Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Well, it's been a while since my last blog post. This rain we've been having has been fantastic for most of the plants with only a few plants suffering from too much rain.

The beans have really taken off and we've been harvesting a couple of handfuls or more a week. The luffa is now taking over and growing through the beans and across the ground. I also planted some cucumbers next to the beans and there is one baby one starting to grow.

The zucchinis have been suffering from the wet weather - they have mildew and the fruit are rotting early - not sure if it's calcium deficiency or fruit fly or just the wet weather. I've been picking them early so we can eat them. I've got out there once with the milk and water mix to combat the mildew but with this much rain it's hard to find a dry enough spell for it to dry on the leaves. The plants are doing much better in this spot and are almost the size of Donna's - oh the wonders of cow poo : )

This is the luffa flowering - thanks for the seeds Donna! Hopefully it will bear some fruit soon.

Despite being mowed back to a couple of leaves, the pumpkin has revelled in the rain and is spreading its tentacles again - there appears to be some fruit but I'm not sure if it's setting. Once the rain is over I think I'll plant a new vine from some seeds I saved. The chooks don't seem to eat it - guess it's a bit spiky for them.

Here's Gonzo and Hetty is in the background. The have quite a large area to free-range in - we've fenced off the backyard from the passionfruit vine back (so from a few metres from the back of the house). They have plenty of scratching space so they haven't turned the back yard into a mess just yet. Hetty has jumped the fence once but didn't complain about going back.

The water chestnuts are flowering (you have to look really closely to see the flowers). I'm guessing after that they'll start to die back for harvest. They seem to have spread well through the tub so I'm hoping to get a few corms. The kang kong ? is next to it - waiting for the rain to stop before I put it in the other half of the tub. Thanks Cass!!

Goldilocks the bantam wants to be big chook and won't lay in her hutch, only in the big chooks' cage. If she needs to lay in the morning she races out of her cage and runs around in circles until I let the big chooks out of their cage then races in to the nesting box. So cute! She has only just started laying again after an early moult, pause for a clucky period, then finishing the moult.

A honeydew from seeds saved from a market bought melon. It has lots of fruit and is enjoying the rain. I think the fruit is just about ripe.

Corn! Viv definitel love his corn. I find it a little hard to grow - they don't seem to pollinate all that well and have had problems with possums in the past. This one is pretty much ready to pick though.

This is my jungle patch up the back - it has the corn, honeydew, self-sown tomatoes (big ones this time!), peanuts, sorghum and giant sunflowers. I sowed one row and got two! Must have self-sown from last time. No complaints. These are massive - I estimate 8 feet tall.

One of the newest additions to the family - a blueberry I bought at the markets. They were only $12 (instead of $25-30 at a certain hardware store). My neighbours had given me their azalea which I subsequently managed to kill, so I used the potting mix for the blueberry. It's growing quite quickly in it's new pot.

We've mapped out some spots for fruit tress in the front yard - we have enough space for six along the front and then maybe some more up the side of the house. We're just waiting on cooler weather (which we are getting now), some more bricks for the surrounds so I can raise up the soil (stupid clay) and some moolah to buy the fruit trees with.

It doesn't look like it in this photo, but the hedge is growing quite well with the wet weather. One plant is up to my waist - woohoo! Was thinking about getting a tea (for drinking) shrub to finish off the rest of the hedge as I hear they make good hedge plants.

Some volunteers from when I was seed saving on the back steps - pak choi and sunflowers. They are both rather small as they only get a flick with some water and rain and there's stones so the root systems are tiny. The chooks LOVE pak choi so I rip one out to give them every now and then.

Well that's all from me for now. Hoping to do some autumn planting soon.

