Friday 30 March 2007

I have just found this lovely website and encourage you to look at it.I have put a link to it over with the other links. It aims to unite kitchen gardeners of the world but also to help people in disadvantaged areas set up a kitchen garden to provide for themselves. I have subscribed to it because I would like to help people help themselves and also would like to share recipes, gardening tips etc with people of other cultures.

I hope some of you will join too.

ps August 26th is their international kitchen garden day. Lets join in and celebrate too.


Here is an extract from Barbara Damroche's column in the Washington Post, called 'A Cook's Garden'
The books I reach for often are slightly beat-up, time-tested ones, by growers who know their subjects deeply. The first garden book I ever consulted was J.I. Rodale's "How to Grow Vegetables & Fruits by the Organic Method" (1961), and I use it still. Much of it goes crop by crop, as does Yann Lovelock's "The Vegetable Book", published in 1972 and full of quirky lore. I even dive occasionally into Fearing Burr's "The Field and Garden Vegetables of America," reprinted from the 1865 edition in 1988 by the American Botanist in Chillicothe, Ill., -- great for obscure food plants such as samphire and snail trefoil. The 1885 English edition of M.M. Vilmorin-Andrieux's "The Vegetable Garden" has similar riches, beautifully illustrated with fine engravings.
E. Annie Proulx, better known for "The Shipping News," did cooks a great favor with "The Gourmet Gardener" in 1987, as did the English writer Joy Larkcom with "Oriental Vegetables" (1991), which sorts out all those confusing greens. And I'm always on the lookout for good books on individual crops, such as Ron L. Engeland's "Growing Great Garlic" (1991) or Lon Rombough's "The Grape Grower" (2002) or Michael Phillips's "The Apple Grower" (second revised edition, 2005). William Woys Weaver's "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" (1997) is a fascinating reference I consult often.
For nitty-gritty data I turn to "Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers" (1980) by Oscar A. Lorenz and Donald N. Maynard, a treasury of lists and tables. For seed-starting, it's "Park's Success With Seeds" by Ann Reilly, newly revised in 2006. For seed-saving it's Suzanne Ashworth's "Seed to Seed," updated in 2002. To understand soil fertility, it's hard to beat "A Book About Soils for the Home Gardener" (1972) by H. Stuart Ortloff and Henry B. Raymore. Another wise book is Beatrice Trum Hunter's "Gardening Without Poisons" (1964). Among pest handbooks, "Pests of the Garden and Small Farm" (1998) by Mary Louise Flint is the most informative.
Often the best information, not to mention inspiration, is mined from old books aimed chiefly at farmers, from a day when the difference between gardening and farming was chiefly one of scale rather than between craft and industry. A home gardener could do a lot worse, on a rainy day, than to wander through Leonard Wickenden's "Make Friends With Your Land" (1949) or his "Gardening With Nature" (1955). Discover the great old British agriculture writers: H.J. Massingham's sage and accessible writings are collected in "A Mirror of England," edited by Edward Abelson in 1988 (Massingham died in 1952). Michael Graham's "Soil and Sense" (1941) and P.H. Hainsworth's "Agriculture: A New Approach" (1954) are other such treasures.
Many of these titles are out of print, but most are sure to be in the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville if not in your local library, and it's an adventure to collect them from used-book dealers. Simpler yet, go to an online used-book merchant such as They have nearly everything, and all it takes is a click.

Wednesday 28 March 2007


A strange, new formation has appeared in my vegetable patch - probably set off by the earthquake in Japan (that our son Alex was in !). I have a 'cliff' face from which cascades a beanfall. Up and up climbed the beans - but not as high as Andrew's - on the new, sturdy (since it blew down last year) frame and then they all tumbled over in a beautiful arch from which now hangs a screen of beans, as if pouring down a waterfall. You can stand comfortably under it and there it is cool and shady (but impossible to photograph !) and reminds me of NZ where everything is cool and shady and green and dripping .

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Eatin' and drinkin' and gardnin'

OK Folks,
Many thanks for your wonderful company during my garden tour last Sunday 25th March 2007, and the seeds and seedlings that have since all been planted out in those very beds. Kale from Kate, comfrey from Barb and lettuce AND flower seeds have I.
I scoffed most of Maggie's pumpkin dip while the rest of you were being distracted by Claudia's cakes.
Now I have to head back down there to clear room among the kikuyu for three more 3300 litre rainwater tanks arriving sometime next Saturday.
It was fun, and I'd have you all back anytime. Here's a photo of the eatin' part of the afternoon...
Cheers for now

Sunday 25 March 2007


Here is one of the Andrew's pictures of Barb's garden.
To view more of them click on the photos link.

