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Posts tagged ‘organic gardening’

Managing Your Perennial Kale “Trees”

This week I’ve put together a little follow up video on the “Perennial Kale Trees” video I did around a month ago.  I explain how you manage the plants once they go to seed or get invaded by aphids – which happens to us all!

This little video shows you a simple way you can navigate it all and keep the plant going for a good few years. Enjoy!

This is the 13th video in our Good Life For All series. Each Monday I’ll pop up a video to help inspire folks in building climate resilience for their homes and communities.

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Grow Your Own Food: Okines #3

HANDS-ON LEARNING, EQUIPPING YOU WITH THE SKILLS TO GROW FOOD IN YOUR OWN HOME.

We’re partnering with Okines Community Garden in Dodges Ferry to bring you a special 6-part series of hands-on permaculture skills. This is workshop #3, Grow Your Own Food and it goes hand-in-hand with #2 Super Soil Skills. Join us to learn the foundations as we take you from soil to seeds, poop (manure!) to propagation and get you growing your own food at home – skills that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

If you live in the South East coastal region, you might be eligible for a phenomenal subsidy* to access these courses. To access this discount please type your postcode into the “coupon” field at checkout. If your postcode fall subsidised area, your ticket price will be reduced to $150 before you pay.

YOU’LL GET TO LEARN ALL ABOUT…

  •  Vegetable growing: We’ll introduce you to growing both annual and perennial vegetables so you can create diverse, edible gardens.
  • Planning your veggie patch: We introduce important considerations for planning and looking after a garden (design considerations, protection, crop rotation etc)
  • Garden troubleshooting: take a look at practical approaches to living with weeds and insects
  • Propagation: empower yourself to grow your own food from scratch – we’ll look at everything from making your own seed raising mix, sowing seeds, and growing plants from cuttings

 

WHO SHOULD COME TO THIS WORKSHOP?

We’ve designed this workshop as an introduction for folks wanting to get started in growing their own food and for people looking for some extra guidance in refining their soil skills. To round out your learning, we recommend you take the previous course too, Super Soil Skills – because great soil, helps you grow great food. 

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • Fully catered  – it’s going to be delicious,
  • Some solid time in the Okines’s Community Garden where you’ll see strategies you can apply to your small or large garden,
  • Peter Cundall’s “The Practical Australian Gardener”
  • Extensive course notes on everything we cover over the weekend, and
  • Skills and knowledge, useful for the rest of your life!

CATERING

Our caterers will spoil you with food to fill your belly, warm your hearts and inspire you to grow your own. And, of course, we can accommodate any dietary requirements.

Nestled in the Southern Beaches community of Dodges Ferry, Okines Community Garden is an inspiring place to learn, share knowledge and contribute directly to the wellbeing of the land and the people it supports. The gardens consist of mature fruit trees, over 30 raised veggie beds, chickens, bees and an outdoor kitchen providing a hub for shared outdoor meals and a workshop space. ‘The Garden’ is connected to Okines Community House – which provides added space for learning and undercover workshop needs.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

You’ll be provided with clear directions on how to get there prior to the course.

YOUR TEACHERS

Nadia Danti brings years of market gardening experience and has travelled the world working with some of the best growers out there to learn the skills she needed. Nadia is passionate about soil health and understanding the ecosystem under our feet, as well as supporting people to connect to their local food system and empowering them to grow some of their own food in whatever sized space they have!

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James DaCosta has worked on a huge range of small farms across Tasmanian including running the Hobart City Farm for 6 years (since closed). Originally from NW Tasmania, he was reared on the rich red soils of that region where he grew large and strong like a Kennebec (potato). He is a gardener, bee keeper, and permaculture designer. A natural teacher, James has a knack for inspiring and equipping people with the skills they need to get growing!

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Firstly, thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable and educational course. As experienced growers, we were impressed that you covered so many areas so that inexperienced and experienced growers could walk away with something of value. Thank you so much everyone. You are great bunch!

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CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family – alternatively you’re welcome to put it towards one of our future courses.

Covid-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu-like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – contact us beforehand to discuss options.

Subsidies and Discounts

We have partnered with Okines to present this series of workshops for their region. Thanks to Okines, if you live in the Lower South East coast of Tasmania, you will qualify for a significant subsidy – each course will cost you just $150. We strongly encourage people living within the region to enrol, but these courses are also accessible to anyone that wants to join us! Areas that qualify for a subsidy extend from Sorell, to Swansea and down the coast to the whole peninsular, incorporating Dodges Ferry, Carlton, Primrose Sands and Dunalley.

