Sunday 31 January 2010


This post will stay at the top of this blog until 31/01/10 so please scroll down for new posts.

image Dear readers and friends,

I am sitting here inside on this very hot summer's day in Adelaide, wishing I was somewhere else. I was thinking about my fabulous Voyage of the Vegetable Vagabond in 2008 and about my nearly 6 months in France in 2009 and I had an idea for 2010.... you know me, full of ideas and some of them are even good!

I would love to house-sit for people with vegetable gardens and pets or other animals like chickens and goats. It seems Australians are welcome almost anywhere for 3 months without a visa, so that's the length of time I would be available for, except in France where I have a longer visa which expires at the end of July, and in the UK, where I can live, and of course in Australia, which is my home. I speak some French and Japanese, a very little Italian.... and a smattering of English!

I'd just need to borrow a car, depending on where you live, and have wifi. That's about it. I want to finish writing my book..... I'd come and look after everything for you, as if it were my own. And I especially would be happy to work in your vegetable garden for you. I have joined MindMyHouse but I thought I could short cut the red tape by sending my plea out into blogland, where people more or less know me, and see what happens.

I am busy until mid-February, house-sitting for a friend in Tasmania.... then I am kind of free for a while (it is a long story which some of you kind of know about...). So, wherever you are in the world, if you have been thinking of going away but have no-one to care for your garden and animals and home, maybe this would be a good chance to make some plans. Ask your friends and email this post to people who might be interested....anywhere.

Please send an email to katevag at

See you soon,



Tim Flannery is an Australian scientist, explorer and writer. Even so, there doesn't seem to be a single website that does justice to the whole man. He was Chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Change Council and must have been very disappointed by its outcomes. I would like very much to read his account of it all.

As an author he fits more into every sentence than any other writer! That is why I am only reading the second page of his book "Throwim Way Leg" and already have discovered some extraordinary things about geography, history, culture and cloves..... yes cloves, the spice we all know so well. (In France we finally discovered the French name for it was clous de giroffles..... or giraffes' claws! When you think about it, I guess cloves could refer to cloven ie clawed, in English.... I wish we had thought of that when we were standing at the spice section of the supermarket in France!)

Anyway, back to the book..... It seems that this funny, prickly little fellow (the clove..... NOT Tim Flannery!) is the dried flower bud of a lilly pilly that only grows on islands just to the west of New Guinea. The ancient Romans flavoured their food with cloves which must have come from those remote islands.... amazing.

And did you know that they have kangaroos in New Guinea, only they live in trees! And that nine thousand years ago New Guineans living high in the mountain valleys had already developed intensive agriculture where they grew sugar cane.... amongst other things. Even today there are no roads connecting the country because it is so rugged and, because they have no pack animals, walking is often still the norm.  One sixth (about 1,000) of the world's languages are from New Guinea because of the isolation of the peoples.

Tim Flannery's book "The Future Eaters" I would put up as one of the best books ever written on human civilisation and how it is eating itself into oblivion. This was written way before climate change and carbon credits and water issues were in the public mind and certainly started me thinking seriously about how I, as a human, fit into this planet. Then there was "The Weather Makers" which was a very early publication on climate change and what it means. He write so well, so clearly and fills the pages with such fascinating and inspiring images that you could never find them dry or boring. Neither does he speak down to you though, nor make silly, frivolous comments..... unlike me, I am afraid! His books are all listed and discussed here.

Now I am up to page 3....

Thursday 28 January 2010

Saving, Storing and Growing Heirloom Seeds

Like everything else in life everyone has their own way of doing things.

People often ask me about saving seeds so when I found these videos I thought I would put them on the blog and see what comments we get.

Thanks to these folks who made these videos for us to enjoy.


Why you should avoid eating anything raised in a monoculture.... animal or vegetable

This link was sent to me by Jan Maes, KGI Board Member

Jamie Harvie, PE, is executive director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future, a Duluth, Minnesota,-based not-for-profit research and consulting organization. He is a nationally recognized mercury-reduction expert who provides consulting on toxics reduction both nationally and internationally. His clients included the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, City and County of San Francisco, and the Chinese Environmental Protection Agency.

