How to freak out a penniless hippy and bean sprouting 101

Hi All,

This is a special post for 2 reasons.

  1. Bev from Foodnstuff requested that I do a little post about how to use an automatic sprouter to facilitate vegetable and other seed sprouting
  2. I just had a MAJOR woo-woo moment (Christi will know what I mean by that 😉 )

The sprouter first… I bought this sprouter when I was on a health kick.  I have a link to what my sprouter is here…

But I most DEFINITELY didn’t pay that for it! Mine was $49.00 through my local health food shop. The sprouter promised…yes…it PROMISED that I would reverse my aging, I would suddenly go from middle aged saggy plump hippy to firm taught vibrant slim jogging vegan in a single swoop through the simple ingestion of crunchy “magic”…as with many of my past health kicks this one lasted about a week…which was coincidentally the same amount of time that it took the automatic sprouter to sprout me a plethora of sprouts that all tasted a bit more bitter and crunchy than magic and sunshiny to me and after soaking and cleaning the unit for about a month and still not being able to make it look like new again I put it away (with a few whispy tendrils of sprout root clinging infuriatingly and most tenaciously to some of the plates) and promptly forgodaboudit. I had the bright idea of using it to sprout my larger beans after reading Bev of foodn’stuff blogging fame’s post about beans and waiting for them to come through…I am NOT patient. I don’t like waiting for things to sprout and tend to think that they are dead and toss them out into the compost heap…we also have a plethora of slugs on Serendipity Farm and I didn’t want to be muttering about how long my beans were taking to germinate when in actuality they germinated a month ago and were promptly set upon and devoured by slugs in my absentia. The sprouter had our bean seeds up and sprouted within a week and after we planted them out they went gangbusters and we only lost 2 to said slugs (right before I caught them writhing upside down on the slug pelletised mushroom compost…) and one that had been slug snipped is actually regrowing.  I hope that this is useful to you Bev…if not just let me know what I omitted (probably everything 😉 ) and I will email you with the straight dope on it.

What do we have here? Why I DO believe its Tragopogon porrifolius otherwise known as oyster plant or common salsify…

And here are some more…if that’s not an open invitation to collect seed and spread it with wanton abandon on Serendipity Farm I don’t know what is!

Seed collected and ready for wanton abandoned spreading in some potting mix. Another one of those lucky little finds that result in me feeling like I won vegetable lotto 🙂

I would imagine that you could just put your beans into a jar and sprout them that way. The main benefit of the automatic sprouter is that it waters the sprouts for you so if you have a mind like a sieve that tends to be miles away from where your body resides at any given time you won’t forget to rinse your beans and they won’t shrivel and die before they extend their little rootlets to the sunshine, closely followed by their little shootlets. I have a secret to share with you…you all have to be very careful to listen to what I am about to say in a whisper…turn your ears down to low as this is something pretty special for me…I…managed to germinate…a Moringa oleifera in said automatic sprouter! SHHHHH! I don’t want the fates to hear me! I want to have it keep growing in the glasshouse until it gets big enough to plant out on Serendipity Farm under heavy guard because EVERYTHING is going to want to eat this baby. I actually managed to get one to germinate and that is a magic feat indeed for me. I have been after one of these trees for so very long and if this little fellow who is growing incredibly quickly is able to keep growing and thriving I will actually have one of these amazingly useful trees. Next stop…neem!

At first glance this might appear to be a jar of Chestnut Cream. Chestnut cream is delicious and this jar did, indeed, contain chestnut cream in one of it’s past incarnations but it is currently containing home made sunflower seed butter that I made using a mortar and pestle the other day because I am the sad owner of a shit food processor that refuses to “process” anything other than meat. Oh the irony for a vegan to own something that is obviously carnivorous 😦

Here’s me taking secret deck shots (using the zoom) of Joe Cool doing the whipper snipping…

You can almost see the moment where this suddenly escalated into something that couldn’t be spoken about  in polite company can’t you? ;)… time to sneak back inside and put the camera somewhere safe 😉

