January 2

Published by Panetary Health Initiative on

Sharing what we know, and what we have

Spending time exploring ways to restore planetary health is arguably better for our mental health than doom scrolling. This is a good thing, because sometimes coming up with ideas of what to do next actually takes quite a bit of thought and research. If we’ve already been trying to live as best we can, sometimes it feels as though there’s not much more we can do. But of course, there always is more that can, and must, be done.

Sharing what we know, and what we have, is an ongoing way to contribute.

Growing Edible Gardens Alongside Wildlife in the Blue Mountains

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can share what we’ve learnt during COVID and the time many of us spent setting up edible gardens; and also what’s been learnt running Blackheath Community Farm for the last five years. Unfortunately, living in a World Heritage Listed area, with all the wildlife that love our gardens as much as we do, means that many people have simply given up on growing edibles, because the frustration of losing crops has outweighed all the benefits. Not everyone wants to go to the cost and effort of building garden enclosures or putting up netting, which is what’s necessary to protect so much of what we’d love to grow.

A few days ago I did a call out to the Blue Mountains Garden Groupies and asked which edible plants they were able to grow without needing protection from wildlife. I got an enthusiastic response and have summarised the plants everyone mentioned in the list below, grouped in ways that I personally would use them. Feel free to give feedback on anything I’ve missed, or different ideas for using certain plants.

The lists that everyone provided depended very much on which wildlife had access to each person’s garden. Those who live closest to the bush and have kangaroo, possum and bush rat visitors can grow far less than those that have only recently established a garden in the middle of town … sometimes it takes a couple of years for wildlife to find out what you’re doing!

We’ve set up a perimeter fence at the Farm that keeps kangaroos out, so we mainly have to cope with birds and rodents. In my garden at home we also have possums. I left a couple of suggestions out if I knew for sure we couldn’t grow them at the Farm or in my garden.

At the Farm today we weeded and began preparing a demonstration bed where we’ll start to grow more of the things on this list so we can show everyone what’s possible if you’d like to grow food without nets.

Planetary Health Initiative Demonstration Bed

Over the next few weeks we’ll also begin creating a demonstration bed at the old Katoomba Golf Club as part of the Planetary Health Initiative. If you’d like to be involved, contact planetaryhealth@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Tonight’s Un-Netted Blackheath-grown Three Course Meal (except for the peas and silverbeet which grew in the Farm enclosure)

Tonight I made a dinner mostly of food grown without nets in Blackheath … there’s so much you actually can grow, so it’s definitely worth trying again if you’ve felt disheartened by your first attempts. Ingredients included Blackheath-grown purple congo potatoes, oregano, garlic, snow peas, nasturtiums, oca, onion, silverbeet and raspberries.

First Course

Purple Congo Potato Rosti, with oregano pesto, char-grilled snow peas, nasturtium flowers and Oca leaves (NZ yam).

Second Course

Miso soup with vegetarian dumplings, char-grilled onion and silverbeet.

Third Course

Homemade vanilla icecream with freshly-picked raspberries.

If you don’t have oregano, now’s a good time to ask gardening friends because most gardeners will be cutting the plants back and dividing them around this time (unless they’re making bucket loads of pesto).

And here’s the list:

Wildlife Compatible Edibles

At the top of the list was leeks, which were described as ‘tough as old boots’.

Bush Tucker

Leaves of edible Geraldton Wax flowers (Jambinu)

Lemon myrtle

Lilly Pilly

Macadamia

Finger lime

NB. These were mentioned but there are lots more bush tucker plants as well.

Greens that are excellent for pesto

Oregano and marjoram

Mint

Land cress

Carrot greens

Rocket and wild rocket

Spinach, especially perennial variety

Sage

Greens that are excellent for salads

Nasturtiums

Land cress

Radishes

Yacon

Fennel

Mint

Sorrel and red sorrel

Asparagus

Rocket and wild rocket

Celery

Cucumber

Dill

Parsley

Coriander

Oxalis

Vietnamese mint

Veggies that are great for saute, stir fry, curries, quiches or frittata

Warrigal greens

Yacon

Leeks, onions, shallots, chives and garlic chives

Stinging nettle

Sorrel

Celery

Zucchini

Carrots

Asparagus

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Coriander

Herbs that are great for pasta sauces, stuffings, and to give flavour to almost anything

Sage

Mint

Oregano and marjoram

Fennel

Celery

Savoury

Bay

Parsley

Coriander

Horseradish

Thyme

Chillies

Rosemary

Vietnamese mint

Yarrow

Greens/veggies that are excellent for soups and stocks

Stinging nettle

Leeks, Garlic, Onion, Chives, Shallots

Zucchini

Sorrel

Warrigal greens

Potatoes

Carrots

Asparagus

Celery

Savoury

Dill

Chillies

Rosemary

Sage

Veggies that can star as an accompaniment to any meal

Globe artichokes

Radishes and pickled radish pods

Zucchini

Asparagus

Veggies that are great for pickling

Radishes and radish podss

Globe artichoke

Zucchini

Veggies that are staples …

Potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Jerusalem Artichokes

Zucchini

New Zealand yams … oca

Tea plants

Sage

Rosemary

Mint

Stinging nettle

Camellia sinensis

Lemon verbena

Echinacea

Lemongrass

Veggies or Herbs that are great in cakes and biscuits

Lemon verbena

Lemon Balm

Lime geranium

Lemon thyme

Sage

Stinging nettle

Zucchinis

Carrots

Lemongrass

Fruits

Cumquats

Lemons

Limes – Tahitian, Makrut

Mandarins

Alpine strawberries

Rhubarb

Raspberries if you don’t mind sharing some

Pomegranates (leaves edible)

Strawberries (red painted decoy rocks have been successful at Springwood Community Garden)

Lady finger and red Dacca bananas


2 Comments

Ian Dalkin · January 3, 2022 at 7:11 am

We managed to install a long overdue connection between our rainwater tank and the toilet inlet. Installed by DB Plumbing here in Blackheath. Danny Brown is a remarkable tradesman.

    Lis Bastian · January 8, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    Such a sensible thing to do when we’re having such heavy rainfalls and the tanks are refilling so quickly!

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