Arrivals after rain

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Just a short update today…

We have had a few new arrivals show themselves after the last lot of rain. An abundance of mushrooms (I’m not game to test my luck), but some plants I think are Rock Lily (Bulbine glauca). I hope they are because that would be really exciting. Not just because they have beautiful flowers, but because they have edible seeds (that apparently taste like sweet shallot/leek) but also have onion tasting edible bulbs (known as native leek). Many books write about the wiradjrui tending to fields of native leek, so to have some appear on the block is exciting for me… I’ll keep you posted.

New seed/plant order

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None of my orders arrived before the weekend, and, it has been a long time between sunny days so there was no way I was going to be cooped up indoors again. Both me an my two and a half year old son have been going stir crazy being inside for so long due to the cold… It was time to get grubby. No matter how much mud there is laying around, I needed to dig in it, get messy, plant something damn it! Since nothing arrived before the weekend from my last two posts (1) (2) about gardening, I had to go in to town (an hour trip) to get some supplies.

The vege patch has been a few weeks overdue getting a layer of pea straw put down. There are four important reasons to mulch. The first, and probably the most important, is for water conservation. Mulch stops the top of the soil drying out, keeps the soil moist, and can reduce watering by about 60 per cent. Mulching also prevents weeds and weed seed germination, which compete with plants for moisture and nutrients. Mulching also keeps the soil temperature constant, and using an organic mulch means you’re adding extra organic matter to the soil. After two (or near enough to) weeks of rain, the weeds were taking a bit of a hold, so, out with the digging tools and on with a layer of mulch. I used sugarcane mulch as the most cost effective option at Bunnings.

Anyway, I took the boy in to town and we bought the following;

  • 2 x Blueberry bushes (sunshine blue)
    • Putting these in a spot where a lot of leaf matter has rotted. Much of it made up of pine needles (so perfect for making the soil acid enough). They should fruit in their second year, and by year 4-5 produce 2-7kg of fruit each per year.
  • 3 x Midyim Berry bushes (Austromyrtus dulcis)
    • So now I have 5 all up, and currently have 20 cuttings rooting.
  • 1 x River Mint (Mentha australis)
    • You haven’t tasted mint until you have tasted the Australian native mint!

I also bought country value seeds from bunnings. I have heard their germination rate is not as high as others, but at half the price, and as a quick something-to-do I am happy enough to take that risk. The seed I got was for winter planting and spring fruiting;

  • Beetroot (Perfect)
  • Carrot (Every Season)
  • Pea (Greenfeast)
  • Pea (Sugar snap)

I am interested in using the peas to make a pea-teepee. Seriously. It is a thing, a living teepee. It think I might make mine giant… big enough for adults. Sweet peas occasionally, regular peas the rest of the year… It will smell good, and taste good. Stay tuned for photographs! I have had loads of luck with beetroot before, so happy to keep growing, loads of luck with carrots too, so no surprises there I hope. I have plenty of snow peas on already, so hoping the others don’t give me grief.

As a side note, I have noticed my asparagus have spears coming through! Wrong time of year (it should happen with spring rain I am told), but hey, exciting. I wont get anything good enough this year as they are only 12 months old, but in the future…. yum!

I also spent time checking in on my cuttings, which all look healthy, and taking some more cuttings (this time of rosemary) which I may use later as hedging (or just give to mates).

Chocolate, Macadamia and Wattle-Seed Biscuits

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An example of the biscuit, with some cocoa dusted during baking for a bit of extra visual interest.

Ingredients

  • Biscuit
    • 1 1/2 cups Plain White Flour.
    • 1/2 cup Toasted Macadamia (crushed in to a meal).
    • 1 pinch Salt.
    • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder.
    • 1/2 cup White Sugar.
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract.
    • 1 Egg.
    • 150 grams Butter.
    • 1 tablespoon Cocoa.
    • 1 tablespoon Wattle-Seed Ground.
  • Filling
    • 90 grams Butter.
    • 1 tablespoon Cocoa.
    • 1 teaspoon Wattle-Seed Ground.
    • 2/3 cup Icing sugar.
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon Macadamia oil or Macadamia Butter.

About
This recipe makes (about 12 Large, or 24 small cookies/biscuits).  The wattle seed imparts a delightfully nutty, slightly chicory and mellow-coffee flavour and mixed with salt and the sweetness of macadamia is heavenly. As an option you could include Macadmia oil in the recipe, but it isnt necessary. To make an extra layer in the biscuit sandwich you could also include a layer of Macadamia Butter (like peanut butter but so much sweeter).

