Friday 29 May 2009


Making use of what you have... and everyone has weeds!



I wish I had better photos of the evolution of the soil in my garden over the last 20 years. It started off as hard, lumpy, red clay with a pH of about 8.5 to 9.... very alkaline. And barely a living thing growing anywhere. We tried to dig into it with a spade.... and then we tried a pick.... and then I read about improving soil from the top down, without digging it over at all. And that was where my attachment to the soil began.

sulo bin

If you live in Adelaide you will no doubt have what we call a green bin, a large wheelie bin where you can put all your garden clippings, weeds, dead plants etc and they will be picked up by the council from time to time, depending on which suburb you live in. I have one too but I have only ever used it a couple of times to get rid of prickly things like roses and blackberry canes..... and the little bulbils on the ends of the soursob roots but that was before we had chooks.

If you go for a walk through the bush or a forest or any natural area at all, the ground is littered with dead grass, leaves, sticks and even branches and fallen trees and all the plants live there quite happily, making their own compost and soil and mulch, without any human help. What the plants took from the soil to grow, is returned to the soil when they die and it rots away, ready for other plants to use. The mulch that forms over the soil is a nice light cover for germinating seeds or emerging bulbs and protects them from the sharp eyes of animals, birds and insects and stops them drying out in the heat.

imageThis is what I started doing.... copying nature and what has happened is that the soil in my garden has become rich and full of humus and worms and all good things. Today, I dug down into the soil in a parts of my garden that receive little attention except that I throw everything down on the soil there that I can find and never leave the soil exposed.... and look....





Veggie Gnome's rhubarb survived my absence during that extreme heat of summer and I have not added anything to this soil, ever. Many thousands of generations of worms have lived and died here, transforming debris into soil and billions of micro-organisms have done what they do too. The garden group weeded this area recently and now most of what can be seen on the surface is long grass and weeds, pulled out of the soil and laid on top.

If the prunings are rather too thick and ugly, they go through the mulcher first but usually, because I am a very lazy gardener, I just chop it up with my spade, where it lands or walk over it a bit to break it up and flatten it out. Usually I don't walk on the garden but this area is big and can't be reached from the edges and once I have covered the ground like this, it softens the foot-fall and reduces the impact on the soil.

Making use of weeds in the vegetable garden

Basically I am a lazy gardener.... or I could say I am an efficient gardener.... I believe in doing as little unnecessary work as possible. That way I have more time to do the things that I want to do in the garden and the kitchen. If I was very artistic and clever like Cecilia at Balcony Garden Dreaming, I could draw up a lovely sketch of my garden to illustrate what I want to say but sadly I am neither..... so you will have to just have my words instead.

My main vegetable garden is a series of concentric, half-circle beds, each separated by a narrow sawdust path. Each bed is therefore a long curve, about 1 metre wide. I don't have rigid edges but rather I try to maintain fairly steep slopes between the beds and the paths. Sometimes the beds are higher than the paths and sometimes they are lower and here is why....

At the end of summer, the paths are lower than the beds.... you will see why if you read on.

In autumn, I start removing the summer crops as they finish and some of this goes to the chooks and the coarse stuff goes to a pile to be mulched up, but some is thrown onto the paths.... things that the chooks don't like..... Then, as the weather cools down and we get some rain, the weeds begin to grow rapidly and I pull them out and throw them on the paths too.

Eventually it is time to pull out the cucumber vines, bean creepers, capsicums tomatoes etc and although these are often too coarse for the paths, they were surrounded by straw and now all that straw goes onto the paths too because I like to open the soil in the beds to the elements, over winter.

By winter the paths are pretty well piled up to the top of the garden bed height but I keep treading them down as I walk and because the straw is on top, it looks pretty tidy. During winter there is a fair bit of rain and also sun and lots of worms and insects are busy decomposing all the paths. As I weed during winter I sometimes just tuck the weeds under the straw on the paths, because the chooks have plenty of grass in their run by now.

By mid-spring or so I am wanting some compost to dig into the top of the beds to plant the summer vegetables and guess what?? I don't need to bring it in with a wheelbarrow because it is there, on the paths..... beautiful, rich and conveniently placed under a little straw. So I scrape away the remains of the straw and dig out the paths, putting the compost onto the beds. At this stage I remake the sloping edges of the beds to keep them nice too.