......Animal feedlot operations may be considered industrialized protein production
facilities. They epitomize the extreme of our industrialized food system. These operations confine large quantities of livestock to a closed area where all food and water inputs are carefully controlled.

A wide variety of feed additives are provided, including growth hormones,antibiotics in feed and water, and arsenic. Arsenic, though banned in European livestock production, is used domestically as a growth promoter to compensate for poor growing conditions and for pigmentation.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 70 percent of the 8.7 billion broiler chickens produced annually are fed arsenic (Wallinga 2006a). In a recent study, 55 percent of raw, supermarket chicken contained detectable arsenic, and nearly 75 percent of breasts, thighs, and livers from conventional producers carried detectable arsenic (Wallinga 2006a). Arsenic causes cancer and contributes to other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and decreased intellectual function. Even low exposures to this type of serious toxin are generally presumed to be risky (Wallinga, 2006b).

In many areas of the US, groundwater used for drinking water may be naturally high in arsenic. The application of arsenic-laden manure further contributes to this drinking-water concern (Christen 2006).

Since 1972, there has been a tripling of counties that have more that 55 percent of their plantings in corn and soybeans (Porter, Russelle, and Finley 2000). Corn and soybeans are two of the most overproduced crops. Twenty-five percent of all US farmland—80 million acres—now grows corn (Christensen 2002).

...Petroleum-derived nitrogen and other fertilizers must be added to soils. Poor nitrogen retention by corn and soy rotation results in contaminated surface waters that migrate to the Gulf of Mexico, where nitrogen creates massive annual algae blooms. These blooms metabolize all available oxygen, leaving a 20,000 square kilometer dead zone in the Gulf

Environmental exposures are widespread. For example, concentrations of atrazine, alachlor, and broadleaf pesticide 2,4-D in rainwater have been reported to exceed the safe drinking-water standards (Gilliom, Alley, and Gurtz 1995). A 1994 study estimated that 14.1 million Americans drank water contaminated with the pesticides atrazine, cyanazine, simazine, alachlor, and metolachlor (Wiles et al. 1994).

Extensive herbicide use in agricultural areas (accounting for about 70 percent of total national use of pesticides) has resulted in widespread contamination of herbicides in agricultural streams and shallow ground water. The chance of finding agricultural weed killers in house dust increases by 6 percent for every 10 acres of cropland found within a roughly 800-yard perimeter of a house (Raloff 2006). Farm-worker and community exposures are another concern. Use of agricultural chemicals known to cause cancer in California increased 127 percent from 1991 to 1998.


All this doom and gloom though is part of an excellent article about why it is no good going on treating illnesses while their causes are ignored.


Jamie Harvie, PE

Paper presented by The Center for Health Design® and
Health Care Without Harm at a conference sponsored by
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, September 2006.

Read more here....





If like me you are lucky enough to be able to go outside and pick vegetables, like these delicious beans, straight from your own garden, then thank goodness you can eat tonight without wondering if your food is related to this article!


ps Erica's dog LOVES beans and fruit straight off the plants.... he even climbs trees to pick apricots!

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Australia day...what's it all about?


imageAlmost everywhere in the world has its traditional ways of celebrating national days. Certain clothes are worn, meaningful songs are sung, parades are held, dances danced and food eaten, just like their forefathers did way back, sometimes thousands of years ago. They hold their heads high, with heritage running in their veins. And so it goes on forever.image

In Australia there is nothing more Australian than not really knowing what Australia Day is for! Is it to do with our white history...well, I don't think so but some people evidently do..... Is it about being multi-cultural or is it about doing Australian things, like having a BBQ and eating kangaroo or maybe lamb, since "Australia rides on the sheep's back" used to be on everyone's bumper bar! Is it about deep and meaningful stuff at all?? Should we sing "Walzing Mathilda" or something by Johnny Farham or The Cat Empire? Does anyone really care what it's about?




