Marvelous May Newsletter

Below you will find an excerpt from my May newsletter. To read the whole thing, including some new recipes, please click here. It is fun and fabulous!

Almonds
Everyone, including me, has been waiting for news on Richard’s fantastic Johnston and Somerton almonds, grown in the almond district, Willunga, south of Adelaide. I spoke to Richard on Tuesday. He told me there was a fabulous crop this year and he will be sending them sometime in June! Yippee!

swap crop logo

Introducing Crop Swap
Recently I came across an Australia and NZ group of people as keen as I am to share garden produce and, in fact, anything edible or related to food. So, I joined the group and made us a sub-group and website Crop Swap Cygnet and Surrounds. There are several others in Tasmania too. Please join the Crop Swap Cygnet and Surrounds facebook page for updates etc. If you would like to help me make this work, please contact me asap. I am really keen to get started! No money is involved at all. Whether you are a backyard gardener, home cook, forager, seedsaver, cuttings guru, pickle maker or bread baker, you are welcome.

Sundried apricots, pears, plums and peaches
Kevin and Cindy’s fabulous, new season’s organic, sundried fruits were supposed to be arriving this week but the silly freight people have not picked them up….. so it will now be the first June market before they arrive. Oh lalalalala, how do businesses survive that are run so badly? 

Rain-fed rice
The Qld floods inundated the Lismore freight depot but now they are up and running again. I am pleased to say that Slater Farms’ magnificent, fragrant, bio-dynamic, long grain rice did not get flooded and will be at the market, along with rain-fed medium grain rice and rain-fed rice flour too. 

May Sourdough Workshop-full 
I am pleased to say there are no places left for this workshop but I will be running another in late June or early July. Read about my sourdough workshops here.

More than just Permaculture
There are lots of permaculture design certificate courses but our Gumboot Gardeners group is helping to host something broader, deeper and more easily used for your own property. Please read about Julia and Charles’ course below, based on 25 years of teaching all over the world.

Just for a laugh
Here is a little video I made about 10 years ago, of how to easily dig in green manure. For some reason it is not playing as clearly as it used to! Check out the dry stone wall in the first few seconds. I built that, with stone from my yard when we were making terraces. I had to raid a roadside cutting to get a few bits to finish it off. It is a tricky, twisted circle, going above then below where I am standing, as it was on a massive slope!

Square eftpos
The Garden Shed and Pantry now has credit card, debit card, chip and contactless payment facilities! Square is a simple and cheap system suited to every form of transaction. It may be cheap but it is not free, so I would still prefer cash but no longer will there be any inconvenience if you do not have enough cash with you! 

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Seasons in a Wholefoods Shop?

Everyone knows that tomatoes are a summer thing and cauliflower is a winter thing but most people are not familiar with the seasons for wheat or almonds or lentils or dried apricots. You may drive through the countryside in winter and see enormous green paddocks then you may drive the same roads in early summer and see the harvesters working in paddocks of crisp brown and still not put two and two together to understand what this means for your pantry. Well let me tell you…..

wheat-barley-oats-rye

Glutenous Grains look like grasses (and are grasses) when they are growing. These include wheat, barley, rye, oats and others such as spelt, khorasan and Egyptian Gold. In Australia these are generally sown by the farmers in autumn as the rains begin so they grow through winter, start producing seeds in spring and are dry enough to harvest in early summer or later in colder areas. They are then collected, winnowed (ie have all the chaff and any bits of dirt blown out so that only the seeds are left), graded (ie tested for protein levels, moisture levels, size etc), then trucked to silos to await shipping to mills or overseas.

I get most of these grains from Four Leaf, who are organic farmers and millers north of Adelaide in SA. I do get Tasmanian grown spelt and sometimes oats, when I can. Now and again the previous year’s grain is sold out before the next harvest is done. This happens late spring and into summer, depending on the weather.

