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Spring Update: October

21 October 2022

I'll try to combine blogs from the same time of the year in future.  I'm sure I must have done one in the intervening 7 years between these posts!

No travel this year (or the last few due to covid).  It's really wet for about the third year in a row. The house is getting painted so my entire yard looks like a war zone. 

I am indeed getting cherry tomatoes and silverbeet in abundance.  I'll start canning pasta sauce soon.  My lettuce is mostly done now.  Berries came in: mulberries and native rasberries.  I have culled the Kumquats down to one tree - real estate is valuable here.  Once again, Rozie's passionfruit killed stuff - this time my seedless grape on a trellis out the front.  

This is the first year for a beetroot crop that Roz wanted.  I've used a lot of the greens as well and Roz loved the two she boiled up today.  Yes, the termuric has started shooting.  Haven't seen the ginger yet.  The changed chicken feeder solved the rat problem from the past, for the most part. 

Both Californian quails have escaped now.  Good riddance.  Mad buggers they are. I've started collecting Japanese quail eggs to incubate.  I ended up with a lot of males which have now been slaughtered and processed. I need new girls.  

I think food is about to get expensive.  I am finding I am eating a lot of vegetable material from the patch, although it is mostly still greens and stems.  We now eat meat about twice a week.  The quails and fish and looking increasingly good but not enough to tempt Rozie from the store stuff.  I paid $35 per kg for some lamb today.  I'm not sure too many people can afford to do that.  

16 October 2015

October seems to be when I travel.  I've been on a road trip out to Lightning Ridge for a week.  Yes, of course I did a video. LOL. 

Back to the yard.  The fish survived again, but the water was really low and very dirty - same for the chickens.  The grow bed was fine because I learned the "summer-proof with shade cloth" lesson from last year and made sure that was done last month.  The girls must become cranky about their water because I'm down to 2 eggs a day compared to 4.  

I'm still adding more "pot" style gardens.  It allows me to maximise every inch of the yard.  I can build them fairly quickly now days.   Yep, I've also changed the watering system in the last few days.  I think it will be an ongoing thing, to be honest.   The four vertical beds mostly have just a few flowers because My Rozie's passionfruit over-ran them.  I've had a lovely display of white roses over the arbor.  If I'm lucky, there will be a few left for the garden visit. 

Crops:  I'm about to get cherry toms, lettuce, silverbeet, and gooseberries.  The tiny lemonade, lemon and mandarin trees are beginning to fruit and I can see lots of other greens like Betel and sweet potato that will let me make heaps of pesto again.  I froze Kumquats and Rob's Davidson's Plums and Mulberries to make more sparkling wines/beers from.  That's been a new venture this year that is very successful. 

The Yakon is coming back already.  Still waiting for the Turmeric and Ginger.  I hope they've survived.  

I still see rats late at night but they are just raiding the grain off the floor of the chicken coop.  I can live with that.  

17 October 2014

I arrived home from France to be pleasantly surprised that the kids had managed to keep the tiny city farm entirely destruction free, which is no mean feat to be honest.  The fish were alive, chooks still laying, garden not dead - Bobbie relatively untraumatised.  WOW!  However, what I did notice was that my aquaponics bed had mostly bolted, or been burned in the sun. Time to summer-proof!

First order of business was to put the shadecloth back up over the aquaponics.  Thanks to the chook house, it is much easier nowdays.  Remember, it has to remain a temporary structure so I can easily remove it in Autumn.  Took all of 10 minutes.  Not as cute as last year but perfectly functional. 

Since I've also been adding more "pot style gardens", I have now also spent a fair bit of time extending the watering system.  I had to get a lot more creative to make sure pots get watered as well as the gardens.  If I had water in my rain tanks, I could actually test the damn things.  LOL.  

Talking of pots, I have two vertical pallet gardens now that I am testing during our summer heat.  If they survive, I'll add two more.  If they don't, then I will re-think that part of the garden.  I included them in the watering system as well. 

You know, what really annoys me about summer proofing is that I've done weeks of work.  Some watering systems had to be broken into half, extras bits had to be added all over the place - and, you can't even see what I've done!!!  Hopefully, it will reflect in the plant growth - otherwise, I might just concrete the bloody lot. LOL. 

