About Bellingen Seedsavers

We are a group of like-minded growers of useful heritage plant varieties in the Bellingen area of northeast New South Wales, Australia.

Our climate varies from frost-free coastal areas to inland river valleys and highlands with frosts. Bellingen has an average annual rainfall of 1507ml.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Seedsavers Talks at the Centre for Ecological Learning Open Day in Bellingen

Seedsavers Erik and John were happy to support this event. The Centre for Ecological Learning is the Incorporated 'mother ship' for Bellingen Seedsavers.




Erik presented on Gathering and Saving Seeds and John presented on Edible Perennials to small but appreciative groups.


Learn more about the Centre for Ecological Learning

Charlie's subtropical garden at Thora.


On Sunday 13th November we visited our friend Charlies' beautiful tropical gardens and home in Thora.

It is highly productive garden and Charlie very comfortably lives of this land. His daughter sells a lot of his produce (turmeric, ginger, nuts, fruit) at the markets in Newcastle to provide nourishment to the city people and to generate income. 



Charlie and Karin were fantastic hosts on this very warm summers day. Charlie has lived here since the seventies and raised his family here. His children have grown up and flown the coop, but  his garden and his impressive collections of productive and ornamental trees and plants have kept on growing and keep on feeding his extended family.


Charlie has created a series of garden rooms and continues to expand. He uses permaculture and biodynamic principles and does most of the work by hand. While walking us through the garden he talked us through what tasks he was going to do in the next few days… and it was a list so long that less driven and enthusiastic people would take at least a month to get anywhere close. It was an inspiring day in an inspiring garden.





We drank many cups of tea and ate healthy and delicious food, as always we swapped plant material and seeds and a lot of good growing advice. A great day, thank you Charlie and Karin!
Report by Erik








Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Visiting Leela's 'manor' garden on the Dorrigo plateau



Our October gathering was held in Dorrigo at Leela's "manor".







Take one bare paddock of a couple of acres. Add an owner built house, a few permaculture principles, loads of ideas and enthusiasm and six years. It's not a bare paddock any more.

We enjoyed the company of some ruminants, chickens, unsighted foxes and amorous ducks while we were given a guided tour of the remaining 'paddock' areas soon to be citrus orchard, the netted fruit tree orchard with grafting experiments, the fenced vegie garden, the hothouse attached to the house (complete with geriatric chook) growing a banana plant in Dorrigo(!) and the new deck with terrific eastern views over the entire manor estate.

Inside the conservatory





The netted orchard

Banana plant growing in the conservatory in a plateau climate

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Perennial food plants - what are you growing in your garden?

Kang Kong growing in pond in Bellinger River Valley
We are putting together a resource on perennial food plants that grow well in this area. This is for ourselves and the wider community.

Can you email in the perennial food plants that you have growing in your garden, along with where you are (Dorrigo's climate is different to Sawtell's!)? We will list the plants and the area they are growing in on the website. We WON'T be listing your names.

Send the info to news@bellingenseedsavers.com

Are you growing Surinam Spinach, aka Waterleaf?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bellingen Plant Fair- Our Bellingen Seed Savers Stall

Bellingen Seed Savers had their usual stall at the Spring Bellingen Plant Fair. It was very successful as usual.

Fi is selling our huge range of locally grown and packaged seeds.

We spreading the word about Okinawa Spinach, how easily it grows and how useful it is.

We even had some large cuttings of Moringa. I haven't yet seen the flowers grow into fruit in our semitropical/warm temperate climate.
If you are local and interested in attending our gatherings use the contact link at the bottom of our home page.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Okinawa Spinach Growing Information

This tasty vegetable grows very easily in the Bellingen Valley. It is a little cold sensitive. Protect from frosts.  Share cuttings with friends.
Green Harvest has plants.


