Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

My absence from outback was not enough to sabotage the horticulture.

After a rough Summer, a recent bout of ill health kept me from my garden tasks for weeks. All I could manage was to fill up the terracotta pots I have located in the centre of my mounds with water.

Nowadays the 'mounds' aren't self evident as over time I have been mulching in between them -- but the pots function like individual springs surrounded by plants. Over the past (what is it?) three or four years the pots have staid in situ -- sedentary in the centre of a circle of mulch-covered earth.

These round beds are still raised, as successive layers of mulch -- grass clippings in the main -- rot down to enrich the soil carbon and feed the microbiology.

Getting back to my opening comment -- my absence from outback was not enough to sabotage the horticulture.A squirt hither and yon at the pots was enough to keep the system ticking over.

I can fill up to five pots sometimes from the one standing position.

To hose my large garden this way takes about 15 minutes built on a routine of every second day irrigation when we don't get soaking rain.

The plants respond despite my still sandy soil. In my otherwise absence the garden survived and prospered.
I still plant 'mixed' but do clump some species together in order to make harvesting easier.

What I've got and what's ripening may often be obscured in the jungle but production is sustained.

Pumpkins. Exotic squashes. Cucuzza squash. Zucchini. Cucumbers. Choko.Potatoes. Purple Yams. Sweet Potatoes. Arrowroot.  Cassava. Burdock. Yacon. Artichokes.Perennial Capsicum. Chilies. Tomatoes. Tomatillos. Huauzontle. Okinawan Spinach. Surinan Spinach. Brazil Spinach. Longevity Plant, Lettuces.Cabbages. Various Radichio. Endive. Bulb Fennel. Chinese Broccoli. Water spinach.Watercress. Portuguese Cabbage.Various green & climbing beans. Moringa. Mushroom Plant.Wild Rocket. Broad Beans.Madagascar Beans.Pigeon Peas. Katuk.Parsley. Basils. Mint. Pepper Leaf. Coriander. Spring Onions. Turmeric. Asparagus. Marjoram. Thyme. Rosemary.Paw Paw. Mulberry. Dragon fruit. Prickly pear. Aloe Vera. Strawberry Guava. Fig. Passion fruit.Pomegranate.


My one handicap was that creatures of the night would trounce on my clay pot covers and dislodge the shade cloth mesh exposing the water below.I had been attaching these covers to the rim using clothes pegs but that proved not strong enough against dog or possum paws.

Now I use weed mat  staples. The firm embed works well and my garden looks like it's decorated with red doilies.

I also make up my own staples from old coat hangers.

I use construction 'shade' cloth mesh which is bright red so that it stands out among all the growth.

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Comment by Cathie MacLean on May 23, 2017 at 17:05
Good to hear that you've developed the watering system to the point where keeping your big garden alive is working. Sounds like you've got a lot in production! Hope you are feeling better now Dave. I'll be a bit more respectful of my cannas going forward because they do make a good mulch and I think they improve the soil too.
Comment by Dave Riley on May 23, 2017 at 1:51

I should add that clay pot gardening relies on plant roots tweaking where the moisture is at. Fresh planted seedlings need a little help and need to be nursed for the first week in the ground while their roots orientate themselves.

Ever-second-day topping up pushes just enough moisture to dampen the surrounding soil in my sandy garden. That routine also moistens at some distance from the pot so that plants can be grown at the base of the mounds. The efficacy of this depends on how enriched and carbonated the sandy soil has become. The process may be driven by gravity but its efficiency is ruled by the  the ability  of the surrounding soil to hold water.

In the mix -- betwixt the mounds -- are my experiments with ground covers -- especially Jack bean (Carnavalia) and Vetiver Grass. Over the past few years Dog bane and Canna Indica have been in service as ground covers and reserve mulches. At the moment I'm pulling the Cannas and mulching them by tossing them about.. The semi succulent Dog bane is easily chopped and dropped.

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