Saturday 29 September 2007

Thursday 27 September 2007

Flat Stanley arrives in Adelaide

Hi everyone I am Flat Stanley and I have come from Atlanta USA to see what Australia is like.

I arrived at 3pm on Thursday the 27th of September 2007.

If you would like to see more of what I am doing please click here: Flat Stanley


How wonderful it was to be invited to the garden of our new mum and her 6 week old baby. She certainly has more energy than I remember having when I had babies ! Christie has something to say about every single plant in her pretty garden which is the first sign that her husband has married a true gardener and had better prepare now, for the inevitable progression from gardening being a hobby to being one's life-force !

Vegetables are creeping quietly into most corners of what was probably once a 'normal' garden and there are even whispers about removing some pesky tree that casts too much shade for growing top-rate vegies. Oh no, I have been there with my ultimatum " the tree moves or we move" !

Spinach, Asian greens, peas, celery and rhubarb rub shoulders with butterfly attracting local plants and several citrus in tubs. There is an old nectarine in one corner and the neighbour's fig hangs over in the fence in the other.
Anything inedible is succumbing to the trowel and the 2 chooks are doing their best to eat the weeds and dig up the strawberries.

All the while Peter snoozes in a magnificent old pram - a family heirloom restored by Christie's brother, I think.

I am pretty sure that in a few years they will be out hunting for more land or eyeing off the neighbour's back yards as places to plant pumkins and melons !
Thanks for having me around and good luck with feeding little Peter from your great garden.

2007 OzAsia Moon Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival 002Lantern Festival 012Lantern Festival 010Lantern Festival 008

Crowds gathered in Adelaide at Elder Park on the River Torrens to celebrate Moon Lantern Festival. There were many school groups who had made lanterns as part of their Asian studies.

Sally Heinrich has written a wonderful book "The Most Beautiful Lantern" -check it out.

There were lanterns of many different interesting themes, bright colours and wonderful shapes.

The moon must be shy because it hid itself all evening under a haze of cloud and then in the middle of the night fell as lovely garden rain. I think the moon really enjoyed its parade.

Wednesday 26 September 2007


Inspired by Kate's non-vegetable comments, I thought you might be interested in a different aspect of my garden. Through my involvement with Guides, I met a lady called Jan Forrest. She's had a huge impact on my life, especially when it comes to being outside and adventurous. Jan works at the SA museum and specialises in insects. She has a particular passion for butterflies and has recently converted the small patch of garden in front of her unit to a "butterfly garden" by planting things that attract caterpillars. You might have seen an article in the paper about her recently headed "Bring back butterflies".,22606,22456492-2682,00.html

A couple of months ago, she generously gave Chris and I lots of butterfly attracting seedlings for our garden as a wedding present. They are local to my area. (I live close to the Fern Ave Garden and Winsor St so many of the plants she gave me can be seen on Windsor St.) I've planted them and can't wait to see if they work! She assures me the caterpillars are plant specific and won't move across to the vegie patch once I've attracted them.

If you're interested in adding butterflies to your garden, you'll find this site helpful.
It also has interesting information about what plants are native in your specific area.

Miners Lettuce

Earlier this week we had a veggie tasting with the year 2/3 children from Heathfield primary as part of ‘Eat up your greens’
They really liked the juicy Miners Lettuce .When we returned to the garden to identify the veggies we had just tasted they busily picked and consumed as much as they could get away with. We have also enjoyed this juicy green all winter and I've just planted a new batch as it can be grown from early spring right through to early autumn.

Here is the description from the Kings Seeds catalogue.

Miners Lettuce
claytonia perfoliate or montia perfoliata
winter purslane/claytonia
A dainty looking hardy annual with its early leaves borne at the end of short stalks followed by quantities of heart –shaped leaf pairs each wrapped around a white flowered stem. The leaves look attractive in any salad and have a wild and fresh taste. Pick as needed as plants re-grow readily. Can be cooked like spinach. Allow 10-15 cm between plants.