From the Green Harvest catalogue 

© Frances Michaels

BOTANICAL NAME:Gynura crepioides
COMMON NAMES: Okinawa spinach, Hong tsoi, Okinawa lettuce
FAMILY: Asteraceae
ORIGIN: Native to Indonesia

PLANT DESCRIPTION
Okinawa Spinach is a dense, low growing plant to 70 cm high. Easily the most low maintenance perennial leaf vegetable; it is a hardy plant and relatively pest-free. Thriving in warm, wet conditions Okinawa Spinach does best in subtropical and tropical areas; it is sensitive to frost. An attractive plant with shiny leaves that are green on top and purple underneath; the flowers are very small and orange. It grows best in full sun to partial shade. It needs ample water, rich, fertile well-drained soil that is kept mulched and prefers a pH of between 6.1 and 6.5.

USES

  • Food: It is a very nutritious vegetable, eaten raw or cooked. The leaves and young shoot tips are steamed, used in stir fry, tempura, stews, and soups. Try not to overcook it as it can become slimy. The leaves have a crisp, nutty taste with a faint hint of pine. In Okinawa the leaves are often fried and served as tempura. It can also be steamed with rice if it is added for the last 7 minutes of cooking time. This leafy green is also known as cholesterol spinach, and there are many claims that it lowers cholesterol. Young leaves have a much better flavour than the older leaves.
  • Edible Landscaping: The vivid leaf colour makes this a good choice as a background plant in ornamental beds. Okinawa Spinach can be used in landscaping as a groundcover in full sun (with enough water) or it does well in partial shade. It is very adaptable to container gardening and hanging baskets and will grow inside on a windowsill with good light.
PLANTING DETAILS
  • Recommended Planting Time: Cuttings are best taken when the soil temperature is at least 25°C. Rooting the cutting in water before planting will improve results. The plant responds well to pruning, rapidly becoming bushy. Pruning also prolongs its life.
  • Planting Depth: Cuttings 10 - 20 cm long should be half buried in potting mix and kept moist.
  • Spacing: Space plants at 60 cm apart.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fermenting Workshop at Bellingen Community Gardens August 18,2016


Leela's sauerkraut demonstration


After the fermentation demonstrations we planned and shared seeds.

Jeff's yummy kombucha

Jeff recommended the Grow Youthful Australian website for fermentation details and a starter plant. Go to Kombucha

Jeff explains the kombucha process (fermenting tea, sugar and water).

Leela's improvised sauerkraut fermenting jar with her commercial fermenting jar.
Making sauerkraut is a method to preserve vegetables as well as making a healthy food.

Leela also demonstrated the process of making milk kefir just by leaving milk to ferment.


Lunch, important at all of our events.




Nell's stir fry makes good use of all of her vegetable garden. It made a pleasant warm picnic salad.


Rae's carrot cake is always in demand





Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Pics from July 2016 Seed Savers Packing Day at Nell's

Wow. What a successful seed packing day! Together we cleaned and bagged 410 packs of seeds; these are now ready for labelling at our next gathering. We also had the pleasure of some new faces... helloooo! Hope you enjoyed the day and that you will be back.

Not only that, but we cleaned an additional 490 bags of seeds; these can be bagged and labelled later as required.

Many thanks to everyone who supplied seeds and helped at the workshop on 17th July 2016 and special thanks to Nell Hayden for her delicious soups and bread that fueled us all for the entire afternoon.


Do you have any of these seeds to share?

Our seeds stocks are quite good now, but a few plants are in still in short supply: tomatoes (any local varieties), rock melons, zucchini’s, egg plants (long varieties, and large purple) and sweet corn. Jeff would love to hear from you if you do:
seeds@bellingenseedsavers.com



Potting up plants

Viewing Nell's garden

Packing seeds

Morning Tea

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Why Seeds Should Remain a Public Good

From:
Home


"Seeds are the source of our food. Through seeds, farmers across the world earn a living.

And yet, three multinational companies hold over 50% of global agricultural seeds. They control the sale of these seeds and therefore our food.

We urgently need to raise awareness to the problems caused by the monopoly of agricultural seeds and highlight the importance of biodiversity."

Tuesday, 2nd August 2016



See the video

Naïma Pollet
naimapollet.com
Diploma project
HEAD – Geneva

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Perennial edibles for a 'warm temperate to subtropical' climate.


Bellingen Seed Savers also share plant material apart from seeds. Cuttings and plants of perennial edibles are distributed among our contacts.

Here is a variety of perennial edibles suitable for growing in the Bellinger River Valley. All have been grown by Bellingen Seed Savers members. Any of the fruits listed can be treated like vegetables. Can you suggest more perennials?

