Sunday 31 August 2008


Wednesdays and Fridays seem to provide me with quite a nice mix of gardening and foraging. This week gardening was at Glenys' again and although the day was sunny, the air was freezing. The whippets still had their jackets on and even after a couple of hours of work, we still had ours on too.

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Glenys' rustic style vegetable garden is productive all year round .

Below is Lou, above is Sally and most importantly, above left is Mako...

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Glenys is the queen of red cabbages.... above right. The echium below is about to burst into flower and is totally drought hardy. By the time the morning tea was being served by Glenys, the day had warmed up and we sat in the sun there and enjoyed her magnificent apple pie and coffee.
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Today, Friday, I went to the market and when I first arrived I did a rare thing and decided to have breakfast before I started shopping. I chose Lucia's Cafe for a change and sat there, in the midst of the crowds, looking at the comings and goings and just thinking about stuff; in a kind of dream time I will go back to Zuma's. People tell me they like Lucia's but the coffee wasn't nearly as good and the croissant was ordinary. Later,at Cappo's the fishmonger, I came across the Veggie Gnome and the Flower Gnome on a rare trip so far from home, to the market.

As usual when I am a bit late, I saw Tony Scarfo arriving in his ute as I was crossing the road to Wilson's. This time the boxes in the back were piled up with broccoli, red cauli-brocs the size of  basketballs, loads of fennel and silver beet as well as beetroot and 3 romanesco broccoli, like the ones Deb and I tried to grow. No wonder we didn't have a lot of success because Tony planted 50 and of these, only 3 or 4 were outstanding, most of the rest being open and messy and unsalable, after waiting for so long to get them to maturity. He is like me in that he likened it to an addiction never give up wanting to grow beautiful things but, like beautiful women, he said, they are unattainable! I was, never the less, admiring one of the good romanescos on his cart and feeling its shape and saying I would buy it and put a photo here on the blog, when he said I could have it for nothing. You never argue when Tony offers you something, it seems rude, so I took it and have tried to photograph it but it doesn't show its spirals well enough so I will try again tomorrow in a different light.

Thursday 28 August 2008


I just want to remind everybody that there are courses at NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM will start from September.

In September:
Sunday, Sept 7th 2-4 pm GUIDED FARM TOURS
Sunday, Sept 21st 8.30am – 4.30pm Biodynamic Gardening-Beyond Organics

More information please take a look at:

I'm preparing biodynamic soil spray for my garden and two of my friends'.


Take a close look at this photo....a bank of very low cloud crept across Adelaide from the sea, while we stayed in full sunshine on the hill. It is about 2/3 the way across, here.
The ultimate feel....a new yacon leaf. There is nothing like it.
Left: a succulent border under the wide eaves.
Right: wattles....breathtaking.

A 'tree' of silver beet ....why did it grow like this?
It has a trunk which is tied to the stake, but the leaves are not big and the stems are very thick.

Me, enjoying blogging, in a rare moment of sun a few weeks ago. The moment I went inside it rained....all day.

The plums are flowering.
My seed frame ready for spring. image
Just when I had decided to remove these scrappy hebes they burst into flower. What shall I do???
Bok Choy in flower is beautiful.....
imageSome of the wattles that are flowering in my street are huge.

At right, is a busy bee on some daikon flowers.
I watched it while I sat in the vegetable garden and had a cup of tea.... sometimes looking away out to sea , to some of you I will soon be meeting.
These tiny green things are the beginnings of carob pods. Interesting, don't you think?
This sub-tropical white sapote has thrived in the intense heat of summer and right through the cold of winter....quite outstanding and unexpected.

Wednesday 27 August 2008


Well I’ve yelled at the radio one too many times, read too many letters to the editor all with the same mantra ‘don’t buy Australian rice!’ The media continue to beat up this issue with no facts pitting one community against another. ‘The lower lakes will be saved if we don’t grow rice, send the water stored to SA….and on and on it goes.’ Yes I know I have Murrumbidgee water running through my veins and a heritage that includes mixed farming on an irrigated property that included rice in its rotation but I’m fast seeing how wars begin when I see one community that is hurting being pitted against another that is also suffering while our so called leaders have done nothing for year and now when it reaches crisis point still wont make real decisions.
In my experience of living in SA for around 30 years is that they have no clue where rice is grown in our country. When explaining my background most thought I came from NT, Queensland and with the radio it now seems rice is grown somewhere on the Darling River WRONG. Check out the map.

