Sunday 29 July 2007

Berries & Broccoli

Today we came home from the Adelaide Farmer's Market laden with silvanberries from Cottonville Farms & Food Forest broccoli grown from Diana and Jen's seedlings.

The Dawsons grow berries at Scott Creek and have invited us as a group to a pick and pay day. If we would like to do this in early December or when the berries are ready all we need to do is contact Helen Dawson early November.
They also make berry jams and jellies.
The Dawsons have been growing brambleberry varieties for more than 10 years.
Silvanberries, Tayberries, Boysenberries, Rasberries, Youngberries & Gooseberries.
At the market they sell frozen Silvanberries.
The fruit is sustainably grown and spray free.
I have entered Helen Dawson's recipe for silvanberry and apple crumble under recipes.

Annemarie Brookman asked what I was going to do with all the broccoli we bought.
This is what we had for lunch. I have called it Food Forest Broccoli Fried Rice.
The recipe is on the Gardeners' Gastronomy blog.
I shall also post 2 more of my broccoli inventions soon.

Saturday 28 July 2007

Spring Events At Nirvana

September 9th 2-4 pm Adults $8. Accompanied children free.
An ideal opportunity to gain an insight into a successfully run biodynamic garden & 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. Minimum charge $50 for 1 to 6 persons. 7 +$8 head.

If the dates of the following events don't fit into your schedule then get your friends together & book your own. Minimum 5 persons max.15.

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 reducing your impact on the earth.. Includes notes, biodynamic preparations, lunch & teas.

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
A Garden grown for freshness-delicate,fragrant, fleeting freshness = home grown vegetables. Practical guide to establishing & maintaining a productive & healthy garden the easy way

Sunday, October 21st 9.00 -12.30 pm. $40
Freshly harvested from your garden. Practical guide to growing fruits, nuts & berries. Establishing, maintenance, ground covers, soils.

Sunday October 28th 9.00 - 12 noon. $35
The joy of sharing your space with poultry. 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 run at Nirvana Organic Farm in our 4.5 ha living classroom full of practical solutions & examples of how goals can be achieved.
This successful small holding has been run under BIO-DYNAMIC principles since 1983.
Advanced bookings are essentail as numbers are limited. Contact Deb for booking details.
. Nirvana Organic Farm was the National Winner of the Organic Federation of Australia Awards of Excellence as the leading Organic Educator.
You will find us at 184 Longwood Rd HEATHFIELD


Value of wood Ash

Potash (potassium carbonate) is the white solid obtained from the ash of wood or other burned plant material. It is a vital constituent of fertile soil and gives increased plant vigour and helps plants survive adverse conditions and disease.
It has been estimated that wood ash, depending on the material burned, contains up to 5% potassium, a small amount of phosphorus and a large amount of lime.
Our forebears knew that wood fire ash returned to the soil would increase its fertility and it has been used for hundreds of years in the vegetable garden and recently when a party of Yemenite farmers were taking over land for crops, that they orchard.
In her book ‘The Illustrated Herbal Handbook’ Juliette de Bairacli Levy mentions the use of wood ash in the section on Herbs Applied to Garden and Orchard.
“Wood ash is not exactly a herb; as a fine powder it is a wonderful plant food, excellent for fruit trees. Daily in winter-time I make wood fires, and I save every ounce of the ash with as much care as if it were pure gold dust: it is almost of like value in my estimation.
..........Arab and Yemenite farmers in Israel proclaim proudly that they do not use chemical sprays or fertilisers on their crops. I noticed brought along their of wood ash for the improvement of the soil.”
Once cooled the ash can be sieved and stored if not required straight away. It is best stored in a lidded container e.g. a180 -200 litre pickle barrel.
ORCHARD Sprinkle ash around fruit trees especially apples, pears and berries.
COMPOST Sprinkle (like icing sugar on a cake) the ash on green material and kitchen wastes as you build the lavers
LIQUID COMPOST Wood ash can be added to water ( about 1.5 kilos per 200 litres) along with a mix of other ingredients such a cow manure, comfrey, nettles, seaweed etc
FLOWER GARDEN Sprinkle around for a better flower display.
WORM FARM Sprinkle a handful on the surface.
SMUT ON CITRUS TREES Make a wash of wood ash and water thick enough to stick to the leaves and branches. This will dry out, but after the first shower of rain it will wash off and take the smut with it.
CHERRY/PEAR SLUG Dust trees with ash to dry out the slugs.
CABBAGE Dust cabbages to deter chewing pests.
Wood ash is a valued ingredient in the garden so don’t throw it in a heap down the back out of sight. I’ve noticed such heaps in many backyards lately.
Handbook on Composting and the Bio- Dynamic Preparations. George Corrin.
The Wonders of Wood ash. Judith James. Grass Roots #122 August/Sept 1997. The Illustrated Herbal Handbook. Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

Friday 27 July 2007

FARM 255

This is not a restaurant where the chef has a little kitchen garden. This is a restaurant where the farmers have a kitchen.

