December 29th, 2008
Seed balls are an easy way to revegetate arid areas – seeds are rolled into balls of clay and dry compost and scattered into reveg area, and the weather does the rest. The recipe is on the Path to Freedom site, sent in by Rose.
Image source: Path to Freedom
November 25th, 2008
Early morning thunder and lightning, the clouds brewing…
Ten minutes later and still rumbling…
Weather forecasting awards for this week go to Starman, MW crew and the ants!
November 10th, 2008
The frogs are out and about in the Flinders Ranges with the recent rains and the Frog Atlas project of the EPA and Zoos SA are inviting you to join in the SA frog census.
Take an evening out of your normal routine and get in touch with nature. Find a water source, enjoy being in nature and make a recording of the frogs calling in the area. Then come back to Frog Atlas to enter the data and help us build a better picture of where frogs are found.
Frog Atlas allows you to learn about some of Australia’s frogs, while helping to build an interactive map of frog distributions. Frog calls vary between species and provide a simple means for gaining information about where frogs are found. By learning to identify frog calls and contributing them to a central, mappable site, together we can build up a picture of what is happening to our neighbours, the frogs.
Contributing to the frog census is easy:
- Make sure you have access to digital recording equipment that makes a clear recording and test equipment before going into the field to ensure it works.
- Download and print a copy of the data sheet to make sure you record all the information required about the site.
- Find places where frogs are calling such as streams, rivers, ponds, wetlands and waterways. Ideal times to hear frog call are at dusk on warm still nights before or after rain.
- Record site and time details on the datasheet.
- State your name and location on the recording and then make a 30 second recording of the call. If it is a complicated call or chorus you can make a slightly longer recording, although keep it to under a maximum of 2 mins.
- Ensure the frog calls can be heard clearly in your recording before uploading it.
More information on taking part in the census, and identifying frogs and calls for our area can be found at the Frog Census Australia site.
Image: Streambank Froglet, endemic to the Northern Flinders Ranges and Gammon Ranges. Source: Frog Census Australia
October 24th, 2008
Biodynamics is a combination of ‘biological’ and ‘dynamic’ agricultural and horticultural practices.
‘Biological’ practices include a series of organic farming techniques that improve soil health. ‘Dynamic‘ practices are intended to influence biological as well as metaphysical aspects of the farm and garden, increasing vital life force, operating the farm and garden in harmony with natural rhythms (such as planting seeds during certain lunar phases) and energies. – Gold Leaf Biodynamics, 2008
One of our horticultural contributors, Carol the cosmic hobbit, has launched a very interesting and generous blog on all things biodynamic, including an introduction to the principles of biodynamic practice, current dates of auspicious rhythms and advice for vital gardening. This is a wonderful opportunity to ask all of those questions you may have about the nature of biodynamics. Bookmark it!
October 10th, 2008
Well it’s spring and the global financial system is crashing hard and fast, which are two very good reasons to get into some serious vege gardening and fertilise your fruit trees, folks. As for the latter, an easy quick fix – manure, mulch and a good soak. Even better, make up a poo cordial out of a few cow dungs in a bin full of water. Make sure the lid is a tight fit to avoid mosquito breeding. When the cordial is a rich dark brown, mix 1 part to 20 parts water and distribute a few buckets around the roots of the trees. Fruit producing requires heavy feeding so it’s worth doing every few weeks during spring. Before you know it you’ll be hunting down preserving jars…
Pictured: Mandarin, Nashi, Peach, Passionfruit, Mulberry and Apricot
September 23rd, 2008
Pamela has handed over her secret for raising the Sturt’s Desert Peas:
Pour boiling water over the seeds and leave them submerged for a few days until they grow their first shoots. Then carefully scoop them up in a spoonful of water and transplant them very gently without handling them. You can plant them directly out into a sandy part of the garden but until they strengthen, give them a little bit of shade and keep them watered.
And that’s the trick. Something else Pamela has discovered that is worth keeping in mind when growing Sturt’s Desert Pea is that the seeds she has bought commercially have been non seed producing hybrids, so your best bet if you want to continue to grow this stunning biennial is to collect seeds from local seeding plants.
