Saturday, July 21, 2012


Some time last year a friend of mine from my permaculture group gave me a couple of tubers of turmeric. She had grown this in her garden and had a bountiful year and plenty to share. Prior to this, I had no experience with this plant and as such said I would give it a go but in a confined space so that it couldn't get out of control and establish in my garden without my explicit permission.

My next question to my friend was, what do I do with it? Then, how does it grow and what special things do I need to do to keep it alive? The answers were, it's simple, put it in the ground and watch it grow, you harvest it once the plant dies back next winter.

Well, that doesn't sound very hard!

So my trial is now complete, I placed my two tubers in the ground. I had a 'orange' and 'normal' turmeric tuber and placed each in a separate styro-foam box with potting mix, then covered the soil with hay. A few weeks on and I was cooking with gas, well actually I finally had a sprout poking its little snout out of the soil. Then a few weeks later some leaves and eventually a leafy green plant that didn't have to be watered more than fell out of the sky! How simple.

Here are a couple of in progress photos.

About a month ago the plants started to die back. Remembering the conversation about harvesting once this started to happen, I wondered how difficult this harvest and processing would be. Turns out, the harvesting process is just as simple as growing these things. I snapped off the plant or remnants of and dug around in the soil with my hands for the tubers and voila a whole bucket load of turmeric for my greatest cooking delight (I think). 

I think I got about 1.5kgs of tubers from the two small nodes that I planted last year.

I reckon the hardest part to this whole plant is knowing what to do with once you harvest it. From my internet reading I understand that you can use it just as you would do ginger in Asian cooking. 

Considering the amount of turmeric I have, I have already planted a nodule of each of the two types of turmeric back into a styro-foam box for next year's harvest. I also have plans to share some of my produce with the permaculture group next month.

If you have any recipes that use turmeric that you'd care to share I'll happily try them out, so that I can use up some of this turmeric. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Climate Science and Environment should be in the Queensland education system

According to the website, the LNP has passed a motion in the Queensland Parliament to remove 'environmental education' and 'climate science' from the Queensland education system. Oh my goodness, is all that I can say!

This is ridiculous and as one science education commentator said this week this means that climate change denial is rife in the LNP and they are treating this scientific information as a 'belief system'.

Please feel free to join science educators and supporters, in their action to ignore this governmental policy and bring scientific understanding and investigation back to the classroom, by signing the petition at
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken update

We have had the chickens two weeks now and they have changed so much in this short period of time. They have almost overwhelmed their small inside cage and have been happily testing out their chicken tractor during the day out on the front deck. They enjoy short bouts of weed pecking and scratching around this bigger space. The space also means that they aren't inundating their water with sawdust within seconds of it being replaced.  

I am starting to wonder whether Cheeky might be a rooster. She/he has always had a larger comb than the other two and is certainly larger than the other two. We will just have to wait and see. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Socks is the smallest of the group, but seems to be coping well.

Hope the chickens are enjoying their time with us as much as we are enjoying their company. 
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to let your neighbours know you're a greenie?

Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of talk about no-dig gardens. What trips me up is the need to source all the materials to make a no-dig garden. No-dig gardens just seem to have so many ingredients, when you can just call up a compost or landscaping place and they will dump a whole bunch of 'soil' at your front door. Convenience strikes again!

I haven't given up completely on the idea of creating my 'perfect' veggie patch through a no dig process and due to a number of recent random events in my life I am starting to think it might even be possible. However, the no-dig garden still needs all of those ingredients and perhaps the biggest sticking point is the current lack of compost in my life! Now compost doesn't just appear over night, you have to work at it, love it, feed it......and maybe, just maybe you might be rewarded with some 'black gold'.

When we moved in to our new place, I did rush out and buy the biggest and nastiest black compost bin I could find at our local green & red hardware store. I put it in a place I thought would be accessible and convenient, with the idea that I would be making buckets loads of compost by the time I was thinking about building the veggie patches. Well, 12 months on and I have decided that the bin is in the completely wrong spot and its location doesn't allow me to turn the ingredients to aerate them. Also, I think perhaps the type of bin I bought (a flat pack square one) is probably not strong enough to take a good turning.

Anyway, I will continue with my bin choice, but I have moved it and its current ingredients to a new location. The move brought ingredient aeration and some realisation that I don't have enough green materials (nitrogen) going into my compost bin (because the worm farm is hogging them). So this is where my neighbours find out that they have a hippie in their midst!

With the amount of green waste being utilised in my worm farm and the lack of established veggie patch to "feed" the compost bin, where am I to get this green material from? Work colleagues seem to be a little "special" when it comes to separating suitable lunch scraps and don't actually seem to have that many (or least not placed appropriately into the designated bucket in the lunch room).

So, where am I to get this stuff from? My greenie and recycling streak re-surfaced and I came up with a grand plan. Through a little initiative of mine, I am hoping my neighbours will be the source of all my required 'green materials'. How is this going to happen? Well, I have put together a flyer, that I have so far dropped into 50% of my street's letterboxes, requesting my neighbours be so kind as to drop their kitchen green scraps into a "bin" that I have conveniently placed at my front gate.

I wonder if this plan will be successful? Once the rain eases I will do the rest of my neighbourhood letterbox drop and see whether this strategy reaps any rewards! Pin It

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Queensland University of Technology food seasonality/growing survey

I just received the Northey Street community garden email newsletter and within it there was a request to participate in a short survey for a QUT organised research program. If you have less than 10 mins to spare and you have an interest in growing your own food or knowing about what fresh food is in season, take the time to participate in this survey. The survey is at:

If you'd like more information about the research and/or the researchers here is some basic information from the Northey Street newsletter and contact details of the principal researcher. 

