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IN THIS ISSUE  (click on the topic to go there directly)


Thank you Jeff Logan for your presentation about charcoal at our October meeting.

Initially Jeff started making charcoal for his own domestic use, then researched the internet and U tube for articles and expanded from there. Jeff uses 100 percent recycled hardwood timber in his pyrolysis treatment to produce a very porous carbon or biochar.

Charcoal is used for heating and cooking, bio-charcoal is used for livestock (200g per day with molasses and water) and gardening, while activated charcoal is used in medicines. Charcoal absorbs odours in refrigerators and helps with mould in bathrooms. It is important to inoculate biochar with fertilizers otherwise the charcoal will suck in good nutrients from the soil and deprive the plant. Charcoal can absorb water up to 6 to 10 times its own weight and increase the water holding capacity of soil. Dung beetles take charcoal down into soil.

Recipe for compost manure: half a wheelbarrow of charcoal, half a wheelbarrow of lawn clippings, quarter wheelbarrow of cow manure, 10 litres of chook manure mix and in one month the mix will be decomposed and ready to apply to fruit and veggies.

To reduce the smell in the chook house, spread biochar over litter.  Meat chooks will produce more meat when fed biochar. Use one teaspoon of biochar over chook food or one percent by volume of food for chooks. Char balls are like grinding gravel. Jeff found there was no grain in his cattle dung and he had full value for his cattle feed since feeding his cattle with biochar. 

Wood vinegar or wood alcohol is a by-product of the charcoal process.  Hardwood timber is fired up to 250 degrees, the smoke is piped from a funnel above the drum and when it cools down and settles on pipes Jeff is able to collect about 3 litres of wood vinegar per 100 kilograms of timber burned and 25 kilograms of biochar.  The liquid settles in three layers -  1. Heavy oil  2. Wood alcohol 3. Light oil.  The oils are used to reheat charcoal between 750-1200 degrees to produce the activated charcoal.  An external source is required to generate this level of heat.  Wood vinegar can be put back into the charcoal and into the soil around plants and used as a fungicide and pesticide. 

There are no nutrients or moisture in biochar.  Char when applied on the ground as compost over fertilised grass will help hold in moisture and water.  Biochar can be inoculated with worm wee or compost tea. Charcoal from pine can be detrimental to agriculture. Use only hardwood for biochar. 


Biochar is put through a hammer mill and comes in different sizes - less than 20ml (orchids), less than 10ml and less than 3ml (stock feed/fertiliser).  Charcoal will age and last forever, though in time the fertiliser will have leached out.

Thanks Suzanne Blanch for these detailed notes.

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November & December in your Garden by Kay de Gunst 

Growing vegetables during the hot and humid weather can be quite a challenge.   As the weather gets warmer, we need to look after our plants; and mulchwherever we can to conserve soil moisture.


Water wisely:  Try to water in the evening or early morning.  Avoid watering during the heat of the day when evaporation is high.  Soak the soil well rather than sprinkling the surface.  If you avoid wetting the foliage, that can reduce the incidence of some fungal diseases.   


If you don’t have time to water and can’t afford a drip-irrigation system; pierce a hole or two in the bottom of an ice-cream container and place it next to a thirsty plant, then fill the container.   The water will slowly drip down into the soil keeping the plant nice and moist.  And remember to mulch, mulch, mulch.


Below is a list of plantings suitable for our area and climate in Summer.   


·      Seeds to be planted directly into your prepared ground:

       Asian vegetables;   Eggplant:   Mustard Greens;   Radish:   Sweet Potatoes:   Chokos    Melons:   Rosella;            Squash;   French Beans;   Cucumbers;   Lettuce;   Marrow;   Shallots;   Zucchini;   Sweet corn.


.      Seeds to be planted into seedling trays:

       Chillies;   Eggplant;   Capsicum;   Tomatoes;   Cucumbers;   Lettuce;   Sweet Corn.


The club has a seed bank library consisting of seeds from our member’s gardens.   Club members have the opportunity to swap or select organic seeds for their own home garden use.  


 Happy gardening.

Kay's notes nov 18

TIP- Getting rid of Oxalis

Did you see Jerry Colby- Williams getting rid of oxalis weed? Boiling water 4 times. 4 times is the trick. I tried it on thick couch grass growing into paving. Once hardly touched it. Next day much better. Third day dead. I was very pleased.     


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Tinaberries Farm Excursion - Friday 21 September -  by Jeanette Cox

We all gathered on a wild and windy afternoon to learn more about growing delicious strawberries and tips to be more successful and productive.


We learnt : 

  •  it is 21 days from flowering to edible fruit

  •  drip irrigation is best because if flower petals get wet they stick to the fruit, allowing fungal disease to grow

  •  once a plant has cropped, cut leaves back to the crown, this promotes new growth and a possible second  fruit

  •  mother plants produce runners, called sister. Once established, they can be planted out.  After producing  runners 2 or 3 times, dispose of the original plant.

