Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

The Fruits Of My Labour – Or Not!

Back at the end of Spring, when I had finished harvesting my broad beans, I still had heaps of seeds that had dried on the plant. When I pulled the plants up they went everywhere and since I was crazy busy & had already harvested all of the seed I needed I decided to leave them in situ. Funny enough, because of the strange weather we had over Summer and into Autumn, those beans sprouted prolifically, flowered & now, when we should be sowing seed for spring crops, I am harvesting them for the plate at a time when I have never had fresh broad beans before!

BP_BroadBeans1

So, while I’d love to tell you that these were the fruits of my labour, actually I just mulched over them and up they came! They did all of the hard work for me. All I had to do was drink my gin and enjoy the summer! Now that’s food for thought!

BP_BroadBeans2

A Melon By Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet

They may have been tiny this year but they weren’t short on flavour!

Eden’s Gem Rockmelon

Today I sent my rockmelon plants off to the compost but not before I harvested the last fruit of the season. This was a very strange crop indeed. The fruit were much much smaller than I imagined they would be. These were meant to be ‘Edens Gem’ rockmelon. Well, they were… but they weren’t softball sized as they should have been. They were like little rockmelon berries. Well, technically they are – botanically, rockmelons are modified berries or pepoes. Theres an interesting fact for you!

I think that this was a seed issue as the plant was quite healthy and the fruit were amazing (albeit so very very small).

Now, I want to put this out there because this was a total revelation to me: unripe rockmelon make an amazing substitute for cucumber! Yes indeedy!

When I pulled up the vine there were a few immature fruit still hanging there. Curiosity got the better of me so, I cut into them to see what I would find. Naturally I had to have a little taste. It was just like cucumber, only sweeter. So, into the salad they went.

I think I know what I’ll be doing with my melons next year! (oh behave!)

Have you ever grown Eden’s Gem?

How did you fare?

Fungi Ecology Workshops!

Its mushroom season again! For all of the people out there who missed my post last year on Alison Pouliot and her awesome Fungal Ecology Workshop I thought that I would do a recap and update her current seasons workshop dates.

Last year Ol’Pauly and I went to one of Allison’s workshops in Daylesford.  It was fun and very inspiring.

Alison Pouliot.

I thought perhaps I knew a thing or two about mushrooms. I mean, I know the different types that you can buy at the shop. However, from the minute I walked in the room and saw Allison’s fabulous fungi display I realised that, in fact, I knew virtually nothing at all. That wasn’t a problem though because that’s precisely what this workshop was all about. By the end of the day we had learnt how to tell the difference between an edible mushroom and an inedible mushroom. We learnt where to find them and that there are mushrooms that glow in the dark! I dare you to google “Bioluminescent fungi”! Woah!

Her impressive collection of fungi was beautifully displayed around the room in their respective family groups, with field guides from around the world and interesting anecdotes about various species. It gave us a wonderful picture of the habitats and the diversity of fungi the world over. Best of all it enabled us to get up close and personal and to get a great sense of what’s what in the world of fungi.

Later in the day we went out to the forest, where we got to see them in their natural habitat, which made the world of difference. Getting out to the different sites to look for mushrooms was more fun and surprising than I could have ever imagined. At one site we had a plan to walk a kilometer or so along a particular track. I think Alison was quietly hoping that people wouldn’t stray too far so as to keep the group together. Well, as it turned out that wasn’t going to be a problem. After an hour and a half nobody had managed to get further than 150mt from the cars. Being such an amazing season there were different species everywhere we turned. The diversity in such a small area was outstanding. How Alison managed to drag us out of there I’ll never know =)

Oh, and we did find the glow in the dark mushrooms. I couldn’t believe it until I saw it!

Pictures courtesy of Alison Pouliot Photography

It was truly the best day out I’d had in a long time. I would recommend Alison’s workshops to anyone young or old, novice or expert. There is something for everyone. If you’d like to join one of Alison’s workshops here are the details for the remaining season for 2012.

