Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi everyone, how's the gardening going?  I've been busy - as usual - but I've still managed to find a couple of hours to get out in the garden and get stuff done.  I have seen a lot of gardening shows/magazines touting that you can have a productive garden with only "1 hour per week"!!   I don't know about you, but that 1 hour wouldn't even cover the time I spend watering let alone any maintenance chores.  I suppose it could happen, if I didn't mind weeds and could let chaos reign, but I do like a "pretty" garden.  It doesn't help that I've been adding new garden beds/new fruit trees/redesigning so I have a list a mile long to get done and only a few hours every week available to do it. 

My walnut (placentia) arrived last week and I desperately needed to get it planted this weekend, so out I got with my post hole digger - in the rain - and found a nice spot for it out in my"extended backyard"...*Park*.  It doesn't look like much but this little baby will reach a final height of 14m and won't produce nuts for 7-10 years. Luckily, I plan never to move from here.

Speaking of which -  I swear I've become Daley's favourite customer, I've spent so much money there :)  I've now received my second free plant offer (the first one I got a china pear guava) but as the only thing I really want/have room for now is a sheppard avocado, I don't know what I'll get.  They do have a cape goosberry that is rather small that I could find some space for but I haven't been able to find one available on Daley's or at nurseries...oops Just checked the Daley's website and they finally have a sheppard avocado available -> I am now $40 poorer but one sheppard avocado and cape gooseberry richer :)  It too will be going in the "extended backyard"... *park*

My little dragonfruit cutting from Lissa is putting on new growth.  I'm so pleased with this as I was concerned that I might have damaged it when I transplanted it.

All my little seeds that I planted 2 weeks ago, in a mix of Tim's composted horse manure and coco peat, have all come up except for the broccoli.  I don't know about you guys but I am having real trouble getting broccoli to come up/stay alive this year.  I've bought a purple sprouting by Mr fothergill that I need to plant out tomorrow.  So here is my mix left to right top to bottom - lettuce (mix), spinach, leeks, shallots, coriander, cauli's, red cabbage, pak choi.

I have been harvesting quite a lot of spinach, lettuce and shallots, about 2-3 zucchini's, eggplant and sugar snap peas each week. 

As you can see - plenty of greens.  I'm using the shallots instead of onions as much as possible at the moment.  However, I did receive my delivery of potato onions this week.  I ordered these from Yelweck farms after I saw all the discussion about them on Dave Riley's blog.  They will go next to the elephant garlic I planted a couple of weeks ago.  You can just see the shoots from the garlic in the photo below.

I have had one of two earlier plantings of broccoli that have come up and survived the heat.  And I'm just about to be harvesting beans. 

The first flowers are appearing on my sugarbaby strawberries - also from Daley's :)  I did lose 3 of the redlands joy but only 1 sugarbaby. - and they are doing much better than all the redland's joy.

My birdseed green manure is doing well.  I'm thinking about leaving this for another 2-4 weeks before digging in or should I leave it longer?   I've never had a successful green manure crop before.

That crazy nectarine/peach flowering that a lot of us experienced a couple of weeks ago has resulted in fruit set.  Unfortunately, as there are no leaves on my tree, I am unsure how this will ripen but I'll leave it on and we shall see.  Did anyone else get fruit set??

And finally,  I posted a photo of my first honey bar from my hive last weekend when Paul from Brisbane backyard bees came round to give me a tutorial in hive maintenance.  He was surprised at how active my bees had been.  We added an extra bar and LOOK!! My busy little bees have already built nearly a full comb on it (where my finger is). AMAZING!!  I can't wait for my first honey harvest.

Well that's it from me.  Enjoy your winter harvests - I hope you've had more success than I in the broccoli stakes :)  Happy gardening people.

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Comment by Florence on June 15, 2015 at 10:37

I think the "one hour a week" garden would probably be a couple of beds with automatic watering system installed.... I agree it is really misleading...
My peach tree always flowers a couple of times in winter when the weather gets warm for a few days, and it is always the peaches that formed from these flowers made it to maturity without attack from the fruitflies...

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 14, 2015 at 23:35

Susan, I'd leave the green manure crop a little longer. Wisdom is to dig in the plants when they are budding up. Supposedly at their most nutritious at that time.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 14, 2015 at 23:26

I love winter for gardening here.  Abundant greens.  I'm a bit envious of your onions.  The best I can manage is shallots, but it looks like it's going to be a bumper garlic year for a few of us (I hope).  I'm also really jealous of your bees.  Yep, still on my wish list. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 14, 2015 at 21:39

The walking onion bulbs which I have must be the bottoms coz they are about one third the size of an average conventional onion. Going on the pix - and that's all I have ever seen so far - the bulbils are quite tiny.

