Spring Salad Ideas from your own Garden

Italian parsley

I’m a great believer in working with what you have. Often when you take a good look, it turns out there’s more close at hand than you thought.

When it comes to spring salad ideas, you may be surprised at what’s already available in your garden!

There’s nothing like a fresh salad straight from your own back yard. The beginning of spring, when the snow’s still falling here and there, may not be a time when you think your garden has a lot of offer in the way of salad ingredients. But I’m discovering there’s plenty of choice to make delicious salads.

I’m far from an expert, but I love to research and try new things. And good research is important when you start delving into less familiar plants and their suitability for the salad bowel.

Thankfully my better half, also the chief gardener, is more clued up on these things than I am and points me in the right direction!

Here’s a shot from a small corner of the garden in which all the plants can make a worthy contribution to a simple salad:

Spring salad ideas: Fennel, Parsley, Broad bean leaves, Chickweed

Spring salad ideas: Fennel, Parsley, Broad Bean leaves, Chickweed in one slightly chaotic corner of the spring garden!

The tender young leaves of Broad bean plants (sometimes known as Fava beans) are quite delicious – who would have thought?

A few fronds of fennel add a subtle anise flavour to your salad, Chickweed & Parsley are full of goodness and add their own unique flavours to the mix.

And these are just a few of the things available at this time of year. Add some young red onions, miner’s lettuce – whatever’s ready – and you have the basis for a delicious and refreshing salad from your garden in minutes.

Grab a bowel and go exploring!

You may also like: Eco-tips – ‘Eat Your Weeds’

Free Recycling Scheme to be trialled in Nelson & Richmond

Nelson and Richmond streets will become a bargain-hunting ground next month with the launch of a free recycling scheme.

Second Hand Sunday will give Nelson, Stoke and Richmond residents the opportunity to make someone’s trash their treasure.

The initiative will be trialled by the Nelson city and Tasman district councils for the first time on June 15, from 9am to midday.

It has been adopted from Gisborne, which has run a similar swap scheme for 11 years in an effort to reduce non-organic waste.

Nelson city councillor Eric Davy said the event worked like a garage sale, except no money changed hands.

Gisborne District Council waste minimisation officer Anne Lister, who helps to organise Gisborne’s Second Hand Sundays, likened them to a giant treasure hunt.

She said they were an opportunity for people to get rid of things they could not sell.

Lister said she had removed old windows from her home, and after she was unable to sell them, someone took them at a Second Hand Sunday and used them to build a glasshouse in their garden.

A Nelson council spokeswoman said Second Hand Sunday was being trialled to see if it was a practical way for people to pass on items that would otherwise end up going to landfill.

Residents who want to be involved can register with their council, and will receive a poster to put on their letterbox. The councils will publish a list of addresses taking part.

On June 15, the goods they want to shift should be put in their driveways or front yards for bargain hunters to rummage through and take whatever they can reuse.

Residents have to remove or dispose of any items not taken.

source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/10093365/Big-swap-to-reduce-rubbish

Koanga Institute would like your help to save the seeds [video]

Read more on www.koanga.org.nz »


SiloStay Winter Warmer Promo

Interior of Silostay

Indulge in the delights of the unique Silo Experience and leave the cold behind…

On offer is a special 2014 winter warmer package for two nights at a special price of $300 for two people in a Silo Apartment.


Valid for bookings made during the chilly winter months to warm up your heart and your senses!

Book at SilostayOur silos are crammed full of wool insulation, with an effective heating source and lush bedding to keep you cosy!

Stay somewhere unique – enjoy the eco-friendly SiloStay experience, and explore the beauty of the rugged landscape of the Banks Peninsula region – Canterbury, NZ.



Waimarama Community Gardens – listing update and Art

Discovered some wonderful art on the new Waimarama Community Gardens new website:

“Bioconcrete” Water Filtering System – via Co.Exist

UN Report: World Must Move Away From ‘Dirty’ Fuels

Here are a couple of good articles from the BBC on this significant report:

BBC News Science & Environment: “World must end ‘dirty’ fuel use – UN”

BBC News Science & Environment: “Climate mitigation report: Key findings”


Solar Impulse 2 Unveiled

Some great coverage by Treehugger’s Zachary Shahan:

You’ve probably heard of the Solar Impulse. It’s a solar-powered airplane that flew across the United States last year. It broke numerous aviation records along the way as well as during flights in Europe and Africa beforehand. However, the Solar Impulse was just a prototype. The Solar Impulse 2 is the real deal, and it was just unveiled earlier today in a remote corner of Switzerland.

Read the whole article and be inspired »

Country Calendar – Chaos Springs

Chaos Springs farmChaos Springs Screened April 5 2014 – Watch it on TVNZ Ondemand

From http://tvnz.co.nz/country-calendar/episode-8-chaos-springs-5874292:

New Zealander Jenny Erickson used to grow organic lettuce and herbs in the USA – but when she struggled to find good-quality compost, her business took an unexpected new direction.

