Wednesday, 21 August 2013

In the pink – mulching with petals

Having a self reliant garden is an important part of our overall aims at Nirvana.Everything is recycled in some way or other resulting in soils jumping with life and producing a top quality integrated environment where all life thrives.

So when the CamillaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         a trees are in flower they are seen for their beauty 


But also the usefulness of the fallen petals.The ones falling on the surrounding footpaths are raked up and used as mulch. All that fall around the tree are left to be turned ,with the help of biodynamic preparations into top quality humus. Over the 30 years we have been here the camellias have never needed fertilizer and have only been watered in times of extreme drought , mainly to prevent the house cracking!  The tree grows so well it needs pruning with a chainsaw to prevented it growing over, and crashing on the veranda.


This mulch usually known around here as ‘fairy carpet’ not only is valuable as it evolves into humus it looks great especially on a grey winters day. It also means that Spring is around the corner.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The coming of the light means a new season of eggs.

chook and goose eggs in Spring

Its often hard to convince customers that eggs have a season

as we all know there is always a plentiful supply in the shops all year.


But like all things in nature, when left to live as naturally as is possible while still being in the care of us humans, our humble chooks fit into the rhythm of the solar clock .


As the Autumn Equinox approaches (By the way that occurs on March 21or 22) The day length begins to shorten the birds lay fewer eggs or stop laying altogether and go into a moult.

During the moult a hen will stop laying and shed its old feathers which are replaced by new feathers.

After the Winter Solstice  (marking the shortest day)  The days start to lengthen and the hens start laying again. By Spring there are abundant eggs for all to share.

RIR out and about


As the days lengthen a little more moving into September the hens start to look for nesting sites so they can secure a clutch of eggs to brood,  then  hatch chicks.

Friday, 21 June 2013

FUNGI The Good, The Interesting and The Beautiful.

nirvana fungi

The world of fungi is fascinating and the range of size ,shapes and colours are stunning.More importantly are their role in the ecosystem. There are the recyclers that breakdown organic matter , you’ll see these around fallen logs, in compost or commercially growing in controlled organic mixes. As an orchardist the more interesting for me are the Mycorrhizal fungi that live in mutually beneficial relationships –a symbiosis with the roots of plants. Its thought that 90% of plants are helped by fungi to utilize nutrients from the soil.The plant receives moisture and protection in exchange for phosphorous, nitrogen and other elements the plant might not be able to obtain for itself. The fungal hyphae (tiny threads)   can travel long distances from the plant to collect what the plant needs.Some examples of these fungi  come from the Amanita, Cortinarius, Inocybe, Russula families. Many Australian native plants have these symbiotic relationships creating a vast array of fungi that still need to be discovered and studdied. For more information an excellent book ‘Tales from the Underground” by David W Wolfe or you can join your Local Fungal Studies Group or check out Fungimap.

While these fungi are beneficial to plants some, for example Death Caps (Amanita phalloides)are deadly poisonous to humans.In the above photo  there are 2 on the top left. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sunday drive to the Adelaide Hills

Autumn leaves 019

For a good day out take the Stirling exit from the SE freeway to experience Autumn at her best in the quaint village of Stirling. The special autumn light shining through the richly coloured leaves and the aroma of roasting chestnuts.A scene reminiscent of the past that may transport you to another time and place.     


roasted chestnuts 005 small OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA





Autumn is hot roasted chestnut time and will be the twenty-fifth year that Quentin Jones will be setting up his colourful stall in Stirling village. It all started in 1986 at the Aldgate Autumn Leaves Festival. That first year was a big learning curve and the chestnuts were cooked very, very slowly in a kettle bbq. After a bit of practice the nuts were cooked and a legend was born. The current rotating cooking basket was developed in 1987 over a few beers in a neighbour's back yard. The basket is ideal because it can cook a lot of nuts in a short time. Over the years Quentin has received much advice from the many nationalities making up our diverse culture. “You have to burn them a bit so they are easier to peel”. This advice was accepted and adds to the colour and smell as smoke from the nuts wafts up and down the street. Cars screech to a halt and whole families burst from the doors to purchase their weekend treat. Walkers and window shoppers are also enticed by the smell and movement. There are some people who have never tasted chestnuts and they can have a free sample if they ask. They too may be seduced by the subtle sweetness and soft, warm texture of the humble chestnut.

