News of the Month May 2018
I haven’t been on this site for months!!!! We’ve been really busy being missionaries…doing presentations, here, there and everywhere…having loads of people through Murnong, and of course, cooking up a storm of preserves to tide us over winter.
Some of the highlights of the past few months have been the fantastic people we’ve met. Too many to name here, but it is lovely so many folk are getting keen to try what we have here in abundance – our edible natives. Garden visitors have included Field naturalists clubs, chefs, overseas tourists, school teachers
A first for me was a talk back radio session with Chris Wisby on Saturday 10th March. An hour whizzed past with lots of callers telling about their experiences and asking about plants. I think another one is scheduled for spring – so keep your ears open.
Although we don’t do markets as such, because they’re just too tiring for me, we have been to a couple of great festivals – the inaugural Platypus Festival in Burnie late January, and the brilliant ecofest in Ulverstone in April.
Gardening Australia magazine contacted me to talk wild foods and the result is a 5 page spread in the May edition of the magazine. Great when mainstream media gets involved – you know the wave has a bit of momentum.
Dale Campisi from the Weekend Mercury also got in touch, which ended up being fun with a big article in the newspaper, and us being the first presentation in the old restored church at Dale and his partner Mike’s beautiful property at Hunting Ground.
We did two presentations at LINC in Burnie…I can’t believe how much of the freshly baked saltbush bread was demolished:)
Sadly, we lost our poodle Roxy to acute pancreatitis in late March. She was such a sociable character, I’m sure many of the garden visitors were more entranced with her than the garden!
What’s happening in the garden:
The garden has been brilliantly productive over summer and autumn….we harvested bucketfuls of pigface fruit (beach figs) [top left in pic below] much of which I made into beach fig and blackberry coulis. The violets didn’t disappoint and I was able to keep picking enough o make jelly and syrup. (I have to confess it goes rather well in a g & t). Other summer fruits…sambucus [right in pic below], kangaroo apple[bottom left] and native raspberry[centre] were delicious this season too.
Col made boardwalks in our garden which have been a real boon – look great, keep the visitors off the small plants and out of the wet…and have proven to be brilliant bandicoot hidey-holes:)
The tetragonia implexicoma grows in a few spots in our garden, but likes the vegie patch best where the leaves are huge, fleshy and delicious for pesto, stir pries, frittatas. We picked quite a few feeds of cumbungi and phragmites tubers – particularly nice in vegetable curries. Our cycnogeton produced loads of green seeds, as did the bulbine lillies. Just as well we have big freezer(s).
May is an excellent month for planting brassicas of all sorts – and our very own endangered brassica Barbarea australis is coming up nicely in the raised beds. This versatile and highly nutritious leafy green should be compulsory in all Tasmanian gardens – imagine a plant becoming extinct just through our ignorance. It is simple to grow, propagate and eat… its a leafy green similar to rocket, so works well picked frequently when young – using the leaves in any stir fries, salads, stews, soups, fritters etc. It can be cut back and will come again – or let it go to seed eating some of the pretty yellow flowers on the way, and collecting the seed to grow on. Picture below shows newly emerged seedlings on the right, and young plants at a stage we can start to pick.
What’s growing out there in the bush:
As always, Col and I love road trips exploring our marvellous Tasmanian bush. In January we found lots of exocarpus cupressiformis right throughout the dryer areas, but were rapt to find an exocarpus strictus fruiting with gorgeous pink/mauve berries on Bruny Island. This year has been abysmal for leptomeria drupacea unfortunately – this wonderful sweet acidic bubble is great for cakes and desserts . Similarly the coprosma quadrifida which is usually dripping from the bushes was hard to find.
It was a really early, short season for many of the fruits due to the hot, dry conditions….meuhlenbeckia, sambucus, rubus and rhagodia were all over and done with by the end of January. The pigface had a bumper year both at the beach and in our garden.
A few good storms in March blew loads of seaweed onto the beaches, so we collected some to dry, pickle and preserve as chutney. Bull kelp is a fantastic vegetable… containing about 30% of its mass as minerals including cobalt, nickel, boron, manganese, fluoride, molybdenum, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, iodine, phosphorous, sulphur, chlorine, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium! As iodine is lacking in Tasmanian soils, we all need additional iodine and brown sea algae contains the highest levels of iodine of any food with 1500-8000 ppm. It also contains reasonable quantities of protein and is low in calories – a cup of kelp has about 150kj with 1.5g of protein.
And there’s more…kelp also contains agar which is used to set icecreams etc, as well as Vit A, B5, B12 and C. What’s not to like?
Bull kelp is called Durvillea potatorum – getting its name “potable” from the way the first Tasmanians carried water in containers made from dried and hardened bull kelp. Make it a plan after the next storm to collect yourself some of this wonderful resource. It is legal to collect beachwashed seaweed in Tasmania for personal use – but not to harvest living plants.
What wonderful months!