Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I decided to adapt the information kindly posted by Anne Gibson and Lissa to making my own flavour of container potting mix after a string of failures with asian greens that were previously so reliably productive in containers.

Here's what I did.

First I compress a very generous layer of freshly mowed lawn clippings to the bottom of the container. Grass being grass, it compacts over time. Being the bottom layer I wanted to minimise nitrogen escaping into the atmosphere. It also means bad odours, if any, from anaerobic decay are suppressed (although to date I haven't noticed any foul smells even after the recent heavy downpours) and the layer seems to retain moisture well. Weeds haven't been a problem apart from the odd volunteer or two.

Over this, I add a layer of mushroom compost. 

This is very fresh mushroom compost from the Mushroom Exchange at North Maclean. It was still steaming when we bought it on the weekend. Hopefully it's ok to plant in.

The final layer is recycled potting mix (in this case Brunnings el cheapo with some Searles Premium) with added minerals (in this particular case crusher dust), fertiliser (bone and blood here but whatever I have on hand at the time will suffice) and maybe dolomite if the pH meter tells me so. This top layer is blended in with the mushroom compost.

All done! Now the verdict, for me, is still out on crusher dust. It looks suspiciously like crushed cement to me, I'm not sure if it'll do anything for the plants.

And it wouldn't be right if I didn't say: And here's one I prepared some weeks ago for some strawberry runners.

The strawberries seem to be doing well. They've gotten quite big and I'm always having to remove their own runners. As I compressed the grass, there hasn't been much reduction in the depth of the planting medium.

I figured this might be another way to recycle lawn clippings. I see my neighbours bag them by the kerb which seems like a waste of nitrogen to me. Then they buy bags of fertiliser from Bunnings. It boggles the mind!

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 16, 2012 at 17:11

Camerosas can be sublime but the flavour deteriorates as the fertiliser runs out. I've found that with Redlands Joy too. I've kept up the fert to them more than I used to so they have been mostly very tasty. Having a variety suited to our growing conditions then keeping it well fed and watered seems to be a recipe for success.

Comment by Linda Brennan on March 16, 2012 at 16:57

Taste is also linked to the genetics of the plant. The Pinkie have been my disappointment as far as taste goes. Pretty but even with fertilising and potash, pretty bland. Camerosa are OK.

Comment by Lissa on March 11, 2012 at 16:40

Glad I added Potash to the new bed yesterday then :)

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 11, 2012 at 10:16

According to Peter Cundall, taste has a lot to do with the level of Potassium (Potash, K) in the soil. Plant health will benefit too. You can add it as a liquid for short-term results.

Comment by Joseph on March 11, 2012 at 9:43

Thanks, but they were tasteless.

Yep, I thought I'd try miniaturing your idea of layering for container growing. ;) The strawberries like it. I'm getting mixed results with the greens, I'm beginning to think it has more to do with the heat and humidity than anything in the soil.

I've been wondering what to plant now too. It's still too warm for the winter varieties but too late for the heat lovers. 

Comment by Lissa on March 10, 2012 at 18:51

Bea-u-tiful fruit :)

In spite of asking my neighbours to toss their lawn clippings over the fence into my front-yard compost pile on many occassions, they still persist in putting them in a trailor and taking them to the dump. I have given up. They have a barren backyard empty of everything except grass too, so it's a great deal of waste.

You've made a mini elevated bed :) Never tried that in a container before, must give it a go. Did the same thing today on a large scale with one of the 4m beds. Will have to dig through my seed tomorrow for something to plant in it.

Comment by Joseph on March 9, 2012 at 21:35

Everybody on my street has beautifully manicured lawns. 3 out of the 4 immediate neighbours grow some edibles but none of them recycle mowing waste, which I now find a bit strange. They all use sugar cane mulch. When I first started growing, I did the same thinking there must be something wrong with lawn clippings. Having read about pesticide residue in cane mulch, lawn clippings is probably the healthier alternative, not to mention it's abundant and free.

This is my first time growing strawberries proper. I bought a plant a couple of years ago and it produced a handful of fruit. They looked good, that's all.

Last year Mum was given some out of season so maybe the timing is out of whack. I now have about 50 plants growing in hanging pots, containers and in the bed. I wouldn't have a clue when to expect flowers. I assume they'll eventually stop producing runners and start on the sweet red stuff.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 9, 2012 at 20:25

Seems like a good mix, Joseph. As for your wasteful neighbours ... I used shovel my neighbours lawn clipping piles into a barrow and wheel them home. They loved me, I loved them ;-) Even now when barrowing stuff up and down the street is beyond me, one neighbour tips his clippings over into a heap on our joint boundary. It's all good stuff!

My Redlands Joy Strawberries are sometimes producing runners; I cut them off. I think it is a mid-to-late season plant and we're a tad early for the plants. Just for once, I've got my new plants in well in time but a few extra runners are the downside.

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