I love being able to grow things myself. Things that we might otherwise never see on Serendipity Farm let alone in Tasmania. We have been growing Brachychitons and have lots of different kinds ready to be planted out, given away, swapped or sold should we ever manage to organise ourselves out of a paper bag and get it together enough to man a stall at the Exeter markets one day. I have visions of a row of incredible Queensland bottle trees (for that, indeed, is what Brachychitons are…) all the way down the fenceline between our house and Glad’s next door. It would most certainly be a talking point for future generations. I watched an old episode of The Cook and the Chef last night and Simon Bryant was talking to some permies in South Australia who were saying that once it gets too hot on the mainland for citrus that the logical and perfect replacement were pomegranate trees. I LOVE the positivity of permaculture…no sitting around whinging about how we won’t have citrus trees soon and isn’t it terrible…just straight away looking at the possibilities and adapting. That’s what I prize…adaptation and the ability to look on the bright side. That’s what is noble about the human race…that plus dying for your mate but hopefully I won’t have to do that any day soon! I have been thinking about what to do with an area up the back block that was “accidentally” cleared in our absence by the neighbours to the rear who wanted to take a swathe of trees right the way down to the front of the property out so that they could get a view (and more for their property that they are trying to sell…). The man that was caretaking our property at the time (before we moved here) started to ask questions when they wanted to start felling down into the second paddock and phoned us up…that was where I reiterated that I had told this neighbour at the back that he could take out a couple of trees along the fenceline that runs between our property and theirs NOT the whole damned property! Some people take liberties and I plan on planting out a memorial to the lost trees that consists of a row of Pinus radiata right along the boundary line (what’s that you say? They grow tall? Do they? 😉 ) And running down the steep slope I want to plant pistachios, pomegranates, figs and olives with perhaps a run of grape vines closer to the house and vegetable gardens. The area has been cleared anyway and may as well get used for food production. It’s perfect for these sorts of plants and now I just need to source them. The pomegranate isn’t too hard but the pistachio may be a bit more difficult.

Despite their best efforts the chooks haven’t yet managed to totally defoliate Serendipity Farm…this Deutzia scabra is loving it’s spot planted out into the garden and is rewarding us with some beautiful flowers…it has a twin in the middle garden that is doing just as well.

Another Serendipity chook appocolypse survivor. This member of the lily family has managed to hoodwink them but it’s less fortunate Asiatic lily cousins have fallen prey to their dustbathing and curious pecking and most probably to a few possum and wallaby attacks

I wonder why the chooks passed up this chance to make a quick horticultural conquest…it’s down the driveway in their stomping ground…wait a minute…its a Dracunculus vulgaris aka “Voodoo lily”, “Dragon arum”, or “Stink lily”… last year there were 3 of them…this year there are about 20. I just did a bit of a check and found out that they originate in the Balkans and Greece. No WONDER they do well here without supplemental watering!

And this is an open one…stinking to high heavens of rotting meat. It uses this subterfuge to encourage pollination which obviously works because we have 20 of them when last year we only had 3. Anyone HATE their neighbour and want one of these babies? Revenge is foetid 😉

The woo-woo part of this post is quite interesting actually. I have been veering off into finding some really good gardening and environmental blogs lately. All thanks and kudos to my dear constant reader Argyle socks of “Science on the Land” blogging fame…

Who recently was nominated for a blogging award. Much like me she tends not to bother with things like that and much like me it’s because she probably couldn’t be bothered with going through all of the rigmarole that seems to go with these awards and speaking for myself I kind of feel a bit “chain lettery” whenever I see them although I have to admit to being chuffed when I have been nominated in the past and very appreciative of my fellow bloggers kudos :o). She did post an amazing list of blogs that she follows and mine was one of them…I headed off to peruse every single blog (obsessive compulsive? Moi?!) and found most of them a bit TOO scientific for my mind to comprehend. I did, however, find a couple of fantastic blogs that made me feel like I had won blog lotto and that got crammed into my rss feed reader post haste so as not to lose them. Aside from Argyle sock who I am GOING to have to ask her what her name is because I have to post “Argyle sock” on other people’s blogs 😉 whose blog is a fantastic read, you can check her list for yourself and see if there are any close fits for your scientific desires…