Katuk (Sauropus androgynus)

 'By now you should know Katuk is one of the most popular vegetable in the world, particularly in Borneo and my home in Florida. Now some information to keep the lawyers happy.....
 So, what does all this mean, beside don’t eat Katuk if you are taking something to open your blood vessels or lower your blood pressure? Enjoy Katuk as an addition to salads, a lawn-side nibble, and cooked in various dishes like you find in thousands of restaurants. Just don’t consume a half a pound of it a day raw for weeks or months and/or while taking an extract as well. I have been tossing a dozen leaves in my weekly salads for more than five years. I ain’t concerned.'  Eat the Weeds



Yam Bean

Jicama (Yam Bean)
Yam Bean

Turmeric and Ginger

Purple Yam (Dioscorea alata)
Dioscorea alata, known as purple yam and many other names, is a species of yam, a tuberous root vegetable. The tubers are usually bright lavender in color, hence the common name, but they may sometimes be white. Wikipedia



Coppiced White Mulberry (new young leaves)



Tamarillo, is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae. It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit. It is also known as the tree tomato, tamamoro, and tomate de árbol in South America. Wikipedia

Turmeric flower

Taro

Taro mashed with coconut milk

A grated green Paw Paw (Papaya) Salad

Galangal





Bacopa

Artichoke

Olive

Lemon Basil


Kale

Cassava

Winged Bean

Taro

Edible Hibiscus (smooth leaf form)



Choko

Yacon



Basella

Perennial Capsicum

Jack Fruit (can eat green as cooked vegetable)

Okinawa Spinach

Surinam Spinach
Mushroom Plant Rungia klossii

Chives

Kang Kong

Carambola
 "Ripe carambolas may also be used in cooking. In Southeast Asia, they are usually stewed in cloves and sugar, sometimes with apples. In China, they are cooked with fish. In Australia, they may be cooked as a vegetable, pickled, or made into jams. In Jamaica they are sometimes dried.[1]
Unripe and sour type carambolas can be mixed with other chopped spices to make relishes in Australia.[1] In the Philippines, unripe carambolas are eaten dipped in rock salt.[7] In Thailand, they are cooked together with shrimp.[1]" Wikipedia

The flowers are acid and are added to salads in Java Reference

Canavalia gladiata, usually called sword bean, is a domesticated plant species in the legume family. The legume is a used as a vegetable in interiors of central and south central India, though not commercially farmed. Wikipedia

The Chinese water chestnut or water chestnut is a grass-like sedge native to Asia, Australia, tropical Africa, and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is grown in many countries for its edible corms. Wikipedia

Cassava
Manihot esculenta is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Wikipedia

Cranberry Hibiscus
Hibiscus acetosella is an angiosperm of the genus Hibiscus or rosemallow. The word acetosella is of Latin origin and is derived from an old name for sorrel which comes from the sour taste experienced when eating the young leaves of the plant. Wikipedia




Comfrey
Comfrey is a common name for plants in the genus Symphytum. Comfrey species are important herbs in organic gardening. It is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. Wikipedia
(use small amounts)



Turmeric and Lemon Grass

Asparagus

Asparagus
Rhubarb is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae. It is a herbaceous perennial growing from short, thick rhizomes. Wikipedia

Rhubarb stalks can be used as a vegetable in stews
Green Harvest can supply many of these plants if you can't hook up with a local or make it to the Bellingen Plant Fairs.

Oca has succulent clover-like leaves and produces a small, pink, delicious tuber. Suited to cooler temperate climates, tolerant of high altitudes and a wide variety of soil types.(Green Harvest)

Oca should grow well on the Dorrigo Plateau. It finds the Bellingen Valley a little too steamy.


