Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Oct 2016 Many firsts in the Garden

This month was definitely the best month yet! Lots of firsts. I’ve started keeping a harvesting inventory. This month we harvested:

  • a dozen lettuce sized salad greens (green lettuce, mizuna, shungiku, speckled oak, some beetroot leaves)
  • 600g broadbeans (thanks Rob, that's from your one seedling from Susanne's GV!)
  • Some 30 x stalks of perpetual spinach
  • Basil, parsley, coriander, chives, origano, rosemary at leisure
  • 100g nasturtium capers (currently pickling)
  • 5 cumquats (to be honest, I should have rubbed the buds off–and I did for most–but couldn’t resist, they are so cute on the tree)
  • (300g immature Madagascar beans harvested by neighbour by mistake)
  • 200g Madagascar beans
  • 9kg “Hawaiian Gold” sweet potato
  • 3.3kg tomatoes (Cherry and “Black Russian”)
  • 850g Zucchini “Black Jack”
  • 100g bush beans “Provider” + the odd few as I walk past
  • 5 small/medium celery stalks
  • 15 assorted kale leaves

Not all success though. This month I officially killed Elaine’s garlic. It was in too shallow a pot and in too much shade so never multiplied its bulbs. By the time I worked it out to transplant, they did not survive the shock RIP. I do have 1 store bought garlic clove that seems still some what alive, though took ages to shoot yet exposed to the same conditions so we will see.

Gave Mum a growing lettuce for her birthday with some roses from the garden :)

Tomato Hall of Fame. And there are still plenty left! This was my first success at growing a non-cherry sized tomato (above). It was a Black Russian. Oh my, the taste. Forgotten what real tomato tastes like. So soft and splodgy to touch, no way this delicacy would make it to the Woolies shelves. And I’m all the better for it!

The thing about blogs though is that as the writer you can choose only the best bits to include. Like this Black Russian tomato below. On the left that looks yum! But turn the fruit around 180 degrees and it is all white! What is this? A bug or sunburn? I cut it in half and ate it all the same…

I harvested one of my SP grow bags (converted horse feed bag) and had 7kg of Hawaiian Gold in it! The biggest tuber was 2.5kg!! Would you believe this originated from an Epicurious cutting... When I trimmed out the vine, I found that that 5/6ths of the sweet potato vine on the trellis was from this bag and the other two bags had very little growth. My memory is hazy, but I think it was cheap potting mix with some cheap store bought compost added as the growing medium. I was careful not to fertilise (nitrogen = lots of leaves and not enough tubers). Success. I didn't know that you are meant to let them cure after harvest to get them sweeter so ate them that night, boiled to mash. 

My first viola “Sorbet” flowered from seed. Poor thing got eaten by a possum that night…

My first proper homegrown zucchini! Been cutting them young as lots of powdery mildew but do cut off affected leaves and try to keep air circulating.

I had two separate “big” broadbean harvests. Made Broadbean, mint and chives creamy pasta. Yum.

Borage flowers! So pretty and tasty.

This is the recycled materials wicking section, doing great! The mizuna bolted and had to come out though. This is netting though.

First sign of passionfruit! My luck, it’s hanging on the verge, footpath side. True to legend, when you start gardening on the verge, you start meeting all sorts of people. On the weekend a priest came over and introduced himself as a family friend of the elderly couple who live across the road – they have been living there since the 1950s!

Hurrah! Madagascar success! Such pretty little things! Was such a magical moment I thought of doing a Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter reference) and making earrings out of them. A bit hippy but I would never take them out!

You may be wondering how that avo ended up going? Well Pleased to say that the combination of a new wicking pot, BD tree paste, seasol, Garden Mate, and whatever over love I could shower it has resulted in lovely new healthy regrowth. Cutting off the flower buds also helped I think. Turns out it might be a Shepard.