Quentin says that he loves meeting people and the regular customers have become firm friends, sharing their last year’s experiences as they scoff their cone of hot nuts. Quentin is now serving the next generation. Young families who were brought by their parents are now introducing chestnuts to their children. The rhythm of life in the hills continues.

The cooking of the chestnuts also gives Quentin a reliable guide to how the rest of the crop is fairing in the cold room, a sort of quality control for his fresh nut sales at the farm gate. Quentin cooks chestnuts in Stirling Village on Saturdays from 11am and Sundays and public holidays from noon. The season usually goes from Anzac day to early July.

After a wander around Stirling you can visit our farm shop just 3km from Stirling. On arrival you will be met by Deb and dogs Myka and Frank and have a selection of some top quality fresh chestnuts , quinces feijoas and limes to choose from as well as our exclusive range of jams and preserves, all of which have travelled no more than 300 metres from where they  were grown.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Autumn, chestnuts and biodynamics

autumn 06 056 The summer has been long, hot and dry as well as and busy with harvests and keeping the water up to the trees. Preparations for a new covered orchard, mainly for our own use is underway but Autumn heralds our 30th  chestnut harvest. Every morning we start picking up the fallen chestnuts which are then graded and put into the cold room. After a short maturation, where the starches start turning to sugars, they are available direct from our farm shop and then to keep you warm , roasted in Stirling an weekends .
Another very important event happens here in Autumn. Members of the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic Group  come together to make the preparations that underpin the Biodynamic method of farming and gardening. This is an important day as old hands share their wisdom with new members.The day started with the filling of the cow horns with manure to make horn manure or 500. The horns are then buried and spend winter underground while the earth is most active. By Spring the manure has been transformed into a humus rich substance ready to be stirred and spread on the land.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Next job is to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         make 5 of the 6 compost preparations. 502 Yarrow, has been hanging in the walnut tree over summer and now has been placed in the soil for winter. 503 chamomile , 504 nettle, 505 oak bark and 506 dandelion where all prepared and buried.
After lunch we then mixed 2 buckets of cow manure with some ground egg shells and rock dust to make a barrel compost. After mixing it was put in the container , compost preparations where added and its now busy creating a rich humus material that can impart the compost processes on the land.
After a little more rain it will be time to spread the 500 on the damp earth to renew the positive humus developing processes that are most important to successful work the land in a sustainable and creative way.  

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A Nirvana Christmas

chestnut catkins

The air is filled with the scent of chestnut flowers and bees hovering in and out of the chestnuts then heading for the linden or bottlebrushes. Dragonflies,  hover flies and swarms of common brown butterflies are among the other insects filling the spaces in the orchards.





common brown butterfly



The berries provide the colour, red, yellow, purple, black, white and green. No need for Christmas decorations here. All the fruit trees have babuls of their ochristmas berrieswn, gifted with developing fruit.




The gosling which hatched late are fluffy with white down and developing feathers better than any fake or real snow. While the  RIR s chicks provide a lot of entrainment as their mother hen tries to keep control.




salad greens

The vegetable garden is green and lush, lots of salad greens, beans, and purple peas. The garlic has all been harvested but the onions are still developing. The scarlet runner beans are flowering, there are a few of their rough but yummy beans already. The tomatoes are green but growing and developing  as Scarlet runner bean flowerswell as  the cucumbers. Purple podded peas

The tunnel provides a warm home for the capsicums, eggplants, sweet potatoes and ginger.

December is onechristmas platter of our busiest times with the berry harvest and customers coming and going but when all the Christmas berry orders are picked up the valley will be quite and we can relax knowing we are having a good harvest.

And on Christmas day, after picking the berries we can retire to the veranda and relax with a simply yummy lunch created from the gardens and orchards. Our gifts are the beauty and diversity  nature  has created.Everlasting and always changing.