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Racheal Cameron

Thai Cashew Chicken

By RecipesNo Comments

Happy Saturday! It’s our day off, and today was one of those lovely days where we had nothing planned. So there’s been time to potter around in the kitchen.

Chilies abound at the moment, so I’ve been trying a few Thai recipes, and thought I’d share this one with you…

Thai Cashew Chicken…with coconut rice

Coconut Rice: 2 C basmati rice

4C liquid (I use 1 can of organic coconut cream and make the rest of the liquid up with chicken broth)

Chicken: 500g chicken (we used organic chicken thighs), chopped to your preferred size

2-3 Tbsp plain flour

1/3 cup macadamia oil (if you don’t have macadamia, use another oil with a mild flavour)

Vegetables: 1 Tbsp garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 small tropea red onion, sliced length ways into wedges

5-6 Thai chilies, finely chopped

1 C raw cashews

1 C capsicums, julienned

1 C carrots, julienned

2 shallots, finely sliced

Sauce: 2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Dash of salt

Dash of honey

1 C chicken broth/stock

2 Tbsp cornflour

Method:

Get your rice going first. I put the rice and liquid in the saucepan and cook, absorption method, with the lid on. Just keep an eye on the rice to make sure the heat is shut off when the liquid gets low.

Mix your sauce ingredients in a jar and set aside.

Pour you oil into a wok or large frypan and heat. While that is heating, toss your chopped chicken in the flour to coat.

Fry the raw cashews until they start to brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add your floured chicken and the chili to the hot oil in the pan and fry until golden and delicious. Remove the chicken from the oil and set aside.

To that same oil, add all your veg except the shallots and fry until the onion is translucent.

Add your sauce and while that cooks through, get your cornflour and mix with a little water and add this to the pan to thicken the sauce.

Your chicken and cashews can now get back in the pan. Stir until the sauce has coated everything and then add your shallots for just a minute or two of cooking before you serve.

I liked the heat level of this combo. It was mild enough that flavours other than heat could be enjoyed, but hot enough to have a kick to it 🙂 If you love heat and don’t have children to accommodate, you might like to add more chili.

Confessions of a Farmer’s Wife

By Nutrition2 Comments

He looks like I’ve been feeling…pooped! Here’s an inside look at life at Birdsong lately…hahaha.

We had a lovely 5 days away at the coast, and not the overcrowded QLD coast, but a kind of remote little coastal village in NSW. It was bliss. We swam, read books and generally recovered from the fast pace life that the market garden creates. The children think it’s wonderful, partly because of the beach, and partly because it’s the only time I’ll ever let them eat cocoa pops!

But then we had to come back to reality. I got hit with hayfever (maybe the change of seasons brought on new pollen in the air…I don’t know). Then started having very disturbed sleep, and less than a week after the holiday was not coping. Rick’s got a lot of engineering work on at the moment so I end up with more farm work. Like, all of the harvesting, packing and sales. On top of homeschooling 5 of our 6 children (but thank God I have Rick’s mum helping me with that this year), making all our meals from scratch and managing all the other needs and distractions that come up. It was really too much.

Then we had other issues, like the lawn is starting to look a bit Amazonian, but the lawn mower, ride on mower and then the 2 wheel tractor all stopped working! The 2 wheel tractor was the saddest part. I was mowing with it (since the other equipment had broke down) and accidentally mowed over a bicycle tire that had been completely submerged in grass. That didn’t go down well, and broke the clutch. I felt terrible, because this was the first time I’d ever used the 2 wheel tractor…and because I’d repeatedly told the children not to leave their rubbish around the yard!). The 2 wheel tractor is an unusual piece of equipment from Europe, so parts are costly. Rick was already pretty disillusioned and considering giving up the farm just before that happened. He started pulling the tractor apart to find what went wrong and was very blessed to have our neighbour stop by and help him. It’s almost fixed now, phew.

