Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

We have now hit summer, well and truly.  It’s hot and there is a real need to watch the vege carefully so as to water those that are wilting.  The vertical gardens are especially susceptible.

Greens:  The need for care is particularly true of lettuce, which have the added disadvantage of tending to bolt.  I’m moving from Cos to Mignonette because they seem to survive the heat better.  The sweet leaf has come back nicely now (note to self: prune it in in winter next year).  Sweet potato leaves are abundant,  the betel is growing nicely as are the recently gifted Ceylon spinach.  Perpetual spinach really needs to be cooked or used as pesto.

Tomatoes:  For some reason I have a shortage of them right now.  I am of course planting cherry varieties to avoid getting stung.  Capsicums are going to have the same trouble and I have learned that bell chillies do as well.  After the recent rains, many of the planted seedlings are taking off, so all should be well if I can keep the supply high (to offset losses).

Fruit/citrus: most of my very tiny, 1 year old citrus are growing me one of two fruit.  No sign of anything on the grapes but the Loganberry has produced a tiny flush of berries.  My experimental rockmelon seem to be surviving okay which is great.  Lots of flowers, but no sign of fruit.  I’m also about to get a really good crop of cumquats for cumquatcello.

Livestock:  the chickens are giving me a smaller two eggs a day which builds up surprisingly quickly.  The big news is in the fish.  In the last month they have just boomed.  However, after seeing RobBob’s at Ipswich, I’ve decided my “boys” will get a second year of life.  Having said that, I intend to harvest at least one over Christmas to try.  I also need to work out a way to divide the tank in halves so I can put new fingerlings in (where they can get some baby food) without slowing water flow.  I’ll do a video on that when it happens.

Corn:  I am surprised at how good a corn crop I will eventually get.  Even better is the fact that I have done the permaculture thing with them – there are yellow French beans planted in the same bed (using the corn as a trellis) and lettuce sheltering at ground level from the sun.

Worm Towers:  After visiting Gayle D’s at Christmas, I found a 20l black bucket at Kmart for $5.  Add a large pot saucer ($3) and you have a wonderful worm tower.  The other option is a $10 white 20l fishing bucket with lid.   Given my small compost bins are full, these are proving a good option.  I like to add some cheap solar lights to make them extra useful. 

Merry Christmas one and all.  Bestest festive wishes to you and yours.

Andy and My Rozie

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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 23, 2014 at 22:30

Thanks Susan. I'll keep and eye on the corn. 

Comment by Susan on December 23, 2014 at 20:54

Hi Andy, I'm in agreement with the cherry toms.  Mine just don't seem to be producing well despite being in a wicking bed.  Watch your corn for a grub that gets in them.  Don't know what type but I have never had this problem before and this year, my corn is getting hammered.  I'm considering doing a pyrethrum spray when the cobs are forming to try to stop infestation.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on December 21, 2014 at 20:45

That recipe looks so easy and so darn good Dave!  I'll definitely give it a crack.  I've noticed that I am pruning as I harvest.  I can assure you that the approach was complete intuition ("blind luck"). 

I noticed that it wasn't very tall Elaine.  However, as this was my first year growing corn, I figured that must be normal. 

I'm using yellow French beans Lissa.  I also put them at the back where they can use the wire fence too.  I would like to say that it was a well planned maneuver, but it was a complete lucky fluke. 

Comment by Dave Riley on December 21, 2014 at 16:28

The sweet leaf has come back nicely now (note to self: prune it in in winter next year)

if you don't do this already, I suggest you prune by harvesting it through its productive months.  The trick is to snip off the branches/twigs to harvest rather than strip the leaves.Then use the woodier bits from the kitchen to strike a new plant.That seems to be the protocol. Katuks grow in herds, hedges, groves... They pine if left alone and love company especially if it's over hanging. Stripped stems die off...so you do need to prune that greying timber. But if you shave it for the kitchen it performs likes the grasses at our feet.

Similarly there is a taste and texture variance between new leaves and older one and  again depending on the amount of shade the plant receives. New leaves are gorgeously 'sweet' and soft on the tongue and the heavier shaded ones are likened to and used as asparagus..

For our tea tonight: Thai style fried rice with shrimp paste, garlic, chicken, chilli and heaps of  basil leaves mixed with Katuk. A variation of Khao Pad Kra Prao Gai.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 21, 2014 at 9:25

My experience with the '3 sisters' is very similar. Today's Corn, even the heritage varieties, is not a very tall plant nor long-lived. I suspect the plants used by the Native Americans who used this system, must have been taller and stronger than those available to us these days.

Comment by Lissa on December 21, 2014 at 5:23

I tried the beans growing in with the corn for the first time this season and probably won't do it again. The corn plants (less the crop) have fallen every which way and the beans are growing in shew-wiff all over the place and it's easy to miss the actual bean amongst the mess.

Not cropping as well as last years Snake Beans either which is disappointing, though the ones I do get are delicious.

I find I prefer an actual trellis with the plants growing tidy and the beans hanging down from the trellis, easy to see.

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