Until a century ago, almost everything that everyone ate everywhere on earth was organic, free-range, artisanal, and locally-grown or locally-produced. It wasn't special or high-end, it was just food. We hope for our restaurant to help achieve that norm again, and make everyday food genuinely “good food”: locally sourced, seasonal, steeped in tradition and narrative, connecting people to each other, to their community, and to their right to eat and live well.

Unlike the owners of any other restaurant we know of, we are the folks sowing turnip seeds in the morning and cooking turnip greens in the evening. We supplement our harvests with those of other local family farmers and ranchers that avoid harmful chemicals and practice sustainable agriculture. Our menu, based on seasonal shifts in the field, changes as often as the weather. Our meat comes from pasture-raised animals & is hormone & antibiotic free. We purchase whole animals & use all the various cuts of meat throughout our menu.

Excerpt from a lovely website of a farm and restaurant in the USA :

Thursday 26 July 2007


Its Almond Blossom Festival time at Willunga. Details at their website: Willunga Almond Blossom Festival
There are 2 markets & a giant book sale.

Botanic Gardens Talk has been changed to Friday the 3rd July at 10:am
Topic : Guyana and The Amazon Waterlily. $5 includes best morning tea in town.
Details on Botanical Gardens Winter Calender. Bookings essential .

Saturday will be the Market at Fullarton Community Centre (cnr Fisher St and Fullarton Road). See the details at their website: Fullarton Plant & Craft Market

The Adelaide Farmers Market has livened up again after the very cold weather.
There is a new stall. 2kg frozen berries for $14 and great berry jams. Cottonville Farm.
The Dawsons are charming people and the silvanberries I bought are delicious.


All night I had gardening on my mind - where was I going to put all those plants, cuttings and seedlings I so hungerily gathered yeasterday at Fern Ave. I was up early and outside, walking round and round and up and down with my basket of goodies over my arm. Finally, it is nearly all done and watered-in, except the grapes - that area will take more preparation. Joy's campanula seemed to be my biggest problem at 1am but by 9am it was snuggling into the soil in a perfect spot that I had forgotten about in the middle of the night ! Deb's comfrey has found a home in the old strawberry patch, right next to the peastraw bales and all even Joy's fuschia fits nicely into a spot where I could never grow anything until our old dog died and stopped burying her bones there! Now I am off to my mother's and am taking her a pot of some of my mint, that was spreading across a path. She will give me more oranges, grapefruit and lemonade lemons.......and so the exchange of goods spreads forever wider and wider, just as it should be.

I really think that people who buy their produce in a supermarket must be pitied as they have never felt that wonderful joy of sharing what you have grown and meeting with such a friendly and fabulous group of people as gathered yesterday at Fern Ave. It was great to meet Christie and see her laughing and chatting with people old enough to be her parents or even grandparents. That baby of hers is in for a treat when she gives it some of her home-grown vegies, in the years to come!

My friend Kathy from my Wednesday gardening group was also glowing with enthusiasm and decided to join up on the spot. Her garden is one we should all visit as there is some kind of magic there that produces vegetables of unprecedented quality for one so new to gardening !

Cath and Rob will be around with another load of soil to help level Mt Osmond, on Saturday.... and so the exchanges continue...

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Gardening Gals

Thanks for the great day everyone!
So much was happening, cuttings to share, new plants to learn about, stories of worming chickens, growing watercress, seeds from everywhere, cake and muffins from 2 generous cooks, plans for celebrating International Kitchen Gardeners Day and much, much more.

Tuesday 24 July 2007


Another wonderful afternoon is in store for members of the Hills and Plains Seedsavers tomorrow.

Fern Ave Community Garden, 1.30

Bring things to share - seeds , plants , cuttings , yummy stuff to eat ( not necessary ) , ideas for the rest of the year , money to buy some of the Eden seeds that Andrew bought in ($2 / packet), evidence that you have conquered the blog , lots of smiles..........

See you there.

Monday 23 July 2007

Giants in the Veggie World

I'd really like to start talking about the cake and coffee and conversation I enjoyed after my visit to Kate's garden on top of Adelaide yesterday afternoon, because that part was great too, and bore out all those rumours of Kate's prowess in the kitchen. But let's face it, she's also a giant in a few other areas, including Blog sites but especially in growing vegetables all year round.
In fact, I've got lots of wonderful photos of all sorts of great things growing up there at Kate's, but let me keep it simple. One photo of the view, one photo of Kate, Claudia and Roger next to the giant tree cabbage, and one picture of this delightful semi-circular garden.

And then there was that long-distance chicken run; my chooks are in for a treat.
Perhaps the theme of Kate's garden is that there's room for everything, no matter how odd the space or place. And this includes some innovative recycling of materials and plants.
I'd hoped to get back there today to poke about a bit more, and perhaps get invited inside for some more of that cake. Sadly, less interesting things have claimed me.

Well done, Kate. Inspirational!

Sunday 22 July 2007

How do YOU use Animal MANURES?

