Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi everyone. I'm a long time lurker and have finally joined. I guess I mainly keen to document my gardening experiences for my own future reference. I've been a sporadic gardener all my adult life - currently I will have a year or so of regular gardening then one of my other interests take over. Then my garden gets weed- overtaken until my out of town in-laws come and visit and rescue me from the jungle. The only permanent features of my garden have been some basic herbs, six chickens, a mango tree and a mulberry tree.

I had a visit from them in March this year when my four raised beds were cleared and I started my planting. I have done fairly well - one bed of corn seedlings produced 12 cobs of corn - not bad for late planting,I thought. I had a good winter of snow peas from seed, not so good for podding peas (the packet of seeds was neglected after opening for several years). I'm still growing silver beet which my children still haven't tasted as many stems are going to the six hens. My broccoli wasn't wonderful but is having a second growth at the moment. Bok choi was a good early crop.

I have a butternut pumpkin vine grown from seeds that were already sprouting in the pumpkin I bought and opened in April. Currently it's disappointing because female and male flowers are too many days apart.

My tomatoes planted as seedlings in March ( Grosse lisse and tommy toe ) did brilliantly up to early July when the cold seemed to kill off the Grosse lisse. The tommy toe has kept growing but has developed a very bitter taste - I'm not sure  if that was the companion planting of basil going to seed or just the cold slowing growth too much. The tomatoes were cut back and are now regrowing - I'm leaving for the moment as they are way ahead of the seedlings I've been growing over winter. I assembled some small (90cm square) metal frame beds from Crazy Clarks and have some small crops growing in those.

In June I suddenly decided to try broad beans and they are growing quite well - small handfuls only so far but good for a snack while cooking something else.

Four weeks ago I did a massive seed planting into small punnets and soon after my in-laws came for another visit - now the front garden is cleared of weeds and with only a few perennials left I have more space for food growing. I have put in some artichoke seedlings and started some bean trellises. I hardened my heart and pulled our the first snow pea plants despite a few remaining flowers, so that I have room for tomatoes in a few weeks time.

The podding peas have already been cleared to allow digging over before cucumber seedlings were planted out.I have also planted out zucchini seedlings this week. Still slowly in their original punnets are tomatoes (Rouge de Marmande and Sweetie), green pattypan squash, watermelon, honeydew, cucamelon, cape gooseberry, chervil, marigolds, silver beet and beetroot. The cucamelon was extremely slow to germinate and I don't know if the gooseberry is germinating or I have  casual weeds being cultivated very carefully. I sowed some thyme but nothing is happening yet. 

I have planted some corn in a bed I have been layering carefully since March. My big aim is to plan to allow space for succession planting to get continuous food for the kitchen - not just for corn but for all the vegetables I grow. My general planting scheme is meant to be a rotation of crops but I must admit I get quite confused with companion planting - I tend to decide what the main crop of a bed is and rotate from that.

I own The Kitchen Garden Companion which I use for suggested number of plants and cooking suggestions but rely on Annette Macfarlane's site for timing. I 'm hoping being on the site regularly will give me reminders of what veggies  I could try out.

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Comment by Lissa on September 10, 2014 at 5:55

I do much the same Rob. I let the plants find their own niche and help a little by spreading the plant cuttings containing seed around the yard in the hope that some will take up residence in new spots in the garden.

Every yard is different. I find that each time I move. Do you add organic material to your soil? (you've probably already covered this topic before). I have clay soil and have persistently added organic matter over the years to protect the top layer and increase worm activity and it seems to be working ok.

Comment by Rob Walter on September 9, 2014 at 16:33

Well, that's what I've heard about it Lissa, but it doesn't match my experience, I'm afraid. I often struggle with plants that have tiny seedlings. Getting parsley going is always a huge challenge for me. I think I tend to love them to death because they're so tiny! My solution with parsley is just to let my favourite plants go to seed and sow them by broadcasting handfuls. They find a niche for themselves eventually. It's one of the many reasons carrots have failed for me as well. Given my heavy clay soils I generally prefer things that get well established and produce over a long period, as that establishment period can be slow and treacherous.

Comment by Lissa on September 8, 2014 at 5:20

Amaranth in my yard self sows and comes up without any interference from me (the Mekong Red one, quite pretty and the regular green one) and it's growing well right now I find. I have some tall new plants that came out of nowhere! Not there one minute, there the next (how observant am I!).

I'm trying them on the snails for fodder but they don't seem to like them very much. They're also supposed to like the Plantain but that pretty much got left also. I've been feeding them broccoli leaves mostly but about to pull these plants out for the new season plantings. The silver beet is starting to come on and they like that well enough thank goodness.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on September 6, 2014 at 19:47

Yeah for post Janice!  Like Susan, I've only been going for about 18 months as well.  I hve the Companion as well.  It's quite handy.  

Comment by Cres on September 6, 2014 at 18:21

I'm a massive fan of  it's so well laid out and categorised to the heat zone you set (Brisbane=subtropical). Plus the individual pages on each fruit and vege is a good quick reference. The big plus fpr me is the recommendations for prep for the upcoming month so you're not caught out wishing you'd prepped a bed/ cleared an area earlier. It's well worth bookmarking until such time experience takes over.

Comment by Susan on September 6, 2014 at 17:08

Hi Janice,  I've started to get really serious about gardening over the past 18 months.  Like you, I would go through phases where everything would be going great and then life would interrupt and I would ignore the garden for months on end.   What changed was my son getting old enough that he didn't need my attention every 5 minutes so, even with working full time, I've started to make a concerted effort to become more self-sustaining.  It's been a slow process and I've been adding fruit trees and garden beds as I can afford them.   I recently have made the switch to wicking beds as I have found them to be extremely worth- while, especially for someone who is busy and cannot spend hours in the garden.  I grow whatever takes my fancy - I don't stick to the strict times that most people recommend and try to push the boundaries.  Sometimes with success, sometimes with failure - so have learnt by trial and error.  I always have lettuce in the garden for example- just in a shaded part in summer.  And I've had great success with cucumbers and zucchini's over winter.  Would love to see some pictures of your garden :)

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on September 6, 2014 at 13:42

Amaranth is really a summer crop, Rob. The seeds I planted a couple of weeks back have come up (as have some ferals) but are very slow to grow to even transplanting size. Later in the season I suspect they'll do better. Snag is there's a gap between when the Lettuces (from which we pick for 4 months) bolt to when the summer greens come in (Amaranth, Kang Kong and whatever else will grow for me).

Comment by Rob Walter on September 6, 2014 at 11:37

I've got succession planting sorted out, at least when it comes to disasters. At any one time I'll have at least one plant in the garden that I wish was doing much better and I can't understand what the matter is. Until today it was my tamarillo seeds, which steadfastly refused to emerge. However, they popped up today, so I've moved onto wondering why I can't grow amaranth, which is supposed to be one of the easiest greens of all.

Comment by Lissa on September 6, 2014 at 9:07

Hi Janice :) Nice to meet one of the lurkers in person so to speak!

My own experience is that every year is different. Elaine has taught me that there are some things which do better at certain times of the year and I can thank her for much of the success that I have had, but as to all the fine detail I'm just working that out as I go along. It's all a bit of fun with some good home grown food thrown in.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on September 5, 2014 at 22:10

Welcome Janice! Good to hear from you :-) I hope you nail the succession planting … some of us probably do, I never have ;-) One companion planting I can vouch for is Asparagus and Parsley. They seem to love each other and do really well together, better than if apart.

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