Tuesday 16 January 2007


National Winner of the Organic Federation of Australia Awards of Excellence as the leading Organic Educator.



Sunday, March 25th &Sunday, Sept 23rd 8.30am – 4.30pm $95

One day course to introduce the practical concepts of the biodynamic methods to farmers & gardeners. The biodynamic method is a modern organic approach that creates a holistic approach to building healthy soil, plants, animals & humans. Includes notes, biodynamic preparations, lunch & teas.


April 22nd & September 9th 2-4 pm Adults $8. Accompanied children free.

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.*



Sunday, October 7th 9.00 -12.30 $40

Principles of composting & mulching, techniques & materials used & how they can be used most effectively on your garden or farm.


Sunday, October 14th 9.00 -12 noon $35

Practical guide to establishing & maintaining a productive & healthy vegetable garden.


Sunday, October 21st 9.00 -12.30 pm. $40

Practical guide to growing fruits, nuts & berries. Establishing, maintenance, ground covers, soils.


Sunday October 28th 9.00 - 12 noon. $35

All you need to know about getting started with poultry. Includes breed selection, housing, feeding, breeding, pests.


Sunday, November 11th 9am 4pm $90

The ideal way to recycle your garden prunings .A introduction to natural fibre weaving. Includes techniques, suitable plants & other materials to make baskets, fences & trellises. Includes all materials, lunch & teas.

All courses are held at NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM


UBD 157:G7. Exit from SE Freeway at Stirling, turn right at roundabout & travel 3.5 km.

The courses are practical, ‘hands on’ conducted by experienced biodynamic/organic farmers, Deb & Quentin. Their successful small holding has been run under BIO-DYNAMIC principles since 1983.

The 4.5 ha property provides the ideal classroom filled with practical examples of how goals can be achieved & gives inspiration into this GARDEN QUALITY FARMING to both gardeners & farmers alike.


DEBORAH CANTRILL OR QUENTIN JONES PHONE/ (08) 8339 2519 or email Deborah

* conditions apply

Nirvana Organic Produce
Deb Cantrill & Quentin Jones
184 Longwood Road
Phone (08) 83392519
email nirvanafarm@chariot.net.au
Phone (08) 83392519

Saturday 6 January 2007

Chillies, Chicks and Cloches

Chooks (the Hungarian word for ‘hens’, apparently, but now the Australian vernacular for chickens) are an integral part of the Aussie backyard veggie patch, even if they do occasionally escape and savage my lettuces or scratch their way through the latest seedlings in search of worms and other mobile protein.
Old hens wear out, stop laying or get too stroppy to put up with, and so the start of spring normally gives me a chance to start all over again. One of the hens – normally the one at the bottom of the pecking order – has a rush of hormones to the head, followed by a long miserable period of sitting broodily over a pile of eggs that grows daily. I once found a hen sitting on a landslide of eggs three deep; finally I tracked the source to her bigger sisters, who take the attitude of "Move over! – Here’s another one of mine for you to hatch", and will peck the broody off the nest until they’ve made their daily donation.
Of course, this all happens regardless of whether the said hen or her sisters have had the attentions of a rooster or not. As in our case, the attentions fall into the NOT category. This is all thanks to another larger hen next door, who’s been complaining about everything on our side of the fence since she moved into her new unit. She regularly forced the council rooster inspector to give us a call, resulting in ritual beheadings and cock-au-vin.
So this year, we wandered off to some place in the hills and came back with 14 eggs ($3 each) of that wonderful Australian purebred hen, the Australorp (big, black, round and meaty, docile and lays eggs). 9 of these hatched and survived the early childhood disease coccidiosis, and are looked after wonderfully by the young hen that hatched them. This little flock wanders all over the property where the other hens and lettuces aren’t; if they come together, the old girls will go on the attack.
Of these nine, five are likely to be males, and will join their grandfathers in the pot. I enclose a photo.
So that brings me to the cloches…
These are made from bird wire, wire mesh and plaster edgings; I learnt the trick from a couple of old fellows down the road. These can be carried about and placed over new seed beds or seedlings, even in the middle of the chicken run. They keep the blackbirds out too.
Then I’ve made a bigger version of these, covered in shade cloth (photo enclosed). I use this in summer over the young lettuce seedlings to allow them time to get on their feet after transplanting, when roots are thin and leaves tend to wilt and die due water stress when the sun comes up the next day. Or I just throw an old blanket over a smaller cloche, to get the same effect.
OK, so the only way chillies get into this story is that they also start with the letter C, and I’ve been recovering seeds this past week from the ones I’d put aside back in autumn. There’s an old Italian bloke with a house down on Kensington Road, who caters for the passing trade by selling them all manner of chillies in pots, which he must raise in a glass house in the dead of winter. Last year, I brought 9 different chilli varieties from him, and claimed the money back from my wife as my Christmas present. (He must have been doing all right, as I gave him a $100 note in payment, and he pulled out the biggest wad of money I’ve ever seen, just to get me a few dollars change).
Anyway, I’ll not be seeing him again, as I’ve got seeds from all of them; Metano, Perk, Serano, Birds Eye, Orient, Hungarian, Habenero, Manzana and Scotch Bonnett. I’ve also got some Thai chilli seeds, but lack my very favourite; Purple Tigers. Anyone want to trade?
There is no point to this little homily, but if there were, it would be this; when shelling chillies, wear leather gloves and use 2m tongs! The slightest touch to the inside of some of these chillies, transferred to the face when wiping ones nose, can cause half hour of the most exquisite agony. Not the better part of a pleasant day in the veggie patch…