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September 18th, 2008
Spring is definitely in our midst – the fruit trees are blossoming and fruit is on the way, so farewell to frostbite and time to get your spring seeds in. For some tips on seed raising soil, hop into the discussion on sustainable gardening, and check out Diggers and Eden Seeds for a huge variety seeds, including traditional and non-hybrid varieties.
Seeds to get in now include:
Herbs: Rocket, Basil, Coriander, Thyme, Calendula, Chamomile, Dandelion, Wormwood, Parlsey, Sage, Anise, Rosemary…
Vegetables: Salad greens, Celery, Bok Choy, Silverbeet, Cabbage, Climbing beans, 7 year beans, Capsicum, Eggplant, Tomato, Corn, Capers, Okra, Parsnip, Radish, Beetroot, Yam, Pumpkin.
Fruit: Melons! Like pumpkin, give them plenty of sprawling space.
Many seeds respond well to the warming weather, so it might be a good time to try your hand at native seeds. I was delighted to see several desert roses coming up in trays this week – a beautiful desert hardy shrub. Seeds for these are available from Pamela at the community market, where you will also have a chance to buy various seedlings from the list above.
It’s also an ideal time to recycle some greens, collect some manure (not exactly a shortage of that in town), some hay and get your super easy hot compost going so that you have luscious garden beds for planting out your spring seedlings.
September 12th, 2008
General information about The Food Forest
“Sometimes you encounter new ideas that dramatically change the way you see the world around you.”
Our courses bring together people keen to explore new ideas, skills, foods and information in an environment of diversity, abundance and sharing; they are designed to be experiences rather than classes. For some people they are the beginning of a new direction in life and for others they are an opportunity to hone well practiced skills of designing, food growing and self reliance. Our aim is to give people some of the skills needed to design sustainable ways of living for themselves and their families.
At The Food Forest a heritage-listed stone barn has been transformed into a well-equipped Learning Centre but many practical activities also take you out into the orchards, gardens and bushlands of the property. You can also enjoy our loo-with-a-view, a unique composting toilet and reedbed system which transforms human by-products into reeds for mulching, rich compost for fertiliser and golden bamboo for furniture and for structural work. You will see environmentally designed buildings which demonstrate passive and active solar technologies: the ‘Studio’ and it’s curved garden wall, the “Eco-Gazebo”, the drive-in coolroom, an extension to the over 160 year old homestead and a small gallery, all of which are built using strawbales. A photovoltaic system of thin film amorphous panels provides electricity to the house and grid; the sun also provides water heating for both the house and the on-farm processing facility.
The Food Forest today is the result of the vision of owners Graham & Annemarie Brookman and functions as a remarkable 15 hectare Permaculture farm and learning centre. From its buzzing biodiversity come over 150 organically grown varieties of fruit and nuts, wheat and vegetables, free range eggs, honey, carob beans, Australian native foods and timber. The Food Forest sells produce at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market every fortnight. The collections of tree crop varieties represent a unique genetic resource; willingly shared with others wishing to establish sustainable plantings.
More on Spring events:
August 24th, 2008
These are just a few of the Eremophilas – or is it Eremophili? – presently flowering around Copley. The eremophila, meaning desert lover, is a identifiable by its distinctive flower, although the foliage comes in a vast array of shapes and sizes from large blue-green shrubs to dark wiry ground covers. Many of the species of the Eremophila genera thrive in Copley’s arid alkaline clay conditions, including Maculata, Decipiens, Youngii, Drumondii, Glabbra, Biserrata, Subteretifolia, Stenophylla, Dicroantha, some of which are pictured here. These are a clear winner for greening Copley!
If you’re in Port Augusta feast your eyes on the incredible range growing at the Arid Lands Botanical Garden where you can buy several species from their enthusiastic volunteer run nursery open on Wednesday mornings at a very reasonable price.
Information on cultivating Eremophilas is offered by the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants, and keep an eye out for seedlings at the upcoming community markets.
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July 15th, 2008
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