Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

2016 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

Verge gardens have been given the ok finally by the Brisbane City Council - a great deal of the credit must go to Jerry Coleby-Williams for years of effort to achieve this.

Problem is I live in the Moreton Shire, where verge gardens are still frowned on. Never mind. I still have a verge garden and it gives me and passersby pleasure. It's coming along nicely with flowering plants and herbs and starting to look quite pretty. Faces west so tends to flag a bit in the summer heat.

Readers of my other blogs may remember my attempt at Heliculture or Snail Farming. Which actually turned out very successfully....but I just couldn't bring myself to throw my dear little snails into boiling water. So around Autumn I let them all go free.

Apart from one lone snail I've not seen sign that any survived through winter though they do hibernate in the cool weather. They are really quite delicate and don't fare well in Brisbane's heat without lots of TLC in the form of food, shade, protection from drowning in heavy rain (oddly enough) and bowls of fresh water for soaking in and drinking.

I was quite thrilled, while taking photos of flowers out the front this Spring, to discover these two had found each other and were making snail love :) Hermaphrodites they aren't of one particular sex.

My new Black Mulberry is producing a handful of fat sweet fruit every couple of days after only a year in the ground. I just love mulberries. Must be one of the most "giving" of fruit trees.

And thanks to Susanne I have Silk Worms as a project for my grandson, though he is yet to see them.

03.10.16 Clayton came around with his Mum and found the caterpillars quite fascinating.

The Dwarf Pink Shatoot mulberries are also promising a bumper crop. Very sweet and delicious.

I had a bit more success this year growing potatoes in the totally decomposed compost pile using store bought chitted spuds (white and purple - exact types unknown).

Now that the plants have flowered and died off I have gone hunting and I'm a little disappointed. All good quality spuds but smaller than I hoped. This is a portion of the total crop. Some still in the ground, some already harvested and eaten. That's a Canistel seed in the basket with them, not a cockroach as a workmate suggested!

Spring is the time for seed saving from winter cropping plants like this purple bean. Keeping seed in the fridge is best. I don't have the room for this and keep my collection of seed as cool as I can in a big box in the laundry.

Canadian Wild Lettuce or A Choy seems to be coming into it's own a bit later than the regular lettuce. This plant was acquired as a lettuce substitute for summertime. Leaves are a bit more toothsome than regular lettuce.

Lots of plants are blooming including the Cranberry Hibiscus. Friend James has turned the hips into a delicious version of Rosella jam.

I know it's not classically pretty but I really enjoy the spikes of flowers on the Plantain - a useful edible weed that comes up around the garden by itself these days. Source of psyllium but a bit difficult to harvest any useful amount...like Amaranth, I eat the leaves.

I've struggled in the past to keep Watercress alive in a pond but look how well a few small cuttings have done in this simple little wicking pot made from a rubbish bin. Whether they survive through summer heat is another matter.

03.10.16 Cut the plant right back. It looked all screwed up and sickly - happened very quickly.

Some of the Portuguese Walking Stick Collards Couve galega are now over two years old. They came into their own again during the cooler months, providing me with beautiful fresh greens, but are now beginning to be afflicted by aphid and caterpillar once again. 

03.10.16 My son gave me a hand to pull out some of the plants as I want to make the garden look nice for potential buyers. The Daleys plant was also pulled out as it looked awful compared with my other Collards.

The Daleys version of the Walking Stick Collard is doing well also but so not worth the large amount of $ paid for it. Never mind, it was an interesting exercise to do a comparison.

03.10.16 Pulled out. Not looking attractive.

Having no luck growing large capsicum I've grown very fond of the mini capsicums I buy from the shops (fruit below are my own home grown). Seed is immediately planted out while fresh and more often than not comes up.

I seem to have Swede or Rutabaga growing - don't remember planting any seed but sometimes I just go out there and broadcast seed around that needs using up. Very fond of Swede roasted or in stews.

03.10.16 Eaten :)

Some of the long pawpaw on the self sown plant are finally ripening. They have taken much longer than the classic round yellow ones. I seem to remember the fruit being redder last time around. Friends assure me these are still "red" pawpaw. Very nice eating though not quite as sweet as the yellow in the front yard.

17.09.16

Lordy I feel productive today! And I haven't even broken a sweat.

My mower guy, Josh, has turned up to make the yard look neat and tidy without me getting stressed over the mower and while I was talking with him out the front, two truckloads of Samoan tree loppers were driving by, must have seen the look of yearning (for trees lopped) in my eyes. They stopped and we came to an agreement to cut back the ailing (dead branches) Tibouchinas on the front verge.