After watching ‘Gardening Australia’ I’m again incensed at the fact they use animal manure direct onto planted garden beds.
The amounts they use is over the top & unsustainable.Certified Organic/Biodynamic farmers do not follow such pratices. The other week they where putting copious amounts on citrus trees.

I cringe with the dilution & corruption of real organic methods.

My citrus are grown with little water & even less compost. The quality & quantity is more than you can wish for.

With this in mind I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on using animal manures.

Using raw manure on my garden makes me organic Wrong! All animal manures regardless of age must be properly composted with other materials before adding to soil. When raw manure is used it harms the soil microbes and the worms and causes imbalances in the soil. Sure! you get the lush quick green growth, just the same as adding urea or soluble Nitrogen. Animal manures have the potential to contain dangerous organisms such as E.coli; another important reason for composting all manures. Studies have shown that applying fresh manure over a number of years has no increase, or even decreasing humus content in the soil, whereas applying composted manures results in a slow but steady increase of humus and organic matter. Same goes for liquid animal manures (an old time favourite of gardeners) where manure, mainly poultry/ pigeon, is steeped in water and then used directly on plants. This is the same as dissolving urea and using it. All liquid types of fertiliser need to be limited to the capacity of the humus in the soil to absorb, otherwise it is leached into the water table. One of the main aims of organic agriculture is to feed the plants via the humus in the soil. Plants feed through very complex mechanisms. Humus, trace elements, bacteria, fungi, algae all plays a part. To feed nutrients through water soluble fertilisers or foliar sprays can cause the plant to take up too many nutrients, to grow lush and sappy and be more vulnerable to pest and disease attacks.
Guidelines for correct manure use:
· Collect manure as fresh as possible from an uncontaminated site.
· Store manure, covered, out of the rain until needed for compost.
· Compost aerobically with other materials. The best way to add the manure to the compost is to make thick slurry by adding a little water to a large container and mixing until smooth. This can then be poured over the layers as you build the heap.
· Compost is ready when it becomes an even, dark brown/ black, humus rich, hygienic, living substance with a pleasant soil like smell.

Gardeners often ask how much quality compost is needed. According to Maria Thun in her book ‘Results from the Biodynamic Sowing & Planting Calendar’
“By taking a flat filled wheelbarrow containing 40kg & adding 2 x 10 litre buckets full we have 50kg- enough for an area of 50 square metres. This amount applied every second year manures the soil very well.”

A wheelbarrow used to measure the amount of compost.

Of course there is compost & there is COMPOST but that’s another story. Stay tuned


I have added a link to this lovely website:

What is One Local Summer?

A simple challenge to eat one completely local meal during each of the twelve weeks of summer.

Its a great idea. Have a look at the entries on :

Sick with envy

Look at all these olives to choose from. In Adelaide it is so hard to find raw olives to buy, even at the farmers' markets. This is a picture of the Usez market in France, from the KGI newsletter, where there are dozens of different raw olives available and doesn't that look like Maggie ! There may be a KGI trip to the kitchen gardens and markets of France, says Roger (the KGI king) and that sounds like my kind of trip. Imagine getting into the backyards of the French gardener - and maybe they would give us morning tea too ! Oh la la.
Also in the July newsletter is advice on when to dig garlic, 101 simple summer recipes and saving tomato seed.

Don't kill your vegetables

Early morning in the study with the heater on and a pot of lemon myrtle tea.
The birds outside are chirping and busy doing what they do.
Nearby, in the paddocks of the local agricultural school, new little black lambs are being born daily .
The sun is sun is coming up and the forecast for today is 15 degrees celsius. A good day for gardening.
All the farmers who sell their goodies at the Adelaide Farmers Market will be setting up their stalls or driving to the Market.
So don't spend too much time reading this, get down there and see what winter goodies are waiting for you .

Back to the topic I was going to write about - DON'T KILL YOUR VEGETABLES.
Most vegetables can be eaten raw, this means that you get heaps more enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients .
Even if you are having a hot soup or warming casserole on a cold day make sure you put bowls of fresh herbs or grated fresh vegetables on the table as an accompaniment.
Not only is this delicious but the enzymes are essential for good digestion .

The Indians serve fresh sambals of vegies , yoghurt and pickles.
The Koreans serve pickled kimchee.
The Italians have fresh salads and pickled vegetables.
The Chinese have pickled mustard greens on rice for breakfast. YUM !
Well my breakfast of ground seeds , almonds , goats yoghurt and kiwi fruit awaits me.
Have a great day.

Thursday 19 July 2007


Their are two excellent articles in recent issues of The Adelaide Review by Stephen Forbes , the director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
  • New and old gardens of medicinal plants, June 22-July 5, 2007
  • Cacti and Succulents, July6-July19, 2007
If you can't find a copy I will bring a copy to our next meeting, 25th July at Fern Avenue Community Garden.


