Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

After a couple of years offline I've come back :) There really is not much info around for gardening in Brisbane apart from you guys! Since those sad sorry seedlings I sun deprived in my unit, Ive had the luck to move to a house with a decent sized garden. Alas clay is the bane of my existence and despite all my best intentions (and pocketfuls of gold), Ive had only a few producing successes. My compost produced 11 deliciously sweet pumpkins (I think Jap), and a large leaf oregano that is really thriving. There were some rampant Tommy Toes but few now. Basil and parsley survived, though nearing the end and I have recently potted some cumquats (second attempts after the first one overexerted himself with an enormous amount of fruit and karked it). There is little shade in the yard and I am keen for some more (manageable) fruit trees. I've tried germinating all kinds of seeds (greens, flowers..) but have never seemed to have any luck both direct sow and in seedling trays... Is it the heat, ie soil too hot? What trees would you suggest for full sun clay?

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 28, 2016 at 8:14

'Full sun' on most seeds/plants does not mean what we get here in Dec-Feb! Hold back on investing in trees until you've figured out what your really need. Once planted it's hard to dig them up and move them. If you're going for above-ground (either garden beds or wicking beds) I'd go for some moveable shade until you are sure you know what you need.

Comment by Sophie on February 28, 2016 at 7:53
Thanks team!
Lissa Yes, I am waiting next month for the strawberry runners. Much too hot.

Dave Plates, interesting! Might give it a go. They dont heat up too much? Those shade cloth structures look snazzy!

Elaine- in the past I had tried sowing cover crops but nothing took! I might do the lemongrass mulch and some seedlings today, depending on the weather! I think this is why I need to invest in some shady trees... When gardening books or seed labels say "full sun" I wonder if they really mean "peak of brisbane summer full sun" haha

Really looking forward to the cooler months!
Comment by Lissa on February 28, 2016 at 5:15

Welcome back Sophie :)

Elaine gives good advice.

I planted out some strawberry runners last weekend from a friend, straight after some wonderful rain. Went to check on them and give them another drink and they all look to be dead in the heat. Cooler weather is coming :)

Comment by Dave Riley on February 27, 2016 at 21:53

This hot and windy and dry weather is brutal to seedlings and I have lost many despite my best efforts to attend to their needs.My latest work around is this.

I have many plates and shallow bowls --collected el cheapo at Op and Dump shops -- and I've put them to work by facing their backs to the western sun. Cools the roots. 

So far/so good.The shallow bowls work better than the dinner plates because they stand up better in  my sandy soil.

I've used tiles before but they fall over so easily...and I was angsting over the pile of plates in the corner of the garden (I use them for terracotta watering pot lids) when I thought about an upright usage.

The garden looks weird -- indeed weirder than it did with just the flying saucer lids parked about. But then,  the main game is nurturing the seedlings. My shade plans have not developed as  fast  as I'd hoped. 

But the plates/bowls have a few things going for them:

  • cheap: 50c-$1 each with no construction required
  • recycled and sustainable as well as easily stored when not in use
  • a clean surface with a significant solar refraction of white.
  • they have a diameter that suits a seedling in its early life. They may not be tall but my main aim is to protect the young plants from the western heat...so we're talking the hotter part of the afternoon and not the morning sun.
  • they're readily removable and inter-changeable.
  • they stand up to the weather and may act as a moisture condenser, especially of overnight dew.
  • i'd like  to say they protect from winds but the prevailing summer winds come from the east -- south  or north east -- and rarely from the north west. But then if i had more plates I could slip them in against the breezes too.

I've built shade structures before only to have them blow down and about. So I switched to plant polycultures by marrying plant heights for shade but my shaded areas aren't enough in places...so I added the plates.

Some folks use shade cloth on frames and there are some great designs to be used.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 27, 2016 at 19:20

Ah, iPads are beyond my experience; I'm a Mac desktop person, the limit of my knowledge.

Lasagne gardens are tried and true. Take time for them to consolidate into decent soil so you need to water them frequently for the first several months at least. You can put lasagne gardens on top of concrete but they do need looking after.

Covering with newspaper is OK but you need to put holes in it for the earth to breathe and the water to enter. Try a cover crop instead. There's quite a few posts here on BLF on cover crops, some quite recent. Have something - even weeds - growing at as many times as you can. Feeds the microbes and worms who are the basis of soil health and plant health.

Easy on the wood ash. It is very alkaline and can be water-repellent unless mixed with soil/potting mix. Has a place for potash (K = Potassium) but in small quantities.

I fill the bottoms of my wicking beds (and I have a couple of dozens) with el cheepo potting mix. Seems OK. Lot depends on the mix above. There's lots of posts here on BLF on wicking beds and lots of variations on the theme. There's even a Wicking Bed group. There's a garden visit to my place in July if you want to look at various kinds of wicking beds.

Comment by Sophie on February 27, 2016 at 18:13
Hi Elaine, thanks very much for your reply :) I am using an ipad so perhaps that's why I can't seem to find the icons you mentioned. I will have a look when I'm next on the computer.

I like your suggestion re semi shade somewhere close - it has been working for some cuttings I've taken. I've got two raised garden beds (1.2mx2.4m). One is doing well but Ive turned over the soil today to add manure and was shocked at how dry it was! It may just be that... Ive covered with newspaper until ready to plant.

I've also been preparing a lasagne (newspaper, lucerne, chook poo and compost) layers bed, saw this on Gardening Australia. Has anyone tried this on top of clay? What would have the most success for surviving? I have been meaning to get some wood ash but it has been too hot for any fires!

I had made a wiwking basket of sorts out of pallets a couple of years ago but did the silly this of part filling it with the clay soil as it was so deep! So it just ended up creating cement at the bottom and blocking drainage. Sigh...learning!

I have an olive tree in a large pot who seems to be doing well - I propped him up on some bricks off the ground to allow for drainage. Hopefully he will keep happy!
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 27, 2016 at 17:29

Welcome back, Sophie!

Post images: in the text box that is used to type in prior to posting, you will see a title bar with (from left) Link, Image, Video, Text ...

Hover your mouse over each icon to get the name of the icon.

Have your pix already edited down to around 100-400k, no more as those with slow connections will wait forever for them to download. Have the window with the pix in it ready on your desktop.

When your are ready to place your image, click on the Image icon. You will get a window asking you from where you want to take the image. Click on 'Computer' and you will get a window allowing you to navigate to your pix.

Choose the one you want and hit 'upload'. When it is finished you can see it inside the text box. Keep typing until you need the next pic and so on.

When you're happy with your post and the pix. choose Post (or is it Save'? Anyway it is obvious what is meant.

You can edit at any time by choosing Edit Post from the Options menu on top right of page.

Seeds are often best set to grow in individual pots in semi-shade somewhere close to where you are so you can keep an eye on how damp they are.

With clay or other difficult soil, pots are a good alternative. Wicking pots are the lest bothersome to maintain although with any pot or raised garden, filling them initially is quite a chore. Once done they only need topping up and keeping damp.

Comment by Sophie on February 27, 2016 at 15:37
Can t work out how to post images...

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.

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