Seeds and the Full moon

All those of us who planted our seeds yesterday ( 2 days before the full moon) have an extra big smile today. Not only was it the ideal time to plant but it rained (9.5mm) and there a few more showers to come in the next few days. Maybe more of a 'Kate skippity doo' feeling.
I find seeds always germinate and grow better when it rains than when they have to be watered.
Lilly Kolisko who carried out sowing experiments showed most dramatically: plants sown under a full moon influence were markedly stronger and larger than those sown under a new moon influence. She made a very interesting discovery:’ Plants must be sown a few days before the moon is full; if we want them to benefit from the maximum full moon effect, they must be placed into the main stream of the waxing moon forces. When choosing the day of the full moon itself, the process of germination comes under waning moon forces.

You may like to try a planting experiment your self. Plant one variety of radishes every 4 days Try and keep the conditions similar. You can then observe germination rates, as they grow growth rates and when you harvest them after the same number of days you can then observe which if any plantings grew better roots, tops or either you may be surprised. A good project for a group of gardeners! Such results will show the effects of the whole 4 lunar cycles, which are all about 4 weeks long, though none are the same, which results in ever changing relationships.
The cycle your most familiar with is
Water is the mediator of lunar forces. Consider the moons effect on tides and since 80% of a plant consists of water, then the effect on sap movement would be significant. Lunar forces are associated with fertility and the power to regenerate species.
It has been found that seeds germinate better & grow faster if planted 2 days before a full moon.
Medicines such as drenches are also more effective on full moon.
Moon affects moisture contents of the plant. e.g.
Full moon fruit or veggies are juicy .Great for eating now!
New moon –harvest fruit & veggies that need storage
Hay dries faster if cut on new moon
Best timber is cut at winter new moon less sap.
Prune on New moon
Transplant seedlings

We had a French WWOOFer who only had his haircut on the new moon. He thought everyone else did too. It’s said to grow more slowly!!
I'll share the other 3 cycles in the future Stay tuned.
In the mean time check out the planting calendar


I never write about the other beautiful things that live in my garden.

Some of them take you far away, like the native dendrobium orchid (below) which emits an intoxicating scent only when the temperature is over 18 degrees.

Others take your breath away with their strength and colour when you turn a shady corner and the afternoon light reaches them, ever so briefly, such as the clivias (above), currently putting on a truly magnificent show.

At the moment, though, my favourite is the convolvulus given to me by Joy (below) - it has burst forth with a display of bells that almost ring in my ears with joy !

Then there is the indestructible strappy little plant (below), that the primary-school library-lady gave me ever so long ago, with its display of unreal colours and shapes.

I love all the plants in my garden, some like old friends, some like new acquaintances and some because of the people who gave them to me.


Paradise. Just down the road from the farm. Wanaka in winter. I can almost see the road that will lead me there....


This is extracted from an article on :
I don't know if we have pork from China here yet but I only ever buy pork from Barossa Foods, in the central market, as it is truly free range. As is Berkley Gold pork (a breed farmed elsewhere in the Barossa) but it is difficult to get.

Today, Saskatoon's StarPhoenix opines that pork and other meat should be drug-free, in response to China's announcement that it is raising special organic pork for the athletes who will compete in next year's Olympic Games in Beijing, because--get this--steroid levels in industrially-produced pork are high enough to cause Olympians to fail their drug tests.

In other pork news, Reuters reported early last week that shares in Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer (and the subject of this creepy Rolling Stone article from last December), fell as its giant deal with China has been less fruitful than anticipated, a result of falling pork prices stateside and a recent increase in pork production in China, the country that leads the world in pork consumption.
Last month, Smithfield had stock analysts drooling with reports of a loss to the tune of 20% of Chinese hogs to blue ear virus, which has killed tens of thousands of animals. Of course, the deal stipulated that the Smithfield pork would have to be free of ractopamine, a growth agent outlawed in many countries, which spurred the Chinese rejection of American and Canadian pork earlier this month.
According to the International Herald-Tribune, China dipped into its pork reserves last week in an effort to re-stabilize prices, which could be why the country isn't buying as much as anticipated from Smithfield, except that analysts point out that the 30,000 tons of pork being released amount to a "drop in the bucket," considering that China consumes between 130,000 and 150,000 tons of pork a day.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Potimarron Pumpkin Propagation Progress

Hi Everyone,
Here are some photos of 10 day old Potimarron Pumpkin seedlings. I got the seeds from Kate at our last get together. Kate was quite concerned that the seeds looked a bit scrawny and wouldn't amount to anything. As you can see Kate, they're starting to come along fine. I planted 8 seeds and 4 have risen so far, with a few more on the way :)

So you can rest easy Kate, you haven't dished out any dodgy seeds - unlike a seed company that I won't name here but I'm sure if you dig around enough you'd be able to dig up there name ;~)

Happy full moon

Moon Lantern Festival

Tonight at Elder Park the Moon Lantern Festival will start at 6.00pm with the Buddhist Monks giving a blessing.
Check Events on the blog for more details.

ps I have just put a recipe for moon cakes on the recipes page (Kate). I have never cooked them but Jing Jing has given us lots to try.