Here is an extract from the KGI emails I receive. We already do some of these things and are working towards others. See what you think.
Start a "gPod" in your area
You've heard of an iPod and a pea pod, but what about a gPod?
The g is short for gardener. A gPod is a group of kitchen gardeners and other garden-variety foodies who get together from time to time, regularly or irregularly, to share information, plants, know-how, their gardening victories and defeats, and delicious, seasonal foods. More than being focused on just themselves, members of a KGI gPod also look for ways of giving something back to their community through their combined knowledge, time, and resources.
In his critically acclaimed book "Bowling Alone", author Robert Putnam writes about how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors and how we may reconnect. Kitchen Gardeners International is encouraging its members and supporters to form gPods because we believe that we are better and stronger together than apart. By banding together at the local level, gardeners can help alleviate global problems such as food insecurity, climate change, and tasteless supermarket tomatoes. We can also have more fun!
Efforts to bring about compost-pile-powered community revival are already under way. In the course of the past year, KGI gPods have started forming and their members have worked together to plant new gardens in their communities, behind homes, schools, and churches. They have organized garden tours. They have hosted educational talks. They have helped to raise funds for local kitchen garden projects. They have held tastings and have organized potluck meals made with local ingredients.
As with peas, to start a new gPod, someone has to plant a seed. Why not you?
Below you'll find some resources we're offering to help local organizers start new pods in their areas. Once you have a group of 5 or more people organized, we will help you get your local effort organized by setting up an e-mail list, helping you pick a group name, creating a group logo, etc. Please let us know what additional organizational resources you need and we'll do what we can to help.
What I would like is to find some people from other cultures to join us so we can learn about growing and using different vegetables from other perspectives.

1. How to start a KGI gPod. An inspirational and informational guide to local group organizing by John Walker, founder and lead organizer of Kitchen Gardeners Bluegrass (Kentucky, USA).
2. KGI informational flyer for downloading, printing, and posting in your area. Add your name and contact details on the tear-off tabs so that people know how to reach you.

Wednesday 18 July 2007


Yesterday I dug up some of these gorgeous little things . You may think they are a type of witchety grub or something washed up on the beach but what I planted was 'Chinese Artichokes'. It was a scrawny, tired little plant in a pot, sent from some mail order nursery in Qld. I didn't hold out much hope for it but before long it was becoming a rampant creeper, happily competing with the warrigal greens on equal terms. All summer and autumn it grew and, despite several times trying to find something it was producing, I thought it was a dud. Finally it hit the dust when those freezing nights arrived, a few weeks ago, and I only got around to digging seriously under the soil yesterday. From that one tiny plant I dug up hundreds of these crisp, white fellas 1" to 2" long and , after washing one I tentatively nibbled the edge, thinking it would be starchy or unusual in flavour but no. They are crisp and juicy like a nashi but with a mildly savoury taste - perfect in a salad or thrown into a stir-fry at the last minute to give a little crunch. I would definitely recommend them to grow. I will save a few and I am sure there would be dozens more in the soil, that will grow in spring. Once you have them you probably always have them.

I was still toiling away in the veg garden when Alex's girlfriend arrived. She is Chinese and always looks so clean and elegant and I do wonder what she thinks of me all covered in dirt and excited about some grotty vegetable I have just dug up. Well, since they were called 'Chinese artichokes' I thought I would ask her if she knew them. She said they call them 'sea shells'
because of their shape and she has never seen them fresh before. Usually the Chinese buy them
salted, in tins, and eat them for breakfast !

In the past I have asked her about other so-called Chinese vegetables such as Wom Bok and Bok Choi.
I have found out that these names are not Chinese at all and she has never heard of them before although she does know the vegetable. Wom Bok is known as ' big,white cabbage' in China - a pretty good name.

She has been here when I have dug up my water chestnuts too and told me to boil them for 30 mins and then peel them. I hate to tell her that I prefer them raw and unpeeled. We are so uncouth in Australia.
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Tuesday 17 July 2007

Joy's Garden

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to see Joy's garden, in a quiet cul-de-sac off Waterfall Gully Road. Barb and Jan were there too and we all had (what used to be called) a gay old time swapping gardening magazines and books and having some morning tea in beautiful, fine china cups before heading out into the garden.

Around every corner is another patch filled with a plant-lover's mixture of edible things and flowers and shrubs. In such a small area Joy has an amazing number of fruit trees, including a neighbour's avocado that is almost hanging far enough over Joy's fence to pick !

On the verandah Joy has a collection of foam boxes full of seedlings she has germinated from seed . A great innovation is to have each of them sitting on castors so they can be moved into or out of the sun and rain as required.

Joy has a lifetime of gardening experience to call on and moving into a smaller space has not meant she has had to stop enjoying growing plants. I can see she glows when she talks about her plants and loves each and every one of them. I hope I will be invited back when those summer fruits are ripe !

Monday 16 July 2007

Austrian grass

No, no, you can't smoke it!

But if you are surreptitiously keeping a dairy cow in your backyard, you might consider this Austrian small-holders technique - from way back - for storing the lush Spring grass for later use as fodder.

