If you can’t beat them…EAT them!

Hi All,

We recently did a bit of research on the subject of Armillaria luteobubalina because we had to answer a few horticultural questions to satisfy one of our Diploma of Landscape Design units and discovered that this humble fungus is not something that you would want to encourage in your garden. We completed the question about this innocuously named “Honey fungus” and how there isn’t really anything that you can do about it once you have it on your property short of plant perennials and find some sort of woody tree that it can’t stand to inhabit. Here is a link to a Wikipedia page explaining it in simple common or garden terms…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria_luteobubalina

By the way my dear constant readers…anyone… ANYONE out there who scoffs at using Wikipedia as a source of horticultural information and a springboard for further  adventures into your area of interest is a horticultural snob. Wikipedia may have its disadvantages when it comes to many things but the people drawn to writing pages regarding horticulture and other scientific studies do it for love and do it because they know a LOT about their chosen subject and actively want to share it with the rest of us. Don’t use it for your thesis but DO use it to find out about what you are interested in and as somewhere to start your subject hunt. I read a post this morning about honey fungus and their edible properties. The post was pertinent to the US, the UK and Canada BUT after our recent scavenger hunt for information about Armillaria luteobubalina I noted the “honey fungus” and the “Armillaria” and how many of them were edible and thought…”surely A (honey fungus) and B (Armillaria) = C (Edible)”…hmmm more instruction needed! First stop Wikipedia…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillaria

I found out some interesting things about Armillaria luteobubalina including “unpleasant flavour” being one of them HOWEVER on further hunting I found that cooking the mushroom reduces the bitterness and it is completely edible…edible you say? Turn a frown upside down…when life hands you lemons make lemonade…if your garden becomes predominately Armillaria luteobubalina ridden and all your trees fall down EAT the fungus and at least get some degree of satisfaction regarding the situation…there you have it. My creed for life. If it aint broke, don’t fix it and if you can’t beat it…EAT it! 😉 The same goes for those weeds that you can’t eat…make weed tea out of them and steal all of the delicious nitrogen that they stole from you back plus all of their hard formed nitrogen that they were stashing for spreading around in their wanton weedy ways. Don’t take it lying down people…find a way to turn situations to your advantage even when the chips are down. I don’t recommend doing what a Northern Tasmanian man did a few years ago and feed your murder victim to your pigs…apparently pigs are a whole lot more fussy than we have been led to believe in movies like Hannibal Lector and turned up their noses at said murder victim…might be easier just to eat him yourself…

Spot the rooster in this photo…you get 10 points if you spot Big Yin and 50 points if you spot Bob his numero uno chick

Steve’s cactus “Bob” (Marley) that despite being stuffed into an olive oil can seems to be extremely happy with his lot

Some more cacti flowering happily in the late spring sunshine

I just started and finished a very slim book that was cram-packed full of pause for thought. I often get shoved by the universe into doing things that I otherwise wouldn’t do. I had never heard of Kurt Vonnegut prior to seeing an article about him on a blog that I follow and decided that I might like to read some of his work because for some reason it appealed to me. I decided to choose a book blind from our local library…I chose by name…”Like Shaking Hands with God” arrived on Wednesday and I picked it up yesterday while I was eating my breakfast, finished half of the book by the time I put my spoon down and finished the book later on in the day whilst sitting outside on the deck with a cup of tea after weeding the maple garden and laying down mulch to protect the soil. I couldn’t put this book down. It was sub-titled “A conversation about writing” and was based on a series of Author/Audience meetings that took place back in 1999 between Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer. I had never heard of Lee Stringer either but will most certainly be seeing if I can get hold of his book “Grand Central Winter” about his life on the streets. What hit me in my mental solar plexus about these men was their complete and utter honesty about the life that they had been handed and how they spent their lives sharing the world through their writing and their experience. I wonder how many other amazing authors are out there that I have NO idea exist. Cheers universe for letting me discover these wonderful writers and thanks for the shove in the right direction :o).