Steps

  1. Line biscuit pans with baking paper and set it aside for later. Preheat oven to 160 Degrees C.
  2. Place all biscuit ingredients in to a big mixing bowl. Make sure your butter is nice and soft but NOT melted. Melted (like microwaved to soften) changes biscuit texture. So just get out your butter and measure ahead of time while you do other prep… Get mixing. You want a slightly sticky to feel dough but it shouldn’t stick to you, and it shoudn’t feel dry.
  3. Mix your filling ingredient in a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Shape teaspoon sized balls and place on to lined trays.
  5. Flatten slightly with a fork or other implement to give a slight pattern.
  6. Dust with cocoa (optional)
  7. Cook in oven for 18minutes. Remove and let cool.
  8. Once cool you can find similar sized biscuits to make the ‘sandwich’. When you have done so, add filling evenly with a knife and ‘sandwich’.
  9. Allow to set 10-15minutes; then enjoy. Perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee, Kurrajong tea or Wattle-Seed tea.

Some other ideas

  • Include crush (prepared) Kurrajong seeds and whole Wattle Seeds for a more textured biscuit.
  • Up the cocoa in the biscuit for a chocolate biscuit, but remove cocoa from the filling and use melted white chocolate for a really decadent finish.
  • Use Macadamia nut butter as an extra sandwich layer, OR, for a real treat create a vanilla cream and use a Davidson Plum or Lily Pily Jam layer.
  • Enjoy with a glass of stout (Coopers best-extra is a good start). The bitterness of the roasted malts and hops with the sweetness of the cookie is great… add some vanilla-bean and wattle-seed ice cream in the mix and the perfect drink and desert is sorted.

New seed/plant order

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It has been almost ten solid days of rain now, and I am itching to get outside. I think my 2 and a half year old is as well… he loves the garden (and Dirt Girl). I thought about getting some more flowers in and have been looking at Fothergills and Diggers at their options. I am particularly interested in what can be done through Diggers in bulk. I know the bulk packs are great since I ordered a bulk pack of Flanders poppies for a ANZAC exhibition last year. The problem is with Diggers that unlike Fothergills they have no bulk packs of native wildflowers, and I really would prefer a native wildflower meadow, than a poppy/cornflower mix that diggers has.

I ended up ordering (Fothergills);

  • 5 Packets Native Wildflower Mix (link)
  • 4 Packets Wilflower seed starter (link)
  • 2 Packets ‘Rockery’ Mix (link)

The wildflower mix includes: Billy Button (Craspedia globosus), Clawflower (Calothamnus quadrifidus), Bottlebrush (Callistemon), Everlasting Dwarf Mix (Rhodanthe), Featherflower (Verticordens nitens), Golden Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteathum), Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthamanglesii), Pink Everlasting (Schoenia cassiniana), Purple Flag (Patersonia occidentalis), Swan River Daisy (Brachycombe iberidifolia) and Teatree (Leptospermum). Each pack is 2000 seeds so, 10,000 seeds should cover 30 square metres, at first, but thinned out once some of the larger plants grow up.

  • Billy Buttons are fantastic cut flowers to liven up the home (but also lovely in the garden).
  • Clawflower (also sometimes called ‘one-sided bottle brush’) will bring many beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Bottle Brush (Callistemon) flowers and leaves make a beautiful sweet tea when boiled. Leaves can also be used dry as a herb/spice. The taste is somewhat a of a slightly pine-citrus. Which also makes the flowers/leaves great to use as an adjunct to your homebrew (particularly those that call for lots of hops, I’m looking at you American IPA’s. Meanwhile the sweetness of the flowers if you make a tea taste great in a Belgian style witbier.
  • Rhodanthe is a beautiful garden edging flower, will make nice cut flowers too.
  • Featherflower (also: Christmas Morrison) makes a great cut flower, it is also known as a brilliant flower for drying and preserving, often holding its perfume for longer than 12 months!
  • Golden & Pink Everlasting: makes a great cut flower.
  • Kangaroo Paw: is just a stunning flower… again probably make a great cut flower for arranging.
  • Purple flag (also: native iris) great rockery and edging plant!
  • Swan River Daisy: make great cut flowers.
  • Teatree: The common name tea tree for the Leptospermum species derives from the practice of early Australian settlers who soaked the leaves of several species in boiling water to make an herbal tea rich in ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). It makes a nice adjunct to an Australian style bitter or lager.

