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Nev’s Challenge – and tips for water saving

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Water saving article by member -Theresa

As we head into the warmer months, and with the price of water having recently increased, it’s a timely reminder to remember to conserve water where we can.

  • Three of my personal favourites include:Try collecting the cold water that comes out of the shower prior to the warm water’s arrival. This water can be used for anything, from watering the garden, or if collected in a clean container, for your next cuppa. And remember, showering with a friend helps conserve water too.
  • Re-use the water that you cook with. If you boil eggs or boil/steam veggies, then recycle this water back into the garden. Better still drink it, most of the water soluble nutrients end up in the cooking water.
  • If you like to take a bath as I do, try it Japanese style and have a communal bath with your partner. It both saves water and is a very convivial experience. This bath water can then be used to water the garden.
Chioggia Striped Beetroot

From Seed to Plate- Chioggia Striped Beetroot

Chioggia Striped Beetroot

We have eaten the leaves of our Beetroot plants so often that I forgot they were beetroots and started thinking they were spinach! We ate the leaves raw as a snack or in salads and cooked in meals like spaghetti bolognaise. Today I peered a little closer and saw the Beetroot peeking out of the soil. They did not look like the base of my spinach plants. Luckily the plants are labelled and sure enough they were called Chioggia Striped beetroots. Oops! Just in time for dinner….

The seeds were planted at the end of March and harvested just over four months later. They were a similar size to a tennis ball. (I probably should have picked them earlier!)

Chioggia Striped beetroot
Chioggia Striped beetroot

On the outside they look like the usual Beetroot colour, but when sliced open at first they were a cream colour. I was surprised when I cut again at the beautiful rings of red that showed.

I diced them, basted them in oil and baked them along with some other veggies. The leaves are saved for tomorrow nights dinner. Delicious!
Chioggia Striped beetroot - cooked
Chioggia Striped beetroot – cooked
Chioggia Striped beetroot - diced
Chioggia Striped beetroot – diced

Seedsavers -July 2017 – Epazote

22nd July 2017

Annette
Annette

Dry July has left our plants thirsty, but what glorious sunny days we have been enjoying for gardening! 12 adult members, 2 new people and 2 kids had fun in the sun. Our seedlings still hadn’t grown much now we are well into cold winter weather. We did conduct an interesting experiment last month with half trays of seeds fertilized with fish poo and half not. The fish poo seedlings were far more vigorous. We transplanted 6 varieties of plants that we had planted last month in seed flats, into single cell pots. These and quite a few others went back into the greenhouse to grow a little bigger.

We planted 4 varieties of seeds appropriate for winter. (Last month was 15). The vegetable seeds we planted were cabbage, lettuce and 2 types of turnips.

We propagated Aloe Vera, Pepino Melon and society garlic. We harvested seeds from Sweet basil, Epazote, (this smelt like WD40 due to all the oils it has. It is commonly used in Mexican and Guatemalan cuisines and traditional medicine. It has notes of oregano, anise, citrus, mint, and even tar or creosote, and adds a wonderful rustic flavour to stews and dried bean dishes. It is especially used with the beans because a side effect is to reduce gas and bloating, common in modern diets. As a tea (Mexican Tea), it is used to treat intestinal parasites in people and animals. It is good for soil conditioning as an anti-fungal, so when planting things susceptible to soil borne fungi such as peas, beans or tomatoes, plant where epazote has been growing, it can help inhibit fungal problems.), Feverfew, Red Marconi Capsicum, Herb Bennett, Luffah, Dwarf Marigold, Clemson’s Green Spineless Okra, Peppermint, Salsify and Mammoth Melting Snowpeas.

Our nursery’s resident kookaburra came right up close and personal, checking out our delicious morning tea. He also happens to be a “chilli thief”, often making off with pieces of chilli when we are cleaning them for seed. Greedy!

Seedsavers group in July
Seedsavers group in July

Seedsavers meets 9am-1pm on the 4th Saturday of each month at Bidjiwong Community Nursery, Baulkham Hills. All welcome, with free seedlings to take home each month. You are welcome to attend 1 meeting to see if this group suits you, if so you can become a single member for $25, or family member for $30 a year. Becoming a member is for the purpose of insurance cover and venue hire when you do any activities with us. Children from 8 years are welcome at seedsavers.

