Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Just wanted to share this update of the strawberries I photographed a few days ago. They are ripening quite quickly. Funny thing is that this batch only receives about 1-2 hrs of sunlight (planting mistake) and the fruits I've eaten so far are no less 'sweet' than the ones growing in full sun.

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Comment by Lissa on July 7, 2012 at 7:28

When you find a course that fits this bill Joseph let me know - I hunted and hunted last year myself.

What about that place on the Sunshine Coast? Permaculture Research Institute

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 5, 2012 at 16:34

In the dim distant past I was lucky enough to study Botany for two years. What I found was that the basic knowledge of how plants function and how to identify them was the most useful area of study. Few Botanists of my acquaintance were gardeners yet we did do growth studies and the semester of Agricultural Botany was very handy.

Comment by Joseph on July 5, 2012 at 15:17

I should say "looking for" rather than "looking at" because there weren't any such courses.

Comment by Joseph on July 5, 2012 at 15:16

That's interesting Scarlett because a few months ago I was looking at TAFE courses that taught skills in small scale production of food and fruit trees. As you pointed out, the curriculum for horticulture doesn't cover edibles, rather it prepares the student for work in the nursery industry. And agriculture is about enterprise commercial operations. There doesn't appear to be a happy medium. I would love to get into this area but don't know where to start.

Comment by Joseph on July 5, 2012 at 15:11

Continuity for me is most difficult during the change of season. That's when we often experience a famine in the backyard.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 4, 2012 at 22:54

And although this very interesting discussion is under a photo and will get lost eventually ... one of the biggest challenges for the home gardener is keeping a continuity of crop going. Speaking personally, anyway.

Comment by Scarlett on July 4, 2012 at 20:59

Well guess what? I found this quite extraordinary.

I did a three and a half year FTE equivalent degree in horticulture, and we didn't do ANYTHING on edible plants. They're excised from the curriculum because it's considered the realm of agriculture (which is a separate degree) or agronomy. There was a viticulture elective, but that was a close as you could get.

So horticulturalists who know about food plants are largely self taught through reading, trial and error, and applying their own knowledge to what they're doing. Most of the literature and recommendations on growing edible plants come from agriculture and agronomy - so they are oriented to broadacre, tractor farming techniques.

Information on growing a healthy productive food GARDEN (horticulture style) is few and far between - the best exponents of using the biological plant-centred thinking you use in horticulture on food plants that I have found are Jackie French and Rosemary Morrow.
 

In some ways it's a fresh field (very punny). If you don't want to spray toxic chemicals everywhere and have all the other problems that modern farm techniques have, you need to apply horticultural techniques (rather than agricultural) and think about it in an entirely different way - much the way you think about creating a garden that can largely look after itself.

This may explain the vastly different information and approaches you find from different horticulturalists. I also like Peter Cundall, although he does you classic glut and famines style gardening.

For home gardens, a variety every day, no gluts, and long harvest seasons is what you want - not everything ripening in three days like farms want...

Comment by Joseph on July 4, 2012 at 17:38

It's probably just a job to them.

That's true, I forget strawberries are one of the most sprayed crops in the agriculture industry.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 4, 2012 at 17:10

Not all horticulturalists are enthusiastic food gardener. As I found not all Botanists are keen gardeners, either. Yours may not taste better (although they should!) than the commercial ones but they are spray-free.

Comment by Joseph on July 4, 2012 at 15:02

Here's a quote from a well known horticulture web site

"It takes a full six hours of sunlight per day to turn berries red."

The plants in the photo are lucky to get 1 hour of sunlight each day. Nevertheless the berries are turning bright red, should be ready for harvest tomorrow. I wouldn't call them sweet but they taste no worse or are even slightly better than some of the commercial punnets from the Duopoly.

Contrast this haphazard approach of mine to this strictly controlled grow environment in Japan. I wonder what sort of steroids the plants are fed.

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