SATURDAY 05 May – WOODEND
Workshop: The fungi, An Introduction to a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: 5427 1845 or reception@woodendnh.org.au

SUNDAY 06 MAY – WOODEND
Workshop: The bizarre and the beautiful, A Deeper Exploration of a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: 5427 1845 or reception@woodendnh.org.au

TUESDAY 08 MAY – GLENLYON
Workshop: Meeting with Mushrooms, Fungi workshop and feast
Bookings: info@ellenderwines.com.au or 5348 7785

WEDNESDAY 09 MAY – GLENLYON
Workshop: Meeting with Mushrooms, Fungi workshop and feast
Bookings: info@ellenderwines.com.au or 5348 7785

SATURDAY 12 MAY – BEAUFORT
Workshop: The fungi, An Introduction to a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: 5349 3110 or bchlc@netconnect.com.au

SATURDAY 19 MAY – APOLLO BAY
Workshop: The bizarre and the beautiful, A Deeper Exploration of a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: Open soon

SUNDAY 20 MAY – FORREST
Workshop: The kingdom fungi, A journey into a forgotten kingdom
Bookings: 5236 6591 or gbrew@swarh.vic.gov.au
(*see note below)

SATURDAY 26 MAY – CRESWICK
Workshop: The fungi, An Introduction to a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: 5345 2356 or creswick@ourneighbourhood.org.au

SUNDAY 27 MAY – CRESWICK
Workshop: The bizarre and the beautiful, A Deeper Exploration of a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: 5345 2356 or creswick@ourneighbourhood.org.au

SATURDAY 02 JUNE – INGLEWOOD
Workshop: The fungi, An Introduction to a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: Michael 5494 3542 or emandem@iinet.net.au or Jill on 042 751 7437 or jmcf@bordernet.com.au

SUNDAY 03 JUNE – INGLEWOOD
Workshop: The bizarre and the beautiful, A Deeper Exploration of a Curious Kingdom
Bookings: Michael 5494 3542 or emandem@iinet.net.au or Jill on 042 751 7437 or jmcf@bordernet.com.au

Note: The kingdom fungi, A journey into a forgotten kingdom workshops in Summerfield and Forrest are slightly shorter workshops and cost $55. Further info: alison@alisonpouliot.com

2012: FUNGAL ECOLOGY SEMINARS

TUESDAY 03 APRIL – CRESWICK
Seminar: Introduction to the fungi kingdom seminar
This 90 minute illustrated seminar introduces participants to the amazing diversity of the fungi kingdom.
Bookings: 0437 518 159
Cost: $2

TUESDAY 10 APRIL – LOCKWOOD SOUTH
Seminar: Fungi, The Forgotten Kingdom
Bookings: Judy Crocker 0428 506 525
This interactive session introductes participants to the fascinating diversity of the fungi kingdom in an exciting and illustrated 75 minute seminar. Following the seminar will be a 75 minute fungi identification session where we will examine and identify participants’ fungi specimens. Seminar run from 7pm until 9.30pm.
Cost: Free

THURSDAY 12 APRIL – TRENTHAM
Seminar: Fungi, The Forgotten Kingdom
Bookings: 5424 1354 or trentham@ourneighbourhood.org.au
This interactive session introductes participants to the fascinating diversity of the fungi kingdom in an exciting and illustrated 75 minute seminar. Following the seminar will be a 75 minute fungi identification session where we will examine and identify participants’ fungi specimens. Seminar runs from 7pm until 9.30pm.
Cost: $20

THURSDAY 03 MAY – WOODEND
Seminar: Fungi, The Forgotten Kingdom
Bookings: 5427 1845 or reception@woodendnh.org.au
This interactive session introductes participants to the fascinating diversity of the fungi kingdom in an exciting and illustrated 75 minute seminar. Following the seminar will be a 75 minute fungi identification session where we will examine and identify participants’ fungi specimens. Seminar runs from 7pm until 9.30pm.
Cost: $20