Then came Friday. Friday is a huge day. I get up at dawn (that’s normal) and then get out in the market garden to harvest whatever else is needed for the delivery orders. Most of the packing is done Thursday arvo, so it’s not so stressful on the Friday morning. I have a very mature 9 year old who gets her 5 and 3 year old brothers fed and ready for the big day out while I work outside. Our 12 year old came out to help harvest. Most stock is ready to go in the cold room, but things like herbs are harvested to order. And leafy greens can’t be packed until the last minute.

Eventually all the boxes are ready (and I hope I haven’t missed anthing!). This week it was 8 boxes of veg, overflowing the boot of the van onto children’s laps! Then we start delivering. We try to get out of the house at 8am and need to be finished delivering by 9:15am for my eldest to have her piano lesson. While she’s there, the rest of us go grab some groceries, then collect her from piano and head straight to homeschool gymnastics. I really didn’t feel like being there this week, but once a fortnight the under 5’s have a class…and that was this week. My 3 year old was so excited that he’d get to use the gym equipment too that I didn’t have the heart to skip it on him. Then it’s lunch in the park with a stack of other homeschool families.

Next things start to slow down a bit and I drop the children off to my sisters for the afternoon so I can do any town errands by myself!

Busy. And I can totally understand why there aren’t more small farms and market gardens. It’s hard work, but doesn’t make enough money to hire help.

By the way, this was written more in a effort to help people understand some of what’s involved in small scale farming, not to have a whinge. Overall we have a great life, and I’m so thankful for the produce (and the opportunity to farm), as I doubt I’d have the energy to maintain this schedule without it!

Gran Elly Orchard Tours

By NutritionNo Comments

A number of you already buy apples from Dennis Angelino’s biologically organic farm. But for those who don’t know, Dennis is into remineralising the soil, like us. He’s opening up his farm at Thullimbah for tours on March 3/4 (Saturday/Sunday).

Sounds like a great family excursion, and opportunity to see what goes into apple farming and processing without poisons.

Contact Gran.Elly.Orchard@gmail.com for more info

Rain at Last!

By Farm Gate StallNo Comments

Hi 🙂

As you may have noticed on the web store, the range of produce is dwindling! There’s lots of crops out there, but until yesterday, we’d had no rain this year. So though we irrigate and the crops are plodding along, they haven’t been able to thrive. Yesterdays storm brought 14mm. A nice start.

The lack of rain isn’t just affecting the crops, it also affects the animals. Our sheep have eaten out their cell, so I let them out into the house yard the other day, completely intending to put them back soon….but I forgot and they ate most of our upcoming lettuce crop. Oops.

And the ducks/chickens…the laying has cut right back! So many birds, so few eggs. But Cinnamon, one of our bantams who was laying, just hatched 5 little chicks, as pictured. So cute, but it’s ducks we’re wanting to breed, not more chooks! And bantams at that (Rick thinks their little eggs are a waste of time). The children are excited though, they love babies.

Rick’s had some contract work happening, so farm work is minimal. But that’s a good thing while we’re waiting on more rain. When the range picks up again, Rick is wanting to add another delivery slot to our week. He goes into town every Wednesday morning to deliver to a restaurant, and could do a few home deliveries right after that (in Toowoomba, after 9:30am Wednesdays). So keep an eye on the website, he plans to add the delivery option as an item that you add to your cart.

I also have a contact in Harristown who already runs a fruit co-op and is willing to be a pickup point for orders. So if you’re in that area and are interested, let me know.

Enjoy your week,

Racheal

 

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

By RecipesNo Comments

A while ago I posted the recipe for the best tomato sauce we’ve found…well that recipe is a great base for making your own BBQ sauce. It does still contain sugar, if that’s an issue for you, but it’s a lot more wholesome than store bought BBQ sauce!

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

3/4 Cup Tomato sauce

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (we used organic balsamic from Wrays due to the fact that balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, which are a heavily sprayed crop unless you buy organic)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic is great, but you can use 1Tbsp powdered or minced garlic if that’s what you have on hand

1/2 Tsp each of salt and pepper

1Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or organic raw sugar)

A nice easy recipe…all you do is mix all those ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmer away for about 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and you have a consistency you’re happy with. Then pour into a clean bottle.