When considering this area it helps to know the history as well as the geography (not taught in SA schools) After a devastating drought in 1902 the NSW government proposed a water conservation and irrigation in the Murrumbidgee Valley, it was approved in 1906 as the ‘Barren Jack and Murrumbidgee Canals Construction Act ‘and the scheme to turn the water inland was launched. The scheme is normally referred to as ‘The MIA’ and covers 182,000 hectares.
Leeton was the first Irrigation towns developed in Australia in 1913 and is the heart of SunRice. Leeton has a population of 12,000 and Griffith the other main town in the Murrumbidgee irrigation Area, now a rural city has a population of 24,000. Both these towns where designed by Walter Burley Griffin and feature the distinctive radial town design.
The farms are generally small family enterprises. Horticulture is based on stone fruit, citrus and increasingly wine grapes. Mixed farms were based on a range of crops including wheat (soft for biscuit) oats, barley, rice, sorghum, fat lambs, beef cattle, pigs, top quality pasture hay. Our farm was 200 acres, grew all these crops. Rice was grown on a 5 year rotation and each farmer was allowed to grow 60 acres. (This amount sometimes changed)
Drought was a common part of life, we also had a non irrigated property 10 miles down the road that grew a range of cereal crops depending on the season and ran merino sheep. We spent a lot of time carting water to these sheep during droughts. Our house ran on rainwater and by the end of spring each year, my father would remove the handles from half the taps in the house. Our bath water came from a dam and you could never see the bottom of the bath unlike town water. So although it was an irrigation property there was a strong awareness of drought and water conservation unlike most who grew up in towns and cities during the 60s and 70s.

Ok that was then what about now. Last summer my mother told me did not water her garden once because the farmers had no water why should she be allowed to have a garden. The town has a 50% water allocation and Stock and domestic have a 40% allocation (Water for farm house and stock only) although some rice was grown this year mainly with underground water.

The most devastating results of this crisis which has been bad for at least 8 or so years is the loss of diversity. Many of the mixed farms have been sold for or converted to wine grape production. Total monocultures! Although I enjoy a glass wine I cannot understand the push to cover every piece agricultural land with vineyards and they are all irrigated! Many years ago when I was young and the MIA wine growing area was starting we were told that this wine along with those from the SA’s Riverland and Victoria’s Sunraysia was in some way inferior because it was irrigated now it seems all vineyards are irrigated. But it’s easier to convince the powers that be with a bottle of wine than a sack of rice or box of oranges.
There are no easy answers , over the years water efficiency , conservation method and yields have all improved and at present there are many ongoing research projects being carried out both here and overseas as this is a world wide problem. MIA rice growers SunRice is still the most efficient water to yield growers in the world and grow the only disease free rice in the world.
Its time to work together and stop pitting one community against another. We should support all our farmers and their communities otherwise the countryside will be empty and the cities crowded .




A future seedsavers event may be veiwing 'Rice growing in the Riverina '

Tuesday 26 August 2008


Diana's gardening course starts tomorrow and many from our group including our new member Ting will be enjoying the magic of years of gardening experience from Diana and other guest speakers.

They will visit the Food Forest at Gawler, twice awarded the prestigious Premier's Food Award for Sustainability. The Brookman's sell the best ever produce at the Adelaide Farmer's market.

Tim Marshall, renowned organic author will once again talk about his passion for compost.

There should still be vacancies and I guarantee you will come away refreshed and full of enthusiasm to get your seeds in the ground and start your summer garden.

And you can stay for lunch and enjoy the beautiful Fern Avenue Community Garden.


Diana Bickford will once again be taking the Seeds for Health Gardening Course.