So, by early to mid-summer the paths are low again as all the compost has been used up. Then, I get more bales of straw and lay them onto the beds..... and next autumn they will be removed to the paths and so the process goes on.

Also, any bark from gum trees and heaps of coarse, dry things are put through the mulcher any time of the year and this is also put on the paths to make them nice to walk on and this all rots down too and is shovelled up onto the beds eventually.

Sometimes.... just sometimes, it pays to be lazy.....

farmers Union.... in Wales


This photo has nothing at all to do with gardening but it incorporates some other loves of mine..... son Alex at the Farmers Union office in Wales..... sadly they do not make iced coffee there..... (a South Australian joke..... sorry....)


Australian Seed Savers Foundation directors, Michel and Jude Fanton are coming to Adelaide and will be presenting their one hour documentary, “Our Seeds”.

It is an exciting opportunity to meet them and hear of their amazing journeys as well as view this beautiful film. For more information on the film, see below.

Date: Friday, June 26th

Time: 7pm

Place: Burnside Community Centre Hall, Greenhill Rd., Burnside. (Adelaide)

Cost: $5

Bookings and enquiries: email:

Seed Film Released

Seed Savers has released “Our Seeds” , a fifty-seven minute film that celebrates traditional food plants and the people that grow them. A trailer and other film clips may be viewed here.


The film introduces those who stand at the source of humanity’s diverse food heritage. It is a David  and Goliath story where resilience and persuasive logic triumph over seemingly invincible forces that control much of our food.

Seed Savers directors, Michel and Jude Fanton made the film from a hundred and sixty hours of  footage in eleven countries: Spain, France, Italy, India, Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The film features Pacific islanders as they face great challenges to their way of life, their culture and their traditional cultivation methodologies. They fall into the same traps as we do:- they replace innumerable varieties of root staples with modern hybrids that require pesticides and chemical fertilisers; they import low quality starch such as white rice, biscuits and noodles and risk losing their resilient food crops. This film seeks to reverse this trend.

There are developed instructive motion graphics and a rich sound track, mostly indigenous music recorded in the making of the film. Audio options are the original English soundtrack and Pacific Pigin. Subtitle options are English and French.

Within the first six months the film had been shown on television in over a dozen Pacific nations. Michel and Jude have screened it and taken further footage in five of them: American Samoa, Samoa, Solomons, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. The reaction to the film was jubilant and appreciative.


Wednesday 27 May 2009


Sometimes it is helpful to be reminded what seeds can be sown when and to have an overview you can look at to see what is coming up next month or what it is a bit late to sow.

Gardenate is a very user-friendly website and you can have email reminders sent to you each month if you like. Just make sure you select your region..... Adelaide is in the temperate zone. This is a very broad zone but is good enough for seed sowing.

This website is suitable for Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

There is also quite an extensive array of vegetables and herbs listed alphabetically, if you want to look up how best to grow a particular one. You can also make comments and ask questions and give answers.

For example..... (there is a monthly sowing guide on this page too but it did not cut and paste nicely so I have left it out)

Growing Broad beans (Vicia faba)

May: Will need supports if windy weather

Easy to grow. Sow Direct in rows. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed.
Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 24°C.

Pick the tops out once beans start setting to prevent blackfly.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Broad beans

The fresh beans are eaten steamed or boiled.
The leafy top shoots of the adult plants can be picked and steamed after flowering.
Small beans can be eaten whole in the pods.

Your comments and tips

09 May 09 Peter (Australia - temperate climate)
Please advise do broad beans need support and if so how is this done?
16 May 09 Robert (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I have grown broadbeans for three years and have not used any support. I think its best to ensure the bushes support each other. I have heard that high winds can damage them but have not had this happen in Berrima
20 May 09 David (Australia - temperate climate)
Peter: I set up a stake at each end of the row(s). then wind string around the stakes enclosing the growing beans. Add another wind around as the plants get about 6 inches above the last string. seems to work. An alternative is to set up wind breaks

Sunday 24 May 2009


Another sms invitation to lunch.... another wonderful, fun day at Hugh's and now we have quadrupled the size of the original patch of vegetable garden and started planning fruit trees too.