  •  to rejuvenate a mother plant, remove old and spent leaves

  •  companion planting not only looks good, it is beneficial to the strawberry plant.

  • good bugs eat bad bugs. 


On the day of our visit we saw evidence of mites and disease. I plant marigolds, cosmos, chives and many other flowers just to encourage the good guys.

Some members went on to pick their own strawberries to take home. Others purchased freshly picked punnets over the counter. The remainder of the afternoon was spent enjoying the company of others while indulging in freshly made strawberry or passionfruit ice creams.

Very yummy!

Garden Swap 20th October at Vicky's Place.

We came and gathered, then exchanged all the goodies and left a clean house. 

The most sought after items were the gum boots – to cut down and grow plants in them. Then the long-handled shovel was seized upon to keep handy for a brown snake dispatcher. Lots of pots and plants and a few books and irrigation parts etc were swapped. And of course we had the obligatory afternoon tea.

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Tina berries farm visit
Garden Swap 18



with John Parsons - "The Bat Man"    

While the bat numbers in the tunnel were much lower than expected, the outing was most enjoyable. 

Unlike the day before the weather was cool and made for comfortable walking. 

Thanks to John for driving from Hervey Bay to be with us and his most interesting commentary on Micro-bats.    

By Ray Johnson

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Photos show entry to the tunnel, John showing his $2.000 bat identification technology, and a baby micro-bat that fell from the roof.  The baby was set-aside for the mum to rescue later.

John talked about micro-bats at our September meeting. (Click to open.)

Boolboonda field trip
Bus trip Baffle dairy

Organic Gardeners Bus Trip 10 November

Over 20 members travelled for this day trip.  First stop was Baffle Creek Dairy Fresh business where several other members in private vehicles had arrived already.  Desley took us to the automated 16-cow herringbone dairy where the cows are milked.  

We were shown how the cows walk in, get milked while being fed, then walk out ready for the next cows to go through the procedure.    

Cows are milked twice a day and produce 1500 litres daily.  

Cattle are fed on pastures which looked very lush with the benefit of worm and compost teas and more organic procedures for good growth.   The farming practices used aims for no requirement of veterinary assistance. 

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(Photos are - in order - Computer monitoring in the milking shed, Dairy herd, View from Mugul Mountain Retreat and Fruit trees at Mugul.)

We enjoyed a late morning tea under shade before heading off for a relief break at Miriam Vale. And then it was off   again and we drove 14km into Mugul Mountain Retreat where Fred and Lee McIvor welcomed us.   

A late lunch was taken on their large verandah, while Lee gave the group a talk on the history of the 300-acre property and what plans they have to regenerate the area.   


Already 613 native trees have been planted to re-vegetate the area.   They have been successful in obtaining funding for this project and most native species have been identified; some as endangered remnant rainforest.   The landscape ranges from mountains (Mt Coloss eum) down to several creeks that combine rainforest and woodland.

Ray Johnson helped Lee to identify and tag some planted trees around the home.   A very pleasant visit.   

A big thank you to Fred and Lee for their hospitality and their welcome to a piece of paradise. 


We all arrived back in Bundy by 5pm.   Thank you Trevor and Jo for safe travelling.  

Thanks to Kay de Gunst for our bus trip details.  



GOTU KOLA – Centella asiatica, is an ancient Ayurvedic herb. Most of my knowledge regarding this herb was centred around the benefits of brain food with the ability to increase brain capacity. With memory being a focal issue as we age and living in a world overloaded with information, this was of critical interest. And still is, but there is so much more to this herb.

Native to India, Asia, Africa, Malaysia and South Pacific islands, our tropical climate is ideal for growing the herb here, but it is essential to have damp soil, and plenty of water. Propagation is by seed and plant division through runners. The leaves are heart shaped and tend to hug the ground, growing larger in shaded areas.

Gotu Kola contains: Vitamins- A,B1,2,3,6,12,17,C,D,K and many minerals – calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, selenium, silica, zinc, germanium and iodine.

Its actions are: Blood purifier, diuretic, anti-fungal, sedative, antispasmodic, antioxidant, tonic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, nervine and adrenal strengthener, antiviral.

Medicinal Uses. Extracts have been found to calm inflammation, speed wound healing and skin rejuvenation, stimulate cell growth, build collagen and improve circulation.

It is describers as: "An amazing herb that offers a natural balanced approach to skin firming, anti-aging and cellulite” by Georgios Tzenichristos, director of  Lipo Therapeias. He explains: “We have been using Centella for a good 15 years at our clinic and have clearly seen the skin benefits this ancient herb has to offer.

Gotu kola

Researchers state the actions to skin, which include:

  • Boosting the production of collagen type1, and collagen type 3 and more, these may help to improve skin firmness, elasticity and overall signs of aging.