She went to a seminar on organic compost-making and realised her Utah farm was surrounded by massive amounts of perfect raw material – piles of unwanted cow-pats collected from indoor barns.

She started making compost for her own commercial garden and discovered the demand for the product was even greater than for her fresh greens.

The potential was so big that her American husband Steve soon became involved and together they built up a lucrative compost-making business.

Years later, when they moved to New Zealand, they found the demand for good-quality organic compost here was just as great.

They bought 80 hectares of land inland from Waihi, intending to grow organic crops – but soon found themselves making compost as well.

Today, 10 years after their return, they grow organic lemons, garlic and seed potatoes – but alongside that is a thriving compost-making business. Steve also draws on his long experience to act as a consultant to other organic compost-makers.

He was initially sceptical when Jenny proposed the idea of making their own compost, but once he saw what it could do, he became an enthusiast.

He believes good compost provides plants with everything they need to grow strong – but even more importantly, it gives them the resources they need to fight pests and disease, making most chemical sprays redundant.

“It’s a cheaper way to farm, it’s a better way to farm,” he says. “The product that comes off the farm will be improved, it will have more nutrition in it, it will have more disease resistance, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Steve has started another business, which, like the compost-making, came about in an unexpected way.

He wanted to spray liquid compost onto his own farm, but found existing commercial sprayers wouldn’t do the job. The thick mixtures blocked the pipes and nozzles and the heavier ingredients kept falling to the bottom of the tank.

So Steve built his own spray unit from scratch, using a pump to create a vortex inside the tank that keeps even the thickest liquids well-mixed.

His ingenious device soon caught the attention of others and he now makes and sells them to farmers, with several local engineering shops helping to manufacture them.

Other sites:

To find out more about Steve and Jenny’s farm,  www.chaossprings.co.nz

For more about Biogrow organic certification,  www.biogro.co.nz

For more about biodynamic farming,   www.biodynamic.org.nz

To learn more about getting the best from soil,   www.integritysoils.co.nz

For more about soil biology,   www.soilfoodweb.co.nz

Cancer, Healing & Wellbeing: May 16-23, 2014

8 Day Residential Program with Drs Ruth and Ian Gawler.

Accessing the heart and science of Lifestyle Medicine – Offering genuine hope for all those affected by cancer.

With cancer comes many challenges. The obvious health issues, the potential life changes, treatment regimes, adapting to a new way of living, maybe even a new way of being.

Venue: Kawai Purapura Retreat Centre: 14 Mills Lane, Albany, North Shore, Auckland 0632

For full details see: http://www.kawaipurapura.co.nz/cancer-healing-wellbeing-may-16-23-fri-fri

Going Against the Grain!

SiloStay - Cyclists will love the custom bike racks!

A media release from SiloStay

Bespoke, innovative and stylish – utilising sustainable products, local resources and talent, the humble grain silo has been converted into modern, unique serviced apartments. Located in the heart of picturesque Little River; an ideal stop off point for those cycling the Christchurch to Little River Rail Trail.

Stuart Wright-Stow is the man behind SiloStay, a visionary, leader, and innovator. Stuart and Angela Wright-Stow own the Little River Gallery – renowned in New Zealand for their incredible range of New Zealand art and keepsakes.

Stuart’s view of life is slightly different to most folk. Stuart has a vision for objects beyond their primary form, and saw the opportunity to push the boundaries of design and turn the beautiful silo structure into a unique, relevant accommodation solution for Little River. Stuart pondered the intricacies and the challenges of the circular shape and in partnership with F3 Design realised his dream to build SiloStay – an innovative, eco-friendly and very different and exciting accommodation experience for you to enjoy.

Built for the discerning traveller – the ground floor is equipped with a custom fitted kitchenette for all cooking needs, a relaxed seating area, toilet & external balcony. The stylish & luxurious first floor bedroom, bathroom & balcony are accessed via a sculptural steel staircase. Each apartment has a wall mounted flat screen TV, satellite channels, bed head mounted stereo/CD/iPod/MP3 & broadband internet.

SiloStay has been designed and built using innovative earth friendly systems. Wool is the insulation of choice – under floor, in the walls and in the ceiling. A waste by-product of timber production is used to heat the units in winter. Passive cooling in summer means simply open the hatch at the top of silo. Even the waste water system is planet friendly – ‘Biolytix’. The BioPod harnesses the energy in the waste (including the sewage, toilet paper and food waste) to nourish the worms that break down the waste. Nothing is wasted. All the atmospheric lighting, both within individual silos and the external boardwalks are LED.

