Sunday, June 28, 2009

urban honey

Ive been looking forward to this honey-crumpet for many, many days. White things and Sweet things ruin my complexion, predictably two days later, so I had to time my crumpet-session carefully, and experiance the pleasure with full attention.

The pleasure from this honey had a poetic dimension: Its Urban honey, collected by Kat Lavers from her Inner-City bees, and given to me by lovely WWOOFers who had stayed with Kat.

As I ate it, I recalled the drive I made last week to Brunswick: "Was it blossom from those street trees I drove past? Maybe the Bees visited my friend Mikoto... I remember the flowers in her garden.. ". The entire crumpet was a movie in my mouth, with sweetness from blossoms I may have viewed, made from the sunshine of last summer, giving me energy yet again.
I garnished it with blue rosemary flowers, and thought of Galileo's daughter, the cloistered nun, who in 1500's made sugared rosemary flowers and sent them to her papa.

I thought of and idea someone came up with in conversation: imagine if sugar was outlawed, and all the kids gave up t.v. to take up clandestine beekeeping.

Kat the beekeeper is spending this year in a self-directed permaculture study, and sharing what she finds with everyone. Here is an interview with her on her bees:
C: Why keep bees in urban areas?
K: Urban bees have access to a nectar flow all year due to the diversity
of plants in backyards, and will have very little impact on neighbours
provided they are well sited and managed. A single beehive will fit
easily into a small garden, and can produce more than 50kg of honey
per year, as well as beeswax, propolis and other hive products. And
bees will also pollinate your fruit and vegetables.

C: Can I set a hive up on my balcony?
K:There are several questions to consider. Firstly, is your location
appropriate? Bees require a warm spot with morning sun, sheltered from
wind, shade on very hot days and access to flowers and water. In
addition, you will need space to move around, open and inspect the
hive. Your bees will need to be placed so that their flight path does
not intersect human traffic. Remember that if your hive is visible
from the street, you will probably be blamed for any bee sting in the
neighbourhood. Secondly, can you manage bees? A hive must be inspected
every fortnight during spring and summer months. Beekeeping is also
heavy work - a box can weigh as much as 30kg! And thirdly, what are
the local council and state government regulations regarding
beekeeping your area? If you and your balcony match these
requirements, then perhaps you could set up a hive!

C: Will I get stung?
K: If you keep bees then you will get stung occasionally, but bees are
calm and gentle creatures that rarely attack unless you give them a
reason. Obviously if you have anaphylactic reactions to bee stings,
stay well away from beehives. But otherwise don't be deterred - bee
stings are not especially painful. In fact, bee venom is used
medicinally as an alternative therapy for multiple sclerosis and

C: Tell us a nice bee story:
K: Bees have developed an incredible symbiotic relationship with flowers
- but some flowers get away with pollination without supplying their
end of the bargain. The South American bucket orchid entices a local
species by emitting a scent which mimics the female bee. Upon catching
this scent, the male bee is lead by patterns on the petals to a spot
where it slips and falls into the orchid's bucket. After struggling
for some 40 minutes, the bee escapes through a narrow opening where
the pollen is attached to its back. When the bee is released, the
orchid stops emitting scent to prevent self-pollination. Sneaky!

C: How can I find out more about bees and beekeeping?
K: Get in touch with me and come along to the next Afternoon Tea with the
Bees! There are plenty of books and websites with information for
beginners, or you could join a local beekeeping club.

Thank-you Kat, you are doing wonderful things with your year, I'm grateful and full of admiration. Contact Kat through the Permablitz website

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Haunted TV , nice balcony garden goods for sale, Melbourne.

This t.v. was a street t.v. It worked though, and I was grateful for it.
One day I watched 'The Ring', one of the scariest horror movies ever. Never see it.
Anyway, a few nights later, something horrifying happened.

The television turned itsself on.

I could hardly move, certain awfulness awaited me.

Then I remembered, the 'on/off' button of this T.V. occasionally sticks.
Prepare a fun halloween for your friends and family with this haunted street T.V.

Lots of other (much nicer) goods for sale on My Gumtree (click here)

Any leftovers will be sold at my 4th July Garage sale in North Melbourne
All money raised will go toward creating an edible Japanese Permaculture garden (win win win). Buy my stuff and help motivate me to get on with my dreams.

Japanese pink kettle, used 2 months

Low-cost double glazing leftover plastic film & tape, 10meters

Lots, lots, lots lots more. Almost everything I own, in fact. But not the Cat. Never the Cat.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Swales: Do not try these on your balcony

Here is my third-favorite You-tube video, made by the irrepresable Geoff Lawton, Permaculture designer for the Badlands, and most prolific teacher of permaculture teachers in the world (my teacher too) . This video gives me hope that in all difficulties and barrenness, there are answers just waiting to be found.
"Its a very boring state, being scared".
Geoff Lawton.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

persimmon balcony garden breakfasts

Ingrediants: organic oatmeal, crystal salt, pure cream, one syrupy persimmon. That's all.

