Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

What to do with all these pumpkins….

May 29, 2010

Fence pumpkin

Want a good recipe to have with all those pumpkins?

Pumpkin Soup with Sage Pesto

  • 1kg diced pumpkin
  • 2x potatoes, diced
  • 2x large onions
  • 1.5Lt chicken stock

Chuck the above ingredients into your pot and bring to the boil, then simmer until the vegies are soft. Blend, then season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Serve into bowls, and add a spoon of the following pesto:

  • 8g Sage
  • 20g flat-leaf parsley
  • 1tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • pinch rock salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50g Good quality parmesan, romano, or pecorino cheese, grated.

Blend all the ingredients together (except the cheese) until you have a green paste. You may need to add more oil, maybe salt too – see how you go. When its blended, add in the cheese and stir it all through.

You could look at adding a dollop of cream into each bowlful too. Maybe even sour cream. Experiment. The amounts of the ingredients can also be altered, depending on what you have available, and how many people you want to cook for.


Late summer

March 24, 2010

What an interesting season it has been.

I know everyone is gearing up for autumn, however all this humidity we’ve been having points to what is sometimes referred to as a ‘Late Summer’. It has certainly been playing havoc with some of the late harvesting produce. We are finally getting eggplants however, and the capsicum are finally fruiting.

I’ve been busy cutting stuff back in order to reveal some of the beds to the shortening sun, but also to create some solid matter for the compost.

Our beds have suffered considerably however with a terrible delivery of soil we received back in spring. It was allegedly meant to be thick, rich, humus, compost material – instead it turned out to be thin, lifeless, and incredibly hydrophobic. Watering now involves the water running across the compacted soil and spilling into the pathways. I would like to reveal where we got it from, but then that could be considered libel/slander. I certainly won’t recommend buying soil from these suppliers ever again.

So it looks like this winter may need to involve healing the beds and nourishing them back to rich life over the winter. Perhaps some sowing of winter manure crops, and layering of different materials, such as Lucerne, Sugar cane mulch, pea straw, compost, worm castings, and so on.

The beans are still going, and I’m leaving them to dry out. The Borlottis were the most successful of all the varieties.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are almost ready to start harvesting – I just wish the weather was cooler to enjoy rich soup. But perhaps we’ll be able to feast on it over the Easter break.

I picked the parsnips, and most of them were woody, as they really needed to be harvested a lot earlier. I used the smaller sweeter ones in a 5 Root soup (courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday cook book), and they were yummy.

Zucchinis are still going. The Gojis are finally fruiting. Pumpkins are swelling. And excitingly there are a couple of Chinese Bottle Gourds coming along nicely.

I’ll get the camera out and take some piccys……. coming soon.

While the cat’s away…

January 31, 2010

We haven’t been updating our blog for some time. Mainly because we haven’t been gardening.

However, it seems that these permaculture principles work, as the following photos will attest to. We haven’t been home since the start of December, and the garden has turned into a full-blown food forest!

Never been watered.....

Whilst we had family & friends (thanks folks) coming to feed the cat, there really was no watering or attention paid to this garden. Over the summer period, they harvested plenty of food, thus ensuring continued food production. Only 1/3 of the beds were watered with weeping hose, set to timers for the allowed watering periods (2 hours twice weekly).

The under-storey of the food forest

There is a theory/practice within permaculture of the food forest; the idea being you have a forest, but where everything is edible. And just like a ‘normal’ forest, the ecology is self-sustaining and self-regulating. The structure is also forest-like, with a canopy and under-storey. Well this is what we have inadvertantly created, and with minimal human intervention over throughout this season, nature has done its own thing.

The pond completely overgrown

In actual fact, there is a micro-climate situation occurring here. On one of the warmer days during Australia Day weekend, I noticed that this dense jungle like area was humid, just like in a forest; other parts of the garden felt completely different. This area was not watered at all. I imagine this also sheltered the house from heat also.