*To get the discount, please enter your postcode in the “COUPON” section – if you are in a qualifying area, and it will automatically make your course $150.00.

**WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING? Whether you are full-fee-paying or on the subsidised rate, if you purchase all 6 courses (see the full list below), you can get an extra 15% off the second series! To do this, buy the first three, then email us at admin@goodlifepermaculture.com.au and we will give you the special code. Huzzah for accessible learning!

Sign up to the Okines Series and get skills!

Series A: Available to book now

  1. Introduction to Permaculture
  2. Super Soil Skills (take this with #3 to become a gun gardener)
  3. Grow Your Own Food (perfect followup to #2)

Series B: Coming soon – 15% off Series 2 if you purchase all 6 courses**

  1. Beekeeping for Beginners
  2. Eat your Harvest: Ferments and cheese making
  3. Homemade Herbal Remedies and soap

Looking for something else? We run lots of workshops – register your interest here and we’ll let you know what’s coming up.

 

 

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Real Skills for Growing Food – March

TWO DAYS OF HANDS-ON LEARNING, EQUIPPING YOU WITH THE SKILLS TO GROW FOOD IN YOUR OWN HOME.

 

We’re partnering with Fat Pig Farm to bring you two days of hands-on Real Skills for Growing Food. Join us to learn the foundations as we take you from soil to seeds, poop (manure!) to propagation and get you growing your own food at home – skills that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

YOU’LL GET TO LEARN ALL ABOUT…

  • Soil: If you want to grow good food, you’re going to need to know about soil – this is the key to nutritious food production. We’ll introduce you to the soil food web and explore a range of soil preparation methods for different contexts.
  • Compost: Learn about a range of compost techniques and help build a big compost pile.
  • Improving soil fertility: We’ll look at a range of DIY techniques you can create at home to improve your soil and plant health, including worm farms and liquid fertilisers.
  • Garden beds and tools: Help prepare a garden bed, and get to know Fat Pig Farm’s favourite tools for weed management and planting.
  • Propagation: Empower yourself to grow food from scratch – we’ll look at everything from making your own seed raising mix, planting seeds, and growing plants from cuttings.
  • Vegetable growing: We’ll introduce you to growing both annual and perennial vegetables so you can create diverse, edible gardens.
  • Planning your veggie patch: We introduce important considerations for planning a garden design and seasonal planting schedules.
  • Garden troubleshooting: Take a look at practical approaches to living with weeds and pests.

WHO SHOULD COME TO THIS WORKSHOP?

We’ve designed this workshop as an introduction for folks wanting to get started in growing their own food and for people looking for some extra guidance in refining their growing skills. We cover the essential skills and knowledge to set you up for success in your garden. 

STUDENTS RECEIVE

  • Full catering by Fat Pig Farm – it’s going to be delicious,
  • An invitation to an optional dinner on the Saturday night (additional cost applies),
  • Some solid time in Fat Pig Farm’s market garden where you’ll see strategies you can apply to your small or large garden,
  • A copy of The Practical Australian Gardener by Peter Cundall,
  • Seasonal vegetable seedlings to get you growing,
  • Extensive course notes on everything we cover over the weekend, and
  • Skills and knowledge useful for the rest of your life!

“The attention to detail was great – this makes everything run smoothly and comfortably. And the gifts were amazing! Not only did I have a wonderful weekend, I came away with so much stuff! Thank you”.

CATERING

Fat Pig Farm will spoil you with food to fill your belly, warm your hearts and inspire you to grow your own. Think hearty soups filled with fresh veggies from the garden, Fat Pig ham on bread straight from their wood fired oven, plus cakes and scones inspired by summer’s preserves.

SATURDAY NIGHT FARM FEAST

All students plus their friends and family are invited to join us for a yarn and a cider over slow roasted farm grown goodness.

Please note, dinner is an optional extra to the daily workshops and costs an additional $90 per person. This is a wonderful chance to bring your family and friends along to soak up the hands-on learning vibes and enjoy the weekend with you.

*And yes, we can easily cater for people with different dietary needs.

Fat Pig Farm is nestled in Glaziers Bay, 10 minutes from Cygnet and is home to Sadie Chrestman and Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans. As a working farm, they run a market garden, mixed fruit and nut orchards, chickens, bees, some milking cows and raise pigs. They also have a delightful restaurant, open for weekly lunches and occasional cooking workshops.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

You’ll be provided with clear directions on how to get there prior to the course.

