Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Must be time for a progress report. I've actually been out of action (but all over the computer you may have noticed) as I had my tonsils out, which was very unpleasant (much better now). So the garden has suffered several weeks of neglect. Today I finally had a go at it.

This is the perennial basil bush, the rosemary and a blue plumbago (which attracts those little clouds of powder blue/ grey butterflies) - all sporting their Autumn haircuts.

This is a Blue Lake climbing bean, which is coming good since I gave it some support. The pile of green is another giant bean that was growing on the fence - also Blue Lake I think - the neighbours took exception to it, so I chopped it down. Pity :) It had just flowered. I don't put things in that spot (it's too near their kitchen window, I think it might block their morning light) - it's just that this one self seeded.

I had left the garbage bin lid I usually harvest into lying on the ground under the pumpkin leaves - and found a blue tongue lizard living under it :)

The banana passionfruit over the chook pen is producing well - and the chooks seem to be actually eating the seeds! Hooray, they're not completely stupid :) Note we had to protect the base of the passionfruit vine with some chook wire so they didn't scratch the roots out too much. The passionfruit has scrambled up over the mulberry tree canopy which also covers the chook pen - they seem to coexist quite happily. I'll probably cut the passionfruit back soon and then the mulberry can fruit unimpeded. A nice sort of chook house guild (the chooks eat the mulberry fruits and especially the small insects they attract as well).

They're producing eggs again, although they are still moulting a few little feathers. Their big wing feathers are back in - I will have to clip them again. Note our girls share a nest, even though there is room for them to have one each. They are odd. They also spurn the roost and sleep sitting on the bedding hay...They have mites again. I cleaned out the straw, dusted with Pestene (rotenone) and chopped some lemon grass in. I will probably catch them and give them a spray with Frontline each (very nasty MSDS on that - but I get a bit desperate). I think if they used their roost they would get less mites. I cannot convince them though. I've tried all different sizes of dowel - they're just not interested. They like sleeping in the pawpaw tree, the mulberry tree, or in their bedding straw.

Here is the inside of the banana pawpaw circle. It is absolutely groaning with garden waste at the moment. It's amazing how quickly it will all boil away though. Now that Council is charging for green waste wheelie bins it's sort of like a big pile of money to have this - and it produces bananas and pawpaws! I do think that there are cane toads living in it though.

The pawpaws and bananas are all doing well - we're getting about one large ripe pawpaw per week (perfect!), there are 4 large bunches of bananas growing, and one of the bananas is lowering a very promising big fat bell right at the moment.

This is our lemon tree, also sporting a hair cut to keep it low and wide. Our lemons are ripening up. The tree loves the dirty chook straw as mulch. I also have a compost bin sitting next to it (which is fairly slow and neglected) and I gave it a big shot of dynamic lifter before Summer. It's displaying a good healthy colour I think (deep dark green is what you want).

This is the pot bound lime tree. Something has eaten all of the foliage off the oregano at its base! Could be the chooks, they have been out everyday, but I don't think so. I think it might be a caterpillar or something - I need to have a closer look. Something has also eaten all of the mint leaves. Not happy! See the lime tree has a bad yellowish colour? It really isn't happy, despite lots of dynamic lifter as well. At least it's putting on new growth and even producing some limes this year since I put a spade through its roots a few time (aka root pruning), but it needs more help before it can be considered rescued.

Here is the vegie garden - the marigolds are all broken in now. I'm about to remove the stems and spread Rachael's horse manure, then lever everything open with a crowbar (not digging, not turning - just stab, lean and make earthquakes everywhere to get air in and break any compaction, and to create clods without upsetting the microbial layering).

The pecan tree is doing well. This spot is probably slightly too shady for it - it will need to get its canopy up into the sun before it's really happy I think. Still you can see it has nice happy foliage. I never water or feed it all (literally never).

My main job today was to clear away the pumpkin vines (enough is enough! although they were still making new ones!!). I also dug up the jerusalem artichoke which has died back. We have rather a lot of starchy vegetables as a result!! The sweet potato driveway has gone absolutely beserk. We could feed our entire street for a week on baked sweet potato (seriously). I can smell baking vegetables as I write this :) You know, I'm still not sick of it - it's absolutely delicious :) It really is a living larder - they just keep getting bigger and making more, and they're always there when we need one (or ten...). They're $3 a kilo at the local shop, so I figure our driveway is worth a small fortune :)

Now this is just silly. These are just from today's efforts. We've already been eating and giving away pumpkin for weeks as it is!!

Here are the giant piles of pumpkin vines that I cleared (sorry, I had the camera on the wrong focal setting). Note the lovely clear space where the vines were - ready for anything!

