Brisbane Local Food

Growing local



It's not that I've celebrating junk -- although I am a junk mail gardener.

It's more that with the passing of the rigors of Summer, 'normal' gardening can resume. And now that  I have  even more grass clippings  to my name -- thanks to Mower Man  and the rain  -- the garden is now very much alive.

Suddenly all that pent up promise has kicked in and my sand pit has soil I can treat as,  I can refer to as, and work as...soil.

But first the junk: the story  so far...

Cane Toads

Cane Toads right? Don't you hate em? But being a pond aficionado -- I just gotta have pondlife about me -- I finally decided to attend to the Cane Toad occupation by denying the amphibians access to water.

So I've reduced my number of ponds from three to one and raised the rim of that one  a full half metre off the ground.

It looks like junk for the moment (above left) but I'm collecting a lot of driftwood from the beach and will clad the plastic pond with a wooden surround.

Striped Marsh and Green Tree Frogs can climb up for a dip and nookie but the toads won't be able to reach that far because Cane Toads don't climb well nor can they jump that high. The surround of branches hopefully will insulate the pond  from the heat.

When finished it will look much better than fencing the pond or covering it with  netting.

Bush House


My Bush house (above right) is a nice place to sit in the shade.I wanted it to look like a humpy cum kids cubby so I've turned it into a bower -- as in Bower Bird -- and decorated it with collected junk.


It looks like a beachcomber's shack (which it is, sort of) made out of recylced materials (which it has been)

But  da house has given me a novel perspective on the garden as I've spent more time there seated , reading and  just looking out at the garden  and taking in the ambience.

I've made some bamboo wind chimes to hang off the exterior; planted creepers and climbers at the base of the frame; and now look forward to installing a draining floor of gravel as I hope to use my Bush House as a shower 'out house' for a cooling rinse in the Summer heat.

Plants

Of  course I've been planting out many seedlings. The local markets -- Caboolture -- has cheap plants and the nursery folk offer a huge range and will chat about plants as much as you want...
'Changkok manis

I had been looking for a couple of Moringas  but I unfortunately don't like the taste of the leaves despite the plant's nutritional reputation. While I'll still hunt down a  sapling --after asking around my  regular  suppliers,  I came home today with something preferable: a couple of 'Sweet leaf bushes', ('Changkok manis' or 'sayor manis' in Malay, Sauropus androgynus L. Merr.).

At $2 each a plant  and a stunning culinary reputation I think I may be on a winner . Changkok manis --as it was called today at the point of sale -- not only gives you an excuse to chat about Malay cuisine but:

planted as a small cutting of the stem and quickly produces unlimited green, leafy, ultra nutritious salad or stir fry  that tastes like a cross between fresh peas and peanuts. Sweet Leaf bushes also make easy to grow and maintain hedges: you trim them as you harvest.

Since I don't like Ceylon Spinach and aren't much taken with KangKong (although I grow it in my pond). And since I wasn't too fused with Moringa leaves.... I think I'm on a winner with the sweet leaves of Changkok manis

Rain  gauge it



And here's a meteorological tip. Get yourself a rain gauge. If you do, get youself a quality gauge that you can continue to read despite the sunshine. Rain gauges by Fjord Manufacturing are UV stabilized so that you will indeed be able to read them after many months of being -- and not being -- rained on.

My old one drove me crazy as the gradations turned opaque. Monitoring precipitation was frustrating.


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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 2, 2013 at 17:10

Cheers mate. 

Comment by Dave Riley on April 2, 2013 at 11:04

The $2 is from the Caboolture markets. at a stall that does tropical fruits, and plants. 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 31, 2013 at 17:04

Thanks Lissa. I'll messsage him. 

Comment by Lissa on March 30, 2013 at 5:08

Ask James for a bit Andy, he grows it. Mine is coming along slowly - will see if I can get a bit growing for you at the GV.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 29, 2013 at 22:01

I always enjoy your blogs Dave. The Changkok Manis sounds really interesting.  Where'd you get yours from?  I wouldn't mind giving it a go. 

Comment by Dave Riley on March 26, 2013 at 22:16

The maximum height cane toads  jump  is supposed to be around 50 cm high. My water level is 70 cm above the ground . But it has taken me along time to work out how to do this as any trough that high and free standing is sure to cook its contents in the Summer heat.

Large sealed  terracotta pots will do, but they don't come cheap. 

So I put my biggest plastic bin on top of a car tire . I've since collected more driftwood and strung that around the rim like a necklace that falls to the ground. It looks  quite good. In fact it's real snazzy. As the water plants flesh out and maybe some ramblers clamber up it's sure to  become a very interesting water 'feature".

This option  came to me after I started making the bamboo wind chimes and I'm planning to explore wood structures like this a bit more -. Consider these wonderful and inspiring examples.

I used driftwood for the Bush House,. It frames my chook pen. And I've used some driftwood on the garden beds to fuel a sort of Hugelkultur . My wife uses it to frame mirrors in the garden reflecting depth and textures. 

The sand islands of the south east are rimmed by  dead wood on the beach -- Moreton Is esp --and that is a feature of Moreton Bay ecology. This Summer with the floods and esp the heavy surf taking so much land away, undermining coastal  vegetation --  there is so much wood in the water that it's a navigational hazard. And now it's piling up on various coastlines. I've never seen so much of it. 

Unfortunately, Moreton Bay doesn't need the wood as a source of nitrogen as so much top soil has entered the system, seagrass beds are sure to be dying off under the heavy carpeting. Here soldier crab numbers have exploded because of the coating of nutrients. But if the seagrass die so too will many dugongs. 

So that's the swill happening off shore: mud and timber.

I think the same thing happens along rivers as snags are trimmed and moved on. 

As an aside: Along the coast here ,which faces due east, the King Tides around the time of Ex Tropical Cyclone Oswald pulled a lot of sand embankment away. But interesting, the places the survived best weren't the one with rock and cement seawalls or sand bags but those locations that had simply piled dead wood atop the sand mound which protected the grasses where they secured purchase. 

Comment by Lissa on March 26, 2013 at 8:46

Not a step as such, but the lemon grass plant is there and the pot of swt potato. I suppose it could have wriggled it's way up the middle of one of them :/

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 26, 2013 at 6:52

Is there something close by which the cane toad could have used as a step? I found one in the water of bath-come-frog pond, bath just sitting on the ground. So about the same height. I did not expect to have a cane toad in there. So the mystery remains except to point out to us that they can jump higher than we think.

Comment by Lissa on March 26, 2013 at 6:38

I found a canetoad perched on the rim of my 80cm raised bed the other night. Wondering how the hell it got there.

Comment by Dave Riley on March 25, 2013 at 22:40

You can't  use 20? 

This is an older design but at an excellent price: 

http://www.vetnpetdirect.com.au/classic_rain_gauge#.UVBFUVuIHCp

You'll need to make up your order to over $20, so get any pet you may have a treat.

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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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