Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

16 October 2015

October seems to be when I travel.  I've been on a road trip out to Lightning Ridge for a week.  Yes, of course I did a video. LOL. 

Back to the yard.  The fish survived again, but the water was really low and very dirty - same for the chickens.  The grow bed was fine because I learned the "summer-proof with shade cloth" lesson from last year and made sure that was done last month.  The girls must become cranky about their water because I'm down to 2 eggs a day compared to 4.  

I'm still adding more "pot" style gardens.  It allows me to maximise every inch of the yard.  I can build them fairly quickly now days.   Yep, I've also changed the watering system in the last few days.  I think it will be an ongoing thing, to be honest.   The four vertical beds mostly have just a few flowers because My Rozie's passionfruit over-ran them.  I've had a lovely display of white roses over the arbor.  If I'm lucky, there will be a few left for the garden visit. 

Crops:  I'm about to get cherry toms, lettuce, silverbeet, and gooseberries.  The tiny lemonade, lemon and mandarin trees are beginning to fruit and I can see lots of other greens like Betel and sweet potato that will let me make heaps of pesto again.  I froze Kumquats and Rob's Davidson's Plums and Mulberries to make more sparkling wines/beers from.  That's been a new venture this year that is very successful. 

The Yakon is coming back already.  Still waiting for the Turmeric and Ginger.  I hope they've survived.  

I still see rats late at night but they are just raiding the grain off the floor of the chicken coop.  I can live with that.  

17 October 2014

I arrived home from France to be pleasantly surprised that the kids had managed to keep the tiny city farm entirely destruction free, which is no mean feat to be honest.  The fish were alive, chooks still laying, garden not dead - Bobbie relatively untraumatised.  WOW!  However, what I did notice was that my aquaponics bed had mostly bolted, or been burned in the sun. Time to summer-proof!

First order of business was to put the shadecloth back up over the aquaponics.  Thanks to the chook house, it is much easier nowdays.  Remember, it has to remain a temporary structure so I can easily remove it in Autumn.  Took all of 10 minutes.  Not as cute as last year but perfectly functional. 

Since I've also been adding more "pot style gardens", I have now also spent a fair bit of time extending the watering system.  I had to get a lot more creative to make sure pots get watered as well as the gardens.  If I had water in my rain tanks, I could actually test the damn things.  LOL.  

Talking of pots, I have two vertical pallet gardens now that I am testing during our summer heat.  If they survive, I'll add two more.  If they don't, then I will re-think that part of the garden.  I included them in the watering system as well. 

You know, what really annoys me about summer proofing is that I've done weeks of work.  Some watering systems had to be broken into half, extras bits had to be added all over the place - and, you can't even see what I've done!!!  Hopefully, it will reflect in the plant growth - otherwise, I might just concrete the bloody lot. LOL. 

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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on October 16, 2015 at 20:54

Thanks Dave.  Might try the food board as well. 

Comment by Dave Riley on October 16, 2015 at 20:50

Yes. I have two hens and feed them a measured three quarter cup of feed each day (and I think I'm being generous as it probably should be half a cup). As well they get kitchen scraps and garden  cuttings and pulled weeds. 

If there is any food left after a feeding frenzy, I have to clean it up...precisely because of the rat threat.A sure sign of over feeding of grain is the presence of other birds in the pen. I can see that my neighbour, two doors up is over feeding, as every day her pen is covered by visiting birdlife. But with mine, I don't  get any feathered intruders. 

In the mornings I only feed the grain to make sure it is all gone before any extras are added.. 

While chooks like to scratch around, you may want to use a flat board  or linoleum sheet for a while to make sure all the food is eaten.

Sort of like a laid out table.

I've been following this regime strictly because any visiting rat  activates my Jack Russell's genes  so he then breaks into the pen to get at them over night.  In the morning the chooks have used his break in hole to exit and devastate my veg garden.

Of late my next door neighbour's new dog has been breaking into the pen (because it's there) by digging under the chain wire fence.These animals can do this easily because the sand is so friable it is so easy to dig. Even the marauding bush turkey tried to dig into the pen from the other neighbour's back yard! 

Everyone wants to play at excavations!

In case anyone is interested -- as borrowing is standard here:

Added gravel to the sand will slow down any burrowing animal, but the best defence I've found is half burying a line of shade cloth and tying it to the wire walls. Should stop a fox too. Standard chicken wire does not stop my Jack Russell. The animal is a tank built like a wombat.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on October 16, 2015 at 19:53

I think you're right Dave.  I'm going to reduce their grain and cut them off well before dark.  

Comment by Dave Riley on October 16, 2015 at 9:36

I'm sure you have thought of it Andy: but when feeding your poultry, are you over feeding them? Chickens are gutsers and there should be nothing left for any rodent to eat.

Given their scratching around and eyesight, they should consume every morsel.

I also make sure I feed them at times that the imposition of darkness doesn't drive them to roost...thus no leftovers.No doubt rats will eat anything but the more the table is laid out for them the keener they'll be to come visit. 

PS: what I meant about the vertical g pallets was take the back off two pallets and join their open sides together before laying in the weedmat/cloth.A parent at the school reworked a pallet into a series of lipped shelves, but that was far too shallow...

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 16, 2015 at 7:01

For some reason beyond my ken, there's been a trend for many years to worry about drainage in pots. Drainage! That's all a pot is, a way of wasting water and fertiliser. Turn those pots into wicking pots and it's a whole different endeavour. Although a tiny reservoir is just that - tiny, at least the water doesn't cascade straight out of the mix. Keep the mix damp, water till it just overflows and even if you have to do it every day it's only a couple of spoons of water per plant.

Comment by Lissa on October 16, 2015 at 6:48

We'll appreciate the work you have done Andy. Just remind us on the day! You know you don't want cement.

Most of my gardening life I've been a pot style gardener, mostly because my husband insisted on moving every couple of years and if I wanted my plants to come with me they had to be in pots.

While I still have a lot of big pots that I use basically because I have them, my inclination , my belief for healthy soil and plants, is that there must be some contact with the actual earth.

Comment by Dave Riley on October 16, 2015 at 2:05

We've had five vertical pallet gardens at the school for the last 2 terms. They run north south in full sun. While the plants have survived it has taken so much effort and attention.

I hate the darn things!

Our original mistake was in the soil mix we used. Indeed you can now buy 'mixes' designed especially for vertical gardens.

Water at depth is hard and fertilising proved a relentless task.We had to rely on commercial water soluble fertilizers as though they were cordial.

However, I reckon in our climate -- a better vertical garden rig is made from milk crates. Wider: you have more leeway and an easier run with the temperature of the soil and water retention. You can also shift the plants about with easier access.

If using pallets -- and we had to do it all again -- my workaround would be to place two pallets butted longways together. Better insulation. More room for rooting on. Deeper water retention.

Once the plants take off, they look kinda cute...and it is surprising how the plants, once tiered, survive. But seriously they are none too productive. We  grew herbs, strawberries and sun jewels...and the harvest has been abysmal despite a trained horticulturalist fretting over the exercise every week and watering most days of the week. 

Comment by Susan on October 22, 2014 at 19:46
I know the feeling Andy. I will spend hours in the garden and my husband comes out and wonders what I've been doing.


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