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Showing posts from February, 2012

Hybrid hugelkultur

From what I can understand, classical hugelkultur consists of piling up logs and branches, filling over with topsoil and planting on top.  The decaying wood adds fertility and heat to the heap, which is good for the plants growing above, and it also provides some heat to the heap.  I'd never heard of hugelkultur until I read about it on  Craving Fresh , I thought at the time that it was an interesting concept, especially when we have such cold winters here, but I wasn't sure what to do with it.  Then someone from our permaculture group sent around another link with some  great pictures  and I was even more interested, but still not sure what to do.  The problem is that we lack topsoil as it is, and I wasn't going to buy any.  We do have plenty of logs that are too big for the mulcher though, so I was still interested. Then we went to a permaculture techniques day with our permaculture group, and looked at some hugelkultur and swales at the Bottle Tree Hill Organics farm.

Nourishing Traditions review - Mastering the basics

Last week I started to review the introduction to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.  This week I'll start on the first real chapter of recipes, called Mastering the Basics, which includes cultured dairy, sprouts, stocks, sauces and salad dressings. Cultured Dairy The strange part here is that we got Bella , our house cow, before I read this book and before I knew anything about the whole raw milk debate .  We drank raw milk sometimes when we visited our friends on a dairy farm, but we never really valued it as we should have.  My husband really wanted a cow because he liked the dairy lifestyle, and I couldn't see a problem with it, as I described previously , it will make it easier for us to get steers for beef instead of having to buy them locally.  Our friends told us they'd found the perfect cow for us, small, tame, already with a calf and used to being milked in the dairy, so even though we weren't totally ready , we brought home Bella and Mol

Spaghetti squash - a curcubit with an identity crisis!

My friend from work who also gardens gave me a spaghetti squash to try.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it, but she really wanted to get rid of it as she had grown (and eaten) so many of them already this summer.  It sat on our kitchen bench for a couple of weeks until my curiosity got the better of me.  I couldn't believe that a squash could cook up like spaghetti! My only instructions were to cut it up and boil it until it was soft and then scrape the strands of "spaghetti" out of the skin.  A google search reveals that there are a number of other methods, but this seemed pretty simple.  We only used half the squash for the first night, and I can report that it has a ridiculously tough skin to cut through, I had to enlist the help of my husband to cut it up!  Much like when we make pumpkin soup.  I boiled it for about about 15 mins in lightly salted water, and it then became clear that the strands could be scraped from the skin. Inside the squash, and yes

Nourishing Traditions - from start to finish

This review is WAY overdue.  I keep referring to the book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats  (affiliate link), but many people will have no idea what I'm talking about, so its time for a detailed review.  I found out about this book when we did our cheese making course , the instructor talked about it throughout the day (I'd also seen it mentioned on a few blogs) and I thought it sounded really interesting.  I'm so glad that I bought it because I've already used many of the recipes and I think its really changed the way I think about food. See more posts on Eight Acres about Nourishing Traditions here . Nourishing Traditions  is a cook book, with the tagline "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats".  It is written by the co-founders of the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF) , Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig (PhD). Already you can see that its go

Buying new chickens

Every year in Spring we start trying to hatch more chicks to replace old hens and roosters and raise a few extra to eat.  Sometimes we also buy some chickens if we don’t hatch enough, or if we want to add some new genetics to the flock (rather than having a rooster with all his sisters, aunties and possibly his mother!).  Recently we have found it a real challenge to source good quality heritage breed chickens, so I thought I’d write about what we’ve learnt about buying chickens. Which breed to buy? I’ve written before about why we choose to support heritage breeds .  You will find it much easier to source hybrid laying or meat chickens from most produce stores in Australia , but it is more difficult to get heritage breeds.  Some stores will keep them, but I think its best to get them directly from the breeder, preferably at the breeder’s property, rather than a market, so you can see how they are looked after. Its best to read about the breeds and decide what you want bef

Eat what you grow, or grow what you eat?

Most conventional garden planning advice says to "grow what you eat", to look in your fridge for ideas of what to grow in your garden, otherwise your veges will sit out there in the garden untouched and your efforts will be wasted.  I tried this the first year in my new garden, I planted big tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, corn, broccoli and celery, which were all things we liked to eat.  The tomatoes were attacked by fruit fly and grubs, the carrots were short and fat with many "legs", the potatoes didn't grow in our heavy clay soil, the broccoli and corn were eaten by grubs, the celery never grew either - if I'd stuck to that advice I would have given up after the first year! This loose leaf lettuce is easy to grow and save seeds from. Luckily I also planted some other veges that we didn't normally buy, and many of those were very successful, and have proven to be useful in meals as alternatives to our old favourites.  This has made me more adventur

Fermented pickles from my garden

I love the taste of gherkins/pickles, but when I wanted to buy some recently I found that every jar in the supermarket contained green food colouring.  That's when I decided that I'd better grow my own, because I wasn't going to buy any of them! a pickling cucumber With my own pickles, I can use a lactic fermentation rather than pickling with vinegar.  I did later find a jar of vinegar pickles at the markets that didn't contain green food colouring, and this has kept me going until I could make my own, however I would rather eat lactic fermented pickles than vinegar pickles if I have the option. What's the difference between lactic fermented pickles and vinegar pickles? Lactic fermentation is the traditional method of preserving vegetables using naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria to partially digest the vegetables and produce additional nutrients.  This also increases the acid content of the brine, which acts to preserve the vegetables against infesta

Caring for baby chicks

We're still having some trouble with our incubators, but when I work that out, I'll post about incubating eggs .  However, when we do managed to hatch some eggs, we've been pretty good at looking after the chicks from then onwards!  For those of you with reliable broody hens who take care of the incubation and chick rearing process, you're very lucky and you don't need to know anything about this post!  But as we raise Rhode Island Red and White Legborn chickens that are not known for their mothering abilities, we have to do all the work ourselves in order to sustain our little flock. We collect eggs in spring until we have enough for the first incubator run and aim to hatch about 12 chicks a season, so we do as many runs as we need until we have enough chicks (this should only take one run, but as I mentioned above, it hasn't been easy this year).  The aim is to get about 6 new replacement hens and 6 roosters to grow up and eat (and maybe one to replace t

Composting can be simple!

As I've mentioned previously , I used to think that making compost was impossible, but I tried again anyway, and so far I've had no trouble.  Recently I've been using lots of compost, so I want to encourage you to use your greenwaste productively too, and not just throw it away.  Here's a great overview  to get you started.  I want to tell you what I do, as I don't follow all the instructions exactly, I just make it up and it still works, so don't be daunted by all the complicated instructions, just have a go! my compost bin + tomato plant They recommend using a bin, which is what I use too, I haven't tried the open pile method, but I can imagine what the dogs would do (eat/roll in it) so I think the bin is a better option!  The chickens also take a great interest in the compost whenever I open the hatches at the bottom, so I think they would destroy a pile very quickly!  The video suggests to put the bin in contact with the soil, near to the house (fo