRE 8272 2411

ITS ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY, MUM

This morning I went to the market with son Hugh, 19. He is going away for the weekend, with his girlfriend, so he thought he would come to the market with me and get some great stuff to eat and cook. I know he loves cooking and he will only eat the best he (or his mother!) can afford. We had a wonderful time tasting cheeses, choosing feral meat and even had a chat to Tony Scarfo at Wilsons. I was aware that the morning was moving on rapidly and I thought he would be keen to get going. We were just walking down one of the aisles of stalls when I said as much to him and that he should go whenever he was ready - I could finish my part of the expedition alone. He had already sent an SMS to the girlfriend once to say he would be late. He stopped in the middle of the crowded walkway, turned around and said "Its all about the journey, Mum." Spreading his arms out to embrace the stalls piled high with vegetables and olive oils and coffee beans and the crowds of people with their bags and trolleys, he continued "This is at the core of me. This is what I love." Evidently the girlfriend could wait even longer because it was another hour before he left.

I will never forget it and probably think of it every time I walk down that aisle, every Friday. Now it is a tear-jerking memory. Then, it was the culmination of 19 years of instilling in this lad everything that I feel and believe in. So, when your teenagers are revolting and insensitive and loud and you want to murder them, just remember that one day they will come good and all of a sudden it will seem like those times never happened!

And he is right; after all is said and done, life is a journey. I was thinking about this journey early this evening when I was packing up my gardening things. The cool breeze was rustling in the bottlebrushes, the magpies and crows were having a discussion about something in the distance and the softer light of autumn was washing over the gum trees and casting long shadows down the valley. The chilly air of the evening was invigorating and I glanced across at all the new season's plantings in the vegetable garden and thought that my journey has brought me to a space that I never thought I would find. I can see misty paths leading here and there into the future and, at last, I seem to be ready to choose which ones to follow.

This blog continues to follow our journeys in the search for peace and passion in the gardens of life.

HOW TO RE-WET YOUR DRY SOIL

Or: The Challenge of Growing!

From now on everything starts to come alive in South Australia. Some of the gum trees are coming into flower - such as the blue gums around my place - and I noticed that one wattle - acacia iteaphylla - has buds which are fattening by the day. Even some early correas have their first flowers of the year while others will wait until mid-winter. The fact that all these local, native plants flower and then put out new shoots during autumn and winter is proof enough that we have a unique climate and we must take advantage of every moment to get the most from our food gardens. Soon, maybe even tonight, they say, we will get some real rain and then you will see the botanical world around us smile with joy and soak up those tiny droplets of rain and use them to prepare for the heat of next summer. I say it every year - do as other gardeners in Mediterranean climates all over the world do - go forth and sow now. Unless you have been keeping space aside for sowing into then, like me, you will have a garden full of capsicums and okra and eggplant and beans and so on, so sow into trays or pots for now.

This afternoon I started to prepare the next area for planting out some more of the seedlings I sowed in late January and through February. One dreadful thing is that the soil is so bone dry it has become water-repellent, after so long with water restrictions and the extreme heat. Don't plant into dry soil - it will kill your plants faster than you can blink and, once they are planted or sown you won't be able to work the soil to get it damp. The area I was working on previously had been used for tomatoes but they were a failure and I had removed them months ago and discontinued watering that area.
Here is what I did to wet the soil today: I soaked a 'brick' of coconut fibre in 1/2 bucket of water until it was all reconstituted - use too much water and you end up with a slurry. Then I sprinkled 1/2 of this over an area about 2m by 1m or so and lightly forked it in. (Save the other half for another section ). Then I got the regulation watering can and put the hose in it and, holding it with one hand I watered the whole area for several minutes. Meanwhile I held the fork in the other hand and twisted it over and over as I watered. At first nothing seemed to be happening and the water would not penetrate at all. Slowly though, with the watering and the twisting, eventually it started to work and the texture began to change and the moisture was absorbed. I put down the watering can and had a closer look - it was still completely dry only about 5 or 6" down. So off I went again, watering and twisting (who needs a gym to build up their biceps?) It took me over 1/2 hour to get anywhere near damp enough deep enough to consider putting my gorgeous beetroot, fennel and broccoli seedlings into. If you are not planting into it straight away, cover it to reduce evaporation and to start getting the life back into it.