Though its the crunchy, sweet persimmons I love best, last week's hoshigaki and this morning's oatmeal have changed my mind about planting an the astringent one - its utterly wonderful, and I will order one tomorrow.

When left long enough to be syrupy and sweet, the astringency disappears, and if you are lucky, so does the stringiness.

Department store persimmons - 10 of these, or buy a nice big tree.

Now I'm remembering, my first ever edible 'balcony' garden was a sweet persimmon tree. It came to the sunny second-floor north-facing window of the old wooden apartment I shared with Shu Inagaki, my first few years in Japan. We would eat together on the tatami, at the window, and I would just reach out to pluck my wonderful desert after each meal, eating without even peeling.
As the years go by, more and more objects and events become enchanted with echos of good times. So don't worry about getting old, just make sure you find many things to savor along the way. Life's pleasures intensify with each year's overlays of memories, a consoling thought.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vasili's Zorba with Cecilia and Lon the wwoofer

Today is day 25 of having Lon the WWOOFer blessing my house with his help and his gorgeous spirit. We found a perfect way to document and celebrate his last day - a videoed lunch, interview and of course Zorba dance with Vasili, for his Vasili's Garden community T.V. program.

Inviting Vasili over was a bit like letting a puppy loose in the garden. Irrepressable, goes to all the corners you don't want him to, and eats anything. For lunch, we gave him a Japanese cross-cultural experiance, and a taste of all the really interesting winter veggies you COULD grow on your balcony or garden, that I'm working myself up to trying to grow.
Lotus Root, Japanese giant raddish (daikon), and Persimmon balcony cuisine are the next stories I'm posting - gorgeous and delicious.

Thank-you Lon Kazunori,
What will I do without you?

Hoshigaki Heaven - Balcony-dried persimmons were delicious

After weeks of watching them transform, massaging them attentively, and waiting, this week I finally got to pop into my mouth the first of the persimmons I had hung to dry.
The result? A velvety-rich complex flavor, and yielding chewyness. Mixed with delight, my reaction was dismay. "How can I live in a culture that neglected to do something as easy and rewarding as drying and eating persimmons?"
What else am I missing out on?
Us permaculture teachers have heavy responsibilities.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Edible gothic gardening balcony plants for sale

Who will take my collection of blue-purple delicious balcony plants home? I bought them yesterday for an experiment in Gothic Gardening, but they don't fit my Japanese edible gardening plans. I might even be able to deliver, if your plan is charming enough. For sale, cheaper than the nursery price.

The lilly-pilly's mauve berries can be made into cordial or pretty jelly, as in Anette Mcfarlane's Lilly pilly Jelly recipie. and its a native. This slender, sentenial tree is a great screening tree, 2 meters tall. She was half-price as she is in full bloom right now. Lucky us.
Lilly pilly berries and black Kale

The Rosemary is thick with vividly-blue flowers, is a gorgeous shape and dizzying honey-rosemary fragrance. Id use it in Rosti - grated dutch-cream potatoes, olive oil, salt, fried till crisp. Gallileo's daughter used to make jam from the blossoms.

The black pansies...couldn't be found. Here they are in punnets of purple. Yes, you can eat them in salads.

The frilly black Kale is cut, that gets thown in for free.

Click through to my gumtree listing for prices. First come, beautiuful balcony. North Melbourne.

Urban Melbourne pickling,preserving and lunching with Kat Lavers

Tomorrow! 9.30 Saturday. Come!
Kat taking questions from the floor
in her beekeeping workshop last month

The honey that goes on my crumpets these winter mornings comes from Kat Lavers inner-urban bees. Instead of spending a year at Uni learning what everyone else is learning, and paying fees, Kat is doing something extraordinary:

"I have embarked on a self-directed study adventure to improve my
usefulness as a permaculture designer by researching, practicing and
sharing skills and knowledge that contribute to a safe future. The
next installment is food culture, so come along and learn the
difference between a relish, pickle and chutney, how to deal with
zillions of zucchini or even squillions of snozcumbers and other
not-so-trivial techniques and technologies relating to food. Together
we will cure, dry, ferment, pickle and bottle our way towards a lovely
lazy lunch crafted from local produce.

All welcome but RSVP appreciated,
and please bring a contribution to a
shared lunch"

says Kat.
I am so impressed with this woman.

0408 371 081

9:30 – 12:30pm, followed by lunch
Saturday 6th June
The Plummery, 131 Separation St, Northcote