Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I eat Nopales almost every other day in soup, and the pads will find their way into a lot of dishes.
Fried-up or grilled they go great as an addition to tacos. They also thrive in salsas.
'Nopales con huevos' is a classic Mexican dish made with the paddles and scrambled eggs.

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Comment by Travis Franklin on August 5, 2019 at 18:23

Wow - I'm very interested in this plant. Hardy, food but not readily recognizable as edible in Australia. I shall endeavor to acquire one for my yard then, the good Lord willing, grow a few around the suburb Guerilla style (I like the idea of growing fruit trees around the place, if they work out, help yourselves)

Comment by Dave Riley on August 5, 2019 at 12:12

Today's soup with nopales being featured among the foraged comestibles:

Comment by Dave Riley on August 4, 2019 at 23:22

The nutritional profile for these cactii are interesting and well worth reviewing -- but note the hype.

Needles to say, in Qld, they are a cinch to grow. Any piece you throw onto the ground is likely to root. When using PP Cactus for erosion control, you can simply lay out the pads along the contour and wait for the next rain.

But the introduced Cactoblastis Moth is brutal -- otherwise there'd be no Western Downs you could visit today without being ripped to shreds.

While spineless, Opuntia ficus-indica does offer occasional sharp hairs on its pads -- and you should never touch the flowers or fruits as they are hairy +++ and sharp. The fruits -- unlike its vicious Opuntia  cousins -- aren't worth harvesting anyway.

SPP makes a great hedging or fencing plant when planted in a row, and this species is easy to control by simply pulling or cutting off the paddles to  trim the plant. Although as the trunk gets larger you may need a chainsaw to fell it.

I can grow SPP inside my chook pen without the hens destroying it. Thus far anyway.

Cattle will eat the paddles, although compared to other forage plants like grasses and legumes, it is protein light.

Around the garden I use harvested stems of (seemingly sterile) Peruvian Apple as mulch but I haven't found such a ready use for SPP offcuts. During the height of the Prickly Pear invasion of Qld, cactus plants could sprout after passing through the digestive system of a cow.

I've had my SPP plants for a  few years now -- I do indeed have many growing -- and I've not seen a bird go anywhere near the flowers or fruits. I know that  Opuntia ficus-indica is kosher to grow but I'd hate for it to  fly away  from  my control in the anus of a bird.

SPP is structurally interesting as a specimen plant but the flowers (or scent) don't match those of other species of cactii. At a potential 3 metres + is can make a good shade option.

You should note that the term  Opuntia ficus-indica  may apply to different species -- some with spines. So don't going buying plants on spec.

This conundrum is partly explained by this:

Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria and as a minor environmental weed in some other parts of Australia. It is grown for its edible fruit and sporadically escapes from cultivation, especially in inland semi-arid regions. However, it is not seen as such as serious problem as many of the other prickly pears (Opuntia spp.).

The plants that have become naturalised in Australia are generally spineless, however a spiny form of the species has become naturalised in other parts of the world. This spiny form is probably more invasive as it is usually not eaten by livestock and other animals. In Australia, Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) is also controlled by insects that were introduced to control other prickly pears (Opuntia spp.), including prickly pear cochineal (Dactylopius opuntiae) and cactoblastis moth (Cactoblastis cactorum). SOURCE

For more info on Prickly Pear Cacti i -- spined and not -- read Multiple Uses of Cactus Pear.

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GrowVetiver

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.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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