Brisbane Local Food

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Taking the milkcrate garden to another level by adding pots. Using cardboard boxes to grow seedlings.

Taking the milkcrate garden to another level. And more delights working with cardboard in the vegey patch.

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Comment by Dave Riley on September 23, 2021 at 19:16

As a FYI: you'll note the many unglazed terracotta pots in my gallery above.

Why unglazed terracotta?

If you recall -- back in the day --I used to water my garden using terracotta pots as ollas. Today, I'm recycling them as they were intended. Although terracotta is a porous medium, like my use of weedmat  that line the walls of the milkcrates, I see that as an advantage as the plants' roots 'breathe' better than they do in sweaty plastic.

If you decant  plants from terracotta and plastic pots you'll get a very different root ball. The plant in the terracotta pot will be more consolidated underground, perhaps because it is less exposed to temperature extremes and waterlogging. Containment by terracotta is closer to soil texture and osmosis than rigid plastic, which is such a sterile medium.

Terracotta may need more attention in way of watering -- but the soil environment is going to be more reflective of in-ground ecology. Less chance of fungal disease too because of all that drainage left, right and down.

Think of that during the summer humidity.

That said, make sure to get pots with a circumference of at least 19-20cm. The smallish ones are only suited to succulents, aerials like orchids and broms.

However, it isn't a good idea to allow your plant to become 'pot-bound' inside terracotta as you run the risk of cracking the pot, especially when you go to re-pot.

So while they may look great, growing perennials -- like trees -- in large terracotta pots is thwart with problems as plant growth and brittle clay  can end in tears before bed time.

IF you do crack a pot -- you can repair it simply by laying a cut-out sheet of weedmat over the hole or crack line. Then hold it in place with soil pressing from the inside.

If you want to understand the properties of unglazed terracotta -- they make for a fascinating cooking tradition, which is all about heat retention and steam. Clay pot cooking extends from the Straits Chinese (of Malaya and Indonesia)  to the Mediterranean & to Mexico (to cook tortillas).

Comment by Dave Riley on September 23, 2021 at 16:03

Sea celery has a strong flavour -- like all the leaf celeries -- so it is a cooking celery. I'm always cooking with celery.

The celery+peppers +onion 'trinity' is a great hack for getting kids to eat vegetables. The herb to enrich it further is added fresh thyme. If you include tomatoes in the mix, then use oregano.

Comment by Susan on September 23, 2021 at 11:58

Good tip for the sea celery.  I did wonder if it was a good substitute for other celery as mine gets bad aphids as soon as it heats up. 

Comment by Barbara Tealby on September 22, 2021 at 7:10

Loved the NY SOKHOM video - how very clever. Great production in such a small space. Looks like the manure people might not get ALL their feed bags back this time. I do wonder why she clips off the bottom part of the cuttings before planting them.

Comment by Dave Riley on September 21, 2021 at 22:51

I found even more pots!

And I made some more too!

This is crazy. I am recycling old beds by digging up the topsoil  to fill pots. By adding some manures and woodchip into the mix and a layer of woodchips on top... I get  a pot or mikcrate that sustains fertility.

It's not that I'm abandoning my beds -- by layering up with pots I increase productivity and sustainability.

I got this perspective from a woman in Nairobi, Kenya I referred to previously.

While in this mindset I came upon a video from the gardening genius, NY SOKHOM.

Check this smart DIY out.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on September 21, 2021 at 20:17

I see "quite clever."  Oh, except I killed my native celery... not that it means much.  I am want to do that. 

Comment by Dave Riley on September 18, 2021 at 23:49

I'm at a loose end because I have run out of things to do in the garden.

I may squirt a bit of water at the pots every now and then but with mulching & green manures, the garden overall gets irrigated once per week if rain is absent.

That's it.

But the comestibles keep coming.

I'm delighted with how the milkcrates and pot supplementation are working for the daily on-hand harvests. Best of all, is that I'm filling them with my own 'potting mix': soil dug from old beds or chook pen, mixed with manure and some wood chips. After planting, a layer of woodchip mulch on top.

Since I also make my own fertiliser 'tea' --  I've got a sustainable thing going outback with sheep manure and seeds (and the occasional seedling)  being my only inputs.

In terms of costs, that's not a bad deal. In terms of nutrition -- it's excellent. Lots of greens and herbs.

The herbs are interesting per our menu.

  • Parsley
  • Coriander
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Sea Celery
  • Celery leaf
  • Curry leaf
  • Epazote
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Mitsuba
  • Chives
  • Spring Onions

Current green favs are:

  • Okinawan spinach
  • Chaya
  • Couve Tronchuda

Them's the basics. Other stuff has proven more fiddly -- like beans, various salad greens, fruiting bodies like peppers.

But squashes come on thick and fast with Tatume being the present star.

Then there are the tomatoes+++ and tomatillos.

Carrots hate my soil but radishes thrive.

This week's taste thrills have been fresh picked Couve Tronchoda eaten raw. (Much sweeter than standard cabbages). Watermelon radishes crunched through direct from garden. Buckets of mulberries (marinated in balsamic and bogged down with thick cream). And thyme....I love thyme. I usually just pick a few twigs, tie them together with jute twine, then throw them into the stew pot.

Worth noting how useful Sea Celery is. And Australian native (Apium annuum) it has proven a reliable supplier of that special celery taste I have become dependent on.Most dishes I'll start to cook with a celery plus pepper and onion 'trinity' braise. This plant, once established, seems always keen on delivering its one third share.

The leaf celeries (Chinese, Dutch, etc) can be fickle and seasonal -- but this native is a perennial or biennial. A must have.

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