Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Change of seasons is the only time I do any really hard yakka in the garden replenishing the beds and getting them ready for the next seasons planting.

I need that perfect morning - overcast without rain, not too hot. I never know exactly which morning that will be until it comes. And it did this morning.

First I take down the summer netting and cut back all the finished crop. Chop it up into pieces.

That's the fun part.

The nets get laid out to dry before storing. They get regular shakes to remove any lizards or bugs trapped.

Then I sprinkle the beds with Dolomite (calcium), Granite (potassium) and Basalt (calcium and iron).

This was some of the un-fun bit as I stupidly left buying my buckets of minerals until it was all wet and heavy. Thank goodness for my little trolley. $2 a bucket from the landscape shop at Brendale btw.

Then the lot gets covered by a good layer of composted material, in this case composted horse manure. Seed and seedling get planted directly into this.

About 20 bags later (over two beds) the beds are ready to go again.

Freya didn't do much to help physically, despite me asking, but she was moral support.

Took about 2.5hrs all up. I'm filthy, sweaty and nicely tired and hopefully have burned off at least a few cells of fat but it feels good.

I stopped to look around at the end and noticed how many insects were busy around me - bees of various types, bugs, moths, flies, beetles - including this fly pollinating a Loofah flower - and it made me feel very happy that my garden is a chemical free haven.

Turns out this is a Native Drone Fly. It's a nectar eater and the larvae prey on aphids etc. A friend in our garden.


Just planted (some of the seed is a few years old so fingers crossed):

Cardoon - Cynara cardunculus Rouge D'Alger

Carrot - Muscade

garlic - local variety

spuds - store bought sprouting

cabbage - Couer de Boeuf des Vertus

Bean - climbing purple

Snowpea - Oregon Giant

Sugar Snap Pea - climbing

lettuce - various - purple cos, Oriental, + +

Mangel Beetroot - Yellow Eckendorf

Strawberry Spinach - Chenopodium capitatum

Collard Greens -


Radish - Champion

Cauliflower - Snowball

Cress - American Upland

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Comment by Lissa on April 11, 2015 at 5:43

BTW - years ago when I was first aimed in the direction of rock dust, it was indicated to me that there was rock dust and rock dust. Some is better quality than others. Results would reflect this. If you're using crap you will get crap results.

Comment by Lissa on April 11, 2015 at 5:35

Sounds like a good useful group Andy. There is so much urban legend out there when it comes to garden info.

With the rock dust - I tested it by using it for some seasons and not using it for others (terribly scientific, not) and it does seem to improve the produce. Poorer results if I don't use it. But...perhaps I just left out the dolomite those times too. As I said, it's not very scientific.

Mycorrhizae - I have just started using this a few months ago. MycoApply.  I did start using it around the same time I started buying Tim's composted horse poo and my garden has never been healthier or more productive...but which is responsible. I suspect both.

I also have some Life Force Total Cover for trace minerals but to be honest I'm very lazy when it comes to using this "extras" and have only used it once. According to the talk with Graeme Sait the other weekend it's exactly what I need to make a vital difference.

I prefer to trial something on it's own not in combination. But that takes forever to gauge the results and I want results now. I want good food to eat now. So I use them all at once and over time I will observe which are actually doing something useful.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 11, 2015 at 1:49

Biochar is supposed to do this, that and the other. The hundreds of litres of the stuff I dosed my above-ground beds with, did nothing that I could see. The beds which are now wicking beds, were at the time just sitting on the natural soil on the slope. There was no miracle of water-holding from the Biochar nor the manufactured water crystals.

Both may well be great in better circumstances - on the flat with no tree roots to steal the moisture.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 10, 2015 at 21:32

Rockdust, and biochar for that matter, seem to me to be really only beneficial to poor soils (which is I think what Rob is getting at).  I belong to a garden trials youtube group who test lots of "common garden wisdom."  Nobody in the group got an improvement from either.  This particular guy got quite complicated with it and got his soil lab tested...

I feel kinda weird now that I confessed to this... 

Comment by Rob Collings on April 10, 2015 at 21:23

The Healthy Earth Volcanic rock dust was $19 for 2 Kg.... Dosing rate @ 50g per m2 for soil gardens, and 1 - 2 teaspoons for pot plants. I dosed the wicking beds with a much higher rate due to my (with hindsight) known lack of minerals in the wicking mix.

I purchased it mainly for what I perceived as a 'catch up for the lack of sand/rock/soil' in the wicking mix. I do feel that the combination of healthy soil (especially healthy in microbial life) including crusher dust, a little of the right rock in general and sand would mitigate the need for this type of product.  Having said that, I could not help but apply some to my soil gardens and fruit trees after, its really finely ground.

I purchased Great White from Aqua Gardening for ?? I forget. It is a Mycorrhizae, Beneficial bacteria and trichoderma mix. It includes Ectomycorrhiza along with various other beneficial microbes.

I saw a difference in the growbed with the plant roots turning pearly while following the addition of this. I feel that the plant growth, especially fruiting improved post application. With the mix in my wicking beds having poor drainage, I thought that applying this would help protect the roots a little better from rot, once again, I feel that this has made a difference, however I did do several things to those beds in unison.

Comment by Lissa on April 10, 2015 at 20:34

How much Rob and what is great white?

Comment by Rob Collings on April 10, 2015 at 19:34

Here is some volcanic rock dust I purchased from Nova Gardens Nursery about 2 months ago, it seems to have had a positive impact to my wicking beds. (However, there were other factors contributing to the improvement of these beds including addition of microorganisms via great white). 

Comment by Dianne Caswell on April 10, 2015 at 18:42

I usually buy MUNASH ROCKDUST in big bags, but when I am feeling tight fisted I just get it from Diggers. It really is worth the read. I have been using it for years and I swear by it.

Comment by Lissa on April 10, 2015 at 18:34

I just buy plain Basalt Florence. It's blue in colour and sold as Basalt.

I've always thought rockdust was Deco. Could be wrong but pretty sure it's what we used for the carport floor.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 10, 2015 at 12:09

There's a rock dust from Mt Sylvia - at the foot of the Bunya Mountains I believe it is - which comes in 15kg bags and I buy it at the Rothwell Produce store. It's quite a bit dearer than Lissa's $2 a bucket stuff but it's closer to home. As well, BOGI sell rock dust available at the annual fair and at the night-time meetings.


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