Grow your own

Category Archives: Seasonal eating

Grow your own
21st November, 2018

Small space gardening

Design and planting tips and tricks for maximizing your small garden from Steve Fleischmann.

Recently I have been asked about growing in small areas and growing in pots. A great question because so many people have small gardens and a few well-placed pots can help make unused corners of the garden become more productive and attractive.

Design is an important consideration here. Like many things, we don’t necessarily notice something well designed, we just enjoy its functionality. However, when something is poorly designed it can be really frustrating. Having your potted garden in a handy spot, that you both like and spend time in, means you are far more likely to water the garden, notice when plants are ready t harvest and generally enjoy the space.  Similarly, with a small garden, design it so that it draws you in – put a seat in the middle of it or plant aromatic herbs you can step on/brush past. Consider aspect and hierarchy. Most edibles need six hours of sunlight, and try to plant tall plants at the back of a bed and low sprawling ones at the front.

Map out the areas around the house that get the required sunlight and start thinking and researching what can be planted in these areas. If the sunniest spot is in the most remote/far removed area of the garden, don’t despair, plant something like oregano because it comes from rocky hillsides that are really dry, it can (usually) cope pretty well with some neglect, and it’s delicious as a fresh herb.

Pathways are also important. Ironically we tend to prefer curved pathways, but tend to walk straight from A to B. So designing a path through even the smallest of gardens can be a major design feat. Before you move a single shovel load, observe how you and others use the space. It is far easier to build to your habits than changing your habits to suit your build. Straight lines can be softened by herbs that tumble over the edge of a garden bed onto the path – making a straight line seem curved.  Furthermore, it can be good to have an “aim” at the end of a pathway – a herb and flower bed, a fruit tree in a pot, a water feature, a bench seat or something else that draws you into the garden.

From my own experience the hardest thing about growing in pots is the water issue. In Australia’s extreme heat of summer pots can dry out very quickly and that can spell disaster for many plants. A couple of solutions to this is to use saucer trays at the bottom of the pot, experience has shown me that they make all the world of difference. Another option is a wicking pot. Essentially this is a plant pot with a water reservoir in the bottom.

Additionally, pots need to be watered. I know, I know a no-brainer really, but hey, it has to be said because we have all forgotten to water the pots and had plants die. Having a watering can or hose handy (and by handy I mean between the house and the thing that needs watering!) will mean the job is more likely to get done.

The next serious consideration is plant choice. And this is a big topic regardless of the size of your garden. Some edibles are simply not worth growing in small gardens – I’m thinking of things like corn or even tomatoes (I know some will disagree with me on this!) because they take up a lot of space, take a long time to fruit and the season is relatively short. On the other hand, a mix of lettuces, mizuna, chives and parsley in a big pot can give you cut and come again leafy greens for ages in a short period of time. Many seed companies sell Mesclun mixes and these are great for small gardens and pot growing.  A potful of parsley will provide you with far more food over a growing season than a couple of corn plants. Other veg to try in small gardens include space-saver varieties of cucumber, zucchini, melons and pumpkins.

Finally, going back to design, but with a firm eye on plant choice, think vertical space. Grow up walls, create tepees or other trellis structures. Beans, peas and other vining plants love growing up support, look great, can hide ugly parts of the garden and are really productive.

Happy growing!

Steve will be hosting a gardening workshop at the Katoomba Community Garden Friday 23rd November see event for details.

What’s new in store
21st November, 2018

Stocking up for Xmas

What’s new, out of stock or in abundant supply in the main store and the Big Little Shop.

As the Rolling Stones famously said ‘You can’t always get what you want’, but at least at the Blue Mountains Food Coop we hope you can ‘Get what you need”. However, much as we’d like to meet all the wants and needs of our shoppers sometimes things are simply not available.

Unfortunately, the drought in Australia has resulted in a shortage of a few items. The popular hulled millet crop has failed. The suppliers are unable to give an estimated time of arrival but hopefully the next crop will be harvested late summer. Also drought affected is our medium grain rain-fed brown rice. We do have a good supply at the moment but we can’t guarantee this will remain so.

The ongoing vanilla shortage continues and we’ve had a number of spices out of stock from our usual suppliers. Shopping around, we have been able to source some Garam Masala, Cardamom Pods and Cumin Powder. These should be back on the shelves by the time you read this news. Brown Basmati rice should return late November.

