Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

April 2019

I have pumpkins coming in now (taking up a lot of room). I've planted spuds out too.  Lettuce seeds are growing but I'm not sure how valuable they'll be in winter - pesto sounds good.  Silverbeet are also doing well on the north. 

There's a fair bit of citrus to harvest but the south side of the yard continues to die back.  No sun.  I've slowed down feeding the fish.  There's very few eggs from the chooks but the quails are still doing well. 

Very Late March 2019

Well, it’s finally getting cooler, and oddly enough, wetter.  Along with the cooler temperatures, comes increasing darkness.

Annuals on the south side of the yard are starting to fail, even the cherry tomatoes.  The water spinach and shallots are still okay, but not for a lot longer.  They need to be eaten while it’s warm in the day.  Even the birds are going into hiatus. It’s not just about the cooler temperatures. It’s mostly about the decrease in sunlight hours as winter draws closer.

This is when the north side of the yard comes into its own, as tiny as it might be. The elephant garlic needs to go back in over there.  I should still get tomatoes from there and silver beet will provide me with greens and celery-like branches.  Chitting potatoes will be shoved into hanging buckets over there as well.  I want to get some cabbage in too and maybe broccoli.

Luckily, both sides of the yard are well stocked with citrus which will develop over the next month or three.  Nature provides, so I’ll have oranges, lemons, limes and mandarin to give us vitamin C.  The colder months are also time for hearty meat dishes.  I have an excess of male quails that are doing little more now than trying to injure each other.  It is a necessary evil to cull them over the next few months.  The bigger perch will also be eaten.  The fingerlings that I added in November have grown big enough to provide sufficient waste to keep the aquaponics bed cycling as well as it can in the darker months.  

Even tiny farm homesteading means you need to learn to store excess crops.  We did well with beans over summer.  Jeez I have ample dried beans! LOL.  I still have lots of chili powder and lentils (pigeon pea to be accurate). Ginger and turmeric are getting low.  For some reason, I also didn’t make mango chutney over summer.

I love the way the year turns and my diet changes.  I love when “snuggle weather” comes in.  Life is good.

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 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.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 18, 2016 at 1:24

When you find a summer replacement for Iceberg lettuce, let me know! Even that Asian lettuce has only a crisp rib with the leaf blade being soft.

In the winter I buy several punnets of Lettuces; even Iceberg yields small but crisp leaves, pulled one at a time. Eventually it wants to curl around so I pull the whole plant then. Winter I can get 3-4 months from one batch of lettuces but only the Iceberg is crisp, regardless.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 6, 2015 at 22:29

Elaine was right - the aquaponics is fantastic for greens, including perpetual corriander and chillies as it turns out... go figure?!  Although, I will say it yet again... sweet potato leaves are one of my stand out greens.  I put up a Slaw video tonight to prove it.  

Comment by Susan on March 6, 2015 at 21:46

Better than me with respect to greens.  Can't get lettuce or spinach to thrive for love nor money at the moment

Comment by Dianne Caswell on March 6, 2015 at 19:27

You have had a busy time at the Manor Andrew. isn't it great when you can eat your own produce. You know exactly what has gone into the growing of them., makes you feel all warm and fuzzy doesn't it. I have started growing my Tomatoes in pots and so far so good. I just have had so much trouble in the past with Tomatoes but this way I am able to control water etc. I have even managed to grow a good crop of Watercress and Water Celery, "Oh What a Feeling"!!!!!!!! Good luck with being Patient.....

Comment by Lissa on March 5, 2015 at 20:12

Ah Jan, I've done that when I've moved before - my husband used to want to move every two years - and it doesn't work very well. Every yard is different - soil, climate etc. I know what I want to grow now and will take some special plants with me like seed from my remarkable self sown pawpaw, and the A Choy and Maranta from Janet. Others can be bought and replanted.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 5, 2015 at 19:02

I feel for you Lissa.  That's very depressing.  I'd plant new ones the day I got there as well.  I am surprised at how long it takes fruit to ripen - the single mandarin has been there for months, and my bumper crop of 4 lemons (don't get excited - that's over two trees) as well.  

Comment by Lissa on March 5, 2015 at 6:00

I feel the frustration with the fruit trees. But...the sooner they get planted, the sooner you get fruit.

After waiting years for my trees to mature I will probably have to walk away from my garden before too long. Looks like I will eventually move in with my Mum for a bit and then will have to start again on a new property down the track. Will I be bothered planting new fruit trees at my age? Damn right I will! I will be staggering around my yard in my 80's picking fruit.

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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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