Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

All vaxed up and no where to go! What is to be done? Vetiver and green Tea

All vaxed up and nowhere to go!

I'm therefore sentenced to potting around outback. Mind you, I gotta make a list of what is to be done?

Otherwise, I won't build a head of steam and I need to last to the end of the week outdoors, outback, quarantined at home...

And such gardening weather! The botanicals call to me like over sexed bulls.

So each day I attend to WITBD -- what-is-to-be-done -- by listing on my listing app ToDoist.

My shopping list is a bit of a no start. I can't even renew my gardening supplies, as I am not essential enough to go do the hardware or nursery thing.

I did, however, order seeds online and although many suppliers have been gutted by lockdown greenies buying optimism in little packets, I did snaffle a spring awakening supply.

It is Splinter after all: the warmth is already pervasive, as my mulberry tree informs me.

At the plantation -- our Vetiver crop may be slowly recovering from the cold -- but here at home the comestibles are going bananas (as the images suggest).

The symbiotic method being engineered so well by colleagues  in Vietnam (see here on fb for example of recovering marginal land) -- is delivering for me in backyard Brisbane.

The first principle is that you design your produce growing around planted Vetiver.With mulching and the green mulch ground cover -- my soil is holding onto its moisture better than anytime before because the Vetiver acts like an irrigator. While I do test the soil's moisture content, I know anytime I pull back the Scurvy weed + mulches, I'm getting worm demographics right at the surface.

The plant I'm most hopeful about -- as an experiment -- is Portuguese cabbage (Couve Tronchuda). It's actually a collard -- but a brassica that delivers in my patch without all that cabbage angst -- and with a flavour that transcends (spit. spit) the taste of kale.

As for the rest, when I go foraging, I have a lot to choose from.My Chaya has suffered again over Winter (because of the cold I expect) and is the only one of the veges that looks desultory.

And I can never grow enough Okinawan Spinach to sustain my hunger for it.

I can focus more on particular plants because I have reduced my growing space and consolidated the beds.

I do suffer from the handicap of not seeing the veg for the greenery --as the images -- so busy with plants -- suggest.

I've also gone back to making my own green tea. I don't have a special recipe, but my base ingredients are sheep manure + prickly pear paddles, which I chop up to assist break down.

I also add any excuse I have to dump milk or yogurt. So when I finish with my Filmjolk I add the bottle rinse to the tea pot.

Dairy is  a great driver of tea brew recipes.

For a time I was brewing Scurvy weed I harvested from the beds, but brewing that was like taking coals to Newcastle. Prickly pear -- as a succulent -- should have some of the substrate that empowers aloe vera and yucca based fertilisers.

On areas not growing comestibles, I still spread human urine -- as if you wanted to know that. Don't try this at home unless your soil is as sandy as my own.

I do, however, do a green leaf very well and suffer from no diseases at the moment. I mean the garden -- not me.

The Scurvy Weed abolishes the snail problem, as they must expend so much energy getting from A to B thru the jungle.

And since I've added even more ponds -- I grow on the Vetiver in water -- the frogs are my minions, while all that undergrowth of Scurvy Weed discourages Cane Toads. I bring on Vetiver at ground level, but my three ponds are at least 50 cm above ground and covered all in a mat of Azolla.

Not cane toad friendly and discouraging of mosies.

To delight us humans and the bees, I've planted out an array of cottager type plants, with Pride of Madeira ( Echium Fastuosum Candicans) promising the most buzz for my buck. Any flower that blooms gets buzzed by bees and sundries -- including the local sugar sucking birdlife. At back and next door, the Peruvian cactus is so loud each morning with bee hum when it is in fantastic bloom.

In regard to my use of weed mat and cardboard as mulching mats (see HERE for my past contribution)...just look at the images. The mats are so hard to find amongst all that growth. Nowadays, I'm sophisticated in that department and will select which plant I think will do better under weed mat or with cardboard; what size of mat I should use ; and the planting  layout I should employ as a template.

This matting has solved the overgrowth challenge presented by the vigour of the Scurvy Weed. Some may insist that that what makes it a 'weed' --but I love the stuff in a way only a dotting partner could.