Eagle eyed shoppers may have noticed some changes in the fridges. We’ve been increasing our range of Vegan Cheeses, with some chilled Cream Cheeses (Cashew based) from Nutty Bay of Byron. We’re also stocking a Vegan Cheddar style block from Dairy Free Down Under.

Dairy lovers should look for the new cheeses from True Organics. Paris Creek has under gone a re-branding; expect a different look, and, due to high price increases we will unfortunately no longer be stocking Paris Creek cheese or butter. Matt from the Little Big Dairy tells me dairy producers have been struggling with the drought. But unlike the extreme price fluctuations for fruit and vegetables, dairy product prices tend not to change. He also tells me they intend to supply butter very soon, hopefully as tasty as their amazing cream.

Plus, look out for spelt mince pies and a variety of Xmas puddings.

Mike Patterson – Stock Coordinator

Featured fruit

Piel De Sapo: The Winter-weather Melon

Sapo or Santa Claus melon is a long life melon that tastes like a cross between honeydew and rock melon. Look out for it in store and check out this video on how to prepare and eat it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4xzvX66VuY

Stone fruit and berries are coming in for the start of summer and the festive season and as always there’s plenty of local leafy greens available.

In the Big Little Shop

Get Cheeki with the new range of reusable drink bottles and smoothie cups, featuring cool colours and new designs.

Tumbler – Stainless Steel Straw included with a mid-section bump so it won’t fall out and make a mess. Cold for up to 6 hours. Vacuum Insulation. Life Time Warranty. Material: Premium Food Grade 304 (18/8) Stainless Steel. BPA & Toxin Free. No Inside lining and toxic free inks. Cup holder friendly. 100% Recyclable Product & Packaging. Hand wash tumbler. Dishwasher friendly lid. Freezing not recommended.

Sports lid (sold separately) – This incredibly unique and newly engineered Tri-Tech Sports Lid fits all our New Cheeki Classic Range Stainless Steel Water Bottles. With three adjustable flow settings this lid is great for kids, sports, work and busy families. The leak-proof OFF setting means your bottle can go in any bag. The dust lid keeps the drinking spout clean and free of dirt and grime for when you’re on the go.

Straws – Cheeki stainless steel straws have a rounded top so are less sharp and nicer to drink from than other non-round metal straws. And they have different colours in the set that can be helpful for families.

Cheeki was born by the beach in Freshwater, Australia in 2009 and was the first brand to introduce stainless steel water bottles to the Australian market.  The Cheeki range includes water bottles, coffee cups and mugs, lunchboxes, food jars, reusable straws and tumblers.

New from U- Konserve

Wine Tumblers –  Waste-free living just got easier with these new stemless travel wine glasses, designed for hot and cold beverages. The perfect alternative to breakable glass and wasteful plastic, they’re great for parties, camping, beach days, poolside, outdoor dining, and everyday waste-free sipping. Keep wine, iced tea and cocktails cold. Also great for hot tea, coffee and cocoa. The ideal shatterproof solution for outdoor dining, dinner parties and on-the-go sipping!

Double-walled and vacuum-insulated. Very hot beverages will stay hot for over two hours with lid. Durable 304 (18/8) stainless steel with Tritan lid. Easy-to-clean see-through lids. Exterior stays room temperature and condensation-free. Dishwasher safe (top rack). Free of BPA, phthalates and lead. 8 oz (236 ml).

Also from U-Konserve we have new bottle brushes for water bottles or for any bottle you’d like to reuse for storage.

The Stray Whisker

Kick start your wet shaving routine and forgo disposable plastic razors with beautiful safety razors, cruelty-free shaving brushes and After Shave Balm from local grooming gurus The Stray Whisker.

Perfect Potion

Perfect Potion’s new range of essential oils include the limited Christmas edition Noel with sweet and spicy scents of sweet orange, bay, pine, lime, clove and nutmeg. Plus, check out Hug Time with its lavender, sweet orange, palmrosa, geranium, patchouli, ginger, ylang ylang, and rose notes.

Bozy bags

Bag a bargain and support Fair Trade social enterprise with our new Bozy shopping bags from Bangladesh.

Tea towels galore

We have loads of beautiful screen printed tea towels in store, perfect for gift giving, including our very own Co-op tea towel in a variety of colours and designs.

2019 Astrological chart

The ever-popular Thomas Zimmer 2019 astrological chart and moon planting calendar has arrived!

