Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

  • Delicious, very high quality food, unlike the crud from the supermarkets and a lot of fruit shops.
  • Fresh air, sunshine and physical activity - gets me away from my desk and the internet
  • [Edit: Almost] Free food, no petrol burned to get it
My friend is a farmer in central Queensland. He told me what kind of unbelievable stuff supermarket chains do - they even FREEZE apples for months before they go on sale! Imagine, the powdery, flavourless apple you buy are months old! Not only that, they are expensive!

I guess I'm sick of paying for bad food, and I like being outdoors and doing stuff (I especially love the smell of the water from the hose when watering! It sounds silly, but you know what I mean!)

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Comment by Vanessa Collier on June 19, 2010 at 10:24
Hi Daniel. I keep a weekly budget and we spend about $8 a week on the garden (plus labour I guess, but I don't count that because I enjoy it). That figure includes mulch, manure, equipment, fruit trees etc. As we are on a tight budget I don't buy things unless I have to or if I plan for it so we make do with what we have usually (including trudging up to the back patch with a watering can - we just got a hose extension!). We don't live exclusively off our vegie patch but I try to grow what we eat normally. We're still spending about $20 a week on fruit and vegies from the Rocklea markets, which is usually cheaper and fresher than the supermarkets. I don't spend money on seeds very often as I usually get things from Donna at garden visits, then save my own seeds.

We also have heavy clay soil here and I admit to borrowing the neighbour's rotatry hoe to dig it up to start with (hubby did the digging!). We work in manure and compost every time we plant and I try to keep the mulch up to the garden as well and there's a huge difference after a few crops. Still a way to go but the yields are getting better every time. There are lots of big fat juicy worms now too so I take that as a good sign.

We have a worm farm too so I pour worm wee on the garden when we have it - no castings as yet but hopefully will be there in the next few months.

All the best with your gardening. I guess patience and persistence are key, and you will have fun and learn a lot too.
Comment by Scarlett on June 18, 2010 at 19:09
excellent :) plus gardening makes you happy i reckon. like a reset button.
on the making your money back question, I totally advocate stumping up the money up front for a no dig garden and then paying to keep the garden fertile - this way you get amazing, plentiful results straight away (so you make your money back quickly) and then because your soil fertility is high you don't have to pay much to keep it going. Otherwise you pour money into the soil for years and it leaches away and your returns only increase gradually - you have to put in more than the plants eat and the soil wastes in order to build up your yields - so time is against you. Seriously, we spent $400 on compost and we started eating vegies and salad solely from the garden within 6 weeks, we stopped buying our weekly food connect vegie box ($40) and we made our money back 4 months after we put the garden in. Then we kept eating from the same garden for two years, and i spent about $60 a year on additional nutrients (manure, dynamic lifter, blood and bone, dolomite). I only ever bought garlic and onions to add to our diet. (plus a weekly fruit box - I can never grow enough fruit on an urban block to keep up with the kids)
Comment by Donna on June 18, 2010 at 7:55
Daniel, I haven't figured out how to use the Diggers jar yet... think it is because I forget to rinse it every day though. If you are interested you can borrow mine for a month and see if you can get it to work before buying one. I am usually at the Garden Visits so let me know and I can bring it on Sunday.

I am with Florence on the cost, luckily it is a hobby for me more than to save money right now. Hopefully as I get more experienced and the setup/ equipment/ seed costs are no longer required I will start to see actual monetary savings (comparing prices to 'organic' food and not including my labour).

Depending on how much money you are willing to spend, it might be worthwhile creating a no dig garden bed on top of the clay... there is more information on this method on Scarlett's page I believe. I haven't done it before but I know that she swears by it.

At the moment I am reading a book called 'the one straw revolution' which advocates NO DIGGING at all. If you use a rotary hoe or similar it will likely displace the micro-organisms in the soil and set back at least the first crop anyway.

I am totally *over* buying watering cans, think I must go through at least one every couple of months... time to bite the bullet and get a couple of metal ones I think!
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 17, 2010 at 23:10
You can buy Alfalfa seeds at any health food shop or bulk foods shop. I prefer the Sproutamo sprouting jar since I have had good results with it but not with any other kind. Start easy, Alfalfa is the simplest then probably Mung beans and Lentils. The Sproutamo is around $30 and available from www.grainmills.com.au/.
Comment by Daniel on June 17, 2010 at 22:20
Elaine, I saw a sprout jar on diggers.com.au and thought that alfalfa would be great, but I'm not really familiar with any other types. Where would you suggest buying them? :-)
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 17, 2010 at 21:46
Thinking about a quick return - how about sprouts until your crops start to harvest? You can grow sprouts almost anywhere there is some light. You can buy them for $2 a punnet just to see if you like them if you've not eaten them before. I'm happy to provide some info if you want to pursue sprouts in the interim.
Comment by Florence on June 17, 2010 at 20:52
Depends on how you do it I guess... I think I am still paying more than I am harvesting ^^.... But, I am working towards 'almost free' :P I still haven't bought all the tools and gadgets yet.. most of the cheap stuff don't last long.. especially scataurs and plastic watering cans.. Also buy a lot of mulch, manure, seeds, seaweed solutions etc.... You'll have to factor in failure rate too, not necessary to do with skills.. but nature like rain (or the lack of), hail, strong winds, birds, rodents, possums, pests etc... (mostly my own chooks for me..)

If you use herbs for your cooking, I think these are the quickest to make savings if you grow them... since they're are so exxy to buy but generally easy to grow...
Comment by Daniel on June 17, 2010 at 20:10
Whoops! I could have sworn I wrote "almost free" - I was probably watching TV at the same time as writing... Thanks for pointing it out, Elaine! Of course, considering the labour costs, home gardening wouldn't appear so inexpensive, but I'm really only talking about cash costs.
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 17, 2010 at 19:46
Free? Well not really. And not necessarily cheaper than the commercial stuff but naturally, of greater quality and cleanliness. But free? No. Expect to have your hands in your pocket for a while yet at least until you have your system up and running.

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