The big guy in charge, Silila, really wanted to get stuck into the now overgrown Lillypilly at the porch gate but I just couldn't afford to have both done. Pleased to have the T's cut back though. The boys just did a basic chain saw job without finesse but it's good enough.

Evidence that my old dog Hugo still has it in him. He disappeared for longer than usual on one of his night time toilet breaks last night and I found this next morning. Good dog.

The backyard is a mass of flowering plants, including these Mustard Greens, lettuce, broccoli, nasturtium. My SN Bees and honeybees are having a field day along with lots of other insects creating new seed for next year.

24.09.16

What a truly beautiful day it is. Sunny and warm without the heat of summer. I am dedicating this weekend to garden pottering and resting after a particularly grueling week at work.

The Jaboticaba is an absolute mass of flowers and for the first time I have seen my bees working away at pollinating. In the last month the plant has already produced two small crops of fruit as an enticement to this major effort. In a matter of weeks I will have a huge crop of fruit to eat and share.

You can just see one of the honeybees working away at a flower, centre - under the branch.

Rob had some fake butterflies in his garden for deterring pests (they think the plant is already "taken") and I liked them so much I went looking on eBay for some. The solar were quite expensive so I settled for these incredibly cheap jobs @ 10 for $1.67 delivered to Australia! They are well made with quality butterflies, little springs and a fine metal stick - great for sticking into the flesh of tall plants or the soil.

The Dwarf Wurtz is once again flowering up. I also hope it's this year I will actually get some fruit.

The Dwf Macadamia is also blooming again. It produced plenty of small nuts last year but they all fell off on the first hot day.

26.09.16

What a dreadful morning. I have made the heart breaking decision to euthanase my darling Hugo as his health had deteriorated so much despite medications. Will miss you so much Honey Bear.

I was thinking about how much we love our pets. They are really so much more than just pets they are loyal loving uncritical companions.

I have owned (sometimes jointly) around 12 cats and 6 dogs over the years and like kids, we're not supposed to have a favourite, but Hugo was definitely my favourite. He was funny, had a sense of humour, bossy, loving, didn't expect much more than his daily run up and down the front fence after any dogs silly enough to walk by with their owners, and of course food on time. He was a stickler for food on time.

I was never supposed to have Hugo. My youngest daughter was working at Puppy Kingdom 14yrs back. We already had two young dogs (Miniature Pinschers Gretel and Freya was on order from the breeder) and our council frown on more than two dogs in a household. I admired the pack of Schipperke pups when they came in (they look like black kittens) but knew they weren't for me. Then one of the tiny pups got very sick. Erin was concerned as it wasn't getting the care he needed to survive so she got permission to bring him home. I carried that pup around in my coat pocket (it was winter) to keep him warm and just plain fell in love. He was mine and I wouldn't part with him. The pet shop owner sold him to me at half price. What a bargain.

For the first time in my life I am petless. Well, apart from four old Cockatiels which I will have to find a home for and some silkworms in a box. It's a sorry state to be in. Being petless is also the cue to sell the house jointly owned with my daughter.

So this is the end...or it will be soon, if the house sells quickly. Fifteen years in one spot. Almost the longest I spent living in any one house (my husband used to like to move every two years, which isn't good for a gardener).

It's not to everyone's taste with the majority of the yard dedicated to growing food, but hopefully someone with a passion for gardening will come along and love it. With all the mature fruit trees that I waited years to start cropping. The raised beds full of beautiful soil that I created myself from scratch. The unusual plants it has taken me years to collect. Perhaps with the honey bees and maybe the native bees though I suspect I will have to sell them separately. Not everyone wants to keep bees. How the hell do we move a large top bar honey bee hive?? With great care I guess.

04.10.16 Today brought home Hugo's ashes. My dog in a box :(

I was going to sprinkle him around his "sisters" graves but I find I want him with me at my house in the future. He will stay in his box until then.

09.10.16

Lainie, Cameron and their daughter Halle have been kind enough to offer a good home to my four old Cockatiels - Odette who must be about 17/18, William about 13, Primrose about 15/16, and Baby Bob about 10.

No pets left apart from a box of silkworms. Very quiet here now.

The native bees have gone to Bob Luttrells, mainly due to the experimental honey supers he had on them and his interest in the DNA of my "not quite" Carbonarias (see hive split blog). I will buy a hive of this same strain of bee back when I have a garden to put them in. Basically my own bees back which is nice.

Many of my pots have gone to good homes - some with friends, and some with my lovely neighbours. Many of the remaining pots will go to the Keperra Community Garden.

A huge thank you to Phil for coming out yesterday and helping me do some of the hard physical jobs (and then he went looking for more!). I just needed that motivation. The yard is looking very tidy and ready for new plantings and new owners.