"SURVEY: Your Experience with growing and harvesting food
As part of ongoing research at QUT, Peter Lyle (a Northey Street volunteer) and his supervisors Dr Jaz Choi and Assoc Prof Marcus Foth are investigating ways of designing technology to provide useful and engaging information on the seasonality of food. We would really appreciate it if you could take the time to fill in this 15 minute survey about your experience with growing and harvesting food, and any information you have access to through IT that may have helped proven helpful. For more information on the project please go to or contact Peter Lyle at".
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Monday, July 9, 2012

The chaos I came home to!

Hi ho hi ho its off to work I go and by the time I got home this afternoon the house seemed to have regressed into some sort of chaotic parallel universe!

I returned home after nine hours at work and find that my driveway is almost completely blocked with a massive pile of palm tree mulch. Sure I should be happy about this a gigantic pile of mulch (as tall as me and probably three standard car lengths long) but the access into our carport is nearly blocked. Not such a big deal one might say but the other half spent did spend about forty-five minutes this afternoon clearing out a flat enough section in the mulch pile so that he could four-wheel drive over it to get his car out from behind this pile. All this drama just because the dumper of the mulch was too slack to listen to instructions, which required them to open a gate and then dump the excessive amount of palm mulch next to an existing pile of mulch in a location that wouldn't create such inconvenience.

So this is my first 'shock'! The next was the realisation that this large pile of mulch was smothering my just fruiting snow peas! Now this nearly floored me and certainly I had to restrain myself from screaming down the pathway to my other half to explain or justify why I shouldn't be strangling someone. This fabulous pile of much was soon to be killing off my fine, organic, locally obtained snow peas grown from seed, in a newly cleaned out garden bed, with the newly grown fruit easily accessible to my food-fussy toddler (who will eat these off the bush) and I am not very impressed!

I managed to restrain myself from screaming like a banshee about this, but the next thing that struck me was my withered and chewed brightly blooming grafted Eucalypt ($50). As I struggled through the front gate whilst trying not to step on my bottom lip, the tree appeared to have either been attacked by a lawn mower or a more likely explanation a dog's mouth. From the damage, I certainly suspect it was one of my dogs! Basically they have chewed off the top of the tree in frustration probably whilst feeling frustrated at my other half ignoring their barking whilst he over at the neighbours' negotiating a bargain on the large pile of palm mulch that now is residing in my driveway!

This palm mulch had better be the best damn weed-suppressing mulch ever - that's all I've got to say!

(Source: Backyard Poultry)

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chickens have arrived

Last weekend I went to a local produce barn to buy some dog food and like a kid in a candy store was so excited to see the chickens they had. They sell a lot of 'point of lay' chickens, which are chickens that you basically buy and once they have settled into their new 'digs' they will start to lay. However, this produce barn also sells 'day old' chickens that are 80% guaranteed to be females and therefore egg producers and not wake the neighbours in the morning. And last weekend they seemed to be teeming with baby chicks and true to form being so adorable (sucked me in)!

I was with my toddler and my other half was at a conference. So being like a possessed person I rapidly sent off a text message stating that the produce store was about to close and if he approved could I buy some of these day old chicks now, otherwise he would have to wait until Monday to get some. I mean, it wasn't like we had spoken over breakfast and mentioned that I would be getting chickens that day, nor discussed it during the week to make sure we had all the right facilities to have these new chicks. No. Their cuteness took over and I needed them.

The approval came back and I purchased three Australorp chickens. Why Australorps you might say, as Rhode Island Reds are quite a common purchase for backyard egg producers? Cuteness once again. I love the Australorps, I think they are a very attractive bird even as an adult - they are all black with bright red contrasting combs. once again, decision was only skin (or should I say feather) deep.

Anyway, got the three chicks home with some additional paraphernalia, such sawdust, chook food and some water dispensers and set them up in an old cage that I had from my wildlife caring days. I then madly sent off another text message to the other half again and insisted he get a heat lamp on the way home and voila three baby chicks growing rapidly at our house. 

We have had them a week now and they have been named by my toddler, with some assistance. We have 'Cheeky', 'Peckish' and 'Socks'. They certainly have grown over the week and I have noted a significant change in food consumption, even within the first twenty four hours.

I am also amazed at the innate behaviour that they demonstrate. We have taken them outside a couple of times to enrich their environment and let them experience dirt and weeds (which I will be getting them to work on when they are a little older) and they just instantaneously starting scratching in the bark and pecking at weeds, etc. They also happily consumed three worms between them the first time they were outside. It was hilarious to watch them with these worms, it was just like a Three Stooges skit.

One week on, no regrets and our three little chicks are starting to show signs of their egg-producing adult selves, with little tail feather shafts being now visible and wing feathers being quite prominent. They haven't lost their cuteness yet and we are hoping that we aren't smothering them with love.

What an adventure this is for a city girl and I'm loving it. Pin It

Monday, July 2, 2012

Countries with carbon taxes around the world

 (Source: Indian Link)

I just found there are far more countries around the world that already have carbon taxes in place than I realised. It is absolutely astounding the number of countries that have such schemes/legislation already in place and to hear our politicans (particularly opposition) and large companies whinging about how our carbon tax will be detrimental to our economy is astounding when most of the countries with their schemes in place certainly not blaming their carbon tax for any economic woes.

Have a look at the SBS website (scroll down to the bottom of the article) showing the countries that have "carbon tax schemes" already in place.

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