YOUR TEACHERS

Nadia Danti brings years of market gardening experience and has travelled the world working with some of the best growers out there to learn the skills she needed. Nadia is passionate about soil health and understanding the ecosystem under our feet, as well as supporting people to connect to their local food system and empowering them to grow some of their own food in whatever sized space they have!

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Sadie Chrestman is the head market gardener at Fat Pig Farm. Together with Matthew, she has developed Fat Pig Farm into the diverse, productive landscape it is today. With an enthusiasm that stuns, she has created a market garden overflowing with delicious and nutritious food and healthy soils. Incredibly generous with her time and knowledge, all who learn from her are better off for it!

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James DaCosta has worked on a huge range of small farms across Tasmanian including running the Hobart City Farm for 6 years (since closed). Originally from NW Tasmania, he was reared on the rich red soils of that region where he grew large and strong like a Kennebec (potato). He is a gardener, bee keeper, and permaculture designer. A natural teacher, James has a knack for inspiring and equipping people with the skills they need to get growing!

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Firstly, thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable and educational course. As experienced growers, we were impressed that you covered so many areas so that inexperienced and experienced growers could walk away with something of value. It was a really positive feeling to walk away with a book, seedlings, trays, seeds, cuttings etc – was most generous and will be a great ongoing reminder of where we started (dead or not ;-)). Thank you so much everyone. You are great bunch!

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ACCOMMODATION

For folks travelling from afar – there are a wealth of local options for you to choose from, CLICK HERE to see a huge range of options put together by our friends at the Cygnet Folk Festival. Please note, due to Covid-19 some of these venues may not be up and running yet.

CANCELLATION POLICY

There is no refund available for this course. If you’re unable to make it we encourage you to pass your place onto friends or family – alternatively you’re welcome to put it towards one of our future courses.

Covid-19

Please note, this workshop will be run in accordance to Covid-19 guidelines recommended at the time. If you are unwell with flu like symptoms we ask you to please not attend the workshop – contact us beforehand to discuss options.

Looking to learn other hands-on skills?

Not sure you can commit to a full weekend? Check out our Super Soil Skills for Happy Veggies class for a 1-day primer on improving your soil and growing better food.

We run lots of workshops – register your interest here and we’ll let you know what’s coming up.

 

 

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What Worm Farm Is Best For You?

Worms. we love them and actually really need them and so, we foster them. Not the type that crawl under your skin (gross), although they’re probably playing an important role I just don’t know about. We’re talking about the types that live in our soils – keeping busy aerating and cycling nutrients making them more available to other members of the soil food web and to the precious plants which we happen to depend on for a good portion of our survival .

worms

Did you know that…

In one worm, there is around 474, 075 million bacteria – wowzers. These bacteria do an incredibly important job – mainly making minerals available – more on this below.

When compared to the parent soil (the original soil), worm castings (the worm’s poo) have approximately:

  • 7 times the available phosphorous
  • 6 times the available nitrogen
  • 3 times the available magnesium
  • 2 times the available carbon
  • 1.5 times the available calcium

(Both these facts are from ‘Earthworms in Australia’, David Murphy, pg 26)

The key word used above is ‘available’. The worms do not magic these minerals into existence, they were already present in these quantities, however the worms have changed their form by digesting them (which involves all that bacteria). This process makes them available to plants as the minerals have been changed from being an insoluble form to a plant-available soluble form.

So this is why people keep worm farms – the castings and diluted worm juice (the liquid that comes out of it) are an invaluable fertiliser for food crops. A quick and important note, worm farms can only house compost worms, not your common earth worm you see in the garden or lawn. Compost worms are red wrigglers and tiger worms – you can buy these from nurseries, but you can usually find them at your local school/community garden if you ask nicely. Do not put the common earth worm into a worm farm – they will die.

So what type of worm farm should you have? It all depends, where do you live, i.e. apartment or farm, do you have a big or small garden, do you have lots or only a small amount of of food scraps coming out of your kitchen? Here are some options for you to ponder…

The Wheelie Bin Worm Farm

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CERES Community Environment Park in Melbourne make their own wheelie bin worm farm which can house thousands of worms and a whole lot of food scraps. The great thing about this design is that there quite easy to move, having wheels and all – so perfect for people who are renting or for the busy cafe/workplace who may need to move it around every now and then.