To me it should go back to being the long weekend nearest January 26th so everyone can go away for a long weekend of sun and sand and sea. THAT is what being Australian represents..... freedom to do what you like, space to do it in and a whole bunch of nice people to do it with. No rules, no fixed plans.... just a long weekend away before the end of the school holidays.


Get there fast and then take it slow!

You know you’re Australian when…

  • Your veg garden is covered in shade cloth most of the time.
  • You use kangaroo mince to make spaghetti bolognese.
  • You like tomato sauce on your stir fry.
  • You say "overseas" and not "abroad".
  • You know the difference between thongs and a G-string.
  • You know that “stubbies” are either short shorts or small beer bottles, a “geezer” is a random idiot, someone in trouble is in “strife” and you’re liable to burst out laughing whenever you hear of Americans “rooting” for something.
  • You know how to abbreviate every word, all of which usually end in -o: arvo, combo, garbo, kero, , metho, milko, muso, rego, servo, smoko, speedo, righto etc.
  • You know that some ppl pronounce Australia like “Strayla” and that’s ok.
  • You know that there is a universal place called “woop woop” located in the middle of nowhere… no matter where you actually are.
  • You know that while we call our friends ‘mates’, we don’t use terms like ’sheila’ and ’shrimp on the barbie’, contrary to popular belief.
  • You’ve seen Gallipoli, Crocodile Dundee, Young Einstein, Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle, Beneath Clouds, Strictly Ballroom, 40,000 Horsemen, and maybe even WolfCreek.
  • It makes you happy when someone in Hollywood is actually Australian… Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Baz Luhrman, Elle MacPherson, Olivia Newton-John, Midnight Oil, ACDC, INXS, Greg Norman, Cathy Freeman, Dawn Fraser, Pat Rafter, Ian Thorpe…
  • One word: Skippy.
  • You know that Sydney 2000 was one of our proudest moments in history.
  • You drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • You always spend your holidays at the beach, always.
  • You know the first verse to the national anthem, but still don’t know what “girt” means. And you’re ok with that.
  • You say ‘no worries’ quite often, whether you realise it or not
  • You’ve drank your tea/coffee/milo through a Tim Tam
  • You firmly believe that in the end, everything will be ok and have offered advice that included the words, “she’ll be right, mate”.
  • You know how to slip, slop, slap like it’s nobody’s business.
  • You know you that roo meat tastes pretty good on the barbie.
  • You know Australia IS the best bloody place on earth.

What is happening in your garden this 2010 Australia Day?

I thought it might be interesting to see what is happening in everyone's garden on this day  the 26th of January 2010.

It is summer in Australia so we are picking some cucumbers, a few zucchini and lots of herbs and wild rocket.

Our tomatoes and passionfruit are not ripe yet.

We have some lovely chillies and a few finger eggplant but no capsicums yet.

What are you harvesting in Auss or wherever you live?

Jane from Kapunda Garden Blog said her garden looked like a Bedouin tent, this photo shows how we  shade our Adelaide Plains veggie garden on really hot days.

Have a great holiday today.


Monday 25 January 2010

Greetings from Michel and Jude – Byron Bay Seedsavers

News from Michel and Jude, the people behind the 24 year old Seed Savers’ Network based in Byron Bay, Australia. We are now on a working sabbatical in Malaysia, after two months in Rajasthan, India, and some weeks on a speaking tour in Japan. 

Love food gardens? See our perceptions of food plant diversity and food issues, as short pieces, pictures and film clips at We continue to take footage for a third documentary, after the success of “Our Seeds”(have you seen the trailer on our website?). A second, “Our Roots”, was shot in Vanuatu for French CIRAD, is now in post-production and due out in March this year.

The Seed Savers Foundation is a registered charity that fosters fruit and vegetable seed exchanges in twenty countries. It manages eighty local seed networks around Australia - see Google map at

We would be tickled pink to receive emails from Seed Savers' friends, fans and supporters and be part of your dreams and realisations. This month you will receive news from wherever we travel, now in the equatorial forests of the Cameron Highlands Malaysia, the home of a cornucopia of fruits and, importantly, the Orang Asli, the original forest people. The highlands are the vegetable basket for Singapore and lowland Malaysia, even Japan.