Some of the rescued Tip strawberries enjoying their sunny spot on Serendipity Farm

Our very own integrated pest management brigade 🙂

Look how much the hazelnuts and single walnut (in the largest pot) have grown since wednesday

It’s a beautiful 25°C late spring day today on Serendipity Farm. Steve was going to whipper snip but his own fortune shoved him and the whipper snipper decided not to play ball today. We have loaned “Betsy”, my whipper snipper, to our daughters to render their jungle somewhat less jungle-like and so he couldn’t use Betsy to finish the task so we headed down to the front gates and the river bank where the duel daily rushing tides conveniently pull all of the floating debris right opposite our front gate and we collected some driftwood to make ourselves a Christmas tree. We got enough so that I could make a Christmas wreath out of driftwood as well and all I have to do now is work out how the wreath has been put together and replicate it for Serendipity Farm. We just spent the rest of the day making our tree and it has been Earl approved. He promises to pretend not to notice it at all until we stupidly leave him to his own devices one day and he re-enacts the wreck of the Hesperus with the vengeance that only a 35kg termite can wreak. I guess we have been warned… We reused our Christmas star that I made 4 years ago when we first started making our own Christmas trees using various deceased woody portions. We plan on making quite a few of our own beach tree decorations to hang on our new tree and hopefully it makes it to Christmas day without suspicious nibble marks or outright disassembling by “He who must be watched”

Time to plant out these purple king beans

Tiny little Cavello nero

“Come and get it slugs and snails…what’s that you say? Snail pellets in the barrow? No surely not! ;)”

I have been watching “Hoarders…buried alive”. I have a degree of commiseration for the hoarders that obviously have mental problems but then there are the divas that just can’t be getting their nails dirty who put on a face to the world and who live in a jumbled chaos of clutter. The first part of their road back to normality is for them to admit that they have a problem and most of them simply don’t think that they do. The majority of them are being forced into parting with their blissful hoarding ways thanks to complaints from the neighbours (how inconsiderate? 😉 ) or threats of demolition by their local building authorities and so they tend to be somewhat less than appreciative and helpful in the process. I have to admit something here if I am ever going to have a degree of normality in my life (highly unlikely but here goes…) I am a hoarder. There…I said it! Steve claims that my small stack of plates and bowls constitutes hoarding but I am not talking about how many plates I have in my easily closed cupboard, I am talking about my addiction to hoarding information, especially recipes that I find. I hunt information and recipes like a woman possessed. I just checked my recipe folder and it’s probably time to send it to one of our bulging hard drives because it has 2.48Gig of squirrelled away Word documents. Now I KNOW that I am never going to make my way through actualising these recipes BUT I don’t care. They are mine…I hoarded them…I need them for tomorrow. Good luck loosing my grip on them because my hoarded pile isn’t visible unless you check properties on my folders and count the number of burned CD’s that I have full of past hoarding events. I used to take books out of the library and carefully copy out recipes that I wanted to keep back when my children were small and I guess it was my way of taking control in a life that felt somewhat meaningless. I was a stay at home mum and always felt guilty for doing so even though I loved being available to my kids and all stay at home mums will agree with me when I say that there is an undertow in the community (well there definitely was back in the 1980’s!) that stay at home mums were cop out bums. I had the time to read to my children and they are all prolific readers today with wonderful imaginations and enviable problem solving skills. I may have spent a degree of my time trying to find some purpose for my life due to feeling adrift and writing out recipes gave me something to focus on. My failed crafts cupboard just made me feel worse but writing out a steady stream of recipes “for posterity” made me feel like I had actually accomplished something with my time and my life. Everyone needs a goal to work towards and mine was writing. I transferred it to typing and am much better and faster at typing than I am at writing. I was able to transcribe entire books in much less time and typed out an entire copy of The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition in 3 days because back then, it was out of print (please no bright spark tell me that it is back in print and only costs $50 because I already know and it will make me twitch 😉 ). I love the act of completion and have since learned to enjoy the process as well. We all need goals in life to give us satisfaction and to show us that we are progressing. My recipes show me that I am getting somewhere and should the entire system shut down and everyone wants to know how to make their own healthy margarine I am your go-to woman!

A nice big chunk of Tasmanian native blackwood ready to create a magnificent spoon for some lucky dear constant reader of the blog

Christmas tree futures

MORE spoon futures…and spatula futures…and small wooden box futures…and little herb spoon futures…

