There is something about making your own jam from the fruits of your own garden. Fresh and in season. I used to think that making jam could be difficult and time consuming, but I have learnt over the years that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Through trial and error have come up with this simple easy jam recipe that is pretty much good for any fruit. It does not keep to long but honestly once made it does not stay long in the jar.
Nasturtiums are a culinary and medicinal flower/ herb that is high in vitamin C and have potent anti-viral and antibiotic properties.
They also are also allegedly highly beneficial for nervous depression, constipation, indigestion, sore throats, sinus infections, and eye and skin health. Nasturtium also works as an expectorant and can help break up congestion in the respiratory passages during colds and flu.
Nasturtium is high in sulphur and is especially good at helping to increase energy and prevent brain fog.
Nasturtium leaves have a peppery taste similar to that of Rocket. They can be juiced, chopped and added to salads, or steamed like spinach. The vibrant flowers make a great addition to salads, wraps, smoothies, and soups. Nasturtium leaves and flowers also make a tasty medicinal tea. Fresh or dried leaves can be added to hot water, allowed to steep for at least 20 minutes, sweeten with raw honey if desired.
Crushed leaves and flowers can also work as a natural applied antibiotic for cuts, scrapes, blisters, or wounds. Simply break the flowers and leaves in a little bit of coconut or olive oil and place on the skin. If you wrap lightly with cotton to secure and change twice a day for best results.
Nasturtiums are easy to grow straight from seed indoors or out and are a simple, but effective way to include this healing flower and herb into your diet.
Cabbage white butterflies like to breed on nasturtiums, making the plant as useful in the garden as they are attractive. Plant them in the vegetable patch near your brassica plot, where they should entice the butterflies to lay their eggs away from the vegetables.
While it may seem evident on how to plant a tree, it can make a huge difference long term subject to the way you plant it in the first place - The difference between a tree that lives for 15 years, to a tree that lives to potentially over 200 years (depending on the tree).
First, we need to dig a hole. The size of the whole should roughly be double the size of the pot thee tree comes in. There are lots of discussions on the shape of the hole, but I prefer using a square (click here to discover why).
When we have finished the hole, we need to scarify the edges. When the shovel slides into the soil, it can create a compact layer which can inhibit the roots from spreading beyond that layer, so scarifying will break open that compaction.
We then fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. We do this for several purposes. First is to saturate the surrounding soil so that the roots will not come into contact with dry dirt. The second is to measure how long it takes for the water to drain showing us how often we may need to water the new tree - free-draining potentially more, clay-heavy potentially less.
Once the hole is ready, it is time to see to the needs of the plant. We fill up a 20L bucket with water and add a 'blob' of molasses and liquid fish and liquid kelp. We place the tree, pot and all into this mixture for approx. 20 minutes. The combination will help reduce the shock the tree will go through during transplanting, and the molasses and liquid fish/kelp are bacteria & fungal food, which will aid in its long term resilience.
Now it is time to plant! Well, not quite. One step I always do is I add a small amount of microbial powder to the bottom of the hole before planting. This powder has eight difference fungal strands and four different bacteria and will create an instant microbial relationship with the tree. By something as simple as adding the powder it can increase the root growth relationship by up to 700% in the first three months. This growth will aid in the trees long term resilience and prosperity.
You do not have to add the powder. It is quite expensive but for me with the number of plantings I do makes it well worth the expense.
Now we do put the tree in the hole. A simple process of taking it out of the pot, then gently spreading the tree roots and then back-filling into the hole, without going over to collar of the tree.
Once in the ground, we now use the remaining water/molasses/liquid fish/kelp mix to water the tree.
Using the patterns of a forest, we fertilise from the top down. Applying rock minerals, compost and then finally mulch. Two-year-old aged wood-chip is best, though sugar cane mulch will work well too.
It usually takes me 20 minutes or so to plant a tree. Not a long time in the scheme of things but as I said, in the beginning, can make a difference between a tree living 15 years to much much longer, living a happy and healthy life.
