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Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a summer ‘weed’ that is found through much of the world. Central Australian Aboriginal people used to (and a very few occasionally still do) wait for it to seed and pile it up in mounds; after some good dry desert heat, the withered plants can be pulled off to reveal a concentration of the tiny but nutritious seeds below. Throughout northern India and through to the Middle East, it is not just a foraged ‘welcome weed’ (or ‘volunteer plant’), it is even grown as a crop for its leaves (as it once was through a lot of Europe as well). Purslane is said to have the highest omega 3s of any vegetable and is a sure contender for that increasingly tedious epithet of ‘superfood’. This status, as well as being common in Central Mexican cuisine (where it is known as verdolagas) is said to be getting it increasingly on the food list rather than just the weed list in America. But across most of Australia it is simply a plant; one of those green things in the ground; neither worth eradicating nor using. It will be gone by winter after all.

Nonetheless, right now in mid-summer, purslane is doing very well across a good part of Australia. Basically, if you are looking for it, it is everywhere; the challenge is really only to find some growing in soil that you can trust. This particular harvest was essentially a matter of opportunism – which to my mind is utterly fundamental to foraging (in any sense). I was doing a survey in one of the back blocks of one of western Sydney’s old Olympic venues. I had already decided to do a saag for dinner and to stop off at one the small Indian food shops (which abound in much of Sydney’s west) to buy spices

I gather that saag basically means ‘greens’ (in Punjabi, Urdu and/or Hindi), and by inference, in the kitchen, it is a curry thereof. There was also some volunteer native spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes) doing so well under the citrus that I needed to cut it back whether for eating or not. Then there was some silverbeet (chard; Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla) that was close to giving up in the summer heat and our sandy soil (in which I would probably be better to intentionally grow purslane at this time of year); and also sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) that is getting by as a welcome enough ‘weed’ in the shade of intentional crops. Amaranth, with each passing week of summer, is also making more of an appearance. But it is the purslane, a genuine north Indian favourite, that is the forage that started the ball rolling.

Sow thistle or puha (Sonchus oleraceus)

Sow thistle or puha (Sonchus oleraceus)

Native spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes)

Native spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes)

It doesn’t matter too much which green, and perhaps the more the better (purslane, spinach, chard / silver beet, mustard greens, kale, amaranth, fat hen, mallow, chickweed, native spinach, beetroot tops, cress, sow thistle, etc, etc)

It doesn’t matter too much which green, and perhaps the more the better (purslane, spinach, chard / silver beet, mustard greens, kale, amaranth, fat hen, mallow, chickweed, native spinach, beetroot tops, cress, sow thistle, etc, etc)

The recipe is wonderfully simple and suits just about any green you can lay your hands on, foraged, grown or bought.

Recipe:

Start by toasting the whole spices – mine were whole cumin seeds, coriander seeds and a light touch of peppercorns, fenugreek and cardamom seeds which went into the mortar with dried chillies once toasted to fragrant and then joined by powdered turmeric. You can add whatever else blows your hair back among cinnamon, cloves, ginger, fenugreek leaves, etc – only giving whole seeds the toasting though.

Next, lightly sautee some onions in butter (ghee if you can) or oil and then pile the garlic, spices and chopped greens in and stir on low heat until wilted to a decent tender that should coincide with golden brown onions and garlic that isn’t burning to sticky and/or bitter (10 minutes or so), adding small amounts of liquid if required. I am also inclined to add some precooked chickpeas (kind of like canned ones but tastier because they are slow cooked in stock) – which probably makes it chana saag.

The handy thing with saag, is that with some cubed cheese you have saag paneer (using actual paneer (a style of Indian cheese)) if you have it, otherwise cottage cheese, or queso fresco (or fetta if you give mind to it being salted while paneer isn’t), but in any case not your everyday fatty yellow cheese); with some cubed meat you have saag gosht; and with hard boiled egg you have anda saag. In our house of both vegetarians and ominivores, with saag we can meet our different dietary inclinations with additions at the end rather than with entirely separate dishes. While there is something of an assumption that you would serve it over rice, the addition of the chickpeas or something else to bulk it up makes this optional. A side serve of good chutney (or salsa verde) is a good touch.