Why Scurvy weed should love my patch so much is a question for ecology, as it is a minor activity in most wild places I've come upon it in its native setting. I have reintroduced Dog Bane and Beach Bean (Canavalia rosea) into the beds -- them being my other fav ground covers. I'll also be planting out Black Beans when they soon sprout and (touch wood) Millet  to keep the Scurvy weed company as advantageous  mulch greenery.

Views: 101

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Brisbane Local Food to add comments!

Join Brisbane Local Food

Comment by Dave Riley on August 20, 2021 at 13:42

Just saying:

While I praised the use of plastic weedmat I am getting some great results with box cardboard. Just stab the holes in the cardboard, SCISSOR some cuts let and right, lay the sheet down, and stab again into the earth before wiggling a bit.

Insert seedling by stuffing it into the hole.


Stuffing works.

The weedmat I can retrieve and re-use but the cardboard rots in situ. Even planting single seedlings, I lay down a small cardboard piece to give it a protective mulch zone.

I will say that planting spring onions in weedmat is definitely the way to go. They not only hate weeds, but don't take too kindly to most mulches either. Weedmat they seem to love.

So definitely folks: weedmat your spring onions by inserting the stems through holes in  the mat.

How large your cardboard piece shopuld be is all about how many seedlings you want to plant x distance apart. It is less cumbersome to err on the side of smaller sections of cardboard. And always have a little something to hold it in place --  a piece of wood, a stone or impaled in a garden stake.

Comment by Dave Riley on August 18, 2021 at 18:32

Portuguese cabbage (Couve Tronchuda) sure has delivered! I cut 3 big bunches today for a meat and black bean stew.

Mexicano --as is my want.

Tastes terrific, these greens. I also used some of my homemade chorizo.

Cut and come again harvest, so you don't have to pull the whole tomoly -- as with hearty cabbages.

I have some Ethiopian Cabbages coming on  in seedling trays -- I hope I can  fit them in the beds!

 The kitchen garden has gone berserk! Never better. My nouvelle system* is working +++. It seems to have embraced a new lease on life. No pathological bugs. A huge variety of food on offer. All I have to do is find it in the jungle.

'Tis foraging.

Today I planted out some black beans bushes, some bottle gourd, Pearl Millet, and parsley .I harvested Couve Tronchuda, Roma Beans, Daikon radishes, tomatoes, spring onions, Oregano and Epazote.


  • Polyculture -- mixture of plants
  • Scurvy Weed -- green mulch
  • Vetiver mulch and Vetiver grass plantings inside the beds 1.5 metres apart.
  • Cardboard and weed mat sewing templates.
  • Ladders for plants to aerials above.
  • Occasional long and deep water bore watering + hand watering occasionally
  • Occasional throw on of aged sheep manure
  • Weed tea fertiliser -- based on chopped up prickly pear paddles.

Comment by Dave Riley on August 11, 2021 at 11:11

Such a wonderful experience to be outback messing about with nature.

A healthy activity. Therapy for lockdown.

I am not of the touchy-feely persuasion, but I ask you what is the essential relationship you have with your dirt and botanicals?

We can easily get stuck in N:P:K mode or default to a POV that outback is a food factory and you are a foreperson.

But consider the land on which you dwell. You live in Brisbane perhaps -- Meanjin -- so who were its custodians for tens of thousands of years before you came along -- signed the lease or took out the mortgage?

Do you know who peopled it? My patch is in Quandamooka (Moreton Bay area) country in the land of the Gubi Gubi.  I acknowledge that I occupy the land of Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi people.

Who were your land's custodians? Its first nation?

'So what?', you may ask.

What does that mean? Since I'm not much of a tourist, I value the experiences I can muster at home -- in my own 'country' -- here in Beachmere. It is as much a community  of plants, ecology and geology  as it is of people.

When I relate to Ms Nature I rely on my garden to do so. Despite its mix of exotics, I draw on it to sustain me so much.

I raise this POV because the ABC has premiered a new series:Back to Nature (you can watch it on IView)

I recommend watching it as it is a very considered embrace of the natural world. The promo may celebrate Nature's ready  therapies -- but really it has to be about how you relate to the natural world.

