Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

These are the best days in the year for gardening, the best time to live in Brisbane in my opinion.  Less pests and  less sweat but the dense winter shade is the main challenge I face in this garden built around a two storey house with trees also blocking the low winter sun in the northeast.  I have to plant in different beds just to get enough sunshine. 

This month I will start in the front garden so that I can show off the tall tutuers that my son, Wil, made me.  I wanted something tall and structural but movable (for best aspect in the different seasons) and he whipped a couple of these up for me one day while I was at work.  He enjoyed making them and I suggested he make more and sell them at the markets because they look great and are super sturdy! Not much else has changed in that garden bed as the salvias are still abundant and I haven’t wanted to cut them back.  The bees enjoy them so. 

Among those flowers my eggplants are still going strong – this one has four fruit on it.

In the same bed I noticed I have a bunch of little gooseberries coming on.  This is my first time  growing them and I am so excited to taste them.  I just adore the shape of the little husks that grow around them. Teeny lanterns.

The tamarillos have come to an end.  This was the last harvest.  They are an unusual fruit and the rest of the family are not fans but I enjoy picking a couple to eat as I make my way around the garden.  I believe they are rich in Vitamin C and I think they are very ornamental on the tree.

In March I showed my pumpkin and sweet potato patch which is still growing like crazy.  I have really come to appreciate both plants for their greens over the last couple of months.

 I have become somewhat obsessed with watching Youtube videos with little old Indian ladies meandering through their food forests picking unusual greens and vegetables which they make into delectable meals. (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9Skpk7Ok7JQ&t=378s  if you would like to check one out).   I really feel that we are overlooking a lot of nutritious parts of the plant by just eating the fruit and ignoring the leaves and stems which are delicious in curries and quiches etc.  So nice to have another green to cook with and they never stop producing.

The photo below shows the result of a few minutes foraging which was turned into a really delicious curry. I felt just like a little old Indian lady in my food forest!

I wanted to show you the growth in my ginger in the last few weeks.  It is really pushing up and out of the box.  I do bandicoot a little and harvest for meals along the way but  I am really excited to see what the final amount of ginger harvested will be.  I intend to grate much of it and freeze in narrow sausage shapes and wrap them in plastic wrap in the freezer. It’s easy to break a bit off and I find that it always tastes so fresh when tossed into stirfry or sauces or drinks.  I have four boxes but this picture shows the most productive one.

The Netted Garden is doing very well with a bed of brassicas, tomatoes on the fence that gets the most sun and peas at the back.  I decided to prune the lower leaves of the tomatoes to try to avoid disease and direct energy into the fruit and that seems to be working well. 

I pulled up a tomato plant in a different part of the garden and was dismayed to find the root knot nematodes are still abundant in that bed.  I have replanted with Nemcon – the biofumigant  mustard which is supposed to help with nematode control.  Fingers are crossed that chopping that and incorporating it into the soil will help as this is very demoralising.

Here is one more picture of my brassica bed, brimming with nutrition.  I have Tokyo bekana, Senposai (komatsuna), kohlrabi and yu choi sum and a couple of Calabrese broccoli in there. Oh  and a couple of daikon for good measure.

One last picture to share - of a little friend in the garden.  When removing some plants I noticed a 'bundle of twigs' moving. It turned out to be a caterpillar inside it's little home - a Saunder's Case Moth according to Mr Google.  My daughter and I were entranced watching it drag its house along between plants, popping in and out to say 'hello'.

Happy gardening all.

 

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Comment by Sophie on May 25, 2018 at 16:38

looking excellent! Love the towers!!

Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on May 25, 2018 at 11:38

roger -they are netted in a pot so every time i see flowes i do give the plants a bit of a shake !!!! 

Comment by Christa on May 25, 2018 at 9:04

Roger, the electric toothbrush is a good tool for miracle berry.  As the flower is a little tight flower, the vibration spreads the pollen and since I tried shaking the branches with a similar effect as a toothbrush, the berries are more abundant.  The flower is so small, most times you don't see it.  

Comment by Roger Clark on May 25, 2018 at 7:41

Mary - Anne, 

Thanks, it's useful to know that I can grow these under netting. I watched a video a while ago that showed an Italian gardener using an electric toothbrush against his tomatoes to vibrate the pollen free. He obviously didn't have a lot of wind to help the process. Brenda is a bit funny about this though and objects to me using her toothbrush for this.  

Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on May 25, 2018 at 6:48

great garden and awesome reading everyone - Roger as Cape gooseberries are related to tomatoes they are wind pollinated as well so the ony way we can successfully grow them is under fruit fly netting ! or they are just decimated one day you think you are going to get a bumper crop the next there is nothing left... when i retire and can walk the garden every day it will be fine but at the moment with the later sunrise and earlier sunset its not possible ! We have marigolds scattered among the gardens and orchards - with garlic and other companion plants for pest control - either we dont have problems or it works! 

Comment by Roger Clark on May 25, 2018 at 2:32

Dave,

Your research is spot on. I remember trying to combat them using Targetes Minulta, a type of Marigold that was very tall growing with almost insignificant flowers. You grew them in situ and then dug them into the top layer of soil. This was a long time ago and I haven't seen Minulta put forward as a remedy since. As I told Cathie, I tried Mustard, dug these in, since I did this though I haven;t grown a susceptical crop in this bed, got peas (pigeon and mange tout) there now and I don't think these get affected. I probably won't know if the Mustard is a good treatment for this until I grow tomatoes again, probably next year.

Cathie,

Stay vigilant with these beetles, they need to be checked regularly because of their rabbit like tendencies. I've never tied spraying them with any organic or any other type of treatment, I just like squashing them, but it's difficult to get them all.  I also read somewhere that the beetles can spread a virus around, but I don't know what this does to the garden. If / when the gooee offspring occur you will probably (like me), not be keen to squash these as they are not nice to handle, I usually remove the leaf they are under and dispose of this.

While all this extra work is sometimes a little vexing I think that the fruit are worth the effort.

I also agree with you about the Ginger, The later ginger is certainly stronger in flavour, I am awaiting your reflections on the secret way to tell me when it is just right to pick and process. Actually that has reminded me that I know someone who used to grow Ginger commercially, I must ask him what they used to do  to tell them when to pick it. I'll report back on this!!  

Comment by Dave Riley on May 24, 2018 at 23:34

Your root knot nematodes has given me the heebee jeebees. I may not sleep tonight.

I don't have such a problem (not yet)-- Phew! -- and don't want it, ever.

Indeed I don't have many infestations that I know of.Maybe I can expect a visit soon enough, but I did do some backgrounding on these beasties -- in a state of panic -- and while I'm doing some things right, I could be doing them better.

I haven't grown marigolds for over a year or so --when I should. But I see where I need to plant more than my norm, like they do in the Cuban urban farms (illustrated): 

I see where earthworms numbers can impact on problematical nematodes, mulching...good soil practices.

It also seems to me that mixed vegetable (and related companion) planting is not conducive to their spread in situations where  you are not following a strict rotation.

I gather the Marigolds are a 'pull' crop -- in that they attract the parasitic Nematodes to them(and kill them off) in that they are a devious feeding option.However companion planting doesn't seem to work with Marigolds as you need really to cover crop with them before you plant the vegetables.(LINK).

Unfortunately not all Marigolds will work on all problem nematodes although the  French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are more effective against a wider range of parasitic nematodes than the African types (Tagetes erecta).

So they aren't a  panacea. What seems to work, though, is adding generous amounts of organic matter  to the soil  which encourages natural predators that attack nematodes through a more enriched soil food web.

I guess this is why some folks add sugar or molasses to the soil as a quick intervention.

Other additive options covered in research:  neem and poultry manure; biochar; mushroom compost...

Although  the effectiveness of Marigolds -- cover cropped and maybe dug in -- only lasts a season, I'm thinking 'why not plant a few about the place?'

Comment by Cathie MacLean on May 24, 2018 at 21:25

Thanks all. Roger, your warning about the gooseberry eating beetle was timely. I went outside and sure enough there was a beetle fitting your description on an already munched blossom and some of the leaves looked tatty. Good grief - it's a hard task this gardening!   Also thanks for the tip about harvesting ginger before it gets too mature.  There must be a sweet spot because very young ginger (when I bandicoot it) does not have the same pungency.  I remember a job I had as a 14 year old picking ginger to save  money for a school trip - the aroma of those fields of ginger has stayed with me since then.  I also remember the pain in my wrists every night after work! 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 24, 2018 at 18:54

Looks wonderful Cathie. 

Comment by Susan on May 24, 2018 at 16:30

I have often seen these little cases around my place but never seen it’s inhabitant. I think you were quite lucky to spot it out of its home. 

The tuteurs are very gorgeous!

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