Tag Archives: gardening

Fart Free Jerusalem Artichokes

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Ok well maybe not exactly guaranteed fart free but we can make it safer to eat near a naked flame. At the one meeting Rodger brought jerusalem artichokes from his garden to share. This is an easy root crop, grows like the weed it is on marginal land but has a reputation for causing intestinal gas like no other. He forgot to mention their other name is ‘Jerusalem fartichokes’. This is because it stores energy mostly as inulin – a starch that human can’t digest although other bacteria in our colon can, which is a bit of a two edged sword.
There are simple ways to make Jerusalem artichokes more digestible. Firstly cold shock will cause breakdown of inulin to fructose which can be absorbed in the small intestine, so digging up the artichokes after a few frosts will yield sweeter, more digestible tubers, as will storage. Prolonged cooking is another way. Traditional cooking in a firepit for over 12 hours, or in a low oven 100 Celcius for 24 hours as per Stefano’s recipe 24 Hour Cooked Jerusalem Artichoke, Mushrooms, Scorzonera, Hazelnuts, Garlic “completely negates” the infamous gas producing after effects.
( athough of course this also means the whole ‘low GI’ thing for diabetics is also undone )

If you fancy the taste of fresh artichokes just eat a smaller amount. Inulin has been studied as a prebiotic as it particularly increases bifidobacteria species which are associated with good health – so as a supplement it’s useful for restoring the microbe balance after antibiotics.

An inulin dose of 5–8 g/d should be sufficient to elicit a positive effect on the gut microbiota. One possible side effect of prebiotic intake is intestinal discomfort from gas production. However, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli cannot produce gas as part of their metabolic process. Therefore, at a rational dose of up to 20 g/d, gas distension should not occur. If gas is being generated, then the carbohydrate is not acting as an authentic prebiotic”
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/11/2503S.full

Jerusalem artichokes contain about 16g of inulin per 100g weight. A little experimentation should yield a Goldilocks dose that’s right for you – enough inulin to encourage the good bifidobacteria, and not too much which causes overgrowth of other gas producing bacteria.

Fermentation and pickling will remove the inulin as well. There are a couple of methods. A recipe for jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes pickled with sugar, turmeric and chiles. http://agardenerstable.com/2014/02/24/taking-the-wind-out-of-jerusalem-artichokes/

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Weeds: Guardians of the soil

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weeds: guardians of the soil by Joseph A. Cocannouer

that is a link to a free pdf copy from the Soil and Health Library. it is out of print now but I splashed out at abebooks and bought myself a secondhand hardback copy the other day after someone lent me theirs on the annual Astrotas weed walk.
weeds coveri have yet to find a modern equivalent, and as the soil health librarian, Steve Solomon, an expat american who now lives in Tasmania says;
” The wisest student learns from the originators of a body of knowledge because those who later follow in the founders’ footsteps are not trailblazers of equivalent depth. This is especially true of the writings from many post WWII academics and professors who mainly write because they must publish . . . or perish. Even when the earliest works in a field contain errors because their authors lacked some bit of data or had a fact wrong, their books still contain enormous wisdom. If nothing else, study of older books lets us discover that the conditions that prevail today aren’t the way things always were—whilst on some levels, some things hardly ever change at all. ” Australians may order/contribute electronic copies of out of print books on soil and health from him (including the weed book but the other link is quicker and is a nicely presented copy).
I love weeds 🙂 They do not try to kill me the way our cultivated plants do – i do not know why that is, touchwood. Perhaps it is because i have had a leaky gut and until now have not eaten them.

June 2013 meeting – Gluten Free Baking

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Huge thanSkyranch van glow logo on whitek you to Robin and Jimmy Ellenberger of Skyranch, Tasmania’s only gluten free bakery , for the magnificent afternoon tea. This lovely couple was so full of energy  – they travelled all the way to us from launceston and then home to get the next day’s bake ready! Jimmy’s angel and devil food cakes along with Robin’s soft, fluffy fresh breads proved successful gluten free baking is just a matter of the right recipe. They are tested and compliant with australian standards for “gluten free’ labelling www.coeliac.org.au/professionals/food-manufacturer.html – be aware that international standards are often different to australian – the USA for instance is not as stringent. Labelling of general food stuffs is a bit hit and miss for gluten and you will have to be mindful of this when cooking  eg. Only apple cider vinegar does not have gluten. Interestingly Italy is very coeliac aware as all infants are tested at birth. You can walk into any restaurant there and get a truly gluten free meal prepared properly.

