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.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

The Guardian: Permaculture in Malawi

Permaculture in Malawi: using food forests to prevent floods and hunger

   Read original story

Permaculture projects in Malawi are developing sustainable food systems. It is time the development sector took this ‘marginal hippy movement’ seriously

African Moringa and Permaculture Project’s household permaculture gardens

Monday 18 December 2017

Phil Dudman spoke on Pruning and Propagating Fruit Trees at The Fernmount Food Forest

Twenty Bellingen Seedsavers had an excellent guest speaker experience when  Phil Dudman (writer and presenter from the Organic Garden and ABC Garden Show) visited the Fernmount Food Forest to speak on Fruit Tree Pruning and propagating and much more.

On the screen: A commercial fig tree farm with low pruned trees

The message most of us took away was to prune the main structure of fruit trees down to an easy pick level and that means with some trees, figs and mulberries for instance, down to waist high. What a great idea!

Straggling down the main path.

Red Pentas and Copper Bush

We were lucky to have a large, cool room.

Phil's presentation entertained us all.

Phil ready to leave with his 'goodies'.

Seedsavers gathering on the verandah
We always finish or start with food we bring, especially food we have grown.
Various pics from the Fernmount Food Forest

The Golden Grumichama was fruiting and provided a new taste experience for many seedsavers. The cherry-sized fruit is very sweet with a cherry sized pip. The fruit will not travel well because it bruises easily so picking and eating from the tree is the best way to experience the fruit. 

Crinum pedunculatum - Wikipedia

A white Guava in full flower.

Ready to pick

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Gillian's Garden in Fernmount

"The focus of this garden is on the panoramic view, fruit & vegetables for domestic use, and keeping the rest as low maintenance and bird friendly as possible.

There's approximately five acres of sloping land with a number of different soil types and microclimates.  This young garden is typical of many in the area and represents an exciting clean slate. 
Over the last three years we concentrated on the basics - removing lantana, retaining large native trees, and clearing shrub close to the house.  Young fruit trees have been planted, a wallaby proof vegetable patch created, and a dam culvert installed."

When Gillian mentioned 'sloping land' and 'panoramic view' we should have known we were in for a double-edged treat. Sloping is an understatement (that photo is looking straight DOWN from the balcony) and panoramic doesn't do the view justice!!
About 20 seed savers, many regulars and some new faces, enjoyed a shared lunch and the stunning scenery before we set off to hobble and slide down the slope and puff our way back up. Along the way we were treated to a guided tour of regeneration work done and baby fruit trees planted (labelled AND dated).

There's a huge amount of work done on this young garden, and more planned on a fitness inducing block. Great work. Thanks for having us over Gillian!  


Friday 27 October 2017

Growing Yams: Information from Byron Hinterland SS

Thanks to BHSS for this information

Byron Hinterland Seed Savers
have just started  a YAM REGISTER,
where we can keep track of who is growing what YAMS

Hello Everyone, 
We are very excited because Byron Hinterland Home Garden has harvested and eaten a lot of YAMS this year ;  Making mashed  & baked yams and cooking various yams  in curries, stews, soups, cake and icecream!
It is time to plant YAMS NOW  as they are just starting to send their very strong tendrils up into the air. 
I love Yams! Here in the sub-tropics Potatoes do not do so well and Yams are a very sustainable Perennial 
crop.  Along with Taro and Coco Yams!

We would love to make sure if you lose your variety of YAM  that we can help get you more!

This year I thought that I had lost all of my PURPLE YAMS! Heart breaking for me as they are my favorite! 
But a kind person from Lismore got some to me!

We at BHSS have excess planting stock this year and want to make sure more of us grow yams!

We have the following YAMS planting stock : Available freely now. 

AFRICAN YELLOW YAMS :  About the size of a carrot when ready to harvest and soft and yummy. 
( in the second year they grow babies on the vine for replanting, the babies are pictured here)

AERIAL POTATO YAMS: These are white and great eating. Eat the big ones and keep the small for planting. 