 

It’s a village out there!
21st November, 2018

The Village by Matt and Lentil

A book to make you “yearn for that deep connection to people and places close to you.”

What an amazing book! Set out in three parts (the village, the growing and of course the eating) it is a thorough bible for sustainable living.

The authors’ shared experience of villages really makes you yearn for that deep connection to people and places close to you.

I loved Matt and Lentil’s advice on growing including ideas about how anyone can grow, even if you’re renting or living in a flat. The eight steps to natural gardening are so interesting and detailed. Being a novice in the garden, I found it really useful to read a frank description of what they do and when.

The planting projects are really inspiring and seem like a doable place to start. The idea to focus on one thing first up is great. I’m particularly drawn to grow an abundance of tomatoes, zucchini and rocket as suggested! Easy to grow, abundant harvest? Yes! The sweet potato crates sound pretty straight forward too.

Just as I started reading The Village I happened upon a bunch of zucchini that had split open. Sure enough, zucchini pickle featured in the book. I have it stewing away in the cupboard and can’t wait to be cracking it open over Xmas. Waste not want not.

The smoothie chart in the recipe section looks so simple and useful. It’s unique, setting out all the different elements and options/quantities to be used to build a great smoothie every time.

The beautiful photographs throughout draw you into a gardeny world and you just want to go live there…or recreate it.

Really inspiring.

Review by Bec Tyson, Co-op sales assistant

Bec’s home-made zucchini pickles. Recipe from The Village by Matt and Lentil, Published by Plum, RRP $45.00, Photography by Shantanu Starick.

The Weed Forager’s Handbook
18th October, 2018

Everything you need to know about weed foraging is contained in The Weed Forager’s Handbook – A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia, by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser- Rowland. A must-have addition to your sustainable living library, the handy little tome, first published in 2012 and since reprinted numerous times, will fit snugly in your jacket pocket or backpack while you scour parks and gardens for your feed of wild food.

The five well illustrated and simply explained chapters cover the topics of weed appreciation, top 20 weeds, other useful weeds, recipes and gardening with weeds, highlighting not only the usefulness of weeds as food, medicine and soil improvers but exploring the philosophy and tradition of foraging passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

This well-thumbed edition belongs to Herbalist and Co-op worker Madison. 

Authors Raser-Rowland and Grubb are also behind The Art of Frugal Hedonism, which encourages us all to enjoy more while spending less.

Read more on weeds from Horticultural Editor of ABC Organic Gardener magazine Penny Woodward here.

 

 

What’s new?

Check out seasonal fruit and veg, plus new arrivals in the Big Little shop just in time for Xmas.

Fruit & veg

There is still plenty of citrus on offer while new season fruit is starting to trickle into store including mango, papaya and avocado.

Purple veg features strongly with cabbage, sprouting broccoli and even purple pak choy flying the flag. There’s lots of lovely leafy greens on the local stand and look out for new season garlic arriving in a couple of weeks along with some locally grown garlic plaits.

Say cheese

A new selection of dairy and vegan cheese is headed our way including Camembert, Feta, Double Brie and Haloumi from Organic Dairy Farmers. Cheddar style block from Dairy-free Down Under. And a tasty range of flavoured cashew cheeses handmade in Byron Bay from Nutty Bay.

Bags, bags, bags

Xmas gift giving got a little easier with the arrival of these beautiful new slub cotton ‘Foliage’ bags from Apple Green Duck. Available in a variety of colours they retail for $24.48 for members and $27.20 for non-members. STOP PRESS: WE ARE CURRENTLY SOLD OUT OF FOLIAGE BAGS BUT HAVE ORDERED MORE!

Plus, we have a huge range of organic, bamboo, calico, cotton, and jute string, produce, shopping and tote bags to make all your shopping bright, cheery and plastic-free.

Top Tip – Make it easier on yourself and write the weight of your re-useable produce bag on the bag using a fabric marker so it won’t wash off.

Just in

Activated Charcoal Vegan Dental Floss

Floss like a boss with Dr Tung’s lemongrass flavoured Activated Charcoal Vegan Dental Floss.

Gut instinct
17th October, 2018

Happy body = happy mind

Holistic health coach, Danielle O’Donoghue, shares a yummy Happy Gut salad recipe and explores the nutritional value of the ingredients.

