Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

March 2018

This year I am doing well with eggs.  I'm getting a dozen quail eggs every second day (and almost 20 of them aren't old enough to lay yet!)  I'm also freezing processed male quails now and currently have 5 vacuumed sealed ready to cook.  I might even have a crack at smoking one.  The chickens are still producing 2 or 3 eggs a day.  If I could keep a rooster, my poultry could go "off grid."

My fruit have also finally (for the most part) started to be old enough to produce well.  The "ball tree" (named by my toddler granddaughter) has produced around 25 lemonade fruit now.  We are also getting ruby grapefruit, passion fruit, mandarins, the odd lemon and have bananas on the lady finger.  

I have cabbages and lettuce growing under a rat proof cover.  Otherwise,  when the big aquaponics bed had to be removed, my supply of greens dried up.  I'm working on fixing that - around my oh-so-many career obligations. 

After all these years, I still haven't replaced my fingerlings.  I do however have some really big fish out in the backyard.  One will feed four adults at Easter!  Tiny city life is pretty good!

March 2017

None of you will be shocked by the fact that I like to make my own deli items. From cheese, sauces, pestos and sausages; it's all part of the deli fun. Well, I have decided to add a new item to the McDowall Manor deli. Home dry cured and smoked, nitrite-free bacon. I'll also try to whip out a smoked pork belly dinner, just to see what it's like.  (Didn't get around to that! but I did re-smoke a double smoked ham at Christmas that was just delightful.)

In other news, the farm flock has returned to 4 girls, 3 of whom are laying. No chickens were harmed in the process of turning the flock over. (It was Coral and Pearl who had to leave - ya can't kill a critter with a name!  They went to Mark's place.)

In perhaps less cheery news, Good Friday is coming. I'll serve two of the bigger fish for dinner but I want to smoke a third one to see if I can mimic the taste of smoked salmon. That would increase my deli-ability even more! (Ya reckon I just invented a new term? - deli-ability?)

March 2016

Thought I'd do a non-video update for a change (based on March 2015 which is below).  

I still have a lot of spinach type greens.  I've been drying them, making pesto and all sorts of things.  However, and this is a big HOWEVER, none are as crispy as lettuce.  I really want to find a summer green that is crispy like lettuce but won't just bolt in the heat.  I'm happy to use all my other greens for lots of cooking, but in a salad, you really need crispy.  Anyone got any ideas? 

There is probably double the citrus production as last year which sounds good, but is really only 5 or so fruit per tree.   

I'm still eating lots of eggs and loving it.  The Quails add some painful but fun touches to things.  Quail eggs taste great but have a very thick skin under the shell making peeling and cracking a bugger.  I know that my eggs will slow down to a trickle pretty soon.  I'm okay with that because we've had quite a bounty. Talking of Quail, I have 5 babies and 20 more eggs in the incubator.  If I am lucky, I'll get another lot of eggs in before it starts to get cold.  I think I've also located a male to breed with Big Bertha (the Plymouth Rock).  Unfortunately, she's decided to moult and has stopped laying.  I'm wondering if I'll get a breeding in before winter with her now. 

I'l be eating Perch for Easter, and over winter (in replacement of the eggs).  I'm running out of time to pick up some fingerlings to start to grow as replacements for the ones I eat.  They are really good eating and great when I don't have as many eggs so I need to get an order in.

My final thoughts for this blog:  I am getting some degree of self-sufficiency.  I manage eggs, spinach greens, turmeric, chilli, passion fruit and fruit based beer/wine.  My composting has increased lots and I have begun to actively manage my raised bed with organic soil additives like blood and bone, trace elements, seaweed etc.    

March 2015

I've been busy doing some careers work, so there's been a delay in blogging.  Sorry about that. 

Things at the Manor haven't gone so badly.  We don't buy greens like lettuce or spinach any more.  I also  realised that I might have over focussed on greens.  Man, I got greens!

We also don't buy eggs, but I do keep a close eye on the supply, in case I need to cut back on usage.  

On the bright side, the fish are also growing like crazy. I still intend to leave them until they are huge, until they are eaten. 

I have suferred greatly trying to be patient, watching the fruit trees grow.  They are mostly still around 12 months old, so they aren't going to produce at this stage.  I just need to learn patience until they get bigger.  Aaargh. They are averaging between 1 - 3 fruit each, at this stage. The temptation is sending me crazy. 

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Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 18, 2016 at 20:46

I am also growing Mignonette, and another one the type with frilly leaves that you can pick the leaves as you want them. My Cos bolted but I think it was due to the exceptional heat we had a couple of weeks ago. I still eat the leaves though.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 18, 2016 at 20:10

I've had both COS and Mignonette bolt on me.  And then, there's the rats.... 

Comment by Rob Collings on March 18, 2016 at 19:00

I agree with the choice of mignonette Susan. In the past, I have found so much lettuce goes to waste (worms or chooks aren't really waste), if I pick the whole plant. I have also had cos lettuce reward me with much longer life, by picking leaf by leaf off a few plants. Lettuce in an AP growbed recover quickly when stripped of leaves.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 18, 2016 at 17:49

Thanks folks. I'll give a few a go (he says, we move towards autumn... I hope). 

Comment by Susan on March 18, 2016 at 17:11

Hi guys, I grow mignonette lettuces.  If you pick them (and I pick them leaf by leaf) and wash them in the lettuce spinner in fridge, I find they are quite crispy.  My kids don't know the difference.  They do go to seed quicker in summer but I can pick for 3 weeks off one set of lettuce so I don't find that too bad and even if they do start shooting up, doing the above sweetens them back up and you can get another week or two out of them.  Never had a problem with this type of lettuce.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 18, 2016 at 17:01

What about Brazilian Spinach, I grow that year round and it is nice and crispy. Also Endive  is another one always crispy and if you don't like your greens a little bitter, make one of your homemade dressings to put on it. Bitter Greens are very good for you. I sometimes buy the Little Gem Lettuce and Elaine is right they stay crisp for ages. Also other Selections could be Upton Cress, Lambs Lettuce, Lettuce Romaine, Mizuna, Some Chards and Rocket.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 18, 2016 at 17:01

Radish! Yes, although they thrive in the cooler months :-( There's nothing quite like thinly-sliced Radish with some salt. Yummm.

Comment by Phil on March 18, 2016 at 16:26

How about radish in your salads for the crispness/crunch element Andy? So easy to grow. I know a lot of people like the traditional European style lettuces but these tropical/summer greens have so much more nutrition then produce like the iceberg lettuce. I hesitate to say due to the love people have of potatoes, but the nutrient difference is similar to sweet potatoes/yams vs standard potatoes.....

Comment by Jacqui on March 18, 2016 at 15:59

I know how you feel Andy, my family will eat all the different type of greens I’m able to grow as a novelty but then they want to know where the real lettuce is, so I revert to buying it.

I love the way you are raising your own Perch, you are certainly further along the self-sustainable trail than I am. A nice piece of fish, vegies, a few herbs and a glass of wine sounds heavenly to me.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 18, 2016 at 13:59

Not quite the replacement you might have had in mind, Andy … we buy Little Gem lettuces from Woolies (gasp!). Yup horror and not organic either. Fair chance they are hydroponic or at least greenhouse although I don't know for sure. They are not cheap either, around $1.50 each. Available all year round which makes me think they are hydroponic. Crisp as and keep very well.

You can buy Little Gem seeds, btw.

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