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Comment by Scarlett on March 15, 2010 at 18:14
lychee! such a good tree - very drought hardy (although it prefers a good drink), looks nice (there's a mature one on the lychee lawn in the rainforest in the Mt Coot-tha Bot Gardens - although they mostly lose the fruit to bats etc), easy care (except bagging the fruit), and how yummy are they!
Comment by Scarlett on March 15, 2010 at 17:54
fantastic - looks great! cute chook :)

nice with the azalea potting mix and the blueberry - they both like acid soils so it should be a good match

tea bush (ie camellia) do make nice hedges and have pretty flowers - but it's hard to make drinkable tea from them (apparently you need to dry and ferment the growing tips - I've never tried it although I used to have a lovely big one)
Comment by Vanessa Collier on March 9, 2010 at 18:48
Doh! Yes, it's a highbush - I did check when I was buying but couldn't see what type it was. On closer inspection today, definitely says highbush. : ( Oh well, it looks pretty at the moment.
Comment by Lotte on March 8, 2010 at 22:22
Nice work
Nice work. It's great to see some photos from your garden :-)

A couple of questions.

How long ago did you sow the sunflowers?

Also, did you get your blueberry from the Rocklea markets? I saw one there on the weekend, but it was a 'highbush' variety, which won't grow around here. I believe the ones we need are 'rabbit eyes' (sharpe, misty etc).
Comment by Florence on March 6, 2010 at 16:08
We currently have a peach, but I would like a nectarine ~ actually I'd love to have heps more fruit trees too! I can only hope that my future home will have a bigger yard then my parents' for a mini fruit orchard where I will run my chooks or ducks :)

Apparently chooks and ducks works really well in fruit orchards ~
Comment by Donna on March 6, 2010 at 14:55
Looks great Vanessa, bet you can't wait to get in the fruit trees! Love the self seeded plants near the steps, I have found mizuna in a few random places (including the grass) from the last harvest where the plants were carried to the back door!

If you are looking for tamarillo, pepino or banana let me know and I will see if I can get cuttings or something organised for you.
Comment by Vanessa Collier on March 6, 2010 at 12:29
Florence, my list of fruit tress is sooooo long. I think we'll be getting 2xavocado, some citrus - definitely an orange tree at least, 2xapple, tropical stone fruit - nectarine maybe? But I'd love mandarin, lemon, olive, dwarf macadamia, tea and oh so many more.

Elaine, yes the chooks are spoilt, at least until I develop the vegie patch a little more which probably won't be for a while.

I gave the corn a good shake early on which should help the pollination. Planning to pick that particular cob for dinner so I'm leaving it on until the last minute for ultimate flavour. I read somewhere that within half an hour the starches start converting to sugars.
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 6, 2010 at 11:52
Thank you for your report, Vanessa :-)

Those chooks of yours don't know when they are well off! Pumpkins shoots are *delicious* - mind you they are better steamed and peeled so maybe they are right to reject them raw. Just as well, anyway or you'd have no fruit.

I wouldn't be holding my breath for a mature pumpkin or related fruit this time of year. But you can pick pumpkins, even the un-fertilized ones, and eat raw or steamed/fried. They are *scrumptious* and can mature a bit once picked.

The zucchinis are another matter. It's beyond a joke at my place with whatever variety of zuke I grow. Now going to give the Angled Luffa a whirl and have a baby plant ready but don't expect fruit until next summer, ditto with the choko (related speciaes). Pick 'em early like you're doing, even before the flower opens that way you get some return from the plant. And zukes are delicious grated raw in salads, sweet and nutty. Rather nicer than when cooked unless cooked very young and quickly.

That corn looks ready - they don't seem to grow as big as the commercial ones (or don't for me) even though they get fertilized often without any intervention on my part. I know it is wind-pollination but it seems miraculous to me when the leaves cover the silks and the pollen sits on top of the leaves! Regardless of size, home-grown corn .... grrrooaaannn ... try it raw!
Comment by Florence on March 6, 2010 at 10:01
You're right about the chooks love pak choi!! Your chooks are so lucky to get such a big run ~
If your saved pumpkin seeds come true to type, I think you should name it as a new variety of perennial pumpkin!!!

What fruit trees are you looking for?

I think the green tea camellia bushes are good for making a hedge too, I've bought a pack of seeds, but only one germinated and it died too... there were only six in the pack though.. the seeds were huge and only fit six in the seed envelope..

I think the seeds are gone from their site and are now selling seedlings

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