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.

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.

Nell's Dolmades

Blanch vine leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain. The number of leaves needed depends on the size of the leaves. Nell’s leaves are large.

Fry 2 finely diced onions in half a cup of olive oil. Add 1 cup of rice and 3 tbs of pine nuts and stir for 2 minutes.

Add, finely chopped:

1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp of mint
• 5 tbsp parsley
• 3 tbsp currants

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add 1 cup of water.

Cover pot tightly and cook for 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Place vine leaves shiny side down and place rice mixture in centre. Fold stem and sides over the rice and roll towards point of leaf. Line a heavy pan with vine leaves. Pack rolls placing seams down. Cover with:

• juice of 1 lemon
1 cup water
One third cup of oil.

Cover with vine leaves and a fitted lid (a plate will serve). Simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and stand 1 to 2 hours to allow all fluid to be absorbed.

Snapshot: November Edibles in northern NSW, Australia

It is mid spring in our November gardens. In this climate, on this north facing block, it is early summer. Click on any pic to enlarge.

The taro is in full leaf and grew throughout our mild winter. 

Pink Brugmansia in front of Arundo Donax. The Arundo is useful as a source of mulch.

This Wax Jambu has just burst into flower. The fruit are crisp and moist.

A thorny Globe Artichoke has been left to flower but is delicious eating.

This Rose Apple was planted during winter under a wattle that will soon 'kick the bucket'. It has yet to start new growth.

A Tamarillo (Solanum betaceum (syn. Cyphomandra betacea) has already yielded a few fruit, its first crop. As yet Fruit Fly has not attacked this fruit and the plants are very productive in this Bellingen climate.

  This Mangosteen was planted in autumn in a swampy part of a north facing slope. So far it likes its position but has not yet put on growth.

 The choko vine is beginning to cover the poultry fence.
 The White Mulberry has been fruiting for a few weeks. Birds have not yet recognised the ripe fruit (white to pale green) as ripe and have left the fruit for us. The flavour is extremely sweet and many prefer the black, common mulberry for taste.
 Two Burdekin Plum trees (Pleiogynium timorense)
 are growing strongly. Native to Australia the fruit requires treatment to increase palatability.

 Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is starting to flower for the first time. These plants were planted two years ago. The white flowers (like a small Gardenia flower) have a sweet smell. The plant is neat and very prickly.

This Fuju Persimmon is growing strongly again after dropping its leaves over winter.

A tropical peach looking quite miserable. Tip borer attacks this tree each year and prunes it. The Lomandra grass behind the tree is to edge the terrace.

 Two Davidson Plums grow strongly.

An apricot has yet to flower despite its growth.

A Grumichama yielded a few fruit last year. They grow well in this climate.

This Longan tree finds the soil dry and poor despite its heavy mulch. The pine trees above it rob the soil of nutrients. Another location is required.

 This Star Gooseberry (Phyllanthus acidus), is also known as the Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry and Tahitian gooseberry. It has the same name as Sweetleaf, (Sauropus androgynus) which is confusing. This tropical plant has struggled with our mild winter and is only starting to regain its leaves. Perhaps it will last the next winter with leaves because of its growth. The Gota Kulu herb has almost swamped this plant.

Pecans grow strongly in this climate

This native lime bush produced many fruit last summer.

A young Rosella will need every warm day to produce its fruit. The fruit is excellent for jam making.

This 2.5m Black Sapote is growing strongly and may fruit this year.
 A variety of edible figs survive this wet climate and produce fruit.
  A Cavendish banana in fruit.

A Soursop regains its leaves after the winter defoliation and dieback that affects many tropical trees in our winter. 

The Peanut Butter tree (Bunchosia) likes its warm wall and has produced a few fruit.

This Myrtus ugni is growing reasonably quickly but is yet to fruit.

The Mushroom plant is in flower.

Vetiver grass retains this steep slope and is also cut for mulch.

Day lily flower buds can be added to stirfries.

This yellow guava produces small, sweet fruit.

The variegated water parsley loves the edge of the pond and tastes like parsley.

The Kang Kong has survived the winter cold and is starting to grow across this pond.

I still find the leaves of this Brazilian Spinach very leather, but it is useful as a summer salad green.

This annual Amaranth does produce some mild tasting salad leaves.

 Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) growing from a yam purchased from a local store in winter.

Close up of a Cape Gooseberry bush. If you look carefully you can see an immature fruit in its green casing (cape) which unfortunately do not protect the fruit from birds or Fruit Fly. Still this plant is extremely productive and delicious stewed with only a little sugar. "Native to high-altitude, tropical Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, where the fruits grow wild, physalis is casually eaten and occasionally sold in markets." Wikipedia.

The Boysenberries are fruiting heavily. These plants were established in late summer last year and the boysenberries have swamped the Youngberry and Raspberry also growing on the trellis. So far the birds are leaving plenty for us.

This sharp thorned Kei Apple is yet to fruit. To persuade me tokeep these two plants (hopefully one male and one female) the fruit will need to be superb because this plant is an eye hazard.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Irene's November Newsletter

Hi Seed Savers

It's almost Summer and we are galloping towards the end of the year but we can still look forward to our  December Gathering at Bec's home in Bonville from 1pm on Thursday 1st.  This will be our first time in that direction and this should please those of you who have to travel along the Highway from the north or the south.  I'm sure we will have a great time at Bec's and hope you can come.

