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Come a'tumbling down on wet mulch : fungal gardening

Fungi Sampler: front of house

The relentlessness of the wet weather is almost unbearable. Just short of full fare  cyclonic conditions  in the Gulf Country, we have been shrouded in cloud for so long the dampness is pervasive. And where we are -- just short of the Sunshine Coast -- the rain keeps a'tumblin down.

It's clammy  even if cooler than the Summer heat. 

Indicative of the conditions is the hundreds of various species of toadstools that have sprouted in my garden . The mixture of mulches and manures have fostered a  fungal  frenzy. 

It amazes me how many species of fungi in succession 'fruit' when the right conditions kick in. This maybe indicates that my mulching madness 'works' and break down of organic matter is well under way. 

What with all my slavish laying down of paper, plant cuttings and cardboard to create shallow trench mulches I appear to be retaining moisture in these new  surface layers like a damp cloth on the underlying pure sand. 

And the more the fungi and moulds get to work -- and these above ground fruits are indicative of that activity -- the faster I get to the soil I seek. 

But so far, worm activity is ever so slight. This conundrum annoys me as it is contrary to all my past gardening experiences. I suspect that I am yet to reach an organic threshold that suits vermi-residencies. Similarly, even the pest population is low despite the increasing numbers of Striped Marsh Frogs, skinks,ladybirds, et al. 

My frog neighbours have bred  and I monitor tadpole activity with excitement. My night time/flashlight Cane Toad hunts are always, regrettably, fruitful -- and after freezing the captured pest I have all these Cane Toad burial sites around the garden edges. 

I also have a resident Blue Tongue Lizard -- the bane of the dogs. What with Fred, the magpie who follows me around like a pet dog, and the chickens, who eat every and any thing, it's becoming tres boutique micro ecological all around maison Dave. 

On offer is the Chokoes which are now just beginning to fruit. The challenge is to harvest the fruits while small and sweet rather than wait until they turn into withered testicles. And choko vines I have a'plenty. My trellis is planted out with several and the chook pen, as is tradition, is choko decorated.

We are also drowning in passionfruit. Nearby the pawpaws I planted from seed  are beginning to consolidate as the sweet potatoes ramble invasively   from bed to bed.

I've been uprooting the more invasive climbers and ramblers -- like the Italian zucchinis and the New Guinea Bean.  This gives the pumpkins a free for all. 

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 1, 2012 at 18:08

Apart from using Chokoes very young, the other trick is to just cook them - not overcook! It's like boiled soft Broccoli - yecch.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 1, 2012 at 17:22

The main game is to pick them small. Why grow zucchini when you can have choko? Walnut size: golf ball size: egg size...and then harvest any more you miss before the skin goes tough. I think walnut size chokoes parboiled and tossed in butter... are luverly. Choko stir fry with beef and carrots (Sliced chokoes like bamboo shoots)...Yum! Choko sold in shops gives the veg a bad name. But then every roast din has gotta have a choko.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 20, 2012 at 15:18

Great blog Dave! It is amazing what pops up after real rain.

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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.)

GrowVetiver 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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