There is something for everyone folks…no matter how much you think that you don’t like science. The woo-woo bit came from where Ms Argyle (or is it Ms Sock?) had typed out a little bit about our blog after the link and she had typed “The Road to Serendipity Pen and Steve try to find order in all of this chaos.” (she has since changed it to “Fran” because that is actually my name) my mum called me “Penny” because that is what she wanted to call me…as much as I dislike “Frances” as a name it might be a good thing that my father’s insistence on calling me the family name (much like he had been called the family name before me…sigh…misery loves company! 😉 )  won out because I would be Penny Pimblett if my mum had her way and that is only a hop-step and a jump from pippy longstockings and Chrystal tips and Alistair! The woo-woo part comes from me watching a television program about near death experiences and knowing how much mum loved it here and how recently she had been to our home before she died I was thinking about whether it was possible for people to be able to communicate from wherever we go to when we die. I do believe that we go “somewhere” but as I haven’t been there yet I can’t say where “somewhere” is. I don’t ascribe to the theory that we just “stop” when we die… I am an optimist remember. I had been thinking about mum on and off for a week or so now…I woke up to an email asking me to moderate Argyle socks pingback to my blog and almost fell off my chair…which is a usual occurrence to be honest because at 5am before I have sipped my first brain awakening cup of tea assuming that I have a sense of balance is a most enthusiastic assumption. Using mum’s pet name for me in the pingback was incredibly pertinent to what I had been thinking about the night before and although I tend to be a reasonably sceptical person, my woo-woo valve was twitching. Ms Sock had obviously been to my “about” page and having seen Steve’s name in the blurb…just kept reading comments until she found mum’s comment calling me “Pen”…an easy mistake to make but how very VERY coincidental that she should post this post and make that mistake right after I had been pondering about after death experiences.

Does anyone else get the feeling that “someone” is SO far over Earl’s birthday that he is just about to meet himself coming back the other way? 😉

Someone doesn’t like having his photo taken…

It’s a magnificent day today in northern Tasmania. The sun is shining, in fact it’s glaring down. The sky is blue the water is magnificent and we took the dogs to their favourite place to walk (and ours to drag behind them…) just up the road from here in a place called Swan point. I got some lovely photos for today’s post and the boys had a ball. Bezial is now to be officially called “The great blowfish hunter” because he had his head under the water in a vain attempt to catch one of the small blowfish that zoom around in the shallow warm water. Earl was very confused because he couldn’t even SEE the blowfish and was watching Bezial in a most bemused way jumping in and out of the water and kept racing over to see what all the fuss was about…Earl doesn’t like to miss out on anything and he was feeling decidedly missed out. I have a driftwood Christmas wreath to construct and found an adult conifer with tiny little cones that it had littered all over the place on our walk and collected 2 bags full of them one for my wreathy creation and the other for a friend who wanted some for Christmas craft. I found an interesting picture in one of the recycle, reuse repurpose blogs that I follow that led me to another site with instructions for how to make cloth bowls using cloth remnants and rope. The thing that made me excited was that someone had taken this sterling idea and ran with it all the way to their pile of plastic bags and had turned the idea into a series of magnificent looking outdoor planters! WOOT! What a great idea! This little black duck will be using her bags for more than plarn and by using nylon rope that we find washed up onto the shoreline all of the time, I can make some really interesting outdoor planters that are as frugal as they are bright and cheery. Steve is whipper snipping the paddock next to the house because both of our close neighbours have suddenly become pyromaniacs who light small fires all over the place. Glad was having a fire the other night when I headed off to bed! Frank was trying to smoke us out this morning with lots of little raked heaps of Poa grass…he really does need to accept that he lives in the bush and that “neat and tidy” are merely a concept that needs to be exorcised if he ever wants to find happiness out here in the scrub.