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Tiny farm tales... August/September

Tiny tales... September 2022
Interesting to see what I was doing 3 years ago. In terms of quail, I culled a bunch of males this month and have 9 in the freezer. I know enough to let them rest 24 hours after processing so hopefully they won't be tough. I've been gathering some really interesting recipes like smoked chili quail and my steamed garlic and ginger quail. I won't be incubating quail eggs for a month yet. I also won't be splitting native hives this year. I'll give them a second year of peace.
I'm pretty happy with how many meals we are getting from the yard, especially with greens. I'm exploring everything from curried spinach and lentils to pesto and pea pasta. I'm mostly using warragals, silver beet and beetroot greens. I'm also using up a lot of my canned beans from a few years ago. I have very little canned goods now aside from kumquat jam and chutney.
My young mulberry trees are doing well given their size as well. The grandkids love them.
The house is being painted which has caused a few major re-thinks. Most of the kumquats will go and be replaced by different varieties of other citrus to those I already have. That should extend my fruit season and be much more useful than tens of kilos of darn kumquats.

Tiny farm tales... August 2019
I have 48 quail eggs in the incubator, on day 7 now. They have about 10-12 days to go. That’s left me with four dozen eggs for eating. That's a thought process that I mostly leave alone. I also have four or five old birds that I can tell will drop off the perch soon. I lost one on the weekend. Nature says the old must pass so the new can come on. People aren’t any different, except the span of years Is greater. 
I split a native bee hive today. I’ll rotate the new and old for a couple of weeks and then will do a complete hive rescue on the old one. That box is completely rotted out. That’ll be a test of my skill level. 
Wisdom says that I’m a fool for splitting so early. My experience tells me to do it now. It’s early for the bees but also early for their predators. I’m banking on the fact that the girls will safely seal the hives before it gets hot enough for the pests to arrive. Swapping the hives around, rotating them, will balance out the bee numbers and give me two moderately strong hives instead of one weak one and one strong one. I understand that I “can’t do that” but it works really well. 
In other news, the sun has climbed in the sky now. My north side, winter garden is just going to seed in the heat and bright sun. It’ll be slim pickings for greens from there for a few months. I’m collecting seed and am about to start to replant the south side – my summer garden for greens. The north side will move to a corn crop and the like. 
Don’t get me wrong. We’re doing pretty well with crops even now. I’ve canned Kumquat marmalade and some tomato sauce. I’m about to start on sweet chilli sauce too. There’s a lot of passionfruit that I would love to convince My Rozie to let me turn into passion-butter. Oh, I have Kimchi fermenting as well because we did well with cabbage. 
M final point is about getting too cocky. I made a rookie error tonight with my still. I’ve ended up with a half batch but lost a week in fermenting. No matter how smart you think have become, it’s the little things that will trip you up and remind you what a fool you really are.

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The first plant out of Vetiver slips at the new Farm.A few thousand more to go!


We have eleven beds to fill in the first stage of the project. Overnight rain made it squelchy work.

As we dig up and divide our current crop, for once we know that we should have enough to fill demand.

We will still work out of our present pick up address -- but the farm is close to hand, 15 minutes away by car.

Our next GV video will feature the gorgeous soil the Vetiver has created as it grows and fosters major changes in microbiological demographics as it lays down carbon.

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The Kitchen Garden in August

I've tried to show all the elements:
  • raised beds
  • aerials
  • mulch
  • polycultural mix
  • hard to show: I have just planted several chaya, aibika and bitter leaf bushes which hopefully will add significantly to my green leaf powder supply.They will become the backbone of foraging.
  • Growing are: Timor lettuce, celery, parsley, coriander, cabbages, kale, tomato, beans, chia, chaya, bitter leaf, aibika, longevity spinach, okinawan spinach, spring onions, shallots, radishes, basil, egg plant, chillis, peppers, chives, choko, Tatume squash, Seminole pumpkin, asparagus, Jeruslaem artichokes, mitsuba, water spinach, artichoke pepper leaf...


You'll note the chains...