Australian forager’s saag: The roo, cubed and cooked sous vide at around 70 degrees with butter and herbs for the better part of a day is browned off and stirred in for the meat eaters (saag gosht), while the vegos still get a good feed from cheese (saag paneer) and/or chickpeas (chana saag). I don’t know what to call it when it is all in there…

Australian forager’s saag: The roo, cubed and cooked sous vide at around 70 degrees with butter and herbs for the better part of a day is browned off and stirred in for the meat eaters (saag gosht), while the vegos still get a good feed from cheese (saag paneer) and/or chickpeas (chana saag). I don’t know what to call it when it is all in there…

Wild plums (Prunus domestica)

Wild plums (Prunus domestica)

Outside Jugiong, just as portrayed in the famous Australian folk tune, a track does actually wind back past an old fashioned shack and joins the road to Gundagai (the four-lane Hume Highway these days). The Murrumbidgee is indeed flowing and what happens to be growing, as matter of interest to me, are wild plums (Prunus domestica).

If you are on country roads along the eastern Australian range or slopes almost anywhere from New South Wales to Tasmania, January is the month for foraging wild plums. Of your common roadside fruit forages, the autumn fruits of blackberries won’t be right for another month or so and the apples perhaps another month after that. Plums are the summer thing. They can be red, yellow or something in between, or even that dark purplish burgundy like bullaces in Britain (often ripening later though). From whence they hail, among the named varieties of orchard-grown fruit, and whether from European or Asian stock, is a mystery to me; but as feral wildings, they have undoubtedly departed somewhat from domestic form. For one thing, they are a lot smaller than you might expect and you might pass them in the car thinking they are some kind of unknown inedible berry rather than the familiar drupe (botanically speaking) of the most common of stone fruits. Their prominence along roadsides suggests an initial origin as pips thrown out of passing car windows. But there are areas, like the road out of Jugiong, where their abundance suggests that they are some generations past being a travellers snack, and almost certainly instead dispersed by birds or even simply just rolling a little further down the hill from mum.

YellowPlums

RedPlums

With them, you can of course make a lovely plum jam, which has traditionally been my go-to response. They are pretty much like your shop-bought plum, but smaller and much more blessed with the sharp acidity in the skin which some of us love. But we are kind of full up with jams and jellies and don’t really get through that much of it anyway. So it’s plum sauce. Not the Chinese one that goes with Peking duck, but a more an Australianised British traditional stalwart of days gone by – much like the ditty Along the Road to Gundagai. This one is pretty loyal to Stephanie Alexander’s take on it. A well-tested standard recipe is worth it in this case if only to make sure you get something pourable that isn’t too runny – vary the flavours if you like, but not the solids to liquids ratio. It is a vinegar/sweet/savoury/fruit acid sauce that works as a topping for close to anything. Basically it is all that the ubiquitous tomato sauce/ketchup is, but better.

Ingredients:

Per kilo of plums:

1 tsp cloves

2/3 tsp whole allspice (pimento)

2/3 tsp whole peppercorns

1.5 cups brown sugar

2 tsp salt

1tblsp grated ginger

2 cups white wine (or apple cider) vinegar

1 chilli (or lots more, or none)

Methods

Stone the plums and crack half the stones (bash with a mallet in a tea towel) and put them in a muslin bag (this give pectin to get things gelling). Tie the spices in a separate muslin bag. Put it all in a non-reactive pot and simmer for half an hour. Remove the bags, giving them a good squeeze and press the rest through a sieve, fine colander or food mill back into the rinsed pot. Simmer for as long as it takes to get the thickness you want (remembering it will thicken when cool and wants to be able to be poured like tomato ketchup). It can then go in either sterilised jars or bottles (depending on thickness).

Cooking wild plum ketchup with cracked stones and spices in a partitioned wine bag instead of muslin

Cooking wild plum ketchup with cracked stones and spices in a partitioned wine bag instead of muslin

Although many would like to see such home-made delicacies in lovely glass with some neat finishes like a square of gingham cloth on top secured with a ribbon, we figure this is more an everyday kind of condiment and went for a plastic squeeze bottle (but wouldn’t do that for any stores we planned on keeping on the shelf for long).