Did you feel the vibes at Andrew's this afternoon ?
There we all were, as keen as anything to see Andrew's garden, and it was like something from a feel-good movie, that brought a smile to your face and you knew you could settle back for a good, old-fashioned, down to earth afternoon.
And what an extensive and interesting garden it is. Everything has been put to use a second or third time so that it is always evolving. Jack would have had a job to climb those beans and there are plenty of places for the fairies to hide ! I think everyone would have taken home some ideas for their own plot as almost every type of vegetable had a representative in Andrew's garden. I hope the chooks recover soon.
It was so lovely to meet Claudia and to accept such wonderful hospitality... and those cakes !! I have never eaten 3 different cakes before in one sitting but each was so different from the last and all full of the goodness of fruit. Maggie will put her recipe on the blog for the carrot and lentil dip which went so well with the thinly sliced rye bread.

(As the photos I took of Andrew's garden are on my old SLR (not digital) I will have to finish the film and get them put on a CD so I can add them to the photos gallery, hopefully quite soon.)

Saturday 24 March 2007

Find the Veggie!

Good morning all
Tomorrow afternoon (25th March 2007) at 2.30pm is the Open Garden at my place, and you’ll all just have to take it as you find it, as it IS a working garden So there are the inevitable ‘corners of chaos’ in transition from this place to some other place. My mobile is 0417 826 399, if you get lost…
To bring: Chairs, cups and special teas or coffees or drinks. I reckon Claudia’s baking a cake or two. I’m just turning up! We’ll have espresso and filter coffee, Rooibos, Darjeeling and peppermint + chamomile teas.
Space for humans is restricted a bit, to allow for more plants. So here’s a few things you can look out for if you can’t get up near the front of the crowd: -
Fruit Trees: Satsuma plum, bananas, Washington and Navel oranges, grapefruit, mandarin, cherry, apricots, peaches, almond, apple, olive, chestnut, figs, black sultana grapes and the world’s biggest lemon tree, plus the golden bamboo patch for all the growing frames.
Chooks: The usual black and brown hybrids, with a new flock (9) of the Australian meat-egg bird, the Australorp (check out the ‘chicken fly-over’, which lets us walk over while they walk under, giving them access to both sides of the garden)
Beans: seven different varieties, all climbing, including snake beans, epicure, scarlet runner, Giant of Stuttgart and who-can-remember-the-rest). These grow on bamboo frames.
Seed beds: There are different cloche systems covering the seedbeds. The trampoline serves as a shade for newly transplanted seedlings, and also as a seed-sorting table for lettuce seeds.
Leaf vegetables: Look out for the German seedlings zicoriensalat, weiskohl and feld salat. There are also Italian lettuces, endives, beetroot (for the leaves), lots of rocket and all sorts of other lettuces.
Winter veggies just getting under way: Italian broccoli, Pak Choy, pale green silverbeet, turnips and kohl rabi
Sunflowers: Mammoth and various others
Tomatoes: Des’ Delicious Disaster! I need a locally adapted variety. But there are some great capsicums, including some in their third year, and a perennial chilli bush
Cucumbers: Grown on a trellis, these are Syrian and Green Gem
Pumpkins: Butternut
Carrots: Waiting to be thinned
Onions: Gone to seed, and slowly being collected. Also planted out as ‘spring onions’
Herbs: Pineapple sage, parsley, chicory, garden mint, Greek basil, sweet basil, lemongrass, sage, tarragon, borage, comfrey, asparagus, globe artichoke, wormwood and fennel.
Potatoes: Blue-purple spuds – they look disgusting, but taste pretty fine.
Zuccini: Italian grey-ribbed and something else…
Wood heaps: The kindling and mallee roots are under cover, but all the raw stock I’ve yet to deal with… That’s what happens when the neighbourhood houses get pulled down; those of us who salvage things spend years dealing with the aftermath.
Rain water tanks: Another year like this, and I’ll be wanting more of my own water, so the existing 3300 litre tank will be joined by three more of the same size next week. This space is being cleared.
Wildlife: Look for the possum-damage at the tops of the grapevines and apricot trees. Possums live in brick heaps, in the woodheap and in a pencil pine along the driveway, and use aerial routes such as power and phone lines as well as trees and rooftops to move throughout the neighbourhood. We had a koala for a few days, but he’s moved on. There are plenty of marble geckos in the brick heap and the occasional blue-tongued lizard, always named Rustle.
Seed Collection: I have about 100 seed varieties of open-pollinated non-hybrid traditional vegetable seeds: I can drag these out if anyone is interested.
The Shed: All Aussie blokes have sheds: mine’s been dumped on during house renovations and while the garden has been getting first priority for the past six months. Best not go in there! But if you want a shredder demonstration or a sight of the garden tool collection, just yell – I’ll dive in there alone.
The House: This is a passive solar design, with a very high north-facing glass on the kitchen/living area, which lets the winter sun in to store heat in the massive slab floor. There’s solar hot water heating, evaporative air-conditioning for when the heat edges us towards divorce, and a north-facing lounge. It’s all insulated, though the west-facing blinds are a bit homemade. The kitchen is also homemade from fruit boxes, school desks, old junk from the fifties-kitchen of old, and all the other improvisations we’re living with until we can afford time and money to continue renovating. Wood fire heating.
The Rumpled Room: This outside building used to be the garage, then my office, but is now inhabited by my oldest (of three) sons. All that junk outside in the driveway is the stuff he couldn’t fit into his palatial acoomodation, or pulled out of the 50-seater bus he is renovating. He’s also encroaching on house space, so his tracks are everywhere.
Natives: The front garden is gradually being converted from thirsty exotics to bird-attracting Australian native plants: feel free to poke about.
Neighbours: Check out the urban-infill on both sides. One of these neighbours is obscene and should not be heard – she’s complained about smells, rats, roosters, junk and noise; I’m waiting for her to dob me in to the Water Police. She wants a better class of neighbourhood, not the one she moved into. I’ve never actually met her – just the bureaucrats she sics onto me…
Cheers until the morrow