I happen to get an aluminium chain door so I repurposed it as support lines for climbers, beans and tomatoes.
These chains are easy to work with because they are so soft. Their mesh allows perfect purchase for climbers and the like, and will tangle easily around tomato stems without cutting into them.
Best of all, they are easily moved about from plant to plant.
One doorway of chains is more than enough.
I hang them from the aerial lines above. As a rambling or climbing plant grows I position a chain above it.It's easy to pull the aerials into various positions to suit. 


The bread tray beds have performed better than I imagined.
Held together with cable ties and lined with tarp -=- the soil consolidates the shape by pushing the tarp against the plastic frame.
The milk crates are a similar build except they are lined with weed mat.
The repurposed shelving shows the tarp offcuts I worked into the frame like doing papier mache overlays.
You can just see the terracotta wine coolers I have embedded in the raised beds. Thats' irrigation. I grow duckweed in them to reduce evaporation and suppress mosquitoes.
There are no patterns to the lines running through the sky.
Some are old garden hoses, others are rope.
I have attached them to trees bordering the patch and hold them up with cut bamboos and other timbers. They may wave in the wind but don't fall down.

CHAYA does not like the colder weather.With luck I should have at least ten chaya 'trees' powering away this Summer. So I hope to start selling cuttings next year. (Possibly 2 for $10).
I have the same horticulture plan for Bitter Leaf and Aibika because it's these three plants people have asked me for because I run a Vetiver nursery.

I don't have a weed problem so much as an occasional 'Scurvy "Weed" ' problem -- a plant that has monopolised the weed niches.
The advantages being that it makes for a great ground cover, the worms love to live under it and it is so easy to remove (by raking) when I choose to.
You'll also note the upright grass clumps. Thats' Vetiver 1.5 metres apart. In there too are some Vetiver hedges recently planted.

Note the Vetiver clumps. Cut a few times over the year for mulch but growing in situ, they draw up moisture from the depths and fosters a rich microbiology WITHOUT competing with neighbouring plants because the roots go straight down.
Info on Vetiver's effect on soil biology:


Note the chains.
It will be interesting how much chia I'll get from two hedges planted.
I use the stuff daily. Amazing seed!
I've just planted some Bottle Gourds for climbing up the chains.
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Surviving Inflation by Growing Your Own Food

I am not of the self-sufficient ilk ideologically. I grow my own comestibles for a mixed bag of reasons...and from a lifestyle habit. 

But current food prices are hurting enough for me to rethink my outback activities.

Coming into Spring -- albeit 'Sprinter' -- is a great time to `review your outgoings according to the stomach.

So, assuming you want to cut your food bill by spending more energy in soil mode, what is the way forward?

From my POV I offer musings....

  1. While it may make sense to buy a cheap packet of seeds and grow on your veg -- I don't think that should be your first activity. Why? Because seeds take time to sprout and consolidate. Your initial purchase should be seedlings. There's a shorter turnaround for your dollar spent. By all means, get seeds but employ them as stage two of your eat the garden experience. 
  2. Before you go spending cash on seedlings (or seeds) review your eating habits. What are you eating? And then consider what part of that menu you could grow. But don't fall into the trap of trying to grow the fresh contents of your refrigerator or larder. Check out prices first. There's no financial need to grow spuds, onions or carrots as the prices of those items do stay pretty low. Look to those vegetables that have exploded in price and adopt a strategy towards them.
  3. When turning toward backyard horticulture do not spend up big on rigs and other inputs. What's the point of 'saving money' by growing your own if you are buying in soil, mulches, garden bed frames and whatnot. All you need is a patch of dirt and access to water. If pot sentenced, any container can be used as a plant receptacle just so long as it has a drainage hole. You may not need to buy 'potting mixes' for container gardening and even if you do, you can blend them with manures and your own backyard soil to make the mix go further.
  4. After reviewing what you eat, consider what menu changes you could make to cheapen the load. Every veg gardener does this because you always grow more than you usually eat. So if growing zucchinis, make sure you become familiar with a lot of ways to prepare them for the table. Google the name and see what veg recipes are on offer.
  5. Don't get flummoxed by seed catalogues. Definitely buy your seeds online but check out a range of suppliers if you do and weigh up seed cost and postage charges as you shop. Remember too that you won't need 100s of seeds -- just a  few. So keep that in mind as you go through the options: either website direct or through eBay.
  6. If buying seedlings -- you are sure to get a better price and range by visiting local suburban outdoor markets. It's worth a special trip across town just to garner your seedling supplies.
  7. Check out YouTube How-to gardening videos if you want to skill up. The range is awesome. 
  8. Generally, if a seedling is available that plant is 'in season'. It may still die on you, but then Nature doesn't offer insurance.
  9. As you proceed into money-saving mode, be prepared to adjust your reasoning and the contents of your stomach. If you do your homework there are so many plants that are easy to grow and offer a bountiful harvest but do not have a presence on the supermarket shelves. Perennial leafy greens for instance. Tubers. Different squashes. You may need to broaden your culinary horizons  -- but consider that to be a financial journey like going cruising in your own backyard. 


