Thursday, November 14, 2013



HIGH in Fibre
HIGH in Vitamin A  and folate
LOW Glycaemic index  
LOW in kilojoules
A great source of Vit K
Also has Vit C,  B6 and riboflavin

Recently we have begun to harvest some celery – whilst not exactly “shop quality” , it is still edible and of course will taste great.

It belongs to the apiaceae family (carrots and parsley are in this group as well) with the edible part being the leaf stalk or petiole. However the seeds are also important for an oil used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals or as a flavouring for other foods.


Celery originally was a swamp plant  and prefers moist fertile soil that is slightly alkaline. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years with evidence from ancient Egypt including garlands of celery on the tomb of Tutankhamun.  Celsus, a Roman medical practitioner about AD 30,  recorded in De Medicina that it can be used to relieve pain from arthritis or other causes. In another famous ancient text, Homer's Iliad,  the horses of Myrmidon grazed on wild celery.

Health Benefits

Food plants of the Apiaceae family (carrots, celery and parsley) contain polyacetylenes which have an anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effect. They are also are cytotoxic to fungi and bacteria and possibly have an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells.
A reason that some people develop  a skin reaction to this plant group is a chemical called falcarinol. This blocks an endocannabinoid receptor in skin cells which results in the release of histamine and an allergy reaction.
With regards to lowering blood pressure a recent (2013) study indicated that an alcohol based extract of celery seeds does indeed lower blood pressure in laboratory rats with hypertension. There are similar reports that it lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides in rats on a high fat diet.
Arthritis pain relief – the research is “thin on the ground” but a pilot study from University of Queensland indicates that it possibly is effective for gout and osteoarthritic pain. However there really isn't any decent trials to confirm this.
Being high in Vitamin K means it will cause problems if Warfarin is being taken

Finally  -  the aroma and taste is due to 3-n-Butylphthalide.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here are the notes from a short talk I gave to the TSGS garden club last weekend on Leeks


Scientific name = Allium ampeloprasum.
related to garlic onions and shallots - ALLIUM vegetables
Allium is latin name for garlic

The edible part = long white cylindrical stalk of layers of tightly wrapped leaves. = a pseudostem white base is called the shank
about 300mm high and 50mm in diameter
more delicate and subtle flavour cf onions

wild leeks = ramps – smaller in size and have stronger flavour

?native to Central Asia


Dried specimens found in archeological sites in Egypt along with wall carvings and drawings - about 2000 BC

Ancient Greeks - “prasa” In Homer's odessey Odysseus returns to Ithaca to find his father digging and said to him – There is never a plant, neither a fig tree nor yet a grapevine nor love nor pear tree nor leek bed uncared for in your garden

They were prized by Romans for supposed beneficial effect on the throat – Nero supposedly ate Leeks everyday to make his voice stronger

English word Leek is a corruption Latin "Loch" – medicine licked to cure a sore throat

Romans introduced Leeks to UK where they became the national emblem of Wales after they were used in a battle in 1620 as an id on the Welsh soldiers caps. Still appears in the cap badge of the Welsh guards
Introduced into Australia with the First Fleet

French call leeks poireau = simpleton = poor mans asparagus. Agatha Christie named her most famous char Poirot after the leek

Leek is a key ingredient in some famous soups – vichyssoise
and Scottish cock-a-leekie soup


Like rich well drained soil but actually hardy and pest free
Main disadvantage is they take about 6 months to be ready for harvesting
Can be cut off at ground level and will regrow
biannual - two years to flower
planting  - drop into a hole with leaves showing  -do not fill the hole in

Medical : Fructans and Akkermansia mucinophilia - Obesity and Diabetes

Defn – fructans are chains of fructose with a glucose on the end and are not digestible in the stomach and small intestine -however bacteria in our colon can digest them

There is increasing evidence that our gut bacteria have a significant effect on our health - they seem to influence our metabolism and energy balance

Obesity and diabetes are characterised by altered gut microbes, inflammation and disruption in the gut lining.