Normally, Spring fields in Europe are reaped with a tractor-drawn mower, then rolled into bales for storage or silage (where you wrap the grass roll in plastic and allow it to ferment in-situ; the bacteria make it all very digestible, if you are a cow)

If you don't have a big field to reap, then you can cut the hay with a scythe, then get your friends to help you make all these little hay stacks hanging on posts;I'm told there's some sort of cross-arm buried under there. You'd think that a guy with a house this big would be able to afford a dinky little tractor of his own, but apparently he spent all his money on an electric fence to keep today's cows out of tomorrow's lunch (look closely).

Even higher up the mountain is the Alm, or spring fields for grazing cows on sweet nutritious grass. I took a close-up photo of that too, for all you Australian peasants who thinks that Grass=Kikuyu!

This chap also had a small veggie plot, growing pretty typical things for an Austrian garden up near the snow line.

And the grass? Well, I caught sight of this delightful young German girl (married to me, fortunately) heading off on a hike through a likely patch. Hence this photo.

Sunday 15 July 2007


Some posts are so informative that I thought it would be a good idea to put labels on all posts from now on. So we don't get overwhelmed with too many labels maybe we could have some general ones at first, like water, vegetables, Biodynamics, anecdotes, etc. Give your post a label if you want to - I am going to call this post 'instructions'. Very boring and probably no-one will want to look at it later but maybe someone else from Cath's info day will want to know what to do and we can put instructions all in one place. If you have written something in the past maybe you could go back and put labels on a few of them . (Where would we be without Google images and the 'fence post'??)

How to Save Water.

I just re-watched ‘How to save the world , one man, one cow, one planet’ about biodynamic agriculture in India where it was claimed that biodynamic practices have improved the water holding capacity of soil to the extent that it has reduced irrigation by 50%.
Having just experienced the driest season on record, the creeks stopped running for the first time since we have been here, 24 years. The plants in the valley are particularly ‘soft’, as they are normally on the waterlogged side by July through to October although yields where down the plants faired very well. The house gardens are rarely ever watered anyway & always do well. The ‘lawn ‘around the house is watered for fire protection & air-conditioning last season every 14 days on average. The veggie garden needed no more than water every 10- 12 days. (Except for getting seeds up.) When it rains here & it does often with annual rainfall average of 1100mm, all the water infiltrates into the soil like a giant sponge.

The key is not as most people think, organic matter but quality humus that makes the difference. The regular use of biodynamic horn manure (500) & quality compost made with biodynamic compost preparations make all the difference.
Regular applications of 500 will see improvements in soil structure via
· : Increased water holding capacity.
· Increased earthworm activity.
· Improved crumb structure in soil = more air & water can be stored.
· Increased clover nodulation
· greater root penetration
· Increased micro flora = more availability of nutrients & trace elements.
· Stabilizing pH.
With this in mind I thought you may be interested in this research

study shows.
One of the claimed benefits of BD practises, especially the application of ‘500’ is the improvement of soil structure and soil biological activity with the subsequent deepening of the root zone resulting in improved water infiltration and soil moisture retention.
A recent comparative study of soil and plant characteristics on adjoining Bio-Dynamic and conventional dairy farms in Victoria seem to bear this claim out. The study, carried out by Simon Cock of the La Trobe University School of Agriculture concluded that root growth of pasture species in the BD subsoil (B horizon) was significantly greater than in the conventional subsoil. The study showed that this fact was responsible:
* for the longer interval between summer irrigations (14-21 days on the BD as opposed to 5-10 days on conventional); and
* for the more favourable balance of species in the BD pasture.
The soil type of the adjoining properties is a red-brown earth having a clay B horizon with poor structure which tends to reduce water holding capacity and root growth. Deep-ripping is commonly used to loosen the B horizon of such soils. This was done on the conventional paddock in 1971, 1979 and in 1982. The BD paddock was deep-ripped in 1963 in the first year after conversion to BD practises. Up to that time superphosphate had been applied at a rate of 600 kg/ha annually. Since conversion (23w years at time of study) no fertiliser, including lime or gypsum, had been applied to the BD pasture. On the other hand the conventional paddock routinely received 800kg/ha of super and 50kg of urea per year.
The study found that the presence of the high quality species of white clover and ryegrass in the BD pasture had not declined in favour of the more
moisture-stress resistant species, paspalum despite the longer irrigation interval. This fact indicated an improvement of soil physical properties in the BD soil profile, a conclusion which was supported by the following properties in the BD soil’s B horizon:
increased plant-available water.
less slaking and dispersion and more water stable aggregates.
decreased soil strength at the A/B horizon interface.
increased root proliferation down the soil profile.
Tests done during the study have indicated that in the BD soil, water is more freely infiltrated into the B horizon compared with the conventional soil. The report states “This ability to infiltrate water into the clay subsoil and store it there as plant-available water would mean that more of the BD soil profile is accessible for water extraction by roots. The suggestion that the conventional soil is unable to allow water to infiltrate into the B horizon is consistent with observations of severe pugging and waterlogging throughout winter.” It was also noted that after irrigation the conventional topsoil remained saturated for days, reflecting the inability of the soil to freely drain water into the B horizon of this soil.
Other points made were: “The ability of plants to extract water effectively requires a good soil-root absorbing relationship. This is reflected in the ability of roots to explore the soil volume. Total root length and new white root growth data from the BD soil indicate not only the potential to extract water from a greater volume of soil, but also the ability to penetrate and explore the soil profile to depth.” and that “the BD soil is able to be infiltrated and stores and extracts water from a larger proportion of the soil profile”.
NEWS LEAF #21 autumn 1994 page 23