It’s Saturday and I have most of my post completed so I can share a most interesting thing that I found out this morning when reading my rss feed reader. Christi from the wonderful blog Farmlet who lives in Olalla Washington, who is doing what we are doing but on polar opposite sides of the globe (I am SURE that there is some sort of time continuum thing going on 😉 ) will most probably know what I am going to talk about here but to the majority of us, and I am guessing that a fair few of my dear constant readers in the U.S. included, will have never heard or seen what I am about to reveal to you before. Have I got you curious? I was reading a post this morning from one of the “Living sustainably” blogs that I follow and the poster was talking about sustainable thanksgiving mains choices. Now I am heartily over Thanksgiving guys… I have had so many pumpkin pie posts in the guise of vegan, paleo, raw and plain old decadent and dairy ridden that I would rather eat one of Steve’s feet than have to read about another one. It’s my own fault for following 390 blogs in my rss feed reader, most of them U.S. and most of them to do with food now isn’t it? I started reading about “the usual” Thanksgiving foods and was working back through what was truly sustainable when I got to number 3 and couldn’t for the life of me work out what they were talking about! A food that I have NEVER heard of? Time to go hunting! My interest was further piqued when I read that this food was sourced from Puget Sound which is right next to where Christi lives! This “food” is apparently harvested and sustainable but I don’t know how sustainable it is when this giant mollusc can live for 169 years but it was number 3 on the sustainable Thanksgiving list right after “Heritage Turkey” so if you live near Puget sound and you fancy something that looks suspiciously phallic for your next Thanksgiving meal knock yourself out…its geoduck all round! Check out what geoducks actually are in the following link and the link after that has a good photo of something that is apparently edible and makes me take back EVERYTHING that I have said in jest about how folks in Louisiana will eat anything…Christi…your countrymen just shot straight past the hillbillies and hit first place! 😉

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/pugetsound/species/geoduck.html

http://geoduckrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/geoduck-size.jpg

If being born in a stable was good enough for Jesus…it’s darned well good enough for our Christmas tree!

Hows this for an action shot…drilling the hole at the top of the “Christmas Tree” to insert the star

A 35kg termite and his sidekick

Emmmmm!

Nothing to do with me!

I forgot to tell you that we got accepted into our chosen arty course for next year. We think it might not have been the course that we initially wanted to do. Steve swears that the course that we were aiming at is a completely different course offered from a completely different Polytechnic (I.T.) but after talking to the lecturer and checking out the website we are very excited about learning all about making our own websites and will probably take a year off to study the other course that we initially were going to sign up for after this course. It’s good to take a bit of a hiatus from intensive study in one area because it leaves you refreshed and multi-skilled. We decided to learn how to produce our own high quality websites as part of our business plan. Through our studies we have discovered that landscape gardeners appear to be lacking in the computer skills department. Most landscape gardening sites are pitiful links through sites like HotFrog and give prospective customers (and students trying to find out information) massive headaches trying to find them. You have to phone up to get any information whatsoever and most of them don’t answer the phone to you anyway. This isn’t just a Tasmanian problem, we discovered it bleeds over to the mainland and trying to find an herb wholesaler with a web presence was like trying to find a speck of sand in a sand dune. We are determined to be successful when we eventually start our business and as such we want to be as proficient with as many areas of our chosen field as we possibly can be. Perhaps Jack of all trades master of none may apply BUT at least we will know something about every facet of our business which can only be a good thing. After learning how to produce a quality website and web presence we can head over to the other course and learn how to produce quality concept plans using the Adobe 5 suite and then it’s off to university with a diverse range of qualifications that can only help us to give Landscape Architecture our most sterling effort. “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”…see…I DID listen Gran 😉

An elderly auger bit that a friend gave Steve that despite its aged look still has a whole lot of life left in it

The Auger bit in action taking out a nice spoon sized portion of this incredibly tough wattle wood…this is one wooden spoon that WON’T break

“Oh Tannenbaum…oh tannenbaum…”…

Ok, it’s time to head off and make Steve something scrumptious for his tea. It’s really just shepherd’s pie but he LOVES it and would eat it every day if he could. Sad, but if it makes him happy, it’s his :o). He is working on producing the spoon that I am going to give away to one of my wonderful constant readers who comments on the post directly after I get 100 followers. It’s getting close folks and I won’t be doing the stupid “like my Facebook page…like my twitter account (not that I HAVE a twitter account)…etc…) it will be Earl…choosing your number…from a hat full of numbered walnuts. How much more random could it be than that?! See you all on Wednesday and have the best weekend possible in your neck of the woods :o)

I have a couple of photos left over so you get a bonus. Here we have 2 little carob trees that we grew from seed. We have another one and hopefully we get at least one male and one female because they are dioecious and you need both a male and a female tree to get pods

I didn’t realise how much active snarfing went on in my now heavily fortified compost heap when I wasn’t watching! Everything is now growing like crazy and we have King Edward, kipflers and various pumpkins growing in it now that they are protected from chicken and possum enslaughts

Pumpkin futures! I LOVE pumpkin 🙂

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roz Takes
    Nov 24, 2012 @ 19:41:47

