Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Heres' a little number not registering on this site: Huauzontle

Huauzontle is a sister plant to Quinoa.Quinoa is mostly grown for the  grain with Huauzontle the flower heads are eaten in the same way one would eat Broccoli.The leaves are also eaten like Spinach In Mexico the flower heads are often battered and eaten with a stick of cheese cooked into the batter The leaves can also be used as a spinach

I came upon it because it is listed on the Gardening Australia subtropical planting calendar: go to subtropical.

I came upon it in part becuase it's traditionally intercropped with corn.

Jerry grows huauzontle with his corn. "Both these plants are native to the Americas, and they’re companion plants. The huauzontle is living mulch. It suppresses weeds and in turn, the corn shades the huauzontle, producing a wonderful, soft succulent spinach alternative."

Huauzontle (Chenopodium berlandieri) is a member of the saltbush family. Other saltbush relatives that have been grown as reliable spinach alternatives include Fat Hen and Mountain Spinach, which are northern Europe's equivalent of the American huauzontle. They're ancient, nutritious, productive plants.

• Sowing: If you live in a temperate zone sow after the last frost. In the sub-tropics however, it will grow all year. Huauzontle seed is very fine. Take a pinch and broadcast it all around the prepared area and water it in. Jerry says, "It doesn’t need any compost or food and within a few weeks you’re going to have lovely, delicious spinach greens."

• Harvesting: Jerry's plants are only seven weeks old and are ready for harvest.

• Culinary: Everything apart from the roots and the stems is edible. The roots and stems are too fibrous. Steam the leaves for a minute to remove oxalates and saponins. Jerry says, "It makes a fantastic spinach curry. Seed heads can be dipped in batter and fried. That's a Mexican delicacy and the seeds can be saved and made into flour. In fact, it makes one of the original gluten free breads."

• Where to buy: As with the mangle-wurzel, look for seeds at heritage seed suppliers.

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Sounds very interesting. I like that it is grown with the corn. At the moment I grow the corn in the middle of the bed and beans, cucumber on the outside.

Are you going to give it a go yourself Dave? Might be a bit late to start planting this season.

Yes I've ordered some seeds -- and will give the plant a go. 

My other 'greens' project this year -- Samphire-- is still pending . But the cuttings I took  have not thrived.Too far north? Wrong time of year?

There's a lot of exotic unknowns out there -- and indigenous ones, like Yam Daisy-- that may or may not thrive in SEQ. (But Yam Daisy is listed among the native flowers of the Brisbane ranges)

What interest me is the 3 Sisters options -- in way of habit. Three tiers. In effect you want plants that are height suitable., even if you have to supplement with structures like a pole. In history tomatoes first grew as weeds among the corn, for instance, and un-staked grape tomatoes would be a suitable stand in  for cucurbits. And how much leeway is there to replace generic 'beans' with chocko and tropical climbers?

(Jerry Coleby Williams for instance only grows the small sized toms in his garden -- and they do well in mine when the biguns don't.)

Another plant I'm trying to grow from seed for bottom story is Mouse Melon....

The challenge is understand the method. The American Indian populations have so much to teach us about farming in a hotter drier climate.It's not only techniques but plants and plant associations.And newly published texts on Aboriginal farming -- such as Dark Emu:Black seeds, agriculture or accident?  -- suggests that there is more to bush tacker cultivation than we have assumed.

Folk here in my neighborhood are keen for me to get a community garden going  but I'm not so sure it is feasible because of the growing conditions. But a garden that targets to grow certain coastal and sand friendly plants, on the other hand, may be viable.A niche, you see, as well as a demonstration. I've learnt so much from Warrigal Greenery....

Every Mouse Melon plant I've had come up has gone for various reasons - heat, eaten by pests.

Maybe they're just not hardy. Maybe I've just not had much luck with them. Darren seems to have them thrive so maybe it's just my garden/me.

The Yam Daisy sounds very interesting. Where will you source these from? The site you give a link for doesn't seem to sell seed or plant but seems to be more of a food site down south.

I see that one of the suppliers for Yam Daisy  is in Bli Bli so they maybe that can  be grown locally. The literature is very interesting but it's primarily a Koorie plant...

Murnong or the Yam Daisy is the standout in Victorian edible indigenous plants.  It was the starchy staple of the Victorian Koorie population and early settlers report to seeing fields full of the yellow flowered perennial herb with a mass of Koorie woman and children harvesting the plump roots with digging sticks....

Tube stock is being sold for $44!

But then it has it's own stamp:

Bill Gammage refers to it in the Dark Emu program...and makes the key point that Australian agriculture has been trying for 200 years to extend the range of wheat when there are some under utilised and unknown native starches and grains that will fare better in our conditions..

However I suspect that Murnong is location picky-- even in Victoria: 

The Herbalistic outlet is just up the coast at Bli Bli. They sell quite a few native food plants that sound interesting including the NATIVE YAM and DESERT POTATO. Have to wonder if they stack up in comparison to the sweet potatoes that we grow, or whether they are barely palatable.

Would love to find out....but for $13 per plant plus delivery it's an expensive experiment.

There are a few other interesting plants amongst their stock including WILD PARSNIP.

From eBay I bought the seeds of a supposed 'Australian native Sweet Potato'. Only 1 seed came up and it was a tiny struggling weakling which finally succumbed. No surprise I have not pursued the idea. We'd need to know a lot more about the growing conditions before venturing into this field. Seems there's a few rip-off merchants about.

Mouse Melon is big with Brisbane Youtubers - both RobBob and Mark from Self Sufficient Me grow them very successfully.  

Can you let us know about the Aztec Spinach Dave?  I'll be keen to hear if it is a success for you. 

I planted some mouse melon seeds....but they haven't come up yet. Do they take a long time to sprout or is there some trick in the growing? I know they are a challenge to get established...

Will share any  HUAUZONTLE learning I pick up thru trying to grow the plant and any seeds I harvest....

It might be your seed source Dave.  Neither of the gentlemen I know had trouble starting them. 

Mouse Melon sounds fine. Bought some seeds from that guy up the coast you got some duckweed seeds from Andy. Most of his seeds didn't come up including the Mouse Melon.

Oh, I got the duckweed whole in plastic bags with water.  


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