This is the deliciously nutritious Happy Gut Salad I made at Blue Mountains Food Co-op  for Wellness Wednesday on October 17th. It’s full of foods that nourish your gut and microbiome.

Dandelion Greens: This super healthy green is GREAT for your gut. Dandelion greens are full of minerals, improve blood lipids, and they are rich in inulin, a particular prebiotic fibre that boosts your gut’s production of healthy, good-for-you bacteria, bifidobacteria being one.

“Boosting bifidobacteria has a number of benefits including helping to reduce the population of potentially damaging bacteria, enhancing bowel movements, and actually helping boost immune function.” David Perlmutter, MD.

Asparagus: A Spring Veggie That Aids Digestion
Rich in prebiotics, these green stalks are as good for you as they are delicious. Asparagus is also rich in inulin, like dandelion greens. It can help promote regularity and decrease bloating.

Seaweed: Demulcent, nutrient and fibre-rich seaweeds are fantastic gut foods. A study of Japanese women showed that high seaweed intake increases good gut bacteria. Another study researched alginate, a substance in brown seaweed, and found that it can strengthen gut mucus, slow down digestion, and make food release its energy more slowly.

Flaxseed: This superfood seed has the highest content of lignans (antioxidants with potent anticancer properties) of all foods available for human consumption. Flaxseed is fuel for good gut flora. Soluble fibre is also in flaxseeds, helping to improve digestive regularity.

Apples: High in a valuable soluble fibre called pectin. Plus, a 2014 study published in Food Chemistry found green apples boost good gut bacteria. Stewed apples have been found to be good for your microbiome, and they may also help to heal your gut.

Garlic: Pungent and flavoursome garlic is also great for your gut health. A 2013 in-vitro study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that garlic boosted the creation of good gut microbes. The research showed that garlic might also help prevent some gastrointestinal diseases.

What’s for dinner?
12th September, 2018

How do you answer the dreaded question?

Dish up your dinner winners and you could win one of two cook books.

We’re trying to find some winning dinner ideas to share with Co-op members. You don’t have to provide whole recipes just let us know what your favourite, go-to meals are when hungry kids or partners ask “What’s for dinner?”

Send your answers to hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with your contact details and you could win one of these two cookbooks.

Cauliflower is King  – 70 recipes to prove it by Leanne Kitchen, Murdoch Books, RRP $19.99

or

Stuffed! The art of the vegetable boat by Marlena Kur, Murdoch Books, RRP $32.99

Competition opens Tuesday September 18 and closes Friday October 12.

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living
12th September, 2018

Kick start your sustainable life with down-to-earth skills from the dynamic duo behind Milkwood permaculture.

The first book from the founders of Milkwood Permaculture, sustainability advocates Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar, is not only the realisation of ten years of hard-won practical know-how, it is a celebration of lifestyle. A lifestyle where time-honoured traditions of growing, cultivating, foraging and preserving food are practised with respect for the environment and enthusiasm for self-reliance.

Homemade and heartfelt, this beautiful instructional tome thoroughly explains five areas of the pair’s expertise – wild food, natural beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, tomatoes and the harvest and use of one of Australia’s least utilised resources, seaweed – providing readers with practical skills, recipes, hacks, inspiration and a glimpse into Bradley and Ritar’s own down-to-earth life.

BM Food Co-op caught up with Kirsten Bradley to find out how the book came about.

Q: You teach various courses at Milkwood Permaculture was this book a natural progression from that and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Kirsten: Yes in many ways it was, we wanted to share knowledge in a way that it can sit in your lounge-room or backyard with you, and be absorbed over time.

Q: Why did you focus on just five subjects – Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Beekeeping, Seaweed and Wild Food?

Kirsten: Well they’re ‘five of our favourite things’, so to speak, and also we didn’t want to just give a little bit of info about too many subjects, we wanted to dive in deep! So we started with five subjects that we love doing in our daily life, which are also super fascinating AND super delicious. Our next plan is to do another five subjects, and then another five…

Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to embark on a more self-sufficient life?

Kirsten: Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can! We’d recommend starting with just one small habit, and learning to do that really well. It might be keeping a worm farm, or learning to make yogurt, or learning to identify 10 local edible weeds where you live. Once you’ve got that one thing nailed, and you’re doing it regularly, in your daily life, choose one more thing. It’s amazing where you can end up.

Q: You practice what you preach – do you ever get any down time and does it ever feel too hard living a self-reliant life?