All the best for 2010.

Thursday 21 January 2010



I have sat here with my fingers hovering over the keys for several minutes, wondering where to start describing what I have seen and experienced in the first few days of my stay in Hobart, Tasmania...... This photo is of Erica and I on a walk around the lake at Mt. Field in the cold drizzle, the mist blowing in and out of the valley and down the mountain again, totally engrossed in the beauty of the mosses and lichens, the pencil pines and pandanus, and the Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf bushes in their natural habitat. Earlier we were in a deep, damp valley filled with thousands of tree ferns under a thin canopy of tall trees reaching to the sky. Platypus and trout live in the crystal clear streams while tiny wrens and other birds fill the air with song.

This is the paradise I had almost forgotten existed, where people become insignificant and humbled by the wonder of nature.... but you'd better check your feet for leeches when you take your shoes off! And the Kurrajongs greet you in the carpark!

While it is 40C in Adelaide, try and think of a good reason why you are not here too!


image image image image


imageAnother day we drove up the Huon Valley, stopping here and there to buy cherries and nectarines and apricots from roadside stalls. But life is not all fun here, as logging of old-growth forests is still going on and trucks laden with the trunks of massive trees thunder down the main street of Huonville.

We were intrigued by this sign, also in Huonville .... Follow path to the book shop.... so we did and found a magical little green garden room filled to overflowing with second hand books. It was a challenge to remove any book from a pile lest the whole lot cascade to the floor! Somehow all 4 of us came out laden and excited with what we had found. My favourite is called "A Wild Herb Soup... The life of a French countrywoman" written originally in French by Emilie Carles who lived in alpine south eastern France in the early 1900's. My version is in tiny English print.

image image image

I am so lucky to be staying with my very good friend Erica, her husband Brian and delightful daughters Kristy and Emma. Two more welcoming and friendly teenage girls you could not meet. Emma was not with us the day we found the bookshop, but below is a photo of her magnificent gingerbread house creation. The other girl in the doorway of the bookshop is Jean, a lovely friend of Kristy's.

Emma ...

This little weatherboard house on 1 acre, with a creek and fertile soil, could be my next home!

Beautiful location.... at Cygnet, south of Hobart.






Seeing the Tasmanian mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) growing in the wild was so exciting. It is one of my favourite native herbs and it takes a lot of care to grow it in Adelaide. In this wild, cold and windy environment its pungency fills the air as you brush past it.


See more photos here.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

FROM PLAINS TO PLATE, 10 to 13 February 2010

Program for the future of food in SA released


The program for the South Australian Food Convergence, From Plains to Plate: the Future of Food in South Australia is released today. To be held at Uni SA’s City West Campus from 10-13 February 2010, From Plains to Plate will bring together community, business and government to strengthen South Australia’s food systems in the face of intensifying environmental, social and economic challenges.

“With climate change, water scarcity and the possible peaking of world oil supplies, there are serious questions being asked about the environmental sustainability of our highly industrialised food and agriculture system,” said event coordinator Joel Catchlove.

“Questions about the sustainability of our food system are matched by questions of justice, fairness and health, as we see that more than a billion people worldwide now go hungry while in our own communities we see increasing incidence of diet-related illnesses,” said Mr. Catchlove.

From Plains to Plate provides a crucial opportunity to explore these questions and to work together to build a just and sustainable food system,” Mr. Catchlove said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Hugh's tomatoes, mostly

I guess there are a couple of good things about Hugh's garden being so incredibly windy and one of them is that no fungus could ever land here! Someone, probably me, needs to write down what does and does not like growing in windy places in our Mediterranean climate. Beans don't seem to like it at all and the poor zuccini plants are struggling to just stay put but the tomatoes are quite happy, having developed very strong trunks and limbs in order to survive their tall growth habits. Hugh is of the mind that says let them tough it out, don't pander to your plants.... and in his garden anything not able to thrive in the conditions is pulled up and thrown in the compost bin.

image image



Well, it seems to be working because these tomatoes have each set full hands of fruit,  up to 20 per length, as you can see at left, and there is also a bunch of more than 50, in various stages of ripeness, below.