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The Ginger harvest

Harvested the first of three pots of ginger yesterday - 1.9kilos wasn't too bad for smallest of the pots. I plan to dehydrate and grind some of this, and grate some for the freezer. Grated is the way I use most of my ginger, but it is good to have a bit of ground spice for cakes, etc. The biggest users of my ginger are my grown-up family, so much of it will be used fresh in the months (year) to come, and so some will be  left in the ground to harvest as required.

I dutifully peeled my ginger before slicing it for the dehydrator, but I got to thinking WHY PEEL IT? Surely if it is scrubbed well, the skin will be OK in the ground spice. Does anyone know why all the instructions on the You-tube videos insist you peel it?

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For the past few years, I have grown tromboncinos in the warmer months. The vines have grown rampantly, and produced MANY fruits. However, I have found them soft, pale, and insipid-tasting, with poor keeping quality in the fridge. I have in the past grated kilos of the things to freeze for use in cakes, pancakes, quiches...... They started getting attacked by the cucurbit fly as well.

I have fixed all that stuff. I now grow them in winter. The vines grow slower, and do look a bit 'wintry', but the fruits are a lovely bright green, are firmer than their summer selves, and to my mind have a better flavour. Just not quite so prolific, which isn't such a bad thing. What do you think?

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9779373069?profile=originalThis weather has not been kind to me. My body has been protesting the moisture while those few times I feel up to doing some kitchen garden labors, no sooner I get started on my chores when it rains.

Wet weather, as we know, promotes verdancy for green leaf things so long as they don't rot. While the tomatoes may suffer, the 'weeds' are going crazy.

This is the case with my abundant coverage of Scurvy Weed.of which I have often written. But the convergence of this wet weather and my poor health, was worsened by the massive growth of Scurvy Weed through my vegetable growing patch. I ask myself: what have I done? I have created a Triffid monster.

Seemingly, every time I pulled it up it grew again in the space  I made. The Scurvy Weed mat of growth can be  30cm deep and when you remove by pulling you can get piles of the stuff.

As you may know, all my garden senses -- and the earthworms -- are telling me that this is a great green living mulch. That my soil is so much better for knowing it. But...but ...I need to plant comestibles where it grows.

Today, after putting off the task, I decided I'd plant out some seedlings. I knew that I was up against it as my last plantings were quickly over run by Scurvy Weed. Then the chooks got out and ate my lettuces...

I was soooo frustrated!

But I'm not dumb (as I'd always assumed ).

In the past I have brush cutter-ed the SW, ran my sickle through it and pulled it out by hand --- but it never occurred to me to rake it. You know as in garden rake.

Scurvy weed is so shallow rooted it comes apart easily, and a pull of the rake is just the thing to make a clearing. --a clearing surrounded by a mound of SW. The rake just scrapes the surface and upsets only a few worms living at the soil penthouse level. You don't drag the dirt, like a dozer, you merely scrape the top and the Scurvy Weed comes away uprooted.

No bending or exertion.

What I do to this soil surface once I plant out my seedlings is an issue I'm thinking about. Do I mulch it with Vetiver straw and allow the SW to return unchallenged (as it will grow through or aszpread over most mulches, cardboard, and weed mats ) ? Or do I leave rake spaces between the plants so that I can keep up the scraping as required?  That is, mulch everywhere (with SW) except where I grow my plants.

To not mulch to me seems a mortal sin.

You may ask why do I persist with this weed?  The answer may be subjective but it makes a sort of warped logic in my head.