If you can't manage the fork and the watering can at the same time, work them alternately but do not be tempted to think it will all come good when it rains. It will take too long and all that work in getting those seedlings looking so big and strong will have been wasted. Ideally we wouldn't have to bring in something from so far away, as coconut fibre and you could use Saturaid or some other water-granules but it has been a tough summer and I have never had to do this before. This soil is full of the best home-made compost I had ever made, that I added last spring before the tomatoes, so I am confident it will hold all the rain that falls from now on. If you doubt the wisdom of applying all this water to my vegetable garden in the middle of water restrictions, think about where your food comes from and tell me, with all honesty, that it was grown with less water and food-miles than mine!

GROWING MANGOES IN ADELAIDE

This is the story of my mother's experiences of growing mangoes in Adelaide. A copy of this post is being sent to the Rare Fruit Society at the request of Harry, the President.

About 20 years ago she bought a mango seedling from Chris Perry at Perry's Fruit and Nut Nursery, McLaren Flat. She planted it in a place in her garden in Lockleys, sheltered from the western sun by a wattle tree and from the wind from the west and south, by a fence and a shed. No particular preparation was made of the soil but the soil in Lockleys is excellent, as it was originally the flood plain of the Torrens. The water table is also very high and when established, trees can feed from it once the roots reach down as little as 60cm or so. She used to cover it every night during cold weather but, with subsequent seedlings, found this was not necessary although they rarely have frost in Lockleys.



It took about 10 years before the tree began to fruit and at first there were only 2 or 3 fruits. As the tree has grown it has increased its yield and this year, 2008, the crop was close to 100 mangoes. The tree is now over 3m high and as wide. Alternate years are better and often a lot of the fruit blows off in spring before reaching larger than thumb-nail size. This year, 2008, many more fruit stayed on, despite the dry conditions, and even the smaller fruits (the size of a pear) ripened beautifully.The mangoes usually ripen during April but this year they ripened from mid March and consisted of some of the biggest and smallest mangoes yet. An interesting difference this year was that each of the earliest ones developed a red patch on the sunny side, before ripening to the usual orange. Maybe this was due to the very cool February weather.

Jean has tried to grow another tree from a seed of this tree, several times but, although they germinate readily, they have produced trees which either have had stringy fruit, or failed to have more than one mango per year. She has also tried grafted mango plants but these have not been successful.Mango trees prefer to be on the dry side during winter and this is achieved by having them planted on the NE side of a fence and shed, causing a small rain shadow. The soil is also very free draining in Lockleys. Jean fertilises the plant in early spring with citrus food but otherwise does not feed it. She waters it deeply now and again, when the fruit are growing.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

THREAT TO SEEDSAVERS

Read what Chaiselongue from Olives and Artichokes has to say about a court case the Kokopelli Seeds Foundation is involved in and please sign the petition. It is in French but the instructions are clear(ish). Don't think 'this is someone else's problem' because this attack on the control of our food is, I think, the single most important issue for the survival of human civilisation facing us now. As I wrote about in my post Sowing the Seeds of Civilisation.

HEAT HITS HARD

I think this is how we all felt during the recent heat wave!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

GIVE ME THE BEET

How does that song go? ....

"Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away....."

I have had this song in the back of my mind all afternoon, ever since I lifted the cover off the soil we prepared last Wednesday when the garden group came here, and that earthy aroma of good compost, warmth and rain drifted up to me. Beside me, ready to plant out, were the trays of beetroot seedlings that I had sown in late February, ....but for ages - hours actually - I didn't realise the words had changed in my head....

"Give me the beet, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in this beautiful soil and drift away...."


The sedums are still changing colourThese tiny capsicums are from a punnet of seedlings I bought called 'Mini Mama'. They are ever so tiny. Cute but a bit useless!






This is my Cherry Guava's first year and it has lots of fruit ripening.




Here are the wombok having just germinated 2 days ago.







One lone plant of Cath's yellow cornos capsicums is turning yellow. The rest are a magnificent red. I have put photos of them here before. Actually, I am glad they are red - they are so spectacular and sweet.

MORE ABOUT THE CUCUMBER VISIT

Maggie asked what the cucumbers were like. Silvio led me into the kitchen and we sat at the table. There in front of me he placed a plate with 2 of the cucumbers on it and he said "Eat it, like an apple". He and Maria watched me take a bite. It was very crisp and fleshy - not at all watery - and quite sweet. No need to peel. An excellent cucumber. He said a friend of his cuts them up and puts them in fruit salad. Maria often uses them in cooking, when they get to be past their best stage for eating raw and they are then treated like a zuccini because they hold together well when cooked.