Zoe and Hayley, part of our seedsaver Kids Medical team, put strict plant hygiene measures into action, washing the pots and putting all the seedlings back in the greenhouse.
Zoe and Hayley, part of our seedsaver Kids Medical team, put strict plant hygiene measures into action, washing the pots and putting all the seedlings back in the greenhouse.

Happy Gardening!

Penny Janson

Snowpeas

From Seed to Plate-‘Mammoth Melting’ Snow peas

Our snow peas were planted at the end of February as seeds.

They lived up to their name, “Mammoth Melting”, by growing 1.8m high on a purpose built trellis. Some were planted with just a tomato cage to support them. This worked, but those plants didn’t grow as big and produced less snow peas. The snow peas fell over the top and down the sides on both the tomato cage and the trellis. It took about 2.5 months to get our first snow peas.

We grew one row 2.4m long with about 15 plants in it for our family of 5. Plus another 4 in tomato cages. Every snow pea has been eaten in a flash. We never had a surplus!

Their location was out in the open with full sun and wind from all sides. Our crop last year was ruined by downy mildew, but this year they were an outstanding success. Only a few times have they made it to the kitchen to be added to a stir fry or salad. They usually are gobbled up on the spot between our family and visitors. Five months from planting we are still harvesting snow peas and harvesting seeds as some of the plants have now died off.

Saving seeds for next year is important, but proved very tricky with such a delicious plant! We resorted to writing “seed” on the pods I wanted to keep, but even then some were still eaten! All visitors had to get an explanation on not eating the fat ones to save some seeds!

 

On the left are dried seeds ready for saving.  In the middle, a snow pea with seeds growing.   On the right snow peas as you would normally eat them. Yum!

Happy growing from Penny

 

 

 

Oberon at Monkey Bean 1 5.7.2017

Love Your Coffee – Want Real Food?

After watching the ABC’s War on Waste it got me to thinking, especially after finding that over 1 billion disposable coffee cups enter our landfill every year. How can we do our bit and take the next step to reduce that amount?

As a humble consumer and permaculturist who wants to do her bit, I can join with others to wield quite a bit of power when it comes to looking at ways we can all change our community eating places for the better. Sometimes it seems really difficult to find simple good, healthy food or enjoy a coffee as sustainably as possible.

Start by hitting up your own local community businesses. Ask them if they’ll give you a discount if you have your own cup or mug. Let them know there are other places close by that do, and that they should join, it will save them time and money, as well as giving savings to you, and benefit the community too – much less waste!

Some cafes are getting the idea that bringing the basics back works! Here in Australia we have a website called Responsible Cafes. Just type in your address and you can find your nearest cafes that will give discounts if you bring your own take away cup.

Choose to eat and drink more mindfully and help grow the momentum toward better, healthier, more sustainable communities and lifestyles. Start this conversation with your family and friends – you never know just how powerful you can become by taking the first small step.

Annette

Image found public domain - Tree Huggers

Solar feed in tariffs

Solar Update

On June 16, IPART delivered its’ final benchmark report on solar feed in tariffs. The benchmark range has substantially increased since last year (5.5 to 7.2) to 11.9 to 15.0 cents per kilowatt hour due mainly to higher forecast wholesale electricity prices in 2017-18.

This sounds pretty good if you are still considering installing solar, but note that this is only a recommendation and not mandatory, so you will still need to check with your electricity provider if they will be taking the recommendation on board.

The downside may be that the Australian Energy market Commission (AEMC) are considering allowing solar owners to be charged for feeding their electricity back to the grid. When they tried to introduce a similar charge in 2013, more than 28,000 solar owners joined together to stop the proposal and it never eventuated.

With prices increasing many people are turning towards solar but it appears that at every turn there are barriers being put up to ensure that we stay on coal powered grid electricity.

There are action groups as Solar Citizens http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/about_us that is an independent community based organisation working to protect and grow solar in Australia and advocate for the rights of solar owners and those who wish to go solar.

We all need to take care of the planet together.

Blog Post courtesy Theresa Wong

References:

IPART

SolarCitizens.org

Addy's winning eggplant

Perfect Black Beauty eggplant

He took out a FIRST!

Grown with our PSW seeds by Addy was this perfect Black Beauty eggplant with this entry to the 2017 Sydney Royal Flower and Garden Show.

Addy has a plot at the Wentworthville Community Garden Centre where he uses our seeds to grow vegetables for his family, and surplus for lucky friends.