  1. Scurvy weed covers the whole garden in a green mulch under which the soil thrives. It's like permanent fallow. If I'm not using an area to grow edibles I allow SW to take over.
  2. Scurvy weed displaces all other weeds that do much more damage and are harder to deal with than SW.
  3. Scurvy weed is so shallow rooted that underground , at least, it does little damage to the surrounding comestibles
  4. Scurvy weed is easy to remove from your plot (but not for good) and the removed biomass is simply recycled as mulch or fed to weed tea or the chooks. I'd prefer to chop up the pulled SW, but I don't have the machinery.
  5. Scurvy weed is green and luxurious, convoluted and soft, such that it promotes its own moist microclimate.

So who da thought that my super tool was a humble rake?



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May 2022

Hi everyone

Things have been busy (and wet!) for me these last six months, a bit of a radical change. Transitioned to the countryside, starting a new veg patch, building infrastructure, clearing weeds, planting trees.. all while wet, wet, wet. I am pretty off grid at the moment until we get set up properly, so significantly reduced energy and water consumption, by happenstance rather than intention. This means I look for alternatives to food preservation (small bar fridge, no freezer, no conventional oven, 1 portable hotplate so no canning!) but importantly storage - from rats and mould! (soooo much mould EVERYWHERE). I've found coconut milk powder to be a great alternative for the pantry... am on the look out for some tomato powder to reduce cans (take up space - in the pantry and in the fridge as never seem to use whole can). Cathie suggested making dehydrated tomato powder by drying out tomato paste and blending, while waiting for that bumper harvest to dry and blend. 

I am a bit upset that I haven't been able to make much use of my Sun Oven - though on the rare ocassions I have been able to, I think it's great. I bought it to bake my sourdough but sadly just haven't had enough sunlight!

This wet weather has impacted my chookie's health - Andy has been super helpful for Miracle chook who has survived a hawk attack, mites/lice/worms?, anemia, a cold.. she is doing well. Makes it sounds like I've had poor animal husbandry but really, this damp weather has been the bane of our existence. I have a second hand steel coop to install one weekend when the weather is kind. 

Giving the fertility where I am, I've been looking at ways to beat the weeds. No mean feat. I've been looking into syntropic farming most recently, which is an interesting mix of techniques to increase yield and plant health through (in brief) intense multi-cropping and lots of chop-n-drop mulching. I've been using cassava and moringa has my canopy for now as I'm able to snap of some branches and just stick them in the ground! Also building up diversity with sambung which is growing well, suriname spinach, spring onions, then sowing annuals - lettuce, pak choi, flowers! and tomatoes - plus salvias,sunflowers, zinnias, geraniums, peanuts... I'll keep you posted how these new beds go. Trying to plant free things that like to live and produce food - as I've sunk too much $$ already in trees and things that wont grow. The plan is to plant plant plant so the ground is covered and soil active to control the nasty weeds. 

I've also invested in some ankle height gumboots that have been great!

Happy gardening :)



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Green Leaf Powder production


I'm making up another batch of Green Leaf Powder from plants I grow.
Sprinkled on whatever, they make for a great nutritional hit. A teaspoon or two here or there is a great substitute to preparing the plants from their just-picked state.
While the Chaya is pre-boiled the only processing is washing, drying and grinding --and everything is prepped quickly after harvest.
Once the final blend is completed, I have local orders pending for the powder.
It's a form of CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture.
Although, this seasonal harvest (April, 2022) I doubt that I will be able to fulfil demand.
Good thing is that a few grams of this stuff lasts a long time when doled out via spoonfuls.
As to the efficacy of the leaves in the mix, I suggest people do their own research.
Botanical names on the left. 'Common' names on the right.
In my experience, the powder is tasteless.
Generally, from its fresh-picked state, the ratio for this harvest is roughly equal parts of each plant-- dried, combined and powdered.
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We're moving the grass!



We decided that GrowVetiver has outlived its current growing leasehold. So we went looking for more land that we can expand our plantation on. 

We sure found it!

Talk about landing on your feet. We'll be putting down our  roots on a new plot of soil not very far from where we are now.

It has water. Great soil. Carbon rich. Moist. Easy access.Wonderful landlords.

We're delighted.  

