Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Hi again everyone.  Well the weather is wonderful at the moment and I'm really enjoying it.  The garden is going amazing - I am so in love with these wicking beds.  From my front beds -> the "trials", I have harvested a total of 10 melons.  There were about 5 this size, and 5 about the size of a softball.   All were delicious.  I can see why the charentais never make it to market though.  Between one day and the next, cracks have appeared.  Put them in the fridge straight away and 1 week later still good so not too much of a drama.  I've also been harvesting my goldfinger banana's (finally worked out what they were based on taste) one hand at a time.  What you can see below is 1/2 a hand.  So far, they have been sitting on the bench for 10 days and only just starting to colour.  Oh well, I'll harvest another hand tomorrow and hopefully they'll ripen just as these ones run out.  Have about 5 more hands left on the tree so I'm good for banana's for another couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, the cuc's never did any good after the first few so I threw away the seeds (trouble with those from the start) and started again in the back. It looked like a nutrient deficiency to start with.  I did use cheap potting mix and no soil -> the only bed built like this.  I put in some fertilizer but they never really recovered.  As both beds were emptied of crops today, I decided to do a little mix with soils, bought some compost (first time EVER -> my two piles are not composted enough yet and I've been using them quickly) to mix in and in the problem bed, chucked in some worms from the worm farm, as well as worm juice.  I found worms in the other bed right down deep so I figured having them in there must be beneficial.  Initially I was worried how worms would survive in those beds as they aren't large and would heat up a lot but as they survived and looked healthy in the other bed, I'm confident enough that they can go in there.  

So.... with two empty, refreshed beds oh what oh what do I plant????  Well my poor little strawberries were horribly overcrowded in their small, self-watering pots, so I decided that I would use one of the beds for them.  Planted runners into it and we'll see how they go.  From the initial 6 plants in two of my pots (Have 5 pots in total, each with 3 plants) I planted 21 plants.  Just like my granddad told me, I chopped off all the leaves and put them into the soil, gave them a good drink with seasol and will continue to water for the next few weeks.  Obviously, I have heaps more plants so I'm going to use the left over wood to continue to build smaller self wicking beds down the side of the house when I'm not in the middle of all this marking(life as a teacher sucks sometimes!!).  Into the other front bed, I'm going to put in some corn as we all love fresh corn in this house and the corn in the back is going great.

Speaking of the beds down the back, look at the difference 3 weeks will make!! Photo on the left is today, photo on the right from last blog - 24th feb.  I've harvested 4 zuccs this week and as you can see, there are MANY more to follow.  I have been having trouble with zucchini's for some time now not developing mature fruit despite hand pollination; based on this I planted 3 plants hoping to get enough not to have to buy any.  NO such problem this time.  Every Zucchini female flower is developing nicely (overnight it feels like) into a beautiful zucchini.  I think 3 plants might have been overkill *sigh*.  That's ok, we've already sussed the neighbors out on their opinion of Zucchini - they love them so any excess will go over the fence.

You can't see it clearly but there were 4 flowers that had opened up this morning and by this arvo, they were all starting to fatten up so more coming...  Here was this mornings harvest.  These are the 3rd white eggplants I've harvested.  They taste great but I'm a bit disappointed about the size - A lot smaller than what I would like as 1 bush won't produce enough for a feed at any one time.  Might need to look into another.  The only failure so far has been the broccoli/cauliflower.  Only one seedling that I bought survived and all the other seeds are not coming up.  I am trying toilet roll wicking planters and will let you know how it goes.

About 2 weeks ago, I was at masters and saw some cheap asparagus seedlings -> $1 Seriously - I bought 2 thinking "what the heck, I'll give them a go".  Separated them out very carefully and managed to get 3-4 crowns from each into the ground.  They are all sending up new shoots so obviously like their new home.  I know they are too close together, once they mature for a year or so I'll spread them out.   That brings my total asparagus count to 12-13 plants.  Awesome. 

What else?? Well I went to visit Spurtopia: Roman and Jana are wonderful, generous and interesting people.  They made me feel right at home and were growing some interesting things.  One thing that I got was madagascar bean seeds.  They are a dried bean and I thought I might give them a go.  Vigorous climbers but not to heavy on the shade; Roman had his trelissed on a wire between the house and the shed and shaped into an arch.  "Perfect" I thought.  They will do quite nicely growing on the front part of the garden (faces west) so in summer, they can provide some much needed shade.  

Well that's it from me for now.  Hope you enjoy my garden. 