I spent a wonderful day at Nirvana on Sunday, learning to think the biodynamic way. Deb led 6 of us through some of the practical applications of biodynamics and gently got us to throw out or at least alter our scientific mindset to see things more wholistically and with an openness of spirit.

I don't know much about Homeopathy, but it seemed to me the essence of the workings is very similar with Biodynamics. Tiny amounts of concentrations, treated in ways governed by many of the earth's forces, are distributed across the landscape and have an influence on the life there.
These photos show some people stirring the 500 mix - made by burying cow horns full of fresh cow manure in the soil for 3-6 months and then dissolving little bits into these barrels of water and stirring them a certain way for 1 hour.
Deb had made the yoghurt cake that is on the recipes page and provided us with a fresh lunch with those lovely rolls she is so good at. The other people were all so nice and 2 of them had seen our blog and 1 was there because she had seen the day mentioned on the blog. Another person I knew from the yoga class I go to. So many connections.
Thanks Deb and I look forward to learning more.
We are supposed to sow seed today - 2 days before the full moon - but it is too hot for me and probably for the seed too, so I will do it tomorrow afternoon, and hope for the best.

Monday 24 September 2007

Hurry Up Flat Stanley

Hurry up Flat Stanley!

We are waiting for you to arrive and do cool things with us.

Stirling Markets 034

Our dinner while we wait for Flat Stanley to arrive in Adelaide.

Stirling Markets 035

Lets hope he comes tomorrow!!

Saturday 22 September 2007


Some of tonight's dinner.......

Oh no, not that skippity doo thing again !

I could have picked baby beetroot and baby carrots too but that would have been showing off !Posted by Picasa


It seems that while you were all out playing sport at school and going to parties on the weekends, I was at home gardening with my father and cooking with my mother ! Poor me, or maybe not, because now I can knock up a pretty good cake, a fruit pie or maybe some pasties much to the annoyance of all those who can't seem to get it right. So I have put a skill on the 'skills to share' page and wonder if anyone else, besides one un-named friend of mine, would like to come along to my place and learn the real basics of preparing and cooking various cakes and making perfect pastry.

This does not mean decorating or anything artistic, just having the confidence to follow a cake recipe and know it will work and to get the feel for various types of pastry. Things like creaming butter and sugar , beating egg whites until stiff, folding in flour, crumbing butter and flour etc etc. We could make pasties, some muffins and a cake or anything else someone wants.
What about a Bombe Alaska? How about a sponge cake like Brett's grandma's ? Maybe next time. Hey, this could be a few sessions .


Recently I spent every spare minute of a 3-day holiday reading this book that Roger gave me for my birthday, back in July. Previously I had thought it would just be stuff I already knew, made less relevant for being American. Having time to savour something is always so rewarding and so I really got into this account of a USA family that took on the challenge of eating home-grown / seasonal/ local food for a year. Each member of the family contributes to the chapters and I love reading about the little girl and her chickens as well as the teenage girl and her views on what is going on and why. The main author, Barbara Kingsolver, writes beautifully but this is not a fairy story and it tells it straight,warts and all. Her husband adds lots of research and facts (as husbands are wont to do). The first 1/3 of the book has a lot of background about many issues such as pasture vs feedlot meat, global transport of food, farm size etc etc and really sets the scene and explains how they came to realise that life is taking some terrible turns.

Once they immerse themselves in the rolling seasons and the challenges they bring, the book comes to life.They begin to settle in to getting to know the people at the farmers' market and their neighbours and realise that this is how it is meant to be. Someone tells Barbara she is a "real housewife". She comments "It has taken me decades to get here, but I took that as a compliment".