Another thing Silvio told me was about cornflakes. He explained that, as a child, they grew a lot of corn and ate a lot of polenta, even for breakfast. On the top of a wood stove they would fill in all the rings so there was just one big, flat surface. This would be oiled and thin slices of polenta would be fried to a crisp all over it. They put these in a bowl, hot, and poured over cold milk ! The original cornflakes !

Laura from Mas du Diable kindly sent me the template she made for making nice seed packets that you can fold up and seal, so I thought I would put Maria on the front of these cucumber seed packets, since they are from her family. Now we can easily make seed packets with any info we like on them...like this.

While I am writing this I am eating more of that toast with fried olives, for breakfast - it is my new favourite thing. I am nearly out of olives now and soon it will be just another memory, until we get some cuttings of that tree. Silvio has found it difficult to propagate but all we need is 1 success at first to keep the variety going. So much to do, how does anybody find time to work? Or am I just hopelessly addicted to blogging? (Don't answer that!!)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

AN HEIRLOOM IN MY HANDS

This afternoon I went to visit an Italian man, with sketchy details that I had from Deb about some seeds to collect...Here is the story.... This man, Silvio, 78, has been growing these same cucumbers for over 30 years and they have a story - many stories - of their own which I will recount in a moment. Recently he has been looking for some people to entrust these seeds to because he has been ill and his family are just not interested in some old, Italian cucumber seeds. So I have them now, to share and grow and keep pure forever.

This is a huge responsibility because these seeds, as far as he and his sister-in-law, Maria (88), know were only ever grown by her family, near a place called Bari, in southern Italy. Silvio's wife died some 20 years ago but was the first of her family to come out to Australia as Silvio's wife, 50 years ago. One by one her brothers came out to Australia until there was only Maria and her father, left in Bari. Eventually they came out too and the seeds were left behind and grown on by other relatives in the same area. One day some of these relatives came out to visit the family in Australia and brought some of the cucumber seeds. Here the story becomes a bit of a secret but Silvio told me in confidence.....Anyway since then he has been growing them for his wife's family, every year, without fail. Some years later the relatives in Italy lost the seeds and Silvio was able to send them some of his from Australia or the strain would have been lost completely. Even now he does not recognise them as his cucumbers, but those of the Radogna family of Bari and he would not even be in the photo with Maria and the plate of freshly-picked cucumbers. He wants them to be known as Bari Cucumber, although Maria wanted them to be called by the name her family in Italy use - Caroselli Baresi.

For some time this is just what I have wanted - to have the seeds of someone's life in my hands, to have a connection to something historic and significant and to truly feel responsible for saving one tiny piece of the genetic biodiversity of the earth. However, like all meaningful things, it is quite a daunting thought. Moreover, anyone who grows this from now on will have to grow only this cucumber, as cucumbers cross readily, and, Silvio told me, it has special requirements. But when you receive such a gift you can't send it back!

As we settled down for a good talk, Silvio brought out a bottle of his home-made wine, made from grapes that he grew from some cuttings he imported from an area of Italy near Venice where he grew up. He has some land behind Morialta, at Norton Summit, where he grows the vines and the vegetables, as he only has a small back yard where he lives. I must say that I did enjoy that wine, called Prosecco, and he told me it is now one of Jamie Oliver's favourites since his series on Italian food. Odd but true, evidently.
Maria didn't speak much English and it was fun to try out some of my newly acquired Italian on her. I have only had 3 lessons and don't know much more than a few basic phrases so when she answered my introduction with a huge smile,and lots of Italian, I knew I must have got it right.

After talking about the cucumbers Maria led us outside and started picking leaves of herbs for me to try. Then she began to collect some very big olives off the ground and Silvio picked one up too and put it in his mouth, handing me one with instructions to do the same! Oh no, I thought!....It was strong but delicious and not at all bitter. This, said Silvio, is an eating olive and you can eat it without pickling. Maria was banging the branches with a rake and collecting the olives. Silvio said that for the most exquisite taste in all the world I had to take these olives home and fry them - not too hot and without much oil - until they were soft but still held their shape and looked 'boiled'. He said I could come back later in the year and get some cuttings - at the time I was more excited about this than the cucumbers.

I talked with Silvio and Maria for a couple of hours - about all sorts of things - until I just couldn't justify staying any longer. I gave them some of my spinach seeds that I have been collecting for maybe 15 years. I asked Silvio if there was anything I could give him as a gift and he said yes, he would love a quince tree. So, I will get one ASAP from the Rare Fruit Society, probably, and take it around soon.
As soon as I got home I cooked some of those olives and Roger and I had them and truly they are fabulous, especially when squashed onto a piece of toasted olive bread. Buonissimo!

