Archive for July, 2011

Posted on 27th July 2011

community | Tree Day

By MEREDITH KIRTON

National Tree Day

National Tree Day will be held on Sunday 31st July 2011, with Schools Tree Day taking place on the Friday 29th July 2011. Last year over 312 000 people at 3 500 sites dug deep to improve their natural surroundings. Tree Day shows children how easy and fun it is to help our environment.
In March 2011, Planet Ark commissioned an independent study,* sponsored by Toyota Australia, to investigate childhood interaction with nature and how this interaction is changing.
The research shows that there has been a dramatic shift in childhood activity from outdoor play to indoor activity in the space of one generation.

73% of respondents played outdoors more often than indoors when they were young, compared to only 13% of their children and 72% of respondents played outside every day as kids compared to only 35% of their children. Even more scary was that 1 in 10 children today play outside once a week or less.

64% of respondents said they climbed trees as kids but less than 20% of their children participate in this activity.  If you’d like to plant a fruit tree in your yard that’s also suitable for climbing, consider a pecan, mango or avocado for larger gardens, or macadamia, persimmon and olives for smaller backyards.  Happy days!

The report, Climbing Trees: Getting AussieKids Back Outside is available at http://treeday.planetark.org/about/health-benefits.cfm

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Posted under community
Posted on 14th July 2011

grow | celery

By MEREDITH KIRTON

celery growing

Celery is a relative of celeriac, parsley and fennel and is originally from Europe.  It’s basically a coo season crop in all but the coldest climes, where year round production is possible.  For most of us however planting should be limited to autumn, winter and early spring.
To prepare your bed you’ll probably need to add some organic matter, and lime or gypsum to provide the calcium it loves so much, especially if your soil is very acid or low naturally in these elements.  The soil will also need to be well draining and friable, but still able to hold in moisture as the best celery will need lots of water to not taste stringy and fibrous or bolt too early.  Mulching will help stop drying out between drinks as is also essential.
Once you have planted out your seedlings about 20-30 cm apart, keep up the water and regular organic fertiliser; something like worm wee or fish emulsion diluted and applied every 2-3 weeks is ideal.  Celery does take many weeks (11-18 weeks depending on the season) to become sizeable.  At this stage you can blanch the stems, turning them from bright green to pale green by blocking out the light.  This is normally done by tying the stalks together and then earthing up with soil about 1/3 of their height for a few weeks, then gradually build up the soil to the base of the leaves.  In another week they will be ready to eat after a thorough wash!

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th July 2011

harvest | celery

By MANDY SINCLAIR

celery harvest

Storage:
Once picked, store celery refrigerated wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 week.

What to do with glut

Celery is best used fresh and can be cooked and served in any numbers of ways from stir-fries, soups, casseroles, pie fillings and baking to fresh in salads, stuffed with soft cheese or in coleslaw.

  • To prepare

Celery stalks – Separate the number of stalks needed from the whole stick of celery. Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt. Remove any strings from the larger outer stalks. Chop and use as desired.

Celery leaves – Too commonly, cooks cut off and discard the leaves. However they are delicious used in soups, casseroles, stir-fries and even deep-fried until crisp and used as a garnish.

Celery heart – is the bottom 8-10cm part of the celery stalk and is considered a delicacy in France. Peel away outer stalks, cut roots from base, and quarter heart lengthways. You will end up with pale yellow, tender pieces of celery that can be braised, chopped finely and used in salads, warm potato dishes or sautéed and served as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

how to prepare celery

  • To freeze

Wash and trim celery and pack into clip-lock bags to freeze. However, due to the high water content, once thawed, celery will not hold its shape as well and is best used in soups or braised and pureed.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th July 2011

cook | celery

By MANDY SINCLAIR

High Tea sandwiches Celery and Chicken

High tea celery & chicken sandwiches

1 small barbecue chicken
4 celery stalks, diced
¾ cup whole egg mayonnaise
2 tsp whole grain mustard
white or wholemeal bread, to serve

1. Remove meat and skin from chicken. Discard skin and bones. Finely chop meat and place in a bowl with celery, mayonnaise and mustard. Season and mix to combine.
2. Spread chicken mixture over bread. Sandwich together with another slice of bread, remove crusts and cut sandwiches into fingers.