A warm spring day down at Paper beach and Steve is feeling artistic

Its amazing how pretty a swampy bit of water can look if you accidentally ace the shot 😉

I have an interesting post for Saturday that started when I picked up a discarded plastic coke bottle on one of my solitary walks with Earl while Bezial was recovering from an attempt to join the ranks of the parkour elite. It got me thinking about what we throw out and I ran with the theme. Our new course next year has us working through a lot of conceptual ideas and one of the units is titled “50 pumpkins”. What we are required to do is sketch 50 different ways to look at a pumpkin and submit them to our lecturer. That means that Steve and I will be submitting 100 pumpkins! I had been thinking about the concept and realised that there are many ways to skin a cat and many ways to conceptualise a pumpkin and that led me to Saturdays post. It’s too nice a day to be sitting here wasting folks…I have garden beds to build…I have Purple King beans threatening to take over Steve’s shed if I don’t plant them out and I have 2 sulking dogs who are waiting for me to take them out to water the veggie gardens (in Earls case…literally!) so I must love you, and leave you. Parting is such sweet sorrow BUT if you come back on Saturday you can read all about the irony of a coke bottle…I think that was just a teaser for my next post?  Whatever it was…see you then!

I finally worked out how to get a good shot of Bezial…wave the bag of dehydrated steak treats above the camera!

What do you know…it works for Earl too! 😉


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jmgoyder
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 19:24:30

    The only thing I’ve successfully sprouted is mung beans – yum. I just soak them overnight, rinse them and chuck them in a baking tray in the light. I haven’t had any success with other things hehe!


  2. argylesock
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 19:33:58

    Starting the day with a smile at your response to my blog-recommending post 🙂 In fact I keep adding more good blogs to my list there and I’ll do that for as long as I find that I want to.

    I’m glad that I’m not the only person to have mixed feelings about WP awards. If somebody wants to pay me money to write popsci, that’s another matter and it’s quite likely that will happen. But I chose the appearance of my science blog, as you chose yours, and for me that wouldn’t sit well with icons about ‘cupcakes’ (a word that feels alien to this Englishwoman), ‘gold stars’ (I liked those when I was 5 years old but that was several decades ago) etc. The lists of ‘award rules’ put me right off, too. They remind me of how the Royal National Lifeboats Association behaves. A fine charity, but I don’t happen to contribute to it and I didn’t give that group of people permission to print pages of envelopes and stickers with my full name and address. Which they do several times a year.

    Talking of names, my real name is Dr Sam Mason. On WP I’m argylesock.


  3. Pinky
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 22:02:38

    Lovely photos once again Fronkii. I can sympathise (or rather, Jason can) with Steve and that whippersnipper. Lots of furious cursing and arm waving to be had by all it would seem! Hee hee hee. We are finely having a bit of a rainstorm over here so all the fruit trees are getting a lovely drink from on high. Just hoping the gale force winds don’t blow all the fruit off them.


    • narf77
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 05:01:45

      It looks like we are not going to get rain any day soon. Usually it’s pretty wet here over spring but it has been very dry and after we coral those wayward chooks we are going to have to first irrigate and then heavily mulch everything. Good to hear about those fruit trees…the possums ate all our fruit before it was worth covering up (fool me once possums…FOOL ME ONCE!) but next year it will be a fruity fort knox! Have a great rest of the week and I hope that your fruit stays put and doesn’t join Dorothy and Toto in that gale 😉


  4. christiok
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 05:43:01

    Pen! What a wonderful woo woo story. I miss your mom, too, as she sounds like a kindred spirit with all her jams and gardens. I whipper-snipped ONCE (we call it weed-whacking, but I think your term is much more refined) and never again. Keith does it, and I stay clear. But I do like the results. Everything looks so ship shape. And…I LOVE your ending pictures of the dogs. Ruby looks ancient and depressed until she pants, and that’s when I try to take her picture.:) oh…and lol to the picture of long-suffering Bezial being SO over Earl’s big day.


    • narf77
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 05:56:08

      “Earl gets balloons…Earl gets burgers…Earl gets toys…BAH HUMBUG!”…we won’t mention that everything Earl gets Bezial gets too BUT hey, thats the long suffering life of a parkour king I guess ;). The results do look great Christi and there are less snakes intent on investigating around the house which is just fine by me! I love to whipper snip but Steve tends to do most of it. I have my own whipper snipper called Betsy but poor Betsy tends to be disassembled on a regular basis to fix up something on Steve’s bit (same species) model so Betsy doesn’t do much whipper snipping and is always in lieu of needing something to make her work 😉


  5. Finn Holding
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 08:14:38

    It must be brilliant to be able to grow so much of what you need. What fraction of your food do you produce yourselves?