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF MONSANTO

A little documentary about Monsanto, just in case you had any doubts. From La Vie Verte.

Monday, 24 March 2008

DID YOU HEAR THE FORECAST??




Adelaide, for Wednesday, March 26th :



MAXIMUM OF 19 C and SHOWERS !!



Those seeds we all sowed over Easter will germinate with rainwater on their leaves, instead of salty Murray water and they will grow and flourish and so will we. My mother said she will never, ever complain about the cold or the rain again after all this heat and drought.
ps I just lifted the hessian bag that I had thrown over the wombok I sowed on Saturday and they are germinating - that's only 2 days. Maybe this moon thing is worth it. Let's see what happens with the rest.

RADICAL GARDENING AND LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION

Here is a paragraph from a blog called Anarchocyclist, I found via Patrick, at Bifurcated Carrots. He(?) has blended all the various aspects of the argument so well, it is well worth reading the whole post.

....."A big intersection of political/economic power and environmental destruction is industrial agriculture. In pre-industrial societies, the ratio of energy out of food compared to the energy put in to produce the food was around 100:1. That is, for every 1 calorie put into making food, we got 100 calories from eating the food. In the past century, that ratio went down to 1:1 and then drastically further down to 1:100. For example, when the UK imports asparagus from Chile, 97 calories of energy are used in transportation for every 1 calorie of asparagus received. The whole industrial agriculture system — from the tractors to the pesticides to the transportation and refrigeration — is all running on oil. Now that we’ve hit the peak of oil production and the amount produced will slowly decrease forever, we’ll start to feel the pinch because we’ll no longer have a huge artificial energy subsidy. We’ll no longer be able to “eat oil”..."

So many people, my self included, have this desire to spread a form of food self-reliance at as fast a pace as we can. But, I tell you what, it is hard to get many people together who want to be helped! If you want to read more in the vein of the post above, check out 'Food for Thought', from the labels list on this blog. If you after something lighter, go to Anecdotes or choose a label from the list and have a lucky-dip!

It is so interesting to see where the visitors to this blog come from (via the Feedjit map) and what brought them here (via Feedjit live traffic feed). At 11am today, the last 100 visitors came from: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Philippines, India, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Armenia, Netherlands, UK, France, Ireland, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, Canada, USA, Mexico, Guatemala. Hello and welcome to our gardens.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

EASTER TREASURES IN MY GARDEN

Instead of an Easter Egg hunt, I had a treasure hunt and this is what I found.


Here is an amazing photo I somehow managed to get of my oldest chook.
Below is the first flower on the water spinach.
I hope I will get lots of seed to share.
And at right shows the okra with more okras than ever after the hot weather helped it produce lots of new flowers. Most of these I will keep for seed. There are many more coming. Each plant has at least 9 okras !

THINGS FROM THURSDAY

Most of Thursday was very pleasant. I even remembered to take the camera to the market but after I had taken 2 photos the battery went flat. Anyway I got 2 photos of Wilson's Organics where I buy nearly everything that I don't grow - onions, potatoes, bananas, bread, pasta, rice, shampoo etc, dairy, meat, etc etc. It is a treasure trove of real food and real things and the people serving are just so gorgeous and friendly.



Then it was on to my mother's and here are some more photos of the next fruit to ripen now the mangoes are almost all finished. The mango is getting its new leaves already and they are a beautiful, soft bronze colour.



The lemonade lemon tree is laden down almost to the ground. These lemons can be eaten or made into juice without sweetening.








The persimmons are beginning to colour.





Some of the branches of the various apples trees have snapped in the heat and some of the apples are badly burnt but those under the canopy are beautiful.



ps How do you like the new world time-zone clock in the side bar? Move your mouse over it. Pretty cool hey!

EXCLUSIVE OR ELUSIVE?



It was Thursday before I realised that Easter was going to be this weekend. Not being a regular supermarket shopper means that I had not been inundated with the build-up to Easter which usually begins soon after New Year, with shelves full of brightly wrapped and decorated junk food spewing out of the doors like I would be doing if I ate that stuff!



Everything in Adelaide closes on Good Friday so I had a quick trip to the market Thursday morning - which I normally do on Friday - then off to my mother's for lunch and the whole walk on the beach thing. On the way home I decided son Alex and I would be needing some hot-cross buns to go with the Haigh's Easter eggs that I had bought at the market. Now I happen to know where to get the best hot-cross buns in Adelaide so I left plenty of time to get there from my mother's, before they would be closing, I thought. I arrived at 4.15pm to find that the bakery had been all spruced up, in a nasty, shiny sort of way and lost all of its warm wooden glow and inviting interior. Oh well, I thought, it still has the same name so it will still have the same buns!