A 7 week program at Fern Ave Community Garden, Fullarton which will
inspire as well as educate! It is held in our organic community garden where
you will witness and taste the magic of home grown produce. Topics include:
sowing seeds, creative garden design, soil management, composting and
more!! Course runs for 7 Wednesdays from 10.00-12.00 commencing August the 27th. Following the course you are invited to stay for “lunch in the garden”
from 12.00-1.00.

Course fees: $50 for members, $80 for non-members
Lunch fees: $5 per lunch

Bookings at Cancer Care Centre Inc. 76-78 Edmund Avenue, Unley SA 5061
phone (08)82722411

Sunday 24 August 2008


  image imageIt is the day of the year when kitchen gardeners all over the world gather in local groups to celebrate growing their own food. The Hills and Plains Seedsavers group and friends gathered at Deb and Quentin's idyllic organic farm in the Adelaide hills for a shared lunch of seasonal food cooked by each of us from food grown in our gardens or nearby. Naturally, the ingredients used were winter things, like spinach and other greens, broccoli, celery, citrus etc plus preserves from last summer but the range of dishes was amazing. First, though, was a tour of the place and Deb is always so generous with her time and knowledge. At every turn there is something beautiful like Deb's woven fences or this glass bird bath....and Amelia's hair!


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After the walk and the lunch, in the sun which shone with warmth for the first time in weeks, we got down to the serious business of the newest Olympic KG Day sport..... Squash-Tossing! Last summer, I thought "These beautiful, hard old summer squash must be good for something..." and I couldn't bear to feed them to the chooks and today they found their use! Along with some wind fall lemons they became the centre of a fierce competition between 3 teams, to throw the most items into the wooden box.....

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You can see the intense concentration on the Veggie Gnome's face, below, and then the cheers from the rest of the team....but the men at right could see their lead slipping away.....

image image image image Quentin and Olly consulted a book of rules, below left.... but the team in red were clearly superior and managed to double the score of the other 2 teams who played off for silver and bronze in cold, late-afternoon conditions.

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It was a lovely day and what was especially nice for me personally was that gathered there today were not only quite a few of the original members of our seedsavers group but 7 new people, who had independently joined over the last few months, as a result of finding us on this blog. So, kitchen gardening is once again becoming mainstream here and it is great to see so many young faces now becoming a part of our group. I feel that at last people are taking responsibility for their impact on the earth, they are learning how to grow food for themselves, how to cook it and how to preserve it and as a consequence, are helping to also preserve all that is vitally important for a healthy future for themselves and the earth we share.

Thanks, Roger D for starting Kitchen Gardeners International and for nominating one day annually to be the day people all over the world celebrate growing at least some of their food by gathering to share their produce and share their time and share their love of a simpler, richer life.

There are more photos in our KG Day album photos link.

For a list of other blogs of people celebrating KG Day as day revolves around the world go to KGI Kitchen Garden Day.

Saturday 23 August 2008



image I have been cooking today, for KGDay tomorrow.....and our picnic at Deb's.
This international version of spinach and fetta pie has no spinach in it but instead is a mixture of chicory, endive, warrigal greens, silver beet, rainbow chard, kale, and mustard greens...everywhere from Asia to Australia to Europe and all from my garden today. 
750g is more than 2 large bowls full of greens, after the stems have been removed....
I love making pastry... I love the texture and the colour and the shapes.....

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image When your chooks lay eggs the same colour as your mother's oranges you know you are on a winner for a cake.

And no meal I serve is complete without a salad. Cos, oakleaf, miners' and baccluie lettuces, plus lime frise and some chervil.Not bad for winter. Of course I will add some finely shredded fennel, some of my olives, and a dash only of a dressing of verjuice, peanut oil and ground pepper...
  What are you doing for Kitchen Garden Day on Sunday?

Friday 22 August 2008


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Winter is a wonderful time for Asian greens and tonight I picked the first of the most recent batches of my favourite bok choy. They are fresh, crisp, succulent, attractive, have beautiful curves.... and taste so good when cooked and eaten only minutes after picking, still dripping with raindrops. And here is another perfect fennel, some broccoletti, Deb's mustard greens, coriander, and other bits and pieces.Together with some spring rolls it was a great dinner.
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