Robin has put so much time and talent into developing her lines – they are absolutely nothing like the crumbly supermarket lumps I have eaten from Woolworths. She is such a caring person she will bake to order for people who suffer from multiple allergies (legumes, yeast,other grains). She gave us the demonstration of how to make her signature yeast and gluten free ‘bunsky’ which is risen like a scone with soda water but has a smooth texture something like a choux pastry – in fact it’s delicious with sweet or savoury fillings. I had to bake up a batch of  bunskies premix  for a snack when i got home at 10 pm after the midwinter celebration at Reseed – and it was so quick  – the house was smelling popcorn yummy in 30 mins. A second batch disssappeared into the teenager on sunday dinner with lamb patties 🙂 I’m also wondering if the ‘wheat belly’ story is worth mentioning here http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/ as the Ellenbergers are the trimmest bakers i have every met. You will have to combine the wheat free change with a sensible diet all round – too much of Jimmy’s sugary cakes, or Robin’s Bunskies and the belly isn’t going to be any smaller.

Please see the Skyranch website for retailers, to shop online and to book a cooking class with Robin, also recipes and information on gluten/coeliac

Food for thought.

Perhaps this plant Oca (oxalis tuberosa) which is harvested now and common in Tassie amongst those in the know, can be used as a wheatflour subsitute – “The dried, frozen tuber is called khaya. If it is washed after freezing, a whiter product called okhaya is obtained which is considered to be of superior quality. The flour of the latter is used to make porridges and desserts. Oca is first and foremost a good source of energy; its protein and fat content is low.” http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0646e/t0646e0g.htm

pastor bruce french gave away a huge tubful to astrotas at a past meeting. expose to sunlight after harvest to sweeten and drop the oxalates. i’ve got them in my yard but was a bit scared to eat until i found this out ( mum had kidney stones) ref: http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-oca-new-zealand-yam

Growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds

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Thanks to the Astrotas presentation last year I have been roped into talking about how to grow oyster mushrooms at home, cheaply and easily using readily available supplies and non sterile techniques. SIMPLE in theory but I have yet to actually get some mushrooms although my spawn is coming along nicely after two failed batches which succumbed to mold.  20130331-135826.jpg
For safety please only use food grade cleaning solutions, implements and substrates (including paper or cardboard) – whatever your mushrooms eat will be what you eat! Mushrooms are fresh food – don’t eat any that are slimy or spoiled. Cut them and store in paper bag in fridge before the edges unroll to prevent spores being released into the home ( these can cause allergies).

Just following this dudes instructable for a continuous supply of pearl oyster mushrooms –

” oyster mushrooms are very easy to try as they usually have mycelium on the stem butts, they love coffeee grounds and are very vigorous (even if you get some contamination they out compete mould under most circumstances if left alone. Should you get some spots of mould quickly remove them and try a cooler temperature to help the mushrooms get the upper hand. Also you can try filling a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide and give the mold some sprays. Mycelium is actually very tolerant of peroxide so it makes a good choice for keeping things clean.)” ~ http://www.instructables.com/id/Gourmet-mushrooms-in-an-old-coffee-cup/?ALLSTEPS

either purchase spawn or start your own spawn from oyster mushroom stembutts. Follow these instructions from the mad bioneer http://madbioneer.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/coffee-ground-mushroom-spawn.html This batch has been raised in reboiled coffeegrounds without topping up – I just innoculated the grounds with oyster stembutts in a ratio roughly two parts grounds to one part stems to give them a head start and left them in the fridge till I could see mycelium growing through.

Tips to give your mushroom culture a head start against competing germs:

  1. sterilize all work surfaces containers and implements with heat, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. wash hands thoroughly
  3. wear a mask
  4. work under a fanhood
  5. Collect coffee grounds for substrate in sterilised containers with lids – keep in fridge or freezer until ready to innoculate if not using immediately

Optional – running the mycelium onto corrogated cardboard before transfer to a bulk growing medium as described by Paul Stamets book “Mycelium Running” which is in the State library http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzmwLrDkruk
Prepare straw for bulk substrate if you want more than coffee grounds using hydrogen peroxide http://www.ehow.com/how_7537106_grow-mushrooms-peroxide-method.html

then bag up http://milkwood.net/2012/11/09/growing-pearl-oyster-mushrooms-in-bags/

Pasteurisation – 63 deg C for 60 minutes http://substratecalculator.info/

Q: Should I Pasteurize or Sterilize My Bulk Mushroom Substrate (or neither)?

A: You should always pasteurize your substrate & not sterilize it. The reason for this is because you won’t be innoculating your bulk substrate in sterile conditions like you would if you were doing, say, the PF Tek. You pasteurize a substrate by holding it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 90 minutes.

By only pasteurizing & not sterilizing your bulk substrate, you allow a select group of microorganisms to survive the pasteurization process. These microorganisms in your substrate won’t harm or inhibit the mycelium you’ll be spawning to it, but they do inhibit the growth of molds & other bacteria that may land on your bulk substrate when you’re spawning to it. Pasteurization also ensures that you kill all mold spores, seedlings & most bacteria & other harmful organisms that would otherwise prevent the mushroom mycelium from properly colonizing your substrate.