WEDNESDAY 23 MAY – WYNDHAM VALE
Seminar: An Introduction to the Fungi Kingdom
Bookings: Susie Inglis 9974 0835 or 0447 133 334 or facilitator@wmcn.org.au
This seminar will introduce participants to the fascinating diversity of the fungi kingdom in an illustrated and hands-on 90 minute seminar. Topics such as fungi ecology, diversity, natural and cultural history, edibility and toxicity, fungi peculiarities and curiosities will be covered.
Following the seminar will be a 90 minute fungi identification session where we will examine and identify participants specimens. Participants will learn about the major field characteristics used to identify fungi in the field. Seminar runs from 11am – 2pm and a cold lunch is provided.
Cost: $25

Or go to Alison’s website for more details www.alisonpouliot.com

Have fun-gi’s.

Su Dennett and I with our beautiful Saffron Milk Caps.

BTW, Allison isn’t paying me to advertise this! She doesn’t even know it is going up. Quite simply, I enjoyed myself so much that I am giving my wonderful readers the opportunity to enrol in one of her amazing workshops wile there is still space.

Knowing What To Sow And When

Knowing what should go into the garden at different times of the year can be tricky. It certainly takes a lot of practice to remember it all by heart but there are some resources out there that will help you get it all right.

You can buy “Sow What When” charts which are great for a quick and handy reference. I keep one on the back of the laundry door because that door leads out to my vegie patch. I don’t refer to it very often these days but, it seems to come in handy for my house guests. I often find people scanning through it on their way outside.

There are also a couple of sites that I would recommend:

www.sowwhatwhen.com – Australia Specific

www.gardenate.com – Worldwide

There are probably others but these are the main ones that I know of.

On the topic of what should be sown now – I have been sowing peas and broad beans this week. I have a number of beds where I grow each of them. This allows me to sow blocks of them every fortnight or so. This helps to stretch the harvest over the fruiting season. I’ll do this from now until July and they should be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after each sowing.

This is my latest posi for my peas and beans. If you look carefully you can see that I have just extended this bed into the lawn area. It was previously a narrow bed that housed my cucumbers and zucchinis. I decided to make it wider to accommodate both my peas and some extra broad beans. I just have to add a bag of sheep manure to that soil and it will be ready for sowing... better go soak some more seeds!

I soak my peas and beans in water with about 1/4 tsp of epsom salts (no more!). Soak them for about 12 hrs. The peas will take up the magnesium in the epsom salts and this will kick start their growth.

Soaking the seeds overnight will speed up the germination process so you’ll see things popping up through the soil very quickly, within about 5 days of sowing. I like to do this with the larger seeds like peas, beans and corn.

Before you sow peas and beans do a quick soil soil test. If your pH reading is below 7.0 you can add a bit of dolomite lime and, if you have some handy, a bit of mushroom compost. This will raise the pH so that it is slightly alkaline which is a more favourable growing environment for your peas and beans.

Pixie Versus The Old Boiler

I was away for a few days during the week while I was at the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney. I left my mum home to look after things around the place while I was gone – namely make sure that Chickie and the chooks were watered, fed and locked up safe at night.

Well, things didn’t quite go to plan! You see we have a new addition: Meet Pixie Pantaloons.

Pixie Pantaloons

Pixie used to live at a neighbours house and just wasn’t well received by the other resident chooks. Sadly, they had bullied her so much that they had literally pecked a hole in the back of her head. So, we decided to take her in. Her wound has now healed and she is very happy to call this place home. She’s a delight! Compared to my other girls, she is wildly social. More on that later.

So, I was just about to sit down to a rather fancy dinner… I won’t mention ‘how’ or ‘why’ but, I received a nervous call from home that went a little like this:

“luuuuuv. We’ve lost one of your chooks!”.

“What?!”

“Weeeeeeeeell… we went  out to close them in and well luv, Pixie… she wasn’t there”.