The deeper they look into issues the more complex answers become. For example, in a discussion on vegetarianism she points out that "every sack of flour and every block of tofu came from a field where countless winged and furry lives were extinguished in the plowing, cultivating and harvesting. An estimated 67 million birds die each year from pesticide exposure on US farms....." Butterflies and other insects, foxes, rabbits and so on are starved out of their homes or dismembered by harvesters and plows. Many of the world's poor live on land that cannot support plant-based agriculture and only those that live where rain is abundant and the weather suitable, can have the luxury of choice.

I love this quote from the book "Cooking is 80% confidence, a skill best acquired starting from when the apron strings wrap around you twice." (I started my boys off then and now they can and do attempt to cook anything.)

All in all a lovely read and, I understand, Pattie from the Foodshed has been to a talk by the family, on their experiences and I look forward to her interpretations too. What a coincidence.


Roger (Mr. KGI), has put ogether a little video of various activities that occurred around the world on Kitchen Garden Day 2007 and he has included the photos that I sent him of our wonderful time at the willow house, Nirvana. Have a look at:

Soon we must finish getting our entry ready for the Grow-off, Show-off competition. Anyone with extra ideas and especially with skills at putting together a presentation, such as power-point , should email me .

Friday 21 September 2007

Brett's Bits

Well I've finally got off my proverbial and decided to do my first post - I just didn't want to rush things. So here's a few shots of a couple of the things I've got in pots etc around the place.

After seeing the hothouse that Kate posted today, I thought I'd share my miniature version for the Cos that Kate gave me recently using recycled dry cleaning plastic over a self watering tub.

After 4 days I took the plastic off and have got quite a good germination

Here's my Black Krim tomato at about 6 weeks that I re potted into my new tomato pot.

Here's a few more of the things I've got coming along.
Chocolate Mint (yummy!!!!)

My Bay tree which after 4 years has finally got some worthwhile new growth

Deb's Comfrey
Until next time - happy gardening
PS I'll work on my picture formatting/placement.


Here is a good and cheap hot-house. For instructions go to:

My seed frame is working well but I would love one of these. However, my area is overhung by gum trees and I am sure anything like this would get torn by bits that are forever falling off the trees.

Thursday 20 September 2007


To help people know when to sow all the seeds we keep getting from each other and elsewhere and which have no sowing instructions on them, I have put a link to this planting guide that Deb put on the blog for us ages ago. It is a rough guide and not specific to Adelaide but at least to 'temperate Australia' . If you need some more advice please put it on the blog or send me an email.

I am starting so much stuff in trays because my garden is still overflowing with produce and I am not pulling it all out yet. By the time these seeds have germinated and grown to a plantable size, the garden will be finished and I will be ready to transplant in before it gets too hot. Oh for another acre or 2 ! As you can see, the call for besser blocks was a success - thanks - and it is in full operation. Further modifications will include a proper lid and, hopefully, another whole setup. Also I will make up a shaded lid, covered in that white cloth that I love so much, for summer.
Seeds I have sown a couple of weeks ago, in trays:
Purple artichokes, various okra, capsicum.
This is what I have sown in seed trays this week(I couldn't wait for the full moon !)
Cath's capsicums, more artichokes, Brett's beetroot, baby cos lettuce(excellent summer luttuce - loves the heat), Peppermint, Basil spice(particularly good for pesto), I think that is all I had time for.
In the next few days I hope to sow (maybe Sept 25th - 2 days before the full moon if not before !)
More comfrey(mostly to give away now that I have Deb's plants going so well),fenugreek, 2 different amaranth (for us and for the chooks during summer),Barb's red orach etc etc.
Other seeds that should be sown now too:
Kale. (If you sow it in autumn it will go to seed in spring. If you sow it in spring it will go to seed next spring , so you get much more value.)
Here are the things I will direct sow when I have some space:
Cucumbers, squash and zuccini, pumpkins, beans - lots of varieites and others I can't think of now.
Some I don't bother growing from seed:
Eggplant (the long, thin ones), usually capsicum, tomatoes.
Something new to try:
This year I am going to follow an idea I read in Eliot Coleman's organic gardening book that Diana lent me recently. It suggests that, as a way of adding green manure to a future crop, without having to have that section of your garden without any crop growing for months, it is a good idea to sow eg clover between and around eg tomatoes. When the tomatoes are finished, or earlier - before the clover goes to seed, you can dig in the clover and plant or sow autumn veg , having the goodness of the cover crop added to the soil. Of course you must be careful to choose cover crops that do not compete with the root system of the 'real' crop and he gives a guide to what goes with what. Actually, maybe we should buy some books , such as this one and a few others I know, for ourselves and share them around, like a perpetual library. I will make (yet another!) link and people can put ideas for books we could buy and share.