There are certain challenges with this work at Hugh's..... the main one being concrete.... who on earth ever thought this was a good idea? Everything is concrete and all different levels and colours....






and then there are the 50 or so bricks we dug out of the little walled garden in the yard.... which were covered with about 4" of soil.... so gardening always starts with demolition.... I love Hugh's gardening outfit too....




We pulled up some more concrete and doubled the size of the herb bed. We planted some parsley I had dug up from my garden and we sowed chervil, chives, rocket, dill and carrots. The rate of growth in Hugh's patch is quite unbelievable. Look at the coriander in the front of this photo....he uses it constantly and these herbs have even graced the plates of diners at Martinha's restaurant and they just keep on growing. One month after planting tiny mizuna seedlings, he said they were too big and overgrowing the lettuce so we removed 2 and put them in a pot which he gave to me and I have just remembered I left it behind! The trimmings went into the salad for lunch....

Thankfully the food is excellent at Hugh's ......well it should be.... he is learning to be a chef!

image image image image
A big bowl of salad leaves, all from the garden What is left of my perfect latte Beetroot crisps... thinly sliced beetroot, baked until crisp....that's it....pure flavour!  

I have no idea why Live Writer won't let me write in the last box under the photo but it is of the dish Hugh has been perfecting at Martinha's.... rabbit and pistachio sausage.... and luckily he brought home the leftovers for our lunch. It is now THE most divine creation and oh so succulent.... I ate FAR too much of it.... this deserves a much better name than sausage!

By the time we had finished remaking the walled garden and planting the broccoli, lettuce and beetroot seedlings it was completely dark.... No doubt Hugh is out there now, sweeping and tidying it all and probably the seeds have sprouted already! This light drizzle will be doing wonders for settling everything in.



Hugh recently received an award for "Outstanding Professionalism" in his chef's course.....well.... a mother is allowed to brag!


image A few weeks ago I received an email from someone called Susan, asking me if I could offer any advice about starting a vegetable garden and getting a bit of a handle of doing things more sustainably. Well, some would say it is dangerous to ask me for advice because it is something I have plenty of and I shouldn't be encouraged to give it too often! However, Susan didn't know this and having more advice than could reasonably be written in a thousand emails, I offered to go and visit her and see what we could come up with together.

What I discovered was a wonderful blank slate..... a back yard unadulterated with anything much except a couple of sheds, a bit of concrete, some kikuyu grass..... and a couple of dogs, one being a visitor. Susan started the whole operation as if she knew me well..... by offering me a really good cup of coffee, made to measure.

image We went outside and dug around a bit in the soil, talked about what she knew and what she hoped to achieve. Susan has plenty of enthusiasm and lots of energy and it was so lovely to think of the years she has ahead of her and all the things she will learn and grow to love..... and hate.... about her garden. I gave her some seeds to get her started because there is nothing better than getting on with things as soon as you can. She sent me an email a couple of days later and said she had sowed some of the seeds already, in a little seed-raising tray someone had given her ages ago which had still been in its wrapper when I saw it!

We drew up a bit of a sketch and I jotted down some ideas. I love seeing people start gardening for the first time. I am so happy to help ensure some success and careful not to swamp them with details that will put them off while trying to give enough advice to be useful. I am no expert but I have learned a few things over the years that I hope will help Susan make the most of her patch.

image I recommended a book to Susan, that removes the uncertainty of where and how to begin. It is by Jackie French and was written maybe 20 years ago and called "Towards Backyard Self-sufficiency".... I think! She says, to get started clear a patch 3m square. Dig it over a bit, rake it smoothish. Buy a few seed packets of your favourite vegetables and sprinkle them liberally over the patch of soil. Sprinkle over some more soil, press it down and water in. Keep damp and see what happens. This is a wonderful way to discover for yourself quite a lot of things to help you in the future, without worrying at all about what "the experts" say. I once read that an "ex" is a has-been and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure..... so the advice of experts should be taken as advice (or not taken at all) and not as set of rules!