More food jungle

This area is the highest point in the garden – its also the most lush. Amazing what you can do with mulch, quality soil-nurturing techniques, and cramming those plants in. I was concerned that I hadn’t gotten much in to the garden over the spring – how wrong I was. The only planting I managed this season was just before and just after the crazy hot spell we had mid-spring. Other than some mulching and a shipment of soil, there was no work put into  the garden at all.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes - never got watered! (can't you tell....)

This zone was completely neglected throughout the entire period. I gave all the plants here a bucket of water each just before Christmas when we dropped in going between OG and EG. There are about a dozen tomato plants and 3 pumpkins. The parsley that grew self-seeded has gone to seed also. We’ll leave it be so that more parsley can grow wild. The pumpkins were also self-seeded. This bed was essentially made from the duck-muck (straw, etc) over the winter period. It is lush, rich, and highly moist. It is also our worm factory. In there somewhere is a compost bin…. and some Belladonna has crept in there also, which of course is pulled out and disposed of carefully (it is a poisonous nightshade weed!)

Another dense food forest area

Where's the house...?... or is it an ancient Mayan ruin?

No, that’s not a dope plant – its a Mexican Marigold. This is a standard permaculture companion plant. I have also deliberately left the remaining leeks and spring onions go to seed for collection (or self-seeding). This area under the two Nectarines were also heavily planted with Swiss Chard – we’ve left that seed too. The capsicums here are only now starting to fruit.

The food forest from the driveway; note the height of sunflowers and Jerusalem Artichoke

When I turned up returning from EG, I was amazed how over-grown everything was, irrespective of being ‘neglected’ over a 6-8 week period. A friend of ours turned up one day, and rang us that night to inform us that “our garden was ruined, that no one was looking after it…” On the contrary, it looked after itself. And there has been only one casualty – my Golden Cluster hops bine that was creeping up outside the bedroom window; it was in a pot and not watered – however the rhizome should still be ok for next season, as the plant hasn’t died, but I have lost all the flowers (bugger!)

Beginning to cut back the urban jungle

I didn’t quite get it in this shot, but the lawn chamomile we planted into the nature-strip has also taken off nicely. Even the small bed in front of the fence took off nicely – there are tomatoes and cucumbers, and plenty of other plants like Evening Primrose, Chinese Jute, and Chinese Bottle Gourd, as well as the ‘good bug’ plants that attract the predator insects.

The grape vine has thankfully done the job that the passionfruit vine used to - covering the fence.

We lost one of our passionfruit vines, but the grape vine that appeared randomly last season has taken over the job of providing fence cover – unfortunately, it also appears to want to take over the whole too! Can’t wait for that pergola…..

Fence pumpkinThis pumpkin began growing between the pickets – we’ve picked it, and its our first for the season, but there’s plenty more. Not sure of the variety, as the seeds were lying loose in the bottom of our seed box – here’s to random veg planting!

Admittedly there has been some rain this summer, and that probably helped alot. And the zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are really only now fruiting, so we didn’t miss much. However, our lovely care-takers Damon, Marinella, and my mum (thanks heaps, folks) harvested plenty while we were gone. And this is the key, because if things aren’t picked then the plant stops producing.

I’m now getting ready to sow seeds for the next season (I am determined to grow a crop of Brussel Sprouts this year!), but whilst the first step is raising seedlings, I have no idea where I’m going to plant anything, because the place is so full of food!

See what happens when humans don’t intervene – a true case of wu wei wu “action through non-action”.

Spring update

September 4, 2009

Contrary to what the masses believe, Spring has been here for over a month now. The idea that somehow nature magically changes seasons on the September 1st is both daft and just plainly ethnocentric, reminiscent of the days when God was portrayed as a bearded, white, anglo-saxon-looking male. Obviously, someone forgot the plant world that Spring doesn’t come until September, as the following photos (taken in early August) will attend to.

Our first Duck eggs

Our first Duck eggs

Almost like clockwork, come the first week of spring, and Marbles and Bubbles laid their first eggs. Indeed, for the last 4 weeks, they have consistently laid an egg a day. Lovely! The last week however has seen production die off – possibly because of the cold? It was certainly useful for cooking, giving us a sensational ingredient to mix into mashed potato or soups to provide a rich flavour that is just divine!