The Bathtub Worm Farm

bath worm farm

The bathtub worm farm is a true beauty and, when designed properly, can double as a table for potting up or doing garden jobs on. A few years ago I worked with the Urban Bush Carpenters in Melbourne to build local NGO, Cultivating Community this fancy worm farm you can see above left for a community garden. As well as doubling as a table, you can also use the space below the bath as storage (as well as having a permanent bucket to capture any worm juice.  You can see more info on this one at Urban Bush Carpenters

The Shop Version

binsOf course you can just go and buy a commercial worm farm from most nurseries or hardware shops, you can even add compost worms to a standard compost bin.

The Styrofoam Worm House

styro

You make make your own worm farm from styrofoam boxes. Images from here and here

This version is a great way to start if you’re on a low budget as it’s free or very cheap to start. It simply operates on the same system of having layered boxes with holes in the bottom for drainage and for the worms to travel in between. The bottom box has no holes and captures all the worm juice for you to use later as a fertiliser (dilute it so it looks like the colour of weak tea) for the veggie patch.

The Worm Tower

WormTower

 We love this one as it’s integrated INTO your garden so the benefits for your food crops are immediate and fantastic. You can buy them commercially, but they’re so easy to make we think you should just do it that way. All you need is some large pipe (ideally no smaller than 200mm wide), a pot plant to fit on the top as a hat and a drill to put holes into it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what it looks like once installed into your garden. Image from here

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Drill a number of holes of various sizes that the worms can travel in and out of. Image from here

But will your worms run away? Not if you continue feeding them fresh food scraps, as long as you do this they’re not going anywhere. It’s a great system for the forgetful  as you can’t kill your worms through neglect, they’ll simply leave and find food elsewhere.

There’s literally a type of worm farm for any context, this is just a taster. Have a fun time exploring the options, just make sure you get one, they’re the bomb.

Worm Resources

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Forest Floor Gardening (modified hugelkulture)

It’s all about the soil. You’ll hear Suzi say this more than once as she shows you around her incredibly productive, stunningly beautiful and much loved food garden in South Hobart. Suzi is a self-taught, meticulous, ever-curious and bloody good food grower. Over the past couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to pop into her garden a few times to see how it’s evolving, which is significant.
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Suzi's garden
One view of Suzie’s garden, it’s impossible to capture the fullness of her garden with one shot.
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suzi collage
Vibrant healthy rainbow chard, yarrow and goats – she has 5 glorious miniature goats… and I love them.
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Each time I’ve visited this garden there’s always something changing – a new technique being tried on improving soil health, holes everywhere as clay’s being excavated and replaced with this or that. It’s constantly in flux and I’m coming to realise (and accept) that all working gardens are, because we’re always looking to improve and refine. Nothing is ever fixed or finished – and that’s completely ok, and somewhat perfect.
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Suzi’s garden has really heavy clay and receives significant water run off from the road above her property. This results in severe water logging in her garden where there is so much ground water that it literally pools in place and the plant’s roots can sometimes drown.
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suzi puddles
Suzi showing how water pooling occurs in her heavy clay soils
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After trying numerous approaches to moderating this, Suzi has developed what she’s calling ‘forest floor gardening’ inspired heavily by hugelkulture. This includes converting all pathways between the garden beds into deep swales paths which involves removing the existing soil and replacing it with coarse woodchips, where possible, Suzi has made these up to half a metre deep. But she doesn’t use just any woodchips, she tries to source only ramial woodchips and ideally from deciduous trees.
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Ramial woodchips are young branches up to 7cm in diametre (Suzi prefers branches up to 5cm) which have higher levels of nutrients and are therefore are effective promoters of the growth of soil fungi and all round soil building. You can read a great article on regenerating soils with ramial chipped woods here.  She also makes a solid layer of these woodchips within the garden bed, she caps this off with a mix of garden soil and ramial woodchips which she plants directly into as shown below in my rough sketch.
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forest floor sketch
Sometimes Suzi will build tiny walls on the edge of her swale paths in summer to dam water and prevent overflow. Pushing the soil around like plasticine in strategic little ways achieves dramatic changes to water movement.
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A close up of a pathway in the process of being turned into a swale path.
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In Suzi’s own words – this is what forest floor gardening is all about…

