Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

The joy of April:out back making things happen.

You know how it is...

You do one thing and that suggests another in way of flow on. What with the change in the weather and my collection of seedlings I've been out back making things happen.

Maybe I'll add some photos tomorrow when it is daylight...but my garden is a sea of fluro bamboo stakes like these shown right.

I've been a'planting a'plenty.

As part of this exercise I've  planted a Vetiver clump at least every 1.5 metres. This is my major Vetiver experiment in way of harnessing the grass's ability to hydrate and enrich the local soil by adding carbon and fostering its microbiology.

And for cut mulch too: that straw in the photo is cut Vetiver grass.

All that you see below in the photo is now planted out -- except the moringa and most of the chaya.  I'm positing chaya plants in places around the backyard with the aim, not only of consumption, but to also bring on cuttings as chaya is so hard to come by in Australia. That is, in my books, a culinary crime.

The Pearl Millet is sure to be an interesting project. In the kitchen it is very versatile and the fam and I loves the stuff.  In case you don't know -- and that's very likely -- this is what Pearl Millet looks like -- look to the  left.

Whether mine will get that far depends on many complications. But the notion is appealing.

I've been growing field corns to make grits and polenta but the harvest is very disappointing when 'sweet corn' -- Balinese type -- has grown well in my patch. Hopi and Dent varieties have yielded small cobs with limited kernels. Aztec did bad too.

Has it been too wet?

And to top it off, my beloved Okinawa Spinach isn't thriving as much as I am used to. Its cousin, Gynura procumbens, is a weed in my garden.

However, the other night we consumed  a spicy lamb bolognaise with Okinawan spinach polenta  and it was awesome.

The polenta and the millet allows our menu to wander a little away from relying on corn tortillas. Note that I hope to experiment with making millet flour tortillas this week.

I ams what I ams: a corn and millet man. Had egg fried 'rice' for lunch -- made from pearl millet.

So there. It's all about catchup. And you know why? APRIL is the bestest month in my garden and my annual gardening life. I just love April. Maybe we aren't through with  Summer -- it reached 32C here on the coast today -- but on Monday morning we'll be waking up to about 14C. You can spend more time out there in the heat.

Just as I'm thinking I'm consumed in replanting and renewal, I'm harvesting white chokoes, winged beans and Chaya leaf. And still the Dragon Fruit is coming. And for once -- or finally! -- I'm getting a leaf on the Moringa of a size that's worth cooking.

It may look like a corner of a cow paddock but the combo works for me. I pull back the Scurvy Weed to plant  and mark the seedlings with the fluro bamboo sticks.

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Comment by Travis on April 19, 2021 at 18:40

Scurvy weed sounds very interesting. I've read about it in my bush tucker books but haven't been able to find any. Kinda like the elusive chickweed

Comment by Barbara Tealby on April 16, 2021 at 7:45

Thanks for the link to the interesting and thought-provoking article, Dave. It's a bit discouraging to find that the solution to many of our pollution problems is out there, has been out there, but is being disregarded because of the great god money.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 16, 2021 at 2:09

I finished pulling the scurvy weed today. Quick job. But for a change I bucketed most of it and chucked in some fermenting sheep manure sludge and milk.


I'll let that 'tea' up  briefly then throw it all back on the beds. I may use the same approach for other stuff I need to cut, like prickly pear paddles. I'm not patient enough to wait the full course for weed tea. I just want some break down and the beginning of microbial metabolic processes.

A true tea smells like a sweetly scented cow yard -- even without manure.

Coincidentally I came upon this great article:

which suited my present disposition to a T. I'm not advocating that you start defecating outback, but I'm a great believer in the principle of what grows outback/stays outback. Nothing should leave alive.

All you need is a Kickstarter -- like ruminant manure. My present preference is sheep.

Anyway I have 4 big vats of festering Scurvy Weed which I chop down a few times a day  as though I'm using a mortar and pestle. Like I'm chopping parsley or crushing grapes.

Now that I'm making bone broth the garbage that leaves our place is all that plastic packaging we receive, glassware and sundries. Everything else is either eaten, buried or fed to the chooks and dogs.

I'm not interested in self-sufficiency so much as closing the loop -- the rift between what the soil creates and exports -- and what it consumes.

That's sustainability in my books. And since I started with such weak soil, I've been importing 'stuff' to enrich it -- like grass clippings  and other mulchable materials. I still bring in stuff -- but I've got a sustainability cycle ticking over that's domestic.

Obviously, to see all that human manure leave our premises is a hypothetical tragedy. Mind you, I'm not yearning to keep it in house -- but, in principle, it's a loss from the budget.

As it is I'm taking in my neighbour's kitchen scraps as chook feed too. So if you want to know what they had for tea this week, I can read the menu written in  their garbage.

Comment by Dave Riley on April 11, 2021 at 15:36

 Scurvy weed does grow like a thick carpet. I don't so much control it as tame it.

Afterall it is so easy to pull out (most) roots and all and then drop for mulch. Turn your back and it takes over the area again  so you need to keep up the pulling. But it's not like the drag of a normal weed.

I have no other 'weeds' threatening my beds and when you think what they could be, I'm content with Scurvy Weed taming as a hobby.

Pull some Scurvy Weed and all the earth worms underneath scream & squirm for privacy. I think it does wonders for the soil. A true green mulch/manure.

It can crowd out the plants -- thus I mark them with the fluro stakes.

You know how pulling a  weed will sometimes uproot your prized  veg seedling next door? Not with Scurvy Weed as it is so shallow rooted. It sits ontop of the uppermost layer of soil just like a mat.

Snails hate it. Cane toads hate it.

I can let it thicken up even to 30cm deep and be able to shear it all in a few minutes. Usually with my bare hands. For planting, like slash and burn, I clear a space in the jungle by heaving the stems to one side and start planting inside the new border of fresh mulch. I'm now piling these mulch piles on the beds and throwing other stuff into them ready to spread out when they break down a bit. If I want to haste up break down, I walk on the pile to trample it.

I am finding a dispute betwix Scurvy weed and Spring Onions, but otherwise any issues are due to my laziness. I also suspect a cucumber problem. How? Why? I don't know. Other squashes grow fine.

Obviously there is inconvenience with this invasion but

  1. Moisture retention is significant. Both in the soil and the layer of air just above it. The soil is always moist.
  2. Soil quality is improved and I suspect that long term that will improve further with greater sustainability.
  3. Makes for one helluva worm farm.
  4. That means the pH is being regulated to optimum growing range for most vegetables.
  5. In effect, I'm growing my own mulch in situ.

Of course here's a warning: Don't try this at home.

Once you have Scurvy Weed growing you will have it always. For whatever reasons, where I've seen it growing locally in the bush it is no where near as vigorous as what covers my beds.

I keep telling myself to put time aside each week to work with the Scurvy Weed -- minutes is all I'd need -- but I keep forgetting. It does respond best to frequent visits of Barber Dave.  Usually I don't do anything in the garden aside from checking to see if it needs watering.

Them days of runner weeds and the like are all in the past.

I should add that I have also planted some coastal jack-bean to displace some of the Scurvy weed because coastal jack-bean  is a legume.

Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on April 11, 2021 at 14:37

wow that is awesome - great productivity to come ! 

Comment by Christa on April 11, 2021 at 13:55

The coloured bamboo sticks remind me of a flower, similar to a wild gladiola.  I looked to see what was so green and it was the scuvy weed.  You mentioned once that it does not affect the seedlings, but when I had it once, it grew like a thick carpet.  You are luckly to be able to control it and make use of it.

Your winter seedlings should be growing on well.  The vetiver mulch looks nice and thick.

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