Wild plum ketchup: A once-a-year harvest of your everyday sauce (on yet another fish pie)

Wild plum ketchup: A once-a-year harvest of your everyday sauce (on yet another fish pie)

Yabbies (Cherax destructor), a basic dipping sauce and mangoes – a relatively light start to the recent Christmas feasting

Yabbies (Cherax destructor), a basic dipping sauce and mangoes – a relatively light start to the recent Christmas feasting

Mangoes, croissants and prawns. Whether it is a tradition or a strong memory, I really couldn’t say, but that is Christmas morning food in my mind. A relatively light starter on a day that, by necessity, needs to anticipate some serious stuffing. And I was intent on putting it on our December 25 breakfast table last year (as in, last week). The mango stays (and to be honest, it is probably the least negotiable of all). Croissants easily give way to the Squeeze’s family tradition of chocolate pancakes. This is our family’s American side and, at their best, they do pancakes that can genuinely make a mockery of the imitations most of us Australians and Kiwis know.

But for prawns, despite doing a lot to keep myself informed and engaged on the issue, it remains all too hard to work out which particular array on a fishmonger’s iced shelf may or may not be part of an oceanic Armageddon of which I want no part. They all look like prawns and therefore like they are delicious, but how do I pick the signs of outrageous bycatch slaughter and waste or Southeast Asian wetland destruction in their empty spiny visages? In the absence of reasonable labelling requirements, an unreasonable amount of consumer effort is the answer. I understand that there are some sustainably and ethically harvested prawns out there, but practically, it becomes easier just to leave them all be.

What we call a yabby  - but in appreciation of the American pancakes (not pictured, sorry), and that we are a half-American family, let’s call these ones ‘Christmas crawdads’

What we call a yabby – but in appreciation of the American pancakes (not pictured, sorry), and that we are a half-American family, let’s call these ones ‘Christmas crawdads’

So, I have switched to foraged yabbies (Cherax destructor). Prawning with a hand net is on my list of planned foraging adventures, but until that day, yabbies are my closest accessible foraging bet. And, what is more, I prefer them. These from the NSW Southern Highlands (actually lowlands in the middle of the east, but so named for being marginally more southern and higher than Sydney). They may live in still murky water, but they still manage to taste like flowing rivers as long as the actual mud gets purged before the pot. And that is a precious taste, all too rare in dry old Australia, of what we sometimes call ‘sweetwater’.

Much like a prawn, you extract the tail meat from the shell, pull out the digestive line (“poo vein”) and dip the meat in a sauce that frequently involves mayonnaise. Unlike a prawn, you also get a couple of claws to get into – approached as you would a crab claw (cautiously if alive and with gusto if cooked).

Yabbies Cooked

With a decent haul of summer fish, it feels good to be able to put a little more seafood on the table. My share of a recent catch included one kingfish (Seriola lalandi), three nannygai (Centroberyx affinis), two flathead (Platycephalus sp.) and a blue morwong (Nemadactylus douglasii) (something else (probably a morwong) stolen on the retrieve by a fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) of all things). After a little sashimi sampling of kingfish and some fresh nannygai fillets in fish burritos, attention turns to the offcuts. Time for fish head pie.

Nannygai, kingfish and flathead heads

Nannygai, kingfish and flathead heads

Anything filleted (kingfish and nannygai) or beheaded before freezing (flathead) gets frames and heads thrown in the slow cooker with just enough water to cover. The tails are omitted as it turns out the dog has a penchant for crunching them down; although she’d have not got it off the pigfish (Bodianus unimaculatus) that the skipper took home, because the seal had already helped itself to it.

Once cooked, the fish heads are taken out and all the flesh is picked off and set aside; then the remains go back in the cooker along with a big bunch of herbs (thyme, sage, kaffir lime, lemon myrtle, lemon grass, Vietnamese mint, parsley and Thai basil). Once fragrant it all gets strained to become a very herby fish stock.

A lot of herbs smells at first like it might be overdoing it, but by the time it gets into the stodginess of a mornay sauce it mellows a lot

A lot of herbs smells at first like it might be overdoing it, but by the time it gets into the stodginess of a mornay sauce it mellows a lot

The concentrated stock then becomes the base of a fish and herb mornay (white sauce with cheese), has the picked flesh stirred in and allowed to cool. After an optional additional stirring through of a raw egg or two, it is topped with puff pastry and baked as fish head pot pie. Summer is here and it is a wonderful thing to live near the sea and a herb garden.