If you shop in supermarkets you won’t know when or where the grain was grown, harvested or milled and this gives the illusion of grains (and flours) not being seasonal but grains begin to go rancid the moment the grain is broken, so old flour, rolled oats and others are, in my opinion, dangerous to our health as rancidity is a known cause of cancer. Moreover, rancidity cannot easily be detected in flour, by humans so buyer beware!

millet-quinoa-etc

Seeds…. sunflower, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and more, are grown in various parts of the world but organic Australian farmers grow few of them so I often run out between seasons. I refuse to buy any grains, seeds, lentils etc from overseas as the amount of fuel required to ship all these around the world totally negates their organic certification and all this shipping is a major cause of the pickle we are now in, with climate change. My customers must learn to eat seasonally and this includes wholefoods!

beans-lentils-chickpeas

Lentils, chickpeas etc are the dry seeds of annual bushes (like beans or peas you may grow in your garden and let dry off to keep some to plant the next year). Like with such beans or peas, gardeners will know how long it takes for those darn seed pods to be brown and crisp and the seeds inside dry and hard. So it is the same with lentils, chickpeas etc. Harvest can be mid to late summer or even into early autumn some years.

Thus I currently do not have the new season’s lentils or chick peas in stock and the previous season’s have sold out. This is the life of a small, organic, Australian wholefoods shopkeeper trying to keep her customers both happy and healthy!

Johnston almonds

Johnston almonds

Nuts come next in the year, ripening in early autumn but then requiring hardening off before the flavours develop and the nut inside the shell becomes hard, instead of soft. Many customers do not want to crack open the shells of almonds, for example, so I have to wait for the farmer to have his nuts cracked and, because he grows the special and delicious Johnston and Somerton almond varieties only, he does not want his batch thrown in with anyone else’s so he has to wait until last at the nut mill! Hence I will not have any almonds until July!! Last year there was a total crop failure due to a hail storm just at flowering time so my customers had no almonds at all.

Thankfully there are a lot of walnuts grown in Tasmania so I never seem to run out of them. I have to get hazelnuts from Victoria or SA from time to time but sometimes I still run out before the next season as I aim to sell organic ones or from farmers I know but who are not certified organic.

kevin-and-cindy-organics-drying-apricots

Kevin and Cindy Organics

Dried fruit is a similar story, as I get organic, sundried apricots, pears and sometimes plums from just one grower because I know of no-one else who uses no chemicals, no preservatives and no electricity! I rang her a few weeks ago to confirm my order and she told me there had been a hail storm in November, which had never happened before, and almost all the apricots were damaged! Oh no, I still don’t know if I will get a supply from her. Fingers crossed!

The apricots should be ready soon, then the plums and lastly the pears, some time in autumn.

rainfed-rice

Rice is usually harvested some time in March or April. The rain fed, organic, bio-dynamic, aromatic rice I buy is from northern NSW. The farmer uses no irrigation; only rainfall. In doing so he does not need dams or pumps or electricity but does rely on nature. He may get a smaller crop if things are not right but so far he has not let me down although once he ran out before the next harvest. We both do our best!

murray-river-organics-in-1970s

Murray River Organics in the 1970’s

I get organic raisins, sultanas and currants from a grower in The Riverland who only grows these grapes….. did you know these are all grape varieties? Sultanas (Sultanina, Thompson Seedless, Kish-mish), Currants (Zante Currant, Carina), Muscat Gordo Blanco (Muscat of Alexandria), and Waltham Cross (Rosaki, Dattier, Regina, Malaga). The dried fruit of the last two is collectively called raisins in Australia.

Last year their sheds and offices were damaged in floods but, luckily, most of their crops had been harvested and moved to a warehouse in Melbourne. Phew. I didn’t want to have to tell my customers that even more of my products were not available!

pumkin-seeds

The pumpkin used for seeds

Pumpkin seeds take ages! There is only one pumpkin seed grower in Australia, that I know of and they are in Victoria. They are a small, family group who run a fabulous and very ethical business. It is well into autumn and as late as May before the new year’s pumpkin seeds are harvested and dried. So far, so good. Lets hope it stays that way!

Olives are the last, being harvested for oil in about May and pickled at various times from May onwards through winter. Sometimes the olives have more oil, sometimes less. Sometimes the trees have more olives, sometimes less. Sometimes things go awry with the weather and sometimes it is perfect! Pat and Lina keep us all in SA olives and oils for as long as they can but this year I am going to run out as the oil olives were drier than usual and there were less jumbo olives on the trees; a double whammy.

We are lucky indeed that the floods last year came within about 10cms of the spilling over the levvy and did not burst its banks, ruining Pat and Lina’s market garden and olive trees.What a year for all our growers!