Little River – referred to as the gateway to Banks Peninsula, and the ideal point to explore the isolated southern bays:-
• Spend a day at the beach swimming or simply admiring abundant wildlife in magnificent Tumbledown Bay
• Catch a wave at Magnet Bay or Te Oka Bay
• Visit Peraki Bay’s whaling station monument
• Explore numerous adventure cycleway trails
• Travel on and explore the spectacular wildlife and ecology of the south eastern bays

Choose to stay somewhere different – enjoy the eco-friendly SiloStay experience, and explore the beauty of the rugged landscape of the Banks Peninsula region. www.silostay.kiwi.nz

A media release from SiloStay

National Battle to Protect Whio Ramps Up

Releasing reared whio back into Egmont National Park

Releasing reared whio back into Egmont National Park

The Battle for our Birds continues with the spotlight shining on whio next month.

The whio is the unique native duck only found in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters. With fewer than 2500 whio left nationwide Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation have partnered together in a five year programme to secure the future of this threatened native bird.

The Whio Forever partnership is adding another tool to its arsenal of protection this year with funding to build a new whio rearing facility at the Tongariro National Trout Centre near Turangi.

National Whio Recovery Group leader Andrew Glaser says the North Island whio rearing facility will help recover the national whio population by allowing whio ducklings to ‘grow and train’ in a more natural environment. “It’s like a finishing school for whio, where they can learn to swim and feed in fast flowing water, giving them a better chance of survival when they are released back into the wild.”

“A facility like this will mean more ducklings survive the transition from captivity back to the wild, so they can establish their own territories and find mates. This will help us boost the population in the wild,” he says.

Andrew pointed to the success of restoring the whio population in Egmont National Park which has been achieved through a combination of predator control activities and the release of captive reared birds over the past nine years. “We’ve been able to bring whio back from local extinction, and develop the tools and knowledge to enable us to do this in other areas of the country.”

“This is the first successful restoration of a whio population in New Zealand. It is a credit to the Taranaki community and shows what can be done with an effective trapping regime and WHIONE (lifting eggs and hatching and rearing in safe captivity).”

The whio population in Egmont National Park has grown from almost nothing to 24 pairs of whio since 2005. This breeding season a record 36 ducklings hatched in the park, although it’s not yet known how many of these will survive into adulthood.

The Tongariro National Trout Centre’s rearing facility will give more whio ducklings a fighting chance of making it to fledglings in a safe secure environment.

Using existing infrastructure at the trout centre the facility will be constructed on one of the redundant trout raceways and will give visitors the chance to see whio and learn more about the iconic bird.

Interpretive and educational material will promote whio conservation, including their role as an indicator of a healthy river system.

Existing whio rearing or hardening facilities are located at Te Anau and at Peacock Springs near Christchurch. Using South Island facilities means extended travel for North Island whio ducklings. Constructing a low cost facility in the North Island reduces the risk and expense associated with this.

The facility will cost an estimated $110,000 with funding from the Whio Forever partnership, DOC and the Central North Island Blue Duck Charitable Trust.

Construction is due to start in the next two months and it is hoped to be completed for the arrival of the first ducklings in September this year.

The support of Genesis Energy is enabling DOC to double the number of fully secure whio breeding sites throughout the country, boost pest control efforts and enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.

Background Information on Whio

  • The whio is a threatened species of native duck that is only found in New Zealand’s fast flowing waters. Featured on New Zealand’s $10 note and with an estimated nationwide population of less than 2500 birds, whio are rarer than kiwi.
  • Whio are adapted to live on fast-flowing rivers so finding whio means you will also find clean, fast-flowing water with a good supply of underwater insects.
  • This makes whio important indicators of ecosystem health – they only exist where there is high quality clean and healthy waterways.


  • Genesis Energy has a strong historic association with whio through the Tongariro Power Scheme and in 2010 this association grew through the establishment of Whio Awareness Month (March).
  • Today, Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation (DOC) continue their partnership through The Whio Forever Programme, which aims to secure the future of whio in the wild and ensure New Zealanders understand and value of whio in our rivers.
  • The support of Genesis Energy and the work of DOC has enabled the Whio Recovery Plan to be implemented.


  • The whio are eaten by stoats, ferrets and cats, with the largest impact during nesting time when eggs, young and females are vulnerable, and also when females are in moult and can’t fly.
  • Extensive trapping can manage these predators and work in key whio habitats by DOC and Genesis Energy on the Whio Forever Project has already seen an increase in whio numbers.
  • Whio cannot be moved to predator-free islands like other species because of their reliance on large fast-flowing rivers.
  • Pairs occupy approximately 1km of water – so they need a lot of river to sustain a large population and they fiercely defend their territories, which makes it difficult to put them with other ducks in captivity.
  • They are susceptible to flood events which, destroy nests, fragment broods and wash away their valued food source.

See also: Great Whio Adventure Competition 2014

Press release DOC