Just Fair Coffee and Mundial Coffee review

griffiths-coffee

I was keen to try Griffiths Coffee after I found out that not only was it organic but fair trade as well. You can trace the journey of the beans by typing in the code found on every Just Fair Coffee can.

Just Fair Coffee is a smooth and dark coffee made from 100% Arabica coffee beans from Honduras and Peru. The coffee is rich and full-bodied with a smooth nutty cocoa taste and sweet honey undertone. It is best for espresso, if you like dark Italian coffee and has a nice crema.

We tried the whole beans, but it also comes pre-ground. There is also a decaffeinated blend available that comes from Peru, and has a nutty flavour with a clear citrus aftertaste.

For a limited time, Griffiths Coffee has created the Mundial 14 blend using coffee beans from countries in the 2014 World Cup including Brazil. I enjoyed my cuppa while watching the football early in the morning.

Just Fair Coffee is the only Fairtrade organic coffee on the Australian market that comes in a reusable and fully recyclable can.

Available from independent supermarkets and delis and direct from Griffiths Coffee.

Thank you to Griffiths Coffee for providing samples.

Northey Street City Farm tour

Northey Farm Tours sign

Northey Street City Farm is a permaculture garden in the centre of Brisbane. It is located on 2 hectares of flood-prone area, which is leased from the Brisbane City Council.

buliding

In Zone One is the cafe, kitchen gardens and building. The building has been positioned on poles so that it is at the highest point of a 1 in 100 years flood so that it will not be flooded. The kitchen gardens are for demonstration purposes and are in the shape of keyholes to maximise the output.

There are at least three large meeting places which can be used by visiting groups, but in particular school groups.

Bob gave us an eye-opening demonstration of earth art.

Across the road, there is a regeneration area, which is maintained by the local Bush Care group. There are also groves of native fruit trees in outer zones.

compost

There is a dedicated green waste recycling centre, which includes a large worm farm and compost tunnels. They use the worm liquid to fertilise their plants, rather than as castings. Northey St uses a three bay compost system to rotate the waste matter.

chicken

There are three chicken tractors and these are moved every fortnight.

Also across the road are the productive gardens for the markets and lunches. The new vegetable beds are made up of cardboard, compost and straw. Northey St use the no-dig technique and the beds are raised to make the most of mini-floods. They plant open-pollinated seeds and collect them again for saving.

allotments

Nearby are the allotments which are available for hire. Some people are using nets to keep the bush turkeys away.

orchard

There is also a citrus orchard and this area includes sub-tropical fruit trees. As an investment in the future, there is a grove of hardwood trees which will be harvested in 20 years time.

Northey Street Farm sign

There is a nursery on site called Edible Landscapes Organic Nursery. The organic markets are held in the car park on every Sunday.

Thank you to Northey Street City Farm for the free tour. Tours are held every Tuesday at 9:30pm and highly recommended. 

Beet It! organic beetroot juice review

beet-it

I was intrigued to try Beet It – an organic beetroot juice. It comes in a 1-litre bottle or three types of shots – Organic, Sport and Ginger.

I tried the Beet It organic shot and boy did it pack a punch, but I liked it. I’m keen to try the organic beetroot juice straight up next.

Beetroots are packed with antioxidants and contain potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, and folic acid.

Research has shown that beetroot can help reduce blood pressure as well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produce a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks.
Love Beetroot

The regular juice would be ideal to add to homemade fresh fruit juices such as Dr Emerson’s daily juice. 

Beet It is available from independent grocers and health food stores.

Organic pest control recipes

pest_detective

It’s important to think of your backyard as a mini ecosystem where all the elements need to be balanced. So when you do get an invasion of pests, the predator bugs will deal with them in a few days and keep their numbers down. Some times the best solution is just to sit back and let nature sort itself out.

If that doesn’t work, then you can make your own pest control solutions with these organic recipes:

Chilli soap mix – Aphids
Add a generous handful of hot chilies and a tablespoon of pure soap flakes to a litre of hot water and puree in a blender. Strain the mixture through  a stocking. Spray directly onto the aphids and they will quickly die. Several applications may be necessary for particularly bad infestations.

Coffee spray – Slugs and snails
Dilute one part strong espresso coffee to ten parts water and spray it liberally over the foliage of plants that are being eaten by slugs and snails, and on the soil around their base. When the pests travel across the coffee mixture, they absorb it and quickly die.