Goji cuttings

Goji cuttings

We took a whole lot of cuttings off the Goji trees just as they started to shoot new growth. Hopefully, all these cuttings will strke, and we’ll have a good lot of Gojis to sell or give -away as gifts – a much sort-after plant for those in the Chinese Herbal Medicine profession.

The citrus garden

The citrus garden

The front section of the citrus garden was planted out with a bunch of new Brassica seedlings, as well as a few left-over calendula flowers. We also dug out the Dwarf Peach tree and put it into a large pot; in it’s place we planted what we thought was a Navelina Orange – which has turned out to be a Grapefruit. Let this be a lesson to those buying cheap fruit trees – there may well be a reason why they are on sale!

This patch looks like it will come together quite nicely this summer, especially since we think we have taken control of the rogue kikuyu situation….

The Brassica patch

The Brassica patch

This is the only vegie bed that has done well over the winter – albeit slowly. In here are some Kale, mini Cabbage, Silverbeet, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Red Shallots, and Swedes. The boxes have lettuce and mini Cabbage seedlings (freshly planted). This section is on the north of the house, so gets some nice sun in winter. The silverbeet was actually growing all along the front, however the possums helped themselves…. That’s a container of Snail Ale in the corner!

Rogue tomatoes

Rogue tomatoes

We’ve been getting self-seeded tomatoes coming up since late winter. This one turned up in a hanging pot which has strawberry seedlings in them.

Damned possums....

Damned possums....

This was my very successful patch of Sprouting Broccoli. As you can see however, just as it was about to fruit, the possums decided to help themselves to them – leaves and all, stripped bare. So, no broccoli this year whatsoever. That’s self-seeded cow-pea growing up behind them. This is related to Broad Bean, but is usually planted as a green manure (which it was the previous autumn-winter).

The first blossom of the year

The first blossom of the year

Almost like clock-work, every year the first week of August sees fruit trees around here go into blossom. This is the smaller of our two Nectarines.

This is quite encouraging, as this tree had a difficult first year, being planted in the wrong spot, and then transplanted. It didn’t really fruit last season – given that it is the first tree to blossom, then we expect it may fruit before its larger sibling next to it. Needless to say, the bees are loving our garden right now…

Which reminds me – watch BEE MOVIE, especially with your kids. Very funny and very relevent. Without bees, no pollenation, and no fertile plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. Therefore, no life. We need the bees, so lets encourage their presence in our suburbs, instead of looking to wipe them out with insecticides and lifeless suburban lawns.

Unexpected guests

Unexpected guests

These critters showed up on “Joy’s” Peach tree. Last year, it was the Plum tree that was attacked as it started its Spring blossom growth. Not sure if they are aphids (we always thought aphids were white), but can’t seem to identify them as anything else. Haven’t seen any ladybugs yet, but we expect them to show up any minute now…. The other day, the ducks were helping themselves to what they could reach; either way I think we have our organic pest control well under way.

The new additions to the family...

The new additions to the family...

And we have had kids…. Mama Cavy gave birth to four very small and very cute little guinea pigs. They’re sooooo cute…..

Right now, the cold-frame is full up with seed trays, all filled with punnets seeded with the new season’s growth:

  • Beetroot
  • Adzuki beans
  • Borlotti beans
  • Black turtle beans
  • Carrots, purple dragon
  • Tomatoes: Principe Borghese, Tigerella, Yellow Italian, and other Heirloom varieties (courtesy of Diggers)
  • Eggplant
  • Sunflowers, Russian
  • Zucchini: Lebanese and Italian Striato
  • Pumpkin: Butternut (we think)
  • Capsicum (we think)
  • Peas: golden-podded, and purple-podded
  • Broccoli (seed in punnets, as well as previous seedlings in ground)
  • Parsnip (planted in ground and in punnets)
  • Radish (planted in ground)
  • Amaranth (the leafy Greek stuff)
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Celery
  • Rosella (native Hibiscus, used for jam and champagne)
  • Potato (planted in ground)
  • Jerusalem Artichoke (planted in ground)

Now that we’re in September, there will be plenty more seeds being planted out, getting ready for a very productive and abundant summer.