Susan, I wish you a bountiful harvest and many happy years in what will soon be your garden. And I hope that when you are 50, like me, you will be lucky enough to be asked to help someone else get started on the road towards backyard self-sufficiency.

Thursday 21 May 2009


The other night I put a photo here on the blog, of the night view from my place. Here are 2 more.

image image


So you can see that normally we get a very clear view of the northern and western suburbs of Adelaide.... but on Sunday the clouds hung low over the city and at times they were drifting upwards, as though they were the smoke from enormous fires and then gradually they would almost clear before they reassembled and swept across from the sea again. These photos were all taken looking the same way and are what I see as I sit here at my desk. Autumn and winter provide the most dramatic skies here in Adelaide.


image image

Wednesday 20 May 2009


The blurb at the top of the side-bar of this blog says:

Follow the journey of 57 seedsavers in pursuit of peace and passion in the vegetables gardens of South Australia. When you dream alone it is just a dream, when you dream with others it is the beginning of reality.

image .... and today we found the reality and shared the peace and passion when 20 or so of us gathered at Fern Ave Community Garden. It is hard to believe that we are not all old friends and that some we only met for the first time today, because we have a common sense of camaraderie, a love of giving and sharing and a deep connection with the earth and growing food.

The table outside was laden with seedlings and quinces and beets and chicory and watercress and seeds and so much stuff it overflowed onto the ground.... and all of it had a story, as told by the person who brought each item, which is a core part of our gatherings..... the telling of the story is as important as the item itself.

image It is one thing to buy a punnet of seedlings from a shop but it is quite another to take home a couple of tiny paper parcels of soil, holding the seedling raised by a friend, from seeds of a plant she or he grew themselves and wants to share with you. And that person has held them in their hands and told their story to all of us then placed them on the table and gradually all the items on the table come to life and are no longer simply things but also gain a soul.

When I look around my whole garden and all my vegetables, happily growing there, I see that so many have a connection to someone.... Joy's cos lettuce, Kathy's celery, Kath's broccoli, Cath's yellow cornos capsicums and so on.... and this is what makes a group like our seedsavers group priceless and special.

image The table inside was laden with food, some made with home-grown ingredients but all home made. I can never believe there can be such variety when we do this and that it can all be so delicious and the food has stories too but we tend to just hoe in and ask questions later.... seeking out the person who cooked the tamarillo tartlets or the lemon cake or the humous to get the recipe.




It was a lovely, mild autumn day so we sat outside near the pizza oven...and the community garden just looked a picture. There are more photos here.

Tuesday 19 May 2009


As many of our Seedsavers attend the Rare Fruit Society of South Australia here is a reminder.

Tonight, May  19th, 7.45pm Burnside Community Centre Hall

The Speaker is  Robert Brew
The Topic is Heritage Apples
Supper will be Fruits in Season YUM!


Hills and Plains Seedsavers Meeting:

Tomorrow, Wednesday May 20th, 1pm Fern Ave Community Garden, Fullarton


Members and friends only.

We usually meet after one of Diana's gardening course sessions.
We shall invite Diana's new gardening group to join us at that time.

Please bring a contribution to afternoon tea and any seeds, produce and plants you would like to share.

See you there.

Monday 18 May 2009


When it comes down to it, the pleasure you get from gardening partly depends on your tools. It is a delight to slice vertically through the soil to make a sharp edge if you have a nice, light, sharp spade but a dreadful chore if you have big, heavy, blunt one. Loosening a bed of soil is so easy with a good, strong fork with tines that aren't going to bend and a handle strong enough to lever on. Even carrying around a pair of secateurs in your back pocket can be difficult if your pants pockets are too shallow and if you don't have a ho-mi, I don't know how you get by at all. Here are my cannot-do-without gardening tools and why I love them.