Well, it may well have had those buns but, at 4.15, the door was locked. The fancy new sign outside said "We now close at 4.30". As silly as that seemed to me, the day before a 4 day Easter long-weekend, I was still there 15 minutes before closing time! There was someone working away inside but they ignored me and I left, hot-cross bun-less and very annoyed. This would never had happened if they hadn't gone all fancy and up-market, I am sure.

Alex and I struggled along without our buns for the whole of Friday, but when Saturday came along I decided I was going to have a hot-cross bun from that shop for morning tea if it was the last thing I did. So, when I had had enough in the garden this morning, I got all cleaned up and took my by now determined self back to that bakery. Hooray it was open - step one. I noticed there were none of the usual bags of buns on the counter but I thought that now they were all stream-lined and minimalist, the buns would be out the back. I asked the girl sweetly for a dozen hot-cross buns. She looked at me if to say - you are so yesterday - and told me they only had 5 left. Here it was, 11.30 Saturday of Easter and they only had 5 left! Now for a shop that has the best buns in Adelaide it was too ridiculous for words to think that none of the customers for the rest of the day would be able to buy a hot-cross bun for Easter. I bought the 5 buns and ran out of the shop.


In the past I have called in to that bakery if ever I felt the need to get some bakery item because it always had good stuff, the decor was inviting and the service was excellent. I doubt I will go back there now until Christmas time when I will be wanting the best mince-pies, unless I make some myself. A bakery that closes half way through the afternoon will not last long. It seems to have a much reduced range of foods available and is all black and white tiles, shiny glass and mirrors and shiny girls. Sorry, Millie's, you have reflected me right out the door.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME FOR AUSTRALIA

At last. The newly elected Australian government seems to be responding to climate change in a positive way after the release of the Climate Change Review report from Prof Ross Garnaut, a Climate Change Economist.

On the 7.30 Report on ABC TV tonight it appeared that the economics of not taking a forward-thinking stance on this was recognised by Penny Wong (minister for climate change) and the Government as ultimately costing the country more than bowing to the pressures of the big polluters, such as the coal-fired power stations that Australia has survived on for a century. An Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has been recommended by the review as the most efficient means by which to achieve the carbon reductions required as compared to other market instruments such as a carbon tax, as explained below:
"...To mitigate climate change effectively, a limit must be placed on rights to emit
greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and this must be reduced over time to the level
that prevents any net accumulation in the atmosphere. Governments, with their coercive
powers, are the only bodies able to impose such a restriction.
Under the ETS, this supply-side constraint is imposed by governments creating “permits”
that allow the holder of the permit to emit a specified volume of greenhouse gases to the
atmosphere. The demand side of the market is established by the government requiring
emitters to acquit permits if they wish to release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In
so doing, the government must have the administrative machinery to enforce such a
requirement credibly, as the requirement only exists by virtue of government decree."

Interestingly, the coal-power electricity companies are saying that they have been providing power for Australia all these years and should be given free certificates, and not have to buy them on the open market. I expected the government minister for climate change to dodge this issue but she faced it head on, claiming that they have had plenty of time to research schemes to deal with the carbon emissions of burning coal, such as carbon sequestration (ie burying it in the ground) and cannot now claim they didn't know this was coming. Moreover, she was clear that this may mean that some coal-fired power stations may go out of business as a result of the ETS.

As for compensation, the report is well-written and clear. Basically, what I understand in a glance through the paper and from the TV interview is that those communities that suffer because of the loss of many jobs in these effected industries will be able to apply for structural adjustment assistance. This does not mean that the companies can claim foul play and be paid out but that the communities may be compensated for the fact that the companies did not make adequate changes to secure their employment. If I have understood this correctly, then this points the finger fair and square at industries to get on with getting prepared and to stop trying to change the policy!

This next paragraph explains why all governments into the future must adopt these recommendations and not promise any compromise:
"...The faith participants have in the enduring nature of the institutional behaviour will
fundamentally influence all aspects of the ETS. It depends on the ongoing commitment
of policy makers
Institutional credibility is often acquired through reputation based on a history of
demonstrated commitment to established rules and observed behaviours (especially in
crises), and therefore takes time to develop. In the case of climate change policy, it will
also be influenced by the actions of other governments and indications of their
commitment to reducing emissions. This will be the case regardless of whether it is a
domestic or international institution.
Should institutional arrangements lack sufficient credibility, the market agents will factor
into their decisions and actions risk premiums or discounts in anticipation of institutional
failure. As the price does not reflect the true scarcity value, this behaviour results in suboptimal
resource allocation decisions and a deadweight loss to society."