I couldn’t tell you precisely how long it lasts, because it’s consumed long before we have to get concerned with use by dates 🙂 But given the high level of vinegar and sugar, you should get at least 12 months of shelf life.

Our Experiences with Lavender Essential

By Farm Gate StallNo Comments
I’ve noticed a great deal of our customers are into alternative healing, and natural living…so I thought I’d share this with you 🙂
Lavender oil is one of the three oils that we’ve been using for a looong time. Not long after marrying Rick, he relayed to me the account of his mining mate who sustained a nasty hand injury that looked like it needed professional help at a hospital. The friend said, no, he had lavender essential oil, and to just watch how fast the gash healed. He said within 3 days it would be fine. So Rick did watch. And 3 days later, the wound was healing very nicely. No infection and no weeping etc. So we’d started buying lavender from the supermarket and keeping it on hand as we had more and more children, who naturally hurt themselves a lot.
My first chance at really putting lavender to the test was one afternoon when I had a particularly important phone call and the children had gone down to play at the pond. Before long, I’m hearing “MUM! MUM! There’s blood everywhere! Mum!” It was one of those calls that wasn’t easy to put down (a friend in a very emotional state), but when Charlotte was ushered inside, with blood literally pouring out of her finger, I had to tell the caller I had a serious injury to deal with! It turned out Micah had been ‘mowing the lawn’ near the pond with secatares, and Charlotte had stuck her finger right between the blades as he snipped. The result was that half of the tip of her finger was sliced through. I don’t like emergency rooms, and the fact that every time we’ve tried them we wait for hours to often find there’s not much they can do anyway. So I decided to try the lavender oil and bandages. Some bright spark gave us a first aid kit as a wedding gift (long time friend of Rick’s I think), so we had everything we needed. So that was it. I bandaged to stop the bleeding and when it had slowed down enough, dropped some lavender oil on the wound. Lavender speeds healing. I alternated treating the wound with tea tree oil too, as it is very effective at fighting infection. Thankfully it worked. He finger healed, and now, years later, there’s not even a scar. That’s impressive considering how much of her finger was sliced through!
A similar accident occurred about 2 years ago when our toddler went and played with tin sheeting (right before we were about to go out too). He deeply sliced the palm of his hand. I grabbed the lavender and tea tree again…and bandages of course. By now we knew butterfly closures were an item to keep in stock at our home! Two of the friends at the homeschool group we were attending that day were trained nurses, who suggested I take him to hospital for stitches. I drove home, praying about it…keen NOT to go to the hospital. I called Rick and he said to go with the oils. So we did. And once again, between lavender, tea tree and bandages, Jeremiah’s hand healed with no sign of scarring or infection.
Micah used to be our least hygienic child (Charlotte is in fierce competition with him for that title now!), and he contracted school sores. The first time it happened, we put him on antibiotics (the only time I’d ever done that with any of our children!). They left. But then they came back down the track, and this time I’d read that lavender and tea tree could combat school sores. So that’s what we did. I mixed the two oils in a spritzer bottle and sprayed his sores about twice a day. They left. And this time didn’t come back.
Flies really don’t like lavender. As most of you know, we keep sheep. We’ve had constant dog attacks on our flock, and one summer one of our best breeders was almost killed by a tear to the neck from one of the despised wild dogs. You could see inside her neck, it wasn’t pretty. But I hate to have an animal put down if there’s some chance it might recover. So we grabbed the lavender oil. Too much of it actually. You don’t ever need to use much, but we were hurrying to save her and Rick said “Pour it on!” I was too flustered to tell him that would be overkill, so just poured it on. The ewe dropped to the ground, shocked for a moment. But the lavender worked (we bandaged her neck also). It sped the healing, and repelled the flies, which are a threat to injured sheep, as they like to lay maggots in the wool of them. But she lived, never became fly blown and went on to have more twin lambs!
Lavender heals wounds, but what else?
Most of you have probably heard about it’s calming qualities. Especially on babies. When Archie had teething pain, I looked up in Modern Essentials what to try, and they said lavender oil across the jawbone. I did it, and it worked. Other times I’ve placed a drop of lavender on the back of the neck of distressed children, and found it calms them nicely.
One time we popped out the lavender in the park, when one of the children’s friends stepped on a bee and was stung. I put one drop on the bite site and she soon stopped crying and ran off with the others as though nothing had happened.
Lavender is also great for (brace yourself, it’s a long list!): calming agitation, allergies, anxiety, appetite loss, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, bites/stings, blisters, boils, soothing breast pain, burns, cancer, chicken pox, club foot, concentration, convulsions, crying, cuts, dandruff, depression, diabetic sores, diaper rash, diuretic, dysmenorrhea, exhaustion, fever, gangrene, gas/flatulence, giardia, gnats, grief/sorrow, dry hair, hair loss, hay fever, hernia, herpes simplex, hyperactivity, impetigo, inflammation, insomnia, itching, jet lag, dry lips, mastitis, menopause, mental stress, mood swings, mosquito repellent, muscular paralysis, pain, parasympathetic nervous system stimulation, parkinson’s disease, phlebitis, physical stress, poison ivy/oak, post labour, postpartum depression, rashes, relaxation, rheumatoid arthritis, sedative, seizure, dry skin, skin ulcers, sleep, stress, stretch marks, sunburn, tachycardia, teeth grinding, teething pain, tension, thrush, ticks, leg ulcers, varicose ulcers, vertigo, withdrawal, worms, wounds, wrinkles.