The Tigerellas are doing really well too... in fact all except the roma are.... and guess where the roma is now! It has made way for more basil and  capsicums! Hugh grows herbs densely between and even under the tomatoes and it is so nice to be able to go out and pick such a variety of fresh herbs for a meal. He prunes off all the lower leaves of the tomatoes to keep them away from the soil, to reduce any diseases. We are also daily picking and cooking the bigger leaves of the amaranth, adding them to soups, vegetable combo dishes and pasta.

The amaranth is now nearly head high. It is not too late to sow amaranth... please, if you are in the southern hemisphere, sow it now and enjoy eating the leaves right through late summer and autumn, and then you will be rewarded with long flowing tassels of brilliantly coloured flowers followed by seeds.






We put the amaranth in the middle of the salad garden so it would shade the soft thing, like lettuce and the new leaves of the rainbow chard, during the heat of the day and this works well as amaranth, like okra, loves the heat.

One of the sunflowers has found something to rest on when it is windy ... the end of the clothes line.





All this talk of food made me realise it was lunch time so I had a plate of left-over vegetables, plus a bit of this crocodile pate, made here in Adelaide from crocodiles farmed in the Northern Territory. It is more delicious than you can imagine and much lighter than pate made from livers.

Now I am off to the kitchen to make a banana cake with bananas from northern NSW.... but who can live without bananas? And if Hugh buys crocodile pate, it would an awful waste not to eat it!

Eat local.... mostly.


Monday 18 January 2010


SCUPLITThe idea was to meet Hugh in the market at 10am..... so I waited and waited.... and to pass the time I started looking at things in and around Goodies and Grains, where we were to meet. I was getting hungry but I thought we were going to do our shopping and then have something to eat.... silly me! Eventually Hugh 10.30.... after he had dined on a scrumptious breakfast at Zuma's. Never mind, I was pretty excited by then because I had found 2 packets of Franchi seeds to buy.... one was Lettuce-leaf Basil, which I had tasted once and thought was worth growing, and the other was Scuplit (Silene inflata), which I have never heard of. Today I am going to sow some..... skippity doo. So, thanks Hugh for the mix up!


Silene vulgaris

Cucubalus behen - L.
Silene cucubalus - Wibel.
Silene inflata - Sm.

Plants for a Future: Edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world


Most of Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa and temperate Asia. Arable land, roadsides, grassy slopes etc, avoiding acid soils

 icon of perennial/biennial/annual      Perennial growing to 0.6m.

Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked. The young leaves are sweet and very agreeable in salads. The cooked young shoots, harvested when about 5cm long, have a flavour similar to green peas but with a slight bitterness. This bitterness can be reduced by blanching the shoots as they appear from the ground. When pureed it is said to rival the best spinach purees. The leaves can also be finely chopped and added to salads. The leaves should be used before the plant starts to flower. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity on the linked page.

The plant is said to be emollient and is used in baths or as a fumigant. The juice of the plant is used in the treatment of ophthalmia
Silene vulgaris

This plant is popular in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in northern Italy. It is cooked as spinach, eaten raw in salads or made into ravioli filling with ricotta and parmisan cheese. It tastes really good. In early spring you will see people looking for it on roadsides but it is also cultivated and sold in stores. It is known as scupitin or grisolon

Dr,. Emma Jack Fri Nov 11 2005

This link to Malta Wild Plants is fabulous but takes a while to load so be patient.

Friday 15 January 2010

Nirvana Organic Farm Courses for 2010

I see that Deb has posted the courses she will be running for this year.

Take a look and book in early as some fill really quickly.

Those of us that have done Deb’s courses, highly recommend them.

So if your are planning and writing in your diary  for 2010 as I am , check out below what she is teaching.

 image image


National Winner of the Organic Federation of Australia Awards of Excellence as the leading Organic Educator.