The seed starter is used since: many Australian native species have evolved over time to deal with a regular fire regime, they have developed a reliance on some of the chemicals in smoke to germinate the seeds. This product improves the rate and vigour of native seed germination by providing the smoke in an easy to use form. Simply sow the seeds as directed on the packet and lightly apply the granules over the top before the first watering. Then lightly water the granules to initiate germination.

The rockery mix includes: Californian poppy, lobelia, viola, nemophila and several colours of alyssum (Gypsophila elegans, Eschscholzia californica, Nemophila menziesii, Lobelia erinus, Lobularia maritima, Viola cornuta, Malcolmia maritima). Each pack has 1000 seeds so it is useful as a test.

I’ll show results once things start to come up… but would also like to get one of these native wildflower packs from diggers later on and mix in.

Roasted Wattle-Seed Fudge

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IMAGE COMING SOON

Ingredients

  • 400 grams Sweetened Condensed Milk.
  • 50 grams Salted Butter.
  • 350 grams Milk chocolate (Good quality).
  • 10 grams ground Wattle Seed.
  • 5 grams whole Wattle Seed.

About
This recipe makes a deliciously soft fudge. The wattle seed mixed with a good quality chocolate imparts a delightfully nutty, slightly chicory and mellow-coffee flavour. Whole roasted wattle seeds to finish provide a texture contrast and a bit of crunch (leave off if not to your liking). You could use other chocolate types of you like, or experiment with other additions… it is up to you.

Steps

  1. Line a slice pan with baking paper and set it aside for later.
  2. Place chocolate in to a Pyrex or other type of large cooking bowl and sit in the sink. Boil water (in a kettle will do) and pour outside of the bowl so that the bowl becomes surrounded by hot water (but not floating). With a fork continue to move the chocolate around as it melts to prevent sticking.
  3. When chocolate has melted add butter, condensed milk and ground wattle seed and stir through so that it is evenly dispersed.
  4. Pour in to the slice pan and refrigerate.
  5. After 30 minutes, sprinkle the top with whole wattle seed.
  6. Continue to cool until fudge sets, then slice in to bite-sized pieces.
  7. Fudge will last about 14 days in a fridge set at 4degrees c. (it makes a great and easy gift)

Some other ideas

  • Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate, use river mint for a minty fudge.
  • Replace milk chocolate with white chocolate, use pale vanilla lily and chocolate lily flowers with some vanilla bean.
  • Use any chocolate and add macadamia, dried lily pily, muntrie, midyim or quandong. Midyim and its slight ginger taste is especially good with dark chocolate.
  • Use dark chocolate with (properly prepared) ground and roasted kurrajong seed with a shot of espresso for a heavy coffee hit.

New seed/plant order

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I have, for the better part of 12 months started getting stuck in to gardening. I have always loved being outside (I go stir crazy all cooped up indoors for longer than a half-a-day). Since we moved to Marrar, bought a block of land, and built a house two and a half years ago I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked (two kids will do that for you). I have built some garden beds, grown a few things over the few seasons I have been able to, but now I really want to get stuck in…

I am not much of a ‘flower’ gardener. I am definitely of the cut it, dig it, pick it and eat it type of gardener. I need to get more flower savvy however; as I note that mixing ‘fruit & veg’ in with the ‘flowers’ is likely to produce better results from more pollinators and beneficial insects. We learn by doing I suppose. Anyway… Just itemized below is my latest seed orders with what I intend to do with them;

Diggers (Australia)https://www.diggers.com.au/

I am expecting to build the vegetable patch up with a bit of color. Also to mix flowers and vegetables together a bit more. Many of these plants above will not just be vege-patch plants, but also give year round color to flower beds.

Australian Seedhttps://australianseed.com/

Outback Chefhttps://www.outbackchef.com.au/

I just love Australian ‘native’ bushfoods, these will join what is already in my garden. I currently have Native Currant, Lily Pily (Dwarf Creek & Rain Cherry), Midyim Berry, Silver wattle, Macadamia bush nut, Davidson plum, Fingerlime and Burdekin plum in the garden (all sourced from Daleys).

