Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Working Bee

The Roxburgh Park Community Garden is cracking on. We just had a working bee and workshops down there. Thanks to all who joined in. Special thanks to Maria for the lovely lunch!

We espaliered an apple along the fence. Planted some passion fruit & choko along the fence too! Don’t forget to train your vines sideways at first so that your plants bush up at the bottom as well as the top!

We planted up a herb garden with both edible plants & insect attracting plants and put in a super crop of asparagus. That’ll be ready to harvest from next spring. We’ll refrain from picking them this year so that the plants get a good chance to grow strong & establish themselves. We’ll keep topping them up with mounds of well rotted sheep manure so that they are well fed.

My asparagus at home have established themselves quite well now. They’re planted along side my rhubarb underneath the mulberry trees in the front yard. It’s the perfect spot – the mulberries protect them from the harsh summer sun and it’s a bed that doesn’t see too much action so they aren’t disturbed very often. I’m expecting big things from that bed this year!

 

 

 

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Now That’s Something You Don’t See Every Day!

Well I never…!

Today I just don’t know what to say.

I probably don’t need to. I think that this picture says it all!

Here’s the long shot – just in case you were curious!

A Purple Kind Of Day

It has been glorious out there today! What a way to start the winter.

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The garden is full of flowers right now. Today it seemed as if there was every shade of purple out there.

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All around us the tree dahlias are blooming. If you ride the train keep a look out for their beautiful blooms. You often find them peekingover the fences that line the railway.

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Salvias are the champions of the winter garden. They seem to paint the garden with colour at a time when everything else is looking a bit drab. The bees love them too! They provide good winter fodder that will help your local hive stay strong for the time we need them most, spring – it’s just around the corner.

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What’s blooming in your garden today?

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.

Ode to QE2

As the Queen has been so gracious in giving us this day to ourselves today I have prepared a breakfast fit for a queen, fresh from the garden.

The rhubarb was getting close to dormancy so we decided to harvest what was left and treat ourselves for breakfast.

This is what we got from half a kilo of rhubarb, 4 tbsp brown sugar, and the juice of one of our tiny valencia oranges (approx 1/2 an orange or 1 mandarin).

Roasted Rhubarb and Custard Pancakes

Roasted Rhubarb with Custard Pancakes

For the rhubarb

Cut rhubarb into pieces about 5cm long. Please don’t string your rhubarb, just wash it, dry it and cut it.

Place in a roasting tin and sprinkle with sugar (4tbsp).

Drizzle the juice down the side of the dish so that it doesn’t wash off any of the sugar.

Bake in a moderate oven (180C) for half an hour.

Now while your rhubarb is roasting start on your pancake batter

Custard Pancakes

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (just making sure it rises well)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of thin, pouring custard
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of extra milk in case your custard is a little thick. You’ll see if the batter is becoming too thick & heavy.

Mix together your dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl add your custard. I like to add a spoonful of the flour mix in at a time, using my whisk to combine. As the mix is thickening add in a little milk ensuring that it is well combined before adding in anymore flour. Keep doing this until all of your ingredients are combined. Really, you can do it any old way but, this is how I do it to ensure that I don’t make the mix too thin. If you do just add a spoon at a time of flour until you get it right. Likewise, if it is too thick add the extra milk. Allow the batter to rest for 30min.

Heat up your fry-pan over a medium heat. If you cook this in a non-stick pan you shouldn’t need butter in the pan as you cook the pancakes.

Add some batter to the pan and cook on one side until you see air bubbles appearing on the top. Flip! Cook on the other side for just a few minutes.

Store your cooked pancakes in the warm oven until they are all ready to serve.

Top with your roasted rhubarb, drizzle with the rhubarb syrup and serve with a dash of custard if you have it.

Now, why did I use custard in the mix? I had some left over custard, it seemed quite British and as my girls are off the lay, I didn’t have any eggs today.

Now here is my ode to QE2: (I had to get lyrical in true Ode tradition) It’s best read with a soft scottish accent – think Mrs Doubtfire!

