Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

My wife was talking to one of the ladies that come here Wednesdays.

She said to her, "Your husband is over weight. Is that why your garden is so overgrown and messy?'

While a bit rude, this crude perspective  rules the neatness obsessed.

My garden is overgrown because I want it that way. What these types may see as mess, I see health and promise and sustainability.

My wife may get at me for allowing too much growth, but it's not growth so much as fertility.

I do however believe in the right to be lazy. Neatness can sometimes require too much hard work. During weather like this with all the humidity and rain, no normal human being will be able to tame their garden without upping their  chore hours.

I can be patient. I can wait until the clouds part and the rain stops. I can let the grass grow under my feet.

It's true my garden divides people. I do monitor the feedback. This most recent comment indicates how the naysayers think. These anal naysayers.

I may be handicapped by ill health but being lazy equates with sustainability. When working the  patch, dirtiness is good.

At the moment I'm trying to work out what sort of interventions I need to follow. My patch responds to a good whipper snippering so I'm adjusting my layout to suit that tool. The weather is too hot to labour out there in the sun. So I'm adapting to the season via a preference for light duties.

Now that I've finally converted a few beds to Vetiver mulch only,  I'm developing a new gardening culture that's upsetting my mower men who suspect that this Summer may be the last one they can drop off grass clippings. As it is I have a HUGE pile of grass on my verge ready to be transported outback.  When it is wet it is heavier and harder to pick up. So I am in no hurry to invest the labour.

The longer it lays there the smaller will be the pile as it rots down.

Indeed, I like to think of myself as a smart gardener. Why bust a gut, when Mother Nature will do the work for you?  Trim as needed. When needed. But don't overdo it.

I've developed an enclosed system where nothing biodegradable leaves the property. The motor for that is my commitment to mulching and that I treat the chook pen as one big composting bin. I may have grass clipping inputs -- but those have been the motor that has converted my sand box into excellent topsoil.

If people think that neatness means less infestation and disease they haven't experienced  how healthy  a 'wild' garden can be. My primary problem I guess is that I lose sight of plants in the jungle,so that they often  miss being harvested.

I had been irrigating with too much bore water,. While I've cut back my use of the pump supply -- rather than use too much other water -- and run out or be hit with higher utility bills, I'm planting the Vetiver as an ongoing pump pulling moisture from the soils depths. 

Indeed, I'm hoping to make a rain garden where the patch will require far less watering input.

While gravity is all, the key ingredient is adding carbon to the soil so that it holds onto the moisture like a sponge. As it seeps deeper -- rely on the Vetiver to wick it back up again. In that mix is the wonderful micro climate effect I'm generating.

Patience is all. No bare soil. Mulch. Mulch. Mulch.

Indeed, monitoring the massive bushfire  tragedy this Summer has been instructive . Why has so much of Australia been gutted by firestorms? While there is a debate about 'fuel' load' what strikes me as more relevant is the question of moisture. After so much drought and relentless rising temperatures, the landscape  dried to ignition crisp.

Even paddocks heavily grazed and drought effected with hardly any cover  ignited into  flames.

So the challenge is one of how do we keep more moisture in the soil. Across Australia that's THE QUESTION -- but it is also a challenge I'm addressing outback here.

That's a different question from harvesting rainwater using tanks or dams.

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Comment by Christa on March 17, 2020 at 15:33

Ignore that one person, Dave.  We messy gardeners finally enjoy our gardens for the right reasons.  We work when we are well and know we have future food sitting there.  It is our exercise and our pleasure, we manage to maintain our gardens.  We are not all well all the time.  Keep up the messy dirty gardening, I envy your garden. 

Comment by Dave Riley on March 4, 2020 at 21:54

It's now less than a month later and I look out back and wonder where the Kitchen Garden went.

The heat and health issues took their toll and I've not planted anything. So there: there is nothing except a few edibles and Scurvy weed.

Fortunately I have a brand new brushcutter and that has whipped and snipped, trying to re-install order. This may be my new management system.

Grow > Harvest > Mow.

Regrettably, I'm talking myself into another gardening  template. Just when I was thinking I was reaching a settlement with the outback biology, I'm now one step forward and two steps  back.

I need a rethink.

If I can quickly intervene over the next few days, I can go to the markets on Sunday and buy up big for seedlings. today I received an envelope with my seed orders so I am prepared for a seasonal plant out. 

Just quietly, folks, it is Autumn....

So the calendar says.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on February 12, 2020 at 20:15

Ignorance is bliss.  I took one look at your yard and it made perfect sense to me - and I've been described as a neatness freak!   Surely it's about how you want to use the space and minimising work?  I kept lawn space - for my little grandkids/dogs to run in.  My raised beds are beautifully straight around the lawn patches - only because it makes mowing the grass easy!  Straight lines might look formal but in my view they are ugly. 

Comment by Sid Saghe on February 12, 2020 at 14:13

Wow that person is a jerk lol

I would say smart, but then I like the same approach. Why prioritise appearances over other more important factors. In the end your garden must be something you can sustainably maintain to your desired design and being stressed over straight lines and low cropped grass seems silly to me.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on February 12, 2020 at 5:50

You certainly make a person Think. Regarding the bush fires, I have been thinking and talking about, why we don't have our Indigenous Folk more involved in the care of our great country. Well now I am so pleased that there is talk of their involvement. It is just a shame that so much of our land had been scared before these talks began.

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VETIVER COMMUNITY PROJECT

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.)

The Vetiver Community Project 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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Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

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