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Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 18, 2014 at 22:30

Cheers for that Susan!  My zucchinis got cooked.  The one in the shade was going okay, until we had that hot spell over the weekend.  Between needing lots of water and avoiding heat, I reckon it's either in the aquaponics bed, or not at all. 

Comment by Lissa on March 18, 2014 at 6:16

I'll try to remember to put some Lis. di Gandia seed away for you Susan :)

The current plants are coming to an end after cropping well, no doubt in part due to the current dry spell and despite my trying to keep them watered. I have some strange "crosses" self seeded in one of the beds also. They look a cross between the L. di Gandia and perhaps another. Good enough to eat though they go soft very quickly on the plant.

Will bear in mind what you've said about the white. I do think I left them too long on the plant. Did any of yours go yellow and if yes, did you eat them? Think I will use them for seed.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 17, 2014 at 20:43

It's about as good as it gets with a small home garden. If we want a variety, I have found I have to accept that I will only get a certain number of whatevers, not a feed every day or even a continuity of crops.

You do have to make that decision: to allot a certain amount of space for this crop and that crop and you enjoy what you grow. The 70s idea of 'self-sufficiency' is not very practical but being less dependent on others to grow food for us is about where we're at.

Comment by Susan on March 17, 2014 at 17:39

Hi Florence,  re Zucchini, I think my problem was lack of water as I have always planted more than 1.  They would sort of die off at the bottom -> which I thought was blossom end rot.  But, whenever there was plenty of rain about, I'd get 1 or 2 nice Zucchini's.  I read up about it and blossom end rot can be caused by lack of calcium&/or Magnesium.... but as I had dosed the ground beforehand and rain= zucchini's, I looked into it more and found that insufficient water can reduce their uptake of calcium/magnesium.  This explained what I observed nicely and also accounts for the success of the wicking beds.  I am an EXTREMELY lazy waterer :).  Lissa, I quite like the white.  I did find that I left the first one on too long thinking that it would get bigger.  This one I found quite seedy (just like you) but the other two I made sure to pick as soon as they were the same size as the last and they were great.  I'd be interested in some seeds of the Lisada de Gandia if you have some spare though.  If you think they are worthwhile, I'd love to give them a shot.  

Elaine, a feed once a week of fresh asparagus would be fantastic.  I think I will run out of room for them so my 12-13 plants will have to do. :(

Thanks  Christine & Andy.  BTW Andy, loved your walk through video.  

Comment by Florence on March 17, 2014 at 9:16

With your comments regarding Zuchinni, thinking back, the only success I had was when I had multiple zuchinni and squash plants growing, when I was growing a lone plant, they didn't really fruit because they either only had male flowers, or female flowers, which was frustrating especially when you see all the female flowers drops off due to lack of pollinations :) Nice blog ~

Comment by Lissa on March 17, 2014 at 5:31

Great Bog Susan! :) Your success is inspiring. Nothing much going on in my garden at the moment (some trees fruiting) due to the long dry and the heat. Will wait for some rain before I do any winter planting.

I've had a lot of success with zuchinni this year also. Love eating the fruit when it's little with the flower on. My arvo treat after work! My white eggplants are just the same as yours. Can't say I like them as much as the Listada de Gandia or the black varieties. I prefer their flavour. The white ones are very seedy - might have left them hanging decoratively on the plant too long I think. Some have even gone quite yellow.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 16, 2014 at 9:43

Thank you for the update, Susan! Good to know how experiments are working out.

The white-fruited Eggplant are close to the ones which were called 'egg-plant' coz that's just what they look like. Although I don't use the word much, the French version is 'Aubergine' which I like, talking about the plant and the fruit with the same word seems confusing to me.

Anyway, the current white-fruited plants available as seedlings all seem to have small round fruit. There's several varieties as you can imagine but not readily available as seedlings.

There's a trend to selecting smaller-fruited plants to market as pot subjects for balconies. I have a striped one (similar to Listada di Gandia) as well as the white and a black in a mini-sized fruit. The fruit are a bit more fiddly to prepare but are quite enthusiastic growers and fruiters.

I had 16 Asparagus crowns and even leaving the shoots to grow to 1-2 feet high then snapping them off where they will, we got barely enough for a meal for two once a week or so. So you can almost never have too many Asparagus plants!

Comment by Christine Cox on March 16, 2014 at 4:42

Your beds are amazing. Great blog.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 15, 2014 at 22:04

Nice work Susan!

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