Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Just thought I would make a blog post to introduce ourselves as we have been lurking members for a while now..
We are a family of 4 that are trying our hands at Urban Farming in Ipswich.. We have had a garden for the past few years that has evolved slowly into what we have today with plans to increase its size & production.. This summer was a bit of a dud for us (wont bore you with the details) & we are now looking to plant out for Winter..

We have over 15 beds of different sizes with all but 2 being wicking beds.. The 2 that are not wicking beds are the lime tree/herb bed in the foreground with the other being a bathtub full of water chestnuts.. There are also about 20 Wicking barrels made from 200L barrels cut in ½.. We have 1 aquaponic grow bed fed by 6 large goldfish (in an IBC tank with a lid, right hand side next to round/green 500l tank), some fire tailed gudgeons & a yabbie in the sump tank.. There are 2 more grow beds that will be brought online when we pick up 25 jade perch fingerling's in the next week or so.. There are also 3 chooks in there somewhere :D»

The garden is covered in summer with a 50% shade cloth.. We will be remodelling the the set up before next summer though & trying to source some 20-30% cloth.. 

We have a few different worm farms on the go at the moment.. Most of the farms will be retired soon with their occupants added into some of the beds.. Feeding stations for them are being installed into the beds as well.. Some worms are being used in a mulching experiment that I started after watching Back to Eden last week.. The idea of using tree mulch in Back to Eden is nothing new but for some reason the whole idea struck a cord this time.. I had read about it in articles & books but it didn't sink in as I think I'm just a visual kind of person.. We are now mulching up every Chinese elm & weed tree in sight through our small machine so we can build up some piles for composting..
That's about it for now..
We do have a garden blog as well as a You Tube channel if you are interested..
Have a great one all...

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Comment by Vanessa Collier on April 9, 2012 at 20:25

Thanks for the help Rob.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 8, 2012 at 21:00

Erm, DE? Dipel? The reality is that exclusion is probably the simplest and most effective so long as you make a sturdy frame and the netting is tucked well in. I found the Butterflies were determined beggars and they found chinks in my netting. Although I used fibreglass house fly-wire which would not be as flexible as the vege netting.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 8, 2012 at 20:53

A whole roll never goes astray and it's easy to store. You never know when you might need and if you think you won't need it again, you could always sell it to one of us.

Comment by Rob on April 8, 2012 at 17:38

Thanks Jan... Am going to ask if they do less than a whole roll when I call on Tuesday.. Bit to much for us at the moment, Unless Bianca lets me do the whole yard ;)»

Comment by Rob on April 8, 2012 at 16:31

We don't have any nasturtium at the moment but should be easy enough to pick some up me thinks... Thanks for that..We battled through last autumn/winter using neem sprays & manual removal.. Also have some DE in this years pest arsenal & depending on price of the shade cloth we might splurge for some veggie netting just for the brassicas..

Our local hardware wont order it in unless we buy the roll as they are a small mob.. Bunnings were too expensive when I enquired last.. Thanks for your suggestions & the Shade Australia link.. will give me something to compare price with...
Have a great one

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 8, 2012 at 15:40

Hm! Cabbage Whites all year round! Ooof - tough. Do you have Nasturtium (Tropaoleum sp) growing? They are a trap plant for the Cabbage White.

Somewhere I noted a hardware had 30 percent but don't know the price. This is probably the place I bought mine from some years back now: Shade Australia don't remember the price either but since it was not otherwise available, it was worth it at the time.

Comment by Rob on April 8, 2012 at 12:03

Hi Elaine.. The garden gets sun all day during summer with shade covering it 1½ hours before sunset so it gets more than it's fair share.. 30% would be ideal but local suppliers have been unable to supply at a reasonable price at the start of last summer.. Just noticed Net pro have some listed on their site so shall give them a call on Tuesday to see how expensive it is..
We have the white cabbage butterflies here all year but more during autumn, winter & spring.. Have seen just a handful this summer but that could be because we have no brassicas in at the moment..
We learnt about the wicking beds through a blog that linked back to Waterright & haven't looked back since..

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 8, 2012 at 10:28

On some days 20 percent would be fine, but on some other days ... The site of each bed could determine whether 20 or 30 percent is best. Whichever you go with, having the shade cloth on something to which it can be rolled when not in use is a great help. The 30 percent cloth is available now from hardware stores; I got mine by a roll from the importers in Sydney - it is made in South Africa.

The grow tunnels up at Kookaburra Eco Village at Gin Gin are 30 percent - this info comes from the same guy who developed wicking beds: Colin Austin at Waterright.

I've had fruit fly in Capsies for the first time in years so I reckon that it's the rain and dullness stopping the plants from being as vigorous as they might be. Do you find the Cabbage White Butterfly is still about in winter? My observation is that they are rarely seen once winter is underway but they are back again as soon as it warms up.

Comment by Rob on April 8, 2012 at 8:16

I think the amount of overcast days with the 50% shade cloth has made many plants "leggy"... All the eggplants & capsicums had to be supported this year which hasn't happened before.. We will be buying some Vege netting which is only 20% & should be enough to take the sting out of the summer sun. We also will be using it as a barrier to white cabbage moth on our brassicas this winter..
We also have had a plague of mini grasshoppers & it felt like every time we sprayed the cucurbits for powdery or downy mildew it rained & washed the Eco rose off.. I think digging large amounts of sugar cane trash through some of the beds also depleted nitrogen levels after reading up on mulch over the past week. The biggest pain in the rear was the fruit fly.. lost the fruit from most capsicums/chillies & all but 1 pumpkin to the little blighter's.. They got into the pumpkins through splits in the flesh I didn't notice due to the way they were sitting.. I think the splitting was caused by the constant rain we received in Jan & Feb..
I think a bit of each above was the reason for a dud summer season but on the up side it's all a learning process & think we were just lucky over the 2 years before this past one so can't complain...

Comment by Lissa on April 7, 2012 at 10:38

Very impressive yard Rob :)

Why was summer a dud for you? You talk about getting a lighter shade cloth - was this part of the problem - too much shade? Details will be of interest to many who have problems growing in summer.

Read both the links Evan. Technical :S..... I would never make an engineer, but very interesting. Such a large scale compared to our backyards.

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