The weather was kind to us for our last Gathering  in Fernmount and everyone was in awe of what John and Carol have achieved and there are some photos on the blog.  Many thanks to John and Carol for their lovely hospitality and for sharing their beautiful garden with us.
We had a particularly interesting mix of seeds* and plant material to share with one another we welcomed lots of new people attending their first Gathering. It was lovely to welcome Dean and Teal, from the Bellingen High School garden and, on behalf of BSS,  I presented them with a copy of The Seedsavers' Handbook.  This book is invaluable and I still have a few copies available for $22 for BSS people.

How we have grown in the three years since five people attended the very first Gathering - from 5 to 208 on our mailing list!  There are a couple of points that I would like to highlight - the first is that we had no idea that we would experience this sort of growth.  The level of interest that we receive from people at plant fairs and other events has risen with each one - it was overwhelming at the Spring Plant Fair this year.  Our main aim is to ensure future food  security in our community and we do this by saving the seeds from our best plants and sharing them around. We have a wide variety of micro-climates in our individual gardens and if someone experiences a failure of a valued crop in their garden, we need to be in a position to provide replacement seeds.   The more varieties of resilient seeds we have available, the better.  Many of the old heritage varieties have disappeared.  We notice that seed suppliers' lists of offerings develop gaps.

In addition to our gatherings, we distribute large quantities of seeds and plant materials at our stalls.  The higher the level of interest from the public, the greater the quantity and varieties we need to be able to offer and this is where we rely on our members to play their part.  We have founding members, who have been saving and sharing seeds for the last three years (some for many more), and we also have new people constantly  joining us, who have enormously varied backgrounds and experience in gardening and seed saving.  We are delighted to welcome everyone.  It takes a little while to get into the swing of seed saving but it is so rewarding.

We are all volunteers and we all enjoy our garden visits, where we can learn from one another.  For the first time this year we were very happy to have Jude and Michel Fanton, the Founders of The Seedsavers' Network, spend a week-end with us, sharing their expertise.  This was very successful and this event and future presenters are funded by our activities at plant fairs and other events.  We work very hard to ensure that we have an attractive, informative stall laden with packets of seeds, plant materials and all sorts of goodies from our gardens.   We are totally self-funded.  Obviously, the more people who contribute, the more it spreads the load - and the joy.

*Labelling of seeds and plant materials.
The bigger our 'membership' becomes, the more important it is that the seeds and plant materials we share at Gatherings are labelled (see attachment).   If you do this before setting out to a Gathering, it saves confusion as the share table is often very crowded.  It is so easy to arrive home and find yourself with anonymous packages - so frustrating!  If you include details of your name as well as the seeds, their origin, plus any specific information needed to raise them successfully, we can all keep track.  I am attaching the label that you can complete (as far as you are able). You will see that one of the questions asks whether you are willing to 'adopt a seed'.  This means you are willing to ensure that you grow sufficient numbers of the variety and can ensure that they are protected from cross fertilisation, so that when we label the package we can be reasonably sure that it contains what it says.

2012 Gatherings
I would love to hear from anyone who would like to offer their garden for a Gathering next year.  We enjoy all sorts of gardens - and they don't have to be immaculate.  We all live in different settings and no two are the same -  and there is so much to learn from experiencing them all.  We can bring everything we need (cups, food, chairs, etc.) and some of us are happy to offer to help with some gardening while we are there.

I am just re-reading a favourite book by Margaret Simons called 'Resurrection in a Bucket - the Rich and Fertile Story of Compost".  I love this quote she uses by Simon Schama:  'The sum of our pasts, generation laid over generation, like the slow mould of the seasons, forms the compost of our future'.  Ah, compost - to be treasured.

Please ensure that you let me know if you are coming to the next Gathering in Bonville on Thursday 1st December - by Monday 28 November, so that I can send you all the directions in good time (I received 14 enquiries in the last day or so before the last gathering.  I think it is only fair to let the host know how many people to expect in good time.

Looking forward to seeing you at our end-of-year Gathering.


Friday 18 November 2011

Gathering at John & Carol's, Fernmount, 3 November 2011

Forty Bellingen Seed Savers were delighted to explore the flowing design and the enormous variety of edible and decorative plants in John and Carol's garden.

It was beautifully cool on the bamboo-shaded path.

John explains the finer points of the many rare fruit trees he collects.

The dense planting discourages weeds.

Carol explains how to recognise a ripe Cape Gooseberry

Paths zigzag down the hillside

The vegetables to be frequently harvested grow close to the house.

The raised vegetable beds below the verandah are very accessible

At every BSS Gathering many seeds and plant materials are shared

Answer to a question asked at our gathering:

"The easiest, safest and most useful organic-approved fungicides are based on cupric hydroxide. Cupric hydroxide controls a wide range of problems effectively, but unlike older preparations, like Bordeaux or lime sulphur, it can be used at any time. Do not substitute with copper oxychloride, which is not organic."


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...