Saturday 14 July 2007

Veggie Gardeners in a World Gone Crazy

Yesterday I was tidying my book shelves. Regrouping my books back to there various categories - herbs, Indian, health, etc.
I found one copy of The Living Soil not with the others. As I put it in its home I was trying to remember when this journey of ours started.
We were invited along to the Soil Association meeting which was held within walking distance of our home.
Well what a pleasant surprise. Andrew was talking about "Feeding the family from the backyard veggie patch "(it must work they are all still alive).
Diana was selling seedlings, there were Eden Seeds to buy and some veggies from someones garden.
And there were more surprises Pat and Peter had provided delicious homemade soup and other goodies.
From this we did Diana's gardening course twice and met all you wonderful folk.
Now we head off to the Rare Fruit society (this week is fruit tree grafting I think) They have a rare fruit supper feast.
We go to the Natural Health Society, the Herb Society and I've been going to the Friends of the Botanic gardens talks. I have been to the succulent Plant Society and might go to the Native Plant Society. I also go to all the talks at Cancer Care they always good.
There is always so much to learn and I am always inspired by different speaker's passion for there particular interest.
I think it was Viv who suggested we save seeds. So we have Hills and Plains Seedsavers.
Now Kate has set up this wonderful blog.
With its links like Food Shed we are taken all around the world to hear about organics, buying locally, kitchen gardeners and backyard veggie patches.

Friday 13 July 2007


I have chosen a new look for the blog as it has a better layout for the text and photos and allows the page to stretch to fit your screen. However, there is not so much scope to choose a nice background and text for the 'HILLS AND PLAINS SEEDSAVERS' title. Funny thing is you can choose different colours and fonts etc for the stuff on the right but not for the main page.Hopefully I will be able to get it looking good with the help of our resident expert, Alex, when he comes home. I could use the same one as for the Gardeners' Gastronomy but I don't really like having the links etc on the left as I always have my favourites displayed there..... Please leave some comments and tell me what you think.

Thursday 12 July 2007

Jill E

It was a great morning at Cath's lovely home. I was very interested in the water saving devices as well as her interesting garden. Obviously Kate's tuition was good as here I am on the Blog which I could not work out before. Thanks Cath and Kate

Seeds to share

We have a great PRIZE for the 1st person to add to the seeds to share .

Conditions apply : You must have attended the information session at Cath's.
You must be a first time seeds to share blogger. (Bob entered Kath's and Jerry's.) (And Kate entered Barb's)
The race is on, so go for it.

The prize will be presented at our next gathering at Fern Ave.
Wednesday the 25th of July at 1:30.
If you can come at 12:30 we shall tidy up the Cancer care plot so it looks great for Diana's next course.

Morning tea at Cath's
I keep remembering what a lovely morning we had at Cath's.
It was so good to see everyone .
What a great garden!.
I loved the passionfruit vine over the tank , and all Cath's beautiful patchwork and embroidery.
Thanks again for your hospitality

Wednesday 11 July 2007

Seeds for the Future

“A seed is asleep so to speak, with its memory of the past and its potential for the future.”

As spoken in ‘Seeds for the Future Biodynamic seed growing’ DVD

The Art of Vegetables

'Beautiful gardens' can be more than just beds of flowers!

These glorious paintings of vegetables, by Mae Connor, come from the Fermilab Art Galley.

For those of you wondering, Fermilabs in Chicago is home to the American National Accelerator facility for high-energy physics, and where they study the science of matter, space and time.

They also have this great art gallery out the front for all the scientists, and occasionally the public, to visit. The gallery also hosts performing artists, concerts and exhibitions of all sorts. Out the back of the labs you can see a herd of Bison (the American buffalo hunted to the brink of extinction last century).

I haven't found it yet, but perhaps a few of those great scientific minds also hive off to relax in the slow lane of a veggie patch enriched with bison compost?


I have made yet another link, this time to a directory where we can put the names of businesses etc that we like to deal with. It is not for owners to advertise their own businesses but for we customers to spread the word about people who do a good job or offer an interesting service etc. Please attach a label so we can find it later.

Of course this will mean I will have to send you another invitation but that's OK now you know you have to click on it when you get it so it doesn't expire, even if you don't think you will want to use it.