Friday 23 March 2007

The Fullarton Plant and Craft Market

The Fullarton Plant and Craft Market
is always on the 4th Saturday of the month (tomorrow)

My friend at a local op shop says its really good so I shall check it out tomorrow. The leaflet they put out says over 80 exhibitors (9am to 1pm)
Cheers Maggie


On Thursday evening an organic farmer from the USA gave a talk about.......well, an organic outlook on life, is how I would put it. Most of what he said can be read on the website: I have taken the liberty of extracting some snippets from the website to reprint here.

I have also copied this photo from the website's collection. Imagine farming in these snowy conditions. Evidently he does it very successfully. Easier than our extreme heat, I reckon. These plastic houses are movable - check out the website.

"Organic pioneers wrote and spoke about their realization that the farm is not a factory, but rather a human-managed microcosm of the natural world. Whether in forest or prairie, soil fertility in the natural world is maintained and renewed by the recycling of all plant and animal residues which create the organic matter in the soil. This recycling is a biological process, which means that the most important contributors to soil fertility are alive, and they are neither farmers nor fertilizer salesmen. They are the population of living creatures in the soil—whose life processes make the plant-food potential of the soil accessible to plants--and their food is organic matter.
The idea of a living soil nourished with organic matter also helps cast light on the difference between a natural and a chemical approach to soil fertility. To better convey this difference, I like to borrow two words from the ecology movement and refer to "deep" organic farming and "shallow" organic farming.

Deep-organic farmers, after rejecting agricultural chemicals, look for better ways to farm. Inspired by the elegance of nature's systems, they try to mimic the patterns of the natural world's soil-plant economy. The deep-organic pioneers learned that farming in partnership with the natural processes of soil organisms also makes allowance for the unknowns. The living systems of a truly fertile soil contain all sorts of yet-to-be discovered benefits for plants--and consequently for livestock and the humans who consume them.

Shallow-organic farmers, on the other hand, after rejecting agricultural chemicals, look for quick-fix inputs. Trapped in a belief that the natural world is inadequate, they end up mimicking the patterns of chemical agriculture. The difference in approach is a difference in life views. The shallow view regards the natural world as consisting of mostly inadequate, usually malevolent systems that must be modified and improved.

The idea that we could ever substitute a few soluble elements for a whole living system is a lot like thinking an intravenous needle could deliver a delicious meal.

How did deep get turned into shallow and good food revert to mediocre? It is a logical result in a world blind to the elegance of natural systems. Humans think in terms of more milk rather than exceptional milk, cheaper eggs not better eggs."


Thanks to Maggie again for showing us the way to find some more fascinating talks. I love Greek food and so thought this would be interesting.

The Colocasi Mystery: A Most Mysterious Plant

Discover the extraordinary storyof a food plant that travelled thousands of kilometres across the planet over three thousand years to eventually become the signature dish of Cyprus.
Dr Noris Ioannou, cultural historian and author, will give this fascinating talk on colocasi and its mysterious travels, cultivation and use as a defining feature of Greek-Cypriot cuisine in Cyprus and Australia, covering ethnobotany, folk customs and recipes.