image My bag holds all the small things I might need for any job at all, including  tools like a shifting spanner, screwdriver, heavy mallet, string, labels, watering nozzle, bits of irrigation fittings, and actual  gardening tools.
image This pen is UV resistant and will not fade so labels stay legible for years.
image Brass hose fittings like this one are a lifetime investment. I have had these particular fittings forever and they never leak or need repair, unlike every single plastic piece I have ever had.
image This was my father's sieve and I use it to sift compost for seed raising. It is ancient but so far has held together well and is very comfortable to use.
image The ho-mi....used for weeding, drilling lines for sowing, anything and everything as it is strong, well made, has a curved side and a straight side as well as a sharp point.
image image My small  spade that I keep sharpened and my fork that has strong tines that never bend. They hang on nails on this post, out of the rain but close at hand every day.
image This solid metal rake has an old handle that is smooth, strong and gets thicker at the end so you can pull on it and it won't slip out of your hand.... they just don't make handles like this any more it seems... especially on wheelbarrows.
image  image The star dropper.... can be hammered in to almost any ground, any time of the year. Hit it as hard as you like and it will not split like wooden stakes and will never break either. I have about 40 of them and rarely is one out of use.

Sunday 17 May 2009


This morning I went to the Showgrounds Farmers' Market, hoping to get some more seedlings from Diana, for Hugh, but also with photography in mind. Of course as soon as I arrived it started to pour with rain. Now don't get me wrong, one should never ever complain about rain in this part of the world, but it does tend to make outdoor photography a little difficult, to say the least. So, I put my camera in my blue trolley to keep it dry and went and talked to Diana, while she wasn't busy, and to get the seedlings, knowing she had a very big tent over her stall and I would find shelter there. Still it rained and rained.... what was that thing about a drought we were having?

Being ever the optimist, I didn't take a jacket or an umbrella because everyone knows it only ever rains for 5 minutes at a time in Adelaide..... except today. So I finished my shopping, avoiding standing under the edges of those shelters that would sag under the weight of the rain and pour water down your neck if you were in the wrong place! Still the rain persisted and it was going to be a long, wet walk back to the car..... and then I saw the photos I had been missing all along..... umbrellas.... everywhere and every shape and colour....



By the time I had taken a few photos guess what...... the rain stopped! Can you believe it? Everyone started folding up their umbrellas and I wanted to shout "NO!..... I haven't finished yet!" Photography is sometimes like soon as you notice something it is gone..... but when you go looking for something there is nothing there. So here are a few of the photos..... click here for more.



Each time I took a photo, I thought of a caption.... it gets serious when your whole life is a series of photo captions and blog posts! But see if you can match these captions with the photos...

  • busy lives, busy clothes, busy umbrella
  • oh, I had no idea my boyfriend's umbrella was SOOOO huge
  • I must get a new, pretty umbrella like all these other women.... mine is so floppy and boring
  • obviously not from dry Adelaide, some people had the perfect umbrella for market shopping
  • oops... sorry about your eye!
  • the Aussie winter look.... umbrella with thongs
  • why did I say I would wait outside for my wife?
  • Laura Ashley blouse and almost matching umbrella.... shopping with maturity and class
  • I'll leave my umbrella upside down in front of the stall so nobody else can get in
  • so there are all the foam boxes Kate is always going on about!

Wednesday 13 May 2009


imageThe second Sunday in May is Mothers' Day here in Australia and that was last Sunday. Hugh invited me down to his house near the beach for lunch and on the way I called in on my own mother, of course.

While Hugh was preparing lunch I nipped outside to check on the vegetables we planted on the 20th of April..... when they looked like this....




Now it looks like this! I could not believe it! In just 23 days there were now lettuce and mizuna leaves that could be picked for a salad..... and the beetroot and kale were growing just as fast.

He tells me that the bloke who uses the rest of the garden for vegetables is moving out so Hugh will be able to plant another batch of seedlings soon.





I have such trouble growing thyme but Hugh's is the biggest thyme "bush" I have ever seen and it started out sooooo tiny and weak. And the coriander in the foreground I thought might not survive the few hot days we had just after we planted it but now has enough leaves to start picking!




Here is Hugh weeding his patch.... he even sweeps the path around the beds..... obviously he didn't get that tidy gene from me!

We sat outside for a while, on chairs set up between the vegetable bed and the herb bed and agreed.....

Life is good... get there fast and then take it slow...




But Hugh is not just a pretty face! He made fabulous rosemary pastry and cooked this beef pie which I unashamedly will say was the best I have ever tasted. Hugh kindly gave me the leftovers but then said.... please give it to the other granma..... who I was going to see later in the afternoon!