  • Accelerate wound healing and treat burns.

  • Reduce ankle swelling/ oedema/ water retention and more.

As a personal testimony on the effectiveness of eating 5 Gotu Kola leaves daily for the relief of arthritis, Peter Van Beek from our BOGI club states that without the leaves, he notices that after a week or so of failing to eat it, the pain and stiffness begins to return.

Gotu Kola can be used as a culinary vegetable, stir-fry, and for juicing, or eat fresh from the garden.

Herbs are Gods healing medicine gift to us, but I must reiterate that to consult a doctor before using herbs, particularly if you are on pharmaceutical medication, is wise. Herbs are wonderful, powerful, and a blessing to our body if used correctly.

This is my last article for the year. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I pray you will all have a joyous Christmas celebration, and stay safe to return next year.  Bless you.  Chris Jeffrey.

References: Isabel Shipard, "How can I use Herbs in my daily life" and LipoTherapeia skin products via Google. 

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Egg plant recipes

Eggplant recipes

The supper theme for November was egg plant. Many members asked for the recipes of these tasty dishes. Here are some of them.




  • 1 large eggplant

  • 1 kg topside mince

  • 1 small onion

  • ½ small green capsicum

  • 1 tabs. plain flour

  • ½  teas. salt

  • pepper

  • ½ teas. oregano

  • 1½  cups beef stock

  • 3 – 4 tabs. tomato paste

  • 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese


  • Cut eggplant into thick slices, sprinkle with salt and let stand for ½ hour or so. Repeat on other side. Wash and pat dry.

  • Saute onion and green pepper in little oil. Add mince and brown. Stir in flour, salt, pepper & oregano. Add stock and tomato paste. Cook until thickened.

  • Arrange half the eggplant slices in a greased ovenproof dish.

  • Spoon over half the meat mixture and sprinkle on half the cheese.

  • Repeat layers and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 180 deg C. if pre-prepared and dish is cold, 

  • bake for about 50 – 60 minutes.

  • Serves 6 – 8.


by Jo Galletly


  • 750g – 1kg mince

  • 3 rashers bacon, chopped

  • oil

  • ¼ teas. coriander

  • ¼ teas. mace

  • ¼ teas. pimento (allspice)

  • bay leaf

  • onion or leeks

  • garlic

  • 2 – 3 potatoes, sliced thickly & par-boiled 10 minutes

  • eggplant

Thick cheese sauce:

  • 1 ½ tab. butter

  • 3 tab flour

  • 600 mls milk

  • 1 cup grated cheese

Easy Moussaka 

by Greer


An alternative recipe for Moussaka. It is simpler and uses much more eggplant.


  • 3 large eggplants 

  • 700grms mince beef or lamb

  • 1 onion

  • tin chopped tomatoes

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

  • salt and pepper

  • grated parmesan

Egg Plant Relish

By Katrine Rayner

  • 1 kilo of Egg Fruit                                

  • 1 kilo of onions                                

  • 1 Red Capsicum

  • 1 tablespoon Mustard

  • 2 tablespoons Curry Powder

  • 2&1/2 cups of Sugar                           

  • 2 tablespoons Cornflour

  • 3 cups of White Vinegar                      

  • 1 dessertspoon Salt

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  • Slice eggplant thickly, sprinkle with salt, let stand ½ hour. Repeat other side. Wash and pat dry.

  • Place eggplant on a baking tray and lightly spray with oil. Bake in oven 20 minutes approximately, turning over halfway.

  • Line pyrex dish.

  • Fry onion & garlic, add mince, chopped bacon and spices. Cook till mince is brown.

  • Fill dish with mince mixture. Cover with thick slices of par-boiled potatoes (or thinly sliced raw potato)

  • Pour over thick cheese sauce. Cover with foil, sprayed with non-stick spray. Cook in moderate oven (180 deg C), 45 minutes or longer. Remove foil for last 15 minutes to brown top a little.


  • Peel and slice eggplant lengthways.

  • Brush with coconut oil on both sides and cook on BBQ.

  • Fry onion, then add mince, brown and break up well.

  • Add tined tomatoes and seasonings. Cook to reduce the liquid.

  • Layer in a greased casserole dish. Eggplant first, then mince.

  • Do 3 layers of each and then sprinkle with parmesan on top.

  • Cook on a low shelf in the oven at 170c for 1 hour.

  • Probably not very authentic but tastes delicious.

  • Serves 4 and will freeze well.


  • Peel Egg Fruit and chop finely.

  • Chop Onions and Capsicum .

  • Place in a saucepan: Egg Fruit, Onion, Capsicum, Vinegar, Salt, Curry Powder and Mustard.

  • Bring to the boil and cook 20- 30 minutes.

  • Add Sugar and cook 10 to 20 minutes more.

  • Mix Cornflour with some water to thicken.

  • Bottle while hot.

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