“An intrinsic aspect of the system is the deeply woodchipped paths between the beds. The paths perform many functions: they sponge up run-off, harvest and store rainwater, provide in situ habitat for close-to-surface-dwelling composting worms, provide an abundant on-site source of worm compost for planting holes, enhances soil air flow and helps control weeds. Once set up, occasional top-up makes good use of a recycled resource.
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The best time to set these beds up is in the autumn to take advantage of rainfall and weathering and to be ready for planting in spring. That way the nitrogen draw-down will be minimal. However, if I am going to plant into a freshly treated area I use a light dusting of blood and bone (N) and make sure the ground is well-watered because the wood sucks up a lot.
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The woody matter not only conditions the soil with its long-life humus, but also offers a significant nutrient profile. I believe that heavy clays benefit from the mechanical action of the coarse chips literally propping open the soils to let in the air.
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The best performers in newly treated beds are curcurbits. Green leafy vegetables take some months to cope. The second year everything grows better and the root systems of all plants are vastly more extensive and complex. Can’t wait for the rotation to swing around to carrots!
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The method works perfectly for sandy soil too I imagine, just deleting the clay removal and water with clay slurry.
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Building beds too high in the air in Australia (eg  6′) is probably not a worthwhile option with our relatively mild winters and drought-prone summers (not to mention the desiccating winds Hobart sees). Tall beds would be too vulnerable. And the whole exercise is of course about balancing air and water in soil.”
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The high beveled edges of beds you can see above is something Suzi emphasises going into cold weather as it increases the warm sun hitting the soil. In Summer she lets them slump so they don’t dry out too quickly. 
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soil close up
A close up of Suzi’s garden soil
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What’s happening with all the clay Suzi’s removed from her garden (by hand). She’s building a clay bank in the goat paddock which catches extra sun and provides the goats with a warm spot to hang out. Perfect.
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Suzi’s place backs onto the Hobart rivulet, she’s been able to use her goats to eat back the blackberries which once swamped the creek bed.
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I’ll be trying this method out in our own garden in the next few weeks and am genuinely and deeply excited about it. As, while we already do swale pathways in our garden – using ramial woodchips in the way Suzi is is all new to me. I’ve seen how it’s transformed Suzi’s soil and I can’t wait to see what it does to ours!
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Suzie with one of her bird nest inspired compost piles, she is the coolest person ever. You can keep in touch with Suzi and her gardening journey via her blog.

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things garden-esk.

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How To Make Kale Chips

This season we planted a lot of kale seeds and have ended up with what we affectionately call the ‘kale forest’.  However, as we all know, there is only so much steamed kale you can eat, so lately we’ve been branching out and making kale chips which are actually really good. Without even trying you can end up eating anywhere between 5 – 10 leaves and that’s gotta be good for you!

Kale forest

The kale forest which just keeps on going and going

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We’ve got two varieties growing, tuscan and curly kale, the curly kale is by far our favourite as it’s sweeter and scrumptious fresh in salads or just to chew on while you’re gardening. Does it matter what type of kale you use when making chips? I don’t think so, have a play and see what works for you. Here’s how we make them…

Step 1: Harvest your leaves and give them a good wash. Right now we’ve got lots of aphids hiding on the backs of the leaves so I put them in a sink full of water and wash them roughly with my hands, as I really don’t like the idea of roast aphids.

Step 2: De-stem each leaf like so…

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Step 3: Cut the leaf into bite size pieces.

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Step 4: Pop them in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over them (or any desired oil) and massage the leaves thoroughly until they sparkle with an oily shine.

Step 5: In the same bowl add some additional flavours. We simply pour some tamari (fermented soy) over the top of them and mix it in. You could also just use salt, assorted spices or smashed up garlic juice (yummm).Kale-oily

Step 6: Spread the leafy chips evenly onto a baking tray. Make sure you don’t pile them on top of one another as this prevents them from going crispy in the oven.

kale-oven tray

Make sure you space the kale pieces out so they’re not crowding each other, this ensures you get lots of crispy edges, which is a good thing.

Step 7: Put them into a hot oven (around 200 degrees) and then DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN. Do not go feed the chooks, make a phone call or check on your garden. If you do any of these things your kale chips will burn, I speak from personal experience. These little beauties only need around 5-10 minutes. Check at 5 minutes and then every minute after that.

They’re ready once their edges have gone a nice brown and when you touch them, they’ll feel ‘crispy’.

kale-cooked

Step 8: Eat and enjoy!

PS – They taste better when shared with friends and some home brew.

*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things garden-esk.

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