Now I have spent way too much time writing this and have missed my morning gardening session as I now have to go out. Whose idea was this darn blog - I will kill them !!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Moon Lantern Festival

I'm glad I remembered the Moon Lantern Festival will be celebrated in Adelaide next week.

If you live in another State or country you will probably find a similar event.

This mid-Autumn full moon harvest festival has been held for over 3,000 years.

"When the moon is full - mankind is one."

Moon Festival information

More Moon Festival information

If you have children or grandchildren this would be a great time to get together, make paper lanterns, bake moon cookies & stay up & watch the full moon.

"OzAsia Moon Lantern Festival

Location: Elder Park, River Torrens


Dates: 25 September 2007

Duration: 3.5 Hours

Come and enjoy a tradition that's thousands of years old, with lanterns and performances both traditional and contemporary, to celebrate Adelaide’s inaugural OzAsia Moon Lantern Festival.
When the full moon rises high in the night sky, it calls families and lovers both near and far to reflect on the strong bonds that unite us. On this special night, we think about absent loved ones, eat moon cakes, and enjoy being together under the moon.
The OzAsia Moon Lantern Festival will feature schoolchildren and community groups from across South Australia, parading hand-made traditional and contemporary lanterns, together with storytelling, martial arts, music, dance, Asian cuisine and Dragon Boats on the River Torrens.
Entry is free. Festivities from 6pm, starting with a Buddhist blessing in the Rotunda. The Lantern Parade starts soon after sunset.
In case of very wet weather, performances will take place in the Festival Centre Banquet Room. Call the Adelaide Festival Centre on 08 8216 8600 on the day if you’re unsure if the event will take place. "


Well I thought we were getting right away from gardens last weekend when Roger and I went over to our shack at Balgowan, on the Yorke Peninsula. There we have plenty of rain water and absolutely no garden - just a big sandhill . We had to make a trip into Maitland on Saturday morning for a few plumbing bits and pieces because, as you will see in the photo, our ancient toilet , which was previously held together with that grey tape, was due for replacement and Roger needed some things to connect in the new one we had taken over with us. There, in the main street was a sign 'PLANT SALE' . I resisted, briefly, then we did a U-turn and headed off to find it !

Unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me but we could tell when we had reached the right house because the front garden was brim full of gorgeous shrubs, especially one leukodendron absolutely covered in sandy-yellow flowers. There, lined up in the driveway were rows of plants struck from cuttings and grown from seed and in the middle of them was Wes. Needless to say we bought 'a few' things, including some roma tomato seedlings, and began to talk to Wes and Kelly.
Gardeners are such happy and friendly people and they were no exception. In fact they took us around the back to see the rest of the garden, including the biggest, lushest and most magnificent correa I have ever seen (Dusky Bells. Of course I bought 3.). I couldn't believe it was just 1 plant. It would have been close to 2 m wide and 1/2m high. I began to tell them of our seedsavers group and Wes rushed off to the shed, returning with a paper bag containing some melon seeds. I think he said they used to be grown by his grandmother and they are called ogen melon. This is a variety of melon that was developed in Israel. It has a smooth outer skin that changes from a green to gold when it matures, with yellowish-orange strips running the length of its oval shape. The inner flesh is pale green to cream and is very sweet in flavor. Wes swears by it and now we have some seeds too. How exciting - I think I will grow this in my pumpkin patch.
Wes also told me about his tree onions, which are different to mine as they actually produce a real onion at the base, not just a thich spring onion. He offered me some seeds when he has them, in late summer. How very generous people are.
Anyway we had a lovely time there and I told them I would write about our visit on the blog, so I hope they can find it on the computer at the local library.

A few days before, my brother rang to see if I wanted some cumquats from his tree, which of course I did, as I love cumquat marmalade. I took them, and all the stuff, to the shack and made the marmalade there. I left some aside and bottled them in brandy.

Out on the sandhill was this very interesting flower spike from an agave . It was about 3 metres long and covered in a million bees. I am looking forward to seeing them flower at home as I have previously dug up a few and planted them here. I read a wonderful book while we were there, too but I will write about that another time.
All in all a lovely weekend.

Posted by Picasa