Tag Archives: organic farming

Medical Marijuana in Australia


Missed it by that much!  After being rebuffed from starting a clinical trial  of medicinal marijuana in Tasmania with UTAS, Tasman Health Cannabinoids  has given the growlight by Norfolk island. They hope to fill a 1,000 kilo preorder from Canada. The chief executive officer Troy Langman  said “We dearly look forward to the day when we can supply Australian patients, but in the meantime we have substantial export opportunities, such as to Europe and Canada, where medicinal cannabis is legal,”  Understandably Troy who had agreed to come up and talk to Astro about the technical issues, is now a bit too busy oversease.    7:30 report video http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-01/medicinal-cannabis/5642690

Troy is still looking for an oncologist to head up an australian trial – all those in Tasmania have said no! Unbelievable. This ABC interview which featured Troy and Ulverstone cancer patient Natalie Daley erupted the airwaves a week after I contacted him – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-27/medicinal-cannabis/5556578

Thanks Michael Ferguson! Thanks Jeremy  Rockliff! He may have to do a backflip after earlier saying ‘not moving ‘ ‘that is our final answer’ on the position of medical cannabis and and putting words into the mouth of his father’s poppy industry. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-03/tas-rejection-of-medicinal-cannabis-trial-a-missed-opportunity/5569802 

Weeds: Guardians of the soil


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.

Growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds


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


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.

June 2012 Meeting – Leicester Jones, naturopath


Wow – a power packed talk. Leicester’s approach to gardening and health are one and the same – get your soil right and feed your family from it. He overcame his own infantile rickets and juvenile arthritis. Everyone agreed Leicester has to come back and share some more of his treasury of information later in the year.

A few highlights;
Kelp – is his preferred fertiliser as every nutrient we have in our bodies is the same as the ocean in the right proportions. Animal manures are defficient as the nutrition has gone into the animal ( milk, meat, bone etc.) Place a square of  dried bullkelp under new plants when setting them out.

Mutton Bird oil – sustainably harvested local product that is a top grade source of omega 3 oil and vitamin A which is the start for building up health. $20 500ml + postage from Bruce Bensammen 63561430 or $30 litre from Yolla Products. Can be used topically if you don’t like the idea of taking it orally ( editor’s note: ocean omega’s are actually so sure of their products they offer a refund if you are not satisfied. Vegetarians may want to consider the ultimate source of the bird’s omega fats – algae. Nordic Naturals make an algal based omega supplement. If you want to buy it from iherb.com I have had no trouble with many shipments from them and the flat rate postage is only $6 which is cheaper than most australian companies.)

The inspirational Tasmanian Regions magazine put out by DPIPWE (Request a printed version from Simon 62336859 mentioned by Leicester) is also available online – Winter issue


Be aware of  how supermarket food is grown and processed.  Food Inc. both the book by Peter Pringle and the DVD Film mentioned are available from the Library. Pyrethrum has replaced DDT but it is still a neurotoxin – avoid. Unfortunately the barcode number is NOT a guarantee of country of origin if you choose to avoid foods from Asian countries such as China which have no food inspection laws – read the label, ring the company when in doubt. 93″ merely means the parent company is Australian not the ingredients.

My recipe for Raw Spicy Flax Crackers
Food processor required Dehydrator required
2 cup flax seeds, 2 cups water, 1 cup fresh coriander or parsley, 1 red bell pepper, 2T lime or lemon juice,
2T soy or tamari or teaspoon seasalt, 2T curry powder, teaspoon fresh grated ginger, teaspoon fresh garlic crushed

Place flax seed and water in a large bowl and soak overnight in the fridge. Mixture will be covered in goo in the morning. DO NOT RINSE. You want the goo.
Blend all remaining ingredients in a processor until fine.
Add to the bowl with the flax seeds and goo and mix with a spoon. Mixture should be thick and goopy.
Spread mixture about 4mm thick over dehydrator sheets, score into cracker sizes and dehydrate for 8 hours at medium heat (under 50 C) best done overnight. Turn and dehydrate again briefly until crispy. makes about 48 crackers

Updates to Previous Meetings


A few updates:
Ute Mueller who is an astro member who gave us a talk on BioDynamics is doing a BioDynamic Introduction for Gardeners on 17 March 2012, starting at 9 a.m. on her farm at Lapoinya featuring
The importance of BD
The role of the BD preparations and how to use them
Hands on compost making
The role of the cosmic influences, the BD gardening calendar and a quick introduction to different moon phases
Cost $50, $40 concession and members of Astrotas and the Greens.
Please bring your own lunch & drinks; morning and afternoon tea will be provided 🙂
enquiries to Ute Mueller utemueller@skymesh.com.au

Dr. Burzynski is still under attack (incredible isn’t it?) A former Burzynski patient from WA Shontelle Hiron has uploaded her video archive of the television reports that were done by A current affair to facebook: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=309685522391642&id=318281183441
There is a new release of the video Cancer is serious business with extended footage available at the website www.burzynskimovie.com and if you want to show your friends it is now on the documentary channel for online viewing http://documentarychannel.com/movie.php?currID=9686&t=Burzynski:-Cancer-is-Serious-Business

I have tracked down some free copies of books pertinent to previous meetings on the internet:
The_Miracle_of_Fasting by Paul Bragg
” the third element of blood ” by Antoine Bechamp

(I still have several meeting reports to catch up on – notably uploading the video and photographs from the farm visit.) Happy New year! Carolyn Rutter VP