All quiet on the gardening front….

July 2, 2009

Winter is most definitely here…. and things are definitely slowing.

All the various Brassicas are slowly getting to maturity (cabbages, broccoli, swedes, kale, etc); the snow peas are finally climbing their trellis after a very slow start; and we’ve just sowed some heirloom purple broad-beans.

The plan is to start sowing seeds into trays for late winter/early spring, so that the seedlings are ready to plant. Although between exams and holidays, its not certain when we’ll actually get this happening.

An exciting development is a large number of hard-wood cuttings of two different varieties of fig trees, which we hope will strike and provide us a number of fig saplings.

Of course, winter is the perfect time for brewing lagers and other brews requiring bottom-fermenting yeasts. After tasting the Golden Winter Steam, I was inspired to make another one. This is an interesting beer, one that definitely can be classed as a hybrid – a cross between a  lager and an ale. The first taste is reminiscent of classic lagers, but then followed by a hint of fruity-esters, and then an aftertaste of malt. The aroma is not what was aimed for, and may have been because I picked the hops flowers too late. There are at least two batches of my Happy Pils that need to be made in the next month or so – the Czech Pilsener yeast works best in these cold temperatures.

Surprisingly, our tomatoes, eggplants, and chilli plants are all surviving – there are even ripening fruit on the tomatoes!!!! Weird, huh?!?!?

We are having a pest problem that is destroying the mature broccoli – and its not something that snail-ale will fix – we think that possums are eating our vegies! Perhaps possum pie is in order….. grrrrrrrrrr….!!!!!!

It will be interesting to see how things pan out for this year. I predict that we may see an early start to spring this year…..

Sustainable Garden Award

April 15, 2009


“…They said you’d never make it…”

A huge thank-you to the Whitehorse City Council who awarded us this honour. And a thank-you also to Neco for the prize of the gift voucher.

The level of excellence that I saw that night across the community was brilliant. It is inspiring to think that there are so many individuals, households, schools, community groups and businesses who are actively engaging with ideas of sustainability, environmental awareness, and ecological responsibility.

This council is clearly committed to moving forwards in respect to our collective contributions to making a difference. This is truly an example of the ‘grass-roots’ at work!


And really, this was not hard work. Our urban farm is not just about providing us with some vegies. It is about making less of an impact on the planet by reducing ‘food miles’. It’s about reducing, re-using, and recycling. And it’s about giving back something to Mother Earth.

For us, this is only the beginning. Our home has a long way to go before we are truly making less of an impact. Once the garden is truly established, the dwelling space needs attention: insulating the house from heat and cold, efficient and low-impact heating/cooling systems (using passive and active systems), water recycling, and so on.

It can all be done, and all within budget – it just takes a little brain-power and some time. Yes there are expensive hi-tech ways of doing things – but there are also lots of “lo-fi” ways. And herein lies the beauty of the internet…….

Anyone feel like creating an urban farm?

April 15, 2009

Ever had the urge when looking at a discarded piece of land to create a food oasis? So often in our urban landscape, land considered unimportant, is forgotten behind some security fencing with only weeds (sometimes very tasty ones) being produced or as the unofficial local rubbish dump.

Here is a story about a rubbish dump turned into a evolving urban farm.

A short video of their journey

If anyone knows of land that could be turned into a urban farm in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, please let us know, I would LOVE to be involved in turning a forgotten piece of land into a thriving food oasis, that not only feeds locals but teaches them about how to produce their own food and live substantively!

Enjoy the abundance without the work.

April 1, 2009

Had to share this article with you from The New York Times.

A Locally Grown Diet With Fuss but No Muss

Eating locally raised food is a growing trend. But who has time to get to the farmer’s market, let alone plant a garden?