Peanuts can be grown from southern NSW to northern Australia in areas with 5 months of warm frost-free weather. Green Harvest

Sawtooth Coriander

Lemon Balm

Society Garlic

Vietnamese Mint

Zatar (Mother of Herbs)



Pigeon Peas self seed quite well in our valley Green Harvest

Lebanese Cress
Aethionema cordifolium
Grows best in shallow water. Pic from Green Harvest


Jerusalem Artichoke Green Harvest

Day Lily (Daley's Nursery)


Garlic (Wikipedia)


Sweet Potato (Garden Drum)

Basella - red form (Garden Drum)

Choko (Garden Drum)

Luffa or loofah are not susceptible to mildew like zucchinis. Eat young. (Garden Drum)

Pumpkin. You eat the shoots as well. (Garden Drum)
Camelia sinensis - Tea (Garden Drum)

Sorrell

Wikipedia


 Rumex acetosa meaning garden sorrel and Rumex scutatus meaning French sorrel are more often grown in herb or vegetable gardens for their leaves which are typically added to salads, soups, omelettes and sauces.












 Moringa

Bamboo shoots


 Malabar Chestnut


Sweetleaf or Katuk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8EA1dpruWQ


Rosella



Brazilian Spinach (Alternanthera sissoo)
 

...........................................................


The site below and other sites suggest eating other types of Alternanthera, a common plant in our gardens.
http://www.homedesigndirectory.com.au/gardening/plant-finder/search-results.php?criteria=is_edible

"8. Joy weed, Alternanthera, Gomphrena   (Alternanthera aurea)
        Cultivar/variety: 'Exhibition Border Gold'

Alternanthera aurea 'Exhibition Border Gold' is a colourful groundcovering perennial, with small green leaves blotched with gold. Use as a contrast or accent plant in warmer areas, or as an annual in cooler climates, as it is frost tender. It makes a good low hedge...
  ...learn more about the 'Exhibition Border Gold' variety
.
alternanthera bettzickiana_exhibition border red.

9. Joy weed, Calico plant, Alternanthera   (Alternanthera bettzickiana)
        Cultivar/variety: 'Exhibition Border Red'

Alternanthera  bettzickiana 'Exhibition Border Red' is a colourful groundcovering perennial, with small burgundy leaves blotched with bright pink. Use as a contrast or accent plant in warmer areas, or as an annual in cooler climates, as it is frost tender. It makes a good low...
  ...learn more about the 'Exhibition Border Red' variety"

Green Dean (Eat The Weeds) also says Alternanthera are edible. See below:

"There are many Alternanthera in warmer area so key out the plant carefully. A. philoseroides is the most common. Four known edibles are A. ficoidea, A sessilis, A. sissoo, and A. versicolor.  A. sessilis is well-distributed in the U.S., A. ficoieda is rare.  A. versicolor is found in Asia. A sissoo is a common green in South America but must be cooked."

For more information about perennial edibles
See also:







Bellingen Seedsavers 

SAFETY

"Flowers and edible leaves can make a unique addition to salads, or unusual edible garnishes. However, a few words of warning are necessary to avoid potential trouble.

Gardeners should always use extreme caution in consuming anything other than the familiar garden vegetable and herbs. Most growers, ourselves included, avoid using toxic chemical sprays whenever possible, but at times they are relied upon to control various insects and diseases. Upon purchasing a plant, there is no way to tell whether or not it has been recently treated with a pesticide product. Each different chemical product has its own life span, the period that a toxic residue may remain on a treated plant. To avoid contact with any toxic residue, newly purchased perennials and herbs should not be consumed for a minimum period of at least 60 days after planting.Edible flowers should be approached with great care, in general, because of potential allergy problems in sensitive individual. In particular, anyone with an allergy to Ragweed or any other member of the Daisy family (Asteraceae) should never consume the flowers or any other parts of these plants. The link above and below will return a list of common members of this plant family.

Add any edible flowers to your diet in small quantities at first, to test the reaction of those eating them. Avoid giving any edible flowers to children under 7 years of age. Children should also be warned to never eat any flowers without the supervision of an adult.

Use extreme caution in selecting and gathering edible flowers, leaves or any other plant parts. Just like with wild mushrooms, erring on the side of caution is advised. If you are not 100 percent sure about the identity of an edible plant, DO NOT EAT IT, even in tiny amounts. Avoid using any toxic plants as attractive garnishes, in case a dinner guest (or anybody else not in the know) should accidentally consume it. Poisoning your guests is not a pleasant way to end a dinner party!"

From  http://www.perennials.com/content/edible-plants/




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