Lavender wholesales at $28 for 15ml and is one of the top 10 oils to have in your home. I keep some in stock for those who are local and don’t have their own account with doterra.

One of those Days

By Market GardenOne Comment

5am, time to get up. But where I’d normally get into the routine happily, with no dramas, today I felt like crying…or vomiting. All of a sudden the enormity of the tasks hit and the stress that comes with it.

Rick wants to aim for the markets this weekend, which is a good idea, but the actual work it takes to prepare for that is messy. Waking to the prospect of more harvesting and market prep was a sobering thought. If that was all we had to do, then it would be simple. But it’s not. There’s 6 children to organise and care for (they do a lot to help, but they are still young and need some motivation!), endless farm chores, food to prepare etc. Maybe I shouldn’t list everything off or I’ll get overwhelmed again!

From 5am-8pm I don’t really stop moving or working, except sometimes for half an hour in the arvo to lie down and read for a while…but that is usually interrupted by a child coming to ask a question or complain about one of their siblings to me.

Rick seemed to recognise the problem straight away, just by looking at me. I hadn’t said a word about what was wrong, I was just getting ready to go out and harvest when he gave me a hug and said “it’s ok, you don’t need to harvest anything or work out there.” Then he offered to pack orders for me today etc. What a relief! He feels this way sometimes too, but he’s a lot better at just sitting down and stopping for a while until the motivation comes back.

We live such a blessed life…loads of wholesome food, sunshine, fresh air, family, friends etc. But it is also a LOT of work…and we like work, but sometimes it gets overwhelming.

I’ve been reading Grow, Hunt, Cook by Rohan Anderson. He’s a guy who left his office job and deteriorating health and moved to a property where he and his family could live off the land and produce food for themselves…he talks a lot about the supermarket culture, and how detached people are from their food. Most people have no idea how much effort goes into feeding a person, or how long some produce takes to grow…or how long it takes to process! Especially with meat you find this. People are happy to eat meat, but not to pay much for it, generally. But there’s a lot of work in raising an animal and butchering it. And it’s pretty hard to look into the eyes of a sweet ewe for example, and then take it’s life. I can’t do it still. I can help butcher, but not with the actual kill. Picking up a roast at the supermarket totally detaches you from the time, effort etc that goes into that roast.