Milk spray – Fungal diseases, including powdery mildew
Combine one part organic milk to ten parts water and cover the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves and stems thoroughly. This can be used as a preventative measure during humid conditions which favour mildews.

Vegetable oil soap mix – Mites and scale
Blend 2 cups of vegetable oil with half a cup of pure liquid soap and mix thoroughly. Dilute one tablespoon of the mix with a litre of water and spray over infestations. The pests will suffocate and soon die.

Do you have any tried and true organic pest contol methods?

How to make your own stain remover

A solution of half vinegar, half water sprayed on stains half an hour before washing helps to remove grass, juice, mildew, coffee and tea.

Hairspray helps remove ink stains.

Other green stain remover products to try are:

  • Cinderella Stain Remover

 

Steve Solomon’s formula for complete organic fertilizer

grass-lawn

I like the idea of Steve Solomon’s formula for complete organic fertilizer (COF). He recommends you purchase the ingredients in bulk from farm stores. Measure the material out by volume, that is by the scoop or bucketful, and then mix it together in a bucket.

Seedmeals are a by-product of making vegetable oil and mainly used in animal feed. Coprameal is a by-product from coconuts with the bonus is that is usually grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

Blood and bone is also known as tankage.

There are three types of lime – Agricultural lime – pure calcium carbonate, Dolomite lime – calcium and magnesium carbonate, and Gypsum – calcium sulfate.

Mix together uniformly in parts by volume:

  1. 4 parts any kind of seedmeal except coprameal OR
    3 parts any seedmeal except coprameal and 1 part blood-and-bone. (This higher nitrogen option is slightly better for leafy crops in spring) OR
    4.5 parts less-potent coprameal, supplemented with 1.5 parts blood-and-bone
    BLEND WITH
  2. 1/4 part ordinary agricultural lime, best finely ground AND
  3. 1/4 part gypsum (or double the amount of lime) AND
  4. 1/2 part dolomite lime PLUS
  5. 1 part of one of these phosphorus sources: finely ground rock phosphate, bonemeal, or high phosphate guano
    1/2 to 1 part kelpmeal or 1 part basalt dust

Gardening when it counts
by Steve Solomon

Almond Flour

All about Almond Flour

Almonds are high in manganese, vitamin E and magnesium. As they have a high-fat content, it is important to store them properly to stop them from becoming rancid. Store shelled almonds in a tightly sealed container, in a cool dry place away from exposure to sunlight. Almonds and nut flours can be stored in the refrigerated for several months, and in the freezer for up to a year.  Almonds still in their shell have the longest shelf life.

Almond meal is generally the same as almond flour. Sometimes it can be just ground finer.

Australian Stockists of Almond Flour

Here are some of the Australian companies that can supply you with bulk quantities of almond flour for cooking:

GAPS Australia
$105 for 5kg certified organic blanched almond flour
Email: linda@gapsaustralia.com.au

Almondco Almond Hut
Sell almond meal (blanched) in a 10kg carton for $100.00. Freight to Queensland will be a further $33.65.
Phone: 08 8586 8800 Email: admin@almondco.com.au

Queensland Fruit and Nut Distributors
Almonds blanched meal is $12.80 per kg. Delivery to Brisbane was $7.58.
56 Parramatta Rd, Underwood, QLD 4119
Phone: 07 3208 9488 Email: sales@qnf.com.au

Hellene Food Brokers
Almond meal is $10.50 per kg in a 10kg carton. Delivery to Brisbane is $1.00 per order.
17 Duncan Street, West End, QLD 4101
Phone: 07- 3844 2822 Email: sales@hellenefood.com.au

Kumari Spices and Things
$13.30 per kilogram. No minimum amount.
199 Robinson Road, Geebung.
Phone: 07 3265-2099

Mrs Flannerys Natural Grocers
Sells almond meal for $18.99 per kilogram. No minimum amount.

Prices current as of August 2011.

Review: Farm Fresh Organics delivery

I’ve been keen to trial organic box delivery, but when I did my research awhile ago our suburb wasn’t included in the drop-off zone. I’ve since found Farm Fresh Organics and we’ve had two deliveries so far.

