Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Tonight the temperature falls to 19C (and maybe below) for the first time this year in my patch. You can feel the cooling night air on your skin.

Despite the warm days still, you can see how the evening respite from the heat is registering among the plants.

I just built (wait for it...wait for it) another two mounds and planted both of these out with potatoes I'd chitted from store-boughts.

I then divided a Vetiver Grass clump  by hacking at its edges. 

[I have a novel notion obsessing in my head about using Vetiver...]

While at it, I moved load after load of grass clippings from my nature strip  onto and among the mounds and 'paths'. I've had a flu like infection this last week and been under the weather, but the mower man's mowing drop offs have been massive. I still have a big pile to shift. 

Prior to these labours, with my trusty sickle and a pair of scissors I hacked at my above ground mulch plants --  cannas and dogbane especially -- so the garden is desiccated. 

Indeed I am keenly cutting back anything that's not edible --and some plants I seldom eat -- and dropping the cuttings in situ. This is another fancy. I'm training myself up as a root keeper or Keeper of the Roots. The celebrated green manure options don't work so well in my sand. Pursuing the principle of any ole root, I'm making do. 

A Biological Farming Consultant  who runs a TAFE course in organic farming staid with me last week and I exploited the opportunity to discuss regenerative options.(Listen to audio) I may not be a grass farmer but preserving roots seem to be where my gardening future lies. It's like a penny has dropped and I  now have my head in the sand. I think, aside from the standard metaphorical meaning, that's where it should be: underground. 

My role in life is to feed the creatures of the soil..one day, when I'm dead, even with my own corpse. My tools are not spades and forks or hoes, but roots.

When you started off as I did with yellow sand, I'm feeling  like I've been recruited to the dark dirt arts. It took 'em some time to finally capture me but I think I'm committed. 

A recent shot of me gardening & searching for meaning.

Buried like that --soiled -- you search for meaning.  

In the regenerative method of rotational grazing the herbivore chews the grass and moves on after eating and defecating. The grass is even compressed by the weight of the animal and a thin mulch layer forms on the surface. Then the pasture is rested. 

In the meantime, the grasses respond with a surge of growth and carbon sequestration as they put down more roots to recover themselves and shoot up more leaves for photosynthesis.

In this plot, this little outback play script, I am playing the bovine in my make believe outdoor theatre show. My cast members are not so much grasses (aka 'weeds' or standard green manures) as plants that obey me. So I gotta make do.

Before I did this I covered the mounds with around 80 litres of 'brew' mix made from kitchen washings and dregs,sugar,water  Balinese aloe vera fertiliser and  'raw material'.For this mix I had also harvested a lot of my own aloes too which I blended up into a thick goo. So the concoction was impressive in a muck raking sort of way. 

Garden gunk.

If you have aloes growing maybe it's something you could consider. Making glop is fun. Chop up, then blend up the aloe leaves with a little water before leaving the mash to soak in a bucket of water for a day or two. You can brew that as I do, or simply pour it on the garden beds.

Why bother? Aside from the research that supports aloe vera as a soil probiotic, fertiliser  and protector against disease and some insects, you get to play with the goo. Compared to the many  filthy habits of manure tea makings, aloe vera mashing and steeping is rather benign and may help your complexion if you also want to bathe in it..

( If you want to drink it -- and I don't --  or use it as a lotion --peel the aloe with a knife and soak the leaves in water for 30 minutes  to wash off the mucky slime. Then blend the plant material.)

I used to chop up my pigface leaves with a spade and throw them onto the beds as a mulch or bury them when I built up soil,  but now I get more value per harvest by blending them with the aloe and fermenting the mix.  

And it's free...

Banana Oil Claims

It is claimed that Aloe Vera in the raw 'gel' state offers the following attributes:

  • botanical activator and plant growth promoter which can improve overall plant health including its immune defence, plus suppress pathogenic bacteria.
  • improves microbe multiplication in the soil and on the leaf..
  • contains natural ingredients that promote cell replication (plant growth) with polysaccharides for high absorption of nutrients, Phytochemicals of Aloin, Salicylic Acid and Saponins. These aid with foliar feeding, and balancing the plants health, and are also an excellent fungi food for soil.
  • deters birds, bats and fruit fly.

However, more research has supported the use of Yucca gels as  soil conditioners. But I personally believe that many succulent gels would work similarly in the soil.So what's said about Yucca could also be projected  onto aloe vera.

Here's an attribute list for Yucca:

– improves drainage
– increases permeability of plant cell membranes, allowing for increased water and nutrient absorption
– improves seed germination and seedling vigor
– stimulates microbial activity in soil
– builds resistance to heat and water stress due to drought-like conditions
– enhances water penetration through compact soils
– allows excess salts to leach from soil

And with more science-speak:Yucca (Yucca schidigera/Mexico)

  • a soil conditioner as it is a natural surfactant, allowing greater penetration of water and oxygen by modifying the structure of the soil and therefore provides increased physical health for plants. It also stimulates the development of microorganisms in the soil, which increases the decomposition of organic matter and the formation of humus; as a result plants have increased availability of water and nutrients, present more vigorous roots and are greener with increased growth.
  • reduce the surface tension of the water, allowing moisture to penetrate evenly and more quickly. Due to its physical soil enhancing actions, it decreases salinity within the soil, causing better root development and healthier plant growth.
  •  a soil condition enhancer and plant growth promoter. Due to its completely natural components, it is non-toxic to soil or plants, its biodegradable, non-polluting, friendly to the environment and helps achieve increased yields.

More on Yucca

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 2, 2016 at 5:46

What do you think of chopped-up Dragon Fruit stems? Or would they (like the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Broom) result in an infestation of DF plants? Thinking of the wasted resource when I prune the DFs in May-June.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 2, 2016 at 5:41

Great info! Sounds like the Aloe Vera is not peeled before it's whirred up. Do you have a separate blender for it rather than use your food one? I don't fancy that yellow goop in my edibles blender.

As well, a domestic blender would only do a couple of AV leaves at a time - how many do you process in a batch?

I've got heaps of AV sitting there doing little-to-nothing.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on April 2, 2016 at 2:51

What fascinating reading, you are just full of the most interesting information. I wish I had the space to make up a brew like you do. Though I am working on clearing an area to do just that.

Your blogs are always useful, thanks so much.

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