This is the Choko vine from one of James’s magical choko. Can you see that small fruit forming near the left top corner? There are a few other fruits forming and lots of flowers. I’ve even got a second choko sprouting on the kitchen table to cover a western facing wall, fingers crossed.

In that pic above, the yellow flowers are the edible chrysanthemum shungiku – so pretty! Some flowers are full yellow, others are egg yolks. The leaves kinda taste like carrot-parsley lettuce. As you can see, all the mizuna has bolted :( Will try to save the seed.

And this was dinner last night:

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Comment by Susan on October 31, 2016 at 17:10

Amazing job sophie.  Try some stuffed zucchini flowers if you have heaps of left overs

Comment by Rob Collings on October 29, 2016 at 22:37

Very impressive firsts going on there Sophie!

Comment by Lissa on October 27, 2016 at 7:05

Good clue (Eden Seeds). I have never been consistent enough keeping records.

Comment by Sophie on October 27, 2016 at 7:01
Avos just your luck, Lissa! Thanks everyone. I could not have done this without you, not just saying that. A lot of the education, motivation & inspiration came from BLF ;)
Re mizuna, I was picking as cut and come again for a good 4-6 weeks or so but as soon as the weather turned the week before Susan's GV, everything bolted overnight! Including the wicking boxes, though maybe a day or two later. May have just been their time? I'm thinking the trick is diversifying - having a little bit of everything everywhere that way if something doesn't work in one place (climate, shelter, water etc), it might in another. And theoretically it should confuse the bugs.
Re Borage etc I have had fabulous germination using Eden seeds. Seriously consistent unlike any other seed packets I've ever sown. I think it helps that they are grown local. :)
Comment by Lissa on October 27, 2016 at 5:57

Great blog Sophie :) Lots happening in your garden!

I too killed Elaine's and all other garlic. The latest time by smothering them with other plants. They need a dedicated bed where they can reach for the sun all on their own.

I think I have tiny avocados forming!! Just as the house goes on the market, of course.

You have lots of zuccs and toms. A good combination for cooking.

I just love Borage flowers - aren't they beautiful. It's been years since I have successfully grown it (I think it was the last property 15yrs back) and didn't know the flowers are tasty. Bees love them too.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 26, 2016 at 21:01

Isn't a 'doff' a new kind of cabbage you're trialling for us? :-)

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on October 26, 2016 at 20:43

I thnk you are now officially BLF's poster girl.  If I had my hat on, I'd doff it to you.  Well... I don't actually know what a doff really is but I'd at least give you a jaunty hat lift.  

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 26, 2016 at 20:05

Great report, even better produce!

With the Tomatoes, winter is the best time to grow the large-fruited plants. Black Russian is to die for - a fabulous flavour. And subject to every disease in the book come the warm weather :-(. The white withered side of the fruit is sunburn.

With Lettuce-type greens and Cabbage-type greens (Mizuna is a cabbage family plant), try planting a lot of them in a smallish pot and harvesting the whole plant. Waiting to pick leaf by leaf in the warm weather just doesn't work - at least not for me. Joseph one of our earlier members started that trend. He planted out many 'flats' those shallow rectangular trays you find the seedlings stored in in the nursery. Harvested with scissors probably, sheared off the leaves just at ground level. Not sure if he got a return crop but he kept planting and planting through the warm weather and harvested a stack of greens of all types without them going to seed.

I've yet to give it a whirl but have bought some bulk quantities of various Lettuces and Rocket seeds.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on October 26, 2016 at 18:49

Wonderful Blog Sophie, those baby steps are now behind you. You have proved yourself a wonderful gardener. Isn't it fabulous to eat what you have grown, makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Love the Hippie Earing idea. The colour of the Blue Borage is beautiful, the slight taste of Cucumber makes them ideal to add to salads. You should put the photo of "The Birth of Sophie's Baby" (your Sweet Potato) in the photos section. I am sure everyone would get a giggle out of it. Thanks so much for sharing your "Firsts in the Garden".

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