About Bellingen Seedsavers

We are a group of like-minded growers of edible and 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.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Our Bellingen Seedsaver's Workshop, December 2011

Matt provided us with a fascinating and informative workshop demonstrating the skills he once applied regularly in his nursery experience. Thanks Matt.

Click all pics to enlarge.
Here we can see a T bud from a Tamarillo that has been applied to a Wild Tobacco plant. Matt says he has successfully grafted these two plants in the past the Tamarillo benefiting from the Wild Tobacco's root vigour.

Taking a bud.

Another T bud in place. Matt demonstrated that sticky tape could be used to hold the bud in place.

Matt prefers a veneer bud. In this example Matt demonstrated with an Avocado bud and a Camphor Laurel branch. Are they compatible? It's worth a try says Matt. Plants of the same genus are generally compatible. (Note: An internet search indicates such grafts are not successful.)

Matt mixes sphagnum moss and potting mix to create a suitable medium for the marcot (air layer).

The air layering medium, once placed on the plastic shopping bag, is wrapped around the prepared area on the limb to be layered.

This Gardenia has been prepared for marcotting. An area of an extending branch had the surface bark scarred/scuffed, down to the cambium layer. A cut was made, 1/2 to 3/4 through the underside of the branch and a small stone was inserted to prevent healing.  A spot on the branch with plenty of callus (Parenchyma) and therefore rich in the hormone (Auxine) that encourages root production, was chosen for the aerial layer. Clear tape was then wrapped around all places that might allow air (or ants) to enter the marcot. The marcots will be ready for taking in a few months.

Our workshop was held at Nell's. Her garden is rich in plant material that suits our local coastal climate including 27 year old citrus. Nell's block is usually frost free and faces north.

More pics. These were taken by Jeff.

Nell has mature coffee plants

A T bud graft

A veneer graft

Taking a bud for the graft

Wrapping the graft. Matt used sticky tape. The actual bud is left exposed.

A veneer bud graft before wrapping

Placing the veneer graft

The prepared stock for the veneer bud graft

Preparing the veneer graft stock

A well wrapped marcot (air layer) in place.

The host plant is a thriving Feijoa

Wrapping a marcot.

Using tape to make the marcot air and ant proof

The prepared site for the marcot

Nell's fruit and vegetable garden with a Paw Paw in the foreground

More of Nell's garden with Comfrey in the foreground

Friday 2 December 2011

In Bec and Wilma's December Garden

December 1 was a rainy day but we found Bec and Wilma's Bonville garden fascinating. Bec has planted lots of exotics, especially fruit and nut trees. Wilma and Bec's vegetable garden is extensive with vegetables at all stages of production.
 Wilma extracts some well composted mulch from the pile.

This mini hothouse well stocked with seedlings.

This pumpkin is leaping up the wire fence.

We usually bring food and feast before our meeting. Beryl brought her award winning muesli slice. Her recipe is in an earlier post. Nell brought delicious steamed choko shoots, some buttered and some mixed with coconut milk. We also enjoyed Kay's tasty pizza  with balsamic onions, goats cheese, tomatoes and herbs baked on a puff pastry base. Part pre-baking of the pastry will ensure it does not go soggy. A pizza stone will also help.

This Atherton Oak was thriving. Can you see the nuts? Click on any pic to enlarge. This will be another nut for us to try. The fruit is bright blue.

Extensive raised vegetable gardens mix flowers and veges.

A bore (under the box cover) produces perfect water says Wilma.

A globe artichoke, lacking thorns and unlike my prickly beasts, is starting to flower.

A turmeric, in full flower, ready for planting out. Heinze uses these as a ground cover along his riverbank.

 Runner beans clamber up the fence.

A spring onion sets seed.

A Dragon Fruit has climbed up this palm. Bec uses a long stick to knock down the delicious red fruit.