I get the impression that these onions don't grow through our hot season. Only onion-family that I know for sure which does are the perennial Leeks (I have a few of those for sharing) and the seedling Spring Onions that I buy.

It makes sense to pull up or at least thin out, the clumps of potato onions. I do that with the perennial Leeks and harvest a biggish one for cooking now and then. They've not achieved the size of the Musselburgh ones you see in the shops - about half of that size - but do taste quite 'leeky'.

Comment by Susan on June 14, 2015 at 19:38

Thanks for all the comments guys.  I was a bit annoyed at the rain this weekend too Dave - not that I mind the weather and not having to water, but the weekend is really the only time I can get in the garden and get anything significant done so I resent that it rains on the weekend and I bet the rest of the week will be gorgeous blue skies.  Jan and Elaine re potato onions - I'm assuming that they will get much bigger/produce decent size crop.  I purchased a mix and the browns were definitely larger than the white.  From what I've read, they just keep producing new bulbs and you don't need to pull them up, just leave them happily growing away and multiplying and pull up what you need, when you need it -> My sort of gardening so I'm happy to give them a decent go. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 14, 2015 at 18:34

They mucked up my order and sent me only white. When I wrote to complain about the tiny onions I mentioned the order mess. They have not acknowledged any of my comments about the size of the onions but rushed to send the brown ones to me. So they will rock up this week.

I read that you save the best for planting (seed and vegetative parts) and eat the rest. Those measly white things are at best only picklers which I don't do anyway.

You're welcome to them Jan. I've kept 4 and planted them and will do the same with the browns. In the optimistic hope they grow bigger for me. Ditto with the walking onions for which Lissa has put up her hand.

How do you peel onions Jan?

Comment by Lissa on June 14, 2015 at 11:23

I'll have the Walking Onions Elaine. Very keen to give them a go. Just hoping I can be there for the next GV as I may end up working that day.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 14, 2015 at 10:32

One hour a week is to tempt non-gardeners into growing lettuces. Like going to a talk about home worm farming or composting to be shown pix of kids emptying their lunchboxes into the wormfarm/compost bin. It takes just a little more finesse than that. I think it is wrong to tell people they can do this and that without any effort. They'll soon find out that is not true.

Until we had a reorginisation here, I had a small fridge specially for seeds. Now they are in a cupboard maybe it's OK, the covercrop seeds sprout on time. Still prefer refrigeration for our summers.

Cape Gooseberry seeds are easy to grow. Since they are a solanum and just as tasty for bugs as Eggplant, they are visited by the flea beetle and whatever-else has a yen for solanum leaves. Maddeningly although they have a wonderful flavour, even when ripe and falling off the bush, there is an uncomfortable tartness.

Jan do you find the smallness of the potato onions acceptable? I was bitterly disappointed when mine rocked up. So tiny, so much peeling for so little return. I have a heap of them and walking onions too which will be free at the next garden visit (or I compost them).

Comment by Dave Riley on June 14, 2015 at 9:48

I used to keep all my seeds in the fridge -- but now I use the tall yogurt making flasks I got from Op shops.The care in storage  pays off....

And since looking at seed catalogues is a gardener's version of porn, I find some suppliers I can trust more than others in way of seed fertility. And generally, I find seeds from  local online suppliers  much more reliable than the companies supplying the shops. The one problem being that you need to buy in batches to warrant the postage costs.

But you peeps with your fruit trees! How fortunate are you. So Susan wallow in your fruitiness...aside from citrus,mulberry and pawpaw my garden is glucose light...and I'm not investing in further attempts to fruit up.

With all due respect to the 'lazy gardener' ethos and the Permaculture pitch -- why would you want to spend just one hour a week working in the garden? I have sections  that require only one hour a year -- but I'm not eating from there.

When everything is growing and being verdant I feel slighted. Like some day laborer who wasn't called back I'm unemployed. Marginalised. And after all I did for those plants....!

The 'empty nest' syndrome haunts you.

I find hand watering -- which takes much more than one hour per week -- is my quality time with the soil.Like a nurse doing a ward round, it's my opportunity to see how every one is getting on -- one plant at a time.

And when it's raining like it is feel cheapened. The rain does a much better job. Requires less hardware. Never misses a spot. It's like being displaced by a very professional nanny...

But then this is Australia after all... and if it wasn't for my skill with a nozzle  the comestibles at my feet would all dry up and die.

I guess a perennial like me knows a few things annuals like them don't know...

Whose the boss now! Whose the boss! In my garden it's all anthropocentric rules. One hour a week? No way! You plants will never be rid of me!

Comment by Lissa on June 14, 2015 at 6:16

Oh - with the dragonfruit - you can leave the cuttings lying around for weeks and they don't give a hoot. Hardiest things out. I have to keep cutting back plants that become a bit boisterous so there will always be more available.

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