Brisbane Local Food

Growing local


After doing a quick knob count I note the existence of 16 frangipani trees in my garden. They're still young 'uns but each year they do manage to climb closer to the sky.

They're also called graveyard trees in part because, ghost like, they will 'grow' in air and when planted near temples and such are a ready source for offerings to the dead.
Then there is the Summer scent, the easy trim/easy control, the wondrous flowers, the stoic sculptural shapes when they loose their leaves, the easy striking to create new plants ...
The only drawback is the milky sap (frangipanis are related to, but not as toxic as, Oleanders) which can be problematical for some individuals who are prone to rashes.
That they are mainly deciduous is a bargain if deployed as a shade tree. Without leaves during their dormant months they offer a stark skeletal beauty that frames the surrounding landscape.
I'm also trying to use them as trellises for my Summer vegetables --allowing me a few shade options -- and to train choko and snake beans upwards. Their roots aren't especially invasive or greedy when planted among veges and they are easy to trim to preferred functional shape. "Easy' means you simply break off a bit here and there or lop off a branch with a knife.

Of course they are native to the Americas and the association with the graveyard in SE Asia is only a few hundred years old since they were imported. But as I say, the other aspect is that you can throw a bundle of frangipani branches into a pile and rather than 'die' they start to bloom. It's freaky. When you take a cutting you leave it out in the sun for a week -- zombie-fy it -- before planting it. The Balinese are a big fan of frangipanis of course as are many Pacific Islanders. My interest has been long standing and I'm trying to bend them to greater utility rather than just settle on the blooms.

Sweet Leaf/Katuk
The other plant I have planted out big time through easy cuttings is sweet leaf -- katuk (in Malay I think?). Nice little tree which tastes great all over. It's deciduous here in the sub tropics but comes on strong during the warmer months (At least that's my hope. My supplier at the Caboolture markets swears by them as a garden standard . He grows them in agricultural proportions.)
Katuk is tolerant of poor soils and grows as a bush which is often planted as hedging.
Harvest is as simple as stripping the small oval leaves and eating them via the preparation of your choice. I even pick them as a garden treat and pop them into my mouth while I'm outback.
Kale has one helluva reputation as a vegetable.Once you get into kale you no longer bother with spinach or silver beet. 
In Turkish cuisine it's supreme.
Easy to grow, regardless of soil it seems -- I like growing a mix of types so that I can delight at the leaf patterns and shapes.
Kale is my new love. Presents no problems for the  gardener. Sturdy. Will respond to cut-and-come-again after harvest. Slow to run to seed. One helluva giving vegetable.
Spring Onions
In my garden they may not grow as vigorously as I'd hope but I haver enough of them to keep me self sufficient in 'onions' -- they're all I use. I'm still experimenting to see what type best suits my growing conditions and soils but the Welsh Bunching seem the most productive so far.
Sweet Potato 
I have a lot of space dedicated to sweet potato vines. They are easy to grow although my soil is still a bit too sandy for them to be truly productive. They also require more water than I can get to them. But I'm harvesting my needs despite the current small sizes of the tubers.
Still a steep learning curve for me these plants. I tend to neglect them but they keep at their business non the less...and will grow  me food.
I've got myself plenty of choko vines and use them for a lot of tasks around the garden. I prefer to harvest the fruits when very small, but as they age there's always the delights of roasting them. In other places they make for a hardy ground cover.
A major shade resource for other vegetables as I train  them over trellises.
When the fungi don't get to em, Zuchini always delivers. Combining zuchini with choko sort of covers my  needs for bulbous green veg. Much easier to grow in my soil than cucumbers -- while I've tried other varieties I keep coming back to the supermarket standard green zuchini like Black Jack.
It's nice to know that there is a place on earth that respects the zuchini as much as the locals: Turkey.

And the Turks win further points because they don't call it by the confusing name of 'courgette'.

 Given this weather, the zuchini are coming on big time and anyone can grow a Black Jack Zunchini. Zuchs, nonetheless, can often be boring. But hey: we're having Zucchini Salad with Yogurt (Yoğurtlu Kabak Salatası) as a sort of salsa sauce for lunch. It's a rich zuchini Tzatziki and goes down real well.
Much as I love to grow pawpaw --and I have 10 trees planted -- mine are struggling with what I have been able to offer them in way of growing media. I'm working at it, of course -- but as I approach my first harvest I know I could get more out of the plants if they only spoke to me and told me want they wanted out of life.
I love mulberry season and cannot have a garden without a tree. Mine is in its second year and I'm hoping this year's crop of berries will be much bigger than last season's. I'd like to grow other berries --and I have strawberries, Loganberries and Gooseberries planted -- but they all tend to require soils at their feet  I haven't quite created yet. .
Salad Greens
I get impatient with a lot of the salad bowl greenery. I go for the chicories in preferences to the tasteless lettuces.And the wider the variety of chicories -- the more thrills there is with vinaigrette. When it comes to Rocket I'm totally smitten with Wild Rocket instead of the fleshier cousin which really needs to be picked early in its life. Even when flowering the Wild Rocket(pictured above) is harvestable as the leaves remain small and filigreed.
Standrad rocket for me is an excuse to bolt en route to being fed to the chooks.
But not any eggplant: it's gotta be the dark black kind. I've given up on the many varieties, such as the yellows and light purples. For consistency of growth and flavour and texture I go for the darkies. Tough as old boots, mine survive as perennials and will kick on much better than their more fragile cousins, the tomatoes.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

The Vetiver Community Project is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

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