Farming is tough. The people I buy from are real people who grow beautiful, organic food which they hope will survive through the months of growth and produce an income for them. As the climate becomes more unstable, their livelihoods are put seriously at risk. Not only that but I am also dependent on them for my income and we are all dependent on them for our food. All these problems happened in 2016. I wonder what will happen in 2017. Whatever happens, you can now understand why wholefoods are seasonal and how, even though they are dry goods, climate and supply and seasons mean so much.

 

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

These are Michael Pollan’s words and it really is (almost) that simple to stay healthy. I would change it to: eat WHOLE foods, not too much, mostly plants. What I mean is eat foods that have not been processed, like a whole apple, not a peeled one or an apple muesli bar or dried apple rings that have had preservative added. I rarely eat packaged food; I get ingredients and make them into a meal. Simple. That’s what everyone did for all of human history until recently!

Winter is coming
Don’t you love autumn; when the nights begin to chill, the orchard trees begin to lose their leaves and, hopefully, we get glorious rain to soothe the garden. Mice are starting to look for winter hide outs and birds have finished rearing their chicks. Chooks are starting to moult and it is time to plant out garlic again.

Do you ever think of your own body and what it is telling you about all this? Eating seasonal, local ingredients will naturally guide you to eat what you need to stay strong and healthy all year round whereas supermarket shopping will lure you in with bright colours but leave your body confused and irritable.

Now and into April is the time to sow all those beautiful Asian vegetables like bok choy, mizuna, mibuna etc as well as European winter greens kale, spinach, rainbow chard etc. Open any health book and it will tell you to eat LOTS of green, leafy vegetables as the days shorten, so right now is your chance to make eating them as easy as picking them from your own garden.

I love chicories as, during winter, they each put on a beauty pageant like no other winter vegetable! It is not always easy to find the seeds but once you have them, you will see them popping up in your garden from early autumn onwards, forever, if you leave a few to go to seed. In winter they are less bitter but that bitterness is to be treasured, as do European cultures, because they instinctively know that foraging the hillsides for chicories and other winter herbs brings the strength of the land where they live, into the body.

Linseed; what’s it all about?

Linseed, also often called flaxseed, is grown organically right here in Tasmania, by Kindred Organics. However, it is one of my least popular products, despite its amazing health properties and ease with which it can be fitted into any diet.

Whether you wish to do all you can to keep cancer at bay, or wish to keep your heart and arteries healthy, linseed is your man! Moreover, it has wonderful immune boosting properties and can be very helpful with constipation caused by inflammation in the large intestine. It is certainly of definite advantage for helping diabetics as it contains high quality linoleic faty acids, which enable insulin to be more effective. Also being gluten free means everyone can benefit.

Radiation has increased in our lives, from computer screens, power lines, all electrical devices, TV’s, nuclear disasters and radiation therapies for cancers. The evidence is clear that this is a contributing factor for modern day illnesses due to the adverse effect of increasing free radicals in our bodies due to radiation. The essential fatty acids, viamin A and minerals in linseed have been shown to help repair the cells after exposure and a daily dose of linseed can keep your body from accumulating free radicals.

Traditionally used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and proven effective in rigorous western research, there is no doubt that linseed delivers on its promises.

There is a lot of talk about the omega-3’s found in fish oil but it is becoming more and more difficult, if not already impossible, to find fish oil with no contamination of heavy metals and other pollutants. However, organic linseed is readily available and that grown in the chemical free and naturally rich soils at Kindred in Tasmania would have to be one of the purest in the world.

I do not want to make unrealistic claims on the benefits of just one seed, but if I were you, I would be including at least one heaped  tablespoon of organic linseed per day, freshly ground daily by you (eg in a coffee grinder) and sprinkled on your breakfast. Or soak it overnight in water and use in your smoothies. Do not buy ground linseed as, because of its high oil content, it rapidly oxidises and therefore becomes carcinogenic, just the thing you are trying to avoid! If you grind too much  it can be stored in the fridge for a day or two only.

making linseed, sunflower and almond meal

Making linseed, sunflower and almond meal in my kitchen

The early bird…

Well, it’s now officially December.  And it’s just a few weeks to Christmas.  Avid market fans know that they need to be arriving early to get the best pickings…pretty similar to a garage sale really…. but this time, simply by buying something from our stall, early birds can have some free raspberry canes, dug from my garden a few days ago. They have been kept in a bucket of Seasol, in the shade and are bursting to get growing in your garden.