That is where Trevor Paque comes in. For a fee, Mr. Paque, who lives in San Francisco, will build an organic garden in your backyard, weed it weekly and even harvest the bounty, gently placing a box of vegetables on the back porch when he leaves.

Read the rest of the story here.

Would you like enjoy the abundance without the work?

We are only to glad to help …….. have a look at our previous post and let us know how we can help you have a yummy garden.

Our Garden in March 2009

March 9, 2009

When I go back through old photos of our place I am always amazed at what we have achieved in such a short time.

I also feel reassured that we could reproduce a functional garden anywhere and in a much shorter time frame.

Just remind us (and you) of where we started.

March 2007

March 2007

March 2009

March 2009

hidden behind the fence

hidden behind the fence

The Good Bug Garden 2009

The Good Bug Garden 2009

March 2007 there was no food, herbs in our front garden, in fact there was no life, even the ants had vacated.

What can you find in our garden now?

This isn’t a complete list but it is the best I can do on a Monday afternoon when I should be studying 🙂

As of March 2009 we  have;

Fruit Trees/Vines 26

A Tangelo Tree

A Drawf Peach

A Tahitian Lime

An Australian Lemon

Eureka Lemon

Kaffi Lime

2 Mandarin trees

A lemonade tree

2 standard Peach Trees

A Nectarine Tree

An Apricot Tree

A plum tree

A Tree Tomoto

A White Sapote

A Pineapple Guava

A Avacado – Hass

A Avocado – Bacon

A Navel orange

A Blood Orange

A Valentino orange

A red Passionfruit

A Banana Passionfriut

Goji Berries




Veggies/Annuals 23 this season

Zuccini, a number of varities


Pumpkin, a number of varities

Vlita (Leafy Amaranth )











Rainbow Chard

Warrigal Greens (Native Spinach)



Beans – too many types to mention.



Hops – two types


Herbs and others 20+

Chives – Onion and Garlic





Parsley – Italian and triple


Mint – many different types




Scented  germanium

Corn Flower





Self Heal




4 High Line Brown Hens

2 Indian Runner Ducks

millions of composting worms

Volunteering at our Urbanfarm

January 4, 2009

Are you interested in volunteering at our Urban Farm?

We invite people genuinely interested in learning about sustainable living and organic farming through the Wwoof program or HelpX

If you would like to apply please use the contact details via these programs.

Please provide us with,

  • you full name,
  • why you want to visit at our home,
  • your hobbies/special interests,
  • when and how long you would like to stay,
  • previous experience,
  • your contact details,
  • your program ID number,

Please remember to put volunteer in the subject heading so your email does not end up in spam.

We will let you know via email or phone if we have a vacancy.

Wwoofa Work is 6 hour each day.

If you are visiting for a week, please plan to have two days off at the end of your stay.

Type of work can include,

  • gardening
  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • cleaning/feeding pets
  • home-repairs
  • volunteering at schools and community gardens

Joining in with all household and outside chores is expected.

We have a variety of different animals. We practice natural animal training, management and diet methods.

Finding Us

We are ½ an hour by car from the Melbourne CBD.

Tram from the city will take about 45 minutes, with a five minute walk from the tram stop to our home.


A double futon in our spare room. We provide all bedding and meals.


  • We can not accept Working Visa.. We are not in the right postcode area of Australia.
  • No smoking on our property or within view of our child.
  • No perfumes, sprays, chemical based products, we consider them dangerous to the environment and our health, we do not want them used or disposed of in our. Natural personal products only I.E. Biodegradable shampoo, soaps etc ..
  • We eat meat, are gluten free and we are on an limited income, we can not cater for special diets or fussy eaters.
  • You MUST have a sun hat, clothing and outdoor footwear suitable for dirty outside work.
  • We only accept visitors with Photo ID and with active membership to Wwoof or HelpX.
  • All visitors will need a police check from their country of origin. Australian visitors have an option of obtaining A Working with Children check, which is available for free for volunteers from Australia.