Anyway, now I’m rambling. I just thought this post might help people see some of the time and energy that goes into producing real food…and the realities of living this dream 🙂

A Higher Frequency

By Farm Gate Stall2 Comments

Hello,
Ever heard of Tainio? Bruce Tainio, of Tainio Technology invented and built a machine called the BT3 Frequency Monitoring System. He wanted to measure the bio-electrical frequencies of soil nutrients and essential oils.

If you can remember back to school science lessons, you would have been told about how everything vibrates. Every element in the periodic table has a specific vibratory frequency.

Humans have a frequency, but it can vary so much depending on what state your health is in. Through measuring these frequencies it was found that a healthy person should have a frequency measuring around 62-68MHz.

But what if it’s less? When your frequency drops to about 58MHz, cold symptoms can manifest.

Flu symptoms start at 57MHz.

Candida at 55MHz

Cancer can begin when the body drops below 42MHz.

The process of dying begins at 25MHz and drops to zero when you’re officially dead.


So how can you change your frequency? First of all, it should be noted that processed/canned food measures 0MHz. It has no life force, the heat treatment has killed it all. It can give you energy, but not life-force.

Fresh herbs measure 20-27MHz

Even dry herbs measure 12-22MHz

Holding a cup of coffee was found to lower a person’s frequency by 8MHz!! And drinking the coffee lowered it by 14MHz.

So eating food that’s fresh as opposed to long-life, will go a long way towards boosting your frequency.


But then there are essential oils too. Tainio tried giving his coffee experiment ‘guinea pig’ a whiff of some quality essential oils after drinking the coffee. The subjects frequency was fully restored within a minute. He tried the same experiment with the coffee again, but left the person to their own devices to see how long restoration of frequency after the coffee would take without the use of essential oils. 3 days it took.

(I told Rick about this, and he can’t bear the thought of giving up coffee, so dabbed himself with peppermint oil which measures at 78MHz, after drinking his coffee!)


This is relatively recent technology and not all oils have been tested. But quality, properly distilled oils from healthy plants have some amazing frequencies. For example:

Rose 320MHz

Helichrysum 181MHz

Lavender 118 MHz

Melissa (lemon balm) 102MHz

Juniper 98MHz

Peppermint 78MHz

Basil 52MHz


And you can benefit from their frequency just by inhaling them!

One of the most important healing modalities of the oils is their ability to lift our bodily frequencies to levels where disease cannot exist” David Stewart Ph.D.


Food for thought…


PS All the above oils mentioned are available through doTerra and can either be ordered through me (I also keep a bunch of them in stock at wholesale prices), or I can set you up with your own wholesale account (no minimum buy required). Just ask if you’re interested.

Just remember that no oil or supplement is a substitute for a wholesome balanced diet. If you want to improve your health, look at your diet and habits first.

Shalom, Racheal

Happy New Year + Specials

By Farm Gate StallNo Comments

Happy New Year! We welcomed it in by….harvesting. Surprise, surprise!

By the way, we are open today (New Years Day).

To celebrate the new year, we’ve got some specials for you…

Zucchini $4/kg

Activated Almond meal, insecticide free $12/kg

Tomato 5kg bulk buy, $20

These specials are available while stocks last, or for the next week…whichever comes first 🙂

Have a lovely new years, and have fun dreaming about your goals for this year…I plan to learn more about herbs. While perusing the Minerals For the Genetic Code book, I noticed herbs are mineral powerhouses…with ppm (parts per million) of various minerals far higher than most other foods. So herbs are going as many dishes as possible!

Birdsong Tidings

By Farm Gate StallOne Comment

Hello, hope you all had a lovely Christmas. It was very peaceful here, so good to have a break!

It’s been full-on, with summer crops needing frequent harvesting. I was thinking this arvo, what happened to those morning hours when I used to get extra jobs done? Now the time is spent harvesting and cleaning equipment. But we live seasonally here, so that’s to be expected. I’ve started reading Grow, Hunt, Cook by a guy from NSW. Forgotten his name! But I can totally relate to what he says about living seasonally, and how it means working your but off for three seasons and then taking it easier in the winter…though he lives in a much colder part of the country than us…we can grow year round here…so winter is still a work season. Just not quite as busy as summer.