For more details, please read the report. I am sure this is the beginning of a significant change in the attitudes of Australia and may help us to be a leader in our geographic zone, which I see as a first step in bringing Asia into this with us. This is just one part of the total review and I look forward to reading and hearing about other aspects.

Just as an aside - I do not hold a particular political view but I am hoping to find some leadership emerging in environmental awareness and action that no other previous Australian government has ever shown to date.

Harvest Moons


The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon (Saturday 22nd) that is nearest to the Autumnal equinox (Today March 20th). The Harvest Moons include 2 other moon rises that follow the full moon. On three consecutive days there is a very big and full moon just as the sun sets. If the weather is clear there is an abundance of moonshine. This is a time when you will notice more wildlife activity; you may feel restless and have trouble sleeping. After sunset there is still plenty of light for the farmers to continue harvesting. If the harvest was completed then time to celebrate the harvest.
One month after the harvest moon comes the Hunters Moon. The paddocks are bare after the harvest, the wildlife are about.
These are things gardeners can observe and celebrate the summer bounty we enjoyed and the harvest now filling the pantry & any other spare cupboard.
This will be a much better use of the coming public holidays than the tons of cheap chocolate and soft drinks I saw being loaded into trolleys (some people had 2 trolleys full) at the supermarket yesterday. Fortunately for me my weekly shopping gets me through the 12 items or less isle. But I still had to endure the sill bunny ears worn by the checkout person.

Today (2 days before the full moon) I planted my garlic as well as lettuce, carrots, parsnips, swedes, kohi rabi, escarole, Kate's pale spinach, Mache, miners lettuce, spring onions, cress and a few peas both sugar snap and snow . I also interplanted a few broad beans where I could fit them, now have to wait until the summer crops finish to plant more and transplant some of last months plantings into their new homes. The moment I finished planting there was a shower of rain- a good sign for the next growing season.
Garlic all placed out ready to plant.
Planted garlic mulched with willow leaves than fell like rain over the hot weather. Simple to rake up, make good mulch to keep the heat in the beds & supress weeds while the garlic grows. It will be ready to harvest at Christmas time.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

ACTION PRECEDES INSPIRATION


Everyone will be sick of me telling the tales of another happy Wednesday but when I am happy I like to pass it on. Gardening was at my place this time and we spent a nice couple of hours removing some of my squash plants and some other bits and pieces and getting the beds ready to plant and sow in over Easter. After morning tea and when they had all left, I stood out there for ages with a watering can and soaked the whole area. Then, to conserve the moisture and get the worms and microbes working, I cut up pieces of the carpet underlay (coconut fibre) that I had picked up a couple of months back and laid them over the soil and then wet them too. I didn't put straw or other loose mulch as I don't use mulch except in summer, because I want the dark soil to absorb the warmth of the sun all winter long. This carpet underlay can be easily removed, piece by piece, when I am ready to plant into that spot. We put lots of the weeds and deep-rooted plants we removed into a plastic bin, added some cow manure and some comfrey leaves and filled the bin with water to make a liquid 'tea' I will use on the new seedlings in a couple of weeks. (I know its not a perfect brew Deb, but it'll do!)

As always, the 5 of us chatted away about this and that. Lou told me that the terracotta pots we installed before the heat wave had kept her seedlings going beautifully (which is something because Lou sometimes forgets to water her plants!) Kathy always has stories about 1 or more of her 5 grown children, I seem to always injure Glenys in some way, today I only tipped compost inside her shoes (sorry Glenys!) and Sally is like a tornado and is equally difficult to control but she gets an awful lot done! Sally and I were digging up some kikuyu together (its always a good idea to stick close to Sally - it makes you look like you have done more work that way!) when Sally said something profound.

Action precedes inspiration.

I stopped and rested on my fork in the style of The Aussie Summer gardener. "You're so right" I said, thinking more about this. That is what happens for me with writing on this blog. Often I don't have anything in particular to write about but I want to keep new stuff coming up all the time. Then I go out into the garden and all it takes is a few steps out the door and I see or think something and I rush back inside with fire in my belly or a smile on my face and before I know it, thoughts are pouring in and words are pouring out.

This leads on to a comment I wrote on Pattie's Foodshed Planet, the other day:

.....I love that idea that we and others are scratching below the surface and the time is right to do something with what we find there. I am digging a lot deeper than ever and turning over some beautiful, rich experiences. When I bring them to the surface I hope they fertilise the minds of everyone around me...

