Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Here we go again! with the main growing period for veg in Brisbane. I used to dislike winter but now I really look forward to it and the opportunity to try some new seed and plants each time.

I'm trying to get some Kangkong growing in the wet pot in the pic above, not really the right season but what the hey giving it a go anyway. I've bought some seed for the warmer months if the cuttings don't take. Trying again with the water chestnut after three failures. I have them growing in a clay pot sitting on a brick in a large tub of water this time. Not submerged.

Still using a mix of seed grown and seedlings from the market. Whatever gives me results. It's all about having something good to eat out of it all, organically grown, so I don't really care where the plant initially comes from. Seed is best but I find a lot of the heirloom items difficult to grow. I'm focusing on finding out what works well in MY area and that I actually find useful as a food.

Below 17.06.12 - establising as many Pepino plants around the place as I can as I really like the yummy little fruit. Absolutely no waste (you eat the whole thing) and nothing much seems to affect them. Not many fruit for the size of the plants at the moment, but this (my oldest established) is now growing well and producing lots of flowers so I have hope for more than the odd fruit.

Below 17.06.12 - finally have some Cape Gooseberry established. They are such spreaders but as I'm not mowing at the moment it's not a problem. Lovely to have a few fruit to eat each day - a real blast from my past. People who make jam must have a heap of plants!

Below 17.06.12 - so many different carrot varities to try! These are L-R Kuroda x2, Amarillo and Muscade.

Below 17.06.12 - ever dependable bush beans grow so well at this time of the year.

Below 17.06.12 - the Listada di Gandia have slowed right down with developing fruit. I noticed the Blue Banded bees are my main helper fertilising these flowers and they are now dormant. My little native bees are still active, but they don't seem to go near these flowers.

Below 17.06.12 - brocolli grown from seed saved from last years wonderful crop. Small heading variety. Waiting to find out if this grows something useful or has cross pollinated with something else.

Below 17.06.12 - my native bees still come out once the day warms up, which unfortunately means I only see them at the weekend and not during the work week.

Below 17.06.12 - compost pile, giant garlic in grow tub and Cardoon in bed (tall). Cardoon is something I will continue to grow (so long as it seeds for me!) as it's incredibly hardy with firm stems useful for stews and casseroles. Quite bitter to bite on but you don't notice it in the dish. Reminiscent of a cross between the stems of silverbeet and celery but certainly quicker growing than the latter.

30.06.12 We've had a few days of cold winter rain and gray days. The corn seems to have slowed right down but all the brassicas, carrots etc are just loving it!

30.06.12 Below Bed 3: Some of the cauli (white, green and purple from bought seedlings), red lettuce and Kolrabi. Some caterpillar damage but I'm only finding a few actual torchlight in the evening mainly.

30.06.12 Supposed to be bush beans! but these are wanting to climb. Seed grown from saved seed so maybe they are regressing. So long as I get beans I don't really care.

30.06.12 Below Bed 2: Brocolli from saved seed seem to be coming along ok. Waiting for the proof!

30.06.12 Below: General bed near the aviary - parsley, two types of sorrel, pepino and salvia.

30.06.12 Below: Self sown Tamarillo at the end of Bed 2 is growing very strongly. Direct sown is the best! Others transplanted from seedling trays aren't nearly so big during the same period. It does have the benefit of accessing the goodness of the raised bed though.

30.06.12 Below: Not the best shot, but this is one of the Jackfruit seedlings that I'm having a go at growing in a large pot. Cleome growing around it.

30.06.12 Below: Banana bunch growing well. The bell was broken off (birds?) early on but it doesn't seem to have affected their growth.

30.06.12 Front porch - nice and tropical.

30.06.12 Below: Aviary - from the left Odette (bred by Andrew about 14yrs ago but still going strong), Bob (unable to fly and gay - he was in love with Rupert before he died), and Primrose (about 10yrs old). William is out of view, he's about 10yrs also.

30.06.12 Below: Cape Gooseberries - finally, success! I get a few to eat each day with careful hunting through the rambling stems. Deeeelicious!!

30.06.12 Below: Nopales (edible cactus paddles) has what I thought were flower seedlings growing around it but now they look like eggplant to me. How the.....?? I know I didn't intentionally plant these here.

30.06.12 Below: The grevillea is sending out new shoots after it's severe cut back. Will have to make sure I never let it get that big again.

30.06.12 Below: Despite the cold weather the Loofah is still flowering and producing small fruit (right of pic).

30.06.12 Below: Bed 2 Broad beans from Nathans seeds. First time I've ever grown these so looking forward to eating some.

30.06.12 Below: Same bed, snow peas climbing the trellis. Replanted these seeds three times, but the rat kept eating them. Hopefully will get enough to eat from about 4 that took.

30.06.12 Below: Bed 1 carrots. Some of them are getting quite big and certainly give me enough for my own use. Sweet and delicious.

30.06.12 Below: Bed 1 Cardoon (relative of artichoke/thistle). Very useful for stem veg in stews and casseroles - like a cross between celery and silverbeet. Too bitter to eat raw. Very strong grower but one plant would have been heaps for my own use.....and I have about five! Very easy to grow from seed.