Check the photos link to see Andrew's cute little chicks etc

Friday 5 January 2007

Bamboo and Basil

Hi Folks
Kate's got me posted onto the Hills and Plains SeedSavers, after a year in the backyard wilderness since I stepped down as Editor of The Living Soil - the Journal of the Soil Association of South Australia. I'm happy about this - I've missed contact with fellow gardeners, and I like the fact that Blogging seems to be completely "committee-less", which seems to allow one to focus on gardening, as distinct from political agendas.
John Lennon once said that life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. Well, life pretty much took over last year, and left my plans for the veggie patch in disarray. Mostly, I was overseas and interstate for all of Spring, and so this year I'm starting three months behind with my summer plantings.
This has led to seed and seedling establishment in forty-degree heat, and I'm delighted to find that this all works out fine, provided one has plenty of mulch and rainwater. Of course, this assumes the basics are right - particularly rich and fertile soil to grow into.
So I'm posting a few photos (via Kate) of my bamboo tomato and bean frames. I've got a clump of golden bamboo in one corner of the veggie patch, and its worth its weight in golden bamboo. Once cut and stripped of leaves, these bamboos can be used for a number of seasons before they rot or break. This year I used a 25mm auger (like a big drill) to make the holes in the soil beside the growing tomato plants, then pushed in the bamboos in the Teepee configuration. Then I added a real long one as a top piece, and a diagonal one to brace the whole frame work. It's all locked together with a bag of cable ties (they're quick!)
I planted basil seeds down the middle of the tomatoes, as they are good companion plants (at least until the tomatoes shade them out). And I've got six different varieties of climbing beans on another frame; I find climbers to be more productive than bush beans, and save me crawling around on hands and knees looking for produce.
The tomatoes are Des' Delicious, which I reckon we're all probably growing this year. Diana Bickford very kindly grew me a tray of these while I was in Germany, saving my bacon completely!
Finally, the mulch is wheat straw; I've got a mate down on the farm who gave me one of those big round bales, and it was a big improvement over pea starw, as it lasts longer and lays more easily. And did I mention - it was free? Mulch is the biggest gardening expense, once one has saved one's own seed...
OK, so glad to be alive and gardening and knowing you all (sort of...)
Cheers for now

Thursday 4 January 2007


Reminder: if you have any ideas for places for us to visit before the March meeting please post them on the blog or email me - Kate.

March 21st , July 25th , October 24th (these are all Wednesdays)
1.30pm at Fern Ave (this has yet to be ok'd by the Fern Ave committee)
Here we will swap seeds/plants and so on.

Also we would like to have visits to members' gardens, visits to other places such as the Botanic Garden's herb garden, other community gardens and so on. These will occur throughout the year, whenever someone puts up an invitation on this blog.

So, don't wait for an invitation, send one !! I want to see your garden now you've seen mine !