Thanks for a great meal and a lovely time, Hugh.

Monday 11 May 2009


I turned on Windows Live Writer to make a post on the blog about Mothers' day and this and that and put on a few photos and do the regular thing.... probably quite boring and predictable. I had too many tabs going and decided it was time to tidy them up before I started to write. In the process of adding a new blog link, I saw Stories from Zambia.... a blog I haven't looked at for a while and Thulasy has a link to a TED talk by Ken Robinson.... NO.... DON"T go away..... please.... It is a humorous, intelligent and fascinating talk.

Take a few minutes and.... you will enjoy it immensely, I guarantee it. Listen right to the end.....Then you can read on.....

When I was at school, about 30 million years ago, the word creativity had to be left at the front gate and anyone daring to sneak in with some in their pocket was promptly sent to see the head mistress. I once wore the wrong gloves to school in winter.... well I was under the misapprehension that the gloves were for warmth, so I wore woollen ones instead of cotton ones..... and it cost me 5c a day to hire the "correct" ones until I got a pair of my own!

I was a model student apart from this little error.... from the age of 5 until I turned 16 when I began to question the rules and the teachers and the whole school system and did myself out of the job of school prefect for my audacity to dare think for myself. Progressively over the next 34 years I have become more and more rebellious and creative so maybe Ken Robinson is not entirely correct in his conclusions.

When my own children went to Linden Park School, however, some teachers were actually encouraging thinking skills and using de Bono's coloured hats as teaching aids. Both my boys were lucky enough to spend the first 2 years at school with a particular teacher who, even now, Alex refers to as the person who taught him to think..... hey, I thought that was me.... oh well.

As they grew up, I was also growing up and together creative thinking evolved into an art form. Quirky, off-beat, irregular, irreverent, inside out, upside down philosophical discussions were part of every day and the thing I miss most now they are no longer living at home and their wonderful, crazy friends, for some reason, don't come and visit any more!

One simple thought I hoped to inspire in the boys is that there is always a solution. Always. Creative thinking will lead you there. You just have to search every corner and turn over every stone and be open to all possibilities in order to find it and when you do, just go for it and don't be scared of change.

Thursday 7 May 2009



In the latest Kitchen Gardeners International newsletter, Roger D. is initiating another innovative challenge, after the success of the Eat the View campaign which succeeded in getting the Obamas to start an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn.....

..... I am happy to announce our next little campaign: "Food Independence Day." .....   This coming July 4th holiday, we're asking America's 50 governors and first families to declare their food independence by sourcing the ingredients of their holiday meals as locally, deliciously and sustainably as possible.   To spur them on, we've set up a petition (here for Facebook users and here for everyone else) where you can add your own John Hancock. We've also got a shiny new widget which you can add to your blog or social network or e-mail to your e-mail contacts (hotmail, gmail, yahoo, aol, etc.)  As with our Eat the View campaign, the success of this effort will depend on the number of people we can rally to the cause, so please shout it from the rooftops.

Mindful of avoiding a US-centric view of the world,  I'd like to invite our gardening friends from other countries to embrace the idea of Food Independence Day in their own ways and according to their own timetable. Below are some of the countries celebrating their own independence day holidays between now and the end of July.

May 15: Paraguay
May 20: East Timor
May 25: Jordan, Montenegro
May 26: Guyana
June 12: Philippines
June 17: Iceland
June 25: Mozambique
June 26: Madagascar
June 30: Democratic Republic of the Congo
July 1: Berundi, Rwanda
July 3: Belarus
July 5: Algeria, Cape Verde Islands, Venezuela
July 7: Solomon Islands
July 6: Malawi
July 9: Argentina
July 12: São Tomé and Príncipe
July 21: Belgium
July 28: Peru
July 30: Vanuatu

While the dates and places are different, the struggle for independence, political and edible, is universal, so let's join one another in solidarity and savor our independence this spring and summer!

Roger Doiron

PS: Do you have a comment on Food Independence Day, this newsletter, or anything else? You can do so on my profile page. That's what our social network is for!