Tuesday 10 July 2007


I think we have had some success and already some entries are coming in to the 'seeds to share' document. It is so satisfying for me to have people wanting to learn about using the blog and I hope everyone who went to Cath's this morning will now be able to get themselves a Google Account and start to try out putting things on the blog. Don't be shy, use the different colours, and sizes etc. Don't forget to try plles check !

Have a look at Google images, even if you can't work out how to use them.

Please email or ring me if you need to go over something again or want to do something we didn't cover. Keep practising and you will get addicted like me (and maybe like Maggie too !! Sorry Maggie). Computers and the internet are not just for the under-30's ! My son Alex, who is 20, is very proud of his silly old, gardening mum having done this blog !

Sunday 8 July 2007

Aussie tomatoes in Germany

OK, I'm back from holidays in Austria and Germany, but have yet to find the courage to tell Claudia that, of the hundreds of photos I took, only a handful are of her family and the scenery. Yep, most of them are from vegie gardens...

What I can say is that Aussie seed saving is having a small impact on German vegies. In this photo of Claudia and her parents, in her Uncle Rolf's garden in Forst in the Rhine Valley, you can see Des's Delicious tomatoes bumping Red Oxhearts and Roma Tomatoes, all of which started life here in my garden in Adelaide. My lettuce seeds are also doing well, particularly the Red Cos and Red Coral varieties.

I include a larger photo of Rolf's garden; the houses all front straight onto the footpath in this village, in a rather bleak street setting, but behind them one finds all these productive kitchen gardens. They also kept a pig and a few chooks in days gone by, but no longer. Apparently 'kill-the-pig day' was something of a family ritual, with everyone working and sharing the produce.

One of the other significant differences in the southern German vegie patches is their tomato frames; these are often merely a stainless-steel spiral with the straight end stuck into the ground, and one plant growing up each spiral. My father-in-law tells me it's great early on, but once the weight of the tomatoes starts to have an impact, the whole plant tends to slump down the spiral and end up in the dirt.

So my last photo shows one of the other common methods of growing tomatoes in a limited space, and where golden bamboos don't grow. I reckon Kate has demonstrated this one for us; the cylindrical frame, or variations on it, like this six-sided version.
One of the great things about German kitchen gardens is that they have all sorts of berries; I'm particularly fond of the raspberries, but one also finds cranberries, blueberries, gooseberries and in the trees, plenty of cherries of all sorts. Perhaps, one day soon, I'll find time to upload my photos of one particularly productive garden, which should remind us all that gardeners the world over are much of a muchness in their enthusiasm, appreciation of fine food, and willingness to share advice and produce.


Quentin did a wonderful job on the mulcher for much less money and in much less time so today is the day to slash the arrowroot and mulch it to make the beginnings of a new compost heap. Of course there is always a 'before' with any job - before I could mulch the arrowroot I had to mulch the huge pile of bottlebrush that we pruned last week, as it had been in the way all week. It was still lovely and green - perfect for the compost construction - but it was also very wet from the week's rain. Oh well, after a few minutes I was saturated too but all in the name of progress !

Standing there feeding it all through made me think about the sense of it all - the petrol, the time, the purpose etc. Some people complain that you start with a huge pile of stuff and you end up with a small bag of mulch and that it has taken you ages. Think of the time involved in the growing of the greenery you are mulching - many years usually - and the time it would take to break down unmulched - also years. Then there is the formation of the oil to make the petrol - millions of years, and the time involved in mining the ore to get the raw materials to make the mulcher. Really, the bit of effort and the time we put in at the end is nothing and, after a couple of months the compost process has delivered us a perfect product to grow our vegies in. It is dreadful that we use fuel at all to grow our food but it is infinitely better to use a little petrol to mulch garden prunings than it is to subscribe to the wholesale slaughter of the environment and the guzzling of fuels and chemicals associated with broadacre agriculture. So, I relaxed about the whole thing and enjoyed watching the clouds drift over and even a little patch of sun on my back and by the end of the morning that part of the job is done.

I can sit here now, with my cup of tea, and gather some more energy to finish making 1 cubic metre of compost.....if only I could get over this cough.

I discovered some interesting things in session 2. First, after lugging all the arrowroot stalks from the bottom of the hill all the way to the top - this took about 5 trips (I don't need a gym) - I discovered that arrowroot is very fibrous, even when so fresh, and clogs up the mulcher in 2 minutes flat !!! Bugger, bugger, bugger and a lot of other things too... 6 weeks of waiting, for nothing ! I threw them all in the chook yard, very hard and very angrily. The chooks looked askance at me and ran off squawking.

OK, plan B. I gathered up all the stuff around the place that could possibly go into a compost heap - sodden bags of chook manure from Urrbrae School (they told me it was sheep - bugger again !), old bales of peastraw, bags of vegie garden scraps, a half decomposed mess from a Geddye bin, the rest of the freshly mulched bottlebrushes and piled it all up to a wonderful height. In fact I didn't need the arrowroot anyway. Now it is all cosily covered in straw and my back is ruined, but I forgot about my cough.

I hope my heap will look like this in a few days.