Our plan is to uproot and shift our nursery in September. That's sure to be one big logistical headache, as we'll be expanding the area under cultivation by a factor of at least five. That's digging up, moving, dividing and planting.

To state the obvious: we'll not run out of stock again! That's our major handicap. For us, demand outstrips supply every year.

This is a major expansion of our Vetiver project, but all indications are promoting optimism on our part. We can expect to go quickly from a supply base of 5,000 to 30,000...then to 100,000+ plants.

Yesiree, that's serious  horticulture.





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Back to the garden

Hi everyone, 

Well it's been a while.  I have slowly been getting back into the garden since I broke my leg and am tackling the jobs 1 by 1.


 Luckily for me that while my husband has no initiative of his own to do any gardening chores, I can point him at the big jobs and he's happy to look after me that way.   While I'm now walking, gardening is slow and painful and I can't Carry anything heavy so between my husband and kids, I've managed to start the garden. 

Today, I repotted strawberry runners and replanted the best of my mother plants into a garden bed that doesn't ever have much growing in it.  

My bishop crown capsicums are still pumping out fruit.  I turn these into chilli jam and use them in a capsicum sauce for meatloaf. 


The pumpkin out the back regrew and tthe council hasn't yet ripped out my back garden so it is wild out there.  Between that and the surviving farm pumpkins after the flood, I think we'll have pumpkins for a year which was my goal this year to not have to buy them. 


Choko's are also an awesome producer this year.  I made a mock apple pie and we have been eating stuffed choko for dinner regularly. I also made a potato bake with these guys in them as well that everyone loved.  

The ginger has also been amazing! I harvested some last week for the chilli jam and the rhizomes are huge, fat and healthy. 

Citrus look like they'll be starting soon.  Mandarins and grapefruit should be ready by the end of the month. 

Lots of pruning and mulching is on your the cards for the next few weeks but who knows when I'll get to it.  My middle daughter moved out yesterday so we've been busy sorting her out and cleaning out her room so I'll need to give hubby a day off or so before I put him to task with the outside stuff. 

that's it from me guys, hope to see you soon. 

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Long time no see!

Good morning!

Been a while since I had a moment to pop here, hope everyone is doing well!

Been learning a LOT about how fast weeds can take over, chickens and ducks and PUMPKINS! 

I will post some photos soon, but I need to cure quite a few pumpkins and anything on the ground gets eaten (apparently we might have Bandicoots, though I suspect rats are more likely). Has anyone ever strung pumpkins up to hang them about to cure? Might give that a go.


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When I preserve things like pineapple or pawpaw, I use a medium syrup with citric acid or lemon juice as required. Then when I go to use it, the syrup is drained off, and goes down the drain. At the moment, I'm preserving a lot of red pawpaw, so using a lot of syrup. We are trying to reduce sugar use, but the preserving recipes call for the medium syrup, and I am unwilling to stray from that.

Does anyone have any ideas about re-using the syrup? Can I store it in the fridge and use it for another batch? What, if anything, can it be used for that doesn't involve worm farms or compost heaps? I hate to see it go to waste.

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Maybe you know me as a fermenter -- and that's not about my relentless ageing.014+Istanbul+pickles+cihangir+cukurcuma.JPG?profile=RESIZE_400x

I make yogurt, kombucha and kimchi -- and while I used to ferment a lot of other stuff, I keep my ferment activities simple and containable.

I had not been interested in pickling because of the salt -- and sugar -- content. You know policing your dietary intake for reasons of health care.

For those interested, here is the traditional Turkish pickle recipe. From Refika. 

  • The magical measurement for the brine, 4 cups (1 litre) water 1/3 cup (80 ml) vinegar 3 tablespoons rock or sea salt Whatever vegetable you want to pickle (Turkish favourites are cabbage, cucumber, green pepper, carrot) Garlic 3-6 cloves (for taste) Chickpeas (2-6) or a slice of sourdough bread -2-3 cm cubes- (for it to mature) • Mix 4 cups water and 1/3 cup vinegar. Add 3 tablespoons rock or sea salt and mix until salt is dissolved • Once salt is dissolved brine will be ready. • You are then ready to make pickles with whatever vegetables you like. • Place those vegetables tightly in a jar . Make sure that there is no space left between them. This would prevent floating after brine is added. • Then add 3 cloves of garlic and 5 dry chickpeas to the jar to enhance flavour and fast fermentation. Ensure that garlic and chickpeas are scattered everywhere inside the jar. • Fill the jar with brine till all vegetables are covered with it. • Close the jar with a new lid to prevent air flowing through the jar. • Keep the pickle in a dark and cool place about three weeks or a month it will be ready.[VIDEO DIY]

10223308876?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Turks are the great picklers. In Instanbul, etc you will find shops specialising only in pickles of all sorts (example image above).

