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.

Friday 22 March 2013

A visit to a Dorrigo farm: vegetables and poultry

Following a very successful plant-fair stall the previous week, Bellingen Seedsavers made a garden visit to Jodi and Michael's farm. This provided a fascinating look at how annual and perennial vegetables are grown in small market garden quantities.

We all found this mother duck fascinating.

The Dorrigo garden viewed from the road

Chicken tractors are used to prepare the garden beds.

A bank of green manure, salvias and comfrey.
Two slow clicks will enlarge each photo.
Narrow pathways and edging save valuable space.

A recycled timber pergola makes a perfect spot for Kiwi fruit and beans.

Annual vegetables are planted after the chickens.

Water is scarce, the volcanic soil drains quickly, so irrigation is necessary.
Enriching compost is made directly on the beds.

Before digging, black plastic solarises the Kikuyu grass.

The chicken tractor in the background matches the width of the garden beds.

Yacon is boiled down to a syrup..

A chicken tractor prepares for an orchard
Penned chickens prepare the soil.

Comfrey is cut to provide a green mulch.

This chicken tractor is moved each day.

Jodi demonstrates the 'broadfork'.

Michael demonstrates the sharpening method for his scythe.

The scythe was remarkably light, silent and efficient.

Jodi shows a tool that 'blocks' seedling mix in cubes.
A greenhouse of Jodi's seedlings.

Seedlings thrive in the 'blocked' mix at front.
Irene studies Jodi's cucumbers, beans and tomatoes.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Choko or Chayote? - The most unappreciated vegetable in Australia!

"Chokos are commonly regarded as a boring vegetable; this mainly stems from ignorance about the correct time to harvest.

We don't expect a full size zucchini to have any flavour but for some reason we imagine that a full size choko should be tasty.

Start your harvest early by steaming the tender shoots and young leaves. Then pick the small, egg-sized chokos; these are simply delicious, with more flavour than most zucchinis. Steam them whole without peeling, chokos this size can be eaten raw, just like a cucumber.

A visitor from Mexico was horrified that we would even consider eating the bigger ones; apparently in Mexico they simply split them open to remove the nutritious and tasty seeds and feed the rest to the cows. I found it pretty funny that I had wasted my time for years removing the seed and throwing it away!

Chokos are native to the subtropics, perennial, very hardy, pest and disease free and so abundant. Compared to a zucchini, which is native to the Mediterranean and very vulnerable to powdery mildew, there is no contest about which one to grow if you live in warmer areas.

To plant a choko, all you need is a mature fruit from a kind neighbour or simply buy one from a fruit and vege shop. Keep it in the pantry until it sprouts and then dig a hole 12 cm deep. lay the choko on its side and cover with soil."

From Green Harvest Newsletter 

Productive Choko Vines - Successful Gardening with ...

Productive Choko Vines – Love Them or Loathe Them? ©Annette McFarlane ... The choko (Sechium edule) is known by various names depending on the ...

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Garden Gathering at Dorrigo – 1-4pm, Thursday 21 March, 2013

Jodi demonstrates her seed mould during a previous visit.

We will be at Michael, Jodi and Quinn’s lovely farm at Dorrigo.  This will be our second visit and we are very much looking forward to being there again.The more we can car-pool the better so please let me know if you can either offer or would like to receive a lift as soon as possible.

As soon as I hear that you wish to take part, I will let you know what to bring and how to get there.

RSVP:  by Monday if you can please.
Irene Ph: 6655 9090

Saturday 9 March 2013

Bellingen Seed Savers at Autumn Plant Fair 2013

Bellingen Seed Savers
at the Autumn Plant Fair
Saturday 9 March 2013

We provided a wide variety of interesting, resilient fruit, herb and vegetable seeds and plant material raised by our members and suitable for our climate.

Our new seed display and labels. Click to enlarge and read.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Recipes for perennial subtropical vegetables.

We know these plants flourish in our climate but we sometimes are stretched to find useful recipes and uses. How to grow, harvest and cook.

Yummy Yacon





Winged Bean




Introducing the Hunan Winged Bean





Mouse Melons



Mouse Melons

with a salad recipe that also uses young cow pea pods.



Snake Gourds

 Snake Gourds seem very similar to what we call New Guinea Bean in Australia although they look a little different. The included recipe would work for New Guinea Bean (really a curcubit), zucchini and other edible gourds.


Golden Corn Salad

Golden Corn Salad
Corn salads — also known as mâches — are are actually leafy salad greens that are very cold hardy and grow best during the fall and winter. Two features of golden corn salad elevate it above the common mâche salad greens now sold in many supermarkets: its intensely nutty flavor and its ornamental possibilities for edible landscaping. Includes a recipe for Golden Corn Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing.
Burr Gherkin






 Burr Gherkins  (West Indian Gherkin) with an included recipe for Hot and Spicy Brazilian Maxixada also uses chayote (choko) which we grow in abundance.


Three Phunky Pumpkins

with a sweet pumpkin empinada recipe


Will you be joining us on our next garden visit. Read more.




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