Akkermansia mucinophilia seems to be a key player

There is an inverse correlation with the presence of this bacteria and body weight in humans - ie less AM → more obese

- when present in good numbers it controls gut barrier function, improves glucose homeostasis and reduces fat storage around the abdomen.

Fructans increase the abundance of Akk M by >100 fold

How does all this tie in with Leeks ?

Fructans especially occur in Leeks onions garlic asparagus yacon artichokes jicama chicory and some other foods

Thus a way to improve your metabolism and weight is to eat these sort of vegetables nearly every day

Thursday, September 26, 2013


There has been a prolonged absence from posting but our garden continues to change and provide us with some of our foods such as vegetables and fruit.  The aquaponics is suspended for now but will be restarted later this year -  we are still eating fish that were frozen when I decided to have a break from looking after fish.

Current projects include extending the vegetable garden and further plantings of native grasses and the like down the front of the property

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Garden -general, Tamarillos, Orioles, Channel Billed Cuckoo

Rainfall 5/2/13 8mm

The post storm tidy up is largely completed - the task  this afternoon was to pull down a suspended Sheoak  - the one that just missed the woodshed. Initial removal had left a large portion suspended in some adjacent trees. Using some wire and the wire fence strainer it was successfully pulled down to the ground for cutting up with the chainsaw. It was too dangerous to leave where it was and it looked unsightly.

We collected the tamarillos and managed to use about 50% of them - they were bottled in a sucrose based syrup:

The other afternoon whilst having a cuppa on the verandah we noticed a flock of  Olive-backed Orioles (Oriolus sagittatus) in a nearby tree -  usually we only see them in one's or two's:

They are probably feeding on the Ficus benjamina (Weeping fig) that is on our property - the Flying foxes are certainly visiting this tree at night at present also. Another bird spotted  (there was a pair) also probably feeding on this tree was a Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae). We didn't manage to get a photo so this is from elsewhere:

They are a big bird with a distinctive call a little like part of a kookaburra call.
Finally when out walking in the Mt Petrie reserve a few days ago  spotted a flowering weedy looking plant :
Unfortunately the flower is out of focus -  I think it is  Tephrosia glomeruliflora (Pink Tephrosia) but will need to go back  and take a better look. If it is the case it is an exotic weed and should be removed.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Horned Melon

Rainfall 31/1  25mm

The  cucurbit that has been flourishing has set some fruit and it looks like it is
a horned melon:

Cucumis metuliferus
The size of this fruit is 120x60mm (- might get bigger yet) 

I am not sure where I got this  plant from - maybe our garden club (TSGS)
as a member gave a talk about it last year.

We have never eaten it but it will be on the menu as soon as it ripens.

According to Wikipaedia this may be the original melon type and it is still
used in Africa as a food item.  As a general rule I recommend the food groups that humans ate as we evolved in Africa ( as Homo erectus and then Homo sapiens) as logically our metabolism is best adapted to such foods.  This certainly falls into that category.

Pubmed has one abstract (the full article is also available) which reports that the pulp of this fruit has a hypoglycaemic (glucose reducing) effect in diabetic rats.
Generally such a finding is transferable to humans.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Storm damage

Rainfall Sunday 27/1   133mm
Rainfall Monday 28/1   25mm

Ex tropical cyclone Oswald has certainly affected us way more than the Brisbane floods of 2011. We have been without power for  2 days and are barely managing to keep our fridge and freezer cool with a small petrol generator. The garden has suffered with 4 medium sized Kauri trees falling over in the gale force winds. There have also been multiple branches broken off various Eucalypts and some Sheoaks have toppled over - one just missing the wood shed. The weather is ok again but hot and humid -  we are both using the local Leagues club where there is free internet and aircon.