PURPLE YAMS:   ( A winged Yam) The purple Yams are usually a very bright wonderful purple.
Sometime they go white. I had already replanted most of mine and the ones pictured have faded to  a white. You can still see traces of the purple. I am not sure why this happens. 

WINGED YAMS: Also come in white and are soft and great eating.

GIANT FOREST YAMS: These grow in many shapes and sizes all  giant. 

YAMS are live food and do not keep.

Please think about growing at least one variety of Yam! The do well in a small garden too!


Here are some basic hints about Yam growing & Cooking:

Yams produce a very long vine. You can grow this up a trellis, or let it trail over stakes and a wire. this will be messy but the wines are great compost when  the leaves die down and you harvest in winter.
When you cut the yams you can dip the cut end in ash to prevent it going moldy that way it will keep longerpre planting.
Cooking Yams:  It is always good to peel yams ( and Taro) in water as both have a slimy surface that can irritate the skin. Soak the yams and change the water before cooking. 
YAMS tend to grow babies on the vines in the second year of growth.  
Make sure you do not let yams grow into the bush or rainforest as they are vigorous!

I am not an expert on Yams. 
This attached article is a good one by Jerry Colby-Williams, a knowledgeable  gardener of food for security and sustainable perennial food.

If you are already growing yams, please send us your  Full Name, Email and Mobile and the names of the Yam’s you have for our YAM REGISTER. 
We hope to make the register available on our Seed Share website once it is relaunched.


Rasa, Paul and the team at BHSS.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Permaculture ideas: Visit to Nick's garden in October

Nick has two gardens to show us, his first garden in Repton and his new garden in Repton. The first was on lower land and more humid and the second was on a hill and drier. We visited in October but what should have been early Spring was more like early Summer. Climate change is taking effect relentlessly.

Here is a link to Nick's site with descriptions of the plants he grows.

A Guide to Crops for the Bellinger Valley and their ... - ecoliving design

Nick says:

"The first garden is 20 years old with permaculture planning on a flat, alluvial site. It includes an owner built passive solar house, vegies, fruit trees, clumping bamboo and rainforest restoration. The other garden is 6 years old, on a hilltop close by but very different – more windy, drier and with poorer soil. Climate change is making things tougher still, so I’ve learnt a lot about water conservation and regenerative gardening."

Nick's first vegetable garden is in Zone 1. The drums contain compost tea.

Nick's first vegetable garden is in Zone 1
Nick grows many perennial vegetables.

Nick's bamboo grove has building and eating bamboos.

Nick has a cotton plant now a 2m woody shrub.

These flowers on one of Nick's mangoes belong to an Asian variety

Nick's mulberry is heavy with fruit.

Nick in front of his garden

As usual Seedsavers enjoyed an early afternoon tea

Asparagus seedling

A pond for edibles is sited near Nick's roof.

A native Hop Bush in the front garden.

Nick demonstrates his levelling device for creating swales.

Nick has new Lotus Plant that will need a larger pond.

Growing seedlings in a warm spot.

A pile of tree lopping mulch used around vegetables.

Is this Celtuce?

A raised garden uses water run off from the first catch water filter.

The shadehouse

Swales make the steep block usable.

Another raised garden near the house in Zone 1.

Raised bed with annual and perennial vegetables

Warrigal Greens

This is a homemade first run off filter.

Papayas are usually called Paw Paws in Australia and are not to be confused with North American Paw Paws which are a different genus.

Member Jeff has added some more pics for you.

River forest adjacent to Nick's first garden

Native Staghorns adorn the trees.

 Platycerium is a genus of about 18 fern species in the polypod family, Polypodiaceae. Ferns in this genus are widely known as staghorn or elkhorn ferns due to their uniquely shaped fronds. Wikipedia

So we made a rhubarb slice!

Rhubarb is growing strongly in our gardens because of the extra rain and warmth. Rhubarb will require shading in Summer.

Afternoon tea. The closest table holds our sign on register and name labels.

Entering Nicks Bamboo grove.

Dragonfruit (Pitaya) and Pineapples


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