It is only by doing something that inspiration comes and it is amazing where it leads us, just amazing. In particular, who would have thought that a previously-solitary gardener like me who had only heard the word 'blog' from son Alex 18 months ago, would offer to set up a blog for a new seedsavers group and that it would sweep me up in its path and, with the addition of nutrients from other bloggers and sunlight from the garden and a fair amount of action, inspire me so much that I can look at the Feedjit map and the hit counter and think wow! , Sally is right, small actions can inspire huge creations.

Here are some other words of wisdom I have found:

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. --Orison Swett Marden

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. --Will Rogers

Ideas are funny little things. They don't work unless you do. --Unknown

Life is like a taxi, the meter keeps ticking whether you're getting somewhere or standing still. --Lou Erickson

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

COFFEE - THE COMPLEXITIES OF A GOOD CUP

The breeze coming in the window next to my computer is so cool I decided to make a cup of coffee. I drink only one cup of espresso per day so it is important to choose the right moment to get maximum time to savour the levels of enjoyment obtainable from these aromatic beans. One sip of the perfect coffee can bring a quiet "Holy Valotta, that's good" from me! Taking that first sip is not a moment I care to share with anyone and often, if people are here and I am making several cups, I will stand alone, out of view, in the kitchen and take that first sip, before delivering the rest to the visitors. Am I alone in this, I wonder? It is a similar feeling to the first bite of a strawberry off the best plant in your garden, gathered warm from the sun and bitten into with anticipation and delight. It is a private thing!

A variety of coffee plant (Coffea canephora or Coffea arabica) has become available to gardeners here lately, I have noticed. I did drop a few hints at Christmas time but it looks like I will have to buy my own or be more blunt when we get closer to my birthday! Evidently arabica will grow in our climate but probably won't produce anything worth roasting because it needs cold nights and only warm days and lots of water to produce a good flavour. The robusta (Coffea canephora) is hardier to heat but requires cross-pollination, and is probably the one for sale locally. Generally this is used to make instant coffee, and has more caffeine and a lower quality flavour than the arabica. Growing coffee in the shade can help produce a better flavour because it slows down the growth of the coffee and increases the production of more sugars and chemicals responsible for the flavour.

I am always trying new coffee beans and have tried a lot of organic and free-trade arabica beans and blends. There are a lot of issues involved in choosing where you stand on coffee purchase and like anything in life, it is not a simple choice, according to the research I have done thus far. There is Fair -Trade which, basically, by-passes the middleman and so the producer (sometimes as a community group) deals directly with the buyer so that costs are reduced and, theoretically, profits both ends of the deal are increased. Read more about this from the link.
Organic coffee may or may not differ from sustainably farmed coffee. Organic certification simply means, in this context, that the coffee is grown without the use of chemicals. Whereas the latter includes care of the land, the people and the environment. An example may be that a sustainable farm will reuse coffee husks as heating fuel rather than cutting down the local trees. Most sustainable farms leave a cover of native trees throughout the plantation for the benefit of the birds and other wild-life. An organic plantation may or may not do this.

Then there is the issue of the costs of certification. Small-scale farmers of coffee are often not aware of the premium they could charge for coffee certified to be organic, bird-friendly or sustainable and therefore do not apply for certification because of the expense.The weakening US dollar means that farmers are receiving less for their crops which, for westerners' benefit, are traded in that currency. So, while demand goes up production costs also rise often resulting in less coffee being planted rather than more.

The main problem for me is that, of all the dozens of varieties, roasts and blends of coffee that I have espressed through my little, Italian, stove-top pot, my favourites are neither organic nor fair-trade. Neither are they bird-friendly or grown sustainably, as far as I can tell.
So, do I buy the best of the organic / sustainable / etc etc coffee - which I think is from East Timor and happens to be our most local but which I would not rank in my favourites or do I drink one cup of my favourite coffee everyday and not worry about its politics??