Cheese and flour turns the reduced herby fish stock into a kind of mornay sauce through which the recovered fish meat is stirred

Cheese and flour turns the reduced herby fish stock into a kind of mornay sauce through which the recovered fish meat is stirred

Topped with pastry and baked, you have a beautiful fish head pie

Topped with pastry and baked, you have a beautiful fish head pie

The foraged Christmas tree

The foraged Christmas tree (Pinus radiata)

In Australia, or at least in that part of it where most of us live, radiata pines (Pinus radiata) are what we think of as Christmas trees. Anything from a grocer’s, a petrol station or random roadside stalls have them racked up for sale from early December – this one species and this one species only. The important thing, from the market’s point of view, is that it is a pine. Just like in the pictures. Some people even spray fake snow on it. It is a part of our culture and we have one too.

There is a debate out there surrounding whether, on environmental grounds, one should have a plastic Christmas tree (imitating a fir) used many times as opposed to a real tree (a pine) cut down for every year. Each side comes with arguments for and against and many permutations, like how big a real one is or how many times a plastic one might be re-used. Our Christmas tree right now, like the other few times we have had one (basically since there was a child in the house) solves the fact that the aforementioned argument is one of lesser evils so marginally separated as to be a bit of a waste of time. Ours is a foraged wilding pine (and it is small enough to easily compost in the chook run). To be honest, the decision is not actually driven by the potential access to environmental moral high ground. I just get a personal kick out of foraging stuff, Christmas tree (and decorations) included.

The edge of the pine plantation - where the wildings are

The edge of the pine plantation – where the wildings are

Out on the edge of pine forests, which around here is where introduced radiata pines are plantation grown, there are inevitably some adventurous wildings that strike out on their own. Wildings – offspring of domesticates that have gone feral – plucky as they are, can be the progenitors of weeds. Whether they get mowed down in ongoing forest management or hung with baubles in my living room makes very little difference to their fate. I typically go for a small one, nothing that needs anything more than some garden secateurs to cut down.

Shells, bones and fossils, each with a story in preference to the typical glistening cheap baubles

Shells, bones and fossils, each with a story in preference to the typical glistening cheap baubles

The foraging thing doesn’t end there. Foraged Christmas tree decorations are, in our house, undoubtedly more important than the tree itself. Years ago on a trip that landed me on a remote Nullarbor beach with cast up sea urchin shells that looked more than anything else like Christmas tree baubles, I began a collection. Other shells, bones, fossils and artefacts have been added along the way. Put them on a string and they are Christmas tree decorations. Then, when we were settled and ‘grown up’ the box arrived from the Squeeze’s mum – a few old personally home-made and dearly gifted decorations that are as much biographical as ornamental.

It’s a kind of shoddy looking thing, our Christmas tree. Wedged in a garden pot in the neck of a lobster trap to keep it upright, Where a 35 year old crayon drawing on a circle of half-rotten paper sits alongside a 180 million year old belemnite fossil, a disk of whale bone, a sea urchin shell and trinket gifts from people’s travels around the world.

Merry Christmas.

A South Australian sea urchin test, faded now from what was once a rich red

A South Australian sea urchin test, faded now from what was once a rich red

Foraged seashells hang alongside a belemnite fossil and a carved gourd from the Peruvian relatives

Foraged seashells hang alongside a belemnite fossil and a carved gourd from the Peruvian relatives

A vertebral epiphysis of a small whale found cast up on a New Zealand beach

A vertebral epiphysis of a small whale found cast up on a New Zealand beach

Bugle the Brittany, a shotgun and some fresh Southern Highlands bunnies (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Bugle the Brittany, a shotgun and some fresh Southern Highlands bunnies (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

I love my hunting dog and I love hunting rabbits with a shotgun. On the one hand, it sounds like a heart-felt line from a country song almost too red of neck for Texas; but on the other hand, hunting small game with a shotgun and a gundog is a pursuit that the moneyed types romanticise as well. I can see why; whether the neck is red or bordered by tweed, there is a sophistication and workmanship that needs to be put into it before it can really pay off, especially (a lot of training) for the dog.

It is very early days for Bugle and me. This is not a post about the hunters that we are, but the hunters we want to be.