More view of the good cultivating job the pumpkins did (the ground was mulched and weed free when we started, and we pulled out some maturing grass clumps once, but the dense leaf canopy kept the ground clear the rest of the time).

Another fuzzy one (oops!) showing the ground preparation job done by the pumpkins (note the grass down the bottom is our one piece of lawn near the back door - very shaggy cos we couldn't mow it with pumpkin vines all over it! The pumpkins won't clear lawn for you, but they will keep ground clear if it was to start with).

So once I removed all the pumpkins and mad rampant sweet potato vines from all over the place I found potato plants growing! Obviously I left some in last year (oops! drat!! some of them were really big too!).

Like these big potato mamas, that I found in the hole I made when excavating for jerusalem artichokes. Note that there are potatoes, sweet potatoes and jersulem artichoke all slugging it out for space in the same place! It's like a demented tuber war (and it was covered by a producing pumpkin vine!). Every time I put my hand in I came out with mad amounts of edible things. It's sort of surreal...

These dead stalks are another jerusalem artichoke plant that I haven't excavated yet. I will have to deal with the first lot first. I think probably soup, and I will freeze it.

My turmeric plants have gone tragic in preparation for retreating underground for the winter.

To my surprise the water chestnut hasn't died back yet! I have bandicooted some out and there are obviously hundreds in there, but they were only medium sized and some didn't have strong black skin yet, so I'm leaving them go still. I've only given them 3 buckets of water since they've been out of the pond, but they don't seem to mind at all! Hopefully they're all getting fat in there. They were lovely and sweet. I did take photos of the ones we got out but I've misplaced them...

One of the best things about gardening days is that the kids come out and play happily in the garden - much more so than if we're not out there too. My little 5 year old makes mad cooking and fairy installations, which I find in many odd places. I love this world of nature and imagination that they find in our yard. They sing and play dress ups and imagination games and are completely aborbed for hours - it's wonderful.

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Comment by Scarlett on May 17, 2010 at 21:13
I've found that they get so big they push up out of the ground - so you can pretty much see how big they are - we've never dug for any because we can't eat all of the ones that are leaping out at us...(imagine if they're all underground as well? i'm not even going to think about it...)
Comment by Trinette on May 17, 2010 at 20:56
Thanks for sharing Scarlett, very inspiring! :o) How do you know when and where to dig the sweet pot. up?
Comment by Donna on May 11, 2010 at 12:43
Along the side where we dumped the green bark is really healthy as well. It has pretty much broken down now, I must try to get another load dumped to age and use as mulch, although I also planting sweet potato as it seems to be a great living ground cover.

It is amazing how children prefer to be near you, it is the same with mine. At the moment he loves to play in the chicken house - of course not his cubby house which is clean and poo free. He is faster than us and can grab the chickens for a cuddle when they come in for a drink, I sometimes feel sorry for his favourite Lavendar as she gets it at least five times more than the others :)
Comment by Scarlett on May 10, 2010 at 21:48
i wonder about that load of green wood chip mulch we used - it got properly wet and dead, then we got a huge crop of tiny toadstools everywhere, and then bacteria moved in and broke the mulch down rapidly until it went soft and black. I think that this is probably what changed our soil from dead and dry to alive and productive - not just the mass of organic matter that we added, but the mass of organisms we nurtured into the soil? once they're there and you continue to provide them with food (in the shape of growing and dying plant roots and associated organisms) the whole thing just gets more and more organism friendly :) = living soil. i think this is why - because when we moved in 5 years ago even the grass was struggling
Comment by Scarlett on May 10, 2010 at 21:42
yes i am losing a lot of passionfruit also - they are being stung by something, most likely fruit fly I guess. we're still getting lots (often more than we can eat from two vines - luckily one of my daughters loves them), but i'd guess that we're losing at least half of the fruit to being stung. i was surprised also - as you say, the skin is very thick and this didn't happen last year. i put a photo of the stung fruit up recently - it looks like it has a sort of beehive pattern. interestingly the wasps appear to sting one fruit all over and leave other ones completely clear - which is great - it would be awful if every fruit had one or two stings instead
Comment by Florence on May 10, 2010 at 20:58
Your garden is sooo productive! Love your abundant root crops~
A question about your passionfruits, I see you have some fruit drops too, I noticed I am getting a lot of fruit drops this year, in fact most of them dropped before they are riped and we chopped one of them up and found wiggly maggots in there... they are fruit flies? Do you get them? I would have thought passionfruits' skin would be too thick..
Comment by Lotte on May 9, 2010 at 21:03
Thanks for sharing. Your garden is so inspiring.

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