As many of you know, we have ducks for eggs, and last week we had a beautiful bunch of ducklings arrive. We had a hen incubate the eggs for us…2 hens actually. Lightning, the hen who started incubating, was kicked off the nest by Lavender, my hard-core-broody hen. She’d just hatched some chicks about 2 weeks prior, but obviously was still in the mood to sit, because she kicked Lightning off the nest and took over. That was all good and well until after the ducklings hatched. Our son excitedly told us three ducklings had hatched. We went to have a look, and a fourth was hatching! But by the time I got back out there to check on the progress, a duckling was dead! Bleeding from the back of the skull, and totally lifeless. It was heartbreaking when we’ve waited to long to hatch our own ducklings.

But I didn’t know it was Lavender who was responsible, so I left the other ducklings there while we waited for the next one to hatch. Then on the next check up, another duckling was killed. Same lethal wound to the back of the skull. Then I realised Lavender was the murderer! She has 6 week old chicks that still sleep beside her, and obviously she looked at these new babies and realised they’re no chickens…and started killing them. I felt awful for not getting the ducklings out of there sooner, but I had no idea she’d do that. We’d sold fertile eggs to a guy who had a hen incubate them, and it all went well for him, so I presumed it would be the same for us. Not so. Anyway, there was a 5th egg starting the crack, so I put it under another broody hen who’s far gentler. But she rejected it in the middle of the night, so it went cold and died. 🙁

The good news is that we rescued the two remaining ducklings, who are doing really well. They’re friendly little ones, and love to have someone nearby to play ‘replacement mother.’ They’ll cheep like crazy when they’re lonely, and all we have to do is put them on someone’s lap, or next to the children while they play, and the babies will be happy. So cute.

We’re open again from tomorrow (Wednesday 27th December). As I mentioned to a few people, if we took the week off, we’d have to throw out so produce! The garden is producing heavily right now. Tomatoes especially. I’ve been canning whenever possible (though I’m down to my last few vacola jars now!).

It’s a great time of year to look back at all that you have to be thankful for…

The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe We’ve Found…Plus a Workshop

By RecipesNo Comments

Since we started growing veg, summer is synonymous with an abundance of fresh fruit and veg…more than we can use right away. Not that I mind, as I love to have shelves full of homemade preserves so when things like tomatoes are finished for the year, we can still be eating organic remineralised products made from those tomatoes for a long time to come.

Tomato sauce (as in, what you would eat with sausages etc) is one product we wanted to be making for ourselves. And it took a while to find a recipe we were happy with, because the children didn’t like so many that we tried, so kept asking for bought tomato sauce!

Matt Preston’s Tomato Sauce, which he says is a recipe from his mother-in-law, is the best we’ve found. http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/matt-prestons-tomato-sauce/751a8855-76c1-4f9f-b6e4-3ad781c9e73d

The only changes I made to the ingredients in that recipe (you can follow the above link to check it out) were:

-using organic raw sugar instead of plain sugar

-using apple cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar

-leaving the spices in there and blitzing them in with a stick blender at the end.

And if you’re making it at home, sourcing homegrown tomatoes is going to produce a much richer flavour than using supermarket (or mass farmed) tomatoes. Tomatoes farms are also usually subject to toxic sprays (like I mentioned in the post on glyphosate), so making sauce from them…or eating them at all, is really not ideal if you value your health.

The change I made to the method, was in using all the tomato, and not peeling them or sieving out the seeds. We like the whole-tomato texture (and it saves a lot of time!).

Now, at the moment we have loads of tomatoes, and I also have organic vinegar, spices and sugar that we’ve sourced to make a huge pot of this sauce. I thought it would be fun to get together with other people who are interested, work together to make a huge pot of sauce and everyone can take a 1L glass bottle of it home. I have enough glass bottles, but if you would rather spread the 1L between several smaller jars, then BYO and that’s fine too.

