Friday, 31 August 2012

Sparrow's Grass

Spring has sprung! The Sparrow's Grass has ris'! Spring is wonderful for all sorts of reasons, but there's nothing quite like the morning you go out and notice that the asparagus has noticed it too. This will be our first year of really good spears. It's taken four years to get to this point with mostly sprue spears (the thin ones), not that they taste bad either. But more bang for your buck with these fat fellows. Asparagus used to be belong to the Liliaceae family, but this split into two, the Amaryllidaceae  (onion family) and the Asparagaceae.

It's easy to grow, and once established it should keep producing for around 30 years. It's high in potassium, low in sodium, high in fibre and packed with mineral goodies, selenium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, chromium as well as vitamins  A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid.

The interesting thing about asparagus is that it makes pretty much everyone's pee smell terrible, but that only 20% of us are lucky enough to be able to smell it. I can't.

The ABC have put out a fact sheet about growing asparagus. Also known colloquially as Sparrow's Grass, though around here it's slug tucker if we're not careful.ABC Gardening Fact Sheet

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Save the Tarkine!

I'm at risk of overloading this site with petitions, but this one is close to home and my heart...

Located in Tasmania, the Tarkine Region is Australia’s largest temperate rainforest and it is in danger of being destroyed due to open-cut mining. This action will not only destroy the ecology of this important section of the world, but it will also endanger the Tasmanian Devil.

The Tarkine Region enjoyed relative safety from mankind’s destruction while under the protection of the emergency national heritage listing, but this listing expired 2 years ago and now mining companies are eager to deplete the area of its rich resources.

Proponents are citing teetering economic conditions as justification for new mining. But the devastation such a move would create will be permanent and detrimental to the planet. The need to protect this rainforest and all of its living creatures and waterways cannot be overstated.

Please tell Environment Minister Tony Burke to save the Tarkine by keeping miners out!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Why do people go to the beach?

Is it to suck in the extra ozone and slow down their beating hearts? Is it to walk briskly with their dog and get some exercise, to swim, to sunbathe, to flash off their tanned limbs?

Apart from the first on the list our family go for other reasons also, to select appropriate sized pieces of driftwood to turn into chunky, probably won't even work fly screens, and fill feed bags with kelp and seaweed to rot down in buckets for months and use to feed plants. Oh, and there probably was a bit of stand back and remark on just how beautiful it is where we live. These beaches are 10- 15 minutes away.

Seaweed should never be harvested directly from the sea. Only the stuff that gets washed up. Seaweed is common in the cooler sea waters due to their higher nutrient levels.  Seaweed is full of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and nitrogen.  It doesn't remain fresh for long as it is full of bacteria that will rapidly break it down.  Once it's packed into bags you slog down the beach past all the curious dogs carting their reluctant owners, and seagulls going, 'what the...' by the time you're nearly back to the car you're no longer carring the bags you're dragging them and your arms are two inches longer. (I make it sound like I have personal experience, but I was the one with the bags of driftwood, Trev's the true slogger.)

Once home it needs a good wash to remove the salt and sand, which is very alkaline.  In the past we've used it as mulch, particularly on asparagus, which responds well.  And of the three bags we collected two will probably be added to the compost heap. However the third is going to be part of an experiment. Can we make our own liquid seaweed emulsion?  We make comfrey compost tea, so why not seaweed? 

We discovered an added and unexpected bonus. Once washed off the goats and sheep attacked the pile of seaweed with their teeth. We give them a kelp supplement, but this seems a healthier way to go.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Buy a brick for a bear

Be a brick and buy one for a bear - I just did. Upsets the hell out of me seeing what we, as humans, do. $10 bucks a brick...

There are 25 bears to rescue, mostly from Romania, the conditions they live in are pitiful.

If you can't buy a brick and you're a facebooker, maybe a good thing to share.