Saturday, April 12, 2014

Chestnut, walnut and mushroom picking

There aren't a lot of pick your own farms near where I live, but every April the gates open to a small nut farm in sassafrass, about an hours drive towards nerriga. has a thousand chestnut trees of different varieties, and a few hundred walnuts.

You can drop in on weekends, but have to book for midweek visits. They have prepicked nuts that you can purchase too. 

There's something special about being outside on a brisk autumn day, under the lush green leaves, magical toadstools scattered around, picking fresh chestnuts, then taking them back to the picnic area where the owners have a fire going for you to roast straight away! 

A picnic with friends, sharing yummy food and working up an appetite!

Yet one of the most exciting things was the mushrooms, learning how to recognize and pick the edible varieties growing in the pine windbreak, and collecting a bag full to take home.

I would reccomend only picking mushrooms with an experienced guide to  make sure you avoid ending up in hospital.

Slippery jacks and saffron milk caps, aka pine mushrooms.... Pine mushrooms are orange with concentric circles on the top, and only need to be wiped with a damp cloth to prepare, 

Slippery jacks have a yellow flesh with a brown slightly slimy top, which has to be peeled before cooking.

Sautéed with butter and garlic in toast. My favourites were the pine mushrooms. I might have to go back after it rains next!

The rest are at home waiting for us to get home after church for dinner, with garlic, cream and braised rabbit ala Stephanie Alexander. Just have to chuck some nice pasta on...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to build a worm farm for almost nothing!

Hi blog people, 
This is me, relaxing on milkwood farm out near mudgee. Went with a friend who won a prize, very blessed to spend time out here under the stars, with like minded ppl, immersing ourselves in the world of vegetable growing and market gardening.

Spending time under here around the fire, and in the classroom too.

One of the things I learnt was that worm castings are an important ingredient in potting mix, and that worms will happily subsist on a diet of animal manure and coffee grinds... And already knew the worm liquid is amazing foliar spray - you dilute it and spray in leaves of plants...

At milkwood, their worm farms were made from old bathtubs raised on star pickets with some aggregate in the base, then a large piece of shadecloth over that, filled with all the worm food, the worms, and big enough that it can fold over the top to keep the worms shaded and moist.

The following week I headed out to our local tip which has a buy back centre. I came home with a pile of star pickets, a stainless steel industrial double sink and a garden kneeler for weeding for under $20!

Cleaned out under the rabbits, visited a local coffee shop for old grinds and a friend from permaculture who has worm farms was able to share some and hey presto - a worm farm for almost nothing :) a bucket under the drain collects the liquid, and the worms seemed to have fully settled in after a couple of weeks there!

Home sweet home!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Being tourists at home

The other weekend John and I went to Sydney, we had bought tickets to the lion king with my sister and enjoyed our nieces wonder and amazement at the giant animals on stage and the beautiful singing and show, 

We stayed with johns parents and went to church with them, then had tickets to the rugby, but first we thought we would be tourists in our own backyard, going to bare island fort, at la perouse, Sydney.

We had seen the fort whilst visiting la perouse for a swim on a recent Sydney visit and had seen that the fort was only open for tours on Sundays, so seeing as the game wasn't until four on that side of town it seemed the perfect opportunity.

Had a fish and chip lunch at lapa and then enjoyed a tour on the island hearing about this fort which whilst shoddily constructed by a dodgy firm and would have struggled withstand any direct hit, didn't see any wartime action, but has been much more useful as a watch point for vessels coming in and out of the harbour and has been used as a veterans home for a number of years. 

This gun was buried for years, until one of the vets told then where, basically right under where it is now, and a pool table was on top for the vets to use. I think it has the best view I've ever seen for a pool room!

Bare island fort.

Oh and the waratahs won so it all ended well too :)