As you can imagine, the conversation went on  =)

Well the long and the short of the story is that she was found at about 12:30 in the morning after she had been chased out of her hiding spot by the neighbours cat.

So, you would think that it was a happy ending and that it probably ended there.  Nope!   Why?   Oh I guess it was a little thing called Karma!

Yes indeed. The next day, in an attempt to make it up to us, mum decided to clean out the chook house (which was just cleaned but, we won’t tell her that!). This was the result:

That’s mum – stuck inside the girls house for 45min while she waited for my brother to come rescue her. He is wonderful my brother! Of course, before he let her out he had to call my cousin so that they could have a little giggle at the situation and take a photo so that everyone else could enjoy the moment too! (You’re smiling aren’t you?)

All I can say is that she is very lucky that she had her phone on her at the time because we weren’t due home until late that night.

How To Propagate Strawberries

Ok folks here is a very quick and cheap way to get new strawberry plants for free!

During late summer – early autumn you will notice your strawberry plants sending out long stems that have a knobbly clusters like you see in the picture below.

Strawberry stolons or "runners".

These are often referred to as “runners” or in botany we call them “stolons“. Quite simply they are a specialised above ground shoots that emit roots, allowing stoloniferous plants, like strawberries, to colonise themselves.

Strawberry stolon

Strawberry stolon. Roots forming.

It is best not to propagate too many stolons from each plant as this can exhaust the parent plant and weaken the growth of your developing runners. I think four is plenty.

To propagate your own strawberries you will need:

  • a pot or tray
  • some potting mix or compost
  • a pin
  • Or if you don’t have a pin you can use a piece of thick wire and some wire cutters.

You can easily make your own pins from an old coat hanger just as I have done below.

Old coat hanger wire cut into short pieces.

Bend the wire over the wire cutters.

Now you have pegs.

DIY pins.

First fill your pot or tray with potting mix or compost. Pat it down with the palm of your hand so that it is level and firm. This will give the roots something to grab on to.

Fill your tray/pot with potting mix or compost.

Now take your stolons and place them on your filled tray or pot.

Stolons in place.

Pin it into place on top of the potting mix. You want the stolons to be fixed firmly in place so that the base of the stolon is in contact with the potting mix.

Insert your pin to anchor stolon.

When your new plants have developed a good root system you will see the roots through the holes at the bottom of your pot or tray (this can take around 3 weeks).

Cut your new plant free from the parent plant, making sure that you cut nice and close to the base. This will prevent the spent stem from rotting and potentially harming your new plant.

Cut close to the base.

And there you have it! New strawberries from old plants!

Naturally, if your strawberries are in the ground and you want to propagate them direct into your soil you can do so. I would advise you to pull back your straw and pin the runners into place where it suits you, not where it suits the plant. It is your garden after all!

Of course you can grow from seed or division but this truly is the easiest way to propagate. Also, propagating in this way means that you will produce clones of the parent plant and this is great because then you know exactly what kind of fruit will get when the plant matures.

If you don’t have your own plants to propagate from have no shame asking a friend or neighbour that does. Remember, love is sharing!

Earth Hour

It's earth hour!

I feel very sad that almost none of my friends or family observe Earth Hour. They just don’t get it. I don’t know why.

It was really getting me down because I would tell people it was on and why it was important but, each year there seemed to be someone who would spoil it for us. Well, last year I decided to put my foot down. I knew that I needed to do something to let people know that we are doing something that is important (even if only to us). I decided that each Earth Hour night I would put three jars with tea lights across my driveway. Its my sign to let people around us know that we are observing Earth Hour.

Its just a simple idea but it seems to be working!

We also decided to take Earth Hour a little further by switching off for the entire evening. Its not hard to do especially if you have some good company to share it with.

I love  looking down my driveway looking at the beautiful glowing jars. Imagine if everyone did this. How beautiful would our streets be for that evening?

Do you observe Earth Hour?

What do you get up to?

xx

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