Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Fair Dinkum Seeds: Great Aussie Exotic Seed Supplier

What I love the most about blogging is the connections you make with other like-minded people from all around the world. It's a rare treat (and a bit of kismet I reckon) when you meet someone from the same shire, especially when they offer to send you some exotic seeds to plant in your garden in exchange for a possible mention on your blog, if you happen to grow something from them. 

Well....how could I resist such an offer. especially from someone who was also affected by the 2011 floods which ravaged Bundaberg as well as Gympie. I'm sure many of you would have seen the news coverage...so the fact that Leigh Nankervis and his wife survived extensive damage to their business, flood-proofed and became more resilient, makes them kindred spirits of mine. I especially love the fact that they have found a niche in the competitive business of providing seeds...they specialise in rare and exotic varieties, and I am so excited to share with you the seeds that I have chosen for my budding food forest (it was a tough choice and I already have my Spring order planned):

I have tried many times to get Waterlillies growing in my dam. I love driving past properties that have a beautiful display of lillies, and I have transplanted a couple unsuccessfully, but I have never tried to grow them from seed. I emailed Leigh and he provided detailed instructions on what I need to do, so I cannot wait to get started with these...kind of fits in with my whole permaculture design too. I can just see the frogs jumping from pad to pad :)

Fair Dinkum Seeds says this is a Very handy plant, easy to grow (but slow to start). It produces delicious juicy shoots and tubers that go great in a stirfy when fried up with a little garlic and sesame. Edible flowers, but very bitter due to high natural content of the alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine. Blue lotus flowers are commonly used to make various herbal concoctions including blue lotus tea, wine and even martinis apparently.

If you have been following my blog then you would know that I have started an edible food forest. It will take years to grow my exotic fruit trees and I have been looking for understorey plants to offer protection for my young trees and to add nutrients to the soil...this is one of those plants.

Fair Dinkim Seeds website provides the following information: It's also known by a multitude of names such as Old man beans, Poor mans beans, Hyacinth beans, Dolichos, Lablab beans, Rongai bean, Fuji mame, Butter Beans or even Bouanavista pea. It has a huge nutritional component with about 30% Protein and high levels of Vitamins A, B, C, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium along with a heap of trace elements.They can be stirfried, steamed, boiled and the mature dried beans have been dried and pounded into cake/breads and baked by many Africa tribes for millennium can be really heavily cut back and used as mulch for nitrogen craving plants and it just seems to come back with a whole heap more new shoots and flowers/beans.

I had never heard of this, but when I read what Fair Dinkum Seeds had to say about it, then I knew I had to have it.

"The flavour is a blend of basil, mint, citrus, tarragon and it goes great on mild flavoured dishes like risotto or meats like chicken and fish. Makes a fantastic pesto, great for spreading on tortillas or sandwiches, and equally good mixed into pasta or boiled potatoes. Very popular in in many parts of the world particularly Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Mexico, where it is sold in little jars as "black paste". Doesn't loose its flavour/aroma as quickly as other herbs can when dried and is easily stored in a jar or resealable packet in the cupboard. Also great for an aromatic tea that's "antifungal", "antibacterial" "liver cleansing" and "vitality boosting" and just bloody delicious! I always grow heaps as its so handy for garden stakes and we make an awesome spray from the excess huacatay we grow. We eat the younger shoots and tips till it gets a woody stem, then plant more so we have a constant supply. Its the best insecticidal spray to kill fruit fly, caterpillars, aphids and various sap sucking insects around the garden, bar none."

This was a tough choice but I was looking for edible shrubs and the Fair Dinkum Seeds blurb on this one sold me, despite the fact that this plant did come up on the environmental pest list for my council area. I will just have to make sure it does not take over....and I have already planted the seeds in my hot house.

Leigh says they are great in just about all asian dishes, and soups stew you name it, it seems to fit in well. Very high in iron, potassium and calcium. Very easy to grow and prolific fruiter. Cook as you would any other eggplant or just eat them raw when yellow and ripe. Raw they are sort of nutty and a bit like Okra, but surprisingly not unpleasant at all! 

I loved the write up about these unusual fruit and the fact I had not heard of them before was a bonus for me...something new to try. I heard the guys talking about these at the meeting the other night and they called them African Cucumbers. Can't wait to get them growing here.

Leigh says "the nice ripe Orange/Yellow ones taste of banana/melon/something good..... Plus, if you scoop out the flesh and boil with sugar and water then strain the seed out, you can pour the "jelly" back in the groovy little "bowls" and set them in the fridge for a classy looking bright green desert! Would be at home in any restaurant I reckon! Great taste and just about indestructible."

Yum Yum! This will be fun to plant up in Spring. Leigh says it's a fantastic little plant and if you google rubus rosifolius+health+cancer etc you will get a wealth of other info regarding it. It does great in a large pot or tub, the leaves can be harvested for tea all year round, flowers all Autumn and abundant fruit all through Winter when there isn't much else happening in the garden. 

I could not resist the two for one deal this plant offers - edible leaves and roots. It's mainly grown as a root crop, and described as similar to turnip or carrots. The taste is more like a celeriac crossed with a carrot according to Leigh. He says it is an interesting plant, easy to grow, and you can eat the leaf as you would do normal parsley, which is handy while you wait for the roots to get big. 

This is one of the plants Leigh recommended for my farm. It tolerates light frost and does not mind if it gets too wet. He says "You can pick them young and use them like any other bean, or wait till the fill out a bit and shell them like normal peas, or even wait a bit longer and use the dried peas in soups, stews casseroles, curries, lentil dishes etc etc etc etc etc ......... Massively popular everywhere they are grown, not just as a nutritious productive food crop, but also for a multitude of other uses. They can be used as a pioneer species as they sink down nice deep roots, holding the top soil together, and fixing nitrogen and feeding the surrounding plants at the same time. They can be cut back really hard after a harvest, and the leaves and stems are a great slow release fertilizer and mulch. " A very versatile plant with many uses. Ideal for my food garden.

After I chose this seed, I saw them growing at the Yandina Community Garden so I knew it was a perfect permaculture companion...and I bought a seedling which I planted last weekend. Apparently it is related to the eggplant and tomato. It has thin edible skin like an apple except sweeter and with soft juicy fruit like a melon. Another unusual fruit for my collection.

Squash grows really well here and I have been looking for these seeds for a long time, because I loved this squash as a kid. It grows on a small vine and with heaps of fruit. Normally 5-10 per plant. But, if you want even more though, Leigh says the trick is to bury the stem under a handful of soil every couple meters. This provides a larger root mass, and in turn even more fruit! The fruit themselves are about as big as a small football, yellow skinned with a flesh texture just like Spaghetti. 

What a magnificent garden I will have by the end of the year...my very own exotic food forest. Fair Dinkum Seeds is a great business to help with my goal. Their seeds are well priced and there is no delivery fee which is a huge bonus. You can also email Leigh with any queries you may have about what will work in your area. They also have some great information on their Facebook page. 

Can't wait to keep you updated on how my seedlings go! Do you have unusual and exotic plants in your garden?

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