The "prickles" are worth being careful about but are really no problem.

Now waiting for the flowers which are edible similar to artichoke heads.

30.06.12 Below: Very disappointing Yakon crop this year. First one pulled. I put a lot of planting material back into the general beds last year, quite a lot of it the pink stuff, but not a lot came up.

Washed and scrubbed tubers - all are cracked. Tasty though.


Home with gastro for the last two days and it's gray, wet and miserable winter weather to be stuck inside with a sore tummy. No real desire to go outside. Soggy, soggy, soggy.

But on the upside.....

...a teensy bit of home grown veg for dinner (including a few Nicola spuds - got less back from the bag than I put in in the first place!).

The broccolli is a bit of a worry as these plants were grown from seed from last years delightful plants. Such a tiny head. NOTE: Buy some seedlings or use heirloom seed next year - do not use my saved seed! Same with the beans.

Pics below taken from under the cover of the wet blanket on the clothes line during the almost constant gentle rain.

I have to keep removing nasturtium leaves so the bees don't get buried in flowering plants.


Rain has stopped and it's a beautiful breezy day outside, almost spring like. The ground is very wet - there's lots of weeds and still heaps of caterpillars about - slim green, hairy and stripped. The air is nippy inside the house.

The native bees are busy as! but not on any flowers in my own garden that I can see. Saw a honey bee this morning with well packed pollen sacs on it's legs and very excited about the salvia flowers. Noone is touching the Cleome which was sold to me as a bee attracting flower.

The beans are a total loss - grown from saved seed. The sugar snap peas are finally showing signs of flowering but I admit I have been eating the tips in my deperation for some pea flavour. Even the silverbeet is growing slowly. The brocolli grown from last years seed are big healthy plants with the tiniest, but delicious, heads. Waste of time.

Big lesson for next year - buy fresh seedlings or buy genuine heirloom seed.


Almost the end of winter and the weather is warming up nicely. Days as warm as 27C but still coolish inside the house. Andrew is living with me for a couple of weeks at least after orthopaedic surgery on his damaged left foot. He can't wait bear on his left leg and spends all day on the couch.

Not a terribly successful season in the vege bed. Beans very disappointing including the pile-o-useless grown from saved bush bean seed. I've since pulled all this out and left it to break down in the bed.

Another disappointment this season is the Yakon. Hardly any crop and it's cracked. Still tastes the same - most has been used in juicing.

I have had some nice little bits of brocolli - enough for me daily at least. Seem to remember more from a smaller amount of plant last year.

Some nice little purple cauli. The "Lime cauli" turned out to be brocolli and the white ones are still growing small heads.

Pretty flowers on the Abika. Yet to see one actually open!

Colours of the nasturtiums :) Lovely.

Trying to stop the banana falling over before the fruit ripen!

Bed 2 - garlic, deer tongue lettuce, broad bean, silverbeet, brocolli, sugar snap peas, yellow squash - Tamarillo growing tall at the far end alongside the Listada di Gandia.

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Comment by Lissa on July 9, 2012 at 5:26

Fordhook Giant is the one, thanks Elaine :) It's a goody.

Had quite a lot of success the first year with the larger coloured stemmed ones also. The little jobs grown from seed recently had a very short period of usefullness. The caterpillars moved in and ruined what was left despite daily checks and I ended up pulling them out as they took up space but gave nothing in return.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 8, 2012 at 9:30

With white stems probably Fordhook Giant with coloured stems 'Swiss Chard' or 'Rainbow Chard'.

Comment by Lissa on July 8, 2012 at 7:24

Thank you Jean :) Definately less pests, though I still find the odd caterpillar.

You're still enjoying the allotment then. If you have the chance to post some pics of what is happening on your allotment I would love to see them.

I didn't have any success with beetroot - I must perservere and try again. Silverbeet I'm finding the big hardy one does the best (it's name eludes me at the moment). The little delicate ones fade out in no time.

Comment by Lissa on June 22, 2012 at 4:48

Thank you Evan :) The only real work is replenishing the beds once the level has fallen after each crop. Then it's just a matter of watering the seeds/seedlings until they have a firm grip.

I'm clearing space for more Pepino. They are such a great little fruit to grow in this area. I don't have room for pigeon pea unfortunately. My native bees don't seem to go to any flowers in my yard at the moment (very hard to follow their flight with your eyes). Their favourite last year were the brassica flowers.

Comment by Lissa on June 20, 2012 at 5:44

I still have some Cardoon seed left Elaine - if I make it to Sat's CREEC thing I'll bring some for you. Otherwise, there should be some from these plants for next year.

I like it too! It's not going to become my favourite veg but it's so easy to grow and very hardy and quite useful.

EVERYTHING goes on the compost pile lol. I heave it over from all around the yard. Will eventually throw the logs into the garden to rot down in their own time.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 19, 2012 at 7:18

That compost pile is something else! :-) Looking forward to my Pepinos from your seedlings. Cardoon is really good to eat, who'd-a-thought-it? Sounded so awkward to grow from what I read about it yet the reality is quite different. What's to lose to try and I'm glad that you did!

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