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.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Bellingen Seed Savers Stall at the Autumn Plant Fair

We had a superb day. The weather was fine and mild. The number of helpers on our Bellingen Seed Savers Stall was numerous and the load was shared. Once again Irene's extensive preparation was evident with loads of information for passing folk. We are also indebted to David and his van for transporting the furniture.

Double click to enlarge any photograph.

Our stall was busy. We aim to disperse our seeds for a gold coin donation. By the end of the day the seed tray was looking very sparse which is not surprising given that the seeds are grown locally for our climate conditions. Irene's previous post lists all the available seeds. We much prefer to spread the seed amongst growers rather than face the problem of storing seed to keep it fresh.

Here Irene shares information and Allan serves at the seed table.

Our list of seeds and information about Seedsavers. Our small efforts at collecting and growing out seed contributes to a rich store of seed available to local gardeners and ensures a rich source of seed during possible future seed shortages.

Interesting to note that during a recent reported shortage of Snake Bean Seed from commercial companies, Bellingen Seed Savers had a very adequate store of this seed.

Our produce raffle was popular which was not surprising given the increased cost of 'veges' following the floods and the cyclone in Queensland. Beryl, pictured,  contributed jars of her much lauded relish to the produce raffle. If you have a question about how to cook and preserve your produce Beryl is a wonderful source of information.

Carol and Linda at the raffle produce box. Can you see the gourd in the centre of the box? That is a New Guinea Bean, a useful substitute for zucchini. Zucchini tends to succumb to moulds and fungi during our humid summers. These gourds can grow to a metre long but are best eaten under 40 cm in length. Obviously Carol and Linda were having a great time at the Plant Fair.

Members had potted up plants. These were also dispersed for a gold coin donation. We don't aim to make a profit, just to cover our costs. We want to encourage the growing of as much food as possible in the home garden to reduce food miles and encourage the eating of fresh produce without pesticide contamination. We discovered how to cook Taro from two visitors with a cultural heritage in cooking and preparing Taro and Taro leaves. Paulina also showed us how to tell the edible Taro from the ornamental Taro growing in the creek behind the stall.
We were told the ornamental Taro has shiny leaves but the edible Taro had velvety  leaves, not at all glossy.

Most of all our members enjoyed meeting fellow gardeners and folk who share our philosophy. After all the preparation and the the usual chores it was a positive delight to be at the Plant Fair amongst friends. Many visitors to our stall took away information about seeds, plants and about Bellingen Seed Savers and our blog.

Maybe we will meet you at the next Plant Fair or at our next members meeting. Membership is free and casual. Just turn up at the meetings you can attend and help out when you are able. That is the spirit of Bellingen Seed Savers. You can contact us at bellingenseedsavers@gmail.com
If you were at the fair we would really like you to make a comment below. What would you like to see on our stall?

Thursday 10 March 2011

Seeds available at Bellingen Autumn Plant Fair 12 March 2011

at Bellingen Autumn Plant Fair
12 March 2011

BEANS: climbing                                                          
*Black Turtle
*Lima – red & white
              brown & whit
*New Guinea Bean –
              (gourd – use as zuchinni or cucumber)
*Poor Man/7 year
*Yam (eat yam only)

BOK CHOY                                                   

*Green Sprouting







GRAMMA                                                  *
*Edible Hibiscus

*Light Green
*Red Cos

*Manning White
*Early Leaming
*Large Yellow Kernel Dent


NEPETA *Catmint/Catnip

PARSNIP *Hollow Crown

*Panama Black
*Yellow, round


PIGEON PEAS *Multi-purpose



VELVET BEAN (Cover crop only)


Tuesday 8 March 2011

Edible Plants Thriving in Early March

The following edible plants are enjoying the rain, humidity and remaining high temperatures of early March in the Bellingen Valley. Soon the cooler weather, and it some cases frost, will cause some of the cold sensitive vegetables to die off or become dormant. What plants are growing strongly in your area at this time?

Wing Beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) love the subtropical conditions of our summer.

The bean pods are delicious in stir fries. The plant regrows from the roots as the summer heat returns.

The whole plant is edible and the shoots can be eaten.
A ripe Panama Berry (Mutingia calabura) tastes like a boiled lolly.
The Panama Berry flower

It is a useful small tree
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius). The tuber is eaten like a sweet potato.
Crookneck zucchine loves the slightly cooler weather of March.
A mild sweet capsicum is so useful given the prices in the greengrocers.
The capsicum (mild peppers) are small but plentiful.

This Rocoto (Tree Chilli) is three years old and prolific. The birds eat many and this is O.K. because the fruit is so hot. We use these very sparingly.
Brazilian Spinach also loves this weather. It's best cooked although it is often used in salads.
Egyptian Spinach (Corchorus olitorius) can be dried and used to thicken soups.  The Arab name is "Molokhia." Its bland leaves (without any bitterness) make a great salad.

Taro had a growth burst in high summer. It loves the rain.

Daley's Nursery's says that Taro can be substituted for potato in any dish. I've yet to try it. Do any readers have a favourite recipe for Taro? If so, please add to the blog using the comment facility.

This Panama Berry has been in the ground for two years. It was 30 cm high when planted. It lost some leaves last winter but remained in leaf. It is a useful small tree and it is being trained away from the lawn. The fruit is delicious but only a cm in diameter.

Friday 4 March 2011

Native Bees, Bananas and Fruit Salad Plants

 Jen and Gai's hive contains stingless native bees, Trigona carbonari, which are tiny creatures that do a great job of pollination and don't sting!  Here's a useful site about native bees that has information about ordering them and caring for them once the courier drops them off at your place: http://www.aussiebee.com.au/stinglessbees.html  
The hive nestles under the Icecream Bean Tree. Do you have native bees?

Their bananas thrive on the slope above the house.
The bananas are recently established, and have peanuts growing in the mulch around the base, using seed kindly provided by fellow local seedsaver John.  The peanuts are planted when the soil is warm in late November, and have foliage and flowers that are typical of nitrogen-fixing legumes. 

The Monsteria deliciosa is already fruiting despite its small size. Jen believes it is because of the applied rock minerals. Are you growing fruit salad plants? When do you pick yours?


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