Addy - at PSW seedsavers
Addy – at PSW Seedsavers

Addy is a seedsaver with PSW and has learned a great deal about how to save seed to grow the very best produce. Well done Addy, on your first effort at showing vegetables, can’t wait to see what you’ll grow next.

Plump juicy seeds

Seed savers – 24th June 2017

Another glorious sunny day for gardening. 20 members, 1 visitor from Permaculture North and 1 kid had fun in the sun. Our seedlings hadn’t grown much now we are well into cold winter weather and have just had the shortest day. We transplanted 9 varieties of plants that we had planted last month in seed flats, into single cell pots. These and quite a few others went back into the greenhouse to grow a little bigger. We planted 15 varieties of seeds appropriate for winter. (Last month was 26).

The vegetable seeds we planted were beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, 3 types of lettuce, 2 types of mustard, radishes, snow peas and turnips. The herb seeds planted were garlic and onion chives, parsley and salad rocket. We all took home seedlings from last month to put into our gardens and pea seeds were given out.

Plump juicy seeds
Plump juicy seeds

We propagated Nasturtium cuttings and harvested seeds from Amaranth mangostanus, Bishop’s Crown chillies, Perilla aka Red Shiso, White Bush Scallop Squash, Beames Yellow Pear tomatoes and Grey Zucchini. The zucchini had been allowed to grow huge to let the seeds mature. You can see in the photo they are nice and plump.

The community kitchen garden was cleaned up, mint slips taken and the harvest of lemons was shared out with everyone. Our visitor from Permaculture North is from their seedsaver group and has come to learn to help their own group.

Seedsavers meets 9am-1pm on the 4th Saturday of each month at Bidjiwong Community Nursery, Baulkham Hills. All welcome, with free seedlings to take home each month. You are welcome to attend 1 meeting to see if this group suits you, if so you can become a single member for $25, or family member for $30 a year. Becoming a member is for the purpose of insurance cover and venue hire when you do any activities with us. Children from 8 years are welcome at seedsavers.

Happy Gardening!

Penny Janson

This photo is of a cucumber called “Marketmore 76” left to go big and yellow for seeds.

Seedsavers- 27th May 2017

Another glorious sunny day for gardening. 20 members, 1 visitor from Permaculture North and 4 kids had fun in the sun. 4 new members came for the first time. Welcome!

We transplanted 3 varieties of plants that we had planted last month in seed trays, into single cell pots. These and some others went back into the greenhouse to grow a little bigger. We planted 26 varieties of seeds. (Last month was 30).

The vegetable seeds we planted were 2 types of beetroot, 3 types of cabbage, dragon carrots, cauliflower, 2 types of kale, 3 types of lettuce, 2 types of mustard, onions, daikon radishes, shallots, orange silverbeet and 2 types of turnips. The herb seeds planted were garlic and onion chives, coriander and salad rocket. The flowers seeds planted were 2 types of Violas. We all took home seedlings from last month to put into our gardens. So many choices! Red or yellow carrots, garlic chives, red or mixed beetroots, broccoli, cabbage and lettuces!

We harvested seeds from cucumber and a zucchini.

The community kitchen garden was cleaned up and the harvest was shared out with everyone. Little eastern froglets were spotted by Karlene while bringing seedlings up from the greenhouse. We also received seeds from 2 Bidjiwong staff members who are now involved – out of interest in what we are doing. Our visitor from Permaculture North is from their seedsaver group and came to learn to help their own group.

Seedsavers meets 9am-1pm on the 4th Saturday of each month at Bidjiwong Community Nursery, Baulkham Hills. All welcome. You are welcome to attend 1 meeting to see if this group suits you, if so you can become a single member for $25, or family member for $30 a year. Becoming a member is for the purpose of insurance cover and venue hire when you do any activities with us. Children from 8 years are welcome at seedsavers.

Happy Gardening!

Penny Janson

Living skills event -Blacktown Energy Initiative

* Our next Living Skills event is also coming up soon – wonderful hands-on practice at making 5 kinds of garden beds. What a learning opportunity!
And..
here is an invitation to attend an event hosted by Blacktown Council
* Blacktown Energy Initiative 15th June, 5:30 pm – 8 pm
Nirimba Rm L5
Blacktown City Council, 62 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown (Contact me for registration details)
Working together to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy – a collaborative approach. Several speakers.