But of late -- following on from my celebration of Balsamic Vinegar use at any excuse, I turned my attention to vinegars as a great hack for diabetes. The family curse.

  • FYI: I had been doing OK with my blood sugars but despite following a low carb diet I still had a problem with overnight blood sugar spikes. How could I bring it down? Well, there are three diabetic 'hacks'  I've discovered. The first is to eat Chaya leaves. The second is to consume Inulin (think Jerusalem artichokes). And the third is to hit yourself up with a nip of vinegar -- ie: an acetic acid tipple.(I'll let you do your own Googling re these hacks.)

While kombucha is fairly acid -- and will turn into vinegar if you brew it long enough -- I find that adding Balsamic Vinegar to a chilled glass of kombucha is really refreshing.

I'd call it delicious.

That may be a pickle workaround, but when you get a taste for the sourness of culinary life,  you find you want more.

In the Turkish recipe you could cut the salt back to 2 tablespoons -- but you can also do away with the  salt -- and sugar -- altogether, by relying on whole spices(of choice), garlic ..  and carrots for sweetness -- in a bath of pure white vinegar. No water. Refrigerated, the pickle is ready in 3 days.

So the pickle is whatever veg plus carrots.

Obviously, no lacto-fermentation is involved. You will get a tasty and very crisp pickle.

This approach is close to the ubiquitous Vietnamese radish/carrot pickle -- Đồ chua .

The Turks -- and the Vietnamese -- may prefer to have pickle at every meal.The Arabs and Greeks and northern Indians will sour up with yogurt or a lemon juice dressing at table. But here, the pickle seems to adhere to the McDonalds burger  protocol of being primarily a saccharine hit. SUGAR ++ plus vinegar.

Aside from taste the low pH to be consumed with pickle intake is known to be metabolically remarkable. Maybe under researched -- but 'vinegar' per se is kosher rather than paying out big for high end Balsamic or organically brewed Apple Cider Vinegar. (Indeed, sourdough's healthy attributes have a lot to do with its acidity.)

And besides, you can clean your windows and kill your weeds with any leftovers...

Much as I appreciate my kimchi -- its flavour profile does not go with every meal. In contrast, your everyday pickle --  of whatever -- is very versatile.

  • FYI: Vinegars --especially Balsamic -- are great to cook with. Apple Cider vinegar in pork dishes. Balsamic in beef stews and sauces. Replacing wine in a dish.  Traditionally, chorizo sausages contain a good slurp of vinegar -- even the Goan variety. Vinegar is an essential marinade actually 'cooks' the flesh as it purifies it (as it does in the raw fish salad -- ceviche).
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Green Leaf Powder:

