Dahlia’s for Dinner!


Dahlias are my latest perennial vege. Quite a while ago Haikai Tane, told me that dahlia’s were commonly eaten in China, at that time I was just moving to Auckland and had left all my dahlias in the ground at Tui. I have always loved them- easy and prolific great for bees and mulch so I was keen to know that they were edible too as I was already cultivating them as a potential food forest plant.

Well now I am back at Tui, I retrieved a bunch of  tubers from our previous site and a few weekends ago planted them out, mainly to stabilize some banks and to get them in the ground multiplying again.  I pulled out a big tuber (they look a lot like yacon), to have for dinner, quickly scanned online that other people had eaten them, somewhere in the world, they had, (but gosh people are precious about their flowers, I would think that anyone would be thrilled to discover something as easy as dahlias for food- rather than relying on the supermarket!).


Anyway we had them for dinner a stifry- very nice, like yacon but less sweet with a celery like taste- very Asian. The kids ate them too, knowing they were dahlias. In this stir fry we are also eating wilding leeks that I saved from the new Tui Garden site, they have been wilding there for years!

The tuber I used for dinner, I had pulled up 2 months ago and hadn’t planted just left in a barrow in a tub in the shed, I peeled it cause its skin was tough but inside it was still crisp like yacon! I imagine it would be also good in stews or soups.


Dahlia’s need to cooked well and eaten in moderate doses as they contain inulin which can give wind and digestive upsets, as do sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and yacon. I had no problems after our meal though. I wouldn’t eat them raw though as I notice some recipes advise but the inulin dissolves as they are cooked in water, (I made a sloppy tomatoey stirfry). I’m not sure I would boil or roast them, I think better for more creative and flavoursome cooking, and until you are used to the taste use them with other veges.  Flower petals can be eaten too in salads. The variety’s I have that have been most successful are probably older variety’s that I got from our HANDS (local green currency) market, and my children’s grandma- I noticed that the ones I bought from the store weren’t nearly so hardy or prolific. I’d also eat the big well formed tubers and leave the small ones to grow bigger. You can eat the tubers after they have flowered.  And in the Golden Bay climate the tubers can basically store in the ground until you want to eat them- just leave a few big ones to grow!

Dahlia tubers are easy, easy food, grow all summer with bee attractant blooms, then have tubers. In a couple of years they multiply heaps !! so you can spread them wherever.

I had been meaning to try them for ages and I’m so pleased they are yummy and useful… a great food forest plant, grow about a metre or less high… prolific.


Tea anyone?

We could all grow our tea! it is in the  same  family  as the  camellia plant which is such a common garden tree all around Aotearoa. My friend Andi  is growing this one and other permaculture plants for  the Hawea Food Forest project. Does anyone know how to ferment it though? For it to be black tea it needs to be fermented. We would love to know a low tech small scale technique for home- please let us know if you know about this.

First Certificate in Sustainable Practice and Permaculture Design at Awhi Farm, Turangi.

I am in the middle of our Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice , Block Course in Wanaka. Meanwhile the first Certificate in Sustainable Practice and Permaculture Design has started at Awhi Farm in Turangi. Joanna Pearsall and Bryan Innes are having a wonderful time on their  six day initial block course with seven students embarking on this learning journey. I’m looking forward to hearing about the highlights of their course. There are certainly plenty of highlights down here in wanaka, having all the course members together last night was great fun, hearing about everyone’s progress and feeling strongly part of a community of practice is awesome. It’s amazing the diversity of projects that we are  all exploring in sustainable practice.


Sustainable World Radio

I have listened to some excellent permaculture podcasts on my way to Wanaka. It’s been awesome to listen to these greta interviews with well known permaculture people, like David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton and Robyn Francis. Check out Sustainable World Radio and if you have a long drive or even while you are gardening or working on the land you could listen to them!

Compost, Wanaka Organics

Compost, Wanaka Organics

I just had another great visit to Wanaka Organics. Here are their big compost windrows. Steaming  in the winter air as we checked it’s state of breakdown.

I am looking forward to getting together with the Permaculture people in Wanaka, and talking about the Certificate in Sustainable Practice and Permaculture Design that we will offer in Wanaka next March.

Now Mow Lawn -sheet mulch extravaganza

This is definitely the absolute funkiest sheet much production I have ever seen, thanks to the makers of this one!!

Green Building at UBC

Here are some green building techniques in large scale public institution buildings at the University of British Columbia. A totally different scale to where my ideas usually are, but its important to remember just how many big big buildings are around us

Remineralising the soil

We have just had Merv Solly come out, from the Association of Biological Farmers of NZ, he is a prominent figure in our Golden Bay area, and has become highly involved with biological farming. we have taken 6 soil samples from around the land including the new garden site the orchard and farm, to be analysised. Then we can look at what we need to do to remineralise the soil to grow healthy plants, animals and people! Check out the Biological Farming website.

Certificate in Sustainable Practice & PDC at Awhi Farm

We are preparing our first Certificate in Sustainable Practice and PDC which will be held at Awhi Farm in Turangi. This course is part of the Sustainable Practice course from Otago Polytechnic. Awhi Farm has run a variety of other courses in Permaculture and alternative building.


Eco House, Kaiwaka

This is an inspiring video from, a amazing japanese man, yoshi in Kaiwaka ,NZ. I would love to visit here next time I am up north.

He has really made an art and a study out of natural eco living, his we site has loads of incredibly useful information!