The first week we ordered a mixed medium box of organic fruit and vegetables on the Tuesday. A Styrofoam box with ice packs was delivered a few days later containing: 1 leek, 1 cos lettuce, 3 zucchini, 1kg carrots, 4 onions, 8 mushrooms, 1/4 kent pumpkin, 1/2 cauliflower, 1 1/2 broccoli, 1/4 cabbage, 1 corn cob, 4 apples, 4 bananas, 3 sweet mandarins and 8 oranges. Phew.

Matt was concerned that he liked to feel, smell and select what he wanted to buy, but we were more then happy with the quality of the produce. One night Mattt steamed some grocery carrots mixed with organic carrots. He then asked me which where the organic ones! I selected the wrong ones based on colour. The grocery ones were bright orange and quite hard. The organic ones were duller but softer and tasted nicer.

Another concern was the cost. Organics can quickly add up, but we found that we could keep the price down by selecting produce in season and sticking to a spending limit. We also found that some things had a similar price to non-organic produce in the supermarkets. We ate everything, except the lettuce and some onions. I like to think of it as an investment in our health, and the mixed box is a good deal.

This week we decided to select individual items for our order. This time we got a bigger box, so it wan’t as packed. Matt got the scales out, but everything ended up being a little over what we were charged. A rare occurrence these days.

We also ordered some organic lamb chops, which were more gamey, with visible marbled fat. Matt said he’d order a different cut next time. I ordered my usual gluten-free loaf of bread and was impressed by how fresh it was!

The only draw back is now that we are eating more fruit and vegetables, we are probably making it harder on ourselves to become self sufficient!

Highly recommended.

Topping up the vegetable beds

We topped up the vegetable beds this weekend. We wanted to use a mixture of different organic matter to add texture, substance and a range of nutrients to the soil. We ended up using coir, cow manure, and chicken manure. For the top layer of the vegetable bed, we added sugar cane mulch. It isn’t particularly high in nutrients but it helps to reduce weeds and moisture loss and protect the soil from the sun’s heat.

Here’s a quick round down of your options to top up a vegetable bed:

Compost

  • Home made is the best if you can get the pile hot enough.

Animal Manure

  • Rabbit – very good
  • Poultry / Chicken – good, very high nitrogen
  • Goat – good
  • Horse – fair, slow release
  • Sheep – fair, high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
  • Pig – poor, high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
  • Cow – poor, slow release

Plant Manure

  • Lucerne
  • Coir – fibres from coconut plants. Good for bedding in worm farms.
  • Mushroom compost – very good, made from straw and chicken manure (make sure it’s genuine)
  • Green manure (grow your own)

Extras
Add a handful per square metre:

  • Blood and bone – high in nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium
  • Mineral rock fertiliser – ground rock
  • Kelp meal or fish meal or Seasol or Charlie Carp – trace elements and high in potassium
  • Cat litter – recycled from phone books – helps to retain water.
  • Charcoal and ash – high potassium (aged first)
  • and spoonfuls of trace elements.

It’s important to make sure any manure or compost added is well aged, so that when it is added to the bed it doesn’t heat up the soil too much and kill any seeds you are trying grow. I tend not to use sawdust as it may be treated and when it decomposes it uses up the nutrients you need for your vegetables. I’m not a big fan of newspaper and paper as some of them have dyes and bleaches that are also not organic. Hay can also contain grass seeds so be careful where you purchase it from.

Please do not use peat as it is not renewable and comes from wetlands and bogs which support an enormous array of wildlife and migratory birds, and should be protected areas, if they aren’t already.

Where to buying seeds online in Australia

If you are new to buying seeds there are thousands of different varieties to choose from. You may like to consider:

Heirloom seeds have stood the test of time. Each time they are chosen from the best plants, so you progressively get seeds which suit the climate, give good yields and taste great. Modern hybrids are selected for looking good on a grocery store shelf and transporting long distances. For example, hybrid tomatoes often have thick skins. Hybrid plants may crop all at once, while heirloom seeds tend to crop over a longer period which makes them more suitable for the home grower.

There are a number of good places to buy heirloom and/or organic seeds in Australia:

List of heirloom and/or organic seeds in Australia

I was surprised to stumble across some heirloom seeds on eBay. You can also buy some seeds on Etsy, but the sellers are mostly American. I’ve not bought seeds from overseas as I imagine that Australian Customs would quickly quarantine them.

Seed Savers is another option.