Christmas gift ideas for Canberra gardeners

Sam Malfroy with pine needles used for smoking bees.
Sam Malfroy with pine needles used for smoking bees. Photo: Elesa Lee

BEES

Bees created the biggest buzz for Kitchen Gardeners in 2015 starting with ACT for Bees' Julie Armstrong in July. All Kitchen Gardeners under 45 receive around 250 Facebook shares on the Good Food website but the story about Sam Malfroy, whose bees were moved to the O'Connor Community Organic Garden in September, was posted on the COGS Facebook page where those sharing the article reached more than 2000 in less than 48 hours.

Sam smoked his bees using needles from Pinus radiata and members of the O'Connor Uniting Church on whose land the community garden stands, said the smell was like incense. Pine needles, including those fallen from Christmas trees, can also be used as a bed for strawberry plants so fill them into a Santa sack for strawberry-growing friends. 

A reader is concerned about fluke eggs in wild-harvested cress.
A reader is concerned about fluke eggs in wild-harvested cress. Photo: Steve Brown Photography

HONEYED TONGUES 

Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora) occurs naturally in the Canberra urban area and is one of the  best trees for honey producing with its honey-scented flowers.  Chris Rutherford and Victoria Kelly of the Perfect Honey Company, in Moruya, sell 500g jars of light and luscious yellow box honey under the Blue Hills Apiary label, available from IGA supermarkets  and Supabarn in Canberra ($5.50).

WATERCRESS

Garlicious Grown's black garlic powder.
Garlicious Grown's black garlic powder. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

When we wrote about growing watercress at home (Kitchen Garden, November 4) Dr Jonathan Banks, of Pialligo, emailed to say, "We have a long established bed of cress in Pialligo Brook." He wants to know if fluke is a problem in this type of cress and "how to remove risk of eating fluke eggs from wild-harvested cress? There are plenty of water snails in the creek but no sheep upstream." Email bodenparsons@bigpond.com if you know. 

SEED TILES

Susanna Pieterse​ and her team work at Paperworks in Watson, a Canberra social enterprise that brings people together through recycling, handprint and papermaking. The studio is run under the auspices of an MoU with the Ted Noffs Foundation. Four artisans from marginalised backgrounds  have created hot and cool Bountiful Buddies, which are attractive paper packets of 50 seed tiles made from paper and recycled cotton, usually denim or linen. These are impregnated with mostly heritage seeds of companion vegies including mini red cabbage, giant leeks, burgundy bush beans, kale and broccoli Romanesco for small spaces, balconies and containers. The paper helps retain moisture for the growing seedling. The six varieties of seed tiles are stocked by the Australian National Botanic Gardens Bookshop and the Curatoreum​ at the National Arboretum Canberra ($9.50 a packet).

Fill a Santa sack with pine needles to please strawberry-growing friends.
Fill a Santa sack with pine needles to please strawberry-growing friends. Photo: Supplied

UMAMI IN A JAR

In Braidwood, Cathy and Jenny from Garlicious Grown caramelise their local garlic, a purple rocambole white-fleshed variety, until it is black and has developed umami flavours of sweet molasses, which takes about 30 days.  The dried, chemical free cloves are then ground to a powder with organic lemon myrtle.  The product won a silver medal at Sydney Royal Fine Food awards in 2015, the judges saying it was an innovative concept. The black garlic powder is pantry stable with 18 months' shelf life. Keep it  away from moisture, especially steam (don't shake it over a hot pot). It is gluten free, vegan friendly and, say Cathy and Jenny, "gender neutral!". Serve dusted onto chicken, fish or roasted veg. Available from Choku  Bai Jo in Curtin or Lyneham and Lets Be Natural in Mawson ($7 for 25g).