Beyond Organics

Sunday, March 21st & September 19th 8.30am – 4.30pm $110

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. Includes notes, biodynamic preparations, lunch & teas.


Sunday, March 14th & September 5th 9.00 -12.30 $45

Reduce water use by learning the principles of composting & mulching, techniques & materials used & how they can be used most effectively on your garden or farm.



Sunday, March 7th & September 12th 9.00 -12.30 $45

Practical guide to establishing & maintaining a productive & healthy vegetable garden. Our climate offers many opportunities to grow food for your table all year round. Discover what plants to grow, and when. Practical tips & ideas.


Sunday, September 26th 9.00 -12.30 $45

Working with the rhythms of nature can develop your skills in fine tuning your garden and can add a new dimension to your gardening experience.



Sunday, October 10th 9.00 -12.30 pm. $45

Practical guide to growing fruits, nuts & berries. Establishing, maintenance, ground covers, soils.


Sunday October 17th 9.00 – 12 30 $45

All you need to know about getting started with poultry. Includes breed selection, housing, feeding, breeding, pests.


Sunday, October 24th 9am 4pm $110

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.


Book your own tour.



An ideal opportunity to gain an insight into a successfully run biodynamic 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.

Minimum charge $60 for up to 6 persons - extra’s @ $8/ head)

SCHOOLS; Secondary $6 Student with 1 adult/15 student’s   Primary $5 Student with 1 adult/10 students

CLUBS & GROUPS; 15 + @ $7/ head 

All courses are held at                            NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM


UBD 157:G7. Exit from SE Freeway at Stirling, turn right at roundabout & travel 3.5 km.

The courses are practical, ‘hands on’ conducted by experienced biodynamic/organic farmers, Deb & Quentin. Their successful small holding has been run under BIO-DYNAMIC principles since 1983.

The 4.5 ha property provides the ideal classroom filled with practical examples of how goals can be achieved & gives inspiration into this GARDEN QUALITY FARMING to both gardeners & farmers alike.



  • conditions apply
  • To enrol, send this with cheque/money order

    payment to:

    Nirvana Organic Farm

    184 Longwood Road

    Heathfield 5153


Wednesday 13 January 2010


Often people ask me what is my favourite gardening book. This is a tricky question to answer because, as many readers of this blog would know, I am a little bit outside the square in my ideas and I wonder whether this person means a reference book, like Oriental Vegetables by Joy Larkom, something inspiring for the beginner like Backyard Self-sufficiency by Jackie French or something more meaty like Permaculture One by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

There is, however, a book that is all of these in one.... easy to read, inspiring, philosophical, Australian and full of wonderful ideas and information. It is Beyond Organics, by Helen Cushing. Luckily for us, Helen has just started a blog, called Gardening with Helen. Here is an excerpt from Nasturtiums are like Teenagers.......

If you have nasturtiums in your garden, you will know what I mean when I say they are a plant requiring a relationship with their gardener.

I am a great fan of the nasturtium, but let’s just say they regularly test the friendship. They are a sort of teenage plant – lots of life, energy and beauty, but unsure of their boundaries. Or perhaps more accurately, uninterested in their boundaries....

.....There is another patch by the veggie bed. As an organic gardener and nature conservationist I believe in having a ‘living mulch’, maximising the habitat, protecting the soil, growing biomass etc – I’m sure you know the reasons. But as with teenagers, so with living mulch/nasturtium. The relationship must be interactive to achieve best results. Neglect means loss of influence (otherwise known as control), blurred boundaries, the need for a firm hand at a later date. Recovering the veggie garden from the enthusiasm of nasturtiums is more an act of archaeology than gardening.

She explains in her introduction.....Hope someone likes whatever it is that evolves here – it will be a rambling garden of words, of that you can be sure! Let me know if you enjoy it, and if you have any gardening questions, try me.

Helen is new to the whole blog thing so go and say hello, and leave a comment, she is our new neighbour! I have put a link to her blog in the side bar, under Tasmania.