In recent months, after drought, fire and flood, I have had questions from friends and family and clients about wicking beds – What they are and would it be a benefit to them in their context.
Wicking beds are something I use here at home, alongside other growing techniques, that help contribute to the productivity of my home. They are something I recommend to my clients. I have helped build on several occasions in different areas using different materials.
In a nutshell, a wicking bed is an enclosed garden bed that has a water reservoir on the bottom, and that this supplies the water for the plants growing above. The water wicks up through the soil so that it is watered from below rather than over saving time, is very water efficient. I have found it can survive our more extreme summers and still be productive.
Wicking beds were invented by Colin Austin an Australian inventor and entrepreneur who was concerned about the use of one of the worlds most precious resources in the way we grew our food - Water.
After much thought, design and concepts, he ultimately came up with this system that can revolutionise the way we grow food in our home gardens.
The real secret to the success of the wicking bed is to maintain the moisture levels of the beds at a more consistent rate, rather than the ebb and flow that can happen with the watering of our gardens – Too much (flood) or drought (not enough)
Some basic rules of thumb for wicking beds are always remember that the water will only wick up approx. 30cm. You need to have a hole in the side of the container at the reservoir level so that any excess water will overflow rather than build up and drown your soil and plants
There are several methods we can use to construct a wicking bed.
Something as simple as a polystyrene box, garden pots on the bottom, creating the water storage and then a piece of shade cloth, then the soil placed on top. The water wicks up the shade cloth and through the ground providing the plants with the water they need.
One of the most popular is using a 1000L tank (IBC) that can be cut in half and then divide the bottom half between the water storage and the top half soil. You can use river sand, works well though it can restrict the amount of water the reservoir can hold due to the small space between the sand particles. Another popular method is to use 20mm blue metal rock which will have a larger spacing for water. One thing to take into consideration is that sometimes broken up concrete can be mixed in with the blue metal and the lime within it can alter the PH over some time.
The third method I have been using, more so lately than in the past, is a method I was introduced to by Costa and his show ‘Costa’s Gardening Odyssey’ which used to show on SBS in what seems an age ago.
Using an older sealed packing crate, which interestingly enough can hold 9 old milk crates which will create the water storage. Then using geotextile fabric to drape over the top and the side of the milk crates makes the wick and also separates the soil from the water storage. Then place the soil on top
Benefits of a wicking bed
• Uses up to 50% less water than conventional veg gardens
• Less water lost through evaporation
• Low maintenance
• Less risk of under or overwatering
• Plants get the exact amount of water they need, and their roots stay cool
• Soil remains moist most of the time
• Allows for thick mulching which also decreases evaporation
• Improves soil quality through moisture, cycling nutrients
(nothing washes away)
• Can be made cheaply
Click Here for: a great link and download from Brett Cooper from Limestone Permaculture on hints and tips on how to build Wicking beds
I have had a lot of questions about the things we do month by month to help not only maintain but add to our system.
While the best time to have ‘planted a tree’ was 20 years ago, the next best time to start is now.
Each little thing we do can and will help increase our ability to build resilient, regenerative and abundant lives.
Let’s Make It Real -
Here is our May garden to-do list. We hope it helps you in your endeavors
Downloadable file attached at the bottom
To Do List
•Apply compost to your gardens
•Collect fallen leaves form mulch
•Planting of deciduous trees and shrubs
•Trim back deadwood on fruit trees and shape slightly
•Plant large container trees while the weather is mild
•Dead head or cut back summer flowering perennials
•Dig up congested perennial clumps, divide and replant
•Foliar feed the orchard and potager
•Side dress vegetables with compost
•Mulch fruit trees
•Remove old fruit and clean up under fruit trees
•Sow winter beneficial bug attracting plants
•Sow seeds for June planting
•Check over orchard for pests and possible disease
What To Plant
Broad Beans, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Chives, Endive
Florence Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Onion
Oregano, Pak Choy, Parsley, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Shallots, Silverbeet,
Snow Peas, Spinach, Strawberries