AVvXsEjF_OWpm61fbNpTZRDzWCpSeIhN46ug2PVDQ-uJ8CRjyR5fKK70wu0S0vIVfcTQbTc-TWUTVuM9I9F_iktZ7Lo6TSLc8zDhALGWXKhORBsp2i5JR438L2VaIj18_3d9Ludqh6obbbHUrlTavixu1PdwyB4sZPZDgoaplqwe0HoO9eFLRlFJ3tH5SWUHdA=w640-h436I grow a range of different greens. These leaves have awesome nutritional attributes.
But the problem is either finding an excuse to add them to the menu or their taste or texture sabotages my desire to eat them.
I've researched leafy greens for years and knew all about dry leaf powder but only recently have I begun to explore the comestible medium itself.
It's an easy DIY.
While my first experiment was with Chaya, today I dried Moringa leaves and blended them with a low amount of Katuk.
In the image, the desiccated leaves are on the right and the powder makings on the left.
Moringa is fiddly to dry straight from the bush as you get a lot of leaf stems, so leaving the harvest to dry naturally before proceeding is a good idea in order to facilitate the separation of the leaf from the stem before putting in the dehydrator.
Chaya, in contrast, is so much easier. I parboil the leaves first, pull them apart and then dry them before grinding/blending.
For the moment, all I have is a stick blender.
In the kitchen, it's a spoonful here or there added to a dish while preparing. Sprinkled on grilled cheese, in soups and stews, add to smoothies or yogurt. I add the powder to ferments like Kimchi and drink it mixed into Kombucha. You can sprinkle it into salad dressings. Just keep a jar of the powder to hand.
I save the drying sachets you get in food packets nowadays and recycle them in the leaf powder container to keep the moisture level set to dry.
Powdered Moringa is almost tasteless. Blended with Katuk (aka Sweet Leaf) you'll get a flavour boost.
Leafy greens dry quickly in the dehydrator so, as a protocol, it isn't too much spent energy.
And there is no waste. I can fossick outback for greens -- a bit of this and that -- then process the harvest into powder.
So far I've powdered
  • Chaya
  • Moringa
  • Katuk
  • Edible-Leaf Hibiscus.

Next time I'm grinding:

  • Longevity spinach (Sambung)
  • Okinawan spinach
  • Winged bean leaves

If you want to know why, check out the nutritional status of the above leaves. Hypothetically, combos can make one very healthy cocktail.

Since some of these leaves can be problematical, make sure you follow the preparation guidelines. Don't eat too much Katuk in one day  and read this discussion on the preparation of Chaya.

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Now Growing Chaya


AVvXsEj2Pg0rNUOGCGTi_aGGIoEph8XPvpwRhSRh0QXFN29pyfVtDzriKWSWrwtGIakgrkOovsyrQvYeFs1vzDs4iz1u-ebQiNPZQAWgdQ25yHQY8l48tXvT0FX1jCJ23s4NaeeyoOcexLKUOoI-yM5EbBZpQu6jPQHn_kwjhZngwZ6rGGPRCn3VsFVCtgRT=w118-h243You may know that we run a Vetiver Grass nursery. While we are on the cusp of expanding the amount of land we have under cultivation, a subsidiary activity may have a dynamic that will allow for some diversification:growing Chaya. Already we have been supplying a few individuals with plant stock. A major retail nursery has even requested cuttings -- but for now I'm trying to quickly advance the number of trees I have growing.
Today we processed a harvest of leaves into dried powder and was surprised at the quantity produced.
Hopefully, once we reach a take-off point we'll be able to offer cuttings, fresh leaves and dried leaf powder.
Please don't go pestering me for stock, as we need to grow on everything we now have. If you do your Chaya Googling you're in for a surprise.
Other so-called 'miracle' plants -- like Kale or Moringa --are handicapped by their poor taste. That's not the case with Chaya once it is prepared.

For those interested, the best Chaya resource online is from Echo --  who promote its cultivation in many Third World countries.

Now with harvest, I get to explore its use in the kitchen. Boiled and chopped up, it merges with many dishes, especially with eggs. The water it's boiled in is a rich nutritional hit too if later consumed.

Air drying and desiccating is another way to safely prep it for consumption. Because of its taste, no one is likely to gag at the meal table. In fact compared to its fellow 'spinaches' the taste is benign. I've made Spanokopita with it and with my next ferment batch, hope to add some prepped leaves to my kimchi.

While Chaya grows easily from cuttings, I'm finding it a tad slow in South East Queensland. But at left is one of our Chaya offspring growing in Cairns. 2 metres tall already and one year old. 


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You've seen me struggle over the years to measure my gardening success or failure.  I've tried weighing.  I've tried converting the weights to money that I'd save in the shops. 

Here is my current answer:

I am self sufficient in most herbs. I don't buy eggs. I buy very little beer and no spirits.  I don't buy compost or mulch. 

I do buy vegetables.  I buy meat.  

I think that is my answer.  



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This time of year...

This time of year ...with all this rain...the garden goes feral. My one regret is that the Chaya is slower to grow than I had hoped. That's because I love the taste of it. I'm also keen to replicate it ++++. I also have orders for same. So Chaya -- the little b! -- tests my patience.
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