Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New comers to the seedbank

Ulla from Mareeba brough with her an interesting bootie
These included
Bitter gourd - chinese and japanese varieties
Sugar lime passion fruit
Giant cow pea
Thai long green Eggplant
Pigeon pea
Guar gum bean (as mentioned)
long bean (think it is snake bean)
Madagasgar bean.
Poor mans bean (7 year wonder bean)

These will all be available at the next seedsavers meeting in August.
Ulla keeps meticulous records and every batch of seeds has a number which refers to a page in her folder where all the information about the seed is kept - who grew the seed, its origin, which people took seeds to grow. Ulla commented that her seedsavers group had been going a number of years and all of a sudden there a quite a lot of Italian immigrants bringing in their seeds. We weren't sure why but perhaps for safe keeping for the next generation....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tale of the Guar gum bean

This story is not so much about the Guar gum bean as it is about how i tracked it down.
A lady from Kinglake contacted me through the seedsavers website. She had lost al her seeds in the fires up there and was keen to begin re-establishing her garden and seed collection. She was paticularly looking for beans (especially those for drying) and was quite a collector of bean varieties.  Within a week i had several people send me their lists of seeds from different parts of the country out of the blue. They  had also contacted me through seedsavers. Ulla from Mareeba in North Queensland sent me her extensive list and i was pleased to find a few things i'd like to try. In my reply i mentioned the Guar gum bean. She replied she had never heard of it but would ask her members. Little did i know that her emailing network extended to about 500 people! in her region, through permaculture and other groups. A short time later Ulla emailed with the news that she had found the Guar gum bean through a member and would bring it with her to Alice Springs while she was visiting for the beanie festival. Now the Guar gum bean is a pretty obscure member - which makes it all the more amazing that we found it so quickly. Big pat on the back for seedsavers network - Yay!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Loving that Coriander.

Coriander is a herb that we love to grow, and have done so from seed ever since we arrived in Alice. I saved a large jar of it last year , which we have subsequently packaged up and sold at seed stalls. But we do sometimes find ourselves not using our fresh coriander. i pick a big bunch and it sits in a vase - and i get sort of annoyed and pace around.
But i have a fabulous solution to using coriander and preserving its freshness and flavour.
We make a sort of Laksa come curry paste using:
lots of garlic
and ginger
2 onions
large bunch of coriander
vegetable oil
lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves or lemon rhind
pepper and salt.
chili optional

You can use it as a curry paste, add some shrimp past and fish sauce and make your laska (coconut cream of course) and even as a pizza base for a seafood pizza. You can add sugar and more chilies and make a chili jam - Jamie Oliver has a good recipe.
(this paste freezes well)

Other News afoot is that  the Vege garden comapnion is being revised and expanded and should once again be in print. It is planned that this new version will cover fruit trees and maybe even the chooky side of the back yard.

Big planting weekend this weekend as David came around with a suite of perennial edibles and medicinal plants that he had received from a seed company. Many i had never heard of but i was able to look them up on the "plants for a future" database. The website is definately worth a look although i don't think i have mastered the search function yet. I did find out that it was just as well we planted these seeds in winter as some of the plants benefited from cold stratification before the warm growing period. Some of the plants also may take quite a while to emerge - 18 months!!

After cleaning out the hot house last weekend it is once again quite full.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The compost pile

 This week was compost pile week as determined by Tracey who went to fetch the manure.

We had a trailor load and the back of a Ute , so our pile was slightly bigger than usual. Luckily there was a lot of organic matter around at the moment to do the layering of the pile. We spent a fair while clearing up the old pumpkin vines and dragging them into a heap as well as weeding out lots of grasses that had grown over the summer.

I also picked up a few seedling to plant in an area that i dug compost into last week.
We now have Paak choy, coriander, cabbages and chinese cabbage in that row. Hmmm not terribly well planned to avoid a pest outbreak.

We are picking some Fennel bulbs off of the previous years plants which are very flavoursome and we are now getting a few sno-peas. Of course the frosty weather has now reared its head which will reduce or prevent the setting of some fruit. So far we don't have week long periods of frost forecast.

The hoop structures can still be seen. These were used to support shade cloth which was keeping the grasshoppers at bay. The large white structure was last years hothouse.

The home garden is producing Broccoli, greens, shallots, Diakon radish and some celery - as well as Citrus from the trees. The citrus got a trim of their dead branches-I didn't quite get around to spreading chook house muck under them but this should happen soon. Also this  weekend and the Mulberries got a major trim. The olive also got a trim to see if i could shock it into flowering this year - its way too big not to be flowering.

I have 3 varieties of Orange plus a grapefruit.
Washington Navel - earliest fruiting in April
Lanes Navel - picking in May , june and hold fruit well over winter.
Valencias - we begin picking in September from memory and try to have them off the tree by the end of November due to fruit fly.
The grapefruit is a Wheeney and we pick from march. It usually holds fruit very well and for many months in the abscence of fruit fly attack as we found out this year.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Did someone say Pumpkin?

Just a few more photos to further display the abundance of the Pumpkin harvest – just in case you were still in doubt.

We also put in some lovely advanced seedlings of cauliflower on the weekend and (gasp!) removed the grasshopper netting that was protecting our bigger plants. This should all be ok as the temperature has struggled to reach more than 20 degrees during the last week or two.

The rabbits have had babies at long last. This was given away by the telltale sign of patches of fur on the floor of the cage. The female rabbit pulls out the fur from her belly when the birth is imminent and builds a nest. Don’t know how many babies there are as yet as I try to avoid giving them much attention during the first couple of weeks for fear she may desert them. However I did smell something bad this morning which probably means there is a dead one somewhere in the nest chamber, so I may have to intervene after all.

Now Seedsavers Alice Spring holds a stall at the Steiner Fare every year, and because I was super organised and had lots of seed packaged (And because Anna has been so kind as to let us grow lots of vegies in here garden out there at Ilparpa!) we were able to sell seeds to fundraise for the school. Around $700 all up which is better than a smack in the chops. I must also give credit to our trusty band of seedsavers who donated seed to the seed bank or who came along to our mega seed sorting extravaganza in November, where we sorted mountains of seed.

Of course now I’m back to packaging again to get the stocks up…puff…pant..

The day was quite a lot of fun with Tracey and I chatting to loads of people about a subject we quite enjoy – growing things! Still lots of enquiries about the vegie garden companion which is out of print but its good to know there is interest in getting out another revised and expanded edition.

The community garden in Alice is one step closer to becoming a reality with the Alice Springs Town Council approving the lease of the prospective land to the Arid Lands Environment Centre. Next on the list is a business plan and getting funds to build the infrastructure at the site. I think we are having a bit of a presentation at the ALEC office (Warburton street – Haaren house) on Saturday (World Environment Day) to let people who what’s happening with the garden.