Cost will be $25 and sorry for the short notice (but I was waiting for the organic vinegar to arrive!), the class will be this Wednesday 20th December, 2pm at Birdsong Market Garden. If you’re interested, you’ll need to RSVP, as we’ll have to cap numbers at 5-6 people (participating adults). Email me at racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au to let me know if you’d like to come. You can pay on the day (and we have paypass facilities if you need).

Sugar Snaps are Back

By Market GardenOne Comment

Sugar Snap peas are back 🙂 And so is our ability to blog. We updated and then for weeks the blog wouldn’t function. Now it looks like all is back to normal.da

The rain has been wonderful, and the garden is thriving. So are some of the pests, but we’re working on it!

A few people have asked about our Christmas trading hours…we’ll be around Toowoomba for Christmas, so hours will be normal except we’ll obviously be closed on Christmas day itself.

A Delicious Bunch- Book Review

By Farm Gate Stall4 Comments

A Delicious Bunch, by Linda Brennan

Growing and Cooking with Edible Flowers

We’d been asked once before if we were going to grow edible flowers…but trying to get all the vegetables going was enough work without adding another job to the list.

Then last holidays at the conference, I was chatting with an organic edible flower farmer from the Brisbane region. She thought we should grow them too. “It’s so easy” she assured me. Hmmm…

The idea still wasn’t that appealing, until recently when for my birthday, my sister gave me A Delicious Bunch, by Linda Brennan. Linda gives some basic info on how and why to grow organic edible flowers (with gorgeous photography!)…and then the bulk of the book is dedicated to showcasing some of her favourite edible flowers, how to grow them, and a recipe to try. I’ll also add that many of the recipes are plant based and gluten free. And they look worth making…you know how sometimes you get these books and think ‘who would actually make that?’ This is different, the recipes look amazing and worth trying.

After reading the book, I was sold on the idea. Rick and I discussed where we would plant this flower garden, and settled on the front corner of our property. This will also serve as an easy way to find our place if you’re coming to pick up veg for the first time “just look for the riot of colour!” So that plot is being solarised right now (non-toxic way of killing the grass before preparing the soil).

Just remember, if you’re wanting to try some edible flowers, make sure they were grown organically. Roses are a great example…from your own garden where you hopefully haven’t used any toxic sprays, then yes you can eat them. But don’t go nibbling on roses from a florist/shop. They have been treated with various nasties to repel the pests, and are not safe to eat.

One of the edible flower plants mentioned is the elderberry, which we happen to have growing prolifically around our water tank. Linda’s recipe for elder flowers is Elderflower Fizz, a fermented beverage, which we have brewing as I type. By the way, I counted 12 elderberry suckers this morning that our original 3 elderberry trees have sent out. So for people wanting to buy an elderberry plant, I’ll hopefully be potting those up within the next week.

If all goes well with this flower plot, then organic edible flowers will make a nice addition to our produce for sale.

Zanzibar- An Example of Why Soil Nutrition Matters

By Plant Performance ExperimentsOne Comment

The Zanzibar that Broke the Rules

About this time last year, indoor air filtration was of great interest to me. The zanzibar was an indoor plant who’s name kept popping up in the search for ideal air cleansing indoor plants.

And here’s what I ‘learned’ about them:

They thrive on neglect

They only need watering about once a month

They only need feeding in the growing season

They like low-light, and to be kept out of sunlight

They’re incredibly slow growing

Well…Rick thought those care instructions sounded wrong. He often would look at our zanzibar and say “It needs another watering.” So it would end up getting a drink every week, sometimes multiple times a week.

He also thought it needed some fish emulsion and I gave it liquid kelp/fulvic acid too. And I did this throughout winter.

Though they say to keep it out of direct sunlight, it would get the afternoon sun through our front window. And when it rained (that doesn’t happen often!) we’d put the zanzibar outside.