The temperate loving Silver Beet  will gradually fail with rust in this humid summer weather. Nell says that this is the time the subtropical vegetables become the 'greens' for salads and stirfries. Choko tips, Sweet Potato tips, Edible Hibiscus, Brazilian Spinach, Amaranth, Kang Kong, Ceylon Spinach,  Rungia (Mushroom Plant) and Warrigal Greens flourish in the heat and humidity.

A bright red Canna provides a showy corner.

Wilma and Bec's vegetable corner.

These Saba Nut (Malabar Chestnut) trees are setting seeds around their trunks.

A garden arch makes a showy climbing bean support.

Borage in flower in the semi shade. Wikipedia suggests the leaves as well as the flowers can be used in salads.

Vegetables are crowded into beds.

Beetroot grows in front of coriander.

A Brachychiton tree shows off its full pink glory.

Beryl's Dorrigo Show Winning Slice

Energy Muesli Slice- a real lunchbox treat

125g butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 and  1/2 cups natural muesli
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup flaked almonds
3/4 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Grease a 19cm x 29cm lamington pan. Melt butter and honey in saucepan, remove from heat. Stir in eggs, sugar, muesli, coconut, flour, almonds, raisins and sesame seeds, stir until combined. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake in moderate oven for about 20 minutes. Cool in pan, cut when cold.

Monday 21 November 2011

Mandarin and Almond Cake with Cinnamon Syrup

Carol's Mandarin Cake made use of an abundance of Mandarins.


• 350g mandarins, skin on, quartered, seeds removed

• 1 3/4 cups caster sugar

• 3 fat cinnamon sticks

• 125g butter, softened

• 3 eggs

• 1 1/2 cups almond meal (ground almonds)

• 1/3 cup gluten-free cornflour (made from maize not wheat)

• Extra thin slices of mandarin for decoration 

• 2 tsp orange flower water for syrup

• Double cream to serve.


1. Preheat oven tp 180 degrees C/160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm deep, 20cm(base) round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.

2. Combine mandarin, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon and 1 3/4 cups cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil, covered, for 15 minutes or until mandarin skin is tender. Remove mandarin with a slotted spoon. Process mandarin until almost smooth. Cool. Reserve syrup.

3. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in almond meal, cornflour and mandarin puree. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

4. Meanwhile, place mandarin slices (seeds removed - a bit tricky!), reserved syrup and orange flower water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat. Cook gently for 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Take the mandarin slices out of the thickened syrup if the cake isn't ready and put them to one side. If left in the syrup they start to fall to pieces when you go to place them on the cake. Can't have that if you want the cake to look 'beautiful'!

5. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack over a baking tray. Place mandarin slices on cake and brush/pour syrup over the cake. Yummy like this and also yummy serve cake with cream drizzled with a little syrup.

Nell's Vegetarian Walnut and Rolled Oat Burgers

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup diced onion

2 eggs

1/2 cup of cream which may be replaced by 3/4 tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of powdered milk and 1/2 cup of water.

Add herbs to taste. Nell uses parsley, thyme, sage or mixed dried herbs.

Mix all ingredients. Fry mixture in a lightly oiled pan until lightly browned. Size as desired.

Drop burgers into a saucepan of 4 cups of simmering water flavoured as desired for 20 minutes.

May be used as burgers on bread or rolls. They can be served with gravy, with vegetables brushed with tomato sauce, as a dip or on skewers.

After boiling, this burger may be crushed and tomato sauce added to create a dip consistency. The fluid used to boil the burgers may be used to add moisture together with sauce, to control flavour.

These burgers freeze well either before or after boiling.

Nell's Green Paw Paw Salad

Green Paw Paw Salad

4-5 cups of grated green paw paw

1 cup of bean or pea shoots

1 cup ground peanuts

1 small chili

1 tbsp of Dulce flakes (seaweed flakes)

Combine above ingredients.

Dress with:

1tbsp honey dissolved in 1 tbsp of hot water

1/3 cup of lemon juice

1/3 cup of olive oil

2 tsp of sesame oil (optional)

Fish sauce is traditional in green paw paw salad. Vegetarians can use the above ingredients.


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