A humble start – rhubarb, custard and wheat,

she’s slightly tart, but mostly sweet,

a finer breakfast ya cannae eat.

Duck Deficiency?

This post was inspired by Bill Mollison who said “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a duck deficiency”.

We used to have ducks. They were great company, kept the more slimy pests in the garden at bay and were great fertilisers.

How we came to have ducks is a funny story but, it’s a long one so I won’t go into it here. Since my ducks have been gone for some time and my chooks aren’t at all interested in snails and slugs (I can’t blame them really) I have developed a duck deficiency. The most common symptom of a duck deficiency is: an increased number of snails and slugs in the garden.

With the very wet year we’ve had the population of snails in our garden has exploded. As you can see in the picture above I lifted a plank of wood and found where all of the snails have all been hiding the past few years. Now, most people would be pretty disturbed by such a sight and break out the snail pallets or beer traps. That’s just not my style. So, how do I treat a duck deficiency?

I put them in a container and take them to my local lake where there are heaps of ducks and geese that are only too happy to help.

If these were strawberries I’d get $7 a punnet. These ducks are getting a bargain!

Punnet of snails anyone?

Nettles

Nettles, although generally viewed as a “weeds”, are actually a very valuable part of the vegetable garden.

  • They are great for the compost.
  • You can make a great garden tonic or “compost tea” with them.
  • They can be dried, juiced or frozen for use in the kitchen and they are very tasty.

That’s right, you can eat stinging nettles. Europeans have used nettles for culinary purposes at least since Roman times but could certainly go back as far as the Bronze Age or beyond when the plant was commonly used for its fiber.

Generally, when people think about nettles and their edibility, their minds wind back to a time when they have been “stung”. And yes they actually do sting you. They have tiny needle like hairs called trichomes on the underside of the leaves and on the stems, which penetrate the skin and inject a chemical cocktail of neurotransmitters, histamines and formic acid designed to protect the plants from being eaten. If we cook nettles, the heat causes those hairs to break down rendering them harmless. I think nettles add a slight sharpness, or a slightly piquant flavour to dishes. It really gives a dish that zing-a-zing! I think it’s the chlorophyll that gives it that edge but not being a chef or a chemist I couldn’t be sure. All I know is this: when I add it to soups like minestrone it completely changes the flavour profile.

Two quick notes:

  1. Only use fresh young leaves as the older ones, where plants have already flowered or gone to seed, may contain traces of calcium carbonate, which could cause urinary-tract problems.
  2. When you are harvesting and washing or preparing nettles, make sure you wear gloves =)

Garden Tonic – BEWARE, this part stinks!

Find yourself a bucket that has a lid on top. Fill your bucket with as many nettles as you have on hand – the nettles may be fresh, flowering or gone to seed it doesn’t matter, just don’t fill it to the brim if you do have heaps. Cover your nettles with non-chlorinated water and leave for about 2-3 weeks, checking it from time to time to see if it has started to ferment. When you see bubbles on the surface give it a stir and replace the lid and check again in a few days. Once the bubbles have subsided the fermentation process has finished and tonic is read to apply. Simply strain the liquid into another bucket or container and use diluted as directed below. You can store the tonic in plastic containers or on glass bottles. My personal preference is old plastic milk or vinegar bottles. They are large and easy to pour. And I use a lot of them!

This garden tonic is rich in nitrogen, potassium and magnesium. You’re plants will love it!

Just a couple of tips:

  • Don’t leave it in the sun because you may kill off some of the bacteria needed during the fermentation process.
  • If you want to keep your patch of nettles, just cut the plants down by half and use the tips.
  • If you want to be specific about the recipe use the following ratio: 4 lt water – 500g fresh nettles or 50-60g of dried nettles.

Dilute the tonic in the following ratios:

As a folia spray: 400ml tonic to 8lt water

As a soil drench: 800ml tonic to 8lt water

or as a herbicide: use it undiluted.

-The average bucket or watering can is 9lt-

Enjoy!

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