See all those new shoots? It must be almost a year that I’ve had this zanzibar and I thought I took a pic when I first got it…but don’t know where that is now. Shame, because I’m sure it’s doubled in size. The plant that is supposed to be so slow growing is always growing new shoots, some of which I’ve removed and re-potted to start new zanzibar plants.

When I first got the zanzibar, I took it out of the plastic pot and bought a larger, ceramic pot (and now it’s just about outgrown that pot). I filled it with soil from Rick’s first garden plot. This soil has been remineralised and had 2 rotations of crops through it.

The zanzibar is also in our loungeroom and exposed to a lot of both classical music and Wholetones (healing frequency instrumental music).

Then, like I mentioned, it’s had feeds of organic fish emulsion and kelp…in winter. Often people are told to feed in Spring, the growth season. But I heard a great analogy from an agronomist recently contradicting that philosophy. He said that waiting to feed a plant until growth season is like waiting to properly feed a pregnant woman until she’s right about to have the baby. One of the crucial times for a woman to be in peak health is when she conceives. Certain minerals being absent at this point can result in birth defects and disease. And plants, likewise, need good nutrition when they’re ‘dormant’ throughout winter. They’re pregnant with Spring growth, and as I can see with this zanzibar that was fed throughout winter, now it’s able to thrive and bring forth abundant healthy growth, because it had decent nutrition back when it was ‘pregnant.’

This has all been so interesting to me, because we expected the plant have little growth or noticeable changes, but it’s so active! My sister bought herself a zanzibar around the same time, and hers has had some nice new shoots too, but not so many as ours. Soil nutrition matters. I wonder how many plants would perform completely beyond our expectations if they were given a decent diet?

And this is the first shoot that I re-potted. It’s now grown a new shoot too 🙂

A Fowl Experiment

By Nutrition4 Comments

“Three duck eggs? That’s it?! But there’s about 11 ducks in there!”

I’d bought all these extra ducks for eggs, and some days I’d had 7 or 8 eggs in a day, but never consistently, and I’d purposefully bought a breed of duck that’s known for outlaying chickens. So what was the problem?

We soak their grain for at least 24 hours before their feed, give them table scraps and market garden scraps…and sometimes even some milk kefir (which they love). And I was pretty sure it wasn’t a predator nicking off with the eggs.

After the Sustainable Agriculture Conference, one of the bullet points I’d jotted down was that we should start sourcing organic feed for our animals. The primary focus of the lectures was on human health, but it became pretty clear that feeding animals with roundup contaminated produce is dangerous too.

We found certified organic lucerne for the sheep during the drought (which turned out to be the same price as the regular lucerne we’d bought before that!), and eventually I took the plunge and bought organic chicken feed too. I’d been holding off, as it’s far more costly than even the special duck formula that we sometimes bought.

At the same time as starting the organic poultry feed, I started picking a fresh tub of produce for the chooks/ducks each morning. Especially after all the rain and hail, we had lots of lettuce that wasn’t suitable for sale, but was perfect for the birds. We have about 30 birds, so maybe table scraps weren’t enough, even though they free range in a paddock.

2 days later, that’s all it took to see a difference. I had 7 duck eggs that day. And 7 the next, and the next…and then 8, then 9. Plus all the chook eggs. It’s been about 10 days now, and I’m still getting 7-9 duck eggs a day, plus chook eggs.

I’m sure the organic chicken feed has helped, but the real difference, in my opinion, is the fresh produce every morning. I made sure there was variety in the tub too, by using kale, chard, mesclun, and cabbage greens on top of the lettuce.

And every day, they polish off just about everything! It’s usually a bit of chard that gets left, if anything.

I say all this, because if you can see results in fowl health after only 2 days, by ramping up their fresh chem-free vegetable intake, what do you think it will do for human health? For your health?

I’d love to hear of anyone’s experiences with incorporating more fresh produce in their diet. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be able to report back down the track on this Fowl Experiment, because the next change I’m looking for is in the birds feathers. Some of the chooks have bald patches which I want to see cleared up!