The gun itself (a cheap second-hand 12 gauge Akkar Churchill) is fairly new to me and I haven’t often hunted with any shotgun before, so I don’t yet do as well with it as I might with a well-sighted .22. But there is a delightful adaptable opportunism to it. The bunny can be still or on the run and it is easier to line up at night in a spotlight beam than it is with a rifle scope. Getting a little more complicated, using variations in shell (the size and number of the pellets) and choke (little collars at the front of the barrel that affect the spread of the pellets) in the two barrels, you can gear yourself up for a couple of different distance options and choose the appropriate barrel as required (if the gun has selectable barrels). You can also carry shells with different shot sizes and take on anything from a little rabbit to a goat (or bigger if you hunt it), depending on what you come across. Funnily enough, with all that provision for different hunting options, it all also provides very well for the option of barely hunting at all. If there is no particular drive to harvest as much as possible, you can head off for a walk with a shotgun (and a trained pointing dog), think more about the stroll than the hunt and still know that, should one of those rare opportune moments arise, you can take it. It is sod’s law of hunting – when you are driven by the hunt there may be nothing to be found, but then the game has a way of showing up on a sightseeing outing in the same place (we did better scouting rabbit warrens during the day on this trip than we did when we returned with the spotlight at night as an example).

Taking a shotgun stroll

Taking a shotgun stroll.

Ahead and to the left of the dog there is a rabbit that it looks like she is onto. Maybe she is, but doesn't yet know that it is something more important to us than seeing a dove in the garden. But she's learning (with the help of a long training line that can be trodden on if she decides to chase instead of point).

Ahead and to the left of the dog there is a rabbit that it looks like she is onto. Maybe she is, but doesn’t yet know that it is something more important to us than seeing a dove in the garden. But she’s learning (with the help of a long training line that can be trodden on if she decides to chase instead of point).

That’s not a dog in mid-stride, it’s a naïve young Brittany working on the miraculous breed instinct of pointing

That’s not a dog in mid-stride, it’s a naïve young Brittany working on the miraculous breed instinct of pointing

The dog, a six-month old Brittany named Bugle, was more of a hindrance than a help on her first trip. But that was to be expected while she got the opportunity to work out what the whole thing is all about. You can see that she has instincts welling up inside her, scouting out, alert to sight and scent, striking a pointing pose for reasons unknown (to me at least, because it was almost certainly a response to scent rather than sight), but she still has little way of knowing what she should be finding and what she should be pointing for. Shown her first shot rabbit, she is clearly excited, but she is initially keen to do little more than sniff and nudge it with her nose (the scent thing again). Then a little lick. Then finally she picks it up. But then drops it uncertainly and leaves it for a sniff around. Time for an intervention (not against scenting, but to reinforce the fact that the rabbit is what we are interested in and that at this stage we want it retrieved). For the last three months I’ve been teaching her to wait until commanded to fetch a tennis ball. So I reach for the tennis ball, play a couple of fetch games and replace it with the smallest rabbit of the haul. She retrieves the rabbit – and oh the pride! Handfuls of treats and deluges of praise follow as she repeats the task again and again. Then it gets hidden a few times and the game becomes search and fetch and a hunting dog gets closer to being born.

Learning to retrieve game. It is a testament to the softness of a born retriever’s mouth that the rabbit was barely roughed up after a few dozen goes – this one was then mostly cut up for her to eat, a reminder that good things come to dogs who work.

Learning to retrieve game. It is a testament to the softness of a born retriever’s mouth that the rabbit was barely roughed up after a few dozen goes – this one was then mostly cut up for her to eat, a reminder that good things come to dogs who work.

After this first outing, Bugle still didn’t get to search out and find a shot rabbit in the field and I missed a good few shot opportunities and the shots themselves with the shotgun, but we are on the way. You never know, we may even get to the job her breed excels at – pointing, holding still while the game is shot and then doing the retrieving just as an added bonus.