You know you have had a hard day when you have 2 pairs of stinking, wet jeans in the laundry and mulch in your undies ! Posted by Picasa

Saturday 7 July 2007

Invitation to visit the Good Life Centre

Greeting all, Pattie from Foodshed invites us to visit the goodlife website.
Just click on Foodshed, read the article then click on
Click on the photo gallery and visit Forest Farm.
You will see a great stone greenhouse plus a great vegetable garden.
Take your sun hat it is hot there.

Friday 6 July 2007

Winter Persian Delights

If you are looking for something different to cook with all the greens in your garden, try some Iranian/Persian recipes.

Google Persian recipes and a feast of ideas awaits you.

Mint, parsley, coriander, limes, orange peel, rose petals, pistachios, almonds, saffron,rice, beans, garlic, pickled vegetables, pomegranates, dates and figs.
Warming soups, dips of green vegetables, vegetable pates, spiced rice dishes,candied fruits and rose petal jam.

A whole feast of dishes to warm the body and soul on a cold rainy winters day.

Remember if you are near Burnside this weekend to call into Buddha House(1 Fisher St Tusmore) and spend a few quiet moments watching some monks at work making an intricate Sand Mandala.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

American Table Grapes

Vitis labrusca American bunch grape / Northern Fox gape
These grapes are descendents of the Native American grapes. I have found them delicious. They grow very well here in the hills, are hardy, drought torrent & most importantly fungus free.
I grow several varieties; they are seedless except for Kyoho. As well as fresh eating they dry well & I’ve made jelly & rotegrutze.
GLENORA Medium sized blue seedless .early maturing. My favorite.

HIMROD White seedless. Has a spicy flavour. Maturing February. Also a favorite.

CANADICE Red seedless with large compact bunches. Matures February.
VENUS Black seedless. Matures February
KYOHO Large Black,seeds, late season.

Another Garden Project come Creation

As my garden is always evolving it seems my destiny to be always creating something new & it always seems to be created out of nothing (of value) the challenge being to build it without buying new materials.
It was time for a new cold frame or two as the old one had succumbed to rot, collapsed breaking the glass into a million pieces.
I first checked out my timber pile, mostly inherited from other people clearing up .But the years ( & projects) have exhausted it & I can find no suitable timber to make the cold frame come shade frame for seedlings.
But never fear, close by is another pile of ‘gifts’ & I decide to use some fluted plastic that was once a roof that was hit by hail & ended up here. When it arrived I had no idea what I could use it for but it’s starred in a number of projects including rebuilding the garden shed, protection around the base of the tunnel house, foundation for my flow form stand ( although no one would know as I’ve rendered it & it looks great)
So now the fluted plastic forms the frames of 2 cold frames. The front 8” high the back 12” high... I have 4 pieces of perspex for the top from the ‘woolies upgrade” (all part of a freezer unit discarded & rescued by us).
I then managed to find enough angle bits in the shed for one & then a mangled piece from the freezer panels provided enough straight bits for the other. Now it was just a matter of gluing /screwing the sides together.
As the edges where a bit rough (I’m still learning to control the angle grinder) I cut up some old polly pipe, split it down one side & put it over the edge, groovy. Add some hinges (new, could not find suitable ones around the place)
And hey presto I’ve got 2 new cold frames for seedlings. I put them in place & connected a cord to the wall to allow for ventilation. Before summer I’ll add a mister & connect it through the garden irrigation & add a shade cloth frame.
It’s only days since they are completed & in service warming up some newly planted seeds & the next project, a new entrance to my packing shed/shop/classroom as begun!!!! But hey its lots of fun & very satisfing.

Tuesday 3 July 2007


There will be an instruction session at Cath's for any members who would like to really get the hang of using the blog and all the bits that go with it, like the 'Seeds to share' document etc. All you have to do is bring your current email address and a password .

Cath has offerred to give us some morning tea and a stroll around the garden after all that hard work.
To run all the Google stuff - ie the blog and all the links etc you need to have :

- Internet Explorer 7 or a recently updated version of Firefox.

- At least Windows 2000 (preferably XP)

- Dial-up is OK but slower than broadband so photos will take a while to download.

Check what you have. Free upgrades can easily be downloaded. If you need help with this we can send you instructions to guide you through. A bit of time invested in this will mean the difference between success and failure in using the blog. Don't give up before you even get started !

Date, time and place details are in the email you should have received already. If you need more information just ring me.If you cannot come, you can invite me to your house for a nose around your garden in exchange for some help !! Seems this is the only way I will get to see people's gardens !

Seeds of a different kind

Festival of Ideas
July 5-8
Free talks about everything

Sand Mandala at Buddha House
July 6-8
Free entry to view the monks create this. Fascinating, a great experience.

Google the titles for more information

Monday 2 July 2007

Monday night 2nd July William Martin of 'Wigandia'

A talk entitled The 'art' of not gardening.
Check the friends of the botanic gardens website for details.
Also check William Martins website

Wiganda is amazing!!!