Directing Traffic

Julie Directing Traffic

What do we have this week?  Organic Sprouting Mix, Dried Figs, Almonds and lots of other snack packs, marinated olives and olive oil (of course), and organic grains including Quinoa.  For Christmas presents, we have gardening tools and beautiful watering cans (but not many left now).  For the person who loves to cook, we have brass spice grinders from Turkey.  It’s not too late to grab some MRO organic dried fruit for the Christmas Cake.  Maybe we will still have a Panforte or two but they are disappearing fast!

Welcome to..

Welcome to GaSP stall at Cygnet Market.

Anyway, by the time you read this, we’ll be on our way to the Cygnet Town Hall to set up and have another great market.  Don’t forget it’s another DOUBLE Market.  See you there folks!

Early birds at the Cygnet Market (9am)

Early birds at the Cygnet Market (9am)

Seed Sowing Guide – December

Kate’s Tip of the month:

Think about investing some of your holiday time to installing a watering system into your garden.  A relatively small investment will pay big dividends in terms of your watering time (and you will probably use less water too as you can set your watering system to come on at night when the evaporation is minimal and the wind has usually died right down).  If you already have a watering system (clever you) then take some time out to re-check all of the fittings and ensure that the drippers / sprays are not blocked.  

Permaculture Tasmania Seed saving workshop with Kate

Permaculture Tasmania Seed saving workshop with Kate

Sow these seeds in December:

Sow these seeds in the garden:

Beans, (Bush) ‘Windsor Long Pod’, ‘Butter’, Borlotti ‘Red Rooster’ and French ‘Provider’

Beans (Runner) ‘White Dutch’ and ‘Scarlet Emperor’

Beans (Climbing) ‘Kentucky Wonder’

Beetroot ‘Bulls Blood’ & ‘Chioggia’

Broccoli Raab

Broccoli ‘De Cicco’

Cabbage ‘Munchkin’ F1

Carrots ‘Merida’, ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ & ‘Scarlet Nantes’

Cauliflower ‘All Year Around’

Chicory ‘Red Rib’ 

Chives

Cucumber ‘Lebanese Sultan F1’

Dill, ‘Bouquet’

English Marigold

Kale ‘Toscano / Cavolo Nero’ &’Dwarf Blue Curled’

Kohl Rabi ‘Superschmelz’

Komatsuna ‘Green’

Leek ‘Bulgarian Giant’

Lettuces ‘Flashy Trout Back’, ‘Royal Oak Green’, & ‘Rouge d’Hiver’

Marrow ‘Long Green’

Mizuna ‘Purple’

Nasturtians

Pak Choi ‘Red Choi’ F1

Parsley Mix

Parsnip ‘Melbourne Whiteskin’

Pumpkin ‘Delicata’, ‘Golden Nugget’ & ‘Spaghetti Squash’

Radicchio ‘Rossa de Treviso’

Radish ‘Easter Egg’

Rocket

Silverbeet ‘Rainbow Chard’

Snow Pea ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’

Spring Onion ‘Bunching’

Sugar Snap Peas

Turnip ‘Purpletop Whiteglobe’ & ‘Hakurei’ F1

Winter Savory

We also have Marigolds and Nasturtiums which are great companion plants for your vegie seeds.

Sow in trays in the hothouse:

Basil ‘Genova’

Celery ‘Tall Utah’

Chamomile ‘Roman’

Corn, Sweet ‘Max F1′

Hyssop

Purslane ‘Red’

Tomatoes (six different varieties chosen by Kate and Seedsaver Sam)

Zucchini ‘Costata Romanesco’

Sow (and grow) in the hothouse:

Basil ‘Genova’

 

tomatoes in one of the seed racks

Kate’s Tip of the month:

Think about investing some of your holiday time to installing a watering system into your garden.  A relatively small investment will pay big dividends in terms of your watering time (and you will probably use less water too as you can set your watering system to come on at night when the evaporation is minimal and the wind has usually died right down).  If you already have a watering system (clever you) then take some time out to re-check all of the fittings and ensure that the drippers / sprays are not blocked. 

You can buy these seeds from my market stall at The Cygnet Market.

If you need any further advice, please ask. My father ran a successful nursery for many years in Adelaide and I have grown up amongst trees, plants and seeds. I want people to be able to grow their own food.

If you would like to purchase Cottage Garden seeds or Native seeds, you can order these from us at Cygnet Market.

All of my products are also available most days from 1pm at The Garden Shed and Pantry, Cygnet

Look out for the monthly seed sowing guide on the last day of the month, every month!