Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Discussion Evening

We are hosting a discussion evening about GE issues soon, and we would love to see you there!

Who: Soil & Health National Co-Chairs Steffan Browning and Dr. Elvira Dommisse
When: 7pm, Thursday 6 August
Where: 14 Harrison St, Shirley (home of Matt Morris)

What: Steffan will present on his discovery of the botched GE brassica trial at Lincoln, and the consequence of this, and Elvira, a former Crop and Food scientist, will talk more generally about GE and its dire consequences worldwide, with bits about what’s happening in NZ. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.

Members of our branch can come for free, non-members entry by gold coin donation.

GE has gone off the boil in the media, but, as we will hear, the issue is very much alive. A great opportunity to get up to date from leaders in the GE-Free campaign, and to meet up with other Soil & Health members!

We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information, please contact Matt Morris, theyellowroom@xtra.co.nz

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hardy Winter Greens

As the days grow shorter salads often slip off the menu, and we find ourselves eating copious amounts of roast vegetables and hot pumpkin soups. Although warm and filling, a winter diet consisting primarily of starchy vegetables can lead to sudden cravings for ‘winter greens’. Unfortunately in the depths of winter it can be difficult to source quality organic greens - broccoli, kale, spinach and rocket always seem to be in short supply.

Timing is crucial
Growing winter greens successfully can be tricky, as over the coldest months vegetable plants go into stasis and barely grow at all. To ensure plants are large enough to harvest over winter you need to plant your seedlings by the end of February! But at the height of summer who is thinking about kale and cabbage? Usually it isn’t until the end of March that we begin to anticipate the onset of winter, and by then it’s often too late.

Favourite Winter Greens
Soil and Health members list their best picks for winter.

Pak choi is Dave’s number one choice. The plants photographed here were planted as seedlings in late March. “Although great in stirfries, I like to eat pak choi lightly steamed so that it retains some of its crispness”.

Endive is Charlotte’s favourite winter green. A member of the chicory family, endive is a lot hardier than lettuce and better suited to Canterbury’s cold wet conditions. "I mainly eat endive in sandwiches, as it is a great lettuce substitute", says Charlotte. The endive shown in the photograph is a 'broad leaved endive' and was sown mid-February. The curly-leaved endives ‘frisee’ are better grown in spring through to autumn, as they are less tolerant of damp cold weather.

'I also eat a lot of mizuna and rocket', says Charlotte. Mizuna is a mild tasting form of mustard. The one photographed here is ‘Red Coral', which is available from Kings Seeds. For winter cropping mizuna can be sown late summer through to mid autumn.
The purple varieties of mustard and mizuna help to brighten up winter salads.

Donn chose rainbow silverbeet, a colourful version of the old classic. Apparently there is not much left of Donn’s silverbeet as he and Linda have eaten it down to the stalks. The plants shown in the photo were sown mid February.

Chickweed comes top of Bonnie's list, simply because it’s always in abundance, grows year round and is easy to harvest. “I love this weed – so tasty in soups, salads, smoothies, stews and pancakes”.

What winter greens are you growing?
Share your growing tips with other readers. We would love to know what ‘greens’ have been successful for you this winter. Post a comment to let us know which varieties you are growing and when you sowed/planted them.