Whitehouse Nurseryhttp://www.whitehousenursery.com.au

  • Vienna Gold Hops
  • Tettnanger Hops
  • Golden Cluster Hops
  • Hallertauer Hops

Citrus Menhttp://www.citrusmen.com.au

It will take a few years yet, but it will be a fabulous array of native, indigenous and anglicized food coming from the garden. This season I managed to grow hops for my beer thanks to white house nursery (previously only had Pride of Ringwood in, now expanding) and many heirloom veges thanks to the lost seed.

Wagga Flora: Cultural Notes

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One of the things I am eager to do is to ensure that not just the environmental or ecological notes are added to the Wagga Flora website, but also that a number of cultural notes are included to provide a really rounded resource. I have begun doing this with the first page being Butterbush (Pittosporum angustifolium). Each page where the plant has specific known cultural purposes will include the Wiradjuri name (as the traditional custodians of the land in which the site details), the plants known utility (or how it can be used), notes on the use as traditional food source (if applicable) and notes on other and medicinal uses if records show.

Each of these new sections are included based upon a number of different sources, and as such the language is very careful. For instance, not all Wiradjuri groups consulted in previous literature consider Butterbush (Pittosporum angustifolium) to be an aphrodisiac, or, if it was, that knowledge was not shared or known and therefore cannot be expressed as being a single use by all groups across Wiradjuri Garray (land).

Similarly as these are cultural notes on a principally scientific website, the wording is similarly careful not to express that things ARE edible, only that groups did eat it. I am seeking grants to undertake toxicology reports to scientifically confirm (what I suspect Wiradjuri groups know) but so that we can be more explicit in specific uses… maybe we will find the next ‘superfood‘.

Doing Good: $25

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This is my first blog post about my project; Doing Good where I have been crowd funding (please consider donating) simply to try and do a little bit of good for the planet. Each dollar I receive I am going to try and do a little bit of good with it, but you have to donate, then see what I do (I cant tell you upfront what I might do because the money dictates the possibilities)… Right now is the shopping list from the first $25 people like you have donated.

Shopping List – Exactly $25 Spent;

  • $2 – Backpack – Bought second hand from disposals shop.
  • $5.27 – Yates 50ml Purple Clonex Rooting Hormone Gel – (on special at garden store).
  • $8 – Secateurs, two floral snip scissors, pruning saw, hand-trowel, hand-fork, hand-cultivator, hand-weeder.
  • $1 – Bag of 32 resealable ‘large’ sandwich bags.
  • 30c – Recycled paper (FSC certified) note pad.
  • 60c – 2 x HB pencils.
  • 80c – Cheap permanent marker.
  • $2.98 – 12 compartment organizer/storage box.
  • $4.05 – 20kg Sandpit sand.

I have started putting together a kind of survivalist backpack that goes in my car so I can take cuttings, collect seed (if you plan to do the same check what licenses you might need). I have also put in it from my own pocket;

  • $8.97 – 50 No.5 Tudor seed-envelopes
  • $22 – Basic first aid kit.

What have I done so far? I have made a number of cuttings (4 tests) of a Tahitian Lime Tree (Citrus × latifolia), (4 tests) of a Muscat-grape vine using resources about propagation found online at freeplants. I have also made cuttings of Australian natives; (4 tests) Western Silver Wattle (Acacia decora), (8 tests) Lilly Pilly (Syzygium smithii), (12 tests) Midyim Berry (Austromyrtus dulcis), (2 tests) Native Currant (Coprosma quadrifida). So why these plants?

  • Limes – the plants will make nice gifts.
  • Muscat grape vines – wine & juice to share with friends.
  • Western Silver Wattle – indigenous to where I live and the seeds taste fantastic in a number of different uses. I’ll post some recipes later as an addition to my sharing and ‘doing good’.
  • Lilly Pilly – good for both jam and gin…
  • Midyim Berry – good for both jam and gin…
  • Native Currant – because it tastes fantastic in a number of different uses.

I intend to make a bunch more cuttings (as I have a huge amount of old plant pots, and people are happy to give them away. 50ml of clonex should do 250-500 cuttings, and in small pots of river sand I shouldn’t need too many more bags to get a real production line going.

  1. Clone a lot of indigenous plants so that I can increase the biodiversity of my area, specifically my current land holding of 2023 square metres. In so doing create a resource and knowledge base of edible indigenous plants to the Riverina Region.
  2. Clone a lot of other useful household plants for family and friends. Making a map of good plant material and making contact with people who are interested in sharing in the knowledge and wealth gardening brings.

I am eager to get material to clone good lemons, oranges and mandarins to get my own stocks up. Well, thats where I am at for $25.