When: 6pm, Thursday 26thApril
Where: Noel Lothian Hall, Botanic Gardens
Cost: Free!
Bookings essential – 8222 9311

I have put in a link to the Botanic Gardens Calendar.

Thursday 22 March 2007

Economic garden

Thanks for a great afternoon of sharing and swapping yesterday.

If you look up the Adelaide Botanic Gardens website you will discover on opening the map (map of Adelaide Botanic Garden) that the correct name for what I call the herb garden is The Economic Garden (see The Society for Economic Botany if you are interested).

There is also a 4 page program (a Season in the Gardens - Autumn) with some free events.

As there was a lot of talk yesterday about bush foods you may be interested in an Aboriginal food and Plant trail on Sunday the 22April. On Wednesday the 4th April Writing a Green World, a walk with the poet. Sat 14th April a plant sale plus other events at other botanic gardens.

See you all on Sunday.

Tuesday 20 March 2007

Bio-Dynamic Agriculture: a Farmer’s Perspective

By Deborah Cantrill
Bio-Dynamics is not an entirely new approach to agriculture. It is merely another development in the continuing saga of man’s relationship with the soil. The Bio-Dynamic approach does not attempt to replace current knowledge, merely to add to it. Bio-Dynamic agriculture is concerned with producing quality food in a reasonable quantity. The methods are designed to biologically activate life in plants and soil. Skills need to be developed by the farmer to nurture the soil.
To me Bio-Dynamic agriculture is the craft of farming- the farmer is a skilled, in tune craftsperson. Just like a skilled cabinet maker, using quality timber to make a fine table that will last many generations, compared with mass produced factory table made out of chipboard and staples - made to a price by machines, just like factory farming. Do these products last or sustain?
As a craftsperson, the main thing in agriculture we are dealing with is LIFE. This is the key to existence on this planet.
The average farmer and I think more so city gardeners - go out in the morning, not with the concept of life but with the concept of death. They go out to get rid of things. In order to grow a certain crop, everything else is killed. (Listen to the questions asked on gardening programs & magazines) As a Bio-Dynamic farmer I’m always being asked “... But how do you get rid of.......?” Because life cannot be captured and put under a microscope, it is not understood. You have to become conscious of life before you become aware of how important it is. We have to learn how to experience this.
Bio-Dynamic is connecting this life (bio) with the inter relatedness of the whole system (dynamics) a bit like group dynamics. This inter-action between all of the kingdoms of nature - MINERAL, PLANT, ANIMAL, HUMAN -- means that everything that is alive is dependent upon other things in a network of living things.
This results in a holistic approach where everything is taken into account from the solid earth to the furthest edge of the cosmos...... including the weather, the conditions in the paddock, the position of the moon and planets , history and potential’s of the land and eco-systems, the needs and abilities of the farmers including their cultural and economic needs.
Part of developing this wholeness is looking deeper into nature. This deeper awareness is based on keen observation and trusting your intuition.
This leads to not letting things run their natural course, but to intensifying some of the natural processes eg the use of special Bio-Dynamic preparations. Aiding nature where she is week and using human intelligence and good will to foster positive developments.
Putting one’s energy into supporting the good, rather than supporting the bad. WORKING WITH LIFE.
If you would like to learn more about the biodynamic method & put them into practice the Nirvana Organic Farm conducts 2 workshops each year. This one day workshop will introduce you to the principals & practices of the biodynamics methods. Enrolment also includes notes, BD preparations, lunch, membership of Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group & access to their preparations & library.
Sunday, March 25th bookings by 21st march &Sunday, Sept 23rd 8.30am – 4.30pm $95

Monday 19 March 2007

Back on the Planet

Does anyone else seem to lose time over the new year period or is it just me? Back in January our neighbour on the western boundary cut down five Silky Oaks that completley shaded our very small rear garden (complete with quite nice but no good for eating shade loving plants) leaving us exposed to hot afternoon sun beating in with a vengence. We have just completed moving most of the shade plants, purchasing blinds for the house and preparing the space we now have to grow some vegs and herbs. We replaced the existing sprinkler type watering system with a low pressure drip system and it has already made a huge difference to the remaining plants - they are looking much healthier. I may not have the cool, shaded and private garden I once had but I'm one happy little chook thinking about strolling down (all 10mtrs) the side of the house to my small but hopefully soon overflowing herb and veggy patch.