    Actually Fran I would be completely lost without Wikipedia I use it all the time.
    Congratulations on being accepted for your arty course. Making your own website should be fun.
    Laughed at your Geoduck it reminded me of ET. But why would you harvest and eat something that could be 169 years old. As bad as the idiots who think that they won’t destroy the Dinosaur prints up north while they build their Gas Hub.
    Love the Xmas Tree. Remember the one we made from polystyrene vegie boxes from Coles?
    Did Steve like the pictures of things made from wood that I sent him? I quite liked the chair.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 25, 2012 @ 05:13:58

      Steve loved that chair and the rest of the pics too Roz, sorry he didn’t reply but he has been flat out building things and whipper snipping and hasn’t had much to do on Facebook. When he gets in he sloops down on the couch…spring is our busy time :). They have a willow furniture course locally and I want to attend it next year. They have an exhibition of everyone’s work in Launceston and its amazing what you can make out of willow. I saw some fantastic creations…must dig up the photos that I took when we went with the girls and share some, they are amazing. Some very clever people out there…I can’t remember the polystyrene veggie box Christmas Tree Roz…are you sure I was “in the picture” at the time? I am with you on the Geoduck being “sustainable”. Anything that lives for 169 years can’t possibly breed all that much and it would seem like a ridiculous prospect to eat something that had that much longevity. They are still trying to build that bloody gas hub? At least we have a bit of respite on the pulp mill as gunns went broke. We just have to hope beyond hope that the world economy stays the way that it is and that the price of wood pulp does the same. Someone wants to buy the land to erect a wind farm but the government is hell bent on that bloody pulp mill…I know how you feel…hell bent on destruction the lot of them so long as they get re-elected and there are “jobs” at the end of it sigh… I LOVE wikipedia and its my go-to first stop whenever I am looking something up. Most people who post there are incredibly knowledgable about their stuff and you can at least get a springboard onto the heavy meat of the subject if you want to. As I said… don’t do your thesus on it but use it to find out and enlighten yourself :). Have a fantastic sunday Roz, it must be heating up in Perth about now. It’s been pretty warm over here in Tassie and our veggies are starting to grow like crazy. Wish I could share eggs and veggies with you…and chooks for that matter! 😉

      Reply

  2. brymnsons
    Nov 24, 2012 @ 22:32:37

    Well done on getting into the course, not the course you thought but hey you never know where it will take you. I don’t like the look of the Geoduck so don’t think I would even want to try it, yuck! Totally weird. Interesting tree, I can’t wait to see the decos. Bruce will be drooling over that wood, be good to see the end results too. Take care x

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 25, 2012 @ 05:19:07

      The tree is more “rustic” that most of our trees have been but we can use small gold cuphooks to hand the decorations and we can make our own Scandinavian style decorations out of wood and it might be time to make another orange pomander. You won’t believe how long it takes to stud an orange with cloves! I think it ran to a few hours! (I wonder if a clove studded banana would be the same 😉 ). Have a fantastic sunday before you are back to the madding crowd. Not too long till you have holidays though… 🙂

      Reply

  3. christiok
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 16:53:15

    Ah, yes, Fran, the lovely geoduck! I know them well.:) They are clams and are great to eat. My favorite joke about them was back in the 80s when Jane Pauley was the host of the TODAY show and she was out here filming a cooking show in Seattle and the chef held up a geoduck and Jane asked, “How does she swim?” or something like that. Everyone can see that all geoducks are clearly male, and no one could stop laughing.
    And congratulations on your acceptance to the website design class!

    Reply

  4. Sincerely, Emily
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 01:41:37

    It sounds like you and Steve will have fun in your website design class. Only 10 points for me, I can only spot the rooster. Love your drift wood tree. What fun. And I see Earl hanging out just waiting to chew on those wood scraps! Funny boy! Have a great day.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 05:38:11

      Bob is towards the rear of the photo and despite being apparently the most sexually attractive chook in the universe (every one of our ex-roosters now wishbones in a pot found her completely irresistable) she is also one of the most destructive in her digging habits. You probably can’t see her (aside from her tail) because she is halfway to China buried in my garden! 😉

      Reply

  5. rabidlittlehippy
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 11:10:07

    I would be lost without Wiki. I’ve found it’s more than reliable about most things unless it’s a controversial subject, in which case, verification is definitely required (and chances are you will verify both sides then anyway).
    Loving the tree too.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 14:31:41

      We have to find somewhere to put it to keep Earl’s little curious beak off it…last year we had to elevate our old (borer infested) tree to stop him from sampling it but this year it’s on it’s own and as you have seen by the recent post…it’s definately to Earl’s taste! 😉

      Reply

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