Wednesday 6 May 2009


I subscribe to the free e newsletter called Eco eNews. Here is a snippet from the May edition today...

TWO leading Australian companies will join forces and build Australia’s largest solar power system at the Adelaide Showgrounds.
Australia’s largest solar photovoltaic power system will be designed and installed by an alliance partnership between National building and engineering company, Built Environs and Solar Shop Australia, a National provider of grid connect solar systems.

The 1MegaWatt (MW) rooftop solar system will be installed over six separate buildings at the Adelaide Showgrounds and is approximately two and a half times the size of the Singleton Solar Power Station in NSW, which surprisingly has remained Australia’s largest solar system for the last 11 years.
Once completed, the solar system is expected to produce approximately 1435 MWh of electricity annually which is enough energy to power over 230 households.
In addition it will prevent the release of 1500 tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere annually and is the equivalent of taking 450 cars off Australian roads......

Monday 4 May 2009


May the fourth be with you.....hahaha.....

Here is May 4th at my place a few minutes ago....outside from the balcony and inside, by the fire....



Saturday 2 May 2009


There are so many people now wanting to start growing some vegetables and fruit and herbs for themselves. They pop up everywhere we go and often people send me an email via the blog, asking for advice and help and tips on this and that. I love it because I get to help people get started or solve some problem or just direct them to the seed companies we have in the side bar etc. I love it because it means this blog is doing something useful and sometimes they join our group, which now has 50 members. I love it because it makes connections and develops friendships and this is good for the soul. Last week it was fellow seed saver Lou from Albury who called in and soon Linda from Victoria via KGI is coming to Adelaide, to name 2 recent connections.

All this shows that there is so much more to growing food than growing food! The simple acts of sowing seeds and later harvesting something for dinner, give so much more to us than it takes in time. Apart from all the learning involved, you get to see and feel real life, from those tiny insects you may go hunting for, that are eating your broccoli leaves to the pleasure of raking to a fine tilth a rich, black compost ready for sowing. Suddenly, you are aware of every drop of rain falling or not falling on your seed beds! You are out early on summer mornings judging if the day is going to be too hot to uncover your baby seedlings and let the sun help them grow. And covering them in winter to keep off the chilly night air.

You start to notice the phases of the moon and wonder what all this means for your plants. Daily thoughts turn to eating from what is in your garden and you begin to understand about the seasons and what will grow when. Conversations with friends and family and neighbours change and begin to include topics such as what to do with 25kg of zuccinis and did you watch Gardening Australia last week and what do you think of the new compere and even when shall we go on holidays that will be best for our vegetable garden! I hate going away between Christmas and New Year because that is when my mother's apricots are ripe.

If you are like me, you will prefer to spend money buying good gardening boots and new secateurs than hand bags and high heels. You will begin to get to know which roads in the hills are likely to have bags of horse or sheep or cow or chicken manure out for sale on the weekends, and try to remember to take the trailer to avoid the rest of the family complaining about the smell on the way home! You start reading gardening magazines and swapping vegetable-growing stories with shop assistants.

Your interests spread into nutrition and you wonder if it is OK for your children to eat a bucket of figs or grapes or capsicums when once you may have worried they never ate any! You gather books on preserving and scan garage sales for suitable bottling jars and drying machines. Thoughts turn solar and you may have a green epiphany like Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin, which changes your outlook on what's important in life and maybe, like Gavin and lots of the rest of us, you might start a blog to write down what you feel and think and have discovered.

Once you have a blog or join a seedsavers group or start talking to your neighbours or make connections through schools etc you feel the links strengthen , like the links in a chain, joining together all the knowledge and wisdom of thousands of generations of food growing families.

By now your children will have grown up and the greatest thing of all happens; they want to start a vegetable garden and wish they had taken notice when they lived at home. But that's what you are for and you gladly drive to the other side of the city to help because you know what it will mean to their soul, to grow food.

And as you increase how much time you spend living in the real world, you realise that your life has indeed become rich; rich beyond your wildest dreams and that with dirt under your nails, a healthy glow on your cheeks, and friends all over the world you are finally satisfied. That is what else there is to growing food; satisfaction and a sense of worth.