Laying on  a beach toasting the skin may be 'relating' but it isn't the same as mindfulness.

That applies equally to gardening.

Anyone can pull weeds, use a hose or plant a seed -- but doing so MINDFULLY is all about being aware of what and where and when. Being all-antennas-up  observant.

I reckon this series fine tunes that skill. teaches you respect and humility while celebrating your potential intervention...and, we'd hope, enrichment.

Comment by Dave Riley on August 10, 2021 at 23:44

Nowadays my kitchen garden supplies a lot of our food prep needs. After years of gardening,  I'm finally synchronising need with DIY supply. It's all about having an adaptable menu and many recipes on hand -- per Internet searches -- to call on.

Finally, I'm getting all my fresh herbs in house, so to speak. All my greens. My squashes. Celery (per leaf) and chilli.  While I am carrot light, I do indulge my passion for radish. Most of the year I'm sustained in tomatoes.And the chooks supply plenty of eggs.

I mention this because in making up shopping lists I'm finding fewer excuses to actually go out and shop. In a pandemic, that may be a good thing, but my larder needs its vinegars, cheeses and other dairy products, dried legumes, corn flour, sauces, millet, nuts, and avocados. Plus reserves of coconut milk, tinned tomatoes  and meats. We eat a lot of onions but I like to grow spring onions and use them in cooking if I can keep the supply up.

While we tend to be Mexican dependent, I am now also retracing my international steps, and am renewing my acquaintance with Middle Eastern food -- especially the Arabic tradition. You've heard about MexTex -- well, I reckon, MexMed also exists. At least in my kitchen.

So too does MexSriLanka...

But, the problem with Sri Lankan food -- and many Indian sub continent dishes -- for me -- is that they are single dishes and you seldom get a mix in the one dish of say meat and veg. There's a separation which requires using several pots which isn't my style at all.

I will spend an average amount of time preparing a meal, but I will not over extend myself in energy or complication. I am, in preference, as well as in taste bud -- dedicated to the peasantry.

For those interested, I have some YouTube cooking favs that are, in effect, inspiring my gardening as my activity begins in the pit of my stomach.

Food bloggers I follow aplenty...

Of these, my stand-out references I actually STUDY are The Millet Table and The Tortilla Channel.

But my life isn't all fun and food as my wife is banning offal from the house. She reckons the organ meats smell bad when I cook them! Incredible, right? It's not as though she has to eat them.

So I do suffer tragedy. I too must go without...

Comment by Dianne Caswell on August 4, 2021 at 6:33

Thanks Dave, I always find your entries so Interesting and Educational, you truly are a gardener with a course and your updates of the use of your produce Fascinating. You are a Researcher and it it has paid 2-Fold and More. Thanks so Much for sharing.  

Comment by Dave Riley on August 3, 2021 at 23:27

Lacto bacillus...Bacilli being a major driver of good plant nutrition. Notable because it covers the plants you grow and creates the motor for fermentation. So what you ferment in the kitchen is analogous to the activity in the garden bed.  Similarly, the spores you capture to create sourdough are all floating about the air -- and those too are the same fam and its cousins. Since mi;k is such a rich medium for bacilli -- as in yogurt making -- it does well in the tea mix. In the past I read recipes from Nicaragua that used a lot of milk in the mix.

Here's a sample:

12 lbs. fresh cow manure
1/2 block of sugarcane, or 1 lb. white sugar, molasses
3 litres milk (fresh from cow if available)
4 oz. ash from fire

More info here-- and my past discussion here.

Note the succulent context. I started with aloe focus but now recycle my Prickly Pear cuttings. The PP may not be as dynamic, but it has a great hydration quotient as makes the brew slimy.

Reminds me to add some sugar.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on August 3, 2021 at 22:21

I didn't know that about dairy.  I'll never tip out spoiled stuff again. 

Important note about adding photos:

Always add photos using the "From my computer" option, even if you are on a mobile phone or other device.


  • Add Photos
  • View All


  • Add Videos
  • View All

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

© 2021   Created by Andrew Cumberland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service