Kumara (Ipomoea batatas), also known as sweet potato

Kumara (Ipomoea batatas), also known as sweet potato

If you really want to grow kumara (sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas) productively, you need to give it some decent sun and plant in an orderly fashion in rich rows or round mounds. It will grow well enough in poor soil in the shade and form a decent ground cover (in summer), but it won’t put anything like the same amount of saved energy into nice edible tubers. It all makes sense when you think about it; and it’s almost as if the plant were doing some thinking about it too. In the shade, the plant ‘thinks to itself’ that it is best off if it musters whatever energy it can and invest it in long searching vegetative vines and send them off to find a sunnier place; tangled up in itself and others, up trees, up the fence, over the fence, wherever. Kind of like most of my twenties – off on an adventure seeking some good times over the horizon and setting next to nothing aside for later. If placed in full sun on the other hand, it ‘realises’ that it is on a pretty good wicket right where it is and sets about putting away some savings in the form of solid starchy investment.

As a grower, I should theoretically be like a conservative bore with no time for the frippery of the shady gallavanters and turn my back on them in favour of hard-working kumara families in the sun. I’m not sure why, but I somehow feel that the analogy is drifting a little political, by the way. I should then harvest (tax) those in the shade as much as they will bear, believing that if they fail as a result then they just weren’t cut out for it; but ensure that my harvest of those in the sun might seem deceptively as if it was their welfare more than my own that was my aim.

Well, I don’t vote that way, and I’m not gardening that way as it turns out, at least not with kumara. I foster it less as a crop than as a groundcover ornamental in the long shady garden down the side of the house where some subtropical fruit trees and passion vines are also plying a not (yet) particularly fruitful trade. It is not just shady along there, but poor, because I broke a cardinal rule by planting before I properly improved the soil (sand actually, I am on an actual sand dune) and there is also a steady sneaky pilfering of nutrients by the neighbour’s established trees. But still, the kumara hangs out, a little scrappy and certainly straggly, especially in winter, amid a ragtag bunch of Vietnamese mint, lemon balm, parsley (which grows quite delicately, looking like chervil, in the shade), sorrel and some creeping thyme. In winter, some baby bok choy seeds cast around do a small and slow job of filling in some gaps in place of the withering kumara as a surprisingly nice ornamental, right through to some lovely spring flowers if left uneaten.

Although very scrappy now in very early spring, by mid-summer kumara can form a great rambling groundcover

Although very scrappy now in very early spring, by mid-summer kumara can form a great rambling groundcover

And I don’t really harvest the kumara properly speaking. I just bandicoot a little. The verb ‘to bandicoot’ is pretty much self-explanatory, assuming that you know what bandicoots do (long-nosed ones, Perameles nasuta, around here). They sniff about, scratch a bit of a divot and stick their snout in, making a distinctive conical hole with it, and pull out a little food from here and there. Admittedly, for real bandicoots, it is mostly invertebrates, but it also includes the occasional tuber. In addition to kumara, bandicooting is particularly well suited to getting in early at some new potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), and it also works with a lot of other tubers as well (Queensland arrowroot, Canna edulis, being the main one of mine)

Unlike bandicoots, I then also re-enact the birth of farming with my kumara. With a tuber pulled out, foraged more than farmed, I dig down a little further into the sand (which goes off to the ‘soil factory’ that is the chook run, to be enriched with chook-turned compost and poo), replace it with compost and some kumara stem dipped in rooting powder, and the whole process can just keep rolling on; pretty unproductively because of the location, but with a lovely sustainable aesthetic to it. With a bit of welfare that includes short-term feeds (a disproportionate share of worm farm juice so that those in the sandiest spots almost grow hydroponically) and long-term investment (the sand-compost replacements), conditions have improved markedly over the first year out there in the Bohemian bandicooting quarter of the garden. This summer, I am expecting quite a show.

Freshly bandicooted kumara

Freshly bandicooted kumara

Kumara stems, with a couple of de-leafed nodes in the water and no more than a few leaves up top, in a jar with water and a little rooting powder, quickly make new roots. These are then planted with some compost where you’ve done some bandicooting and the cycle rolls on. I started with 6 of these a year ago and have multiplied my stock tenfold. A few bandicooted kilos of kumara have simply been a little bonus along the way.

Kumara stems, with a couple of de-leafed nodes in the water and no more than a few leaves up top, in a jar with water and a little rooting powder, quickly make new roots. These are then planted with some compost where you’ve done some bandicooting and the cycle rolls on. I started with 6 of these a year ago and have multiplied my stock tenfold. A few bandicooted kilos of kumara have simply been a little bonus along the way.