The Tamarillos are also on a serious lean and will need cutting down.
The most urgent clean up has been done - removing a Sheoak that was  blocking the driveway but the rest can wait a few days for hopefully cooler conditions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Garden update -new bore

rainfall past 24hrs : 45mm

rainfall whilst away:  85mm -  apparently this fell a day or two just before we returned from the trip

raining steadily today and wind seems to be increasing

The vege garden was not watered whilst we were away. The rhubarb in the freezer box has died - sort of expected. The rosella leaves are showing severe signs of a mineral deficiency or pH problem - I will check this when it stops raining.

The climbing beans have died back considerably but the tumeric is doing well - it seems to like the soil/conditions here.  I have a cucumber (from memory - it is only just starting to flower and set fruit)  that has also powered away - it is spreading over the path up  a pole and along the netting that forms the roof of the vege patch.

Whilst we were away we had a bore installed - good water was found at 22m -a flow of 3,000 litres/hr and fairly low salt -  I will have it properly tested next week.  Putting in a bore is a bit of a gamble -  we were lucky as our neighbours nearby also were putting in bores at the same time and had problems with sand and much higher salt and iron content

The idea is to use the bore to refill our tanks when needed, especially if the water  test report is ok. This will allow us to do lots more watering, especially the fruit trees and around the house, this year now that we an have "unlimited" water supply.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bulbinella and Macquarie Island Cabbage

Anne and I are just back  from a trip to Antarctica from Bluff to Hobart via the Snares, Auckland Is (Enderby) Macquarie and Commonwealth Bay (Mawson's hut etc). Whilst the trip failed to land anywhere near Commonwealth Bay  due to the pack ice and we missed Macquarie Island to pick up the French yachtsman adrift in a life raft we still had an "interesting" time seeing lots of ice, icebergs, ice, icebergs, ice, the odd penguin - Gentoos - fleeting glimpses of whales - Sei, Fin, and Humpback, and lots of pelagic bird species (Albatrosses, Petrels, etc). One thing I wanted to see was the Bulbinella in flower on Enderby but once again our luck was out as high winds made it too  risky to walk to the area where  it mainly thrives.  However the Macquarie Island Cabbage was in flower near the landing site:

Stilbocarpa polaris - Macquarie Island cabbage

This photo of the Bulbinella in flower was one we took on our last visit to Enderby Island:

Bulbinella rossii
There are some really interesting megaherbs on the subantarctic islands and it is a privilege to be able to visit and see them in their natural environment.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bursaria in flower, Carting water around the garden, Sacred Kingfisher

A plant that is thriving with neglect in our garden is Bursaria spinosa. We purchased several  from Indigiscapes awhile back and some of them are starting to flower for the first time :

Mangroves to Mountains book gives it a common name of Black Thorn, whereas the  label from Indigiscapes calls it Spiny Box. We are referring to it simply as Bursaria.  It seems to be an important food plant for butterflies and cover for small birds so it is satisfying to see it performing well here. I will plant quite a few more in the area where it is thriving to create a real thicket to encourage the smaller native birds.

We are in the midst of a dry spell and I am carting water around the yard in an attempt to keep  some  recently planted native grasses and the like alive.  To save having to return to a tap point too often I am using a 50L  rubbish bin and garden cart to move water :

It works well as most of the movement I need to do is downhill on the driveway which helps minimise spillage - I don't bother with the lid.  When I am near the plants needing water  I use the bucket.

The  rhubarb experiment is working well so far - the plant seems less stressed and has a couple of new leaves appearing :

I fill and freeze 3 empty milk containers each night and place them near the plant mid morning to try and reduce the temperature somewhat. It feels cooler but I haven't taken an actual temperature near the plant to compare with air temperature outside.

Whilst having lunch we heard a thud of a bird hitting a lounge room glass door - on investigation it was a sacred kingfisher that had come to grief.  It was standing on the verandah decking stunned but after about 15 mins it flew away  - hopefully without any permanent injury.

Scientific name:  Todiramphus sanctus