If you were to sterilize your bulk substrate prior to innoculation, if some mold spore or bacteria were to land on your substrate during the innoculation process (and they most surely will), they will thrive in an environment with no biological competition for the nutrients in your substrate (since molds/bacteria grow at a significantly faster rate than mycelium, the mycelium doesn’t actually count as competition until it has fully colonized a substrate. When mycelium as fully colonized a substrate, it is all but 100% protected from contamination).

How “Wet” Should My Prepared Bulk Mushroom Substrate Be?

A: Your substrate should have enough moisture added to it to bring it to what is referred to as “field capacity”. Field capacity is a term used by mushroom growers (amongst other professions) to refer to the perfect amount of moisture in a given substrate.

To get a rough idea of field capacity, it’s about what a wrung out sponge feels like. If you can pick up a handful of your substrate and hold it in your hand and no water drips from it, then you can squeeze that same handful of substrate kind of hard and only get a couple droplets of water & then lastly, squeeze that same handful of substrate really hard and get a small stream of water for a second or two and then it stops, that’s about field capacity.

Here is an excellent video on YouTube demonstrating how to check your substrate for field capacity.

Spore mass slurry method http://madbioneer.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/spore-mass-slurry.html developed by mycologist Paul Stamets as a way to spread spores over a wide area to help them create mycelium mass.

Further reading in my bitmark collection of websites http://bitly.com/bundles/o_7fsbd1rqgo/1

For the well serious student Milkwood permaculture is sending over Will Borowski Mushroom Cultivation: May 2013 When: May 4 2013 – May 5 2013 9:00am – 5:00pm Where: University of Tasmania – Hobart http://bit.ly/VlONJY?r=bb.

Where to Purchase mushroom kits/spawn

Fungi Culture Attractive counter top box of pearl oyster mushrooms, simple and fully guaranteed kit just open the box and keep moist http://www.fungiculture.com.au/products/pearl-oyster-mushroom-kit

FUNGI Located in Queensland and ships australia wide. http://www.fungi.net Logs or dowel spawn Oyster (white blue and brown) and Shiitake, King Stropharia spawn, button and swiss brown kits. (UPDATE: not reccomended – tried two kits stropharia and shiitake but no mushrooms, worse – won’t answer my phonecalls or emails)

jennys plants, melbourne sells Funghi Mara kits on ebay

Love Mushroom

Oyster Mushroom

Golden Mushroom

Pleurotus Eryngii

Shi-Take

The mushrooms may be cultivated by 3 methods:

1. Garden Log Method (shiitake, oyster)

Fresh, green logs approximately 50cm long may be split and seeded with the spawn and then secured together and left to incubate in the garden, Mushrooms start to appear 3 – 6 months on birch wood, and in 8 – 12 months on oak and beech wood. Inoculation may be done all year round. The result is a decorative garden feature which produces edible mushrooms in Spring and Autumn.

Note: Conifer /cedar wood is not suitable for seeding the mushroom spawn.

2. Sandwich Ply Board Method (all)

The sandwich boards are made of specially prepared steam sterilized poplar wood which are used as a “starter” base for the mushrooms, in much the same way as corrugated cardboard method. Once growth is established, the sheets are then transferred to a suitably moist, shady location in the garden where the mushrooms are then picked seasonally. Note: A garage or cellar location with a temperature range of 20 – 30 deg C is is ideal for incubating the wooden sheets.

3. Straw Compost Method (shiitake, oyster)

AQIS http://www.aqis.gov.au/ quarantine regulations. Cultures and/or spawn of certain varieties listed on table 1 of the website may be imported from overseas on agar plates, vials, test tubes, straw, sawdust, wood plugs or grain carriers. An import permit is required (fee applies but it is valid for at least a year and can be used for multiple consignments) and each consignment should have a manufacturers declaration enclosed.

December 2012 Wild Weed Walk 2 with Allan WIlton

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A big thank you to Allan and Colleen for hosting a blockbuster end to the Astrotas calendar. Welcomed some new members and Nilah had the good sense to add a singalong to round it off.

Thanks also to Trevor for taking the photos which we will use to create an ebook for our member’s reference at some stage as well as decorate this website. In the meantime I will point you to an excellent article on one of the weeds identified and discussed by Allan our december astrotas wild food walk – Ribwort, plantain – growing worldwide Use for cuts, bruises, scrapes and stings , it’s even safe for cats topically applied – temporarily stains skin/fur a tea colour. I got stung by a jackjumper on the toe over xmas and the kitteh got another rash so I had a chance to test this. Messy but effective, cheap and available when the vet /chemist/doctor is shut! After I made the poultice wrapped with a little gladwrap – for the cat’s rash i bandaged over the wrap with a gauze as well then removed when the sting has subsided or it’s dried too much about 30 mins .

Create a Natural Herbal First Aid Kit With Wild Plantain.