Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Let me give you the background for this post before anything else....

I was musing to myself the other day about "Andy, do you walk the garden walk, or just talk the garden talk?"  What I was getting at was:  for all my yardly adventures, how much benefit am I really reaping?  Am I spending a fortune (admittedly, I came from a very low base before I joined the site) and getting bugga all in return?  Am I kidding myself about my urban farmer skills?

So, I thought I would pose an open question as a bit of a game for us all.  How much do you really eat what you grow? ... and guessing is not good enough.  I aim to answer my own tough question with facts.  Feel free to contribute your facts and answer the question for yourselves.

There is only one way to win this game:  you need to out-compete yourself.  I mean, if my 3 year old garden out-compete's John's 6 month old garden, it just means my garden is more established.  My real question to myself is: am I doing better now than I was doing 6 months or a year ago?  I might also try to use some real costs from Coles on line shopping. 

Go on... take the risk... be honest.  I shall lead by example (wish me luck!)

Night 1's dinner:  Thai Beef Salad.  Four or five different lettuce types and basil supplied by me from the aquaponics bed.  Here is the proof (you don't need to do this - I just want to get us started).  I should have stuck my hand in the shot - those are cos lettuce leaves on top - they are around 15 - 20 cm in size. This was a big salad.  The pic has no purchased add-ins at this stage. 

 I don't expect to have grown my own beef and stuff.  I am just trying to get "real."  I think it was a pretty fine effort from 1 month old lettuces and basil on harvest 4 in the same time.  

Saving: lettuce $2 + basil $2 = $4.

Night 2 dinner: Stir Fry with garlic chicken sausages.

Produce used: Pak Choi ($3) and Silverbeet ($4! - you kidding me? This stuff grows like crazy).  I know, I used shop bought sausages.  I'm stock piling my home made ones for the family Christmas BBQ).

Total Saving this week: $11 (hey, that's more than I expected).

Night 3: True confessions.

Photography course was tonight.  Produce used: none.

Total Saving this week: $11

Night 4: True confessions part 2.

Produce used: none. Steak and potato and carrot.  My carrots are in and I'm about to add some spuds, but don't have any at the moment. 

Total Saving this week: $11 (oh, the shame)

Night 5: True confessions part 3.

Produce used: none. Roast pork with pumpkin, potato and carrot.  

Total Saving this week: $11 (oh, the continued shame)

Night 6: Redemption. 

Used an aquaponic's lettuce (actually, it was half of two).   

Total Saving this week: Lettuce: $2 + $11 = $13

Night 7: Stir Fry 

Used a load of pak choi.   

Total Saving this week: Pak Choi: $3 + $13 = $16

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And let me make you feel even better Susan.  The wicking bed and the chook house are what I would call "capital expenditure" - it is an investment that doesn't really come off our "muck about" profit and loss statement.

You're going really well at about $90!  You have a right to be proud (and comparing to organic prices is a better idea than my comparing to the big name shops).  You've got a great range of stuff as well.  I reckon you could be in the lead in the "it's only a crazy game of muck about profit" stakes. Damn.. I might have to make some kinda trophie or something.  LOL. 

*Winner** Winner**   Yay!!!  :)  Thanks Andrew.  I've always been (just a touch) competitive, though I do think I had an unfair advantage by using the "organic" loophole.  :)

Oi... hold on there young lady!  The championship season has only just begun! and now we can all cost "organically."  LOL.  Organic passionfruits and paw paws have gotta cost a bomb - and My Rozie loves eating them! (Why am I holding her down face-first in a bowl of paw paw?? - no reason...)

I'm beginning to convert to "product usefulness" as a guage for sucess.  Bear in mind, we are all going to be VERY different this way - which should be fun!

For me:

  • Basil deserves a special mention - adds life to any salad and it's a pesto essential. You can't grow too much Basil.  Perhaps the most useful plant I grow.  Pesto pasta is a complete meal for me. 
  • Tomatoes have proven also to be one of the most useful products I grow (which is a surprise because I hate them raw!). They give me sweet chilli sauce and romesco sauce.  Very useful. Romesco pasta is a complete meal as well. 
  • Eggs: getting around 2 eggs a day.  Very useful.
  • Green veges: I never need to buy greens now, unless it's something really specific, thanks to perpetual spinach, lettuce, sweet potato leaves.  Very useful in salads, pesto and lots of cooking like Chow Mein. Can't have enough greens.   
  • Sweet Potato:  I'd grow sweet potato for no other reason than the leaves to be honest.  The kumara are a huge, free bonus. 
  • Paw Paws: Rozie loves the paw paws, and she gets enough to keep her happy.  I hate them so I'll count them as useful.  
  • Cumquats are useful too - mostly for cumquatcello.  It's too painful to make lots of marmelaide. 
  • Passionfruit are a great producer.  Rozie loves them.  Useful. 
  • Pumpkins - for me they are a scant producer with only 2 or 3 per vine.  They steal a lot of space.  Having said that, I love them so I'll include them in my useful list. 

