Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi everyone, just thought I'd share what has been happening in my garden.

The first thing I'm most excited about is the asparagus!! I bought some crowns ($4 each BARGAIN!!) from a guy at the market back in winter (had no idea how old they were or when they would produce) and at the beginning of spring got some small spears that I let turn into fronds.  Didn't expect anything else but with all this  rain, they have started producing again. This was harvested over a week (only 2 plants currently putting up decent sized shoots, other 3 I'm leaving alone) and got this many again last week.  Good enough to have a feed.  Can't wait until all 5 start producing,  it will be great.

My last attempt at growing my Black Futsu pumpkins was a failure.  I only got 2 and picked them early because either possums or rats were starting to get into them.  Planted these 2 back in September and they are looking great.  I already have 7 pumpkins developing nicely.  A bit susceptable to powdery mildew (as are my charentais melons) so have been spraying all curbits to try to keep it in check.

One thing that isn't susceptable to mildew is the Moon & stars watermelon.  But, I only got 3 Melons so I'm not sure if I will keep it going as it takes over everything.  However, check out the size of the melon (photo does not do it justice).  I reckon it weighs about 5-6 kg if not more.

Have bought 3 new blueberry plants.  Am kicking myself as my other 2 are about 3 years old now and I'm getting a good handful every 2 days (on the right).  If I had of bought 5, I would be getting a decent feed by now.  However, I wasn't sure how'd they'd go in my garden so was reluctant to invest in something that may die. 

My first banana's.  YAY!!

I,ve repeatedly tried to grow strawberries with very limited success.  This time I decided to give self-watering pots a try (I have 5).  So far, so good.  I only need to water them once every 5 days (refill the reservoir) and they look good.  Only problem was that I found toads were getting into the reservoir.  My solution, a little bit of metal mesh cut in three spots so it acts like an old fashioned peg and blocks the toads and still easy for me to get water in there.

And finally, my attempt to grow broccoli throughout summer.  The breed is Kaliaan Express and it gives open florets (a little like the sprouts after the main broccoli head).  I've taken precautions to cover them to stop moths.  Something still gets in there and has a little chew but for the most part, no sprays or anything and still looking good (we all know that normal broccoli would be covered by now in grubs).  Haven't yet harvested any so can't comment yet on flavour, but will let you know.  

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Comment by Susan on December 13, 2013 at 14:29

Thanks Ania :)

Comment by Ania on December 12, 2013 at 9:49

What a gorgeous spread of productivity! I love this post. I like the idea of those pumpkins, Will try this variety next year. Major banana envy, well done. I may need to apply for this licence you speak of, I love Bananas. Regarding strawberries, my mum swears by only planting runners from someone else's (or older) plants versus buying anything from stores. She harvests handfuls of strawberries for half the year.  Looking forward to seeing more pics from your gorgeous garden. :)

Comment by Susan on December 11, 2013 at 19:23

I'm going to leave the suckers for our "experiment"....... really it's because I'm just too lazy to bother removing them.  I did break off the flower bell a) because it seemed added weight that was unnecessary b) same as Elaine's thinking about removing nutrients etc.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 7, 2013 at 10:11

Conundrum - the cut/not cut to de-sucker/not de-sucker, bunch cover and so it goes. Bunch covers were not available to backyarders when I first grew Ladyfingers so I have not got into the habit of using them. I like to see the bunch and check its progress. I cut off the bell coz someone told me to do that ... anyway I figured the plant will only mature so much fruit and the rest is just taking nutrients away from the developing fruit - or that's my theory. The Blue-faced Honeyeaters come to the bell and I wait until they've had enough - usually a couple of weeks after the last fruit starts to fill out. Then off comes the bell. I tried the Banana Bell Salad and figured you'd need a really fresh bell and the bell ended up in the compost.

As for de-suckering - they do it commercially so I figure there must be an advantage. Since mostly they grow Cavendish which are very short and usually don't need propping, cutting out all the suckers is no detriment to the main stem. Probably (sure the commercial growers have this all worked out) the less suckers, the more nutrients to the fruit.

Not having grown the Dwarf Ducasse before, I was not prepared for the stems to bend like they did. And it well might have been through lack of support from the suckers. It was their first crop (from tissue culture plants) and at a guess the stool itself was not strong enough to support the stem. I have left more suckers for longer this time mainly due to not getting around to doing the job. I notice the stools are around double the size they were when the bunches were produced. I have a prop ready now and just wait and see what happens. I'm trying to manipulate the suckers to spread out the crop - 3 big bunches within a month was more Bananas than we can comfortably handle even with a 12 tray dehydrator.

Taking the hands off green is fine if the hands are spread out. With the Ducasse I found the fruit were very tightly crowded vertically and getting any implement in there to chop off a hand was more than I could handle. A taller stronger person may do better. 

Comment by Lissa on December 7, 2013 at 6:48

Curious how you know cutting off the flower bell improves the flavour Scott?

The workshop I went to told us to leave it on (birds like it). Have you tried leaving some on to see if the flavour is any different?

Removing the suckers is another one we're told to do. When I remove the suckers, the parent plant just sends up more, so now I just leave them. The plants seem to produce their bunches just fine and there's always a new plant ready to take it's place.

I really have to wonder if there is value in some of this "lore" or is it just information we keep passing on without testing it.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 5, 2013 at 7:42

So far the dried Bananas have kept without refrigeration, I just put a packet in the 'fridge once I've opened it - nothing fancy either, just plastic bags.

The lean was a bit of a problem, who-knows-why. The suckers are thick just now and I've yet to remove them and so far the stems are upright although not close to fruiting. And I have a scissors-type prop now thanks to a mowing guy who made it for me. I've lost the plot with timing, didn't write anything down so am guessing.

Comment by Lissa on December 5, 2013 at 4:51

And yet your Dwf Ducasse, bought and planted much the same time as mine, produced a bunch much quicker than mine has Elaine. My first bunch is out there ripening now.

I've let my plant sucker and I think you removed yours. When I saw how quickly your plant leaned with the weight of the fruit I decided to leave the suckers around the main plant as support.

Susan - I've found the dehydrator invalualbe when dealing with a glut of narnies. Once dehyrated they keep really well in the fridge for a very long time. I keep my eyes peeled for cheap narnies in the shop for the same reason.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 4, 2013 at 20:41

And someone told me! So much to learn, so little time ;-) You can stagger fruiting yourself by which shoot you allow to fruit - just keep chopping the suckers off until you get one at the time you want. It's something like 9 months from the shoot to the fruit, but I'm thinking it's longer with these non-Ladyfingers - mine are dwarf Ducasse and it took the plants 2 years from tissue culture baby to ripe bunch. Remember the cyclone which wiped out a large part of Qld Banana plantations? It was 9 months from then to when the first fruit was in the shops but that is with Cavendish from mature stools.

Comment by Susan on December 4, 2013 at 19:14

That may be what I bought then.  I know I wanted two different types to hopefully stagger the fruiting times a bit cause I know there is usually a glut of banana's when they ripen.  The other one has not sent up the 1/2 sized leaf yet that signals the start of flowering.  Gosh, I've learnt so much from this sight!! I think it was Elaine's blog that I found that one out. 

Comment by Lissa on December 4, 2013 at 4:45

Wondering if you will need to re-acidify the soil for the blueberries on a regular basis? I suspect that's where I fell down with mine.

Not checking if you have a licence for the banana Susan, just curious as to the variety. My Dwf Ducasse is producing it's first fruit at the moment.

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