    BTW I love reading your posts, they’re full of fascinating stuff and they make me chuckle too – especially (in this one) the bit about fending off offensive neighbours with a strategically placed stink lily. Do they work for cats too?


    • narf77
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 10:05:38

      I can’t honestly say about the cats but they are feral and tend to stay away from that part of the garden so you never know…We don’t produce a lot of our own food yet because we have only been here for 2 years and have only started growing our own veggies this year. Ours is a long term goal where we eventually want to be producing a lot of our food from trees, shrubs and perennial sources. I am a vegan and Steve doesn’t eat a lot of meat so we are very experimental with our food and I see nuts as being an amazing sustainable way to get protein and healthy fats and so they are right up there with some of the most important things to plant on Serendipity Farm. We have some challenges but then again so does much of the world and as horticulturalists we just need to narrow down what will and won’t grow well in our climactic range. The stink lilies are ferocious! If you are upwind of them it’s alright but head down to the driveway and it’s almost noxious 😉


  6. rabidlittlehippy
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 10:57:23

    Every time I read your blog all I can think is “I WANT A HOLIDAY!… On Serendipity farm”. Your beach photos are amazing – even Allegra wanted me to scroll back up so she could look at the sea again.
    Yay for your sprouter too. I’ve been looking more and more into sprouting things – it kills the phytic acid in things and I’ve been soaking more food before cooking in an effort to reduce that. I tried soaking heat before dehydrating and grinding it up but to be honest, it’s a pain in the arse so I will stick to sourdough which does the same thing with MUCH less effort on my behalf. I’ve not been a big bean or lentil person but I’m starting to increase more into our diets – trying to change the diet of 3 fussy kids is harder than stopping the tide though. They DID like my red lentil dahl though and I am planning to try a recipe I found on a blog I follow – for Dosa. I’m not a big foodie although I do follow a few great foodie blogs – Quirky Cooking is my fave of all time – but this Dosa sounds like a great dinner that my kids will like because I can tell them it’s pancakes and not be lying! 😀
    Anyway, my beans seem to have survived the slugging and there are over 40 of them up last count. Mostly purple kings but also scarlet runners, butter and borlottis all mixed in together. All being so different in appearance they’re going to be a pretty show, particularly at picking time. A basket full of different beans. Maybe my photography will have improved enough to make it a decent pic when I take it.

    LOVE the “revenge is foetid” too. Maybe I should give them as Xmas gifts to some people who have pissed me off this year. 😉 Ok, so I’m a little vindictive at times. It’s a female prerogative.


  7. Trackback: Climate change and changing to suit the climate « rabidlittlehippy
  8. bakermom
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 17:26:28

    As usual you had me cracking up at my little desk here in this little corner of the world. You are such a hoot! You described it perfectly. My mind IS like a sieve and frequently is far, far from my body.That is why I get to the garage to get something out of the pantry and by the time my body gets there, my brain has already got it, cooked it and is off and running to something else, leaving my body looking around the garage going “whaaa?” after which I have to usually retrace my steps and stand blankly in the kitchen trying to remember what I needed. That forces my brain to come slumping back reluctantly to here and now. I’m glad to know I am not alone in that. Thanks for the post.


  9. foodnstuff
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 17:47:45

    Thant’s a great sprouter! Imagine having it all sprayed for you!! Thanks for the info.

    I can’t believe that’s salsify. Did you get to eat any? Mine is still growing but at the first sign of a flower stem, I’m going to pick some. I’ve felt down below ground level but can’t feel a sizeable root, so maybe I sowed too early (or late). never grown it before.

    Any chance of a teensy bit of seed?

    Steve’s scenery photos are lovely!. Has he thought of putting a self-published book together?


