Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Growing salt in your garden?!

Do you have a local variety of saltbush? Have you tried it? 

There are several types, but the main one growing wild around the Gippsland Lakes where I am now is Seaberry Saltbush. The leaves are so salty you can use it to replace salt in your meals.  

I've become quite partial to chewing a salty leaf or two of the wild bushes I find around this Island, and collecting a few to toss in with the dinner soup.

I've also taken to nibbling on the juicy saltbush berries growing wild around here. They are tiny, bright red, and simultaneously salty and sweet. The berries are abundant and when I find a good-tasting bush, I collect a handful to add to salads and sauces. 

Seaberry Saltbush (Chenopodium candolleanum syn Rhagodia candolleana) is of the Chenopodiaceae family - same as beetroot and spinach.

It is a scrambling dense shrub with glossy leaves that are semi-succulent and it has bundles of bright red berries at the tips of the stems around this time of year. 

It is a common Australian native plant that is found growing wild in many coastal environments in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

  • It grows in really tough conditions.
  • It is adapted to harsh saline conditions and can withstand lots of salt spray.  
  • It thrives in coastal sandy soils, on dunes.
  • It is a very useful plant for revegetation of degraded sites and can act as a small windbreak. 
  • It is fire resistant because of the juiciness and salt content of the leaves. 
  • It is also drought tolerant
  • It is moderately frost tolerant
  • It can tolerate full sun and full shade.

Birds love the berries too and particularly and it’s a refuge for them, lizards and little mammals.  They like to hide in the dense scrambling mass of shrubby stems.

Both the leaves and the fruit were eaten by Aboriginal people. 

Children like to use the red berries for painting and face paint!

Seaberry Saltbush is really useful in a polycultural edible garden. They attract beneficial insects (lacewings, ladybugs) and they are deep-rooted and hardy. They grow quickly, protect the soil and shade weeds. It has actually been used as a beneficial intercrop between lettuce beds.

It’s easy to propagate by cutting or seed. 

It’s quite an attractive plant that can be used in a garden setting too, but it would need a bit of pruning to keep it from scrambling too far.

A great plant for a coastal food forest, verge garden, perennial edible garden and bushfood garden. Would also be a hardy potted plant.


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