Makes 8–10 sandwiches

tip ….
Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Toss through hot pasta with a little grated parmesan with any leftovers.

try this ….

Braised celery
Melt 30g butter in a large frying pan. Trim and cut 1 bunch celery into 15cm lengths. Add to pan with 1 sliced garlic clove and turn to coat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 mins, until celery is tender. Remove lid, increase heat and simmer for 3-5 mins, until liquid has reduced and thickened slightly. Serve with fish, chicken, pork.


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Posted under cook
Posted on 8th July 2011

Community | Balmain High

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Recently Mark Morrison, owner of online plant supplier, Morrison’s Garden Centre, which sells plants and products and delivers to the Sydney Metropolitan Area, has been working not in cyber space but in reality, doing great work with disabled children from Sydney’s Inner West.

Like many people, Mark has become interested in home grown produce and now sells and installs corrugated tank veggie gardens. (pic attached of example).  He was also instrumental in developing a veggie garden at Balmain High and provide ongoing support there for the staff of the Support Unit for disabled children.  A few images of the delight these kids are feeling from their interaction with their crops are attached.

Mark Morrison is a member of the  Australian Institute of Horticulture and is a Certified Nursery Practitioner.

His contact details are:

Morrison’s Garden Centre
Phone: 0409 201 063
Email: info@morrisonsgardencentre.com.au
Web: www.morrisonsgardencentre.com.au

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Posted under community
Posted on 1st July 2011

grow | quince

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Quinces

Quince blossoms

Quince trees have had a Renaissance, with old trees hiding in backyards once again being held with the reverence for which they had first been planted. Native to South-west Asia and part of the rose family that includes pears and apples, the quince is unusual in that the flesh is pale yellow until cooked, at which time a miraculous transformation takes place and the ugly duckling really does transform into a beautiful (pinky red) swan.

The tree is ideally proportioned for the backyard too, growing about 4m at maturity and blossoming in spring with large white flowers that are pure charm.  The knobbly fruits, which ripen gold in late autumn, are much sort after for still life drawings, such is their beauty.  When the first fruit drops from the tree is the sign that it is all ready to be picked. Like pears, they need to be handled with care so not to bruise.  Unlike apples and pears, you have to cook them before they are edible.

Quinces like a cold winter, but are very tolerant to drought if summers are tough.  They can in fact grow from mild sub-tropical areas right down to cool highland areas. They would prefer, however, a deep, well drained soil with regular water, and shelter from late frosts which can damage flowers and away from very highly humid zones, as this can cause disease.

Plant in winter when dormant, and feed them at the end of winter with a good top dressing of manure.  Pruning is crucial too, and plants should be kept open to the sun and pruned as you would apples.  Expect your first crop in 5 years.  Well worth the wait!

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st July 2011

harvest | quince

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Quince

Storage:
As quince age the fuzz on the skin decreases. Store at room temperature for up to 10 days or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

What to do with glut

  • Preserve

Heat 1 litre of water, 1 cup caster sugar and the juice of 2 lemons in a large saucepan on low, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Cut 3 quince in quarters and remove core. Add to syrup. Cover and simmer for 4 hours, until fruit is deep red and tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool in syrup. Remove quince from syrup and use in Quince cake recipe below.

Quince Paste

Once quince have been removed from syrup, add ½ cup caster sugar and heat on high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 mins. Place a saucer in the freezer until cold. Drop 1 tsp of syrup onto saucer and wait for 1 min. If quince paste is ready, the syrup should be firm with a wrinkled surface. If not, simmer for another 5 mins and check again. Spoon into sterilized jars and seal. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. Serve with cheese or in marinades for meat

Quince Jam recipe

Quince Jam

Scrub 1kg of quince and place whole and unpeeled, in a large saucepan with 6 cups of water and ¾ cup caster sugar. Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours, until quince are tender and pink. Remove quince, chop and discard core. Return quince flesh to syrup and boil for 30 minutes, until jam sets when tested.

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Posted under harvest