    • narf77
      Nov 29, 2012 @ 18:40:22

      The salsify was growing wild on the side of the road and I will definately send you some seed 🙂 The salsify that I pulled out to check the root had a 10cm root on it and that was from something growing out in the arid dry dirt on the side of the river bank. I would be interested to see how you go with it as I am going to plant some and collect more from the site and strew that all over the place (along with teasels that I want to grow for the beneficials 🙂 ). I will get some seed off to to you tomorrow and we can experiment together :). Steve says that you have NO idea how many photos we have to wade through to find 1 to post 😉


  10. thinkingcowgirl
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 10:01:55

    Just dropping in to say hello. I’ll be reserving a couple of hours to have a good old root around Serendipity Farm soon 🙂


  11. Sincerely, Emily
    Nov 30, 2012 @ 13:55:25

    HI Fran – well, I have a nice comment typed, then I went and clicked on one of you photos and lost it. geez. SALSIFY! how fun o find some wild ones growing and gather seeds! I have planted it for the first time this year. It took a while to germinate, but I have 5 going and I am keeping my eye on them. Are you planting your seeds now or in the fall? It is too hot here in the summer to grow it, so I have it growing now.

    That voodoo lily sure has an interesting bloom and after hearing your describe its scent, maybe you want to plant some of that along the back fence where the neighbor “accidentally” took down all those trees.

    Beautiful photos from your walk too.


    • narf77
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 05:04:20

      Hi Emily :), I got tired of losing my comments (I am an avid commenter 😉 ) and so what I do now is open up notepad and tap away with what I want to say as I am working my way through posts that I am going to comment on. Should I accidentally click on something I don’t lose my comment and at the end of the post when I am ready to post my comment I just copy and paste it into the comment box. No more early morning flailing ;). The voodoo lilies are out in full now and it smells like dead wallabies down in that area of the garden. Thank goodness the elderly lady who apparently furnished this poor neglected garden with amazing specimens before my dad and his partner decided to just “let it go” had the presence of mind to plant them AWAY from the house. Poor Glad probably gets a whiff of them every now and then though 😉


  12. brymnsons
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 20:04:16

    Hello Frannie, I have just read your post today, Saturday, as I have been away. The photos are lovely, and I agree with foodnstuff with the book idea. He obviously has a creative eye. Lovely photos of your puppalups too. Don’t send me any of those stinky plants thanks 🙂 but they would be a great way to torture a wayward neighbour eh. Will head over to your next post now x


  13. thinkingcowgirl
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 22:40:26

    Hahaha this made me laugh. Starting and giving up on health kicks – I’ve done the sprout thing before, full of resolve and purpose. However I’ve now come to the conclusion that I just don’t like them! I’m more than impressed by your plans for Serendipity. My sister works for the Permaculture Association here in the Uk and it’s all quite fascinating, the way the different tiers of plants can work together. I’m planning a bit of a garden on our land but I think it’ll mainly be pretty!

    ‘Revenge is foetid’ Genius!


    • narf77
      Dec 04, 2012 @ 05:07:09

      There is nothing wrong with “pretty”. I long…lust…after “Pretty”…so do my vermin mates who wait for me to plant my precious perennials and cold climate flowering shrubs and pick them off one by one with great joy like they are sampling fine wines that I chose specifically for them. I have visions of borders and layers and colour palettes but at the moment am satisfied with growing food and getting our precious babies (900 potted plants that we brought with us out to Serendipity Farm) into the ground before the soil sets rock hard (predominately clay…the bits that aren’t rocks that is 😉 ). Permaculture is more than just a food producing cycle, it’s a series of cycles that you can customise to your own conditions and your own needs. I love anything where you can set out with not very much and can improve your lot with very little. It shrieks out to my inner frugalista and my outer penniless hippy and there is NOTHING like being able to do things for yourself and harnessing the powers of nature to help you. At the end of the day you may be knackered beyond belief but you have this fundamental depth of knowledge and contentment that comes from living and working close to the land and heading in the right direction. Permaculture rules! (and it was invented right here in humble little Tasmania 🙂 ). Let us follow your “pretty” as those of us shackled to the earth and humbled by our native vertebrate masters can only be buoyed by your gardens progression (the envy will come later 😉 )


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