I would very much like to meet Yasuko, whose blog I read often. It is simply a record of her daily food and tells a story of a way of eating so different to my own and takes me back to the 6 months I spent in Japan in 1979 when I lived entirely on Japanese food and came to love it.... at right is a photo of her New Year dishes and below is an excerpt of what she ate on 07/01/10
BREAKFAST --- rice gruel with seven wild grass | Miso soup - grated lotus root | rolled egg (grated radish) | yuba (wasabi) | natto | apple
gohan | miso soup (pumpkin) | grilled salmon | tofu paste(spinach, lotus root, carrot and konjak) | strawberry and kiwi
BETWEEN-MEALS --- cake | coffee
DINNER --- one-pot dish (Potherb mustard, enoki, shiiake, shimeji, maitake, deep-fried tofu, yuba) |
Sugar flavored kidney beans | sesame puding | various leavings | various pickles
        pray for a perfect state of health.

From an article about a book called:
Cool Tools: Cooking Utensils from the Japanese Kitchen
by Kate Klippensteen
Photographs by Yasuo Konishi.
 This oroshigani (grater) is used almost exclusively to grate wasabi, the pungent yet sweet "horseradish" that complements sushi and other dishes. It consists simply of a piece of shark skin nailed to a natural wood board.
Shark skin has been used in Japan for centuries, most notably in sword grips, and here its rough texture - similar to the coarsest sandpaper - makes for a finer grating surface than metal graters provide.
Many chefs believe that metal is too harsh for grating wasabi; others say the extra pressure needed to grate on sharkskin does a better job of releasing wasabi's volatile flavor.

Ohmicho seafood  market, in Kanazawa, specialises in fish from the nearby Sea of Japan as well as local rivers. There are stalls of vegetables too and ..... in the summertime huge blocks of ice are set up in strategic locations and shoppers can cool off by rubbing their hands on them.
Read more : Tokyo Food Page

Tea is grown throughout Japan, but the areas that are most well known for their tea are Shizuoka, Kagoshima, and Uji, all of which have types of tea named after them. Many other locales also have their own distinctive local teas with their devoted enthusiasts.
From a book called:
 New Tastes in Green Tea
by Mutsuko Tokunaga

I absolutely loved Japan and the Japanese people, who took me in and showed me such kindness in my travels. It was very unusual in those days for a foreigner to speak Japanese and many people I met had never even seen a non-Japanese person before, except on TV!!   The beauty of and care taken with Japanese public and private gardens is immense and a part of the Japanese psyche and the Shinto religion, which worships nature, ancestors and the spirit. This respect and reverence for nature, whether in the wild or in the home garden, shone through every Japanese person I met. It gives enormous tranquility to life and drew me again and again to various shrines and gardens.
There is a beautiful series of photos at Tom Spencer's The Soul of the Garden and his Images of Japan

Sunday 10 January 2010

Adelaide today 43 degrees Celsius.


I am up early to water the garden, we have dripper hoses everywhere and I water each bed for a short time.

I shall hand water the patches where we have sown seed.

It is so hot here we have our shade cloth tied up over the whole garden or we would have no garden.

We are eating fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, chillies, rocket, zucchinis, lemons, pepinos, silver beet, purslane, leeks, spring onions, basil and many herbs. We have lots of passion fruit and figs on our vines/trees and planted fenugreek and coriander under the passion fruit vine.

I see that most of the Northern Hemisphere has snow and ice everywhere, stay cool or warm wherever you live.

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

Thank you to Patrick for this link.

UN Secretary General Welcome Message for the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity

We are so lucky here in Australia, in so many ways. In relation to biodiversity and things of natural wonder, much of our country is still in its pristine state and none more so than the Lake Eyre Basin of the inland , which covers 1/6 of Australia, an area about the size of France, Germany and Italy combined. The flood waters in eastern Australia last year have been making their way inland ever since, not out to sea,  and have filled Lake Eyre for the first time in 50 years or more.Thousands of people go to see it; it is like a pilgrimage. It defines Australians. Watching this on TV even, makes me feel something I cannot describe.... 