KING ISLAND

Recently I wrote about King Island Dairy's smoked cheddar cheese on EcoMomical but I thought I would expand on why I buy it, here. The man at the Say Cheese stall in the central market told me that this is the only cheese they have, and they have hundreds of magnificent Australian cheeses, that is naturally smoked - ie actually smoked at all and not impregnated with a smoke flavour. You really can taste the difference and this is one of my family's favourite cheeses but it must be served at room temperature. That is a relative thing because rooms have been pretty hot over the last 15 days of temperatures averaging well over the old 100F mark. This beautiful cheese, from the pristine King Island, (top left of this map) between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia, is also available at Coles, of all places, along with the cream and yughurt. Its full name is Stokes Bay Smoked Cheddar, under the King Island label. The King Island Pure Cream is ......indescribably good - just the right thickness to scoop decadent amounts out with a spoon but thin enough to slip off the spoon onto the plate with ease, and it is nearly 50% fat. And the flavour and texture....mmm....perfect. If you are going to have cream just once, this is the one. You will never buy cheap cream again.

This is leading up to the interesting (well I think it is) fact that husband Roger is currently sailing a beautiful huon pine sailing boat from Hobart (Tasmania) to Adelaide (South Australia) with 5 other blokes and, this minute, they are just weighing anchor and leaving King Island. We are so lucky in Australia to be surrounded by the cleanest oceans in the world and the Southern Ocean is the best of the best. Here is part of the email Roger sent me (they have hired a satellite phone with limited internet connection, for the trip).... (the photos are from the King
Island Dairy website. )

It is just after 5pm on Monday and we are tied up along side the fishermans wharf on Grassy Harbour on King Island. We arrived here early this afternoon after finally getting some wind and having a great sail for the last couple of hours. We were in the lee of King Island by the time the wind came up and so the wind was offshore and the sea flat so the conditions were perfect. We are probably going to hang on a mooring in the little harbour here for the night. Geoff reckons he won't be getting much sleep tonight as he will be busy hunting and gathering. He is really excited about being closer into shore and assures us he will have lots of squid and whiting shortly. He also reckons he can hear crayfish under the wharf and so is busy setting stocking traps for them. (Seriously ... he reckons you can hear them when you are under water). The stocking trap is an old stocking (actually a new one) with a bit of fish in it. Apparently the crayfish get tangled up in the stocking trying to get the bait.

It is now almost 10pm and we have just come back from the town of Grassy which is a few km up the road from the harbour. We had dinner at the Grassy Club. I had Venison broth followed by BBQ octopus with Greek salad, plum tart and a selection of King Island cheeses. It was all lovely and I am sure the tart was exactly the same one as the one you cook -- the one with the plums placed on the top!Before going up to town we filled up with water and fuel and are all ready to head off again first thing in the morning.

This is a really small place. There are only a couple of houses some sheds and a few fishing and local sailing boats down here at the harbour and not many more up in the "town". There is a little supermarket and the "club". It is quite amazing there is such a good restaurant here as I don't know who would really go there.I think the main development and (food) shops etc, are all on the other (Northern) side of the Island. So we will have to make sure we call there when we come down here on our boat.

It was really hot when we arrived. As soon as we came into land the temperature went up by about 15 degrees! It was 38 deg here today which is absolutely unheard of. Apparently it is normally in the mid twenties here this time of year. We have all been swimming off the boat while filling up with water and fuel. The water is so clean here. While we were at the wharf some local came down for a swim and a young boy got a couple of huge abalone just in the bay right here. There are so few people here it is still very unspoilt.

King Island is quite low and sandy and the coastal scenery is nowhere near as spectacular as where we have just been (the south and west coasts of Tasmania) . We haven't heard how the temperature is back home in Adelaide but suspect it is still hot from looking at the pressure chart, When is this hot weather ever going to end?Hopefully we will have some good winds tomorrow for a while at least but it sounds like it is going to be pretty calm again soon.

...Its 5:30 am and there is a good southerly blowing so we are all up and getting ready to head off to Port Fairey while there is some wind. I am just about to log in to get the latest weather forecast and charts and so I can send this email. We can hear the penguins making a racket over on the breakwater and there are thousands of mutton bird burrows everywhere you go here on land. Its nice and cool this morning with the wind blowing in straight off the Southern Ocean.

The cool change has arrived in Adelaide!! The wind is blowing 20 knots from the SOUTH and it is 22 C with a forecast max of.....wait for it.....29 C and there will be clouds - remember them?! Those of us still alive will be able to breathe again and our heads will clear and we will be able to go into what is left of our gardens. Maybe one day it will rain but lets just jump with joy that, at least for now, it is cool.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Rare Fruit Society, Tuesday 18th March Meeting

Speaker - Neville Bonney
Native Foods - Santalum Species (Quandong & Sandalwood)

Check the Rare Fruit Society website for details

Sunday at Nirvana



More images under Photos link.

**Kate's comment** On the far right of the photo on the right you can see another of the rare species discussed at length in the post below! This one is called Deb! Approach with caution!