While shoveling the compost pile (that was on the right in the pic) into the beds as top dressing for planting, I found a whole basket full of potatoes in there. Very nice too. Had some roasted with dinner last night.

As for being petless, nature doesn't want that to happen to me and a little tortoise shell cat has moved in under my house. She is a funny little thing - comes close to rub herself against me but hisses while she's doing it. I will try to catch her and take her to the RSPCA. If not, the new owners will find they own a cat along with the house.

Well, the house sold within some five days of being on the market. I got the price I wanted so I am happy enough. 

The lady who bought it, Linda, is a keen gardener which makes it all feel a bit better. I hope she gets as much enjoyment out of the lovely little house and garden as I did. 

I'm off to look after a friends house and garden for some months while she is overseas. From there I can sort out what is next.

THE END........ for the time being anyway.

Oh - forgot to add - the b. Dwf Wurtz avo is finally fruiting. Waits until I'm leaving blasted thing lol.

Plants I want when the dust settles and I am in my own place again:

MORINGA

SABA NUT

LONGAN

BANANA - various

ROSEMARY - upright bush type

CUSTARD APPLE

TAHITIAN SPINACH

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Comment by Lissa on October 6, 2016 at 18:19

Roger - you build bloody good planters!

I have moved in the past (many, many times) and taken sometimes truckloads of plants with me. Won't be doing that again. I have given away cuttings and will buy quality advanced plants from Daleys when the time comes to start my new garden.

Thank you for your comments re Hugo. I loved that dog dearly and he was the last of three. One day I will have another.

Comment by Roger Clark on October 6, 2016 at 16:11

As a follow up I thought I would send some pics. As you can see alongside is a 65 litre bag of potting mix which is dwarfed by the said container. How long will it take to me to fill it?  The Wurtz Avo will go in there once it has stopped flowering. The second pic is of the Wurtz Avo which has been it's present pot for just over a year, is flowering well and ...... as you may be able to see has set at least one fruit so far. Hope yours does well also.

Comment by Roger Clark on October 6, 2016 at 15:51

Lissa,

So sorry to hear about Hugo. Like you we have had lots of pets over the years but are now without a pet also. Our last Labrador, Scrumpy, is now buried and a mulberry tree planted on top, in the garden. Not a bountiful harvest yet but her collar is still affixed to the trunk.

Hope that all goes well with the house sale. That is a big chunk of your life, tied up in the house and garden and all the effort and history that goes once you leave. We too are looking to the future, but it's difficult to make these big decisions. Good to see that someone has the wherewithal to be positive and get on with the rest of life. I am now planting nearly every tree I buy in a pot so that they can come with us. I made a large pot last week out of steel and timber and it may be a little too large to easily move. Trust me to go overboard!  

Comment by Lissa on October 2, 2016 at 14:43

Thank you Phil. Very kind words :)

Time to start over again. I've done it here so I can do it somewhere else! The main annoying thing is that I will have to wait for my fruit trees to come to maturity again when I plant up a new garden.

Comment by Phil on October 2, 2016 at 11:20

Your garden has been an inspiration to so many of us on BLF Lissa so it is sad that you will be moving on. You and your pets have had a good run and I'm sure you have lots of nice memories of the place. That said adventure awaits especially when you decide you have had enough of your job. Great that you love it - not many people can say that!

Comment by Lissa on September 29, 2016 at 17:25

Thank you Susan.

The journey up the coast may have to wait as I find I love my job too much to abandon it. The current plan is to house sit withing cooee of my job.

Comment by Susan on September 29, 2016 at 11:01

:( Sorry to hear about your Hugo.  Also sad to hear that you are going to be selling your house BUT happy that you are beginning to get ready to start that journey that you've been planning.  Good luck with everything.

Comment by Lissa on September 29, 2016 at 4:39

Thanks Rob. It's looking nice at the moment though almost ready for a bit of work replanting for the warmer months. 

Comment by Rob Collings on September 29, 2016 at 1:18

Sorry to hear of your loss Lissa. 

The garden is preforming above and beyond as usual, I hope whoever buys appreciates the botanical food garden that comes with it.

Comment by Lissa on September 28, 2016 at 19:44

Thanks folks. Never easy to say goodbye to the pets we love so much no matter how much it is expected.

Mary-Ann - there were quite a few people selling the butterflies on eBay but this is the crowd I bought from HERE.  Too early to tell if they really work as a deterrent or not.

Sophie - the guy I bought the hive off recommends plugging all the holes. A difficult thing to achieve. George had the good idea of wrapping it entirely in a sheet. Moving at night time when the bees have returned to the hive would also be needed. The buyer of the house may yet want to buy them from me but I will keep you in mind if I have to sell them on.

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