Apart from greens, my most useful plants have been the Dragon Fruit. They are several $s in the shops and well past their best. When the PawPaws hit their straps, we'll be feasting on them, too. Sometimes we get ripe fruit in winter but not often. Garlic keeps for about 9 months so there's not much of a hiatus before the new crop comes in. Turmeric is proving to be a useful spice for much more than Indian-style dishes. Fried-baked Sweet Potato with Turmeric is decadently delicious as is Turmeric added to Apple sauce. Go easy tho, it's a strong flavour.

Leonie Norrington describes pawpaw as the perfect fruit tree, and I totally agree. It only takes six to nine months to start producing and then the fruit can be used ripe or green. It copes well with our climate, too. I'm determined to select those of my trees that ripen in winter so I can end up with a perfectly adapted tree. I have been eating home grown ripe pawpaw for the last six weeks, although I just chopped that tree down, so it might be a wait until the next round.

I can't believe no one has mentioned peas/beans/snake beans, which I think of as one plant over three different seasons (cool, shoulder?, hot). They are vastly superior to the shop bought option when home grown and can be the foundation of the meal or chucked in as a veg.

Cucumbers are pretty wonderful when they get going, too. They don't often make it into salads because I just eat them whole, or cut into sticks if I'm feeling posh. For that reason they are great bachelor food as my meals don't always quite hang together (I've invented a dish called "separate things" which is actually just things that don't really belong together put into a container for my work lunch - eg. tin of tuna, cucumber, carrot sticks, avocado half, boiled potato from last night).

Elaine, I hope to include dragon fruit one day, as I've just put mine in.

I haven't quite made up my mind on the best green veg. Somehow I'm not very good at growing them. I think I need to plant them closer together and pick them more aggressively to get the smaller, more tender leaves. At the moment the most useful one is just an open lettuce variety that I find very robust. It's also the most venerable of my seed saving lines - I'm into my third generation I think.

I've struggled this seaons even with my snow peas Rob. Normally they do fantastically.  I might have another go at my French Beans.  They did okay (not great, but okay).  Carrots and normal potatoes just don't play nicely at my place.  

Do you go with the climbing beans? I find they're more robust as well as more productive than the bush beans.

I grew one potato plant last year as an afterthought and it went really well. This year I've put in 4.

I love fresh garden peas, snowpeas.. all peas actually ~ I love their shoots too, not just the sprouts, the young shoots on the vines are nice in salads or stirfrys, or even boiled as spinach.  Like them a lot better than sweet potato leaves, although sweet potato leaves are good for the fact that there're plenty all year round.

Greens of all sorts would be the most useful - seasonal ones like Broccoli at the moment, with silverbeet coming on, but perennial ones like Swt Potato and Warrigal are a staple now.

I'm not good at growing toms but have some good ones growing at the moment. They have been a delicious bonus.

Pawpaw. Just love them used green in soups or roasted.

Tamarillo, Pepino and Carombola. Between them I generally have some fruit to eat straight out of the garden.

Bananas. Though time to wait between crops is a downer. Once I have a bunch they go through the dehydrator and last me for months.

Ginger. Just loving my home grown ginger which I've FINALLY been able to grow. Hope I don't eat all the good bits and leave nothing for propagation.

Rosemary. My all time favourite herb. Beautiful in everything especially fried with chicken dusted with salt and pepper.

This looked like the best place to avoid a seperate thread.  Tonight's dinner cost me $3 for the mushrooms.  Had easily enough for two.  All organic, nearly all totally free, food miles = 0 for all bar the shrooms. 

Asian Omlette stuffed with mushrooms.

I just had to share this one:  

Tonight's dinner was sweet corn with garlic cooked spinach and salt and pepper squid.  

Total cost: $3.50 for the squid tube (I didn't include the salt, pepper or garlic).  

How good is that???!!!!  

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VETIVER COMMUNITY PROJECT

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

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