Kirsten: We don’t get a heap of down time, but on the other hand, part of our ‘weekly work’ is things like weeding, or taking the goats down the gully, or making bread. And for me, those sorts of things are what I’d want to be doing with my spare time anyway, so it works out pretty well. It can get a bit crazy in harvest season when the kitchen floor is covered in just-picked food that all needs to be bottled NOW because it’s a heatwave and otherwise it will all be mouldy by tomorrow, but still I wouldn’t have it any other way. And if you have too many pears to process, you can always share them up and down the street. It’s all good.

Q: What’s next for Milkwood – are you already planning a sequel?

Kirsten: Yes I’m bursting to write another five chapters, actually! There’s so much to share, it’s pretty exciting. And we’re so lucky to all live in a place where these skills and ideas are accessible and possible, so I do feel the best way to spend my days is sharing this knowledge so that more and more households and communities can grow and be healthy. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? x

Milkwood – Real skills for down-to-earth living by Kirsten Bradley & Nick Ritar

Murdoch Books, RRP $45

 

There’s nothing “fake” about our local, unprocessed honey.

A recent investigation conducted jointly by Fairfax and the ABC revealed startling evidence of “fake” or adulterated honey on Australian supermarket shelves. Of the 28 jars of “pure” honey tested by German laboratory QSI, 12 were found to be adulterated with honey substitutes.

At the Co-op all our honey is pure, unprocessed and unpasteurised. And we’re lucky enough to have local suppliers including Malfroy’s Gold and Bruce Rogers of Rylstone. Both beekeepers practise natural methods of extraction and harvest from their hives which are placed in isolated areas of western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and central western NSW.

Tim Malfroy (pictured above) of Malfroy’s Gold stated recently on social media that imported “fake” honey “has been an open secret within the industry since at least 2004”. He also thanked supporters for taking an active interest in his “vision for ethical, sustainable Warré style apiculture and locally produced, 100% pure wild honey.” Thank you Tim.

Photo: Eric Tourneret The Bee Photographer

 

Wild Weed Workshop
12th September, 2018

You will never look at weeds in the same way again after taking part in this workshop.

Diego Bonetto is a weed forager, artist, storyteller and an expert on identifying the nutritious plants that grow under our feet that most people call ‘weeds’.

Take a walk on the wild side and discover the edible and medicinal plants that grow around us. Learn about the role weeds play in repairing and building soil. Find out how they have been used for food, craft and natural remedies. Discover ways to safely harvest from the wild and enrich your diet with vitamins and minerals.

Each participant will receive a booklet detailing 16 of the most common wild edibles of the greater Sydney region.

The Weedy One

We asked Diego Bonetto aka The Weedy One what got him into weeds.

Q: What got you interested in wild food and foraging?

Diego: Where I grew up, on a dairy farm in northern Italy, harvesting seasonal bounties is just another chore. I grew up with collecting bitter greens from the fields in springtime, summer berries and autumn mushrooms. When I moved to Australia 25 years ago I continued with the same practice of collecting gifts from nature.

Q: What are weeds useful for?

Diego: All sorts of things. “Weeds” are pioneer species, opportunistic plants with a specific ecological task: to cover soil and start the process of remediation after a disruption. It also happens that many of them are edible and/or have medicinal qualities. We can talk about co-evolution if you want, and that would explain why we have so much to answer about the proliferation of pioneer species. Weeds are good, and food.

Q: You do a lot of foraging in urban areas – how do you mitigate contamination by pesticides, animal faeces or other pollutants?

Diego: You only ever forage where you know it is clean. Even then, it is now proven that wild urban plants do not take up as much contaminant as we might expect them to. A simple vinegar wash would cleanse the plants of any dust and oils. But anyhow. I always say that the best place to forage is your own garden, so that you forage where you know how many dogs there are, who sprays what and also a bit of history of the soil.

Q: Do you have a favourite weed you like to cook with or use medicinally?

Diego: Depending on the season. At the moment I am waiting for the mulberries. In Sydney we have a lot of wild mulberries, and they are delicious.

Q: Are there any “weeds” you know of that are endemic to the Blue Mountains?

Diego: I do not think you can have an endemic weed. I guess native species that are a bit too aggressive could be golden wattle and sweet pittosporum.

There are still a few spots left so to book your ticket for the Wonderful Wild Weeds workshop click here.

Location: Upper Blue Mountains – to be confirmed

 

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