The ABC screened a documentary on it and it is now on iView. It is worth watching on this hot, dry day in South Australia.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Have you been around the world lately?

This morning I took a tour of some of the blogs we have listed in the side bar, under "Around the World in 80 Blogs".  I am so glad I live in blog-land, and can learn and laugh and wonder at all sorts of things people are doing in their back yards, allotments, window sills, balconies and in their research and handcrafts. Here are just a few, from Ireland, Japan, USA, Zambia, Singapore and Barbados.....


There is Peggy, of the Hydro farm allotment in Blarney, Ireland who is harvesting parsnips, Brussel sprouts, potatoes and one leek! She also has this lovely idea for some pots of flowers, that she calls tumbling pots.

Read more about Peggy :

Organic Growing Pains

Adekun seemed to be pining for parsnip seed to grow in Japan and has produced some edible parsnips at last!

Adekun's Japan Blog


Christa has Brussel sprouts growing under the snow at

Calendula and Concrete




Too few sightings today


I love reading about Zambia and the work that Thulassy and 2 colleagues are doing there...... It really makes you think... a lot.

This is where it starts:

A farmer wakes at daybreak to ready his oxcart for the market.

He pulls his cattle from the crow and leads them into the yoke. He fastens a rope over the sacks of grain that represent a season’s worth of investment – money for seeds and fertilizer, a favourable rainfall, back breaking work to weed and harvest, and a lot of luck.

It’s cold and quiet. In the distance, the sky begins to glow with the rising sun. With a short whistle, he sets off on the first of many rocky miles, anxious for what awaits him at the market.

This is what we’re about:

The three of us work for Engineers Without Borders Canada in Zambia and Malawi, where we’re partnered with local organizations and companies that are working to include small holder farmers in agricultural markets.

This blog is a place for us to ask the question:

What does it take to make this work?

Read more at:  The First Mile


Wilson is a wonderful gardener and writer in Singapore who I was lucky enough to spend a day with in September 2008. He has established a community garden and this food garden is an inspiration to many who live in apartments in Singapore. Here is a little from his latest posts:


Appreciate the beauty of Astonias

.....Besides being valued as handsome trees that profusely produce scented flowers, Alstonia has various other uses. The sap, which contain alkaloids, exuded from the bark of Alstonia has medicinal properties. The rather light timber fromAlstonia is used to make a range of products, from posts, coffins, corks, household utensils, floats to boards. In particular, timber from A. scholaris is used in the past to make writing slates for schools, which gave rise to the species name scholaris.


The Balsam in the Water

Waterlogged areas can be a headache for many gardeners as they can be expensive to improve for growing plants that demand a well-draining location....

....Like Impatiens balsamina, the flowers of Hydrocera trifolia yield a dye and the flowers of the latter are used to prepare a red dye for fingernails which serves as a substitute for henna (Lawsonia inermis). This use is behindHydrocera trifolia’s alternative common name, water henna.

This plant is easy to grow that are suited for growing inside or near the edge of ponds. Although aquatic in growth habit, one can also grow it in a pot of soil that is kept moist at all times. It thrives in semi-shaded areas to locations with full sunshine and can be propagated easily via stem-cuttings or via layering.

Read more at Gardening with Wilson


Barbados.... and the dry season begins.... oh what diverse and wonderful things we can discover from blogs....


Now, this is an excellent use for a swimming pool that may no longer be wanted....


....For those of you who don't know tamarinds it is the most sour of fruits. It is a pod fruit and can be used green and dried. As a child in Trinidad we would eat it with salt and pepper or rolled in sugar into a ball. I used to boil a syrup with it and add spices. It was delicious. In Barbados they would put it in cane syrup in a crock and leave it for several months to a year. That is sooo delicious , my mouth is watering now that has a unique taste and is no longer found.


Visit Barbados and read about the island gal .... I loves to cook for company and adore a fusion of various cuisines. I speak some french with some degree of fluency having studied Pattern making in Paris many many moons ago. I work as a water garden consultant and my husband and I grow water lilies.

Read more at My Rustic Bajan Garden